Friday, April 28, 2006


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Then you should have never been born!"

Christopher Pike

(For Kevin McFadden)

Christopher Pike is one of my greatest influences on my writing, and he is also one of my greatest spiritual teachers. I have Jeff R. to thank for introducing me to Mr. Pike with Pike's Final Friends trilogy, when I was in seventh grade. With so many things, I read those books right when I needed to. I got hooked immediately and snatched up his others; I still look forward to each release with excitement and anticipation. Some of Pike's books go for more straightforward horror/mystery/suspense--Slumber Party, Die Softly--but many if not most have healthy doses of spirituality, of questioning one's place and identity within the realms of organized religion and those “outside” boundaries where we can explore our True Selves. So many of us find guidance in unexpected corners: Who would have thought that one of the world's bestselling authors of young adult fiction would help me on my spiritual quest, that I am who I am—who many of you see me as—because of his words? And I know I'm not alone. In fact, I've talked to people who also believe that Pike's "mission," if you will, is in part to spin a good yarn but more importantly to expose today's youth to different ideas about God and mysticism, in order to help them with their personal growth. Too many writers talk down to teens; they don't really get into their skin; they observe them from above some superficial surface. Christopher Pike, however, makes these boys and girls full of complexities and flaws, hopes and failures, loves and losses. Too many moments ripple through me: Remember Me’s Shari Cooper finding out the reason for her life as she probes the mystery of her death; The Last Vampire’s Sita talking with Krishna, while he plays his flute and offers lessons that she takes with her through the ages; Sati allowing Michael--and his family and friends--to discover how they are, in fact, directly tapped into the God-Essence; Tony and Alison seeking redemption and exploring their guilt/accountability while they perform deeds that strike them where it hurts--deeds offered by the Caretaker in the Chain Letter books; the group of friends in The Midnight Club, telling each other stories to help them as they struggle with their terminal illnesses. It's funny to me how lots of organized religions try to deny the parts of people that are dark and violent and flawed. Some sects of Christianity, for example, divide life into black and white, right and wrong, adult and child, man and woman. But let's face it--we're all capable of evil acts, of granting love and generosity. We're all blurry; our life stages and decisions don't have bookmarks or chapters with definitive periods. Life’s a giant question mark! (And as my last sentence shows, also a giant exclamation point!) Pike has gotten lots of flack over the years from conservatives regarding his “extraneous” violence and gore. And, yes, not all of us get wrapped up in murder mysteries, or come back as ghosts to solve our own murders, or create elaborate schemes to eradicate the world of its remaining vampires. But we all know darkness in our Wicked Hearts; we all go on Scavenger Hunts for clues as to why we're here; we all feel Spellbound by moments that make us realize that yes, we're all connected, yes, we are not alone, yes, we can look at our pasts and use these lessons to shape us into more spiritually evolved beings. I’d like to end by saying that sometimes I wonder if Christopher Pike is indeed a Wanderer. (I won’t give away who/what a Wanderer is, but reading the Remember Me trilogy will help you with this answer.) Maybe he’s been sent back here, this advanced soul, knowing that what can be seen by the "uninitiated" as frivolous, pointless, even destructive—the young adult horror genre—may in fact be a portal to learning just Who and What and Why we are.


IT WAITS -- Press Release

Hello, fellow Horror Fans! Jacqueline Ghaemmaghami at M80 & Anchor Bay Entertainment read my "Horror Movies" post and shot me an email saying she thought I might like It Waits--one of their upcoming releases. I am SUPER stoked to see this (read: a Saturday night, peanut M&Ms, beverages, friends, and my DVD player)....Thought you'd all like to check out this press release for the film. Very cool!
For Immediate Release
March 13, 2006
“It Lurks, It Prowls…”
IDT Entertainment's
Anchor Bay Entertainment Unleashes
“It Waits”
On DVD May 23

TROY , MI – Anchor Bay Entertainment, an IDT Entertainment Company, presents the terrifying story of a dark legend come to life seeking vengeance on mankind. From acclaimed writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell (“A Team”, “Hunter”, “Profit”, “ 21 Jump Street ”) comes… It Waits! Premiering on DVD May 23rd, 2006, consumers won't have to wait any longer to thrill at the extensive bonus features including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews of the cast and writers, in addition to a feature-length audio commentary. SRP is $19.98 and pre-book date is April 12.

