Thursday, July 30, 2009

p.s. to Strange

I am honored, touched, and happy that Meagan asked me to be a witness at her wedding tomorrow with The Beekeeper, Matt. A special moment with special people.


I've had a strange week so far. Not good or bad, just strange:

*Tara told me she's moving to Phoenix in a month. I'm happy for her, and sad for me.

*Aaron was walking down the street and said "Excuse me!" loudly while re-enacting a story, and the actress Julianne Moore walked by and thought he was yelling at her and turned around and gave him an accosted look on the streets of NYC.

*Aaron let me know that Mr. R, our old physics teacher at BFHS, is on Facebook and has had a sex change. This doesn't surprise me, and I'm very happy for her, that she was able to be true to herself. I remember thinking of him as kind of a misfit, like me, someone who always let the bullies get to him; he was just one of those teachers who sometimes let students walk all over him. I hope that now she has renewed strength and self-confidence. Discovering this about "Mr. R" is a highlight for me this week.

*At a work lunch this week, I ended up sitting across from one of our board members, whose niece is YA author Julie Halpern. I checked out Ms. Halpern's website, and was amused and entertained by the parallels in our lives: both lived in or near Lake Geneva, lived in or near Chicago, went to UW-Madison, love YA fiction, have been on The Bozo Show, are obsessed with Buffy and 90210, and those are just a few....She and I just exchanged a fun couple emails over the last day. I really appreciate her sense of humor.

*I'm re-reading Stephen Chbosky's the perks of being a wallflower, and it's re-opening all these feelings and sensations inside me. It's wonderful to be back in Charlie's, the protagonist's, world (which is also eerily similar to my own upbringing in lots of ways).

*Am getting really excited about Alaska.

*Am fretting about money like nobody's business.

*The heat here in Portland has been excruciating -- in the 100's, and in the mid-90's for the next few days. I've been sleeping in the basement on the couch, and still waking up all sweaty and gross. My mind's also been groggy in the mornings while writing, like my brain's an attic that hasn't let all the heat out. Just stuffy.

*I awoke this A.M. from apocalyptic dreams with hopeful endings. Also dreamt about jungle safaris and spiritual quests.

There you go, a tidbit.


Monday, July 27, 2009

My "surrogate" brother, Justin (aka Fake Buck) and his family -- Nikki, Dante, and Wesley

Friday, July 24, 2009

I really want to see this.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Been thinking lots about....

This post is kind of a sequel to the last one, which has stayed with me the last couple days.

One habit I didn't mention is my love of used books -- when I go into a bookstore, say Powells, I like to purchase and bring home the copies of books that have damaged covers and wrinkled pages. They are just as deserving of love, if not more. They've been places, seen things, gathered scars. The same rule applies for all my mannequins and dolls; I tend to be drawn to those with missing limbs or cracked faces or dirtied clothes. We all need a little rescuing now and then, don't we?

Been thinking lots about "hyper-vigilance", or what I think of as "the flinch method". The last couple years have brought so much change into my life -- or, more accurately, I've brought and accepted change at a seemingly rapid rate -- and now there is a certain stillness to my days. This makes me uncomfortable at times. I'm finding myself trying to fill my time so I don't always have to "think." Luckily, most of my time-gaps these days have been healthy ones (i.e. going for long power-walks with my headphones and getting my heart-rate up and feeling the earth thunder underneath my tennis shoes). I was talking with Meagan about all this yesterday; she's the one who told me that what I'm feeling is called "hyper-vigilance" in social work lingo. In other words, I've been used to "bad" things happening, and my body and heart have been preparing themselves for the next "bad" thing. But, first of all, I have used these as opportunities to become stronger, so in the end they're not bad at all. Secondly, bad things are ALWAYS going to happen! I don't mean that pessimistically. It's just inevitable that we'll go through a breakup, or lose someone close to us, or have something change in our career, or get into an argument with a close friend, or discover something dark about ourselves our somebody we love. But it's also inevitable that we'll feel hope, and strength, and connection, and forgiveness. So right now my body feels like a teacup. I'm filling up with strength; resting; gaining momentum. Letting the Universe incorporate all these lessons, letting the lessons flow through my veins and actually be felt. Really, really, really felt. This has been kind of scary. But it is also filled with grace and a raw, innocent curiosity.

