Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Samhain (a.k.a. Halloween)

“It’s the ancient Celtic New Year’s festival, when the animals were brought down from their grazing grounds for the winter. The crops were harvested, and there was a great feast. Places were set at the festival dinner for those who had died during the previous year, as a sign of honor and faith in the continuing of the spirits of the dead…[It is] a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving…Pope Gregory III in the eighth century dedicated November 1 All Saints’ Day, and October 31 All Hallows’ Eve…The Christian Church, and not for the first time, took over and renamed a pagan holiday.”

--From Madeleine L'Engle's An Acceptable Time, the fifth and final book in the Time Quintet

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I think this is funny.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mood of the Day

Quote of the Day

"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the
world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its
purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more

—Andrew Harvey, *The Return of the Mother*

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

mood of the day

quote of the day

I took a different way to work this morning, and -- posted artfully and creatively on a telephone poll -- was the following quote. I Googled it, and it's Mr. Tom Waits that brings you this one:

"This is just memory mixed with desire."

I believe the exact quote is "...time is just memory mixed with desire", but I can swear the "telephone artist" changed it up a bit, which leaves things more ambiguous, up to one's own interpretation. (But I was driving, after all, and I could have flipped "Time" and flopped "This" in its place in my own mind.)

In any case, I see "This" as Life, capital L, and it's one of the most true, raw things I've ever seen and heard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Returning from my recent trip to NYC has left me refreshed, hopeful, at peace with lots of things. This year has been an interesting adventure, where I’ve been sewing spirals of thought & experience together, creating a stronger Life Quilt for myself. I’m able to breathe more easily now, more strongly, with more confidence.

I got lots of reading done on my vacation (four books), and there happened to be many overlapping themes, one of which dealt with peace v. happiness. Gretchen explored this theme recently on her blog,, where she talked about joy v. happiness, and how joy (peace) seems to be more transitory but also more attainable, more “everyday” but also more powerful because we can grasp those everyday moments regularly. (I am paraphrasing here or, more accurately, spinning my own idea from her words.) One of my favorite writers, Francesca Lia Block, has a great line in Weetzie Bat that reads, “I don’t know about happily ever after…but I know about happily.” This is a wise way of saying it, too. In other words, if we spend too much time trying to be Happy (capital H intended), we’re going to face lots of struggles and lots of disappointment. But if we focus on letting happiness and sadness flow together, if we allow moments of peace and joy to spark us, shape us, keep us motivated, then we’ll be more at ease in our own skins and in what’s to come, both the good and the bad. Life is tough. But Life is also wondrous.

Here are some passages that really struck me from my recent reads; you’ll notice that the latter echoes/complements the quote I recently posted from Mark Frost’s The List of 7. (All copyrights belong to Madeleine L’Engle and Ray Bradbury, respectively.)

From Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters:

“The earth was still in the process of being created. The stability of rock was no more than an illusion. Earthquake, hurricane, volcano, flood, all part of the continuing creation of the cosmos, groaning in travail.

The song of the wind softened, gentled. Behind the violence of the birthing of galaxies and stars and planets came a quiet and tender melody, a gentle love song. All the raging of the creation, the continuing hydrogen explosions of the countless suns, the heaving of planetary bodies, all was enfolded in a patient, waiting love.”

From Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned:
(*this passage/dialogue is spoken by a possible vampire in the novel, but I can hear all “Others” speaking it, those who are marginalized, those who live and breathe and feast in the corners and edges of mainstream society)

“Listen, now, let me provide the history of the rising tide of disbelief. The Judeo-Christian world is a devastation. The burning bush of Moses will not fire. Christ, from the tomb, fears to come forth should he be unrecognized by doubting Thomas. The shadow of Allah melts at noon. So Christians and Muslims confront a world torn by many wars to finalize yet a larger. Moses did not walk down the mountain for he never walked up. Christ did not die for he was never born. All this, all this mind you, is of great importance to us, for we are the reverse side of the coin tossed in the air to fall heads or tails. Does the unholy or the holy win? Ah, but look: the answer is neither one or what? Not only is Jesus lonely and Nazareth in ruins, but the populace at large believes in Nothing. There is no room for either glorious or terrible. We are in danger, too, trapped in the tomb with an uncrucified carpenter, blown away with the burning bush as the east’s Black Cubicle cracks its mortar and falls. The world is at war. They do not name us the Enemy, no, for that would give us flesh and substance. You must see the face or the mask in order to strike through one to deface the other. They war against us by pretending, no, assuring each other we have no flesh and substance. It is a figment war. And if we believe as these disbelievers believe, we will flake our bones to litter the winds…

“Once the war was simply between Christians and Muslims and ourselves. As long as they believed in their sermoned lives, and disbelieved in us, we had more than a mythical flesh. We had something to fight for to survive. But now that the world is filled with warriors who do not attack, but simply turn away or walk through us, who do not even argue us as half unreal, we find ourselves weaponless. One more tidal wave of neglect, one more titanic rainfall of nothings from nowhere and the Apocalypse, arriving, will with one neglectful gust blow out our candles. A dust storm of sorts will sneeze across the world and our Family will be no more. Destroyed by a single phrase which, if listened to and leaned on, simply says: you do not exist, you did not exist, you never were.”