Written by Cannell, Thomas E. Szollosi (“Mythquest”) and Richard Christian Matheson (Masters of Horror) and directed by Steven R. Monroe (House of 9), It Waits focuses on a tale taken from Native American folklore of a lost Human Being whose vicious resentments fueled an anger so fierce that its soul was banished from the world of the living. What happens when this malevolent spirit returns – can anyone stop its relentless and destructive powers?

After her best friend is killed in an auto accident in which she was the driver, Forest Ranger Danielle St. Clair (Cerina Vincent – “CSI”, Not Another Teen Movie) moves into a secluded watchtower in the mountains to bury herself in her work, unaware that something else is buried in the forest. A spirit of the underworld – a victim of its own evil bitterness long entombed in a cave. For a chance to escape and exact its bloody revenge, it waits…

And when accidentally released, the peaceful forest becomes a killing ground. Only Danielle and her fiancé Justin (Dominic Zamprogna, “Battlestar Galactica”) are left to stand up against this ancient nightmare.

Value-added supplements on the It Waits DVD include:
Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1), enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
“Blood On The Pines” Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
Feature-length audio commentary with director Steven R. Monroe and star Cerina Vincent

Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Inc. owns the worldwide distribution rights to more than 1,000 hours of Cannell produced series and TV movies. DVD releases from the company's broadcast hits include “Hunter Season One & Two,” “The Greatest American Hero Seasons One, Two & Three,” “The Commish Season Three” and “Silk Stalkings Season Four.” For more information on Stephen J. Cannell, visit

Anchor Bay Entertainment is a recognized name in home entertainment. The company offers an expansive selection of award-winning, notable theatrical films including Time Bandits and Halloween, classic television programming such as “Roseanne,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Three's Company,” “Highlander” and much of the Stephen J. Cannell library, traditional children's fare featuring the ever-popular "Thomas & Friends" collection and "Mister Rogers Neighborhood," the impressive "Manga" anime line and chart-topping fitness titles including the "Crunch" and "For Dummies" series. Anchor Bay Entertainment is aggressively developing a wide range of original programs and concepts in addition to licensing existing brands and films.

Anchor Bay Entertainment is a subsidiary of IDT Entertainment. IDT Entertainment is a vertically integrated entertainment company that develops, produces, and distributes proprietary and licensed entertainment content.
Street Date: May 23, 2006, Pre-Book: April 12, 2006, Catalog #: DV12990, UPC: 0-1313-12990-90, Run Time: 88 Minutes, Rating: Not Rated, SRP : $19.98

Friday, April 21, 2006

Coffee Cups

(For Carly and our wonderful talk last night--)

Energy gets transferred and imbued; nothing is lost, only transformed. Everything holds stories, both our own and other people's interpretations. In the case of my coffee cups, Carly and I were discussing how her "stories" of my Caffeine-Huggers are different from my own but we can bring them together. I shared with her the story of my Meridian cup from the AWP conference in Vancouver, B.C.; my green (Starbucks!) cup from Karin; my owl cup that Mom got me in Corvallis; the Felicity-inspired Dean & Deluca one that Aaron brought me from NYC. With all our possessions--both material and intangible--we assign them certain meanings and subtexts and powers. These coffee cups fit various moods of mine, and I pick one depending on the vibe I want that day. This vibe could be brought on by the cup itself--because of who gave it to me, what I associate with its color, shape, etc. Maybe I find too much meaning in things--I certainly can't stop thinking that every single action of mine has to have its proper place--but I also find this incredibly satisfying. I gave Carly the example involving if I were just to leave her on the street corner and someone walked by they would sense something about her....They may not be able to pinpoint it but they'd know that she crackles with some specific energy, brought on by me, the possible stranger. I have my special gray sweatshirt (I can't help but think of Liz joyously giggling at it), Big Red: the couch, Delight and Tori-Faerie, who are just as real as Cassandra....I've got my sexy orange sweater, my jeans with the glitter-beaded linings, my paperback books that smell ancient and wise....My rings and necklaces, which hug my fingers and neck every day and keep them warm and flowing (Thank you Elephant; Wolf; Owl; Serafina the Witch; Africa; Rainbow; Spear; Mary Hall; Turtle, and more)....What examples can you all think of? What inanimate objects hold Life for you?....Your car? Cane? Fireplace? Desk? Favorite chair? Teakettle? Earrings? Bracelet? Dress?.....

p.s. Sometime down the line I will share the story of my angel-carousel-House on the rock-cup, which crackles with a million pulses--a million plus infinity divided by one.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coincidence (and the Lack Thereof)

