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.