Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lilly Pads, Easy Bake Ovens, Pie Coolers, Slutty Photo Opps., Flying through Trees, & Then Some

Back at the end of 2007, I had high hopes for this new famed year. Jordan told the family it would be a lucky one because his birthday falls on 08-08-08. Both the “0” and “8” are signs of infinity/divinity, plus I’ve personally always related to the number 4, which has its own place in certain spiritual circles and which makes me think about Mom, Jordan, Aaron, and myself – a solid unit going forth together.

Can’t say 2008 has been that spiffy, to be quite honest, but I DO feel, if it’s not a lucky year, then it’s one of transformation. Finally the sadnesses and angst and turmoil seem to be clicking into their proper puzzle shape (even if that’s only in my own heart and head), and I can almost feel myself growing stronger, shedding skins, allowing myself to go into those uncomfortable places where I’m forced to ask myself difficult but necessary questions. Do I feel “good”? No, not really. But do I see the bigger picture and how I’m better for all of this? You bet. In the end, I’m really learning more about two main things in 2008: forgiveness and letting go. Forgiveness is a powerful gift, and yes, I’m referring to forgiving oneself just as much as I’m referring to forgiving others. And it sure is tough to do so for both! Especially when certain relationships and situations don’t offer you closure, and the closure you may have come to in your own heart is stained, maybe curdled like spoiled milk. Letting go for me means trying not to make everybody happy all of the time (insert rest of the saying here). It burns me out, and Nathan gets lost in the process somewhere. So, slowly, I’m finding those little chinks of time to read, meditate, not feel like I ‘have” to get back to people this very second, basically to just allow myself to be human and to get off my martyr pedestal I can occasionally hang out on while drinking too much coffee. Being plain ol’ human is strange and wonderful. It’s exhilarating to bask in my flaws and mistakes, to stitch them into my Tapestry with curiosity and a sense of adventure rather than judgment and disappointment. This could be interpreted wrongly: in other words, it could come off as an “okayness” to do wrong, or hurt someone’s feelings, or to not live up to one’s personal potential and calling. I mean quite the opposite: it’s about working toward goals (personal, professional, you name it) while also realizing I’m not a robot who is going to always say the right thing, be there in the exact way someone needs me to, make the healthiest choice 100% of the time. Simply, it’s about being. Being kind and doing kind things, striving for the White but being okay with the Gray (and not purposefully, manipulatively working for the Darkness). Finally, it’s also okay for me to say, “You know, that person was wrong in this scenario! They did screw up! I don’t have to be a saint who sees things as 50/50 when that’s not the case whatsoever!” Tough questions. Hard-won answers.

The hardest part of letting go revolves around my family. My mother, Janice Adele Veronica Bonaguro Buck Sinclair, is my greatest role model of integrity, and I’ve had to make a conscientious effort to step back, instill some healthy distance while simultaneously offering unconditional compassion and empathy. Codependent tendencies run in everybody’s blood, and part of truly loving someone is realizing you don’t need to provide tidy bows for them – and they don’t need to provide tidy bows for themselves, either. Faith, ultimately, is a yin-yang relationship with oneself.

Speaking of faith (it’s obviously been on my mind, as is evidenced by my last two posts), I’ve definitely had my “crisis moment” this year. Only with baby steps am I learning that God/the Universe/Nature/Inner Silence doesn’t owe me a damn thing – or vice versa. Life, simply, is, and directing my negative energy toward some human need for karmic justice is only going to make me more negative, and to attract more yucky energy toward myself. I’m sick of being angry. Petty. Resentful. Jealous. Let’s face it – I have absolutely no reason to be. I’m a blessed soul, and I’m grateful.