I mentioned the word "coincidence" in yesterday's post, and immediately after typing it I thought, "Interesting word choice, Nathan, considering you don't believe in coincidence." I am one of those folks who believe everything--every moment, detail, emotion--is part of a grand scheme/design, from what we decide to wear to what career we choose to whom we choose to love. And when things happen that can't be explained--we bump into an old friend in the unlikliest of places, a package arrives on our doorstep from someone we've just been thinking about--we must look into the meanings behind these actions. The more we look into them, the more we accept them, the more they occur to remind us we are in the right place at the right time. During the past couple years, if I were to choose a Nathan-in-Oregon theme song, I'd probably choose Sarah McLachlan's "Fallen," which I played on repeat--blasting into my ears--while I wrote the shorty story "The Price of Lemonade" (which became an entire novel later, under a different name). That song--and video, as Jordan can attest to--capture what it's like to make some fucked-up decisions, but to find beauty in this fucked-up-edness. To find release--and to stop wanting to hear how yes, we screwed up, I know, I know. But lately, maybe the last three months or so, I've been feeling on the inside this notion of moving on, crossing lines, and pushing past old terrain into new territory. This theme has made it into the new novel, and I've been trying to capture how we hold moments--and then they shift into the past and we're immersed in a brand new experience whether we want to be or not. So it seemed fitting that yesterday: after I'd made a mix CD for Steve to capture his Christopher Pike-twin soul nature; after I'd attended the Our House volunteer appreciation night and felt surrounded by crackling, electric love; after I'd pushed past some doubts about my new novel and found renewed vigor....that I would come home and turn on my alarm clock radio and hear Sarah McLachlan's "World on Fire," the next track after "Fallen" on her Afterglow album. My soul has left behind loneliness, some fucked-up-edness, and started to accept how chaos and order are really best friends (maybe even lovers) in the end. I leaned my head down close to the radio--Rosie Thomas was playing in the other room, blending--and I just let Sarah's voice and lyrics wash into me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I was sitting in the recliner last night, watching the final season of Six Feet Under, and it suddenly struck me: I don't feel lonely anymore. At least not nearly as much as I have been for the last few months (heck, almost the last year and a half). I just feel like I've let that go (89% of it or whatever). Yesterday I read an interview online with Lorrie Moore --( -- and she and the journalist were discussing how loneliness creeps in as a major theme in some of her work. The fact that this feeling struck me on the same day I read the interview could not be a coincidence. Some of you might be thinking, "It's all psychological--you read this interview so your mind was already on the topic"....but I think that's the easy way out. It's more like kismet, if that's the right word. Over the past year and a half I've dealt with: depression and anti-depressants, counseling, defending my thesis and graduating, moving to Portland and starting a new job, ending a long-term relationship, wondering when Mom and I get to live with/near one another again, missing my brothers, trying to find an agent for my novel, and lots of other things inside the day-to-day cracks of living. I've had many talks with God--and with myself--and there are occasions where I still get down on my knees at the bed, like the Good Ol' Catholic Boy I used to be, and I pray in more traditional fashions. Not structured prayers like the Our Father or the Hail Mary, but I still clasp my hands and close my eyes and focus on Her/Him/They/We/It. There have been a few occasions where I've just heaved and cried and said, "My trust is in you now," like that saying, "Leap--and the net will appear." I've been leaping! And, finally, I feel it's paying off. Alanis says in her song, "Thank U" (my ultimate Life Theme Song, neck-in-neck with Tori's "Silent All These Years"):

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

I'm feeling comfortable in my own skin again--I'm okay with being single, with being in Portland, being at my job....I know that all these little Fingers of Fate are sewing me up somethin' special & unique, and I'm learning to trust in this Sewing-God-Voice. Plus, I'm learning to be a Friend of Loneliness and to understand Her; she certainly has crept into the novel I'm writing now, bathing it in these melancholic hues that I feel are necessary to tell this specific story. So many images flood me right now: wearing my uniform to the private Catholic schools; watching my mom get strong after my dad left, how she dealt with her own loneliness; not being asked to play with the other kids on the playground; wondering if any guy will one day go, "Dude! You rock! Thank god you're single so I can snatch you up!" I was more or less single until I was 22, and I went from a three-year relationship with J to six months of way-too-much-fun to a year-and-a-half relationship with L. Funny thing is, our culture puts so much emphasis on being in a committed relationship--doesn't it seem like every show on TV deals with love triangles? Sheesh! Love triangles?!?! I wish I had that much attention! Funny thing, though, that we can often feel lonely even when we're with someone. You know the drill: they don't understand the real us; our love turns to bickering and diseased roots; they want a version of us that fits into their own expectations (and vice versa). I'd forgotten until a couple months ago how good it feels to spend time with oneself, how this isn't a scary thing at all. I go for my walks and--this is a hard one for me--I try to spend some quality time without my music playing, so the silence can just wash over me at home. I've learned to appreciate going to movies by myself, turning off the phone (but you all know I'm infamous for this one already!), wrapping myself up in a book's adventure. I think, in the end, loneliness stems from the fact that we're not totally sure of who we are or what we want. We'll always be searching for these things, adding layer upon layer to our identities, but until we're willing to ask the right questions I think we'll be stuck in self-induced ruts, where our tires keep spinning because we're attempting to drive in the wrong direction. And what direction is the right one? Maybe there are lots of trails, but we should at least be choosing one that helps, in part, to lead us to ourselves.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My devilish side wants to be her....(and I'm fascinated by black-painted fingernails)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Horror Movies

