Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday haze has been- ambivalence toward screwball romcoms and getting into the Wire and drinking tea to get over another cold and tech geekery and too much gingerbread and warm low-lit parties with cries of happiness of all sorts. Supreme lack of sleep. Rilke's really wonderful novel. Plenty of evenings with girls-getting-ready montages spooling out before them- a personal favorite. Espresso shots and faces full of milk foam bringing back entire lives of memory in a single cup, nearly every day. And tinkering with plans for the coming seasons, and feeling thankful for the good people who let me in their lives. Goodness you are dears.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

There is this scene from A Star is Born with Judy Garland where she sings "The Man That Got Away" that is the pinnacle of songbird with session musician casual backstage jam and is full of sadness and longing and triumph that I am totally in love with and watch over and over when I should really be going to bed. Also, most of the things I fall in love with tend to remind me that I am, in fact, a gay man.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I feel sleepy all the time; haven't quite gotten my groove back when it comes to the daily coffee shop gig grind. There are enough sad old men to keep me in short story writing for days. It's like I am in a loop of " A Clean, Well Lighted Place." It helps that this town feels out of time-but I look and feel so much older doing the work I began at eighteen. My jaw feels sticky, my feet ache at the end of the day, my brain hums at a low frequency, trying to balance one goal against another, registering everything but not quite processing any of it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I have been a busy bee! In one week I managed to get much of what I hoped for in my life coming home- to work at a local cafe, to develop a business with my hometown friend, to spend lots of time with family, to enjoy the company of old friends, to feel a part of a small community. I think I do belong here. So many things I have felt grateful for- watching "Bored to Death" with a good buddy, hiking along Northern Californian foothills and seeing birds diving and swerving through trees, sewing like crazy, kissing my sweet baby friend over and over, sending models down a walkway to a blasting soundtrack of Fever Ray, eating from a well-stocked pantry, watching West Side Story with my little sister, meeting with local designers, feeling alive and full and drunk on fun and plans for the future. It's been totally surreal and intense and I feel exhausted but ready for another week of all of it. Home. Okay. Here I go.

Friday, November 13, 2009

As in the Wallace Stevens poem “It was evening all afternoon.” This week I have enjoyed going to go the café across the street to read and drink coffee and eat muffins, and ended up mostly watching the young families and the timelessness of their lives and the kids eating croissants without worry. All of the young girls wear striped stockings and rain boots and messy ponytails and say things like “I know how to say hello in Spanish. Ola. Ola.” Their sweet and total guilelessness makes my heart ache.

 I read great books that become great ghosts that keep me company. I go to bed with them and stay awake much too late. Nicholson Baker and Lydia Davis make rather fine friends when you are feeling kind of lonesome. Chekhov is good too, of course, and some Tolstoy, but not too much. Baker reminded me of what an excellent poet Elizabeth Bishop is and I re-read a bunch of her stuff and looked out windows and felt quiet and alive. I worry so much about the future, but am trying to just appreciate what we have: one moment to the next. My flaneur nature- growing bigger, taking me over, propelling me into whatever is next- and me, trying to accept it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

While I am in this limbo period I am at a bit of a loss as to what I should be doing with myself. I have been listening to Vince Guaraldi's lilting, soft piano sounds which always make blustery fall blues more bearable, warm and suddenly fuzzy. I went running up to the top of Mount Tabor and began losing myself in it's winding ways, found myself drinking rose with pals and eating their home-cooked, love-stewed meals, spent time reading plays and pioneering narratives and contemplating over the lives and thoughts of rugged, spirited creatures like John Muir and Lewis and Clark and Opal Whiteley and imagined the long days of Louisa May Alcott and was charmed by her old journal writings. I walked around listening to musicals on my headphones and all of their "I Wish!" openings and springy optimism. I got briefly obsessed with Stephen Sondheim, particularly the complicated triumph of Sunday in the Park with George and the weird vignettes that make up Company and the vivacious breakthrough that he and Jerome Robbins made with West Side Story. I drank fortifying coffee, read edifying poetry, woke one morning and did the sun salutation next to my bed. I have not, however, cleaned or packed a thing, and spend every day wondering if small pleasures are big exercises in procrastination.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It is thanks to the thoughtful, powerful work of writers like this that I am caught off guard in public places, suddenly flushed and teary.