Mom was just telling me about Sarah Palin's new book deal, and we talked about Palin's hunting laws in Alaska, and I can't this image out of my brain: a bear left to bleed and die with its foot in a trap because it's not protected under Palin's laws that got passed. I picture wolves getting gunned down from the sky, their blood spilling over ice and snow. And now Palin is getting paid what, $5 million, to tell her life story and get a book published? How fucked up is this world sometimes?

I've also been thinking lots about my comments in my last post about my characters, their ink-and-paper lives. I wonder why characters chose to come into our realm, and us into theirs maybe. What is it that makes all of us want to leave our mark? Why do we crave a canvas or book spine or name on a monument? These are questions Margaret Atwood addressed in her The Blind Assassin, and these questions haunt me continually. It all seems about immortality, a tangible kind that grounds us in ways that seem...physically safe. Because spiritual immortality can feel abstract, and filled with literally an infinite amount of questions.

Isn't it strange how in one day we can feel gray, and so fully alive with everything crackling through our veins, and sad, and curious? I think it's about making life like a tapestry, letting these various emotions ebb and flow and be one with each other, rather than trying to separate them and overanalyze them.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hope (or, Rituals)

I awoke from the strangest dream this A.M., where a young woman in a rundown apartment building was trying to cast a protective spell of Hope around me. Thing is, it didn't work. But this isn't negative, you see -- I got the distinct impression that the lesson learned is this: Hope comes from within; it isn't handed to you with a wave of a wand. Voila!

My OCD has been a little worse than usual lately, but my ways of reigning it in have also been stronger and healthier. Eating right (or better, I should say) and exercising more sure do make a world of difference. Along with a good night's sleep. Been thinking about my little daily quirks/rituals/habits that make me look like a basketcase -- and possibly charming -- at the exact same time.

Some of my rituals:

*kissing my rings before I put them on, for good luck
*chatting (internally) with my mannequins, dolls, and statues, and giving them different places in the home so they can shift around and flex their creative muscles
*adding a dash of cinnamon (and sometimes a drip of vanilla extract) into the coffee grounds for an extra splash of magic
*while driving, solving "mysteries" on license plates of the cars in front of me by deciphering the acronyms/letters (i.e. 234 CNS...."Oh, 2+3+4=9, which is a spiritual number -- three trinities combined -- and CNS stands for 'Christopher Nathan Sinclair', my first name, middle name that you all know me by, and last name that my family all once considered taking instead of Buck, so this is a sign that it's going to be a blessed day for me!")

....Okay, I think I'll stop at three, but only because I don't want to make a joke out of them. Although I do think my habits are fun(ny), and that we all do these kinds of things but just don't always admit to them publicly. One thing some of you know about me is that I love to communicate with the characters in my stories, and that I believe -- I should say, I know -- they've chosen me to tell their tales. Just like we're flesh and blood, they are ink and paper, but their realm/dimension is just as real, and in an Alice Through the Looking Glass kind of way, they might be curious about us the same way we're curious about them. We're the ones who get channeled like muses. That's why writing is not a solitary art, in the end; I get to spend time with these people almost everyday, and they surprise me constantly. I owe it to them to flex my spirit, hone my craft, be a good listener, and to follow them rather than yank them in a direction I think they want to go. Critics have said, "But doesn't that take away from your own responsibility to the story and to the craft?" As I stated above, no, not at all -- I still need to practice and be disciplined and check my ego at the proverbial door. But I suppose, out of all my rituals, this is the one that people might scratch their head at the most, this idea of a divine force outside ourselves that we do such a delicate dance with, one of trust and safety and letting go. Because in the end, I do believe everything is imbued with energy -- people, rocks, rivers, characters, your computer screen you're looking at right now -- and that all the particles are working together in physical and spiritual ways to paint the Puzzle of the Universe. The older I get the more I realize I know less and less about things; funny how wisdom is a paradox; what we end up learning is that we don't know much about anything at all, and that the gray zone takes over the black-and-white more often than not, but we also are more calm because of this knowledge, more willing -- hopefully -- to not cling to old tenets that feel worn and sad and misused.