(This entry is dedicated to A.J., the Lake Geneva Gang, my family, Callie, Allana, Steve, the Corvallis Crew, and anyone else who has enjoyed a scary movie moment with me and understands exactly where I'm coming from.)

Isn't this picture fantastic? This is the original cover art to Friday the 13th, Pt. 2. I love it! So, I had a bunch of people over to watch movies last weekend (Sliver, Flatliners, and Witchboard). It got me to thinking about how much I love horror movies--and why. I think about this A LOT. I'm a sweet guy, overall. Pretty nice. Pretty spiritual. Pretty genuine. But so many folks in my life--including me sometimes!--can't seem to marry my "nice" qualities with the fact that I love horror movies of all kinds. Possession by the devil? Check. Axe murderer in the woods? Double check. Stalker of dreams with razorsharp fingernails? Checkcheckcheck. I'm still brewing up (in my witch's cauldron) all the factors that might go into my love of these films. I did grow up with them from a young age. My mother likes more of the classics, but I can remember sneaking downstairs when I wasn't supposed to and turning on a late-night special hosted by Elvira: Mistress of the Dark or by Rhonda on "USA Up All Night!" (Come on, fellow horror geeks, YOU remember Rhonda!) Sometimes I was intrigued and fascinated, provoked and challenged--Flatliners is a perfect example of this--but other times I was just plain scared out of my wits. Cue sweeping score then evil-Jason-child jumping out of the lake at the end of the original F13! So why did I continue to build to my collection? Why did I like to see scantily clad women bite the bullet? (Or should that be "bury the hatchet"? Just a little slasher humor, folks....) Why am I still obsessed with hauntings, serial killers, demons, buried secrets, and lots and lots and lots of blood-gore-mutilation? Hmm. For me, it's kind of cathartic. I think it's that way for lots of people in society whether they realize it or not. And I don't think I'm alone in my views. In fact, I took a film course at UW-Madison where we studied the horror genre and various cultures' obsession with it. A really great book for you all to check out would be Noel Carroll's The Philosophy of Horror (also titled, Paradoxes of the Heart). He does a fantastic job gathering questions and possible answers. I just checked; it's readily available. I highly recommend that you, my fellow Comrades of Gore Love, snag yourself a copy. In any case, we have Morality shoved down our throats in this society--what to wear, what to say, what kind of job to hold down. We are told what's "right" and "wrong." And so often horror movies are a reflection of society's current value systems. Any of you who've seen Scream and its sequels know this. The straight, white, Christian, virginal, non-substance-using types are the ones who survive scary flicks. Sex = bad. Drinking and drugs = bad. Old news, right? But I do like to push deeper into how minorities are portrayed in these films (the opening sequence of Scream 2 with Jada Pinkett has to be one of my favorites ever) or into the question of why women survive these flicks most of the time instead of men--particulary if men are supposedly "dominant" and "more important" in our culture. Shouldn't they be the ones surviving? Are these films indeed more feminist than we think? Carroll excellently explores these ideas in his book. I also contemplate how our society is obsessed with outward appearance, the physicality of things. Who of us--whether we'd admit it or not--hasn't at one time or another looked away or flinched a little when we've seen someone with a disability, maybe, or someone who's been in a fire? (Having worked with people with disabilities for three years, I saw people give my clients plenty of these looks. Thank god for that job. I sure did get to dive inside myself and rip out my prejudices and explore them.) Oftentimes the killer in scary movies is disfigured, and wears a mask to hide this "flaw." Or else it's a big blood-sucking-acid-spewing-monster-from-space who taps into our primal fears of spiders, snakes, insects, anything we rebel against instinctually. Some of the most important questions get raised when we're not sure who's the monster and who's the victim. Carrie is a great example: Sure, she slews a bunch of her classmates with her telekinetic powers, but only after being driven to the brink by many of their vindictive, callous, and extremely cruel torments. I used to wish I had Carrie's powers back in the day! If someone pulled the Fag Card on me--their physical and/or verbal abuse--I could wave my magic psychic wand and zap off their dick or something. I'm not saying these people deserved to die--no, no, no--but we all have had moments of anger, a desire for vengeance, a need for redemption. And these movies allow us to release these pent-up feelings in a cathartic, ritualized way. It's so much more fun to watch my grainy VHS tapes and newly remastered DVDs with friends, while drinking beer and chomping on some popcorn. We get to laugh and shriek together, feel fear--and safety--together. There's nothing like a packed movie theater or a room filled with Fellow Fright Lovers to make us realize that the Bogeyman exists, sometimes in Real Life, sometimes in our Hearts, and sometimes on a reel of film. But we can beat him; we just are trying to understand him first. So I say down with Freddy and Jason and Chucky, down with Killer Clowns and Death-Defying Hitchhikers and Sewer-Dwellin' Alligators. Go ghosts! Go gore! Go geeks! Go C.H.U.D.!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Home Is In My Hands

