Left hanging

  I met a guy recently that told me he was interested in having a purely sexual relationship; I told him that I was okay with that, but that it was a two way street.
  "Two way street?," he asked.
  "Yes. If it's just sexual for you, it is for me as well. I don't need a text message at 3 in the afternoon telling me that you're missing me. I don't need a phone call asking me how my day was. I don't want to meet you for coffee so you can tell me what's new in your life. I know that I won't be calling or texting you for any of those reasons."
  It might have been harsh, but I felt the need to lay out the ground rules from the outset. Don't get me wrong, he's an attractive guy and all, but a fuck and three minutes of improvised conversation do not a speed date make.
  Two hours after I'd met him and we'd fooled around I got a text message. I didn't reply. The next morning I got another one. I still didn't reply. Ditto later that afternoon, later that evening and the next morning. I then got an email via a gay social site I use. I can sum the communications up thusly: I'm thinking about what a great time we had and hoping that you're having a good [insert time of day here]. 
  Four days and quite a few texts later I sent a note of reply asking what he wanted. "I thought maybe we could hang out," was his reply.
  "Hang out?" I asked.
  "You know, grab a beer, watch a movie or something."
  "You want a purely sexual relationship. And to hang out. No thanks."
  "I'm bored. Why not?"
  At this point I decided that I was not going to reiterate my original thoughts. Friends and fuck buddies do not mix; if you need assistance figuring out which you are, chances are you're neither.


Feed the Locals

  The organic & biodynamic movement is in full swing across the country; it was just gaining speed in the north of Michigan when I left. Here in Eugene it permeates much of the food and wine scene; should the pair of buzz words become a trio with the addition of the word local, so much the better.
  Local, organic & biodynamic produce abounds much of the year, save the dead of winter when they truck things up from southern California--oddly to many this still counts as local even though it is shipped overland almost 900 miles. I have long agreed with buying local foods, if they're biodynamic, so much the better; money spent stays in the community and good farming practices benefit both the earth and the people, flora & fauna who call it home. Organic though, is a bit of a pox for me: I am not generally willing to pay the additional price for an organic (and usually much smaller) Fuji apple than it's local, non-organic (and usually much more robust) counterpart. I realize it costs more to grow the organic Fuji and that the increased cost will be passed on to the consumer, but I'm often not willing to pay it; if the apples were identical in size, perhaps, but until that happens, no. I'm also not willing to buy the organic Fuji bearing a New Zealand's Best sticker, when it's non-organic twin with a Washington stamp is sitting just beside; that some company thought I'd be willing to hand over extra cash for a Fuji that was flown 13k miles just to fill a gap in organic produce is beyond me--most organic eaters that I know show great concern for the environment, I wonder how they swallow the added cost of this organic gem and the hefty carbon footprint that was produced ensuring said fruit reached their shores in perfect form?
  It's not that I won't buy organic, I certainly will when I am presented with organic heirloom tomatoes at the Saturday market, just bletted medlars offered up at the holiday fair or hazy blueberry honey from my housemate's beekeeping friend: I will readily buy these items and savor the flavor and story that accompanies them. At the supermarket though, where non-organic and organic co-mingle, I save my extra pennies, nickels and quarters for the Saturday market. It makes sense to me to put my money where I know it will do the most.
  Buying local food is certainly a start to keeping money in the community, but buying local food directly from the co-op, person or collective producing it, seems to make even better sense to me. Exercising this option I garner knowledge about the food and the process behind how and why it is grown; I am able to ask questions directly to the person that was out in the field harvesting the beets that I will enjoy later in the evening or pull suggestions and wisdom from the farmer who grows tomatoes successfully down the road even as my own refuse to flower or fruit. It's not enough to simply buy local food though, there is a smithy in my community, a plethora of craftsmen who reclaim and repurpose cast off items, vineyards and breweries galore, designers and leathersmiths and more. Buying from these individuals helps to keep money and skill in the community as well. I'm not saying that big box stores and malls are anathema, they certainly have their place as well; I am saying that it often behooves us to look around a bit before we commit to the packaging and lowest price guarantees that abound...often a comparable item can be found at a similar price just down the road, the fact that it comes from my neighbor's daughters' shop is an added bonus.


Eat More Kale

  This afternoon on NPR there was a segment highlighting Vermont artist Bo Muller-Moore; he's engaged in a legal battle with Chick-Fil-A over his use of the phrase Eat More Kale. Apparently, his simple screen-printed t-shirt slogan infringes on the company's rights to its slogan (and the subsequent trademark...); Bo is on the record noting that apparently the folks over at Chick-Fil-A can't determine the difference between kale and chicken, he even goes so far as to give some basic education during his soundbite.
  After raptly listening to Bo's segment, I fired up Google so I could find out a bit more about Chick-Fil-A (not being from the South I'd never even heard of them...), observing a few of their ads on the web. I have to admit, seeing cows trying to sell me chicken is unsettling; even now I am envisioning a counter-campaign headed by upstart bantams, wielding miniature picket signs and making use of the chicken microphone.
  Peanut gallery questions?
a) When I Google "Eat More Chicken" does Chick-Fil-A get a penny every time I execute my search?
b)  If, in conversation or writing I utter/scribe, "Eat More (insert noun here)," am I in danger of enduring legal action?
c)  Has copyright & trademark law become so broad that it now covers phrasing that is substantially different from the original? I could understand problems with Eat More Chickens or Eat More Schicken; but I'm quite sure few people can confuse kale with the aforementioned animal protein.
d)  Which came first, the chicken or the kale?



  There are times in all of our lives when we wish that we could glimpse the sky. Rain might be washing the pavement while you stare from the third floor window, myriad floors above and the cityscape blocking your view. Billows of cloud may pass like banks of fog from the Pacific as wings move gently up and down just outside the pressurized cabin's reinforced glass. An air conditioner's steady hum might hint at high noon and a deep sea of azure overhead.
  Sometimes we wish to look to the sky for other reasons too; wobbly Vs breaking formation as they head vaguely south, fireflies like willo'wisps dancing over a pond that might not be there save for the murky moon reflected within, bursts of color heralding crashes that shake glass and reverberate from concrete structure to structure.
  Someone I met a few weeks ago died a few days ago. I saw his partner last night and asked about him; I'd not been told he was gone. I wish I'd been able to glimpse the sky at that moment, instead reflected mirrored-ball light and pulsing musical undertones drowned out my statement of sympathy, my eyes searching for something more than a blackened bar ceiling and forgotten decoration stagings.
  I like to think that the sky might have been the deep blue only night brings, even though I know it was probably throwing down drops of rain. Travel well friend.



  A friend of mine in high school was dating a very straight-laced guy; she is a very forward person, he was the epitome of puritanical. One afternoon we were talking about sex, this conversation soon led to things that we'd heard about sex and sexual practices. Someone brought up a story from Cosmo that stated, in a nutshell, that what your guy eats affects how he tastes. If your current beau is a big fan of coffee, chocolate or yerba mate, Cosmo says he'll have definite bitter overtones. He's a big fan of tropical fruit, honey & raspberries you say? Cosmo says he'll roll across your tongue smooth and delicious. Our talk spilled over to personal experiences, soon bringing a crack from my friend about her boyfriend needing a serious dose of pineapple. Out of this conversation a plan was hatched, a case of pineapple was bought & melee ensued; our inner circle was sworn to silence, but our utterances of, "Pineapple or coffee?" were soon picked up by observant members of the student body. No explanations were given, even when pressed. I'm not sure if our gifting of the fruit had its desired effect, as we were soon on to our next caper, but every time I see a Dole Gold pineapple it brings a smile to my face.
  I wonder is there's an index to Cosmo issues; to my knowledge none of us ever read the story in full. I'd like to know who they got to research the piece and whether or not they consulted a cross section of the population. I also wonder if you can tell from the first taste of precum whether the current beau will be acerbic or buttery? Is this like the first taste of wine? Should I sweep these few drops all around my tongue to gauge what is yet to come? (Hmm, there's a pun there.)
  I wonder also if that issue of Cosmo dealt with consistency; unctuous or fluid and how to remedy either... Should I take note of whether he has an affinity for double whiskies with his bar of 85% cocoa or gently simmers his pineapple and papaya in Swiss butter? Is there a questionnaire that I can photocopy and hand out to prescreen? Perhaps I can conduct tastings, soliciting volunteers from the local university. Interesting to think what that booth would look like--Folsom Street Fair comes to campus. I wonder if I could use the Cosmo logo, perhaps solicit help from a few friends and one of the local sororities. Folsom meets Girls Gone Wild meets Haze Him meets...all in the name of scientific study.


On Metaphysical Warning Labels: A Primer

  I received a text message at 12.44 this morning which I'll paraphrase: Fuck Off! 
  What's done is done, and I'll leave it at that; the stream of thoughts that follows though?
  I moved from the midwest to the pacific northwest; from the lands of humid-laced heat-laden summers and blistering-dry snow-to-your-eyeballs winters to a climate much more moderate, wet though it often is.  I moved from a state which largely defines what it is by an industry long gone, its citizenry often choosing to focus on what once was to the contrary of what might be. I moved from a town with a population changed little by the years of my life; one family leaving as another sprouted in their place, a town that is pleasant in its familiarity yet infuriating for the same reason. Warning: we will accept you as one of our own, so long as you stay within our sight.
  I came out of the closet a long time ago; I was 17 and still in high school and needed to get this thing off of my chest. I came out to myself a long time before that; I'd heard that it was just a phase, but having known forever by then I knew that statement not to be true. It was a climatic moment, tense and relief-inducing all the same. Warning: we know ourselves at the core better than any other being on this planet, we know very little about you.
  I've been told time and time again that anywhere I've lived is too small, too backwards, too something. The Swedish blood that flows in me knows that this is not a challenge, more an attitude; my blood knows that this attitude is ripe for taming, smashing, repurposing. I see what can be there but is not, glimmers of hope reflected in the attitudes of others that share this gift or curse. Warning: to truly live is to always carry a naked broadsword: freedom of movement shares cuts on both sides, precision tires the stance and kills the momentum.
  Committing thoughts to words is self serving. Committing images to illustration is self serving. Committing emotions to color or texture or colloquialism or attribute is self serving. Warning: what is thought about but never shared is always safe, the inverse also fruit will bear.
  Everyone knows everyone. Nothing is sacred. This community is very small. I always assumed you were a bottom. Warning: any statement presented as fact may well be to the person presenting it; blanket truths smother all.