So that's all. I just decided to sit down and do a stream-of-conscious type freewrite. This is what popped out. Enjoy!


p.s. My muse's name is Cassandra. She inhibits my first mannequin, whom I got in Holland, Michigan. She practically screamed at me to come home with me. She's lovely and old and majestic, and right now I've got her dressed in a blue sleeveless T-shirt Jess sent me. Thanks, Jess -- she likes it, and it's a perfect fit! Oh, summertime....

Friday, July 17, 2009

A new website/blog I've discovered that I love!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farm Sanctuary

Monday, July 13, 2009

What an interesting weekend! I’ve been kind of sleep deprived for a couple days (bad insomnia), so my filters aren’t on, nor my abilities (I think) to truly convey what a weird and magical couple days I’ve had. Tara arrived on Friday night, and we relaxed with Mom on the back porch, chatting about books and politics and Brothers & Sisters, Tara’s new addiction (thanks to me).

Saturday included:
--breakfast at Francis Restaurant (if you haven’t been there and tried their bourbon butter French toast, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore)
--a stop at the Title Wave Used Bookstore, where I geeked out and nabbed myself some keepers
--bopping to a couple garage sales. I nabbed a pair of skull/crossbones pajama bottoms.
--watching Wendy and Lucy, filmed in the Portland area. Stories about people and their pets break my heart, and this one had a sad-happy ending. Jerry often asks me: “Why do you always write about dead pets?” Because I am haunted by some stories in my own past, and trying to figure out this kind of loss.
--dinner at Pastini’s (yes, we were gluttonous and treated ourselves all weekend). I ate up that sage butter butternut squash ravioli like nobody’s business.
--the TORI AMOS concert! She played some of my faves – Precious Things, Black-Dove, Siren, Joni Mitchell’s River, Winter, to name a few – and she looked smashing in her long blue gown and those kick-ass heels that could seriously send someone to the moon.
--an…interesting young woman in line who told Mom, Tara, and me her life story in about 15 minutes without taking a breath
--seeing L at the concert, whom I haven’t seen in years. We had a brief, powerful conversation, and I could tell he’s in a much better place, that he’s wiser for some lessons offered him (as am I, with my own lessons). He asked me if we could maybe hang out now and then, reconnect, build up a friendship again, and I told him that I felt those doors were better left closed, that I’d moved on. We never know what the future holds, do we? Any door can be reopened. But for me, I feel it’s best to see my time with L as a chapter in the past. It was, in the end, really wonderful to give him a hug, to see that he’s grown up. And to also feel my own strength in my veins, to know I’ve lived and learned.
--dancing at Red Cap/Boxxes after the concert (you were all there in spirit, dancing to Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” with me)

Mom and I awoke on Sunday and headed out to an Ecstatic Dance class with Dawn at Nia, a studio downtown. We grooved to ambient tribal beats, moving in both hushed and frenzied tones across the hardwood floor, looking out the huge windows at skyscrapers (Portland’s version of them anyway) and fog and early risers walking down the quiet sidewalks. After the class, the three of us headed out for coffee, and then I whisked myself away to Julie’s, where we workshopped my novel for a few hours over pizza, pastries, and fizzy sodas in champagne glasses.

All in all, I packed A LOT in this weekend! Thing is, everything was refreshing and spiritual and charged with good energy, even at the weird moments. And there were lots of little connections and crevices not mentioned here, for sake of semi-brevity. Everything just felt….web-like from start to finish, Friday through Sunday.

And now it’s Monday, and I haven’t slept well since Friday night, and I’m kind of in a haze. But I’ll take this haze in exchange for a weekend that deserves its own episode of a quirky TV show.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Today is July 8th, 2009, thus making it 7-8-9! I think that's really cool!