I’m forever grateful to Marieke for giving me the word “convergence” to work with (a healthy replacement for that myth, the “coincidence”). Get this: for about a year now I’ve had in my room one of my mom’s antiques, a painted-white wicker contraption that was used for….well, heck, I had no idea! All I knew was, hey, it has four legs, has two wicker circles/shelves – one high, one low – for me to place my art and figurines on, and it must’ve been used in the past as a side table of some sort. Glenn and I were hanging out, and suddenly he gives the wicker thingy a quizzical glance and goes, “How long has your mom had that? Did she happen to buy that at an antique garage sale at such-and-such location last summer?” By cracky, she did! Turns out, this old-fashioned pie holder (for after the pies come out of the oven and need some time to cool off) used to belong to Glenn! Glenn has become a good friend in a short amount of time, and besides our mutual love of doll limbs and morbidity, we now have a pie connection! (Glenn has also been experiencing some owl dreams, and we’ve had many other moments of “Oh my gosh, that connection is weird” over the past several weeks. The guy has the greatest taste in antique jack-o-lanterns and late 1800s magic tricks & board games. And anyone who also likes to tie mock nooses around doll heads and hang them in his home gets an A+ in my book.) Here’s another convergence: on Friday I decided to take a peek at the last novel I wrote, which I completed in grad school and have lovingly tucked to the side for now. Not many of you know this, but I took part of the protagonist’s name and part of her best friend’s name from my close childhood friend, Amanda Peterson. (Protagonist: Amanda. Her friend: Maria Peters) I’d been wanting to look at the novel again, let the characters sink into my system, and they just opened up inside me all over again on Friday. Lo and behold, I checked my email Sunday – and Amanda Peterson has contacted me, after maybe 16 years of us not knowing what was up with the other! I was so touched, so happy to hear from her, and I wrote her this morning and filled her in on the latest goings-on with me. How interesting to reconnect with someone after so long, when we both have canyons of stories to share. I’m excited. How great! Plus, we can reminisce about “first kisses” in kindergarten, Slip-n-Slides, Easy Bake Ovens (read: I was a REALLY gay little kid), Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Halloween costumes, and more.

Refreshment has come lately in the form of vacation. Many months ago I planned the “perfect trip” for my family (sans Aaron, who is just finishing up his Masters in Fashion Design in Glasgow, Scotland). Mom, Jordan, and I created some amazing memories during Jordan’s 10-day visit. Some of the highlights: spending the first Friday with Jordan while Mom worked, book shopping and bar hopping; going to the coast to visit Tara, walking down to the ocean shore as dusk got slowly swallowed by night, stumbling upon an abandoned, raging bonfire with the lighthouse and bright moon behind us; the Oregon Country Fair, with faeries and Green Wo/Men, pixie children and yummy hemp milkshakes; three days at the Lilly Pad tree house bed and breakfast, with the radiant Sandy Lilly, and the unbelievably kind staff at the Out N About Treesort, where we flew through the trees and air on ziplines, went horseback riding in the forested hills, swam in the spring fed pool, and ate organic breakfast scones and quiches; my semi-slutty photo opp., where I wore the Green Man mask I’d been wanting for the past three visits to the Fair and finally got – I couldn’t help but pose for 3/4 of the pictures as if I were a cheap model for the book cover of some sci-fi/fantasy/erotica novel for gay men that you’d find on the 50 cent rack in the back corner of your local haunt (those are NOT the ones that made it into this blog posting!); those last couple days in Portland, singing karaoke with Jennifer, finishing Twin Peaks with Tara, eating lots of food, sleeping in. Jordan and I have moved on to a new phase of our lives where we are more open with one another; we share more; we’ve let many things go; we trust. It’s lovelier than words could ever say.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The X Files: Why You Should Believe

