"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

We Must Love

My friend Sarah is on her way to India. She's among the finest of the people I've gotten to know fairly well since moving up to these parts, and an amazingly talented artist. We have a few of her pieces around the house, really great paintings, and honestly one of the main things that set the mood and made me really want to live here.

Now she has some of her work online too:

Paintings By Sarah Finestone.

I really love Sarah's art. It strikes such a great balance between portrait and pastiche, symbols and subjects. That you can see my friends and roommates in some of them probably makes it more exciting for me personally, but I feel that she's really in a good spot stylistically, and hopefully will go places with her creative endeavors.

If I were a rich man I would be a patron. Maybe someday I will!

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My Love Is A Monster

Spending a week inside the Robbins Family Nest got me thinking quite a lot about my own rather barren romantic landscape. I'm being screwed by O'Hare Airport (as usual) and have several hours to sit here, so I figured I might try and organize my head a bit about this.

I've come to see my decision to relocate to remote Humboldt County in part as a semi-conscious decision to get away from women. In one way it could be seen as a sort of self-purification or monastic thing. Alternatively, it could be seen as a decision to flee. It's unclear, but all in all the decision was right for me, and I am where I am, so I sort of try to look forward.

It occurs to me lately that sex and love are in some ways skills, requiring energy, attention, and more than anything practice if you want to do well. It's like a bicycle in that you never forget how, sure, but it also really seems like the kind of thing where you can lose your edge; or, to be more specific, where I currently feel dull and edgeless.

So there are flashes of paranoia that, having taken myself out of things, I may not easily find my way back -- that I could end up drifting along nonplussed by the world, libido curled up asleep inside me where I put it to bed. That's an unpleasant thought.

And then, thinking of that mis-attributed quote about how our greatest fear is our own power, I'm immediately struck by the opposite idea, that maybe what troubles me isn't ennui or boredom, but rather a fear of living, of what I might do or be or become.

That would explain this semi-conscious self-divorce. If I made a move to cut myself off from sex, I must have done it for a reason, and that reason probably has something to do with me not being very happy with myself.

And, thinking this, I know immediately that it is true.

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So Saturday night I got back up on that art horse (which I've only been talking about for eight or nine months, so that's pretty good), and did a nice little talking piece at our christmas party talent show. [[T.S.L.|Text is here]]. It was very well received, and even though it was far from my best work, it was up to my own standards and I was pleased. I haven't shown off that side of myself too much since I moved out here, so it was nice to be able to let the artist out, to do something worthwhile with people's attention.

It turned out to be a more preachin' thing than I'd originally intended. That reading was latent in the verse and I'd just chosen not to rehearse it with that in mind, but the crowd responded on that wavelength, and our home in Westhaven was the original community church, so it seemed appropriate. It also made me realize the last time I did something performative I was officiating Frank and Laura's wedding.

Maybe I should just go with it, create myself a guru preacher character. I like being coy and vulnerable too much to go full out Reverend with it, but at the same time the form doesn't have to be so didactic, and it could really work for a lot of things.

To be honest, as an adult I've always equated art with religion. My training tended towards the ritual and having come up without a conventional religious framework, the process of creativity and the divinity of Really Good Performance/Product are what underpin any personal notions I have of mysticism and magic. It's a human and social thing for me, the moments the acts evoke. It's old-time; clap hands and all.

Anyway, it left me more exhausted than ever, but feeling high and mighty in my soul.

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My room's a mess, but I don't care
I'm tired of sitting at my desk
You can't bother me
I'm far away from you
Got to get away
You can't ruin my day
You can't tell me what to do
You can't make me think I love you

Shoot it in the arm, you can't hurt me
I'm on my way to Catalina
And I'm not going to read your books
My tank's full of squid
And it's getting light
And you whores, you can't make me want
'Cause I got all the fish I need
On the deck of my boat
And you can't take my heart when I'm here
'Cause it's a long swim home
For your cute little arms

I'll steal some gas, fix my motor
Put on my Beatles tape
And get you out of my head
Get you out of my head

Ah yes, here I am, far away from everyone
And the only fish I smell
Is on the back of my boat
I want to go but my motor's broken
There's no scotch tape, I'm out of gas,
So it looks like I'm stuck here

I'll steal some gas, fix my motor
Put on my Doors tape
And get you out of my head
Get you out of my head

Sort of an anthem for my love life for the past year and a half. Not necessarily a great thing, but it's a fuckin' rockin' song.

