Monday, June 30, 2008

feels like a lifetime... in a GOOD way

Today is my and Mahavira's seven month anniversary. Seven short months ago we met up for drinks at the Crow Bar and we may as well have met down at the Church of Elvis and just tied the knot that night because that's what it's been like from day one.

I was just sitting here in the apartment alone, getting ready to go meet Mahavira downstairs for a drink after her very last swing shift at her second job (which she is quitting to work more hours at her first job), and I was thinking what a miracle it all is.

I mean, look at this apartment. It's TINY!! The only door that closes is the door to the bathroom -- otherwise, it's just an open space, a studio. The bed is in the middle of the living room, the kitchen is one foot away from the couch, there's no space for ANYTHING. And yet here we are, cohabitating in peace and happiness like we live in a mansion. We even have a DOG in here! A regular sized dog, not a little guy! It's a miracle. "A true blue spectacle," as SK would say...

Anyway, that's all. Happy anniversary M. Looking forward to many more.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

book love

A post over on SK's new(ish) site not waving but drowning has me thinking about the way some books read in childhood can really shape who you become. SK mentions a book I have not read, Phantom Tollbooth. Mine, without a doubt, would have to be My Side of the Mountain.

Subtitled "The classic story of wilderness survival," how could I go wrong? This is a story about a young boy who makes good on a promise to run away from home. He sets off to live alone on a tract of land in the Catskills (I think) that belongs to his uncle. He hollows out an enormous rotton tree to live in, he makes fishhooks from twigs, he captures a falcon and trains it. And the book includes diagrams of *everything*!

I loved this book so much. Next to my stepfather's boy scout handbook, this book sparked incredible fantasies of living alone in the wilderness. Before I even understood that there WAS a grid, I wanted to live OFF it. Not that I'm living off the grid now that I'm an adult and capable, but the longing to be alone in nature is still strong and images of the wilderness still comfort me and inform some of my most spiritual feelings.

Thanks for getting me thinking about this SK. And good luck with your recovery! Keep me updated on the progress as mango shrinks down to nothing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

this day was weird

1.) My boss started our first private conversation of the day like this: "I have a major piss off with you." I think that was her flustered, angry way of pulling a punch that otherwise would've sounded like this: "I'm really pissed off at you." Her "major piss off" was not actually with me, it was with several different people and situations that weren't handy to yell at. I, however, was very handy to yell at and there you have it.

It could have been a lot worse, she was apologizing within two minutes, but not without rattling me for about two hours. I'm a delicate flower! Not to mention I'm a good worker who wants to do things right! The small part I played in her "major piss off" was only a result of my ignorance and not any kind of willful negligence. (How was I supposed to know there was a big paperwork rigamarole that had to be activated when a staff person came into contact with a client's blood??? Nobody ever told me that!)

My point is, I don't need to be shaken-up to get me to take something seriously. I only need to be told. Once. I *want* to do a good job, venting your frustration at me isn't required. I'm not insubordinate, I was just uneducated. This wouldn't be so annoying if my boss wasn't so utterly dependent on me for so many things. I'm her rock when she needs help with EVERYTHING. Getting yelled at by her is just lame.

But whatever, there's more...

2.) We got strong-armed by the cops because we have a confidentiality policy at work that extends to the police. If the cops come asking questions about our clients, we can't answer unless they have a warrant. Last week we had a situation at work that involved cops and a client, and we were sadly unable to provide the cops with any info. They came back today to press their case. I felt like I was being shaken down by some mafia tough guys. They likened our behavior to creating a "safe-haven" for our clients who can go out and commit crimes in the community then run back into our building and be protected by staff.

They actually hinted that if we didn't cooperate with them, they might not be so quick to respond to our calls when we need them. When we encouraged them to have their boss call our Quality Management people (who have a lawyer who tells us our legal responsibilities to our clients), the cops had the nerve to say "we want to keep it on this level, it only gets worse when you go to the high-ups." And at one point they said, "Look, if you need a warrant, we can get a warrant... but it's not good for anybody if we go that route..."

Really?? It's not good if we go the route that protects people's constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure? It's not right to make you do your job? What those cops were doing was so unethical and disgusting I wanted to scream, but instead my boss and I just stood there together, smiling and making nice with them so they'll keep showing up when we call them. Fuckers.

3.) On the bus home, I was really disturbed by the behavior of a young asshole sitting near me. He was 16ish and he got on with a bunch of his friends. He was obviously the comedian of the group, and he proceeded to make loud, obnoxious, offensive commentary about everything within his sight. I already have a low tolerance for loud, young people on the bus, but this kid was particularly awful. I don't care who you are, if "bitch" comes out of your mouth more than four times a minute, somebody needs to smack you in the face.

