Monday, April 30, 2007

Cape Lookout

Mom, Ben, and I had a magical time yesterday when we drove south of Tillamook to Cape Lookout. We spent the afternoon hiking to the main lookout point, and back again, and along the way we stopped and admired all the beautiful trees, the lovely roots cracking up through the soil, glimpses of the ocean both in the distance and up close as it smashed against the shore, all the lovely flowers and other vegetation. My sense of smell was especially on fire yesterday, and the fresh air mixed with the smell of dirt and salt and water and vegetation, well, I went into sensory overload and was brought back to so many moments in my past. The interesting thing is some of the memories were directly related to these same smells, but in lots of other ways these just opened the door to things that seemed unrelated: the sand dunes near Saugatuck, Michigan; Grandpa's house and the piers and the receding shoreline and the neighbors' big house across Silver Lake; A.J. Beckert's basement, his whole house really, and all those exotic birds his mother and stepfather raised, and how he and I would eat ice cream while playing video games; the Wooddale house, its driveway and backyard and old fan in the kitchen (that same fan was in the Whiskey Creek Cafe, where the three of us had a delightful lunch....the owner just went into business about a week ago, and we chowed down on delicious burgers).

The weekend, overall, was just a joy. Tara and Brad arrived Friday night with pizza, and the five of us sat in the basement and talked about funny things and then watched Halloween, which Ben and Tara had never seen before. Saturday was a day of Twin Peaks with Christina and Ryan, and luxuriating in couch-bliss after a perfect stop at the Tin Shed for breakfast. I sure do love breakfast, and coffee, and all that other yummy stuff.

Lately I've been feeling like a shell that's cracked open and all these senses get let in and out. Things feel like they are weaving together a little more effortlessly. Or, I should say as I've said before, I'm trying not to try so hard. This is a very freeing feeling.

A pink and white origami rabbit arrived in my mail on Saturday, from my secret pal. The Velveteen Rabbit has me forever endeared to rabbits, and I checked the mail right as we were all snuggled into our living room nests, and the sun was shining bright through the curtains, and I felt a great peace wash over me. This peace continued, and took on operatic tones in the car on the way to Cape Lookout, when Ben put on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and I was in the backseat looking out at the layers of trees and shadows and sunshine, and that woman's voice echoed throughout the car like a tribal call. Peace is a lovely thing, a lovely feeling, a perfect reminder.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The ions in the air were so fresh last night after the brief rainstorm, and as I walked away from saying goodbye to Marieke I glanced up and watched the moon through the clouds for a bit. Saying "See you soon" can be so difficult. There's so much in that last hug for the time being, so much in those words and glances and head tilts. Marieke is a special light, filled with passion and power and kindness, and I just know that our friendship will continue to burst up like roots, tangling and becoming stronger, together. I was thankful for the chance to spend the evening with her, and she put the word "ion" in my mind. I've been rolling it around. That air sure crackled with a peaceful blanket of cleanliness.

p.s. Thank you, Marieke, for the stones and the book. The stones fit perfectly in my hands, and I held them a bit before my morning writing ritual.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Santa Claus

Beware, spoiler alert:
Reading John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things is like being transported to that special place where I go, "Wow! This writer REALLY gets me!" Cliched in a way, I know, but true none-the-less. This wonderful novel is about a boy and his mother & the boy's relationship with fairy tales (and how they tempt us, fulfill us, and oftentimes disappoint us). What's so great is how David, the protagonist, experiences altered versions of our favorite stories. The candy cottage from Hansel & Gretel melts into a heap of burnt, sad chocolate -- and Hansel gets eaten by a different witch; Red Riding Hood sleeps with a wolf, seducing him instead of the other way around, and gives birth to the first werewolf; Red Riding Hood and the Woodsman lure other young women deep into the forest, and brainwash and train them to hunt the nighttime wolves. This may be called The Book of Lost Things, but it's helping me to remember different facets of myself in fresh ways.

This past weekend was all about recharging my emotional batteries. I did, well, lots of nothing and lots of something at the same time. Finally got around to cleaning out the garage and moving boxes and unpacking all my VHS tapes (Maniac, House of Death, or Mortuary anyone?). Mom and I took a walk in the rain (with our collapsing umbrellas) and I showed her my favorite Portland garage, the one by the Kennedy School with the faeries painted on it. The faeries are flying through the trees, and there's a red-haired Tore-esque elf princess at one tree's trunk, and Pan is playing his pipes under the moon by the river. On our way home, Mom and I came across Santa, his sleigh, and one reindeer missing his antlers. She knocked on our neighbor's door to make sure Santa was for the taking, and--indeed--the kind woman who answered said that, yes, she and her husband loved the display but just didn't have a place for it anymore. Mom carried the reindeer and Santa's torso, and I dragged the sleigh back while gripping our dinner groceries from New Season's in the other hand. We were quite a sight!