Home (Or, Faerietales)

(SPOILER ALERT: This posting gives away major plot points.)

I'd been all set to write about a completely different topic. But then I decided on Sam Rockwell for my "Hottie of the Day" at work (don't ask!) and my mind shifted gears and I decided to write about "Home," such a weird and wonderful and oftentimes sad word. The above picture is a still-shot from my favorite film, Lawn Dogs. In one of the final scenes, Devon cups Trent's face and says to him, "Home is in my hands." Gets me every time. Over the years I've tried to figure out exactly what a home is--and how it differs from just a house. A house is walls and architecture, nails and drills and saws. A home is crackling fireplaces, and laughter, and hugs, and shared memories around the kitchen table. Houses are places. Homes are feelings. In Lawn Dogs, Trent and Devon form an uncommon/non-traditional friendship; they are scorned by her rich gated community because of the vast difference in their ages, but mostly because he comes from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. Hers is a land of WASPy barbecues and "big problems" equaling what new CDs to buy at the strip mall; his is a land of trailers and broken lawnmowers, cigarettes-as-release and skinny-dipping as adventure. What I love most about this film is its ending....As their friendship starts, Devon sees Trent as a parallel to the witch Baba Yaga, but this is a viewpoint driven into her by her socialite-political-backstabbing-adulterous parents. By the end, she sees her parents--her whole community--as the witch. She and Trent are the "children lost in the woods," trying to escape "her" evil clutches. She offers Trent a comb and towel (from the Baba Yaga tale), which he can use while he rides/drives off to safer territory. The Law/Conformist Morality is after him, but he throws down the towel and a river springs up to cover his tracks. He throws down the comb and a forest cracks up through the road, offering shelter and protection. The filmmakers--particularly the screenwriter, Naomi Wallace, and the director, John Duigan--never clue the audience in to whether or not these events actually happen. And this decision is spot-on. What's important is that it happens inside Trent's heart; he now believes. In this crazy world where we bomb one another in the name of peace, two people have reached out for one another, and connected, and sparked magic between each other. This is such a rare, rare thing! Loneliness likes to loom above us and try to keep us captive. But we must remember that we always have sparks around us and inside us--fueled by others, sometimes by ourselves. Who of us hasn't at one time or another wanted to ride off into the sunset with some handsome prince or princess? Who of us hasn't dreamed that we'd become rich and suddenly all our problems would be solved? Who of us hasn't felt trapped in the forest, all the breadcrumbs pecked away by hungry birds, and we're left to fend for ourselves against the wolves? Just remember this: There's always a cottage. There's always a home. Weetzie Bat, in Francesca Lia Block's book by the same name, says: "I don't know about 'happily ever after,'...but I know about 'happily.'" No one could've said it better. Every day we are saved by the little things--a cup of coffee with just the right amount of creamer; the sun bursting through a cloud and sparkling on some flower petals; a stranger lets you get on the bus first; you dream about God; someone brings you a piece of chocolate right when you're craving it; you notice that children have drawn a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk and you glance around, quickly, then jump, jump, jump on the pink smeary squares and pretend you're five again; you literally smell the roses; you offer someone a hug with your eyes; your blanket and pillow fit just right around you as you drift off to sleep. Sometimes, if we're lucky, we find people to do these things with--or at least people who respect our own wacky adventures and admire us for them. Here's an example: I talked to Jerry this weekend, whose partner Dale passed away on Friday. I felt honored that Jerry called to talk to me, especially because we haven't spoken on the phone in years. But, immediately, he cried and knew he felt safe and saw me as a Room in his Home. I just wanted to reach through the phone wires and give him a big squeeze. But that's the thing--he knew I was squeezing. He knew that, even if time filled some gaps between us, he could still call me up and say, "Hey you, I hear you have a vacancy at the Heart Hotel....Can I reserve a pad where you serve Friendship for Room Service?" Anytime, Jerry--I admire you and your love and loyalty for Dale so very, very much! Anytime, all of you! Bombs keep exploding, and children die, and bullets get fired, but you know what? We have to keep on throwing open our Doors and shouting, "Yes! I'm here! Welcome!"