Auto Eroticism

  If you've been following me on FB or here on the blog, you know that I've been sort of seeing someone; you've likely caught notes of content and malcontent in my postings. A friend noted that my broadcasting to the world was similar to posting in his journal, save for the public nature of a blog; there's truth to that statement and I can see the benefit of organizing one's thoughts, but I envision this virtual journal offering insight into my inner self and hope that my words will sometime resound with those who are reading them. We are all more alike than we often choose to admit; what I am willing to commit to words I am often privately told is very similar to what those in my peer group are thinking. Herein lie things sticky, stripped of niceties, vernacular, graphic even; thus I delve.
  A new friend of mine quipped that men are always thinking about sex--a common sentiment shared by mainstream media, Hollywood & magazines catering to both genders. Whether or not he (they) are right is up for debate, but I know myself well enough to state that this holds true for me. It is important that I offer up a warning of sorts here: finding someone attractive or noticing a man's physical attributes does not always imply that one is having sexual thoughts about the noted subject. I (and I'd like to think you) am certainly capable of taking note of the Italianate guy sitting across the room and his piercing green eyes, eyes that remind me of an inquisitive cat I once knew. I appreciate those eyes and what they remind me of, pondering if the nature of that cat is mirrored in this man. Do I find him attractive? Yes, but not in a sexual way; his face, while striking, is too striking, as though he sleeps with one of those ridiculous gel packs on at night, uses internet-ordered Oil of Olay products & shaves every 3.5 hours. Attractive? Yes. Fuckable? Up for debate. This warning out of the way, I do think about sex a lot. Maybe more than a lot.
  I have a pseudo-boyfriend ( Pb, that's the term that I'm adopting for lack of one more precise) with a sex drive as tepid as mine is keen; he certainly likes sex, but only in the morning, only when there's plenty of time, only, only, only... That I am primed at the drop of a hat has been cause for discussion between us; "Sorry, I'm just not feeling up to it," is fine in my book. I have two hands and know how to take care of myself, it's just that I'm made to feel awkward if I either excuse myself for 20 minutes of self-centered pleasure (I'd suggest he watch an episode of Tosh.0 or chat with friends, but we all know how that would go over...) or stay in bed but reach for the lube.
  "Can't you wait until tomorrow morning? You know I'll be horny when I wake up."
  "Why wait? That's hours from now and I'll be horny then too. Probably sometime during the night too."
  This conversation or a variation thereof has happened a few times now. I'd have thought that by now it would not be a big deal. I'm trying to accept you for who you are, just deal with it already. I think my overactive sex drive may be what causes some of the friction in our relationship. If you're current on my blogging, you'll know that my Pb is the self-professed jealous type. I imagine in his mind, every time he notes me talking to anyone he finds remotely attractive, he also imagines that my conversation partner and I are going to zip off to the bathroom for a quick encounter or some such thing. While this is an amusing scenario, I like my encounters to be anything but quick; as my Pb is armed with this information, you'd conjecture he'd think more rationally in situations like the one I've just presented...alas, were it so.
  Talking all of this over one night at dinner, I was asked what I thought about during sex. I asked for clarification on this, "Are we talking about while having sex? Or while masturbating? Or?"
  "All of it."
  I must note that I don't really consider solo masturbation sex per se. Yes, I deriving pleasure from the act; but in my mind sex usually connotes two or more people deriving pleasure together, if I am in the presence of a man/men who are masturbating, this is sort of like cross-training sex; we're all deriving pleasure from the act, but to say that we're getting the pleasure from each other is open to comment. I like what I'm seeing, proximity is in play, but the manifestation of physicality in terms of another's touch is not.
  "Would you think that I'm weird if I said I'm not always thinking about you?"
  "No," I replied. "Sometimes we need to add what's going through our head to what's happening. It's more intense that way." I found it interesting that Pb could accept this statement and not proffer further thoughts of jealousy from the incubi that I readily conjure.
  "What sort of men do you think about? What do you think about them doing?"
  At this point I just sort of smiled and shrugged my shoulders, offering only, "A lot of different types of guys. They do a lot of different things." My incubi would (most certainly) be the subject of jealousy; I'd be damned if my conjurings were going to be abjectly treated by someone who refuses to key me to their thoughts, offering only wan explanations and veiled allegory in lieu of any real insight.
  The point to all of this of course is that I feel like my needs are not being met; I'm made to feel sorry if I think about having sex when I'm not in sight of Pb; ironically though, it's quite the opposite: I relish that he's pushed this to the front of my mind. I see qualities in men that I would not have found attractive or desirable previously, because the jealousy of Pb makes them more apparent to me; where once I merely saw the swell of lips or an ass from behind, I am now treated to commentary via Pb or watching his visual cues as I size someone up. The more preening, the more the veil lifts; I wonder what's going through his mind, knowing not to ask, because the reply will simply be, "I get jealous."
  Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, when I'm stroking my cock later in the evening, I know what'll be on your mind.


What Do You Mean When You Say Boyfriend?

  I met a guy the week that I first moved here and we've been sort of unofficially dating since then; he's a good guy, but like most of the men that I know has a few quirks... I like to think that I am the sort of guy that just rolls with the punches 99% of the time, falling flat on my face the other 1%; about a week ago I started the fall, catching myself just before I hit the ground. The problem now: I'm almost thinking that I should have just watched the ground approach, hit it fast and lay a while before getting up; reasoning and logic have failed me.
  This all began when my I made the error of referring to the guy that I am seeing as my boyfriend--I just sort of figured that the spending of time together, the holding hands in public places, stolen kisses, dinners in, time spent together on days off, etc., had elevated things to this point. We'd talked about sex and what we both liked and disliked, we'd talked about our families and friends, we'd introduced each other to our friends, we'd slept together and coped with our respective floral morning breaths, I'm hoping that you get the idea. One night at one of the local watering holes he introduced me to another of his friends, a guy that works in the same industry as I; we started in on a discussion of food and drink, soon talking like old pals. My date excused himself to socialize with other friends and my new friend and I resumed our conversation. Later in the evening the three of us sat down to shoot the shit and share a cocktail; our new friend decided to make a point to the homophobe that was sitting behind us by asking us to pucker up for a smooch; I looked my date square in the square in the eye and asked, "Is it ok if your friend kisses me? We're trying to make a point." I was met with a bemused look and no reply, so his friend did indeed kiss me; not a peck on the cheek, nor a sloppy wet passionate kiss, just the standard smooch on the lips you'd get from grandma or a favorite aunt.
  Fireworks. Not the good kind. Suddenly I'm amidst a shit storm of emotion culminating with the words, "Why are you, the person I am "with", kissing my ex-boyfriend!?"
  Quick recap here: a) said guy was introduced as a friend that you sometimes met for drinks; b) did I not just ask you if this was ok (and did you not just give me a stupid smile and shrug your shoulders); c) as kisses go, this was definitely the garden variety, which you've just witnessed... Seriously?
  Conversation ensued, promoting me to state that we'd have to agree to disagree on any point that either of us was trying to make. I am often the immovable mountain meeting upswelling tide, especially when I've not had the chance to cool my head, nor am I able to get in a word edgewise. I bid my date goodnight and off I went. A day later, both sides a lot calmer, we had a discussion: in a nutshell, the person I am with gets very jealous very easily and he thought it inappropriate that I be in the situation I'd placed myself in--with his ex no less. I asked two questions: 1. Why was your ex simply introduced as a drinking buddy; neither he nor you saw fit to clue me in to this little detail... 2. If you are prone to jealousy, should I worry about this type of reaction every time I interact with a friend or person I meet while out; god forbid I should hug someone or give a friend I've not seen in a long time a smooch and bring the ceiling down on myself (and the innocent unsuspecting bystander)...
  I told my guy that I could see his point of view, but I would not cede my points; I asked if he could see the logic in what I was stating. In the end, we chalked it up to a learning experience, stating that there needed to be better communication between the two of us.
  These past few weeks have been different; we agreed that we should slow things down a bit, spend more time apart and focus more on what we wanted out of our relationship--where we wanted it to go. We still talk (text actually) to each other numerous times during the day, we still meet up for dates and hand holding and sleep-overs, but there's a sort of pall that wasn't there before. It's almost like the batteries are draining and you can't get to the store for new ones--you just cope with the dimmer light and the slower music. We had dinner together last night; simple fare with an inexpensive bottle of wine and the Food Network in the background. We talked about our week thus far and what was going on in our lives; I mentioned that I'd had dinner with a friend the night before, that we'd gone to a vegetarian restaurant I'd not been to and we should try it. I was asked how I met this friend, being truthful I mentioned we'd met on Grindr; my factual response was met with a wall of silence. Plodding on, I asked what was wrong.
  "You know I get jealous."
  "I'm not allowed to make friends I guess. It's ok for you to state that you're going out with friends you've just met, but the reverse isn't true?"
  "I'm being a hypocrite aren't I?"
  "Yeah. You are."
  "What do you mean when you say I'm your boyfriend?"
  "I mean the guy that I'm dating, the guy that I hang out with, talk to about 36 times a day, sleep with, you know, the guy I'm with. What would you like me to call you?"
  "I think you call someone boyfriend when it's serious, like after you've been dating for a long time and you're thinking of moving in together."
  "I'd say if that's the case then you have moved from boyfriend to partner. You're not my partner, you are my boyfriend, at least that's how I see it. Would you prefer I call you something else?"
  "I'm not sure."
  I guess the jury's still out.


