Sunday, November 28, 2010

Birthday note to my moms and dad November 18th

Clearly I understand that the reasons behind taunting always stem from insecurities and fears inside the one doing the putting down. I know too that the enmity I endure from those I care for comes from a place of fear and anger at aging and so many things changing around them. I don't need to imagine how hard it would be to be a person that got treated harshly by someone who needed to put someone else down to feel better about themselves, I live with it daily. I am graced with an ability to charm (thanks dad) and comfort (thanks mom)
What would be hard to imagine would be how impossible it would be to ever truly feel good about myself if I had to rely on other people around me to validate what I already know. You guys taught me a lot of self reliance, you know. And I appreciate the people in my life who love me, but I know I wouldn't even have those good people around if I didn't honor and know the truth of my own soul. I love and know myself well enough to know that the love and support and care I get from others is the icing on the cake. That's the key. Love thyself.
Theologically (if I may sound like dad for a minute-another nod to you dad) at St. Edwards University (thanks for making that happen mom, I am eternally grateful) I learned that "God" dwells in each and every one of us. So to achieve true good one need only let "God" out of your soul via your actions and movement in the world. There is no force moving things around other than the collective energy of those who populate this earth. Dad would not agree, he feels there are several other layers, and while I agree that there are no doubt other layers, how much ability or interest to manipulate the slice we live in is debatable. Wishing everyday for something will only give you hunger. Go and do. Here it is, my Oprah couch moment: Get up everyday and do good. Its my secret-principle-agreement-habit and so far so good. The Dali Lama I am not, but I have read his books too and he touches upon the same ideas. I owe my three parents a giant debt of gratitude for giving me the tools and teaching to seek answers, thanks for the Head Start and the liberal upbringing, all the alternative lifestyles and the variety of cultures you made sure I experienced. Trips to Europe and life in the Caribbean...being son to a single mother, these things made me love diversity and appreciate women. Thank you.
A big nod to Elizabeth, who taught me to cook and to forgive and forget, to rise above and know myself. No son is as lucky as I am to have had such a strong mom. I cherish the times we enjoyed in the kitchen on Hidalgo, and look forward to more. Sorry the mediatating didn't stick.
Back when I didn't love myself, I ignored or worse attacked my loved ones, found little time to do good in the world and generally took up space. I decided to change and do good. It works. When I lose sight of it, things get funky. Will it work? Its better than wishing. Its better than sitting around the house hoping for change. I'm out there, I help and change and comfort and it rolls back in in spades.

Please note that I am not attacking anyone's beliefs here, mom. And you should know that you push my buttons when you drop the pop-psychology book stuff on me, I am glad it works for you and only feel that you should realize that everything you are looking for in these "shelf help" books is already inside you.
Thanks ya'll for making the crazy wild decision to carry me into this world, I love you!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


“He’s a fuckwit.” He said. The sidewalk crunches underfoot as they emerge from Brewster’s. Mark lights a cigarette, blows the smoke skyward as is his custom.

“Well, you are an asshole, punctuating his epithet with a cursory tug at the cig, “and damn good at it, too.”

“The hell does that mean? I’m saying he’s a fuckwit, no one believes him." Russell turns to Mark, “do you?”

“I didn’t say I do, just saying that calling him out does you no good, is all.” The two pause at the light. A cab slows, drifting towards them, then accelerates.

He reaches for his wallet as he approach the door,

“And they do believe him, Mark, the fricking do, that’s the sad part,” extracts his license and nods to a man on a stool drinking from a large mug, “Hey Doug how’s things man?”

"Good, Thanks Mark, Russell-ID.” Taking a final drag from his cig and flinging it behind him, says, “They don’t, they don’t believe him, they just choose to go along with it and that’s what’s truly screwed.” A wall of inside swallows their backs.

Two girls, one in dark bangs and black nails are by the beer taps. Shot glasses and beers in front of them. A guy passes them with his bike helmet. “And I was laughing and trying to be nice at the same time, you know, but really, the guy’s wearing pleated jeans, I mean come on.” She’s laughing and drinking her scotch. Her friend is dirty blond and dressed in office clothes, victim of happy hour gone long

“So, what? He’s hitting on you, guys do it all the time, bad fashion never seems to prevent them from trying, so what did you say? “

“Well, I guess I didn’t realize he was hitting on me, because, you know, I never even thought about—anyway, I was being nice, I guess’

“That was your first mistake,” she says, as she pokes a message out on her phone,

“I know, I know, “ her voice rises as she explains, “ but anyway then he asks me what I am doing tonight, and that was when it hit me,”

“What hit you?” she puts her phone off to the side among the beer glasses.

