Monday, December 31, 2007

p.s. Rest in Peace, Austin

Just got some sad news. Austin, our family cat, passed away yesterday. He had Jacqlyn with him, and she curled up in Jordan's bed with him Saturday night. She left for the store yesterday, and when she came back he had moved on. Austin was sick for a while, and I know Jordan and Aaron must be so sad that they weren't there with him due to their currently being in Scotland....I send much love to my my Austin's sister, Kaylee....and to myself too.

Austin: you were a crochety old fella, but we loved you and love you still! You will be missed!


Rounding Out 2007

I'm not sure what to make of 2007. Politically and economically, I'm just so incredibly frustrated. And when I see the budget cuts slashing themselves across non-profits, across education, across arts and forest/wildlife preservation, my heart gets a frown and my blood starts racing with fear and anger and uncertainty. But at the same time I get small smiles every time I see proud PDXers standing with their picket signs (I try my best to always honk "Good Jobs!" at them) and I just love, love, love reading people's bumper stickers; I'm happy to admit that I see MANY more "Stop This War!" and "No on 36" bumper stickers versus that War-Lovin' and/or "One Man, One Woman" bullshit.

I feel more educated this year, and I'd like to think (maybe accurately) that I've pushed my own personal boundaries in terms of exploring that gray area of Life (the Life outside and the Life inside). Politically, I'm thankful that Ben asked me to read Thomas L. Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem. I'll be the first to admit that many if not most of the "technical" historical details re: the history of the Middle East (and the current war) are fuzzy to me, and it feels great to place some balance into my understanding, from many sides of the equation. I also have done some personal soul-searching in terms of Life Goals and career goals, and re-evaluated what family and friendship mean to me and how best I can make my relationships as whole, complete, and satisfying as possible. (The most important relationship? The one with myself. I often forget that.) I've been devouring books like a fiend, not flossing as much as I should, not exercising as much as I should (although I'm slowly turning this around), sticking with my vegetarianism, doing well with my writing, loving Portland but starting to hate this dampness, this rain, this non-sun. 2007 overall feels a bit melancholy to me, and this is due to me and no one but me. I started to doubt myself, to lose some confidence in myself, and I am officially claiming 2008 to be the year of The Returning Tiger Warrior, my glitter spears in full arsenal mode.

2008: a year of writing, no (or, at least, less) drama, coziness, simple nights and simple day excursions (partly for simplicity's sake and partly for financial reasons), a few awesome visits with family, lots o' savin' in the starving lil' piggy bank, and tons of meditating, breathing, and honoring the details of the Web we all gracefully and lovingly live in.

Happy New Year, everyone. And may your 2008 be joyous and safe and strong.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Strange Bird

Well, I've been called a "strange bird" over the years on more than one occasion, and I guess now I know why. Check out this very cool National Geographic link that Alison sent me (thanks, Alison!):

Did you notice that the "Strange Owl" (yes, that's its official name) was first discovered in 1976, the year I was born? Convergence!

I know one thing: I officially want to start paying special attention to all the deforesting that is going on in Peru. The Strange Owl's habitat is being threatened. Let's all do what we can to keep Nathan's totem-spirit animal/daemon alive and kickin'.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Buck Girls Say Goodbye to the Gilmore Girls

Last night Mom and I toasted the final episode of Gilmore Girls with some Bailey's Irish Cream and -- yes, I'm admitting this -- a few tears. I followed these characters for seven seasons (and the equivalent of seven years, speeded up on a two-year DVD timetable) and, wow, I'm done. I feel nostalgic and rewarded at the same time. Cheers, Lorelai and Rory! And cheers to the snow in the forecast, and the beautiful snow that came down on Christmas Day as the perfect present.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

p.s. Happy Day after Christmas

Well, the poor 26th of December doesn't get much recognition -- just some post-Christmas grumpiness. So, Mr. 12/26, I wanted to let you know I had a great morning of writing (placing my cup on my spiffy new owl coaster Julie got me), and that I'm excited about the upcoming new year. And, again, so perfect to spend the day yesterday with Mom, Ben, Carol, Matt, Julie, Martha, Andy, Karla, and Steve. I feel warmed -- literally -- by my new owl and pink doll lamps. And I loved chatting with Jordan, Aaron, and Stephenie over Skype and getting to see their reactions as they opened their presents....


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I've had a lovely few days with Carol and Matt, Ben's mother and brother. It's been a great extended weekend of movies, walks, cleaning, presents, surprises, hugs, love, and good conversations.

Merry Christmas to one and all, and to all a good night.

Aaron -- Did you know this shirt's eyeballs go right over my nipples and the potato man's mouth goes right over my navel?

Marieke -- I am just in awe of the card you sent me. That image is so magical and raw and mysterious and somehow industrial.

Ben -- I love The Velveteen Rabbit; I am extremely touched. And I'm glad you are equally touched by my present for you.