Ben and I spent all of yesterday doing lots of nothing-something. We napped, took a walk in the Morrison Cemetery, read, started Once & Again, and looked out the windows at the beautiful spring skies.

All in all, I feel great.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Last night was just lovely. Mom, Ben, Karla, and I went to see Rosie Thomas & Friends in concert. One of the highlights was seeing her stand-up act, with her alter-ego Sheila Saputo. I had sent Rosie a funny email the other day about my third (maybe it was fourth) grade obsession when Martika's "Toy Soldiers" came out. As I stated, any young Catholic boy riding the school bus and singing along about "Step by step/Heart to heart/We all fall down/like toy soldiers" must turn out to be gay. Martika--and the exquisite Laura Branigan--were good signs that I'be WAY into female singer-songwriters and pop divas alike. What gay man (well, except for Ben who--gasp!--hasn't even seen Dirty Dancing!) doesn't think back to Flashdance, when the young woman falls twice on the ice to Branigan's "Gloria"? Breaks my heart and makes me cringe; sheesh, I think I've even written about this before on my blog; must be a major part of my adolescent development! Maybe this is why I must always turn my gaze away whenever figure skating is on. I'm serious. I can watch Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger hack a million people to pieces in slasher films, but I flinch whenever people skate because they've put SO much time and effort and talent into this, and one little fall or slip-up could cost them the whole competition! Okay, back to Rosie. Her stand-up act was great, and she told me before the show she was thinking of me in part while putting it together. She makes me laugh in sure a pure way. I just feel good when I'm around her or thinking about her. And her singing--with that lush voice--was a perfect way to transition into the rest of the evening.

Karin, I wish you were there to share the night with us.

Karla and Ben -- I'm glad you came along for the adventure.

Mom, you truly are the Den Mother to All.

Rosie, thanks for the Mean Cards. They are raunchy, hilarious, and totally un-PC. I love them.

p.s. Ben, a quiz for you. What movie has the amazing line: "I carried a watermelon?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Baby Doll

I must mention a funny incident that happened this last Friday the 13th. I was on my way to work, taking a different route than usual down Fremont. I look to my left at one of Portland's beautiful parks, and I see something that I can't quite make out. As I get closer, I realize it's a pink baby carriage with white wheels, tipped over on its side. I kind of frown, and get even closer. That's when I see the little fleshy head toppled onto its side. I drive past and think, "Well, that SURELY has to be a baby doll, right? That's not, like, a real dead baby lying there, okay?" But I can only drive about another half block before my conscience swings into full gear with a huge "What If?" and I pull onto the side of the road, get out, and head up the embankment to the trail that leads to the little toppled one. I kind of walk-jog-run, hoping that I don't look ridiculous if it's just a doll but also not wanting to look like I'm just strollin' along if it's a human! So I draw near, take a deep break, and look. It's just a doll. Her pink head is just lying in the grass, and her body's all wrapped in a pink blanket while she's barely touching the carriage. Her blue eyes are wide open, and--surprisingly--her face is totally clean, like she'd just been left there recently. How random that was. How hilarious in retrospect. And how bizarre -- as B said, surely there's a story there. How and why did this baby doll get abandoned? What other stories does this park have to tell? How would I have felt if I just kept driving instead of stopping to check things out?

Monday, April 16, 2007


Someone close to me recently told me that the walls I build around myself are made out of jello. This gave me pause. And, while I haven't quite heard it phrased in this interesting way before, I certainly have wondered about my Nathan Walls. What they mean, and what they're made of. I do think many of my walls are definitely some yummy flavor of cherry jello. Thing is, I work hard to keep them edible. I think it takes faith and courage to keep stacking the jello cups in the refrigerator of the soul rather than replacing them with concrete. So, onward, jello, onward!

There is a whole level beneath the jello that is maybe the more interesting level. I'm not sure. I don't even know how much this level exists. There are rose bushes with thorns there, and ancient bricks, and plenty of barbwire. This is where I feel most vulnerable. People can get to a point with me where they think, "Yay! He's so great to sit and eat jello with!" and then a thorn pierces their tongue, and I feel bad, but I'm just so scared to let people past these next walls sometimes.

I'm willing, though.

It's all about structure.

Structure involves building things in the most pure ways possible. Some parts get put together quickly, and others take time. This whole "Things take time" and "This too shall pass," fuck, these concepts really frustrate me! But I do take comfort in their implications. There is a passing. Things do get accomplished. Relationships meld together into the strongest of castles where moats are just a memory.