Aaron picked me up at the airport when I landed at JFK, and this meant the world to me, that he would greet me, especially since it’d been so long since we’d spent time together. And, as always, Aaron and Jordan were wonderful hosts, and we had lots of time to walk their dogs in Prospect Park, eat lots of good food, play videogames, watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, drink too much, sleep too much (thank god), listen to great music, and chat away with one another.

I loved Peter Shaffer’s Equus, directed by Thea Sharrock and starring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe (he of Harry Potter fame). The story was one I immediately, innately connected with. Once in a while a work of art comes along (a play, novel, portrait, you name it), and our soul just goes, “Yep, I’m with you, thanks for reminding me there are others out there who see things the way I do, at least in part.” That was my experience with Equus. Talk about powerful, disturbing, sad, poetic, homoerotic, haunting, with an ache of Loneliness – Loneliness almost its own character – that longs for human connection, a “mate” so its identity can almost be shaped into something else entirely. This may be the best play I’ve ever seen. And Jordan – fellow lover of horses and their kin, unicorns, pegasuses, the list goes on – was the perfect person to see it with.

Went to the Met, loved the Egyptian and African collections most.

Loved seeing Karin, Ida, Stephenie, Jim, Carl, others.

Shared some awesome “Nathan Time Moments” where I went for walks, treated myself to coffee at a local café, curled up on Jordan’s couch in such a way that the sunlight bathed and warmed me for hours….

Danced my ass off (as best my gimpy knee would allow me) to Rusted Root at their concert.

Wrote pieces of poems in my head.

Embraced gluttony.

Embraced relaxation.

Right now, I’m a happy camper (or would that be joyous camper or peaceful camper?), made happier even because Mom and I shared an amazing day upon my return, where we shimmied over to Sauvie Island, picked out misfit/deformed pumpkins for Glenn and me to carve, ate amazing corn-on-the-cob and caramel apples, and stopped at a yard sale where we picked up a three-foot Barbie wearing an Amish-looking dress who now is propped in the kitchen window so she looks like she’s screaming for help out into the alley just in time for Halloween. Sigh. Good times!

Jordan and Aaron – I love you, and I miss you like crazy already. Can’t wait for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quote of the Day

Take from the below quote what you will, and read it in the right context. I have close Christian friends -- the REAL kind of Christian, and I have a healthy suspicion part of my Nathan Soul can be branded with a pure "C" -- but I do think, especially in our scary political/religious climate, there's much that can be culled from the following musings:

"'Now the Christians have had a good run. No question about it. One dead Jew with some neat tricks up his sleeve, promoted like hair tonic by a few fanatical followers, and one converted emperor later they've got themselves a Holy Empire to shame any in history. Going on two thousand years. How did they manage it? The secret of their success was simplicity: Concentrate your power. Wrap it in mystery. Hide it inside the biggest building in town. Lay down a few commandments to keep the peasants in line, get a regulatory grip on birth, death, and marriage, throw in the fear of damnation, some smoke, a little music --there's your first commandment: Put on a good show -- and customers will come crawling on their knees for the stale crumbs of that Feast of Saints. Now that...that was a business....

"So: How do you change man from a dim-witted, randy farm animal to a domesticated, productive tool ready to roll up his sleeves and pitch in for the greater good? There's the puzzle anybody that aspires to rule has to crack, be it religion, government, business, what have you. And here was the plain genius of the Christians' solution: Convince your constituents of one big lie. We hold the key to the gates of heaven. You want to make the trip, brother, you'll have to do it through our auspices. Sure, advertising how dodgy the Other Place is helped close the deal: Fear puts those poor ignorant sods down on their knees lighting candles like there's no tomorrow. And let's be straight, Old Nick's always been their real matinee idol -- the man you love to hate, he'll scare you so bad you piss in your union suit, but you still can't take your eyes off him. He's the one puts the ladies in a lather, not that simpering, doe-eyed Messiah. Throw the Devil in to spice up the soup, and you've got yourself a flawless formula for religious hegemony. Worked like a Swiss watch. Nothing came close.

"But the march of progress -- and you know it moves independently of our measly concerns; there's mystery for you -- the march of progress demands that those in power change right along with the times. We're at the big table now, boys, playing with a whole new deck of cards: heavy industry, mass production, international economies, weaponry like you've never dreamed of. Pious homilies and weak cheese pulpit-pleading to the customer's spiritual virtue just don't cut the mustard anymore. The Christians, as they are fond of saying in Kentucky, are just about shit out of luck. Excuse my French.'

As the sun sank below the horizon, its dying rays lit Chandros and the sandstone wall behind him with a fiery orange luster."

--Mark Frost, The List of 7, 1993
(*all copyrights belong to Mark Frost)

Tequila shots with Shannen.

Last night I dreamt that Shannen Doherty and I were hanging out at a local LA bar that was one of the filming locations of the original 90210's pilot. We chatted about random things with her close friend who sat on Shannen's other side, and I felt happy to share in some wonderful, warm moments with Ms. Doherty. On the other side of the bar -- across that space where patrons can order drinks, you know, with the curved bars and the squishy drink mat -- Jennie Garth hovered in the shadows, drinking silently, reservedly, alone.