Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mood of the Day

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Twelve Months of Christmas (Part I)

Back at the end of 2007/beginning of 2008, I sent out an e-vite, asking if people wanted to sign up for my 12 part care package scheme. Here's the scoop: for everybody that replied "yes" to my invitation, I wrote their name down on a scrap of paper and plunked it in my trusty plastic pumpkin that has now gotten more action than any other pumpkin in the history of pumpkinkind. At the start of each month I draw a name randomly, write an email about that awesome soul to the entire gang, and then make a mix CD for that person that I tuck inside a care package and then either mail or hand deliver. I had let them all know that I may be using parts of the emails (and future exchanges) as blog entries. Here's Part I for you, the "winners" for the first six months, great folks in Nathan's life:

That's right, you can all hit "Reply All" and grumble at Rita! I will send a little message to the entire gang about the person whose name is picked. So Rita, my sweet. Now I get to pick on you for a second:)

Rita was my supervisor in Madison, WI at Integrated Community Work (ICW). Right off the bat she made me feel at home, both as a supervisor with her warm, smart ways of interacting with her staff, and as a friend to lean on. She's always called me her "adopted son" and I like to call her my "second mother." When I got into grad school and moved to Oregon, Rita and her husband took me and a bunch of others out for a last hoorah, and whenever I was back in WI she made sure we went out for a bite to eat and caught up. ICW was one of the best "work families" I've ever been a part of, and I feel blessed to have Ms. Rita be a part of my life. Rita -- you're a terrific mother, social workin' advocate, and friend! And you are just so saintly because you don't ever seem to expect anything in return. I love you. Gosh, I'm getting tears in my eyes....I have to stop being so sentimental....


Callie, you are the proud recipient of my February installment. I think it's fitting I picked your name. I actually woke up to pee during the witching hour (between 12 and 1) and decided to draw the name at that time from my little plastic Halloween trick-or-treat pumpkin where I have all your names. Voila! You win.

Callie and I met during undergrad at UW-Madison. We lived in the same dorm, on the same floor (in the "Let's Get Highlander!") and struck up a friendship based in part on Twin Peaks, scary movies, '80s music, and coffee. Callie is one of the most gentle souls I've ever met; I think I've always connected with her because people might have a hard time matching up our insides with our outsides. Callie -- at least in college -- dressed in black in a "Goth" way, and I'm sure she's been judged on all those black clothes and that black hair and that super-sexy black lipstick. I, of course, fit the school nerd part pretty well, but being gay I've always been judged for one lil' characteristic of mine. Callie is a great listener, a great writer, and a true friend. She's also tremendously talented at jewelry making; check out her website at One of my highlights with Callie was when she starred in my video production that I did for a film class. She, Holly Abing, and Deborah played lesbians from different side of the tracks, caught in a web of deceit, lust, and betrayal. Sounds better than it actually was. But hey, Jamie -- my co-director of Lipstick Lies -- and I got to put the credits in lipstick on a bathroom mirror, and I got to play Tori's "Siren" as some great non-diegetic music. (Aren't you film buffs impressed with my use of the term "non-diegetic"?). Callie, I'm so glad you stumbled upon my blog a couple years ago and that we've reconnected. Congrats on your marriage to Jason. Love you!


Laura -- it seems so fitting that I would choose your name since I start my new job at Our House in a week. And I think you're going to like the CD and care package.



No April Fool's, Karen. You won; you go, girl.

I woke up this morning, and went about my very ritualistic ways: meditated/worked out, showered and got ready, put on the coffee, added just the right touch of maple brown sugar to my know the drill. And I brought my plastic pumpkin into the kitchen, and after some coffee from my fabulous green mug (thanks to Karin with an "i") I shook up that pumpkin 'til he got a big ol' headache....and drew Karen's name!

