Early Days

I've finally gotten to the point where I'm counting the days until I leave--sort of... If asked when I am done with work at the restaurant, I'm on the bat with, "The last day in August." If asked when I'm planning to head West, I'll offer, "The 15 or 16 of September." If asked how long for the whole kit & caboodle, then, "About 7 weeks," is the reply. If you ask me how many days left though, I just sort of shrug my shoulders and state, "I'm not really counting." Not really. It's in the back of my mind somewhere, along with what there's left to do with getting my house ready for a property manager (ditching carpeting, tidying up some marred paint, replacing a ceiling tile or three), what there's left to do with my non-existent yard (liorope, hosta & assorted other green things put out), finding a great home for my pooch (there's been a lead or two, I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed) and the list continues. Then, there's all the stuff to think about post-trip; what I'm going to do, getting licensed to handle food & drink, where I'm going to live...these things too are rolling around my mind, though I'm less forthcoming with answers. I'm going with the stream on this one; most of my life I've spent counting and calculating, approximating (for better or worse) how to best use my time and money; while this is commendable and good practice, it's time for a different approach. I'm not sure what this new approach will be, but that's part of the excitement. These are the early days I remind myself. A friend of mine commented in her blog lately the merits of "Keeping calm and moving forward," she recently moved out west as well and remarked to her audience the power of this mantra. In the dawn of my upcoming day, this seems a sound mantra, along with clean underwear and stopping to smell the roses and something my boss says in German about man not being able to stand on one leg. It's still early, the maps not fully plotted, all's not yet settled and there's a ton more to do--but the end is in sight. Stay tuned for act II (or V or XI...)


Thinking You Need a Steamer Trunk (But a Carry-on Will Do...)

I started the difficult task of cleaning out my house and greenhouse about a week ago; it's amazing the amount of stuff that I've managed to accumulate. It's been interesting sifting through things trying to decide what I want to keep, what is going to ebay, what's going off to friends or off to the thrift shop or simply off to the curb. I'm sort of amazed at some of the things that I own in quantity; I'm not sure if I couldn't remember buying the first one of something and then encountered it on sale and thought that I must buy another...and another--or if the second, third or fourth were a gift or hand-me-down. Some of the things in question? Aquariums (I'm pretty sure I could start a tropical fish store in my basement if I were going to be around), Western Shirts (I won't deny that I love them, what with the trim cut, long tuck-in-able tails and pearl buttons, but I'm pretty sure I could outfit the local high school's cast of Oklahoma...just with the ones that I won't keep), Wine Glasses (I long ago ran out of cupboard space for them, they now also occupy the top of my fridge and the counter next to my stove; I think I can have a dinner party for 12 friends and serve reds, whites, champagne & a cordial and still have glassware to spare), ditto silverware, bath towels, chopsticks and potting soil....and that's just at home. The greenhouse, that's another beast--if it's green, tropical and has blooms, there's probably one to three of them hiding out just waiting to grace a counter or credenza or windowsill. Luckily ebay likes orchids and cacti and other weirdly wonderful things; I just wish shipping were more reasonable. A friend of mine told me that the important thing to remember when clearing house is to just box things up and send them off--try not to remember the story that goes with each thing, the thing that was going through your mind when you bought the item, the look on the friend's face when they gifted it to you. "Remain detached," I imagine he was saying in a round-about way. This is much easier accomplished with some things than others, though it's remarkably easy to compartmentalize when you put your mind to it. There are exceptions of course; like the dog--I still need to find a great home for him; the fish--a good friend needs some life in her new apartment; pottery & art--luckily I have a ton of friends that are artists or collectors of eclectica. I'm determined to pack the important stuff in the back of the 'ru and head out. There's a few things that I'll have shipped out, my skis for example, or my down comforter and featherbed, but the vast array of other stuff (and merely stuff it is) is off on an adventure of its own. I hope that in the future I can relegate the important things to smaller and smaller spaces; there are always things that I will want, but as time passes I realize there are fewer and fewer things that I truly need.


Oh the Places You'll Go...