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Freedom is the Devil's Handshake

On the topic of "the Good Old Days," I have some semi-strong feelings. I'm as dubious of nostalgia as the next guy, and while I love the process of maturation, I fear and loathe the narrative of "getting old." I have all sorts of fun memories of more free, innocent, wild and irresponsible times. Good times. Fun. Naturally given a more regularized, orderly, and subdued existence memories of pure fun are attractive, but those aren't really what I'd call "the Good Old Days."

What I look back on with envy are the times in my life when I really knew what I wanted, and felt like I was getting it, in both the big and little pictures -- times when it could be reasonably argued that I was, indeed, "living the dream." That's what I'm talking about.

My early 21st-Century dreams may have been unrealistic, hazy, naive and fraught with delusions of grandeur, they were still pretty awesome, and to be perfectly honest I don't feel like my dreams were wrong; I feel as though I failed in bringing them to reality. In spite of my (best?) efforts things didn't work out, and in a series of dark skirmishes over 2003-04 the purest hopes I can go on record as ever possessing were all put to rest.

It can and has been said that I just need to get over it, and in some ways I have, but this is my history. It colors everything I do. It is why I am the man I am. I'm not trying to throw a pity party -- objectively I know I'm lucky, and doing quite well -- but I do wonder why, when talking with my two best friends and finally getting down to a level, I don't have much positive to say for myself.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel (?)

The law of diminishing returns is kicking in. This is the third straight weekend worked through, which is something I don't really mind terribly -- I've gone months and months like this before -- but which I recognize as questionable in effectiveness over time. If all you do is work, it's easy to slide into a mode of semi-constant semi-production: there's nothing to look forward to at the end of a task but the next task, so you don't really dig in and focus the way you might if, say, you had a big fun trip planned once work was done.

Yeah, 12 hour days at 66% productivity; belly up to the desk and stare into your pint of workahol, rummy. This is how so many "professional" people end up with broken relationships and no social life, I think, and it's frightening to see it might be happening to me.

Life is contrasts, a holy waltz of experience. Change is the only thing we can perceive. I believe it's true on a literal/micro level, and more importantly at a philosophical meta/macro level too. The feeling you get from moving fast isn't the speed itself, it's the delta, the change. It's physics. Force equals mass times acceleration, the difference in the velocity-vector over time. That's what we feel.

Which is a highfalutin way of saying I've been more than a little rut-stuck lately, and rolling with the dayjob 24/7 isn't helping much. I feel numb and restless. It was a convenient distraction at first, a nice excuse to shut out petty personal problems, but now we're down to the grind, and the pressure is throwing all my psychic flaws into sharper relief than ever. I'm struggling. The most important thing is to stop struggling.

Things I'm spinning my wheels over:

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Autumn Rhythm XXVIII

Storm's a'comin'. Flocks of geese headed down from Oregon signal a turning point in the season. This morning the wind kicked up from the South -- not its usual direction -- and knocked out the county's fiber optic link, which kills the internet as well as most ATMs and credit card machines. Over at Bank of America they were only letting people in and out through the back door one at a time. All systems down. Torrential rain will no doubt follow soon.

Still, I'm feeling pretty good. The loamy smells of autumn and the sound of dry leaves skittering along the ground bring me a kind of nostalgic peace; crisp bittersweet memories of adolescence in Eugene, frozen breath and teenage heart-thobbery. Times of greater purity, back when there were all sorts of things to believe in, peace and prosperity, when cynicism was just a romantic pose.
the other week to describe times when you go out or stay out after your roommates go home.
My hand is still pink and tender (hurts to go into my pockets for stuff) but whole and presentable to the world. I no longer feel freakish about it, and I'm hoping I can regain that sense of momentum I had coming out of Burning Man: strong and sexy and free, walking tall and lithe, without those dark circles under my eyes. The El Sargento Propane Explosion certainly kneecapped that feeling, but I'm optimistic about getting it back now.

