Saturday, April 30, 2005

Well. I expected to post something last night. And then this morning. But after I returned home yesterday about dinnertime, I was exhausted. Absolutely beat. It carried through until tonight. Not physically tired but mentally drained. The idea of writing anything made me even more tired.

I know what the shrink would say. I can hear him now. He'd remind me that it's been a big week and I pushed through a lot. He'd say it's not surprising I'm tired. But me being me says "hogwash." It doesn't help. Yet all I can do is listen to my body and rest when it clamors for it. Ugh.

Anyway, I picked up the slides yesterday. I'm thrilled that I paid a professional to shoot them. This guy seems to shoot mostly artwork. His studio is only about 8 blocks from where I live, in an artist coop. It's a great space. He showed me loads of sample slides. Photographing 2 and 3d work. I saw examples of quilts and paintings and works on paper. He was in the process of shooting a gorgeous painting that was at least half covered in gold leaf. In the sample slides I could see any texture that was in the original. And that's what I see in my slides as well. 2 of my paintings aren't smooth. There are thick brushstrokes and they came out wonderfully. I had 3 slides shot of each painting.

Tomorrow I hope to look for my art resume. It won't have changed much since the last time. All I need to do is add 2 solo shows. One from '99 and the other from either '01 or '02. I'll have to figure that one out.

I can tell I'm getting better. Feeling like a new old me. Want to know how I know? I've been friggin' horny. I wank off often anyway. But now, I'm pulling out my toys. I haven't used toys when jacking off in almost a year. Now it's morning and night. It's how I get myself to sleep and the best way to wake up in the morning.

On to other types of sex. Zazen. For many months I've considered trying sitting meditation. Thing is, I won't do it alone. Not to start, anyway. Instead, I'd want to find a group that's comfortable and begin there. With each passing week, the feeling is stronger. And I'm holding off. Or maybe I'm fighting it. But here are my reasons. First, the act of joining a group to sit means I'd get involved in some organized religious thing. And although religion, in and of itself, isn't evil, it's not something I'm running toward. Maybe if I found a group that didn't have statues of buddha and didn't discuss precepts and doctrine...maybe I could handle it better. I come from a home where Catholicism was celebrated and lived in a cultish manner. I'm leery of any formalized practice.

Secondly, I don't know if my interest stems from getting closer to the shrink. I have to wonder about that. This desire needs to be my own and not one that comes from a place where I want to access someone I trust on a different level. I have discussed it periodically with the shrink. He has told me that I'm welcome to come and sit with his sangha. To keep boundaries clear, I could not become his student. He's my therapist, not my spiritual director. Although at times, in our conversations, given the nature of psychotherapy, I know the line between the two blur. It's understandable, especially because I can't compartmentalize different aspects of my life and being. To me, it's all the one and the same. One big muddled mess. Art, sex, spirit, food, music, books, s/m. They all have the capacity of bringing me to an ecstatic state. Transcendence. And at different times, each have. Some of my most mind blowing orgasms have not come from what is considered traditional sex. So how can I split it up? I wouldn't want to.

Third, which follows from that last thought, if I found a group I wanted to sit with, I need to be allowed to bring my whole self there. I can't hide my s/m and my question mark sexuality. It needs to be as okay to bring that part of me into the community as it is the fact I work for a nonprofit or one day I'll be painting again. Not that I go out blurting trash talk, although I am more at home with folks who aren't afraid of sexual talk, but I will not allow myself to be stifled.

Most of the world is uncomfortable with freaks. It's a given. There are times I need to deal with that. So I am not going to knowingly place myself in a situation where I need to watch my words or shield myself. Especially...especially if I'm seeking out a group to access another part of my spirituality.

Maybe I'm being extra sensitive to this, but considering where I came from, it's understandable. I wonder if it'll even out with time.

So I wait. And I wait some more.

Thing is, I had an opportunity to sit with a group once. Only once. It was last June during my first visit to the Mountain. The men invited me into the temple with them, for their communal sit. I sat. It felt as if I had come home. There was such a calmness. Tears of joy and disbelief quietly flowed down my face. After the hour a few of the men approached me and remarked on how well I fit in that space. And then I cried because I had a feeling it would be a long while before I'd access something like that again. The beauty of that group is that each brought their own religious or nonreligious belief to this silent meditation. It wasn't where everyone used the same god or prayers. Instead the room was large enough to hold the uniqueness of each spirit. The holiness came from the authencity and acceptance of all, joined together. The silence and stillness bound us as one.