At one point he noticed a jogger out the window of the bus. Ironically, the jogger was my friend Mog. She jogged along side the bus, which happened to be pacing her in the slow traffic. The little fucker on the bus kept saying "run, bitch, run." Over and over. Finally, as the bus stopped and Mog ran by us again, the little fucker jumped up and opened the back door and yelled it again, loud, AT HER. "RUN BITCH RUN!"

Why is this ok? Why doesn't the bus driver throw his stupid ass off the bus? Why don't adults on the bus stand up to him, tell him his behavior isn't acceptable? Why do I have to sit there, turning my head away, hoping the little asshole doesn't decide to start up a commentary on ME next. Wouldn't be the first time I had to listen to some bullshit from some asshole sparked by my queerness, my gender ambiguity, my whatever. Where's the structure? Where's the fucking culture? Where's the community? Where's my fucking bear-mace?

4.) I was driving up Interstate after picking up some new allergy meds at Kaiser and I passed a new coffeeshop on Interstate and Shaver. A new coffeeshop named "Krakow."

What the fuck.

Krakow? "Hey guys, let's go grab a cup a joe down at Krakow!" I know there's probably a lot more to the Polish town of Krakow than its horrible holocaust legacy, but fuck! Name your coffeeshop Krakow??? What were you thinking??

That's all I've got.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

wild, wild life

Mahavira and I have been having quite the wild and crazy weekend. It all started Friday evening when we retired to the bench outside of Mississippi Pizza after work to enjoy a pitcher of Miller High Life (the Champagne of Beers) and the pleasure of each other's company.

Unfortunately, Mahavira was suffering bravely with a spasming psoas muscle and it eventually got the best of her. She'd been trying to pretend that it wasn't so bad, but after sitting out on the bench for 15 minutes, she couldn't pretend anymore. "Honey, I've gotta go in and lay down. This is killing me." We'd barely put a dent in the beer we were drinking and I was fumbling with the glasses as Mahavira tried to stand up.

She was shaky on her feet. She stood stiffly by the bench while I poured beer back into the pitcher and gathered up my jacket and her day bag. Suddenly she started to stumble a little and caught herself on the concrete wall behind the bench. The dog whined and I put my hand out to touch her back and check in with her. I knew she was in pain, but I had no idea how bad it really was.

Until she fainted.

It happened really fast and at first I thought she was just being dramatic. She crumbled into a little ball and ended up on the sidewalk in the fetal position. If I hadn't been standing behind her, she probably would've cracked her head on the concrete. I realized immediately that she hadn't just given up on staying verticle. Her eyes were closed and she didn't answer me. She was out for about ten seconds... which doesn't sound like much, but which feels like a fucking lifetime when you're wondering if your girlfriend is having a seizure or a stroke or a heart attack...

After those immeasurably long moments, her eyes flew open and she looked wildly all around her, terrified. I helped sit her up on some nearby steps and told her we were going to Kaiser. Then I ran off to dump the dog in the house, grab my bag and bring the car around. In the five minutes I was gone, Mahavira sat on the steps downstairs and tried to figure out how to stop me from taking her to the hospital.

Long, long, long story short, I got her in the car and all the way to the parking lot of the Kaiser Emergency Department, but she successfully convinced me that she did not need medical attention: she had heat exhaustion, pain, no food in her stomach, etc, etc, etc. She'd just fainted. She was fine. Etc, etc. So we came home and I've spent the weekend nursing her.

Once I got past the paralyzing fear that she was seriously ill, I have greatly enjoyed spending the weekend just hanging out in the apartment and taking care of my girlfriend. I cooked her great meals, made her tea, helped her get a bath, and just generally kept her company. She keeps telling me I should get out into the world, take a few hours to do something nice for myself, whatever, but I just haven't wanted to leave her.

And the best part is that, even though we've been in this tiny apartment together for nearly 48 hours straight, we're not getting on each other's nerves at all! It's kind of amazing. True love is a beautiful thing.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I guess a bunch of old gays got married in California today. If you'd told me ten years ago that this day would come and I wouldn't be all that excited, I would've thought you were crazy. But... you know... ho hum.

I read the little Yahoo headline about Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon getting hitched after 50+ years of togetherness... and good for them. Good for all those lucky gays who have gotten or will get hitched in California over the next few weeks. And good for US here in Oregon where we can get civilly united or domestically partnered or whatever it is we can do now.