Advanced reader's copy, y'all! So far- deeply sad in tone, slower than expected in pacing, crafted with the sort of humaneness and ease and inventiveness with language one has come to expect from this gifted writer. Sigh...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eating candy, cookies and drinking soymilk. Thinking about old folk wisdom and how habits are hard to break. Wondering and wandering, seeing sights through new glasses. Reading dark stories, being haunted, contemplating the future, wanting to grow up.


I have been thinking a lot about the cozy feeling I got in the warm afternoons sometimes spent in the the Oroville library. I spent hours hiding myself in the periodical shelves running my hands over Rolling Stone and Vogue and thinking about glamorous lives lived in faraway cities, lives I could hardly fathom. I swung my legs underneath the little desks reading Harriet the Spy, bathed in fluorescent light. I sat on the carpet looking at William Steig, puzzling out his word conundrums.  Long minutes were spent reading children's biographies about Princess Diana and Jim Henson. The dryness of the heat and light outside that made me sweat as I rode my bike home, it felt good. I wonder if it will feel that way again even as my adult body makes me feel awkward and sluggish. I wonder if I will still get the massive, open swelling in my heart if I walk through the town at night pausing on anonymous public benches to read Cometbus. It seems like much of what I’ve encountered lately has conspired to make me think about what wonders I’ve lost and if they can be regained in a way that makes some kind of sense. Oh, joy, how far away you seem when I think about you, and then when you come, no thought enters in-only embracing.


Over the last several weeks have done lots of reading still, and lots of thoughts have come together about the near future, how I want to be disciplined and hard working and earnest. Kind rather than right. Want inspiration to come, but fear desire will keep it at bay.


Have been looking and feeling my way through all of those top images, and they have been helping me through all of the days lately where I have woken feeling ill all over. Shaking sickness away.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A film adaptation of the David Foster Wallace collection directed by ridiculously hearthrobby John Krasinski? Please please please be good.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I saw Cold Souls last night and it feels like something that will stay with me for a while. It's not only that it's an amalgamation of all of these things that I love already- The New Yorker, elephants, Chekhov and the pathos of Russian literature, existential angst, Paul Giamatti getting flustered, plays within films, absurd jokes-it's clearly a recipe for something I would dearly enjoy, but it's so much more than the sum of it's parts. It's big, serious questions about how we should live, what we deserve or don't, what it means to be ourselves. And it's terribly sweet and sad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I have to be honest...I'd only ever read pieces before. I was wary; I stared at it across the room and it seemed ominous and I felt sort of indifferent towards it. But since I decided to yank it off the shelf and immerse myself in it's big-hearted and painful and multivalent prose, it has captivated me completely. I'm about halfway through- and in the headspace where I can't really bring myself out of it- reading it on the bus in the morning while trying to balance my coffee, and climbing straight into bed after work to hope to feel as less lonely in it's epicness as it allows until I fall asleep.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

So far- a book to be savored, lingered over, wondered about all thoughout the day.

Also lately- just discovered Sherman Alexie, read his short story "War Dances;" how had I overlooked him for so long? He's coming to Wordstock this year, surely a not to be missed experience.

Emilie and I read a Troy Jollimore poem aloud to one another over and over. He's a poet from Chico by whom we were childishly and nerdily star-struck; he would pore through the poetry shelves of the bookstore and I would sigh and stare, and she would sell him iced tea in the cafe next door. He was unfailingly polite. She left a copy of the Times on the table with a note today with exclamation points and underlines from her ballpoint pen; there's a book review of a new fictional account by Nicholson Baker about a poet trying and mostly failing to write about poetry. The article celebrates the fact that the book name-drops Troy Jollimore. The meta-ness and the way it hits close to home, both literally and figuratively, makes me giddy.