I met Karen, her husband Fred, and their daughter Forrester while taking a creative writing workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia through the Summer Literary Seminar (SLS) back in the summer of 2004. I'd made some amazing connections there (including Ms. Punky Brewster-loving Julie Berman, who now resides in Portland!), and what struck me right off the bat about Karen was her sense of grace; her natural beauty; and her kind voice. We hit it off immediately, and I have so many moments of being with her and her family that are tucked in my heart. Little walks down dirt paths, eating ice cream. Karen and I -- while not in super-regular correspondence -- have one of those friendships, like many of mine it seems, where things pick up right where they left off whenever we talk and/or email. Plus, she's a terrific writer and a sharp editor. She, Fred, and Forrester are now joined by Anton, the newest member to bust a move in their family, and I would love to visit them back East someday; hey, they've promised to take me into Georgetown so I can do a photo shoot on the "Exorcist stairs"! (And yes, that is my warped sense of a good time.) One of my most beautiful memories/moments/experiences ever involves Karen & Crew: I'd bought a Let's Go! book on Russia, and in it was a cool story about a toymaker who, in the courtyard of his apartment building, built an entire playground for children, and all the rides were based on fairy tales. I'd been obsessed with the story of Baba Yaga the witch for years -- a result of falling in love with Lawn Dogs, my fave film -- and I couldn't wait to see the chicken-legged merry-go-round. But here's the catch: Karen, Fred, Forrester, and I took a cab ride WAY outside of where we were expecting to go in the city limits, and there we were with this super-nice driver who, like lots of people in Russia, drove his car as a "cab" to make some extra income for his family. Finally, after we thought we'd never get there, we arrive at the correct apartment building & courtyard -- only to find that the playground has burnt down. No kidding. We step outside, and the rides are warped and cracked, the clown's face melted, burnt husks of wood all over the place, shattered glass scattered like dozens of bad-luck mirrors. So you know what? We stayed. Fred and I took out our cameras, and we asked the driver to stay for a few minutes, and we weaved in and out of the wreckage, snapping photos and taking in the shadows cutting themselves down through shafts of light, all this fuzzy white flower pollen floating in the air. My favorite picture: Forrester and I perched down in front of the half-wrecked Baba Yaga merry-go-round. You could just feel the magic and energy there, sadness mixed with pixie dust, as is often the case. Truly one of the best half-hours of my life. The ironic part is that while my black-and-white photographs are still intact, copies sent to Karen and Fred, Fred's camera got stolen the day after we went to the playground. He'd had a brief opportunity, before the theft, to show me the beautiful and breathtaking images he'd captured. On the one hand, I do wish I had all those pictures, to frame and hold and look at from time to time, but on the other hand -- Fred's expense of a new camera put to the side -- it feels oddly fitting, like most of that experience should live in my heart and mind and make old and new shapes on a regular basis.


Hi everybody. I have such a natural high right now. Mom, Brenda, Charles, and I went to the May Day/Beltane/pagan celebration at the Rose Garden this morning. Bright and early -- 6:00am sharp. The Morris dancers were out in full flair & style -- detailed costumes, antlers and masks, flower garlands, and the famed May Pole -- of which I was one of the folks to dance around (purple ribbon, natch) and weave. Then we had an amazing breakfast at Francis, and the sun through the window felt so wonderful on my face.

And nothing could top off the day better than to go to my trusty pumpkin and pull out a name --