I just think... well, two things. First I think "It's about fucking time and how about the rest of the country??" And I also think "...and for how long? Which ballot measure/constitutional amendment/unfavorable judicial opinion will come along and wipe this one out too?" Because the voters giveth and the voters taketh away. Or the firebrand, radical politicians giveth and the voters taketh away. Or the voters giveth and the conservative judicary taketh away. Whatever.

I think I was just too damaged by the 2004 elections. I watched this country re-elect Mr. Monkey Face and ban same sex marriage in a dozen states. I watched MYSELF and MY WIFE become public enemy number one, the same-sex couple who was threatening to ruin the fabric of western society and single-handedly demolish the totality of Judeo Christian values just by attempting to become legally responsible for each other's welfare. God forbid. God forbid we buy a truck together. God forbid we get a joint insurance policy. God forbid we take out a mortgage together. I can feel the foundations of American culture shaking beneath my feet just thinking about it.

So here we are four years later and suddenly we've got gay marriage in one more state and a black candidate for president and I just can't get my enthusiasm up to save my life. I want to buy an Obama "HOPE" sticker, I want to wear a button or a t-shirt or something. But the thought that he might NOT win... that he probably WON'T win... that we might still be just as stupid and short-sighted as we were four (and/or eight) years ago...

Maybe it's PTSD. I just can't let myself feel hopeful. And I'm too anxious to be excited for the gays in California. If they're still married in twelve months (and if we have a black president), THEN maybe I'll celebrate...

Monday, June 02, 2008

i live at mississippi pizza

While I don't actually live INSIDE Mississippi Pizza, I do live ON TOP OF Mississippi Pizza, now that my move into Mahavira's apartment is complete, and it often feels like we are very close to the action indeed. There's live music downstairs pretty much every night of the week, which is less of a noise problem than you might think. The worst thing about it is all the goddamn pizza I eat. Just because it's there. And it's cheap. And it's so so easy.

It's actually kinda cool living on top of one of North Portland's most happenin' spots. By "most happenin'" I definitely don't mean "coolest." But there really is a lot happening down there. Most afternoons the place is awash in children, and their comfortably dressed, Portland yuppie parents, baby-dancing to the music and crying about pizza. Then, in the evenings, the other crowd of slightly younger Portland yuppies rolls in for whatever bluesy, folksy, mambo band happens to be on the roster.

I never, ever, EVER bother to check out the music, even though some of it might be good. Living on top of the place, and essentially treating it like my living room, gives me license to be 'cooler than thou' in regard to all the entertainment happening down there. Mahavira and I pop down there almost every night with the dog to sit at the picnic tables out front and drink cheap beer. The dog gets molested/adored by all the passers by and Mahavira and I sorta just tolerate the crowd of people on our "front porch."

This crowd includes several frequent flyer pan-handlers. First there's the one-legged lady in the wheelchair, she always wants change and isn't ashamed to tell you she's either going to buy beer or pot with it. Every now and then she wants a bus ticket. Then there's this other guy who usually just wants a cigarette. Then, finally, there's the singing-flower-guy who claims to be raising money for some men's shelter I've never heard of (and believe me, if it existed in Portland, I would have heard of it) -- he walks around selling handfuls of gorgeous flowers he has very obviously just stolen from people's yards, and he once sang a duet of "Suddenly" by Lionel Richie with Mahavira whose love of that song far surpasses her ability to sing it. He actually told her to sing quieter and let him finish... she pretended not to notice. And that is why I love her.

If you're wondering how I feel about losing my little apartment on the other side of MLK, I'll tell you: I feel fine about it. I finished up the move on Saturday and I feel a tremendous relief now that I'm not stretched between two places. About two weeks into my relationship with Mahavira it became clear that we would have to live together, there was just no way around it. And now, here we are, and even though we're in a tiny little spot, we're exactly where we're supposed to be and we're pretty happy about it all.

My love for Mahavira, and the dog of course, aside, it's also just really nice to be above-ground for a change. It's nice to have light coming in the windows, to have warmth, to have plants all over. It's also nice not to have rent. For some reason Mahavira is refusing to let me help with this month's rent. I do not understand her reasons, but I have come to accept it. Instead of paying rent -- and Mahavira doesn't know this yet -- I'm going to go down to Atlas Tattoo and pay the equivalent of my half of the rent to get her some store credit. She's been wanting a new tattoo and says she can't afford it right now. We'll see about that...