That's where I'm at. I wait.

And now I think I'll immerse myself in some mindful mindlessness for the rest of the evening. "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" is on tv. Have a nice evening all.

Friday, April 29, 2005

I'm around today. It's my day off and I actually took it as such.
Right now I'm headed out the door for some kickass Pho with Sir. On the way I'll be picking up my paintings and slides. Woohoo! Later this afternoon I need to find the bio & art resume that I have stored on a 3"disk and update it. I'll take it to work so I can read the damned thing and print out the application and make labels for the slides.

Be back later for an entry.
Oh yeah, did I mention that today is deliciously cloudy, rainy and cool? Such a perfect day for Pho...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Guess what I'm doing today?

-I'm having 3 of my paintings photographed.


-I need 35mm slides.


-To send to NYC.


-I'm...umm...submitting work for a juried art show there.



"What's up with that?" you ask.

Well, it's actually Drub's fault. :-)

I saw a 'Call for Art' listing and I passed it along to Drub, in case he hadn't seen it. He responded. And there was one critical line in his email.
"So are you going to submit anything?"


You see, it's easy for me to gloss over something I may not want to look at. But when I'm confronted with the question, then I'm forced to make a conscious decision. Fuck. His question nagged at me for a few days.
Then Hoss posted the photo of my painting.

It almost feels like a domino effect. The time is right. And it is good. Whether or not I get accepted in the show is pretty irrelevant. For me, what's huge, is the fact that I'm entering. Standing back, watching my life and evolution, I see this as an important step to claiming who I am. And I know it's one step closer to actually painting again.

I've been fluctuating between excitement and sheer terror over this decision. But I'm determined.

Hoss mentioned I rarely sell my work. Boichick caught that statement and questioned me about it.

When I shakily considered entering a piece, I thought I knew which piece I'd submit. Reading through the requirements I realized that all work accepted would have to be for sale. So that piece was out because it's part of someone else's private collection. I would have borrowed it for the show. Mentally working through my inventory, I remembered 3 other paintings. But the idea of selling them hurt. It hurt in the most fierce way.

I thought of the paintings I have sold in the past and although I'm touched they sold, considering most went to collectors and gallery directors, I wish I still had all that work in my tight clutches. Hmmm...interesting. Another piece of the puzzle why I'm not painting? I can't let go.

Discussing it with my shrink, he showed me another side. The reason I can't let go is because I wasn't painting enough. The lack of work made each piece so precious. When I finally worked through a particular challenge, I felt I'd never be able to do it again. That was THE ONE. Each of them were THE ONE.
I wasn't pushing myself. I wasn't painting. I wasn't painting. I am not painting.

Sunday morning, I sat in my chair and cried for a few hours. Not a sobbing, gut wrenching cry, but big silent tears poured down and drenched my face. I could feel the small child finally mourning for what they didn't have...the ability to be seen by others. I immersed myself in the awkward, painful uncomfortable feeling of invisibility that the 5 year old had each day. And from there, the child's logic led to the idea that because they weren't seen they must not be worth anything, took hold of my adult self.

This is why it's important for me to submit this work. It's time to claim myself and begin to prove to myself, for myself, that regardless of whether or not anyone else sees me, I know my value. Fucking tough stuff man.

Last week with the shrink –

me: So intellectually I get all of it. I understand why I'm broken. How do I get to the other side?
shrink: Suffer through it.
me: (leave it to a damned buddhist)

But he's right. I know he's right. All I can do is tuck the knowledge of suffering in my pocket, take a deep belly breath and then the next step.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I've been sleeping so soundly and quite deep that I wake groggy each morning. It takes a while to become clear-headed and therefore I can't seem to write in the morning. My days have been full by trying to play catch up from going to work as half a person last week. So I'm beat in the evenings.

For now, here is Rob Brezsny's horoscope for this week.

I think Mark Morford LOVES his iPod. This week he begins with:

"You know he has one.

You know it's the big 60GB model, loaded, flawless and gleaming and radiating a strange liquid ethereal glow and couched in a beautiful custom rainbow-colored biodegradable case made of clouds and eagle feathers and wine."