One of my favorite rituals is opening up my Entertainment Weekly and reading its movie reviews. Not that I always agree with the critics’ evaluations of films, but I find it fascinating to see what perspectives they draw their commentary from. Sometimes I’m left thinking, “Well, gosh. That’s not what I took away from this movie, but I do see where they are coming from a bit.” And oftentimes I agree with their reviews, which is why – when I’m really aching to get into the multiplex on a Friday night – I hold off on temptation and don’t read about a certain film until I have my own initial opinion to go on. Finally, there are those instances where I’m so in disagreement about a critic’s response that my irritation – and rebellion – stick with me, and I feel an urge to put my own thoughts out there in defense of a certain movie (or TV show, record, book, you name it). Alas, this brings me to The X Files: I Want to Believe. I’ve decided it’s my personal mission to make sure people realize what an amazing follow-up this is to the nine-season-running television show, as well as a worthwhile – and, let’s face it, far better – movie than the first X Files film, Fight the Future.

Time and distance have served creator Chris Carter and stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny well. The many years between the end of the show and I Want to Believe have left a nostalgic and strengthening curiosity in fans’ hearts: Are Mulder and Scully still together? What happened with their son? Are our beloved FBI agents still waiting for that famed alien takeover, or have they moved on to chapters in their lives that involve different desires and mysteries? Time has also proved a necessary challenge to Carter & Co.: Will non-diehards still care about this once-famous believer and skeptic duo? What storyline could possibly continue into the future of their lives, satisfy X-geeks that’ve waited for this moment to arrive, allow new fans (and generations) to feel welcomed into this world of conspiracies and miracles, and make 20th Century Fox, the movie studio, comfortable with lighter pockets? As it turns out, Carter presents us with a shrouded-with-secrecy sequel that answers the public’s questions while also allowing its producers to stay skimpy on the budget. His brilliant answer: Go simple. Focus on Mulder and Scully’s relationship (which got shortchanged during the show’s final two seasons due to Duchovny’s limited-appearance contract). Explore the root of the darkness that drew this yin-and-yang couple together in the first place.

Without spoiling too much (and I Want to Believe you’d do the same for me), X Files 2 reunites Scully and Mulder several years after their supposed happily-ever-after walk-off in the series finale. The reason for their estrangement isn’t offered to viewers right off the bat, and this is only one of many clues that Carter wants to make us work for our enjoyment, for our uncovered plot and thematic layers of X, Y, and Z. When our hero and heroine do reunite, you can almost feel the flames of chemistry crackle between them, and this fire of connection is strengthened by middle-age, far too many battle wounds, and a wearied melancholy that comes with searching but not always finding. (The 1990s behind-the-scenes tension between Duchovny and Anderson also lends itself to the frustrating paradigm of being drawn to someone but not always knowing why; both actors hit their marks with one another in a lovely mixture of trigger-tripping and hushed tones; their characters rediscover that it’s this very tension that makes them work harder, individually, to push their own potential and prove to the other why “I’m right.”)

The film, like its predecessor, opens with a bang, albeit a metaphorical one. An FBI agent goes missing in a scene of adrenaline-charged directing at its best. Soon another young woman is run off an isolated road in the middle of a storm by a mysterious man driving a snowplow. The only figure with any insight and witness wherewithal is Father Joe, a Catholic priest who claims to catch glimpses of these women and their whereabouts in psychic visions – and who just happens to be accused of more than 30 cases of pedophilia. Suddenly, Mulder is pulled out of his self-imposed hibernation by Scully to help locate the women and perpetrators, and it’s Mulder who later convinces Scully to stay involved – and to stay tapped into her own version of faith. Mulder’s beliefs are of the New Age variety while Scully’s fall under more traditional Christian belief systems. You might say Mulder’s “God” is the lovechild of science and the paranormal while Scully wants to fit her daily goings-on – the mundane, terrifying, and everything in-between – into a nice box of Catholic dogma. She’s even got the gold cross around her neck to prove it. Thus, in the end, the film’s title says it all, that even when fate feels stacked up against us, we want the forces of good to be on our side. We want to believe that, even if we don’t know for sure if we’re being invaded by aliens or conspired against by governmental agencies, the explained and the unexplained do hold meaning in the bigger (spiritual) picture.