-- Margot was my therapist in Corvallis while I was attending Oregon State University, getting my Masters in Creative Writing. I've struggled on and off with depression throughout my life; sometimes this strikes people as odd -- "but he's always so optimistic and perky!" -- and some people "get" that to maintain that optimism, perkiness, and good cheer, I also have to deal with my melancholic, darker side. I'm all about the yin-and-yang. I'd hit a particularly rough patch near the end of grad school in 2005, where sadness and panic attacks were taking over a little more than my comfort zone allowed. I also was in the "beginning of the end" with L, and that brutal breakup left me with lots of questions and not enough answers. I have nothing but amazing things to say about OSU's opportunities for people to receive some help and guidance. They did a thorough, emotional job connecting me with the right therapist....Margot is an Earth Mother to the fullest degree. Her warmth, compassion, humor, and intelligence always shined through. I just felt that right off the bat -- I think I started crying in the first 30 seconds of meeting her! What's great about Margot is that I knew she really cared about me -- as a client and just as Nathan, that quirky guy who listens to too many female singer-songwriters and has an unhealthy love of Strawberry Shortcake and She-Ra. We chatted, laughed, I cried, she comforted, and through it all -- throughout the therapist/client relationship -- there was always this invisible silver cord of understanding and empathy and connection. I get the feeling lots of people can say that about Margot. She and I could almost speak in a shorthand, and one of the images that sticks with me, the image I shared with her, was of Letting Go -- I visualized it as throwing down a gauntlet, letting it crack against the ground. At our last session, I shared with Margot a couple mixed CDs, so it seems fitting I get to share another one these few years down the road. And she shared with me four rounded, smooth stones that currently sit in my bedroom on my desk next to my Special Agent Cooper and Audrey Horne framed photograph. She said she gives healing stones to people during their last visit with her, and the words to write on them just come to her, specific to the person. My stones say: "Faith", "Trust", "Success", and "Joy". Love you, Margot.


Hi everybody. Happy Summer. Ms. Bondurant is the illustrious winner for's funny, because I had some ideas for songs that Christina would love, and I even thought, "These would be perfect for a June mix AND a Christina mix!" Now I get to do both.

Christina and I met when we both started working at Volunteers of America Oregon; we attended the same diversity training seminar, and at one point I went up to her and asked, "Is that an Owl Cave tattoo on your neck?" Alas, yes, I found a fellow Twin Peaks lover! And it turns out Christina and I love lots of the same things -- creepy dolls, Francesca Lia Block's books, scary movies, Buffy & Angel, basically all the making for a Goth-filled bedroom flipped on its head with unicorns, rainbows, and the occasional puppy dog. Think of our twin souls as Strawberry Shortcake on a three-day 'shroom bender. We just get one another -- our interests, our personalities -- and it's nice to know someone can take the Wrinkle in Time tesseract approach to diving into my essence (yes, Christina, I used that word on purpose!). Christina has taught me a lot about: vegetarianism & veganism (and how to incorporate them into one's life); finding forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance; and keeping disciplined in both physical and spiritual ways. We both "fight the good fight" as they say, with our respective jobs, and we need the Christina's of the world to show us all that we need to be more hardcore about this sacred earth, about our career choices and their implications, about being the best person we can be because we do ripple out into one another everyday. I love you, Christina -- thanks for charming my (rainbow) socks off. It's nice to know you can walk into my bedroom where half the dolls are missing limbs, my Nightmare on Elm Street DVD collection resides next to my faerie statuettes, and I can discuss my love of slasher films and feel-good, heartfelt TV shows (Gilmore Girls, Felicity) all in the same breath, and you understand without batting an eye! And, in the end, let's face it, folks -- Christina and I have majorly kick-ass tattoos all over our bodies. That's what it's really all about (besides the hokey pokey, of course).
Part II will be coming your way after Christmas Day.

Love you all,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

quote of the day

"I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want
to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I
want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the
needs of humanity. I want your muscle."

- Robert Fulgrum

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quote of the Lifetime,

"Fairy tales are more than true:
Not because they tell us that dragons exist,
But because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

--G.K. Chesterton

Friday, August 22, 2008

Glitter Spears

Hi everybody,

I recently had an intense experience with a friend. I wanted to share part of my email to this person; I thought you might get something out of it, for your own current adventures, struggles, and triumphs. I've taken out references to anyone specific.


I had a dream a few nights ago that I thought I would share with you. You and I were sitting on my bed, and you were cross-legged. You'd had your baby, and you looked great -- just glowing with motherhood. We were talking about lots of "Life Things", and we were smiling and so confident with one another.