And a little further on he continues:

"After all, Jesus was a rebel. Jesus was the Original Liberal. Jesus was a devoted pacifist and a badass egalitarian and his best friends were all whores and dissidents and freethinkers and miscreants, artists of every shape and size and haircut and of course, were he walking around today, Jesus would be pretty much loathed and ostracized if not outright hacked to bits by the Christian Right. "Goddamn hippie liberal tree hugger," they'd sneer, waving scythes and Bibles. "What the hell?" Jesus would say."

Yup, in today's column Morford wonders what Jesus has on his iPod.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A gift...

...want to see one of my paintings? It's an old one, completed in '98. I sold the piece in December and the recipient just posted the image on his LJ.

I painted this from the top of the parking garage in Portsmouth, NH. It was the only place where I could paint in town and not be bothered by people.

Here you go.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I have loads to write about and expected to do it this evening. But I've been busy and it isn't going to happen tonight. Between new thoughts about my painting, the desire to finish writing my experience from Prix Fixe, and oodles of stuff, I need to kick it into gear. My head is busting at the seams!

It should be easier now that I'm feeling better. Have a nice evening everyone.
I never do these...but was seduced tonight. What can I say? It was an insanely busy day, and this is all I had energy for...

stone key
You are a stone key, and you unlock old and magical
secrets. What you have to offer is powerful and
difficult for many to understand, but
invaluable to the few who can truly grasp it.
Give the things you have carefully and
wisely, because not everyone will use them for

What sort of key are you and what do you unlock?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I've been recovering from a bad drug interaction. Antibiotics. Who woulda thunk? Obviously not me. It's never happened before. I was so incredibly sick for most of last week, and didn't tell anyone. That was because I was afraid I had caught that damned bug/cold thing again for the 4th time...and didn't want to think about it. So my coworkers knew I was ill...but I didn't let on how bad it was.

It scared me because I had symptoms I'd never had before. 3 days of intense sweating, the sleeplessness, the all over itching twice a day that makes you want to slash your wrists and the most frightening were the really painful lumps at the base of my neck that I'd notice in the morning and then go away during the day while I was upright. Talk about being pretty creeped out.

On Friday morning I took the last of the antibiotics I was on. By noon I figured out what was happening. Yesterday, I did a work thing and then went home to crash. I laid low the rest of the weekend. And I haven't had any of those symptoms since Friday afternoon. I can't remember the name of the antibiotic but the bottle is in my desk at work. I'll call the doctor this week just to let her know. This is one to remember. Shit.

And I've been feeling so good since yesterday. Wiped from the onslaught but much better. It's as if I can breathe again.

I hate taking meds.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Guilty pleasure -

I'm now curled up in bed, having brought the tv in my room and getting ready to watch April in Paris on PBS, with Doris Day and Ray Bolger.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Microsoft Comes Under Fire for Reversal on Gay Rights Bill

By Sarah Kershaw

Published: April 22, 2005

SEATTLE, April 21 - The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, is coming under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees for withdrawing its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Read the entire article.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Let's end the day with a change of pace, shall we?

With a nod to Padacia, look at this wonderful New York Review of Books gallery by artist and illustrator David Levine. There's a lot to check out. Browse by year or category. In addition here's an extra link showcasing more of his work.
...we received word that HB 1515 did not pass by one vote. After stalling and near derailing last week, it finally made it to the Senate today, and then lost by one vote. Thirty years of trying to get a civil rights bill to include sexual orientation and now we'll have to try again next year. See the details on the movement of the bill here.

From the WA State Legislature website:

HB 1515
Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage as Amended by the Senate

Yeas: 24 Nays: 25 Absent: 0 Excused: 0

Voting Yea: Senators Berkey, Brown, Doumit, Eide, Fairley, Franklin, Fraser, Haugen, Jacobsen, Kastama, Keiser, Kline, Kohl-Welles, McAuliffe, Poulsen, Prentice, Pridemore, Rasmussen, Regala, Rockefeller, Shin, Spanel, Thibaudeau, and Weinstein.

Voting Nay: Senators Benson, Benton, Brandland, Carrell, Deccio, Delvin, Esser, Finkbeiner, Hargrove, Hewitt, Honeyford, Johnson, McCaslin, Morton, Mulliken, Oke, Parlette, Pflug, Roach, Schmidt, Schoesler, Sheldon, Stevens, Swecker, and Zarelli.