Spent a day in bed reading William Styron's Darkness Visible- the most harrowing, elegant, concise examination of melancholy I've yet to encounter, and by far the most comforting. I wanted to start it over again the minute I was through it, but instead forced myself to uncurl and go for a long walk filled with Gary Shteyngart reading a rich, lucid story by Andrea Lee. I can't seem to let narrative go for long.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lost hours and hours to this, but gained many insights into American history, so it can't all be bad, right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I woke with a start in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago, and lay awake clutching my heart while it pulsed in this wild, pulpy way. Since I couldn't seem to fall back asleep I spent the rest of the night listening to music (Loudon Wainwright III singing about heartbreak mostly) and podcasts (Radio Lab's almost creepy but entirely inspired series about the afterlife) and got really excited when I remembered that the most recent New Yorker fiction podcast would feature dreamy, dreamy Joshua Ferris reading a story by George Saunders, and proceeded to lie in the dark with just the little blue light of my device-friend illuminating my face, given over to those disembodied voices talking books. I'd never read Saunders before, and his acerbic, macabre writing narrated by Ferris' voice moving with buoyancy and anger and humanity put me at ease. I couldn't go back to sleep though because as soon as the conversation between Ferris and Deborah Triesman politely ended, I started it over again, hoping for more layers of meaning to unfold themselves, willing myself to understand what Saunders was saying about violence and peace and stupidity and grace and all of it.
The next day at work I spent my lunch break poring through In Persuasion Nation, glad to inhabit, even for a few minutes, his weird, haunting world. There is a problem though. Listening to Ferris, Treisman, reading Saunders, spending my entire days surrounded by books. It's the problem so well articulated by Kathryn Chetkovitch in an essay she wrote for Granta some time ago about how terrible it is to feel envy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The summer is ending, the fall is looming, and as we make the transition the time is ripe for sexy, cerebral music to listen to while wandering our fair, small city alone.

+Glass, Concrete and Stone by David Byrne
+No Intention by Dirty Projectors
+Love Like A Sunset Pt.II by Phoenix
+Rockist Pt. 1 by School of Language
+Rubber Traits by Why?
+Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
+Midnight Vignette by Evangelicals
+Things I Did When I was Dead by No Age
+A Teenager in Love by Pains of Being Pure at Heart
+Lovers’ Carvings by Bibio
+Siamese by Wye Oak
+You Saved My Life by Cass McCombs
+Idiot Heart by Sunset Rubdown
+House of Diamonds by Bowerbirds

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Got into the bathtub and with my wet hands smeared the precise prose. Sentences like "Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there," make my heart beat faster, make my blood feel warmer, fill me with appreciative awe.

Spent the morning with a brie and carmelized onion scone and a cup of Stumptown (both free thanks to generous folks) and Michelle Tea's fascinating study of Beth Ditto at fashion week. The quiet life of a dilettante continues.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Couldn't sleep last night because I found this truly stunning book and couldn't put it down. Heartbreaking and beautiful, my two favorite things.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Almost forgot entirely what it feels like to fall asleep with big crashing dreamy music in my ears, making me drift sweetly into visions of our deep deep love.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Night time reading:

“Whenever our heart opens to another person, we experience a moment of unconditional love. People commonly imagine that unconditional love is a high or distant ideal, one that is difficult, if not impossible, to realize. Yet though it may be hard to put into everyday practice, its nature is quite simple and ordinary: opening and responding to another person’s being without reservation.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stuffing my belly with greasy goodness (eggs, potatoes, toast smothered in raspberry jam) and drinking cup after cup of coffee with extra cream in a little café and watching many bikers pedaling through the breezy sunshine; trying to gather up the resolve to go home and pack up possessions for my move. I think I’m just going to put Sandy Denny singing “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” on repeat, and it will ease me through it. All of my things will be placed in battered boxes, and my little life will be neat, compartmentalized, transported, and started over. And then I will drink revelatory cocktails, will dance around pool tables, will wander through dark alleys rubbing my eyes, tripping over my boots, stumbly, happy, ready to fall asleep for one last time on my apartment floor with all of my clothes on.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

When I run around in the deep dark woods at night, followed by flashlights and barking dogs and shouts from friends telling me not to fall off ledges and drown in creeks, I feel full to the brim with unexpected joy. Lights beamed from us; we were crazy and so happy together.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In love with Portland sunshine, single lady dance parties, homemade ravioli, listening to Big Star on my headphones while taking long strolls, catching up with the fam, ch-ch-changes, and St. Vincent madly wailing on her guitar (and shaking her wig all over).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obsessions of the last week:

Veggie burger at Pause- unbelievably delicious.