Being a parent in this world is such a lovely, credible, and often scary thing. Sometimes I picture being a mother, carrying around this growing and amazing life inside me, and how that must feel....knowing a SOUL is hanging out with you, and you are directly responsible for its well-being! That's a tough order, and one I know you'll pass with flying colors. We live in scary times, but we also live in beautiful times. And every soul we nurture with kindness, compassion, a liberal and open take on things....well....that's one more soul that will be a part of all the Good Energy that will get this Universe back on track to its main objective: Love.

Fear is horrifying, isn't it? Fear is the opposite of love. I've read up on various Eastern philosophies around this, how people think the opposite of love is hate, but how hate is actually the yin to love's yang. You can't have one without the other, because they grow/stir/emerge from the same echoing place inside us. Fear, however, is NASTY and wants to drag us down and create evil ghosts in our hearts.

I'm so excited to hear and feel your baby kick, to see XXXX's expression for the first time I see him after the birth -- that lovely open-eyed wonder -- and I'm so looking forward to sitting down with you after you, XXXX, and the baby are settled after the home birth, holding your hand, letting you take a deep breath and lean your head on my shoulder if you need to.

Lately I've been having conversations with people about how this is a year of transformation and deconstruction. That all our previous notions -- individually, and collectively, as the Human Race -- are being torn and reconfigured and reshaped, and it's only later in the year that the pieces will start to grow back together and make sense to us and leave us stronger and more warrior-like in the ways of peace and compassion. Have I told you my Glitter Spears visualization? There are so many out there who want to wield weapons, physical and emotional ones, and I chose to wield a Glitter Spear instead, which is my visualization of empathy, connection, forgiveness, and a bringing-together.

I'm so glad we had our talk yesterday, and were able to take a deep breath together. Sometimes those moments, while in the moment, can make us really uncomfortable: but the true discomfort comes from that festering blister, which grows and grows when things go misunderstood, untaken care of, not healed properly. I love you, my friend, and the Weetzie Bat tendencies in us both respect and appreciate one another so much! As FLB would say, you are one slinkster, slam-dunk chica!

Thanks for being you, XXXX. I can't wait to be Uncle Nathan and to spend some time chatting with your daughter or son, getting to know her or him.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mood of the Day? -- The Jury's Still Out

Quote of the day

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination.
All other wars are subsumed by it."

—Diane Di Prima, "Rant," from Pieces of a Song

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quote of the day

"If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf
howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as
near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It's a program, a piece of
hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery.
Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.

"To one degree or another, everybody is connected to the Mystery, and
everybody secretly yearns to expand the connection. That requires
expanding the soul. These things can enlarge the soul: laughter, danger,
imagination, meditation, wild nature, passion, compassion, psychedelics,
beauty, iconoclasm, and driving around in the rain with the top down.
These things can diminish it: fear, bitterness, blandness, trendiness,
egotism, violence, corruption, ignorance, grasping, shining, and eating
ketchup on cottage cheese.

"Data in our psychic program is often nonlinear, nonhierarchical, archaic,
alive, and teeming with paradox. Simply booting up is a challenge, if not
for no other reason than that most of us find acknowledging the
unknowable and monitoring its intrusions upon the familiar and mundane
more than a little embarrassing. More immediately, by waxing soulful you
will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what
the ancients considered a divinely animated universe. And on a day to day
basis, folks, it doesn't get any better than that."

- Tom Robbins, *Esquire* magazine, October 1993

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tough Times

In this world of war, poverty, and inequality, I make sure to focus my attention on the controversies and issues that matter:



I'm kind of obsessed with them lately.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Myers House

One of my new(ish) obsessions is the following blog:

Check out how they are replicating the Michael Myers house from the Halloween films from the ground up! It's fascinating to read their ongoing saga, and I have visions of sugarplums (or maybe bobbing apples with razorblades in them) of visiting sometime.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

not my mood of the day (though this mood does sound sexy, mischievous, and a touch dangerous)

Monday, August 04, 2008

quote of the day

"The unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because
that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention
to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.
When you're unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You
get to take yourself oh so very seriously."

- Tom Robbins, *Jitterbug Perfume*