To that end, it was truly a Good Thing™ to get out on the scene this past weekend, jumping back into the world of art and theatre vis-a-vis a 24-hour/10-minute play festival in Eureka. These local avant-guardians have somehow occupied a historic movie theater, from the '30s, and are renovating in into a hub of creativity. Much glory to them.

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It's A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock and Roll

It's the last day of summer, a summer of many scenes, travel, exploration, some hard yards. You learn things about yourself, things you didn't even know you didn't know, those fabled unknown unknowns.

You might come back from Mexico and discover from your roommates that you displayed a rather more zesty case of wedding-fever the other weekend than was previously known. It's all second-hand knowledge because you honesty don't remember yourself, and it sounds kind of tawdry, but making out with your friends' ex-girlfriends is a staple of Portland culture, so it's all good, right? Right.

One just like the other, Sin's a Good Man's Brother.

You might have your friends from Burning Man roll through, and go on and on about your square-ass work history over pre-dinner cocktails, and find out that the one you had an eye for already has a man back home. It's all in the game, but would you have found this out if you handn't had a burned-up hand and talked a bit more pretty? Might it have played differently, more like you'd hoped? The world may never know, but you try not to stress it. You resonated. That's rare and true and more than enough.

It's been two good years since I've felt clear like I'm starting to, back around the last time I returned to Brooklyn, post-Vagabender, starting up as a legitimate young man. I found myself a pretty nice girlfriend then, or maybe she found me (as has tended to be my m.o.), but regardless we had a pretty good thing for six months or so in Park Slope. The Belle do Mois. As has also tended to be my m.o., I got lured away by another bright sweet one, a real peach, and then I moved to the hills of California and didn't come back, lost her too. I wonder in hindsight what was really behind that decision to run.

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The Emergency Kisses

Headed up to a wedding in Oregon that should be better than the 10-year High School reunion I skipped. I'm feeling some comedown from the high and heady days of re-entry. Life's a grind sometimes, and loneliness is such a drag.

Haven't done any Burning Man writing to my chagrin, other than an outline and two paragraphs. I feel the moments slipping away, but trying to run my whole show this week while my Baja-based cohorts weathered Hurricane Henriette left me little mojo in reserve. I'll be joining them post-wedding for a week of retreat and grand planning, which should be interesting at least. Maybe I can get'r'dun there. I'm hoping for some nice peaceful moon and ocean action at least; rapture at sea.

Weddings, man. I love the big family party aspect, and of course I love my friends being in love and tying the knot, but they cast a long shadow too. I realized the other day that virtually all my significant non-recent lovers are married or engaged to be married (or had been married and then divorced). Maybe that speaks to my good taste, and I don't bring it up in anguish over anyone who "got away." It's just a contrast.

There's no rush, but it makes me realize yet again that finding that partner-type relationship (the one I've been talking about lo these many years) is more than a matter of finding. It's also a matter of building and growing. Trite, but true.

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Why I Write

So I've been reflecting a bit on my reasons for engaging in this hellfired pursuit we call "blogging." The last post I made was written, like a lot of my posts over the years (and personal paper journal entries too), in a fit of confusion and uncertainty and unhappiness. Expunging angst through sheer exposure is one of the benefits I get from the whole thing, a kind of cleansing exhibitionism.

And indeed, after putting it out there and deciding to take care of myself and rest easy for an evening, my attitudinal gyroscope corrected; by Sunday I was feeling quite alright. Mission accomplished.

My original reasons for starting this up were to let people keep up with me, to help provide an easy way to keep those stretchy/elastic social ties over the years, and to nudge myself lead a more honest and open existence. My intended audience is my friends and family and comrades, who (I think) appreciate the perspective I articulate, or at least get a kick out of my stories, even though I'm sure at times they're shaking their heads thinking, "oh no, honey. Noooo..."

Over the years, the exhibitionism angle has come and gone; activism has waxed and wained; and I've come to really deeply appreciate the outlet and daily practice of simply writing. It's a muscle, and it gets better with exercise. That's a constant value, and one I didn't really think of when I started.

So I'm happy to cast my words into the ether, and sometimes the ether answers back. It's flattering really, that I can string sentences together good enough to provoke a response, and more often than not I find nuance and insight from the contributions of others.

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