On Pizza

  My housemates and I decided last weekend that we would have a party this weekend; there are three of us  who are new to the household, four from previous times, each expressed a modicum of interest--so the ball was set rolling. Initially we'd thought that inviting a few friends each and getting to know each other was the best way to go; one of my housemates and I talked this over while combing the woods for chanterelles one afternoon. We both thought that we'd need something more than chips and salsa and beer to nurture the social, so the brainstorming began. It's always interesting getting lost in the woods with someone that you don't know very well; at one point in time we totally lost each other, I'd wandered down a deer trail, turned around and Ken was just gone. An improvised bird call got nothing, nor did a wolf whistle or a guttural call of, "Marco..."; making my way back to the trail proper, I combed the area, but ceased to find my friend. I trooped back to the truck, no Ken; I turned around and hiked back into the now darkening woods, stopping occasionally to shout his name or utter more annoying versions of, "Marco...". I hiked past the point that I last seen him, further up the mountain trail, but still he proved elusive; day was fast fading, and the forest suddenly was very quiet. Images flitted through my head, had he fallen into a ravine, been taken by one of the cougars we were joking about earlier in the afternoon, run across a plantation of pot and been transported to the land of the lotus? I broke fern fronds and made arrows down the trail pointing my direction, hoping that none of my imaginings would materialize. Rounding a bed I caught sight of my lost partner in crime; there'd been no cougar or run in with lotus-eaters; in their stead, the rutting and gnashing of what was likely a bull elk (which Ken wisely chose not to disturb, waiting silently for it to pass by). We didn't find any mushrooms to speak of, but we did begin to formulate a plan for the coming weekend's party; perhaps the housemates would fabricate food and we'd ask our guests to bring a bottle of wine or some beer to share?
  A few more days tramping through the woods (and about 30lbs of chanterelles later), we hit on the idea that we'd make up a big batch of pizza crust dough (note to self, next time 3 big batches would be better...), make some pizza sauce, and invite our housemates to supply pizza toppings... The idea was met with excitement, topping planning took on a coordinated air; lists were exchanged, notes were made, responsibilities were doled out--those participating each had a task or two or three.
  Friday arrived pretty unceremoniously, I'd had a couple of interviews to complete, so my pre-party planning was put on hold, an aspect mirrored by the busy schedules of my housemates. I sent a text out saying that I'd be mixing dough at 4 and making sauce right after. The housemates were assembled when I got home, curious as to what I brought from the store to top pizza with; then gone, thoughts of what was going into their own pies leading them off to Fred Meyer or Albertsons or Market of Choice. The sauce was finished and seasoned, my toppings were cut and cooked and set into bowls, the pizza dough was overflowing its bowl, creeping across the counter, looking for a pan, aching for the oven. I had twenty minutes to myself I gauged, just enough time to help said creeping dough onto a pan, try out the sauce, sprinkle the waiting cheese and sausage and ham upon the smear of tomato and toss it to the searing heat. Realization hit with my second glass of zinfandel that I'd had nothing to eat that day, so wrapped up in interview and party planning, the alcohol was trying to satiate my empty stomach. Three minutes remaining, my housemates began to return, lining up cutting boards and bowls, popping ales and rooting for more wine glasses. A few friends arrived, taking no note of my selfish glances at the oven, commenting on how great the kitchen smelled, how warm the wood stove made the house, how it was nice to have a weekend activity that was not the bar. I pulled my pie from the oven, letting it rest just enough to cut it; scarfing down a too-hot piece sans plate to the bemused look of all. "He's not eaten all day," quipped a housemate. I'd not told them, but they knew; nobody belittled me for stuffing my face as everyone looked on. I told the others to help themselves, relieved when they did.
  Pie night was a smashing success, I lost count of the number of pies we made--New York, Sicilian, Chicago & hybrids thereof. Wine was consumed, beer and mead and cider too. Conversation flowed, books were read, little feet clamored up the stairs and down, windows were opened to let in rain-cooled air, tail lights on the drive gave way to headlights. I know my housemates better now, hopefully the inverse is also true. I'm sure there will be pizza in our near future (4 frozen crusts and a vat of tomato sauce almost ensure it...), I'm sure there will be more nights of friends and friends of friends, more nights of food and laughter and merriment. It always amazes me what comes out of cooperation between collective minds, the insights that we gain into others and into ourselves. Next time I'd like to sit and watch as my housemates make the dough, as they stir the vat of sauce and lay out bowls of toppings. I'd like to greet guests at the door rather than beckon through the window from the kitchen. Thinking a bit more, I realize that it's nice to think these thoughts, but really I'd rather be covered in flour, wine glass in one hand and oven door in the other, checking on bubbling pies and formulating what's going into the next one.


Fitting In

I joined the local orchid society here in Eugene a few weeks ago; suffice it to say I am once again the youngest person in the room. Glancing about the meeting I was met with my fair share of wrinkled smiles and kind nods; introducing myself, I was asked the usual questions: how long had I been growing orchids, what sort did I prefer to grow, how many plants did I have, etc. I gave a brief synopsis of my past, bringing all up to speed on my collection liquidating, culminating with my cross-country drive with just a few of my treasures. I ended by saying that I kept mostly what I cherished and was diminutive. Post society program, I got the chance to talk with several society members, most seemed sort of addled when I professed no interest in the "easy" orchids--phalaenopsis, cattleyas, etc--preferring instead species cymbidiums & Japanese dendrobiums. Fielding more questions & comments it became clear to me that most members of the society fell into one of two groups: a) long-time amateurs--these are the sort of growers that take up whatever is in fashion at the moment, they have benches or shelves full of whatever catches their eye when it's in bloom, spend much of their time trying to coax their plants to rebloom, are ready at any moment to set aside stubborn plants (only to acquire something very nearly identical to the under-performer), just to fill out the lack of white or orange or yellow flowers in their collection or b) long-winded amateurs--these are the sort of growers that will tell you all that they know about orchids without really sharing anything helpful, they tend to be the authority on whatever happens to grace their benches or shelves, verbose to the point of tears when it comes to sharing what makes a proper planting media or fertilizer blend. I think, given time, I may find a few growers that fall into an elusive third type; those that are as informative, genuine & helpful by not saying anything as often as offering advice. I've learned over my years in the orchid world that for me it's best to not try to fit in; the amateurs feel betrayed when I dismiss their efforts, asking why they try growing plants that are ill-suited for their conditions; the third group nodding knowingly when I wave off these questions and simply reply, "This is what works for me; it's what I've learned." We elusives know what it's like not to fit in, it's why we are both shunned and so sought after; "problems" only arise if we're actually forced to speak to one another, invariably, we will skirt the issue of orchids all together. Pressed on matters, we will give the vaguest advice that we can conjure; it's not that we're trying to be mean or short, it's simply that we know by doing this we will avoid the barrage of thrice-answered questions from amateur group a & the barrage of additional anecdotal advice offered by amateur group b. For elusives, being a misfit is the surest way of fitting in; we're the society members that push the envelope, the men and women that devote entire collections to one genus or species or clone. Please understand, we will gladly share our methods of culture: open your damn eyes and look at the containers we are growing in, look at the media that fills our pots, look at the way we stake spikes (or not), look at bottom of the pot and the top. Our sphagnum is moist and sweet, can you see its strands, did you note the absence of algae or the smell of decay? Our pots are sometimes clay, sometimes tall and narrow, sometimes devoid of any media; did you notice the plants in each were robust and happy? Our flowers are open and full, fragrant (and not), colorful, fresh; did you notice? Or smell? We offer advice at every turn, in the gentlest of ways, but you seldom seem to take note; instead you see our muddy shoes or torn jeans, our unkempt hair or uneven teeth. You take note of only what you want, dispense advice you've never taken, trying desperately to fit in. We, like our orchids, are an unusual group, sought only when all other avenues are exhausted; the ironic thing is how much attention you afford us as you collectively ignore us--not that it really matters I guess, we see your lips moving, but your paphiopedilum tells us everything we really want to know.