I'm sure everyone has glimpsed the front of the book whose title I've snagged, perhaps you've even picked it up and given it a thumb-through or gifted it to a grad, retiree or some member of your social group that is in the midst of a transition in life. I was given a copy when I graduated from high school way back when, I came across it the other day as I was clearing off my book shelves. I didn't feel the need to peruse it though, instead I just closed my eyes and thought about the places that I've been and the places that I have yet to go. I'll admit that some of those places are actual, arrived at by plane or boat or train. Some of the places are metaphysical, found only by trial and error or through diligently practicing rituals associated with one's every day life. Some of the places border on imaginary, found only when giving way to desire or haunting in dreams. Some even exist in all three places in unison, like facets of the same gem; you never quite know how your view will be as you twist your hand from side to side. I decided last week that I'd shatter the gem I currently hold in the palm of my hand, I decided that I would search for a new stone to tame and tease and grind and polish. All right, I'll lay allegory aside: I quit. Not my life or my adventures or my imaginings; my job. I'd come to realize that I've been putting this off: I was set to leave a few days after 9/11 happened, but paused along with a hundred million other people around the country, collectively scratching our heads as we tried to wrap our thoughts and emotions around what happened, what was happening. I think I forgot that I was on track to move ahead, to shake off parts of my life and take a look at new vistas, do new things, meet new friends, develop new skills. I never forgot about the things that I wanted to do, never ceased thinking about the dreams to find intelligent life elsewhere in the world, to hike and run and swim and jump. I started a new chapter of my life, bought a house and altered my thoughts. I figured that someday when I had more money, someday when I had more free time, someday when I reached the pinnacle, then I would go and do those things that I'd always wanted to do. Someone reminded me a wile ago that life is short, someone else reminded me that we live our lives in a linear fashion, that while we have the ability to turn around and look back, we can never retreat from the future that happens tomorrow and the next day and next year. We can sit and wait and say someday or we can pause briefly and say today. I'm not entirely sure where I am going, Eugene is the top of the list right now, but Australia and Japan and Mongolia and India are all blossoming on my horizon. Perhaps I'll settle for a while and then move on, perhaps I'll stay static for 15 more years and then seek new unchartered forests. Whatever I decide to do though, it's always with a step forward in mind and an occasional pause to nod at the past. Stay tuned. Danger may well lie ahead.


As Einstein Once Said...

To paraphrase Einstein; to do the same thing over and over and expect different results is insanity... I think that there comes a point in all of our lives where we take a step or two back from the tapestry that we've created thus far to see where we need to add more color or switch from stitching emphasis in the foreground to the back; we keep our eyes open to changes in color or shifts in pattern or the odd flying pig inserted amongst packs of hounds. We gauge the width of the fabric in addition to the length, take time to inspect the seams and reinforce the splicings--finding errors or stray threads, we attempt to remedy the omissions or solidify our creation. Sometimes we marvel at the melancholy that we've created, woven through with brief bright spots and flashes of insight into the core of our being. This is after all a picture of our life. A combination of memory, reminiscences of sound and taste and smell, a flesh-memory of touch and other intimate happenings. I've been taking stock of my life's tapestry for a while now, noticing how few the bright colors are, how few the deep shades too; instead there is a static jumble of muted tones and listless stitchery. I'm switching out my needle, dyeing new thread, sharpening my scissors and getting ready to reassert my will on the warp and weft of my life. Life's to short to simply reorder ecru-wrapped spindles in bulk and deftly tie knots with long tails.


To Get Noticed, Accessorize pt. I

I talked to a friend of mine from Chicago the other night, we were talking about what was going on in the city the next few weekends, if he'd be coming to Michigan in the fall and just sort of catching up in general. Near the end of our chat, we segwayed to relationship and sex talk. He mentioned that he'd joined a social group and was hoping to meet more "quality" men this way. I asked what exactly the social group did, play cards, run, attend the baths en masse...he said that they were a group of guys that met once a month to hit a gallery or museum and then went off somewhere after for a beer or wine or coffee and eventually to dinner. I asked if he'd met anyone interesting, apparently not. A lot of the guys in the group joined with or because of their partners; he's a single guy hanging with a bunch of attached others. There wasn't much to the sex side of our conversation, just the usual reiteration of frustration about meeting men who insist that they only top, insist that they are 38, when really they are pushing 50 or who are very up-front about what they are looking for sexually, but are so shy/scared/closeted that they are unable to either perform or seal the deal. In parting, my friend asked me if I took my dog running with me. I thought it was an odd question to end our conversation with, and stated such. He replied that a lot of his friends met their current beaus when out running with their dogs (single gay men just love other gay men running with dogs) or whilst ogling a guy running his dog. I've heard this before, but he went on to explain, that if a guy was running with a dog in the city, one could infer a few things about said guy:
1. He has more disposable income than the guys running sans canine; he must have $$ to feed the pooch, pay the extra deposit for a pet-friendly apartment, etc.
2. If the dog is one of the large and/or active breeds, then he must have a large place in the city, plenty of room for the dog, and for the future husband.
3. If the dog is one of the small and/or show breeds, then he likely has a well furnished home or has used the services of an interior designer.
I found all of this to be amusing and thought about what my border collie-Australian blue must say about me. I also found myself thinking about guys that I've encountered with their dogs while I've been out for a run. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that the observations my friend made about men and their dogs in the city does not apply to men who are out running their dogs in the country. Most of us up here have ample room to house our dogs, be it in the house or in the yard or in the barn; while I buy "better" dog food than a lot of the people that I know, I still feed my dog lots of "people" food too; I'd not consider taking a toy poodle or a malti-poo out for a run on the trails for fear that a hawk, eagle or roaming bear might leave me with a tiny leash and small pile of offal. Interesting what one's dog can say about one. Further reflection (and the fact that my dog dislikes 99.95% of the other dogs that we've met) makes me think I need to cross off meeting a man while out running. Unless of course he's naked, sporting a cock ring, wearing a gay pride shirt and possibly chasing after me--just for the record though, I'll take any combination of the 3 out of the above 4...