Real Housewives of New York- dangerously watchable.

Katherine Dunn- remarkably thoughtful.

Society ladies of Portland- reliably entertaining.

Clinton Street Video- pretty much my boyfriend.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Something more like myself in certain moments.

Like when I saw Phil Elverum singing lost and lonely songs about the myth of the white stag, the mistakes men have made, the lingering darkness clouding our hearts and judgments; and the noise came and washed my brokenness and made it closer to whole again. There was a man sitting next to me who touched my shoulder unexpectedly and asked me if could use a glass of water. I raised my palms to my cheeks and found they were astoundingly hot. I blushed even further and said yes. What a moment of kindness, it really floored me. I think everyone in the room was feeling nervous and overcome; we all knew something terrible and great was in the air. The girl sitting in front of me had swan feathers pasted into her hair, I almost reached out to touch them.

Or when new friends took me along with them from eating chocolate and sliced fruits while cushioned in overstuffed bordello red booths, drinking champagne cocktails and pretending to be people other than ourselves, to the sticky seats of the Laurelhurst to drink beer from cups and throw popcorn at the bulging eyes of a futuristic Schwartzenegger. Indulging me the many crushes that fill me, everywhere I go.

Or even sitting alone in my apartment at night watching Mansfield Park and allowing myself to make deep sighs and imagine what a time I would have had dragging my skirt hem through the mud of the moors to meet suitors in bursts of sunlight, and be told by them believable truths about our love filled futures.

Or walking into shops and tracing my fingers lightly over the richness of goodies proferred by creative minds and their crafty fingers, collecting gifts for the ones I adore.

Something more like myself, I suppose, when I remember that the shadows of worry and doubt that reside in me can occasionally be befriended, accepted, understood. I want to love everyone so much. I want you to know my fondness for you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Things that have been happening:

Endured through a four day cobbled together juice fast that generated lots of funny feelings and cravings- Emilie was my partner in body punishment or enlightenment and we killed the restriction with spontaneous popcorn consumption. Popcorn never tasted better my friends.

Lots of mind wanderings begetting ideas that I want to follow through with but don’t know if I will. This happens a lot.

Joss Whedon singing meta songs about the creative process. This happens a lot too.

We went to the This American Life beamed across America extravanganza last night, and Dan Savage made me cry.

Whiskey and beer with coworkers- this never happens and it was great.

Sitting in Tiny’s now, listening to Free Bird and thinking about my buddy whom I love whom loves said Bird. How many times have we been in your car with our hands out the windows singing along together in the backroads of Northern California? I think there could never be enough times.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I made a great new buddy this weekend. He's one cool customer.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Currently residing Chez Parents. I'm in California hometown for the spring holiday; drove down with Auggie and Rob in beautiful weather listening to a fab array of mix cds the whole way and shimmying in our seats. After a bunch of intense fam time we reconvened at a casual diner for much needed drinks. We all got tall glasses of Hefeweizen shared our "home for the holidays" stories. There are birds everywhere here, and everything is greener and messier and more slipshod than I remember. Everything seems so *small*, smaller than the way it looked to me as a child, when the little town was the whole world.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I’ve been in intense recluse mode, preoccupied with thoughts that run over and over and keep me awake. This morning at work I plugged my headphones into streaming radio and this song by The Kinks came on that was something about not being able to stop thinking and not being able to sleep, and the appropriateness of it would have unnerved me if I didn’t enjoy neat little alignments like that so much.