Microsoft Caves On Gay Rights
- by Sandeep Kaushik, April 21, 2005

From this week's Stranger:

"Pressured by Evangelical Minister, Microsoft Withdraws Support for Civil Rights Bill

In a move that angered many of the company's gay employees, the Microsoft Corporation, publicly perceived as the vanguard institution of the new economy, has taken a major political stand in favor of age-old discrimination.

The Stranger has learned that last month the $37-billion Redmond-based software behemoth quietly withdrew its support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill currently under consideration by the Washington State legislature, after being pressured by the Evangelical Christian pastor of a suburban megachurch. The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat. Hutcherson also unsuccessfully demanded that the company fire two employees who had testified in favor of the bill."

Read the rest of the article.
Reason number #1,594,310 why I love my job:

Yesterday, I tripped over a major trigger. Big one. HUGE. It was in regards to religion. I had read a question, innocently posed, that immediately upon impact the large scarlet velvet curtain draped in front of the altar was pulled back and memory upon memory of emotional abuse, unknowingly done in the name of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Spirit and Padre Pio, flooded before my eyes and repierced my heart. I lost it, left a message with my shrink and then knew I couldn't remain at work. I walked into our CFO's office to see about postponing our afternoon meeting. He took one look at my face, got up, came around the desk and grabbed me in his arms. He held me tight. I broke down and sobbed.

Once I collected myself, I needed to cancel another meeting. Each person I encountered hugged me and told me to go home and take care of myself. They didn't need details. It didn't matter that yesterday I had a full day of meetings as well as being in the throes of one of our most successful phonathons, with all the paperwork that entails.

They reassured me that self-care was most important.

Reason number #1,594,311 why I love my job:

I came in this morning and noticed that someone or a few folks completed a couple of the less complex but needed tasks. They had created a neat pile on my chair, waiting for me.


Yesterday morning, on my way home from work, my body trembled. It shook so bad I had a difficult time parking the car and walking into my building. As I stepped into my apartment I found myself gagging. Somehow, I needed to purge the poison that had contaminated my 5 year old soul.

This will be the second week in a row that I'll have seen the shrink 4 times a week. When he returned my call yesterday, he had an open slot for me, and so I took it. I asked him if it was okay to call. It's tough for me to be in a position to rely so heavily upon one person. I now know why, but awareness on an intellectual level doesn't make it easier.

The shrink mentioned that this was the point in my healing where I may be accessing him more than ever. He tried to reassure me that not only is it okay but necessary. (Maybe if I write it enough it will sink in).
We've been chipping at the walls and the layers, week after week, month after month. Year after year.
Yesterday I mentioned I felt defenseless.

If my parents had any idea of the damage they caused it would break their spirits. I am so not telling them - it would be cruel.

Religion, like anything else, can be a positive tool in our lives. It can enhance. But I believe that when we give up our sense of self, when we allow it to control us, blindly handing over our reasoning, our common sense and our compassion, then X (fill it in with anything) is detrimental and dangerous.

I have had to learn to rebuild myself. Granted, it's a life process. But what I'm working on, is knowing who I am on a cellular level.

My mom sent a good email last week. They are adapting to my life and seemed to need time for it to for it to sink in. Now the second paragraph was a reminder of how I grew up. She spoke of how it's okay that I'm not painting, because there are more important things in life such as suffering and service to others. She again spoke of how she struggled between her passion to paint or raise her family and she had to stop painting. Daily duty comes first.

Reading that, I smiled a sad smile, because it was a good reminder of the messages that had been ingrained in my skin from the very beginning.

I do believe service is important. Critical. But there are all forms of service. And painting isn't less than anything else. Now I can say that, but do I really believe it? Apparently not. Otherwise I'd probably be painting.
I know that sometimes, because of our life choices, some things will take more of a priority than others. But it's not an all or nothing life. I know I've said it a few years back, but I honestly believe that mom's arthritis in her hands comes because she stifled herself in paint.

I'm rambling. Guess it's time to do some work.

You know, I keep being told by my shrink and a couple others who've gone thru similar work, that this is the hardest thing I'll ever do in my life. I don't know how to let that fact in. What I do know is that it's the loneliest work I've ever done. Most people can't relate. I fear others think I'm crazy. It would be really easy for me to not write about this journey, yet I can't remain silent. Somehow after growing up with the attempt to squash my uniqueness, I have to claim my space...regardless of what people think.