Occupation Zone

I listen to NPR on and off throughout the day most days; sometimes I start my morning with a dose of their news programs, sometimes I don't tune in until mid-afternoon, still other times I don't hear what's happening until I prop open my Mac and stream while prepping dinner. It's safe to conjecture that at some point in time on any given day I will garner some kernel of wisdom from their programming. This morning I tuned in en route to the library; the programming was a mixed bag of news, stock market reporting and personal interest dialogues: the market's up (for the next 15 minutes or so), the Italian's are pissed off about proposed austerity measures (hmm, pissed of Italians, who'd have imagined) & the talk which followed called attention to a new HBO documentary about breast cancer (the interview was interesting enough that I might have to see if they'll post the doc on the web) and featured an interview with Atlanta's Mayor about the going's on at the Occupy Atlanta event. Atlanta, like Oakland and a few other cities has begin the process of removing Occupants from its turf; Mayor Reed was quick to point out that the removal in Atlanta was not like that in Oakland, that it was a respectful, carried out in a non-violent and peaceful way. The Mayor's interview is quite interesting to listen to, I hope that you do; he and the interviewer draw correlations between the tactics used in the civil rights movement and those that are being (or not) used by his cities' Occupants. I listened with interest initially, but by interview's end, ultimately had more questions than answers; key to the Mayor's view were the differences between how those involved in the civil rights movement conducted themselves and how the Occupants don't follow the some code of conduct. Mayor Reed states that the Occupants lack of strong leadership, unclear listing of demands and loose comprehension of solidarity fly in the face of the way those in the civil rights movement effected change. I wonder if he paused a moment to consider what the civil rights movement might have looked like had Dr. King's inner circle had the luxury of the cell phone and YouTube? I think of the old television footage that I watched in civics class in school which showed police brutality perpetuated on blacks & whites as they marched in solidarity for change. I wonder if Mayor Reed made a personal attempt, perhaps walked from city hall to Woodruff Park to address Occupants himself rather than sending one of his ambassadors or aides; I wonder if it crossed his mind that he might have to ask to speak, rather that assume that he would be heard--that any of his representatives would be heard. 
We have Occupants here in Eugene as well, a peaceful mass of them; their demands are few beyond the right to peacefully assemble. They want to show their solidarity and common ideology with those who occupy Wall Street; among them are intellects, students, the homeless--they are young, middle-aged and old, amongst the throng wade the Fates I am sure. I think often that I should swell their ranks, if only by one, but draw back because I know not what platform upon which to stand. I understand the frustration with the financial system in our country, I understand the need for a change to the system; I am enraged by our political system and its largess, we need an instantaneous revolution that is led by the citizenry, not those who "represent" us; I understand the frustration, ennui & depression that our citizens wear upon their faces, for this much to show so clearly in our eyes I wonder how deeply these emotions are rooted. I pause at the steps because I feel--strike that-- I know, that I am as much a part of the problem as the solution; I'm left waffling because I know I've done wrong and part of me feels as though this is the "There will be hell to pay" part. I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone; every news report that I listen to states that there are millions of Americans enraged at the current state of the financial system, yet, just like election time, all those millions fail to turn up and make themselves heard. We see Occupants on the news, we sympathize, we shake our heads in silent agreement with their cause and then we go on. We do the same thing on election days; I wonder how many of the politicians that are currently in office--any office mind you, from drain commissioner to mayor to governor to president would continue to hold their office if 100% of the registered voters in this country showed up and cast their vote? We are given a role in the process and we still let the minority decide, the numbers are not quite as skewed as the 99% vs. 1%, but they may as well be...


Are We Pre-Post-Social(networking)?

Those of you that have been following my posts may remember an earlier post about the difficulties that I have faced meeting potential beaus; I've lamented the loss of coffee-culture, the loss of bar culture and the loss of early net-culture. The www now appears crawling with social media and networking sites; at the heart there is FB and its predecessor My[____]; there are the new sites like G+ and MeetUp; for those wanting something less vanilla there are Grindr & Scruff. A few quick profiles checked off, a picture or two uploaded (or taken, compliments of robust Android & iOS) and you are well on your way to meeting future friends, lovers, soul mates or tricks--you can even link these services together, perhaps augmenting them with Twitter so you can broadcast who/where/what you are doing anywhere in the world. Turn on the location finder, you can see all the users that are within a few feet of you, actively cruising without a care in the world. I'm left wondering what's next and what those of us avant-garde & pseudoavant-garders are going to use? Thoughts? I'd consider working in granite if it weren't so heavy (and I'd be assured he'd still be around by the time I finished the letter...)


Because We HAVE To

I'm still mulling over what I want to write about this one, but I wanted to throw it out there in cyber land and see what any of my readers thought...
I met a co-worker of one of my house-mates last weekend; she's a well-spoken middle-aged woman, someone who sort of reminds me of my mother (though a bit more artistic), we were talking about the Occupy Eugene group, our political views and what was being reported on NPR. All three of us chimed in our thoughts on the matters, bringing up health care just before we parted ways; my new friend stated that she thought it very unfortunate the number of people, citizens, that felt that they needed to continue doing work they hate doing just because of the cost of medical insurance; "Imagine," she said, "If people could do the work that they wanted to do, the work that they were passionate about. Imagine what we could accomplish if only we didn't have to worry about the cost of medical care."
The thing that struck me most about this is how right she is; I know many many artists, musicians, engineers, scientists, philosophers and others who have to set aside what truly drives them, inspires them or inspires others to don their version of the "red vest" for 8 or more hours just so their spouses, partners or children can have access to medical care. Thoughts?


The Best Way to a Chicken's Heart

I recently rented a cabin in the woods, a small space with lots of light and a small solarium that faces south; there are a few such structures dotting the oak savanna that a group of us call home. We are all residents of varied interests; most everyone is a student of some sort, among the number we have two doctoral candidates, one master's degree seeker and a BA holder seeking a BS; we have a resident glass blower and now a resident gardener (me...); one of our number keeps a small herd of goats for milk production, they share their space with a quartet of Muscovy ducks. The glass blower keeps bees, though we have yet to see any honey. There are chickens too, all hens, a variety of colors and sizes; sadly, their owner built them a home and then had to move on. The flock moved to another resident, one who now too has moved on. The poor girls, they simply have nowhere to go. We've been trying to figure out if they lay eggs, but nobody seems to remember if they did when they first moved in or not; the fact that they are for the most part free-range means they keep their nests hidden, even as they have "official" nests in their coop. I did some research which suggested that we put them in their coop for a few days and not let them out to roam--if they can lay, they should; now if we could just catch them...
I did some more research and found that if one approaches them in a non-threatening manner, suddenly standing (sic looming) very straight, they will flatten themselves to the ground just before trying to take flight; that is the best time to gently grab them. I suspect that this advice may have been from a Victorian Farming in Central London pamphlet or something, as none of us who followed the advice could get the hens to prostrate themselves. Another source suggested putting feed in the palm of your hand, getting the chickens accustomed to hand feeding; pet them after they have been acclimated and then proceed with gently picking them up, remembering to support their feet and to gently restrain their wings. I (notice the singular) decided to give this method a go. Let me first state that gloves are nowhere mentioned in this method, but I would highly suggest them (unless you can deal with a flock of chickens pecking the hell out of the palm of your hand, I imagine this is sort of akin to catching a rubber ball shot from a sling-shot, over and over...); second, while the chickens will indeed readily eat from the palm of the hand, it will take quite a bit of food to get them acclimated to actually letting you pet them; third, once they are used to you petting them, you still have a ways to go before they will actually let you pick them up. Other observations: after your hand-feeding experience, said chickens may magically appear anywhere you are, they are not really looking for a hand-out, they're just looking for their mother hen; depending on your initial interaction with them, you may or may not name them--the two big Rhode Islands are Lucy (flaming red head) & Linda, the pied gray one, Ursula...the Bantam and the other are nameless as yet; you may realize that they have personalities (Would you want someone telling you to lay an egg?)


Teeming Hills

I've been out on a couple of occasions now to look for elusive chanterelles; on both occasions our little group donned rain gear, Tilly hats & wellingtonesque boots with the intention of slogging up timber road cuts to seek out our amber or smoke colored prey. Few mushrooms were seen on either foray, instead encounters were made with several patinae banana slugs, lying as discarded drawer pulls on the forest floor. Salamanders too were observed, ochre backs and fiery red bellies displayed as flashes against fallen hemlock needles and rotted leaves. Millipedes aplenty too, scuttling around from well-rotted wood buffets and ancient decaying logs. Life was everywhere. We found blackberries, festooned on bushes larger than any I have ever seen, some as big as my thumb, others dainty and seed-filled. There was a curious plant that no one knew, looking like a cross between kale and a turnip, wavy venous leaves sprouting from the shoulders of something that held the promise of becoming a swollen root. Winter berries and wild grapes too, amazing that the fruit remained on the plants here in black bear country; we wondered later if there was perhaps a big cat in the area or a herd of elk, something to drive away the ursa. The locals told us we were too early to find chanterelles on this side of the Coastals, that we'd need at least 3" of consistent rain and cooler, wetter days; days that would be here soon enough they promised. I'm looking forward to gathering those promised fungus, tossing them in the sautee pan with butter and a bit of rosemary, slipping them into the folds of an omelet with bits of chevre, pouring myself a glass of pinot gris and listening our rainy herald.


Avid Manhattanite

Those of you that know me, know that I love wine and I love dark beer, but if I'm really in the mood, then a bourbon manhattan is my drink of choice. It's got to be perfect, don't be shy on the vermouth, on the rocks, bitters optional, olives for sure, none of this twist shit. Tending bar, I've made about 10k of these, just the way that I like them, sharing them with the unsuspecting public; most manhattan drinkers order another one and then another one... I'm here in Eugene at one of my new favorite places in the city educating the bartender...apparently, here the standard recipes for drinks do not apply...ask for a perfect manhattan...pour a dash of both sweet and dry vermouths in the glass, swirl, empty, shake bourbon and bitters with ice, strain into glass, garnish with twist and serve. Want it the "real" way? Then you need to order it extra wet and stirred... A standard manhattan has 1/2oz vermouth and 2-3oz of whisky, usually with a cherry garnish and an optional dash or three of bitters. A dry manhattan uses dry vermouth instead of sweet, a perfect manhattan uses half of each, so... 1/4 oz each sweet and dry vermouths and whisky (sic) or bourbon. Try to explain to the bartender what you want, it'll come out in oregon-speak as a super wet perfect manhattan... I've decided that if the bartender would measure out the drink we both would be happy, especially after I go through the trouble of telling him how I want it, failing that, I'm asking for the bottles to be placed on the bar in front of me so I can count out my own pour. I shudder to think what I might get if I order an Old Fashioned...


Danger, No-beau Inside!