“That’s when I said, Oh shit this guy is hitting on me, so trying! And I made up the story about the conference call and meeting you.” The bartender reaches over a tattooed arm to place flickering votive candles in front of the girls. He nods first at the empty shot glasses then at the girls, turns to the bright screen of the register and begins poking.

As the door closes out the bar sounds outside, Mark steps to the urinal. Russell stands at the sink, leaning in to look at a mark on his cheek. “It’s the game, man. It’s pretend and pretense. Everyone dressed up as something.

"Really? I’m dressed as a man, you…well, you dress for shit,’ he laughs and pushes Mark, who steps forward to avoid tumbling into the urinal.

“We have jobs and credit cards and cars and houses and get up and wear ties, but we’re the same as we have always been, just pretending. I’m just pretending, here.” He turns from the sink. Stands there wringing his hands.

“That fuckwit is pretending, and you know it. And all the girls he gets, they know it too, but what else have we got?” The door swings open and they turn towards the sound of music and conversation. A man stops confused for a moment, then moves towards the urinal, each man careful not to touch the other as they move.

“let’s find another bar, the only girls in here are from my office.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heavy Storm Preparedness

You do what you can to avoid the worst; take precautions and put in your efforts.

You worry about your family, your property. At the end of it, as the winds pick up and the effects start to show up on TV, you watch.

Maybe it won’t be as bad as they expect. You say.

Maybe it will turn. You hope.

The talking heads on news channel thrive on destruction and change.

Eventually as the destruction starts to loop on the TV, you turn in for the night.

The worst always happens once its deep night.

In the morning, you’ll get on the net to check out how bad it was.

There are loses and things saved. There are things that will need patching.

Eventually it all goes back to normal; the world finds a way to cope with changes,

Strong and able to absorb the worst, at least for now, little will seem different.

Life goes on.

Election day 2010.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ghosts In Someone Else's House

There’s a picture in someone’s shoebox of my great Aunt Sylvia standing with a giant shark she caught. My aunt still uses the Queen's English after all these years so far away from her home in New Zealand.

Jack grew up here in Seattle. During the depression, he paid to take the streetcar while his father stood on the corner and waited for him to hand his transfer out the window as the rattling car passed by; they could not afford two tickets.

Tall gentle Milton was a B-17 pilot during the war, he bailed out of his shattered bomber at 20,000 feet above a dark German night. When he landed a farmer with a hunting rifle herded him into town and turned him over to the Nazis. Milton used the walk through snow covered farm roads as an opportunity to ditch his dog tags that identified him as Jewish. He ended up a POW instead of in a death camp.

Heinrick jumped from a box car bound for a concentration camp as it whipped through a frozen forest. He walked for weeks alone in the woods. He was eleven.

Earl played cards all over Europe, says after the war he can’t stand cards. Never fired a shot, because he was a dentist.

Madeline’s father, a wealthy Aristocrat in Vienna, moved his whole house to Buenos Aires, including the cooks and housekeepers. She speaks more languages than she lets on.

Billie went to Garfield, as did many of her friends she still sits with daily. She was the one all the boys wanted to go out with, “because I gave them what they wanted,” she says with a wink of her clear blue eyes.

Grace braided her husband’s hair while he slept in her lap Saturday afternoons at Volunteer Park. And those two have been together since high School (Garfield class of ’41)

Everybody gets old, as the song goes, we all end up ghosts in someone else’s house. Talk to an old lady today.

My Grandad met my Grandmother at a dance, family history says he went out with my Great Aunt Sylvia first.

she never married.

*I have rules at work: I changed all the names and such. The stories are true as when they told me though. I love you aunt Sylvia.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


It certainly didn’t sound like much once the trees cracking and settling stopped. We’d been hunting when we heard the noise, went to investigate. And when we got there it wasn’t much to look at really.

About as big as a small army tent, it’s shiny surface like beveled chrome or scratchy stainless steel. It was emitting some steam or misty stuff from various areas near the ground, otherwise it was unremarkable, an average public art piece, only thing missing was people eating lunch by it. Then people showed up. Some even ate lunch by it, coming up with theories. This was early on, before all the freaks showed up claiming all sorts of bull. The thing I saw, in the beginning, was nothing like the stuff they wrote and said later. I want to say for the record that in the beginning it was weird, sure- but not as weird as later.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

City scene

“Final Call! It’s the Final Call!”