Now don't be deceived. No matter how open I may appear to be in this blog, first, I do keep a lot close to the chest and second, it's not easy to write. I feel the fear and insecurity well up with each keystroke. But something inside keeps me keepin' on.

Have a good day...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Today would have been the perfect day to be locked in a leather hood and a sleepsack for the entire day...

...or tied up in a ball with hemp and left in the corner wouldn't have been too bad either...
Ahhh...all is right with the world. My weekly dose of Freewill Astrology is finally up.
Reading through Alternet headlines I noticed an interview with Riverbend, the girl blogger from Iraq. She's an articulate, thoughtful blogger whose writing grabbed me over a year ago and so had to place her in my links list. Her entries have been compiled into a book. Good article. See for yourself.

By the way, I'm still waiting for Freewill Astrology to come through this morning. Maybe Brezsny's sleeping in.
Mark Morford has 14 thoughts for the new pope.
Is it Friday yet?

Gee I'm sleepy this week. I'm still working on an entry about the performance piece and hunger. As I wrote to Daniel yesterday,

"The scene was so powerful. Then time seemed to dilute the experience. Today I finally figured I'd apply myself and start writing. While typing, feelings around food that I wouldn't let myself feel on Friday night, are now coming out."

It'll come. Be patient my pretties.

In the meantime, I found a few goodies on Uppity Faggot this morning. Pulled right from it's entry cuz, I'm still half asleep and it's easier:

From Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -
"As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one's own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood."

Interesting timeline highlighting a few of Ratzinger's key moments, found at Soulforce, an organization committed to the freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Thanks to boymeat for the heads up on NGLTF's statement regarding the new pope. We've yet to receive our email here at the office.

Roberta Sklar - Director of Communications


April 19, 2005

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
On the Election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope

"Today, the princes of the Roman Catholic Church elected as Pope
a man whose record has been one of unrelenting, venomous hatred
for gay people, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In fact, during the
reign of John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger was the driving force
behind a long string of pronouncements using the term 'evil' to
describe gay people, homosexuality, and marriage equality. As a
long-time Catholic from a staunchly Catholic family, I know that
the history of the church is full of shameful, centuries-long
chapters involving vilification, persecution, and violence
against others. Someday, the church will apologize to gay people
as it has to others it has oppressed in the past. I very much
doubt that this day will come during this Pope's reign. In fact,
it seems inevitable that this Pope will cause even more pain and
give his successors even more for which to seek atonement."

-Matt Foreman
Executive Director


Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Foundation (the Task Force) was the first national lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy
organization and remains the movement's leading voice for
freedom, justice, and equality. We work to build the grassroots
political strength of our community by training state and local
activists and leaders, working to strengthen the infrastructure
of state and local allies, and organizing broad-based campaigns
to build public support for complete equality for LGBT people.
Our Policy Institute, the community's premiere think tank,
provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle
for complete equality. As part of a broader social justice
movement, we work to create a world that respects and makes
visible the diversity of human expression and identity where all
people may fully participate in society. Headquartered in
Washington, DC, we also have offices in New York City, Los
Angeles, Cambridge, and Miami. The Task Force is a 501(c)(3)
corporation incorporated in Washington, DC. Contributions to the
Task Force are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Copyright 2005 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Creating Change (TM) is a trademark of the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force. All other trademarks mentioned herein belong
to their respective owners. The Task Force Foundation is a
non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID #52-1624852.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Having been out and very social from last Wednesday until last night has left me drained. In addition, all the images, ideas and experiences of the last 5 days have been wreaking havoc with my mind. I couldn't get to sleep last night because of it. My head was a whirling dervish. And I'm out of Kava Kava. It's the one sure thing to slow down the 200 mph thoughts.

Tonight I called Auxugen and we went for a walk after work. The weather was perfect. Although I was exhausted, I needed to move my body. And I needed the steepness of the hills near my house. So we walked down to Broadway and impulsively stopped into the used bookstore. I treated myself to a couple books and an old Modern Painters magazine. The books? A de Kooning, because I didn't have a book of his work, and another Hans Hoffman book of paintings because I don't think I can have enough of his work.

It's interesting, now that I think about it, how I had to pick up two artists who are at the opposite end of the spectrum from all I immersed myself in this weekend. For me, they are erotic. And I needed to see work that hit my belly and my bits. Not my head.

Here is a link to some works by de Kooning. And another.
Let's not forget Hoffman.