If the television show and the first film are called The X Files, you might secretly think of this addition as The Why Files: Why are we ultimately here on this earth? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why would a criminal (i.e. pedophiliac priest) get to experience a level of spiritual mystery and rekindling of faith that so many of us long for? Set against the television show’s original Vancouver, B.C.’s haunting landscapes, filmed on a budget considered tiny by today’s standards, and distanced from expectations of cramming in nine year’s worth of mythology and recurring characters, creator Chris Carter grants viewers the perfect gift: he brings us back to basic questions about faith and our shadow selves that he explored in the show’s pilot and first few seasons. Some critics and fans – and not just in Entertainment Weekly – have stated disappointment that this second movie is like “any regular FBI show or movie” and that “the things in it could really happen.” I assume they were expecting more spaceships and alien abductions. For better or worse, the abductions in The X Files 2 are of the human variety – which makes it all the scarier in my opinion. And which makes the show’s previous – and understandably respected – supernatural bent feel like a fever dream that Mulder and Scully are always trying to wake up from. At one point they discuss capital D Darkness, how it seems to always find them no matter how hard they try to run away. But what Carter unveils, ultimately, is this: running from the Darkness is impossible because it’s inside us. We create it, birth it, and feed it, and it’s only our own faith that can save us not from monsters and boogeyman and space aliens, but from ourselves.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

quote of the day

"To be truly atheistic, not just agnostic, you have to take the
nonexistence of God on faith."

- I.M. Boyd

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Lately I've been picking up on my details in my everyday life. I think I've always been pretty good about this (the writer in me), but lately a couple things have jumped out at me and made me smile.

One: my House on the Rock coffee mug. The House on the Rock is this funky, quirky, spiritual, kitschy, magical, loony home in Wisconsin that you can tour -- it has dolls and hidden doorways, an Infinity Room and cobblestone walkways leading to barbershops with mannequin re-enactments, a mechanical orchestra made of lions, panthers, other creatures of the jungle, all playing instruments once you plunk your coins into the little metal box. I've often thought I'd like to get married at the House. My favorite room is the Carousel room, where hundreds of animals swirl around on the never-stopping carousel with thousands and thousands of Christmas lights glowing all around them, and NOT ONE of the animals is a horse....you'll see a griffin, a pegasus, sea horses and unicorns....Strung above the carousel are dozens and dozens of mannequin-angels, wings strapped onto the old antique women, flowing dresses hanging from their limbs. I've been to the House on the Rock twice, and I love my cup, and the other day I was sipping from it while writing and I noticed a peacock tucked into all the sensory-overload. He faced forward, in that circular part above the creatures you would sit on, and I'd never noticed -- or really taken in, on a conscious level -- that he was there before. You might be thinking, "Cool, a peacock. But what's the big deal?" Well, peacocks have been on my mind a lot, and in other people's dreams that they've shared with me....I've written about some of this. Slowly, this interesting bird has been moving through the cracks and working its way up the ladder of Nathan-Notice. I love that I found a detail in this cup that I hadn't really paused and admired before. It was a brief, wonderful, pure moment.

Two: my mother collects antiques, and in another case of sensory overload, our home is just filled to the brim (coffee cup-like!) with buffets and lamps, picture frames and grandfather clocks, statuettes and silverware and Oriental wall hangings. My description doesn't do it justice; if you've been to the Buck Motor Inn, you know EXACTLY what kind of sensory overload I'm talking about. Over the years, everything has formed a nice, comfortable place in my heart; it feels familiar, and -- at times -- I take it all for granted. Recently I walked by one of Mom's china cabinets, and peeked at the top shelf. Sitting there was something I've noticed time and again but never really put two-and-two together. It's an old wind-up music box, from Germany, and there's an old woman and two children in front of a cottage. I moved closer to the music box and realized....this was totally a scene from Hansel & Gretel! Those children are, indeed, the title of the story, and this woman is the witch/crone/taker of innocence. Hansel is handing her -- hmm, taking from her, I guess -- something that looks like taffy or cinnamon toast (!). She's leaning into him. Gretel hangs back. The cottage, with its sloped, thatched roof, beckons the three of them a touch ominously. Later, I held the music box, dusted it off, tried to get it working (it didn't), and then placed it in my room for the time being. How wonderful to have a depiction of a fairy tale right there, and I've walked by it thousands of times, and for whatever reason my heart went, "Time to notice!", and I did.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ice cream, coffee, paradoxes, and Essence -- what more could i ask for?