I've now been in Eugene just over a week, long enough to meet some of the locals, get a flavor for what there is to do (and the inverse) & make a few friends. Most of the people that I've met fall into three categories: a) transplants from elsewhere that came here for a job or with a spouse, b) undergrad, grad or PhD students, c) travelers, some here for little more than a day, others here for some indeterminate span of time, like ice floes entering the South Pacific, they may dissolve into the deep overnight.
I had dinner the night after I got into town with a new Jewish gay friend and some friends of his; we had homemade Indian food and drank local wine, shared conversation and told each other bits about our lives. It was a low key evening that reminded me of nights with friends when I'd lived in Michigan; there was a sense of leisure and ease that one often experiences when in the presence of like minds. We all went our own ways later in the evening, promising to keep in touch--via FB, we have.
Later in the week a few of us went to a local LGBT event at one of the downtown bars. A long narrow space, it was standing room only with overly-loud music, bad acoustics, emaciated go-go boys, lithely buxom naughty nurses, over-priced drinks, dark gooey floors--all the things that you might expect from a bar trying to be something it is not, in a place trying to conjure an illusion of something it has never seen. It was fun for a while, but the crush of bodies and lack of air ultimately proved repressive, I walked back home in a light rain, welcoming the warm enveloping mist and lung-filling fresh air. I think I'll pass on the next event, perhaps make an early evening of it or show up after midnight like my friends and I used to at bars back home.
There's not really a gay "scene" in Eugene a guy told me at Cowfish (gallery-cum-coffeehouse-cum-pool hall-cum-dance bar-cum-alternative spot) last night; I'd gone in for the variety show to observe a friend of mine, bought a beer and plunked down at the bar. Solo at the bar, variety night in full swing, I was apparently fodder for the ministrations of a self-appointed "Welcome to non-gay "scene" Eugene" roving vagabond. Sitting beside me, he launched into a well-practiced introduction, brief bio and explanation of his drawl--Dallas by way of Louisiana--then asked for reciprocation. Intros aside, I made polite small talk, cracked my knuckles and generally stared off into space, hoping, that perhaps any of this might dissuade whatever my no-beau was working himself up to. I'd thought that perhaps one or two of my new friends might appear as knights in shining something-or-other, but both saw the no-beau and made bee-lines back from whence they'd come (note to self, reciprocation may be warranted in future). Stuck apparently, I tried to extricate myself by disagreeing with whatever point the no-beau was making. Did I like musical theatre? No. Did I like the crowd? What crowd? Didn't I just hate it when you go out and a place refuses to alter everything on the menu to suit your tastes? Why go out at all then? If I'm spending money, I should have whatever I want; if I say I don't want something made a certain way, I should get it however I want it. Again, why go out, especially if you are going to make those you are with uncomfortable and piss off the people that are trying to accommodate your whims. If I'm paying for it, I get what I want. Always? What about the proprietor that looks you square in the eye and tells you to "Go fuck yourself"? This last comment just laid more wood on the proverbial fire, which started another round of bizarre conversation, culminating with the advice that we should all just say what's on our minds. No-beau then excused himself, promising to return...return he did, billowing cloud of cigarette smoke and all. Hmm, say what's on our minds huh? I think he started to fall off his chair when I told him that I detest cigarette smoke, perhaps gaining in the fall when I mentioned that I don't date/see/screw around with smokers; I then went for the coup de gras when I stated that I don't like live music (he sings with this group and that...ad nauseum); coffin-box nails in hand, I ordered a bourbon and went back to contemplating the art on the walls.



I was running early for a meeting with my new housemates last night, so I decided to stop at the "Golden Arches" for a quick snack. While in line, I noticed that the Monopoly instant game was back. I remember collecting pieces for the game as a kid; you'd order fries or a shake or a Big Mac and get a playing piece stuck to the wrapper or cup of each item. The playing pieces corresponded to properties found around the edge of the Monopoly board, some of them were instant winning pieces, garnering you a free meal or a coupon; you could also collect properties to turn in for larger prizes, cars and vacations or collect all the properties and you'd be the winner of a cool million greenbacks. I reminisced on my family collecting the pieces, never quite getting enough of any of them to amount to something other than a medium Coke or shared order of french fries. Perhaps it was because we only ate at McDonald's on rare occasions or perhaps it was because we were unlucky like scores of other Americans also playing the game. Waiting in line last night, I read the placard advertising the promotion: essentially, when one buys any of the non-value menu items, one is gifted with a playing piece for the game; 1 in 4 pieces will be winners, you too might win a Coke or a Big Mac (though not one of the more expensive items which you've had to shell out for in order to get a precious game piece) or a vacation (4 nights for 2 adults and 2 children [under the age of 15] msrp $7k) or a $1k gift certificate for spa services (unless you are in Guam or Saipan [evidently there are no spas in either place, so you will receive an equal amount of prepackaged Aveeno brand mud]) or, as a grand prize, a Nissan Z-series (base series only, player must possess a valid driver's license, msrp $39k). I'm sort of scratching my head on this one: 2 decades ago you got a piece with every damn thing that you ordered, you were playing for a million bucks and I don't really remember hearing about anyone ever winning that, let alone the promised entertainment systems or Hawaiian vacations. McD's is probably spending about the same amount as before to print and promote their game, but they've tweaked things so I need to order anything averaging $2.50 in cost to play the game and the best thing that I can win is a Nissan Z? What gives?


Falling Rain & Floods of Coffee

It's raining out there, not really all that hard, gently warm drizzle that neither smells of earth or city. I love this type of precipitation, a kind unknowing whether it is to fall or float in the air, not really fog or mist or droplets even, subtle indecision, as though one minute fog might emerge or blinding rain could appear. The trees are coated in water, so too the sidewalks and cars and all manner of others--on some blocks great green leaves shed all, sending torrents of their own making to the earth and passer-by below. The mosses that last night were hidden by gloom and dull city lights are thrown in jade contrast to water-darkened roads of bark, places ideal it seems for mosses to grow, yet clear for unknown reasons. I feel sorry for the plants that simply exist behind the walls of glass in this shop, brightly lit from without, bathed in air redolent of roasting arabica, human breath and uncertain bakery aromas; a sad looking fern, a wiry hoya, a fledgling anthurium. I imagine it raining coffee in this shop, acid-etched concrete floors flowing with swelling rivulets of Sumatran roast or pocked with myriad puddles of Tanzanian swill; tiny beaver-like bacteria might rush to build dams, directing life blood to oft forgotten backwaters. I imagine that the fern might sit up a bit, its fronds full of stimulant, its roots coursing with a new-found tonic. The anthurium would fill out rapidly, leaving its pot by the window, creeping up the wall to bathe in the downpour; perhaps throwing a spathe somewhere in the midst of its rapture. Perhaps the inside would mimic the outside, fat drops not really sure if they should fall or just waft to and fro; perhaps cling to greenery or envelop any patron foolish or awed enough to encounter them. It's raining out there, when really it should be raining in here, pushing against the door, rushing away long-hardened notes of coffee and humanity.


Chances Are

I've been at the hostel for a few days now, in that time I've met more than a few interesting people: a guy named Benji from Bern, very social and an all-around fun guy to hang out with; Lauren, a Cisco networking guy from Phoenix, who knew all the best places to people watch, eat pizza and just socialize; a pair of Dutch guys that I never caught the names of, constantly aloof and very full of life; Tashira (I've probably butchered your name, but I never got the spelling, just that I should remember "To Share A"), a bubbly Italian beauty that's piqued my interests in her mom's recipe for chicken gizzards; and a few others that I've not yet learned the name of. Sure, there have been others somewhat suspect: the guy from LA that didn't really know why he was staying in a hostel, but was very forward that he was from LA, worked in the film industry (a best boy maybe?) and traveled a lot; the Japanese jazz-lover that shared our room, who went to the bathroom every 20 minutes and talked to himself all night, asleep or not; the young woman who had to get down the coast, by any means necessary, but was unwilling to accept any offered advice or help. The owner of the hostel, a guy named Mac, seems an all-around good guy, he's quick to smile, quick to make small talk, engaging and well-roundedly interesting, plus he has a super chilled-out mutt, Oso, who's really more of an Otis.
I like staying in hostels; anywhere you can meet interesting people, cook your own food and not pay an arm and three legs for lodging is a prime spot to be. All of the hostels that I have stayed in tend to be in prime locations, easy access to food or entertainment or museums; likewise this. The people too are cut from different cloth than those that you meet in insipid hotels or resorts; most are traveling the world or moving to the area, it's a sort of instant friend pool and support group, with a few foreigners thrown in just to make things all the more interesting.
Last night Mac and his band gave an in-house performance, the local beer was tapped and the music was made. Last Fridays in Eugene are showcases of all things artful from one neighborhood to the next; tie-dyed t-shirt sellers and wandering musicians and abstract painters and any other form of art one might conceive. The shops in the area were open late, most having a resident or visiting artist; local wine was flowing, people from all walks of life were browsing and communing. Judging by the late sleepers this morning, I'd say a good time was had by most.
Last night I met a couple of the guys from the next dorm over; one sharing my name, another blessed with  a name even more common. Good guys both, but one was a little high, the other a little inebriated on alcohol; it doesn't really matter which was which. One is gay, the other somewhere outside of confused--they'd been banished to my dorm by a fellow sleeping traveller--I was awake, lights on, so it was left to me to listen and agree with what they were saying... I warned them that I'd have split attentions, sharing my intellect with both friends on screen and the two of them; an issue it did not seem to be. Their talk was all over the place, punctuated by obscure references to philosophy and other arcana; I did my best to contribute when I could, feigning indifference when needed. More than once I wondered if our conversation was going somewhere, the vibes that both seemed to be throwing off were more sexual in nature than mere curiosity; I half expected one or the other or both to proposition each other or all three of us. About an hour after they arrived, they departed for bed.
To say this morning was awkward would be untrue; for me, it was not. The two of them though? Stilted glances and hit or miss glares; I wondered what had happened (or not) after they'd went off to bed. I had coffee with one half of the pair, made small talk and avoided topics of discussion from the night before. It was oddly one-sided, but I wasn't sure if I should cheer my new found gay friend for boldly pursuing the straight man or if this would add salt to some unseen wound; better to play it mute. The fact that the two of them went from avoiding eye contact, to making plans as the day progressed further threw me for a loop; still unsure how to address either of them I let that dog sleep--knowing full well that later, said dog will either be heard panting profusely or whining at its exaggerated sense of self.