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Last night was so upsetting to me. When it rains, it pours. I have, like, zero energy right now but I felt like writing anyway. Bear with me. So Mom calls and tells me that Ollie--her beagle, he's about a year old--got really sick. She noticed it on Monday night; he had the chills, and was weak. By yesterday, he was throwing up and--when he started having no energy to even stand--she rushed him to the vet. While the vet still doesn't know what caused it, it looks like some kind of poison got into Ollie's bloodsteam. She's guessing that, while out for a walk, he licked something up off the ground that got lodged in his system and didn't pass correctly through his digestive track. I can't tell you how upset I was, knowing that Mom was sitting there in KFC and waiting for the vet to call and feeling so alone. She'd gotten Ollie against my "better judgment." I'd thought, heck, you're moving out here--why get a puppy that you'll have to lug across the country with you! But Ollie has been such a joy for her, providing her company and comfort. He sure is a goofball; I had the chance to hang out with him over the holidays and he fits right in with our wacky family. He's lucky to have my mother....He'd been taken into the Humane Shelter after being found malnourished on the streets. Pets either have it really lucky or not so much, depending on who takes them in. Ollie is a spoiled brat, but in a good way! Needless to say, when my brothers and I got the call yesterday we all got very sad. Aaron told me how unfair this was, this happening to Ollie and Mom. I agreed. I got angry with God, just pissed off at the Universe. Last night and this morning, we all received the full scoop on Ollie's recovery. The vet, whom my mother says is a kind and patient woman, stayed with Ollie late last night and came in early to work this morning. She's run a bunch of tests, and it looks like Ollie is now in the clear. She told my mom that she hadn't wanted to say this last night, but if my mother hadn't brought him in when she did there was a chance he wouldn't have made it. But my mom has amazing instincts, and just knew. As I look back on this event--even in my current tired daze--I can't believe what an interesting relationship I've had, and have, with pets. I'm so good with people, but--first off--plants and flowers better find other homes....Example: Jim gave me a purple orchid once and let's just say it went to Orchid Heaven in record time. With pets too, I've always been fickle. I am allergic to some breeds of cats (depending on the dander) and I just don't always have the time, energy, or financial resources that I believe pets deserve. I kind of steer clear in this department. Who knows--this could go back to many sources: finding Elsa, after she'd accidentally gotten her chain caught in the cracks of our stairs in Lemont and hung herself; Squint getting hit by a car, and watching how this devastated Mom; putting Charlie to sleep, and how the drugs didn't kick in right away, and they had to give him six shots and then he just lay there on that cold tile floor and we all cried and Jordan--who so rarely cries in front of anyone--wandered off around the building outside and Aaron ran off to comfort him. I mean, my connections with people take so much out of me--I've been betrayed and loved, accepted and defied, lusted after and rejected, embraced and smiled at--and I spend so much time figuring out my friendships and my relationships with guys and my family's past that this whole Pet Picture gets put on the back-burner of the Nathan Scope. Still, lately I've been thinking about pets a lot, the unconditional love they so often offer--a kind of love we rarely find with people. Olive, Carly's cat, sure has won me over. She follows me from room to room, and loves to be petted, and she lies on my chest while I watch TV. She knows when I'm sad and she purrs and puts a paw against my cheek and just leaves it there. This past weekend, while I was outside washing windows, she followed me from window to window on the inside and spied on me. And even when she's being bad, like jumping on the kitchen table and knocking things over, she just looks at me and tilts her head and purrs, "Who, me?" Gotta love her. So yeah--love comes in so many forms and I'm maybe--just the tiniest bit--becoming a pet person. Maybe I'm one of those rare cases that works backwards; they say if you can nurture a plant then you should move on to a pet and then on to people; I've kinda got the people part down (a process I'll be working on forever, though), and I'm in the midst of understanding animals, and soon enough I may be able to nurture another purple orchid. This one will bloom bright and strong.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