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
-Hans Hofmann
On the site of photographer George Vernon I found better shots to give an idea of the massive painting. One with the two panels shut, hiding the biggest piece and the other fully opened.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sunday at the festival.

This is the second year that I've gone back on Sundays. Although opening night is fun because it's all about people watching, Sunday is when I can really view and appreciate what's on the walls. Also, there is this delightful laid back sense. The staff, jurors, artists, volunteers and even some of the guests are casually dressed and more bleary eyed.

Imagine putting on such an event for 3 days. To hang over 300 pieces (out of 1200 submitted), set up the space, the logistics, the store, the auction area, performance pieces etc...only to begin taking it down 96 hours later...clean the space, and ship back the work. Talk about a mammoth job.

Anyway, this afternoon was good. Within about 10 minutes of arriving I was approached by an artist I met last year. Drub! It was great to see him. We talked for a while...hung out, looked at a little work together. He's a really cool guy and does fun work. His pieces are impeccably clean. Clean lines, clean colors. And playful. I like the lightness of them.

Art At Large, an NYC gallery was there again this year. They had their own small room with works selected by Pet Silvia. Within that I was attracted to Rinaldo Hopf's Boys Don't Cry 7/ Portrait of Dieter Hesch as Saint Sebastian.

In addition (and I can't find an image of it) was a very small pen and ink (or print of...I can't remember) of one of H.R. Giger's images from A Feast For The Psychiatrist. (I've linked to other images from the same series. I'd never heard of the artist before, but while googling for the image I saw, I checked out more of his stuff. Although beautifully done, most is not my cup of tea. But this little black and white was gorgeous.

Now in the main rooms...

...I haven't mentioned Jeff Hengst's monumental and epic piece. Jeff is a fixture at the festival. If you go to his site, click on artist's favorites. It's a very slow load, even with dsl, but if it doesn't crash your computer, it's worth the wait. Most of his paintings are huge. Wall size. One of my favorites on this page is an oil on panel called "Gourd". Not "Gourd and Ass" but the simple gourd painting. It's gorgeous.

Now let's see if I can find a shot of one of the panels for the painting in the show. Hmmm...this will have to do. These were shot by Malixe. Scroll down and you'll see the main center section (with Midori in front of it). It's much larger than shown. There's lots of detail at the top, unseen. It was a suspension/mummification with a large group of men. An alterpiece of sorts. Two panels, each hinged and folded into the middle. So there were actually 5 paintings. Each side of the flaps and the center one. Hengst is also the mind behind the Little Red Studio Theatre, where the 10 tents were set up with the performance pieces.

There was a large (24x36?) photograph of a cock and balls wrapped in red rope. The cock was straight up, and the PA was attached to another cord and appeared to be pulled. It's dynamic and lovely but I couldn't help wondering what it would look like if the rope was a little tighter. I wanted to see the balls with that nice blue tinge, and the tension and stress on the skin of the penis.

Another photo had the look of a '70's colored snapshot. Two guys, probably in their 20's, one with a Disney t-shirt on, sharing a hot dog. The hotdog, on a fork, was being devoured on both ends by the boys. This photo could have been incredibly cliche. But for me, what saved it was...something really odd. It was a clear plastic fork, not metal. I don't know why...but the plastic fork turned the image around for me. I liked the charm. The innocence...and not.

What attracted me to this photo of the human harp was the labor and endurance to get the shot. And actually I heard the same thing in the panel discussion.

Here is probably my favorite photograph in the show. What makes it even more striking is the fact that it's a self portrait.

Okay...that's it for now.
Stay tuned for part 2 highlights. I just returned from the festival, listened to the panel discussion on erotic art and had the opportunity to view the work in a leisurely fashion with more room, less noise and essentially no glitz. I found a few pieces I loved and will be back to tell you. I even took notes while viewing the work. Although I was already thrilled to find the dripping honey piece, these extra works just added to the treasure chest.

I'll even have a link or two depicting some of the work. :-)

First I've gotta eat something. Damned blood sugar is screaming at me.
Seattle Erotic Arts Festival - part 1

Okay. Let's begin with the easy stuff first.

Highlights for the festival. Notice I said highlights? I'm not going to rant. I'm not going to discuss the homophobia that came through when many straight men were confronted by man on man hot oil wrestling or rubbing too close to someone who 'appeared' to be a gay man. I'm not going to go on about the dressed to impress and yet although they fit their attire quite nicely, many weren't comfortable in their own skin. How erotic is that?
I'm not going to talk about the number one problem with most of the work. Lack of imagination.