The Art of Not Caring

Rhetorically, does this sound like you? I used to think that the world would be a much better place if we all took the time to help each other more; there'd be more peace out there and more piece of mind in our communities. We'd all be working toward a common goal or all on the same page for the future or all sharing a united idea about where we wanted to be five, ten or twenty years from any given moment. I try to pay attention to the community attitude proffered in places that I visit, be it the sense of awareness for the immediate environment that I saw all around the streets of Lima, Peru, the dedication to public green-space found throughout the city of Auckland or the attention paid to recycling wherever one sets foot in Japan. Each of these communities have instilled an ideal in their citizens to uphold practices both for the benefit of society as a whole and the individual. It's social norm in these places that public spaces are clean, parks are open and available to all, batteries get sent to a reclamation factory in lieu of an incinerator. I think it goes beyond social norm in these places now though, its simply an ingrained part of how these societies work; sort of like washing your clothes, you separate lights from darks as a matter of course, not a matter of conscious. I'm not saying that this is wrong, I'm just curious what happened to the activists and fundamental change-mavens that brought their respective societies to this point? I don't think the entire population of Japan got up one morning and said, in unison, "Today is the day that we all will recycle. Everything."Nor do I think that the citizenry of Lima, Peru--from barrio dweller to bourgeois-- simultaneously took to the streets, broom in one hand and bag in the other, to dispel streets of rubbish, strewn leaves and whatever other unsavory there was to be found. These kinds of things take time to accomplish, there are minds to change and media to involve; there must be movers and shakers to light the fire, to see that things, once started, continue to be done. What happens, though, when what "needed to be done" takes on a life of its own? Where have the idealists that nurtured these ideas to completion gone? Ask most anyone and they will tell you a brief history of why they recycle, why they clean the streets or why there is so much green-space; prod deeper and you might get more of a history lesson; try to dig deeper though, and most people will shrug their shoulders and simply state that this is the way that it's always been, will always be. I've never been on the leading edge of any social or environmental movement; I shy from the light of anything political as a general rule, I'd rather watch from the edge of the forest as others assert their will over bulldozer and savage beast alike--I'm cautious that way I guess. It's not that I don't care, quite the contrary; it's just that what I truly care about, the hows and whys seem to get swept to the side, lacquered over and forgotten. I know that our forests are in peril, that we should be concerned about mercury in our fish, that too many plastic items are ending up in our landfills; I know the science and the reasoning, but what of the people that are involved, what of the process to this point? I ask a question, expecting a common, concise answer, but instead am given some sort of information about how things are progressing, what little amount of time we have to make a change or where we all went wrong; it's the equivalent, to me, of the collective shoulder shrug and the notion that it's just the way that it always was. The culture of caring is complete only when one masters the art of not caring I'd say. Very zen, more than a little true.


A Hell of a Trip (So Far...)

Greetings et al from the northern tip of Oregon! Up until Friday afternoon, the drive here was more or less uneventful in an eventful sort of way... Last Friday morning I pulled out of the driveway of the home that I grew up in, pointed my car west and drove to meet the car ferry for a dull trip across Lake Michigan; I read the four hours that it took, my thoughts only punctuated by the barrage of Law & Order SVU that played endlessly in our hold; docked in Manitowoc, mine was the last car to emerge from the ship. I fired up my new Garmin (molto molto buene y'all!), keyed in an address and set off; about three hours and a scenic drive later I was pulling up in front of my brother's farm just outside of LaX, WI. The weather was very nice, not too warm, sunny and a bit of a breeze. I spent a few days hanging out on the farm, helping my sister-in-law make applesauce, playing with my nephews and relaxing for the trip ahead. Monday morning I hit the road and proceeded to Sioux Falls, SD, had lunch and then hit the road again for Rapid City. It was another great day for a drive, mid 70's and sunny; the hills of South Dakota flew by. I took in panoramic views along the way, stopping at a few turn-abouts to take in the hills in the distance and rivers in valleys. I'd thought that I would camp for the night in Rapid City, but the weather had other things in mind; the NWS was forecasting 55mph sustained winds and heavy rain for the overnight, with more gusty winds the following morning. I stopped at a McDonald's for a milkshake and some free wireless and logged on to Cheaptickets.com to scout out my available boarding options. There are quite a number of hotels, motels and inns in Rapid City; most were renting in the $50-70 range, so I decided to look for one that was near the historic downtown district, figuring that I might be able to go out for some local color (it was only about 8pm and all); if you are ever in Rapid City, hit up the Hotel Alex Johnson, an old (well-maintained) classic downtown. At $69+tax, they beat out any of the chain hotels in the city, are the tallest structure downtown (great views!) and was a great find. Sadly, there is very little which is open in Rapid City on a Monday night; I did find a small bar that caters to the college crowd though, it was a dive of a place, just around the corner from the hotel, with hip music and a crowd of mostly just 20-somethings; I drank 3 Jim Beam Manhattans for the steep price of $8 (yes Virginia, EIGHT dollars) including the tip. I asked the bar tender what they sold the most of, she told me PBR (and at 75c), a $20 bill goes a long way. I left the next morning, well rested and raring to get to Bozeman, MT. I was meeting a friend there, going to dinner and beer and back to her house for the night. The drive was uneventful, more rolling hills and sweeping views, at least until I left I-90, directed by my Garmin to Route 212. If you've never driven this road, let me tell you, the bit that makes its way through Wyoming is the very definition of boredom; I imagine this is what the steppes of Argentina look like, flat with minor ridges, cattle and sheep appearing on occasion. I could have pulled the car over, sat in the middle of the road buck naked and not have worried about offending anyone, I think I saw about 3 cars on my drive. Coming into Montana, I thought I'd pull off and get gas, but the first town had no gas station, ditto the next three...with a quarter of a tank left and 41 miles to the next town, I was getting worried. Thankfully, there was gas in the next berg, at the sole filling station cum grocery store cum gun shop cum motel. I hit town at 7pm, gave her a call and left a message. I sent her a text about a half an hour later to tell her I was going for beer. At 8pm, I'd still not heard anything, so I gave her husband a ring, he told me she was downtown to meet me, to try her cell again; I did. At 8.30 her husband called me, told me he could not get ahold of her, wondering if I did...at 9pm she called me--her phone had died. We met, proceeded to a local bar, got a drink and chatted with some of her friends. All went well, until she decided to order shots...tequila shots...I begged out, someone else got mine. Post shots, we went to another bar, I ordered a plate of food and a cocktail, more drinks were poured, and my hostess disappeared. I was handed car keys and asked to get her home...hmmm....I'm visiting, I've never been to Bozeman in my adult life, my car is parked on the main drag, my friend is ripped.... I dropped her in her car, asked if there was an overnight lot for my car, moved it, went back and proceeded to get very lost at midnight in Bozeman. We finally made it back to her house, woke her hubby up & I got to bed...sleep was blissful, until her daughter woke me at 6am with a barrage of questions. Thankfully I had not been tanked the night before, just tired, so I answered her questions to satisfaction and went back to bed. My friend slept super late, leaving me to the ministrations of her kids, house cat and dog (we all got along grand); we stopped early afternoon to get my car and move it uphill to her house. She asked me to hang out another night, see a bit of the town. I was a bit tired still, but read a book in the sun that afternoon, hung out downtown, drank some local brew and had a mini pizza, I picked up some local beer and brought it up the hill to her husband and we sat and chatted for a while. Early to bed, I was up the next morning and off to Spokane to meet another friend. I hit Spokane early in the day, about 2pm, and gave my friend a call. No answer. I sent a text, no reply. I sent a note on FB, nada. I thought that maybe she was at work or outside enjoying the gorgeous weather, so I grabbed a glass of wine at a downtown wine bar, checked my mail and waited a bit. Still nothing. Googling, I discovered that there was a park in the city (People's Park) with a ton of trails, so I switched out shoes, changed into shorts and hit the green space. I had a great afternoon, the park was a series of hills and trails running along the river, the weather was perfect. At 6.30 I decided to return to the car, check my messages and refill my water bottle. Still nothing from my friend; I was worried and sort of off-put. I tried to both text and call her again, I got a voicemail response. I paged her just for good measure. By 7.30 I'd still not heard anything, so I ate a bite and climbed back into my car...and headed out for Yakima. I spent an uneventful night in Yakima, hit the road early Friday morning and drove to Astoria, OR; 3 miles outside of town my Subaru hiccuped; the check engine light flashed on and then off. I pulled over, checked the oil and transmission and coolant--all fine. I looked under the body for any drips; all clear. I drove the last few miles into town, with one more hiccup. I called my dad (the "expert"); he told me it sounded like perhaps I had water in the gas tank, to top the tank with premium gas and call back. I did. Still hiccuping, but just at an idle and randomly while driving. "Add dry gas too," he said. I did. I drove the short drive to the campground (my destination), with hiccups all the way. I need to hit a service station, but all are closed until Monday morning...so here I sit, typing, drinking coffee and enjoying the nothingness all around. At least it's nice nothingness: the Pacific is an easy walk, as too is the Columbia River, there are dunes and abandoned military bunkers to explore, the forest is green and gorgeous (with giant slugs!) and the state park is super nice. I walked down the hill to the tiny town of Hammond this morning for breakfast, about .75 miles, it was cool, with mist hanging in the air, a pleasant walk. I had an omelet and a glass of Oregon pinot gris; on the wall next to my table there was a sign; Keep Calm and Move Forward... An omen of sorts, it's been mentioned here before. The walk back up the hill got me thinking: I've been walking everywhere, thinking I really need a bike (like most everyone here); it's one of the reasons that I chose to move to Oregon after all, great running and biking trails... I'm sitting here at the top of the hill in a minuscule Internet coffee shop, sipping a $2 cafe au lait with an extra shot (seriously, $2, including tax...), nibbling on a giant pumpkin streusel muffin ($1 more), moving forward. The trip has been sorta hellish, but it's doing wonders for evoking my calm.