Again, I've just had a lovely holiday filled with owl and spin rings, purple glitter lights, awesome t-shirts, cool comics, perfect b-day and x-mas cards, and much more.

I love you all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice

Even though the solstice doesn't officially kick in until the 23rd this year -- and on Sunday there is supposed to be some WEIRD goings-on with the alignings of the planets -- I wanted to wish you all a lovely solstice and a Happy Shortest Day of the Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dead Silence

Welcome to a sliver of Nathan's sick mind. This movie has so much that I adore: creepy dolls, moats filled with limbless mannequins, ventriloquist dummies with murderous intents and murderous owners. Not to mention that the story is actually scary and fun, and the directing & cinematography are top-notch. Thank you, James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and John R. Leonetti. I thought Ryan Kwanten was a perfect choice to play Jamie Ashen (can't wait to see him in Alan Ball's True Blood, based off Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire book series), and hey -- you can't beat Donnie Wahlberg playing a detective. Finally, I just love the really dark faerie tale element to everything, and for those still haunted by the clown in Poltergeist and want a second, more bloody dose of him, well, this is your movie.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa Jaws

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thank you, Aaron

Thank you, my brother, for passing on this lovely and inspiring video clip of the Northern Owls. My totems sure are magnificent, aren't they?


Friday, December 14, 2007

Dandelion Wine

I recently finished reading Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, and I highly recommend it to all of you. As I said in a previous post, it's one of those books that makes me feel like "it was written for me." On the one hand, the story(ies) could be seen as "simple": the dynamics between parents and children, siblings, friends, older and younger generations. Many if not most of the characters talk in this Beaver Cleaver way with phrases like, "Aw shucks, Dad! God darn it! I really wanted that baseball card!" And you can picture some 1957 boy pumping his fist and stomping his tennis shoed foot inside a quaint little barbershop. But what's powerful about this book--and seductive and sad and magical--is that almost every situation gets turned on its head, so the reader is left with a feeling of melancholy and slight disturbia. Characters regret their words; children get lost in the ravine; old women accept their age -- and their approaching deaths; a tarot card dispensing witch glassed inside a carnival machine may or may not really be a touch alive, and you don't quite know if it's magic, surrealism, or "just" Douglas's, the 12-year-old protagonist's, imagination. There is a feeling of Darkness throughout the novel, an almost literal force of nature that is part God, part changing-of-the-seasons from summer to autumn, and part shadowy bogeyman who seems to both slumber and awaken in the town of Greenfield, IL's ravine. In the end, this is a coming-of-age novel where a boy starts to become a man, and both loses and gains so much in the process. Hard truths only come from suffering, even if that suffering is in a glance, a conversation gone awry, a friend moving away and making one forget about the awesome taste of ice cream.

I am currently reading Bradbury's sequel to Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer. It came out in 2006 (49 years after the original), and it seems fitting for me that I don't have to wait 49 years but get to jump from Part 1 of the story immediately to Part 2. I also am looking forward to Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Illustrated Man, which are on my bookshelf. (I have hazy, crazy images of the film version of Something Wicked This Way Comes, and I bet it would make a really cool double feature with Return to Oz. Both are kids-movies-that-aren't-really-for-kids.)

Have any of you read Ray Bradbury? The guy's 90 and still pumping out these amazing works! He is one of my new favorites....

....And up next, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre followed by Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm on a classics kick.

Friday, December 07, 2007

p.s. to yesterday

p.s. #1: I was able to catch Tori on Kink FM the day of her show, and she played Silent All These Years, Little Drummer Boy, and Almost Rosey. How cool -- to be in my bedroom getting ready for the show and know she's doing a mini live set right here in PDX.

p.s. #2: While waiting in line to get into the show with my VIP pass, I saw Aimee Mann walk by and point up at the brightly lit sign with Tori's name on it! Surreal, eh? To be waiting to hear one singer I love and happen to see another I admire stroll on by within a couple feet? Plus, the fact that Aimee was pointing at the marquee....hmm....I just got a big ol' kick out of the whole thing.

p.s. #3: I am wearing my "I Believe in Peace Bitch" shirt right now. Yay.

p.s. #4: Luna is doing well, and her tail keeps wagging at a faster and faster rate.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Isabel, Luna, & Nathan

Tori came onstage as Isabel on Tuesday night, lighting up her cigarette, her long white wig cascading down her back while her fairy-elf ears poked out, turning her into a modern day version of Kira from The Dark Crystal. Tori lit up the stage amongst white and purple stars, drapes and strobe lights, her amazing band, and an auditorium -- the Arlene Schnitzer Hall -- that was just gorgeous with its intricate architecture and red velvet drapes and chandeliers and comfy seats and powerful sound system. Highlights for me were Tear in Your Hand, Mountain (which I'd never heard before), her cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire, Precious Things, Hey Jupiter, and loads more. Tori-as-Isabel and Tori-as-Tori inspired me, as always, and filled me with electric energy. And going in early with the VIP pass, and getting to hear Tear in Your Hand in sound check with about only 40 other people may just be one of the best moments of my life. Ben was sweet and dropped me off and picked me up, and that meant the world to me to be able to come out of the show and hop in the car and gab away at him and show him my T-shirts (I can't wait to wear my "I Believe in Peace Bitch" shirt all around PDX).