Underneath the thorns and barbwire and bricks, there's just this weird land of unicorns and ladybugs and owls. They're all hanging out, eating chocolate, and they are eternal. And through all the other muck we go through--isn't being a human so damn hard sometimes?--we know we can chill in the forest and climb hills and frolick by the stream and have great bonfires with people who mean the world to us. Sometimes you have to burn the woods to grow something even more beautiful.

Monday, April 09, 2007


It was a magical & healing weekend for me. I went on a house cleaning rampage Friday night, and made everything look spiffy. This nicely complements all the hard work Mom has been doing outdoors, transforming things as she is into some weird and cool version of paradise.

Ben and I went to Astoria on Saturday, taking scenic routes on the way there and back. We shopped; ate a huge breakfast; drank coffee; saw the tallest tree in Oregon; stopped at a cemetery hidden in the woods (with its own children section); walked near a waterfall; got wind-whipped as we tempted the waves off the sandy shores; and enjoyed silence together while driving through cracked roads that were surrounded by mossy trees and open fields and the possibility of elk.

Yesterday, Mom and I had Julie over, and we partook of a delicious dinner. Mom just outdid herself. This came right after I went over to Ciara's, and got a lovely deep tissue massage, and felt so many things leave my body. Ciara's lucky number is 44, which happens to be one of mine, too, and the whole house felt peaceful and alive. We discussed the planet Saturn, and how it moves into our orbit every 28 years, and I found more comfort than she could ever imagine in our discussion on that time between 28 years old and 30 years old, and how we are tearing ourselves down and building ourselves up again, almost violently, always essentially. She said some of those final traces happen in the first few months of being 30, and maybe these scar tissues are what I feel, like architecture, taking on new shapes inside me.

Ben is sick with a cold, and I just want to drop everything and nurse him back to health with chicken soup, massages, and good listening skills.

Love to you all -- to those who listen, and read, and offer their own words. Couldn't do it without you.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Last night was amazing, filled with forgiveness and strong breezes through windows. The breezes just whipped past the scaffolding and felt so good. Hugs were also in order. I missed contact. It's nice to have it back.

It's Easter weekend (I keep forgetting, but I'm remembering now), and I was reminded today of an Easter egg hunt when Jordan, Aaron, and I were kids (yes, yes, bros, I know, I always scavenged for the eggs in advance), and for the life of us, we couldn't find one of the painted eggs. It turned up months later, hidden in a space between the curtains of the front door in the Lemont house. Little mysteries do get solved sometimes.

Our house is looking beautiful these days, with new flowers and trees, with the lawndog and lawncat. Mom's been planting up a storm.

Have any of you read PostSecret, compiled by Frank Warren? It's a collection of postcards sent to him by strangers, where everyone reveals a secret. I read a few pages of the book each morning before I write. I tear up semi-regularly, and I smile and chuckle a lot, too.

I am happy with the way my novel is coming along. My characters are literally alive to me, and I'm in this heart-rending section where I want to reach through the words and hug L, S, and J. Instead, I continue to channel them.

Portland is so exquisite right now. I can't get over these cherry blossoms. I've been feeling so adult lately, and so childlike. I'm filled up and empty at the same time. Maybe this is the definition of cleansed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Reconciliation brings with it sadness and release. I am filled with waves of....possibilities, regrets, hopes, fears. Whatever I'm feeling, I'm just so thankful it's so pure, so filled with healing. Finally. We are on our way.

I've gone to so many people, asking for answers, angles, ideas, thoughts. And my loved ones have been the greatest of blessings, bringing their own life experiences to the table. I couldn't have done this without them. But what I've realized is that--while I needed to talk to my friends and family, to feel their hugs--in the end it all comes down to MY heart. My heart and his heart. Relationships of all kinds are filled with gray areas, with flaws, and some of the things I see & hear around me--from other relationships--feel right on inside me. But there have been times when I've been offered little nuggets that, while they feel sorta kinda right some of the time, aren't always carried out in the people offering them. Sometimes we are able to see others' relationships more objectively than our own.

This post is vague, I know. On purpose, I suppose. This is one of those that's definitely more for me than for anyone else.

I am thankful for such a lovely talk yesterday. A new sadness shifted into me, but for maybe the first time since all this started I feel that it's a healing, loving sadness. One filled with grace and compassion. The kind of sadness that actually washes away the other kinds of yucky sadness.

Why I know that we're healing: I'm still making him the CDs I promised. And I'm going to give them to him, too.