No, everybody, this isn't Cassandra. I don't have a photo of my muse-goddess readily available, so I have this one to share with y'all. (But don't tell Cassandra or she'll get pissed.) I've been rolling around the word "regret" a lot....and I've been thinking a lot about Michigan, and Saugatuck, and Grandpa's house on Silver Lake. It's been a few weeks since I've dreamt of his home, but it's amazing how many times I go there in my dreams and have the strangest of adventures. I keep hearing all these references to Michigan lately--on Rosie Thomas's new album, in Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show--so I'm sure that has lots to do with it as well. As some of you know, Cassandra found a home with me while my family was visiting Holland--Java Joe's Coffee House, specifically, so cool with those antiques hanging all over the wall and one of the nicest women in the world helping us--and Cassandra was showing off some hippie '70s clothing and wasn't even for sale. She spoke to me, however; I knew she just wanted to come home with me. And she did. I convinced the woman to "sell" my muse to me, and Jordan, Aaron, and Mom got such a kick out of her riding in the seat with us on the way back to Grandpa's. Gosh, that sure was a special weekend....We'd sold the house (much to our sadness, but it couldn't be avoided) and we wanted one last kick-ass time there. We drank, smoked, listened to music, shopped downtown, ate delicious burgers at Wally's. I stopped in and saw Bill at the Old Post Office....So many memories flood through me about Michigan, and right when I had reached the age that I could enjoy its "adult" opportunities to their fullest we had to say our goodbyes.....But fun, fun times throughout all the years: jetskiing; parties across the lake; watching scary movies with Mike next door (The Company of Wolves sticks out to me); jumping off the pier (thanks, Grandpa, for rescuing me from drowning that one time the dogs knocked me off!); going into all the trinket shops; riding the dune buggies; smelling those old paperbacks in the used bookstores; going to the Tea Party with Jim in the woods behind the Dunes Resort (Jim--one of the coolest and most fun nights of my life, just so you know); running down the hills to Oval Beach; taking the ferry across the channel; riding on the pontoon boat (I still remember the time we found the dead swan in the water, wrapped up in some fisherman's net); jumping up and down on Donna's trampoline next door; playing cards; reading on Grandpa's couch or chair, some of the most uncomfortable furniture on the planet; stopping by to see Helen Molnar; playing hide-and-seek in the woods; sneaking up on the peacocks at the peacock farm; practicing gymnastics moves with Holly; Jordan naming the opossum Sparkles and "shooing" him off the road after Sparkles's foot had been run over by a car; buying gag gifts in the Drugstore; pizza at can't-remember-the-name-but-gosh-are-the-waiters-totally-frickin'-hot there; walking out on the frozen waves; literally jumping in the lake after Mom had figuratively said, "Go jump in the lake"; riding down that gigantic slide at the park; eating bread with apple butter at Crane's; list goes on and on. I mention these because up until recently I couldn't think of Grandpa's home without getting a huge pang in my heart and gut. I clearly remember driving away from it that last weekend in that February and Mom cupping her face and crying. And, while it's still sad, I've moved past the sadness of those memories into acceptance and love of what is and was. That's why I titled this entry "Regret." I think regret is the worst human emotion, worse than anger or hate or maybe even fear. We can mold and transform and recreate our other emotions, give them new meanings, use them to figure out lessons for ourselves. But regret is rooted in the past--and we can't change the past. Don't we all try, though? I mean, I beat myself up so much about decisions I've made--or decisions others have made that've affected me. But why? I can't wave my magic wand and make things different. I can, however, use the past to become wise for the present and future. That's why I'm trying never to regret anything. Easier said than done, I know. Still, in The Last Unicorn, she finally becomes just that--a unicorn--once more at the end....But she has brought with her a piece of her time as Lady Almalthea. That piece is the Regret Emotion, which now sets her apart from the other unicorns. Yes, humans run on instinct, have biological urges, feel primal urges surging through our blood. But still--and I certainly can't speak for any in the Animal Kingdom--regret seems like it's been stamped onto the human race, and it's our duty and right and mission to understand it, move past it, and embrace the Now. That's my Zen lesson for the day. In any case, I do think I'm getting better with this icky "R" word. Whether it's thinking about Michigan, or contemplating my job/career choices, or wondering about my decisions with my family and writing and relationships, I'm trying to stand up on the Inside and say, "Yep, it's done, I'm here, yipppeeeee!!!!" I'm still getting to the proverbial "yipppeeeee" part; I'm kinda stuck on "yip" before I say, "Whatever, screw that!" But it's the trying that matters. The want--and need--to make regret a thing of the past.