Luna had her surgery yesterday, and the doctor said it was the easiest one she'd ever done of its kind. And Luna -- what a powerful soul, she just keeps wagging her tail and spreadin' the love around the house even with her stitched eye socket and cone on her head. Jan is just the best mom in the world, and Ollie is a gentle stepbrother/new boyfriend (he's so respectful of her and is being just wonderful with her). And I awoke this morning and cuddled into a ball with Luna on the living room couch and petted her and napped with her. Ben said it best: that while it's hard to see her in pain while she heals, it's also for the best -- if Mom hadn't taken her in for a check-up, then we might not have realized she needed this surgery and there would have been more serious consequences down the road. So we have a house filled with love and support (and yes, some melancholy and lots of tiredness, too).

Nathan-as-Nathan is doing all right. He had a weird day yesterday -- a homophobic comment relayed about me to a coworker, a panic attack during conferences with my students (!), the goings-on with Luna. But, while this has been draining, Nathan also feels full of crackling light and muse-inspired creativity. So he's cultivating everything, and adding to his garden, and the world is just pulsing with colors and light and fresh air.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tofurkey & Other Nathan Morsels

Wow, it feels like it's been forever since I've sat down and written you all. Maybe it's because the holidays have come upon us in a rush, and Thanksgiving -- while only a week and a half behind us -- feels so much farther away. Tofurkey Day was just wonderful; I can't believe how scrumptious all the vegan dishes were. Here we go: pepper hummus (Ben); Jan's Vegan Stirfry Delight; pate (Christina and Ryan); vegan rice pudding (me); tofurkey and field roast with stuffing (C and R); red wine (the wine gods); vegan pumpkin pie (Frey Meyer's?); vegan tofu chocolate pie (Ben); greenbean casserole with cream of mushroom (Jan); and loads of other little goodies. We had a lovely day of Totally '80s! Trivial Pursuit, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and good conversations. I feel very at home in C and R's digs -- their kooky dolls, dangling postcards, Xmen drinking glasses, collection of vinyls, their Everybody Poops book in their bathroom.

My mood has been up and down lately -- not in extremes, necessarily, but more wave-like than usual. My heart can't seem to make up its mind what kind of space it's in. I'm both okay with the weather (when it's less cold, less windy) and totally not okay with it (the winds whipping through my bones, the rain lashing against Chloe's windshield). So the weather on the inside and the weather on the outside seem to be vying for attention as of late.

Small moments, as usual, have been sticking with me: reconnecting with Julie over amazing soy hot cocoas at Chance of Rain; talking with Christina on the phone so we could comfort one another; writing out owl holiday cards; updating my address book (seems silly, I know, but I feel so much more organized!); reading Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine (one of those books that gives me the "this book was written for me" feeling); sleeping in; working on Christmas presents; writing; finishing Twin Peaks with Jan, Ben, Christina, and Ryan; spending time with Luna and Ollie (her surgery is on Wednesday); having dinner at Nicholas's with Jennifer, and then going back to her place for a tea & photos-of-Japan visit; giving Jan lots of hugs and receiving many in return; Ben's cute expression when I brought him coffee yesterday as a little surprise. The list goes on. And I currently am on pins and needles because I get to see Tori in concert tomorrow! You will definitely be hearing from me about that one.

Friendships -- both specific ones, and the idea of Friendship in general -- have been sifting through me like clumpy sand. I feel like some of my friendships have changed over the last couple years....lost touch with people I never thought that would happen with....felt distanced from others in shocking ways....been connected to yet others in uplifting and intricate and surprising ways....Do any of you ever experience that feeling of: "Is it me? Is it them? Is this just what happens as we get older and our priorities and personalities shift and change and deepen and crack apart and heal?" On the one hand, I feel disappointed, and on the other hand I feel like I need to let it go, that it's just a natural progression of Life and Personality. I think (think, mind you, not know for sure) that I have a pretty good grip on who I was, who I am, and who I'm striving to be, and in that Nathan-Blender get mixed all of you. Like anything -- and anyone -- we can't always know if the mix is going to come out just the way we want it, but we try anyway. I have faith and trust in myself (and joy and success) and these things carry me through with a warrior's wisdom and steady hand.

p.s. Jan found the coolest thing (it's a secret) and she passed it on to me, and I'm keeping it close to both hand and heart to guide me into December and then 2008. Here comes my inner She-Ra!