He sidesteps the well-dressed Muslim; startlingly catching his own reflection in a store window brings on a flash of memory: a leaf stain smear on the pavement of his mind he sees a woman’s legs walking alongside his own. Gone again.

How did it get to this?

Crossing the street he looks at women, their legs, shoes heels hems is it one of these is it her? Would she say? He’s asked the time-only-not money? by a man who appears to be homeless. He falters, stutters, “one thirty” and avoids eye contact as the city has trained him to do. How did it get to this?

There was a time; another fleeting memory of a time now washed in super-8 home movie tones, when he knew more. He felt sure he knew more than he does now, instead now a fragment of feeling whole. Certainly that had been real, had to be but now maybe only imagined.

The roar and rattle of the city around him draws him from his thoughts. These people know. He eyes them. A man picks up cigarette butts furtively. A girl oblivious, as if praying, soft neon of her phone casts upon her chin. I have forgotten God but I am not alone no one remembers, every one of them loves only themselves. They know.

When he had had his body, when he was strong he would move with purpose he still knew that. The current of life he still had seemed to be there below the surface: he could be strong again. This time in a new way. They know. But he would show them a new way of seeing themselves and therefore look upon him in a new way too.

How did it get to this? Looking up she comes eye to eye with the bearded man outside of the coffee shop window-do we call them coffee shops anymore?- she thought. Coffee shop conjures up Formica, chrome, her mother’s mothball rough jackets and broaches in holiday themes. This place is not a “coffee shop” the barista calls “non-fat latte tall” and she moves to collect her cup.

The man looks homeless yet she notices he has style, no other way to describe it. Maybe he’s just a rakish type. Do we use rakish anymore? How can anyone keep track of what’s to be said and done anymore? A piece of her pastry tumbles from her nails and she gingerly picks it from her skirt.

How did it come to this? Why should she be here at all? This is not how she planned it would be. Stores she used to shop in, now she enters through the loading dock. All the meticulously learned knowledge of style, so she would look right for Robert’s office parties and dinners at the Jacob’s, whoever, now she stands by fawning over someone else trying on tacky jackets. The kids call and check on me. I lie and tell them I was bored. How do I tell them Robert’s money is gone? How did it come to this? He was supposed to be here, take care of me.

“One thirty!” the man outside cries out sharply. My break is over, back to standing around with those girls who all seem so much more attractive, so much more in touch than I am. So much younger, there I said it. Bitch. Each one of them so self absorbed. Like I don’t know- as if I’ve never had Robert kiss me in front of the theater on a September night, trembling. The taste of scotch and cigarettes. Never had love? Dismissed by that pack of dilettantes, I could care less. As if love is new this season. Everything’s been done before. I don’t care so much about the age thing as much as they presume I am already dead. They don’t know. But someday they will, someday my baby Margie will know too, the cold plastic car seat scent of lonely. The empty refrigerator light of mornings without. Maybe not, but she had from the beginning hoped so hard for her daughter’s happiness-like any mother does-- only to have her turn out lesbian and how could she ever find a man to love her if she was gay? Do we say gay anymore? She stops and switches her coffee from one hand to the other, leans on the heavy metal door marked Deliveries/Staff. Pushes inside sucking leaves and regret in with her.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rock Fever

Thanks to amazing photographer Laurie Wakefield for these recent shots!
This is the house I grew up in while we lived on St. Croix is an old Danish Plantation building. Originally the gardener's house, it was one great room with some other rooms built off the main room. There is a Baobab tree in the yard, which is still there today.
I waited for the bus in the morning by the crumbling gate of the Butler Bay Estate. The water was just across the road, the kind of volcanic edge that you find where there is no beach. There were tide pools that octopus made homes in. If we found a limpet or snail we liked that still had an animal inside, we laid it in the tide pool for the octopus. when we came home after school, the shell was there. the animal inside- no.
Not far from here the Moors who had come to the island before the Danish have carved a 20ft by 1oft pool directly into the coral bank so they could swim safe from the dangers of the sea they bravely crossed to find the island in the first place.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Dad is Sasquatch, By Rachel Sasquatch