Life Through the Bottom of an Ale Glass

Often when I make the drive North to "civilization" from where I live, I stop at one of the local microbreweries; it's a place that those who like funky, well-crafted beer know of and just hitting the blips of the local alcohol distribution network. You see their brews occasionally on taps throughout the North here, but they don't bottle (yet?) and the selection, while huge at the brewery, is extremely limited in restaurants and bars. This is a brewery with character: funky art from hipster artists for sale on the walls, eclectic iPod-fueled audio, polished concrete floors holding mismatched chairs, DIY beer steins, Vogue magazines with Sharpie-stylized mustachioed cover girls & a schedule of beers, ales and porters that change entirely too often. It's a great place to watch people, eavesdrop on townie conversations or meet friends old and new for a pint or two or four. There's an ever-changing parade of patrons, you never really develop a feel for who will be there at any given time--it runs the gamut from local university students to au courant post-bubble pseduoyuppies to guys in moon boots and $400 sunglasses. I've never had a truly bad brew there, I was not crazy about their barley wine (judging by the half-finished glasses I was not alone), but the flexibility and creativity of the unseen brewers is the stuff of legend up here. Say you want to try something brewed with asparagus, bacon, cherry pie, basil, dill or myriad other arcane or esoteric ingredients--they'll have you covered. I, for one, did not try the asparagus beer; I know how my body processes beer and I know how my body processes asparagus, I'm not quite ready to combine the two...perhaps they'd negate each other, but I have the feeling that you'd not want to be standing down wind of me at the urinal a couple of hours later. The bacon porter is excellent, there's a glass in front of me as I type, I'm dreaming up all sorts of things that you could pair it with, though a PBJ on bacon toast from Respite Coffee would put me in heaven I think... (*shameless plug...my blog host has given me all these nifty new ways to imbed items in my postings, a little time off gives me time to fun them out...) and the honey-basil ale is awesome when they have it in the late fall. I'm going to miss this place when I head west, but moving to the highest density of microbreweries in the US, I'm sure to find somewhere just as quirky.


Sweet, Sweet Music

I went for a run yesterday afternoon, the weather was warm, but just about perfect. I met few people on the trail, mostly nature held sway, evidenced by the bullfrogs and snapping turtle that I veered around. Run complete, I started my drive home, taking note of the trace of early fall that was in the air, the scent of goldenrods and drying leaves. Yielding to traffic before a merge onto one of the main roads in town, my ears were assaulted by a souped-up 4x4 truck with what sounded like twin glasspacked mufflers. The roar definitely turns heads, sometimes makes you roll up your windows and crank your music or, if you are like me, induces a rolling of the eyes and the urge to chuck a cabbage or two at the offender. The guy in the rusty Chrysler next to me got a chubby from those pipes I think, true penis...er...muffler envy. An hour later, freshly showered and again in the 'Ru, I headed off for java before meeting friends. I went to one of the coffee shops that sets out tables on the sidewalk, intent on enjoying the rest of a sunny afternoon, hoping to check my email and enjoy the post-run high. Ass planted in chair, Mac powered on, I logged in and thought I'd play catch up. Glancing up, I noted that the same souped-up 4x4 was pausing at the traffic light in front of me, its idle producing a muted roar. A Wrangler on what must have been 40" rims coasted to a stop just behind the truck, its music drowning out the exhaust ahead--temporarily. Loud music must have been an affront to the driver of said truck, who revved the engine, producing a sudden whining roar from his mufflers. The Wrangler, not to be outdone, revved his engine as well, adding an annoying off-key whining layer to the Jay-Z coming from his speakers. People stared. A guy smoking a cigarette and driving a beater pumped his stereo system, the bass dropping out, the back window rattling. Bravado? I wonder what makes people decide that they need to over-accessorize their rides? Is there some sort of unspoken rule that a decent stereo system can negate the shitty appearance of a rusted-out sedan? Is a purposely-installed loud muffler system considered a must-have item on a tricked-out 4x4? What is the gas bill like on a recreational vehicle with a super-giant lift kit? All these questions and no hope of answers; I was half tempted to stroll over and pose them to the idlers.


Drag Queens, Latex Toys & Other Erotic Hazards

Coming out of the closet invariably brings a barrage of questions from loved ones and strangers alike; having been out more than half of my life, I am still amazed (and amused) at the ridiculous questions that are posed to me on a regular basis. I lost count of the number of times that I have been asked what's it's like to kiss another man; if the ponderer is of the male persuasion I suggest that they pucker up (there's only been one taker), if they are in possession of other equipment, I usually just tell them it's a bit like kissing their father, except for the tongue that is invariably slipped, the nip on the bottom lip and the occasional brush of something more personal. Likewise, I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked if I simply don't find women attractive; there are a lot of women that I find attractive: Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga & the Chinese lady that makes me spicy tofu at one of the local asian food joints to name three. Finding a female attractive and wanting to be with a female are two different ball games though. There's anatomy that's missing, I'd wonder if she has a twin brother and myriad other reasons prevent me from even venturing down that road, besides, to thine own self be true. Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I'd ever been attracted to a drag queen. Seriously? Attracted as in I want to spend half an hour with cold cream stripping back make-up like refinishing a dresser or attracted like I want to rush and smother those Marliynesque come-fuck-me red lips with my own? Nope, I've never found a drag queen attractive. Amusing, yes. Brave, ditto. Sexy, not so much. A friend of mine asked me if I had any toys. I told him I had a remote control car at my parents house somewhere and the odd puzzle or two. "Latex toys I mean," he said. "I prefer polycarb," I told him, "It's top-shelf dishwasher safe, and you can use it with oil based lubricants. Don't worry though, I don't wash toys and dishes at the same time. Usually anyways." He wasn't sure if I was serious or not, but he avoids helping with the dishes whenever he's around. Another friend of mine asked me if she and her husband could borrow a video from me. "Video?," I asked. "You know, porn," she replied, "My husband is sort of curious." I told her I'd send her one via email. "Email? Don't you have like a dvd or cd or something?" I told her that I could burn her one; I asked if her hubby had any specific requests. "We just want to see two men being intimate." If my friend's husband wants to see two men being intimate, he really needs to rent Philadelphia or Were the World Mine. I told her porn is not intimate; porn is fantasy personified, graphic, in your face (in his face really)--but not intimate. I'm not sure she ever really thought about it. Another friend of mine asked me what the strangest place was I'd ever had sex in, I'll admit I've had sex in some crazy places, the garden, a tool shed, behind the bar in a restaurant (no, it wasn't open, no it's not the one that I worked for) to name a few; my stock answer to this question though usually involves picking a room in the asker's home--let them then choose whether or not to follow up. A woman that I know socially (we're on a first name basis, though I know very little about her, nor she, I) asked me the other day if I had any gay friends. The last three words of her question, any gay friends, were spoken so softly I had to ask her to repeat herself, the third time I took the hint and leaned in so I could hear what she'd said. I asked why we were whispering about this. "We're in public. I'm trying to be discreet." I'm sure the look on my face was priceless, but I asked why she was curious. "There's this friend of mine..." Any gay man will cringe upon hearing those words, "...he and his partner are having trouble meeting people. They moved here last year." Phew! I suggested that he take a look at Facebook, talk to the coordinator of our local GLBT group or get off his butt and go out to the local gay watering hole. I was going to suggest that he also try looking at craigslist, but I'm not sure exactly what sort of friends he and his partner were looking for. One of my co-workers asked me where she and her boyfriend could get a sling; I suggested eBay, but she wanted to know if there was anywhere nearby. I told her that I'd ask a friend of mine; I mentioned that she would need to make sure she had a secure place to hang it. "I thought we'd hang it from the ceiling in the guest room." "Are there exposed beams in your guest bedroom?," I asked. "No, but there are hooks screwed into the studs." For those of you that have never hung a sling, I suggest you make a trip to your local Home Depot. Make sure to ask lots of questions: What gauge chain would support x amount of weight. How much weight are these eye bolts rated for? What's available in stainless steel? Etc. The salesperson will probably either ask if you are building a winch to lower engine blocks or moving hay. Wink at them and tell them it's much more personal. Hooks screwed into the studs? Hopefully my friend wears a helmet (falling drywall) and activity occurs over one of those blue mats they have at the gym (123lbs falling 2.5 feet to Pergo!)


Over Dose

The state of Michigan legalized pot a couple of years ago--sort of anyways. If you have a note from a doctor and pay a licensing fee, you can grow and consume mary jane legally. With a graduated sort of license you can grow for others as well. Dispensaries for 411 popped up like morels after May rains soon after. A few weeks ago, the legal system of the State ruled that dispensaries are illegal; you may grow for a friend, but you may not sell to them, nor may you sell to those carrying a license; they must grow for themselves (at least that's the way that I understand it). I don't really have a problem with marijuana; I feel that it should be controlled in a way similar to alcohol: if you are operating under the influence, there should be consequences; if you are high at work, there should be consequences; if you can't pass a urine test, there will be consequences; let's tax the substance like we do alcohol and tobacco products and be done with it. I don't have a problem with my friends that smoke marijuana--some use the drug to counteract MS or to assist with chronic pain, others to dull the world and relax. I don't have a problem with my friends that grow marijuana--most do so for their own personal use, a few do so to provide for others (which is still legal, provided they have necessary paperwork). With all this build-up I'm sure you're wondering what I do have a problem with, and I'm getting there, I promise. I just need to make the point that on the bulk of the "issues" that are thrown around by the media and lawmakers, I do not have an issue.
What I do have an issue with is the convicted felon that is unable to maintain a business, yet is able to sell and grow pot: it's more convenient to look the other way than for the local fuzz to open that can of worms. I take issue with city governments thinking that local ordinances trump state law; if you'd like to re-criminalize 411 within your locale, put an ordinance to a vote of your citizens; I think you might be surprised at the outcome. I take issue with the state; your citizenry has done its job, now do yours--our proposals need to be briefly written and concise in their language, the content needs to be construed in such a way as to be universally legally binding (period!) and possessing clarity of intent and purpose. I take issue at the money that is wasted in litigation on laws which have already been passed; we are lacking funding for education, health care and myriad other things, but the petty bullshit squabbles of DC must be mirrored in Lansing.
What would I like to do? I'd like there to be an immediate moratorium on all 411-related legislation at the state level; those issues which are currently in existence are to be evaluated solely by the court system of the state; there are to be no fact-finding panels headed by representative Smith, nor are there to be motions made by representative Doe. I'd like the state to enforce its laws; if the city of Big Rapids bans the growing of marijuana within its boundaries, let's let the state remind them there is a higher power, one that can and will act in its citizens' interests. Most of all, I'd like the people in power to mind their own damn business.