By my bed is an increasingly messy pile of reading material; I move from one thing to the next just taking pieces of everything, ravenous and distracted. Essays from Jonathan Franzen’s How To Be Alone kept me up all night last night, I turned pages while batting away the springtime bugs coming through my open window to buzz around my single nighttime light. Scattered everywhere else- so many short stories- a beat up copy of The Best American Short Stories from 1997 that I salvaged from work surprisingly containing a bunch of revelatory work by TC Boyle and Jeffrey Eugenides and Junot Diaz, a story here and there from Harold Brodkey’s The World is the Home of Love and Death, consuming piece by piece works from My Mistress’ Sparrow is Dead, an essay by Paul Bowles, any story in the myriad issues of The New Yorker strewn all around like candy fallen from a box, the first fifty pages of that beautiful Penguin edition of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, all of the most recent Sedaris in one night, Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends- there are never enough words to settle my head. After finishing Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, there just isn’t enough to read- it was that amazing kind of fulfilling reading experience that re-opens my heart to the possibility that literature is the most immediate and thorough way to bridge gulfs of misunderstanding between people, to communicate the undeniable sense of sameness that permeates our natures, our days. Of course, the warm feeling of being known by someone else is so fleeting, it’s there while submerged in the story and the words, but it’s a spell that’s quickly broken by only glancing up from the page. I haven’t wanted to lose that candidly expressed longing for connection that propels so much of fiction, and so much of non-fiction trying to dissect the whole matter of fiction really.

The rest of the time I just walk around, thinking, thinking, thinking about what I should be doing with myself. Aside from coming to the conclusion that I need to work harder on my writing, a lot of reading and thinking has yielded the following conclusion: I would enjoy sometime soon drinking a lot of whiskey and listening to The Replacements and dancing until I fall down.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

So very happy to have seen the adorable and incredibly talented Pat Hull ( last night, along with the many darling Chico peeps who accompanied him. It made me kind of wistful and nostalgic for the creative community forged in the weirdness of such a small place as that hometown of ours. The space was funny, a basement in a house complete with a tended bar, though the bar only served Pabst out of a keg and it hurt my belly to force down the aluminum taste of that stuff. I fell into the usual way, with too much inebriation making me awkward and sat by myself for awhile, until I got to the point where I just wanted to dance and made Em dance with me. But as sometimes happens, I got carried away with my enthusiastic moving and hit my mouth hard against her head and cut my lip. Seems okay today but I had blood in my mouth when I went to bed. Pat was kind to give me a CD before I left and in the morning I listened to his pretty voice and the angelic “True Love” choir comprised of all these people that I adore and miss so much. Erin and Lucas, wherever you are, I want to see you all the time, and I want meet baby Mo as I know I love him already.

Met Em for brunch at Cricket for gossip and then a nice walk in the Springtime sun peeking out of the clouds. Soon a walk to my Powell’s for a book- I finished the first part of 2666 and totally loved it but am kind of stuck now and my easily distracted brain is already searching for something new. I’ve been re-reading pieces of Pride and Prejudice nights before I fall asleep and taking a lot of comfort in my favorite little love story but maybe I should indulge the emotional masochist in me a little bit less and try on something that has nothing to do with romance. My problem is, if there’s no romance, I can barely interest myself in anything. And really, every good story is kind of a love story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I found this old barely begun blog recently, after receiving some kind of spooky email in Spanish that had a link to it. Strange unexpected things have been happening lately, in a good way, and I've been trying to pay attention and pull meaning out of these little oracles, just for the fun of it. The past has been reaching out to me, and I think I could have a lot to learn by letting it catch me and not pushing it away.

Something that is nice to remember, that seeing some old friends lately and listening to them has brought to the surface:
It's worth it to indulge big-hearted messy feelings and share them with people who want to know you.

I forget to make the effort to really be with people, to let myself know them and let them know me, and I let myself be a lot more sad than I need to be. But trying to allow life in has yielded so much fun lately:

Saw an old friend play the sweetest natured show ever, that reminded me how much potential there is to make things that are whole-hearted, uncompromised, and uncynical.

Auggie and I staying up until 2 am; he was making me laugh by telling me this story about seeing this transformation of the persona of Rickie Lee Jones. It was in a concert in San Diego this time that she played two shows in one day, where she apparently sipped through a bottle of whiskey through the whole afternoon show and was very pleasant and sweet, and then, wasted, heckled the audience through the whole evening.

Rob and I shoulder dancing to "Push It" in Tiga, lit by candlelight, when Nicole played it for us.

The funny magic of "Peanut Duck" catching on all the time.

Wonderfully surprised to meet on the street outside of Jam a band of old friends from Chico who are playing a show a mere block from my house. They met me with many big hugs and invitations, so great, so weird. This place is so much smaller than I understand.

It feels so good to know: that the many complications of life are a wealth, that I can dig into them and build upon them and cherish them for what they are and that will be my way through them.