Monday, April 03, 2006

My Holy Trinity

We're all drawn to certain books/movies/TV shows that "speak" to us in certain lights. In a conversation with Lizbeth, I jokingly referred to the TV shows I love as "My Holy Trinity." So there you go. They are: 1) small town dramas with kooky characters, 2) intense metaphysical & surreal dramas that struggle with issues of life and death (and have a hard core sense of dark humor about them, as well), and 3) teen primetime soap operas. After joking with Lizbeth I got to thinking about why I'm drawn to these kinds of shows versus, say, crime dramas like CSI or half-hour sitcoms like (insert name here). I mean, I love a variety of shows and ones I've watched are crime dramas or sitcoms, but they're not what I keep coming back to on a regular basis. Maybe I can't know all the reasons I search this trinity out, and I certainly don't want to get over-analytical about the whole business, but I think it's what's gotten pressed on me--and into me--at an early age. I grew up in Lake Geneva, WI (which, at the time, only boasted a little over 5,000 people). It was there my family struggled through the divorce; I realized I was gay and suffered at the hands of cruel and zealous classmates; and tapped into my spiritual side outside the dimensions of Catholicism....It was there that my brothers and I stopped attending a Catholic private school, like we'd done back in Lemont, IL, and it was also there--when Lake Geneva was still so beautiful with all the forests and ponds and hiking trails--that I started delving into my more New Age-y, transcendental side. In addition, I've always been obsessed with death. Losing D was the first time I felt right in the center of death; up until a few weeks ago I'd been standing on the periphery--even during the passing of a grandparent, for example--and during the years I've tried to encompass and understand grief in my writing and through being a witness to other people's sadness. 'Til the day I die myself, I think I'll be working through questions of mortality, of what the frickin' heck God is/was/are/will be, and Why We Are All Here. I can't pinpoint a specific moment that I really pushed my personal envelopes and boundaries of God and my spirituality: could it be when Jeff and I killed that frog when we were kids? Could it have been seeing Gomer get hit by the truck? Could it have been watching my Uncle Chuck and my Grandma Nellie get sicker and sicker in the hospital, from cancer? Could it be the strangeness of funerals and memorial services, and how they are definitely more for the living than they are for the dead? Maybe, when it all comes down to it, it's the fear of losing my mother, and how nature inevitably wraps us up in its cycles, and how that moment will never come at an okay time. Finally, I know I carry a high Cheese Quotient by watching my teen shows--needless to say, people sometimes scratch their heads and smirk at my DVD collection--but there will always be that part of Inner-Nathan who is trying to figure out the atrocities of high school, why children do what they do to others, and how I always stood outside the Cool Circle (thank fucking God) and looked in at it through my writerly microscope. I sure am glad I got to be my weird and quiet and awkward and sexually confused self! Who knew at the time I'd be so thankful! But, really, I look back--in a healthy, curious way--and I notice that people don't really become more "mature" as they grow. Yes, we certainly become more ourselves; some of us crash and burn, some of us light the Wisdom-Sage, and sometimes we go back and forth; some of us have our own children and imbue them with lessons learned from our own experiences or others'. Still, adults are not that different from children--we just hide our wickedness better. We've fine-tuned our passive-aggressive capabilities. This, despite our Life Learning Curve at the exact same time. So I dive into these shows and I try to understand who I was, who I am, who I will be, and how these "Nathan's" all shift in crazy patterns like that magicians' game where there's a marble hiding underneath one of three walnut shells and you have to guess which one and sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't (even though you were absolutely sure you had the answer). Anyway, I fully embrace My Holy Trinity and am trying to figure out this Universe through it. I'd love to hear from you all about your own trinities, or rectangles, or circles, or single points of light. Thanks for listening, and feel free to check out: Twin Peaks, Six Feet Under, Felicity, Picket Fences, Veronica Mars, Lost, Queer as Folk, Everwood, Tales of the City, Once & Again, My So-Called Life, Wonderfalls, Dark Shadows, American Gothic, Desperate Housewives, Carnivale, Freddy's Nightmares: A Nightmare on Elm Street the series, Friday the 13th: the TV Series, Buffy & Angel....(I'll stop now!!!!) And remember, we all need our Dark Humor to get us through this craziness. Even as I watch my shows, I'll only watch if they also make me laugh--even when I "shouldn't" be. It's laugh or cry, right?