For All the World to Know

My friend Jean is an avid facebooker; iPhone in hand, she's a flurry of activity wherever she happens to be. Sometimes its a little window of insight into happenings in Chicago or Detroit or any other locale she finds herself in; sometimes it's a random stream of unrelated mildly banal postings--cute puppies on city sidewalks or music clips from once smoke-filled city blues haunts. You never really know what you are going to get from Jean, just that her multiple streams will whack you in the head at least twice an hour. Funny thing though, for all the banter that we her friends are forced to endure, she's very uptight about comments popping up in and around her posts. She's as judicious with the delete and untag buttons as she is with the camera and post buttons on her phone--anything that fails to meet her idea of proper will face the chopping block.
There's a story about Jean, an errant jar of Jiff and a boyfriend; it started out rather innocent in nature, but over the years has gained lacquered layers of untruth and vivid sexual overtone, rather like the giant bass that Uncle Pete caught using nothing more than a shoelace, a hook from one of Aunt Rita's (the one with the 42EEE bust) bras and a wad of cherry chewing gum. As I heard the story a few years after its original telling, I'm not sure what's fact or fiction, but the words" Jean" and "trip" are seldom mentioned without either the terms "peanut butter "or "Jiff". It's gotten to the point where it's become fair game to mention peanut butter, PB or Jiff at any point in any conversation one is having with Jean. Most times it will either earn you a smirk or smile; occasionally it will get either mild rise or flush of red cheeks. Mentions may not be made on facebook though; any reference will disappear seconds after being posted. Perplexing.
I posted a note on Jean's wall early last week asking her if I should make no-bake cookies for our euchre game this weekend. I've never seen someone demolish a plate of no-bakes as fast as Jean, I'm pretty sure she even set her phone down to accomplish it, but I was trying not to stare. She likes her no-bakes. She wrote back, asking for verification about the time for cards. "Sunday," I posted back; as an aside I told her that she was responsible for bringing a bottle of red wine and a jar of Jiff too. My post disappeared about 2 seconds after I'd pushed it her way. 3 seconds and a chirp from my Mac more, there was an email reminding me that all comments of a sexual nature would be removed from any of her pages, "My boss and coworkers read this stuff, some of my clients too." How's that for a guilty conscious? My fingers were aching to zip back a mildly acidic note, but as I typed, I knew that I'd not hit the send button on conclusion...
-I'd thought about asking how her boss and co-workers and clients had gained insight into the trumped-up protein-packed tale that never was.
-I'd thought about asking why it was irrational for me to be candid in my postings when turn-about has been more than fair play in a reversal of roles.
-I'd thought about asking what possessed her to add those with prying eyes to her legion of facebook friends.
-I'd thought about asking her why she didn't just click the box to make the conversation private.
-I'd figured that anyone who happened across our thread would make a logical jump from no-bake cookies, card game prep chatter and asking a friend to bring supplies to said card game to the red wine and peanut butter that I'd asked the bearer to um...bear; difficult to make no-bakes sans PB.
I typed all of it up, verbose as it was, and paused: why overstate the obvious (really?), why go someplace in electronic mail land that I'd much rather go in person (wink!), why do this solo when my minions have yet to be clued in (BRILLIANT!)?
Mid-week I sent a text message to a friend, who, it turns out, was also facebook jilted for posting an inappropriate comment to our euchre game thread. He let me know that he'd posted something in the same vein as I, a comment that spontaneously combusted seconds after his hitting the "post" key. My return text to him was simple: This. Is. War.
Jean: I know you probably don't read my blog. You probably never will. I just had to get this off my chest. Please don't take offense, I love so much about you. You are an awesome euchre partner. You are always in-line (and spot-on) with snarky comments and witty comebacks laced with sarcasm. You post amazing shots of off-the-beaten-path places. Should random photo-edited pictures of you appear on my homepage--say high-diving into a water tower-sized pool of peanut buttery goodness or sporting a nifty Jiff jaresque handbag--I can assure you that I had help with my photo-editing. I hope that can see the humor in this, everyone is already talking about it (yourself included); it just seems wrong to not crack open the jar and spread the goodness on the everyday bread of all of our lives. As I wrote, this is war. It's also a heck of a lot of fun...


It's All Edible (Isn't It?)

It's official, the local rag did a weighted study and concluded that due to rising food costs, less time to cook & the excess of quick cheap fast food, we are all in trouble. We're getting fat, we have no money for healthy food, our children will never know the joy of a bowl of watermelon on the porch or PB&J with chewy homemade bread crust. Meat costs more, milk costs more, the corn to feed the cows that provide the latter costs more--whatever will we do? Children, as we all know, must have meat and cheese and bread and twinkies at every meal; how else will they grow? They must have all the essentials to fatten them up, make them well rounded little copies of the rest of society. Mom and Dad are finding that they can't afford the mortgage, the Escalade payments, the boat insurance, the MC, Discover and Amex bill & the weekly food bill. We can't not go to McDonalds with all Jimmy's friends after soccer every Saturday. We can't not stop at Starbucks on the way home from school each afternoon--what would the other moms say? Child cruelty you'd think, to deprive your tot of chicken nuggets, no-coffee coffee drinks and super-processed fruit shapes held together with sugar and guar gum.
I'm perplexed by the entire "healthy food is too expensive", "cooking takes too much time" & "it's hard for me to exercise" trio of mantras that I read every day in print or hear uttered by friend and stranger alike.
1. Healthy food is not inherently expensive.
Have meat and dairy become more expensive? Yes. But... We eat too much meat, the recommended serving of red meat is 4-5 ounces. That package of sirloin steak that you just winced at buying--all $27 dollars and 4 pounds of it--would feed your family of four over a series of meals. No, everyone does not need a full steak, nor even half a steak. Dairy too is more expensive, but read the label please: Jimmy really does not need 6 8oz. glasses of milk per day, nor does Jane need 7 slices of Kraft cheese every night with her dinner; yes, the calcium is good for little bones, ditto too the minerals and vitamins, but what of the calories and fat? There is nothing wrong with telling Jimmy that he can have one glass of milk at each meal, nor with telling Jane she's limited to 2 slices of cheese. You are an adult after all, be a parent.
What of other foods? Where are the vegetables and whole grains, leafy greens and chunks of watermelon, pretzels and M&Ms? Waxing a bit, I remember times when I was told that not eating certain foods meant I'd sit at the table all night (for me this was usually brussels sprouts or peas, two things I ironically now really like); I wasn't expected to eat all of the offensive food, I just had to try a few bites. Few bites finished, I was free to excuse myself to play or read or call a friend. Growing up snack foods and candy were luxuries of a sort, things that were earned or consumed only at certain times of the day or under "set" circumstances. Watching movies on Sunday night usually insured my brother and I pizza, sometimes homemade sometimes not, with chips and pretzels to follow. If we were really good (I think that was the criteria anyway), mom or dad would make us milkshakes. The point is, mom and dad used some discipline to get us to eat "what was good for us" and rewarded us with what was sometimes not. Sure, those foods that we loathed reappeared on our plates a few weeks later, but by then we knew the drill. Some foods we even came to like and crave after a while. Ask my brother about spinach and mustard.
2. Cooking takes too much time.
I am a single guy. Contrary to what television and Hollywood will have us believe, I can cook. If it's available in a restaurant somewhere, I can usually fabricate it at home. I have a rule about eating out that I won't buy something that I can easily make at home. This usually means that I either eat meat when I'm out (I almost never buy meat to prepare at home) or food with multiple preparation steps (think gnocci, moussaka, paella). As to the time variable, it takes about 2 minutes to dice up a tomato, open & drain a can of chick peas and throw together a vinaigrette. If I really need more, 10 minutes will add couscous, seared tuna and steamed vegetables to the table. 15 minutes and the meal is ready. Seriously, cooking takes too much time?
3. It's hard for me to exercise.
We burn calories from the time that we get up in the morning until the time that we go to bed. We burn calories in our sleep. Sneeze? You just burned a few calories. Fart? Ditto. On average, we burn about 2k calories each and every day, just doing the things that we do throughout the day. Need to burn more calories? That's where exercise comes into play, but it doesn't have to be going for a run or swimming or doing high-impact aerobics. Take the stairs up to the office (and back down, yes I know it's 10 flights), walk 16 blocks to the bank, weed the flower beds, do something. Anything. It all adds up, exercise is cumulative. Want even more bang for your buck? Track your calories, make sure that you are only consuming 2k, if you consume less, that's good, you're further ahead at the end of the day. Eat more? Do more. Period.
I'm off for coffee now, but a few words of wisdom before I go: if you think you're fat, head to Walmart...it's sort of self explanatory.