From Rob Brezny, my favorite astrology guru:

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): "Ice cream is both innocent and erotic,"
writes Klintron on Technoccult.com. "Coffee promises to be both
stimulating and relaxing." These examples illustrate the idea of
"paradessence," or paradoxical essence, which was developed by Alex
Shakar in his novel *The Savage Girl.* I suspect that you'll specialize in
paradessence in the coming days, Capricorn. Will that make you feel
tormented by crazy-making contradictions or will it excite you with an
expanding sense of complex possibilities? It will be largely up to your
intentions. Which would you prefer?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

quote of the day

"All of this is the Earth educating itself. Think of the language that has
come alive in just this one afternoon: Do you think we are solely
responsible for that? Good heavens, no! Think of the sacrifices required of
billions of creatures to make such language possible.

"Take a single sentence: 'The fireball exploded twenty billion years ago at
the beginning of time.' That sentence required nothing less than the full
twenty billion years of cosmic development.

"It is not 'my' sentence; nor does it 'belong' to the theoretical scientists
who first predicted the existence of the fireball, nor the experimental
scientists who first detected its heat; it is a sentence of the whole Earth.
Nothing less than that is required for its speaking forth.

"The sentence could not exist without the oceans, the rivers, the air, the
life forms, and all the thousands of years of human cultural activities.
Every sentence is spoken by the whole Earth."

- Brian Swimme

p.s. gods, not ghosts

Michael Faris just lovingly informed me that it's "gods", not "ghosts" that do that hankerin' out of the machine....I think I was hearing/seeing what I wanted to hear & see, since ghosts have been weighing their fare share on my mind lately. As for God, I've been having major discussions with him/her/it/me/us/them over coffee and cinnamon rolls about what the fuck is going on with my family. I mean, God, pass the cream, leave the tip, freaking drink up, whatever, Mister Blister! I put my order in a long time ago! My legs are getting tired from standing in line. So there.

deus ex machina

"Deus ex machina" translates roughly as "ghost out of the machine", and lately I've been haunted by ghosts -- both living and dead ones -- and have wondered about this phrase time and again. You may have heard this term before -- it refers to an implausible, near impossible, ending to a story where something/someone saves the day and makes everything okay (as was often the case in the long-ago Greek dramas). In other words, the struggles, trials, messes, and flaws of the characters are all wiped off the Life Chessboard by an angel, knight in shining armor, someone waking up and realizing it's all been a dream. I'm learning to let go of expecting my own ghost to bust out; it's a continuous process for me. Expecting someone to suddenly knock on my door and apologize and say everything I only think I want to hear? Um, no. Winning the lotto to save the day for my family? Not gonna happen.

Spiritually, I don't want a deus ex machina to rescue me. I'd be cheating myself out of the experience. If a magical genie came along and said he or she would grant every one of my wishes, I think I could genuinely say I would decline. It doesn't mean I don't think about these possibilities; and I believe luck has its place in the tapestry of our day-to-day existence. I may not believe in happily ever afters, but I do believe in happy accidents, beautiful convergences, the non-coincidence nature of Life. I guess you could say that I feel the Web all around us, and sometimes we're riding high, sometimes low, and no external ghost is going to make or break us. It's those internal ones we need to focus on, celebrate, nurture, and forgive.