Daddy gets me pretty dresses. He orders them on the internet because he can't go to stores. When they come to the post office I go there on my bike. They always know its for me because they see my name on the box. I have a mountain bike, naturally, since we live in the woods.
I'm home schooled. I used to go to kindergarten. Daddy would walk me to the bus stop and wait in the trees until the bus came. One time someone saw him and then he couldn't walk me anymore, that's when I got taken out of school and started home schooling. I like it. Daddy shows me things in the woods, like what berries you can eat and which ones will make you sick. At lunch I braid his hair. Sometimes he reads to me and I look up at the trees, listening to him. He likes Goethe and Emerson, his German is funny sounding.
Daddy doesn't like people, its because he's different. I look like people. I wish I looked more like daddy, He's got brown hair and mine is more blonde. He makes me wear shoes. I hate shoes! He says its so I can go and be with people when I get older. Daddy can't wear shoes because his feet are too big but he gets mad when I call him big foot, he says big foot is a redneck.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can we keep him?

Yesterday was an Odyssey. First of all I had a very big memorial to do, it was sad to see a friend mourn the loss of her mom and it made me think of you (all) -- my parents--this job is hard sometimes>> fast forward to later in the day: On Sundays we use our Dairy side kitchen, it's fully functioning but maybe only half the size of our meat side kitchen. There isn't a lot of room to work. The high school-er I had assigned to assembling to-go orders got overwhelmed and botched 75% of them, I was covering for concierge when I started to get one angry phone call after another: "Give me the kitchen, this is an outrage!" One should note that "outrage" is defined in this context as receiving quiche when you ordered
salad nicoise. One woman--who is an Olympian of rancor-- finally vanquished me and I was completely demoralized and ready to go cry in my happy place. Instead I soldiered on, finished the evening and went to sushi with Marissa.
On the way home, walking downtown I heard a strange noise, looking across the street I saw, sitting perched on the wheel of a gold SUV....a kitty!
Well. You can imagine that we could not let such a thing alone. We tried for over an hour to coax the mewling wily little creature out of the engine compartment of the vehicle, buses roared by, pricey sardines were procured from a nearby specialty store. Eventually we surrendered the cause. I left a note, an addendum as it turned out-- to a note already written by another "please don't start your car, it has a kitten in it, this is not a joke" to this I added my phone number.
As soon as the contacts were out and we had showered (covered in road and grease...) the phone rang. I had told a neighbor about our evening and so I called them back and we all set out to Save The Kitty!
Now I have a kitten. And a sore throat and itchy eyes. already.
I think we will have to pass her along to someone who wants her soon, but for now, as I type the sound of Marissa coaxing the cat from under the refrigerator and a steady meow are my metronome....

Day in reverse

Sitting in the coffee shop by our house, the one we printed out tickets in the morning we were all going for our (fated) Christmas trip. The air outside is redolent with Fall. In here someone has a cinnamon tea nearby and the music is soul and electro. I'm reading and Marissa is sketching. We got here a little before five and its now 7:30.
The after work meeting crowd left and the punk rock art school baristas kneel out front smoking and killing time. There's a guy twisting a rubik's cube while he looks on at his companion's laptop. She's telling him about the best after-hours gay bars and how her girlfriend often wakes up next to conquests she catalogs based on dominant tattoos.
The high tinkle of the bells punctuates everyone's comings and goings.
Rubik's cube guy goes outside to make a phone call. His right pant leg is rolled up, emblem of his membership in the tribe of the fixie. The barista has decided that we've had enough doo-wop music, and puts on
some Gogol Bordello. My foot moves reflexively and I look up from my
phone. To everyone here I am normal but what is it with us- forever on
our phones- outside a crackhead skitters past, his hair ghastly in the
back light of an expensive European car's halogen-its operator and
passenger slipping into down at the heels Belltown's many high end
eateries. There are so many restaurants because the rent is low.
Commercial space opens everyday, the start-ups and nonprofits, tech
firms and hair salons supplying a gust of lunch business at the apex
of the increasingly darkening days. in the morning the doorways
blocked by bundles of shipping boxes and blotchy blankets. Humans are
in there.
How does one get to a point where not even a family member can offer
shelter. Shuddering in the cold I tread quietly towards the silhouette
statues that emerge from the mist just past six am. We huddle and drop
our mats splat zippers and keys loud in the too soon morning, and
begin to sprint blood flows and I feel the movement of great slabs of
thigh muscle as I grasp to pass my fellow exercise classmates. We
exchange conversation as we lunge, birds fishing in shallow bogs, our
heron legs up, out and down, over and over.
Thus goes a day in reverse in forward in Belltown

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