Nah...I don't want to go there.

Instead, let's talk about highlights.

The first highlight is the biggest. It was being a part of a performance piece called Prix Fixe, created by Dan McGlothlen. Lydia has already written about her part whereas I will hold off for a little while longer. Today I'm feeling the aftereffects of a really good scene, which was Prix Fixe. It stirred my internal waters. So I'm just going to float down this river for a bit. But I will write about it.

There was an installation piece that was really sexy. It was visceral. Watching it, I desired to touch it, squeeze it, run my fingers through its gooey mess. Now there's sex for ya. It was this thing...udder or breast like, although what I like about it is that it didn't feel gender specific to me. It could have also been a bunch of penises tied together, each slowing oozing precum. The liquid looked like honey. It dripped agonizingly slow from the different bags...dropping through a mesh fabric and onto the floor which appeared to be covered in flour and something else.

Thursday night I attended the preview party. It was fun. I had a chance to see a few men that I don't get to see enough of, including the men of Bare Leatherworks. They happened to have a few newly created toys with them, and because I'm not really shy, I began hitting myself with one, just to test it out. From there I handed the strap to one of the other men I rarely see and bent over with an open invitation.
It's always fun.

One of the Bare Leatherworks guys is temporarily using a crutch. He attached what appeared to be about an 18 inch spiderman doll to the outside of the crutch. It was great. And there was something quite hot about seeing Spidey in bondage!

The other highlight was before I left for the evening. Another impromptu play scene which ended up really intense because this particular bite on my neck left the right side of my face and ear very numb and painful. It's been easing each day and now almost back to normal. What sick, twisted creatures are we to cherish such after effects? Because I haven't really done big scenes in a long time, it's been about that long where the lingering memory is still physical. And what's a little nerve damage among friends? The terror in the moment is a big part of why I do s/m. I accept the risks joyfully and knowingly. It makes me smile.

I finally became aware of the fact that I do manage to find play when I'm out and about. Auxugen has been saying this over and over...and I'd respond "nah...that's not true. Just sometimes." He was right. I was wrong.

Friday night, other than Prix Fixe, there were two other good moments. One was seeing my coworker, who happened to be part of the jury for the show, in a codpiece that he created. It was a beauteous thing! There were rhinestones and all sorts of shiny, colored buttons. The piece de resistance was the large tassel with a ball of fringe attached to the end. He wore 11 inch engineer boots, his codpiece, and a black jacket, left open. He dangled in delight with each step.

The second really good memory was amazing. I stepped into the bar to get bottled water. While waiting in line, there was this guy...who would look over and smile. I returned the gaze, and we began chatting. After our introductions, he opened the conversation with "so do you find anything here erotic?" I laughed.
"You don't want me to answer that. You may get more than you bargained for."
"Yes I do. I'm interested. Also, I'm an anthropologist and find all this fascinating." (Sounds almost like a bad pickup line, eh?)

We must have talked for over a half over. We talked of culture and society dictating gender and sexuality and thereby limiting it. This stranger was a kindred spirit. The energy between us was thick. He not only understood and was on the same page with my observations, but he managed to articulate something that I could never express although I knew it on a visceral and very passionate level.

As we were talking, my painting, or lack of painting came out. I mentioned why I didn't submit work last year or the year before, even though I had work I could have entered. I spoke of certain paintings that although on the surface are a perfect fit, I could not exhibit them in this type of venue. In a few brief minutes around this topic, I then asked "does that make sense?"

"Yes, absolutely."
He continued with "these people exhibit this work here because they want to be seen whereas if you exhibited those particular paintings here you would not be seen."

My jaw dropped. Short and sweet, he verbalized what I couldn't and what most of my friends didn't understand.

I'm still floored by his comment.

It's times like these that I have to remind myself to replenish my trick cards. I wanted to give him my email. But as much as I wanted to retain and continue the connection with this man, on some level I knew it was a singular event. In the midst of the smoke and noise of the bar, two strangers came together knowing each other, sharing a momentary intimacy.

I would not be seen by showing certain works in this venue. That was it. It doesn't matter that they are some of my best pieces. It doesn't matter that I'm so in love with the way I've painted the subject. The marks, color and light. Most would only see the surface and declare it sexy because of that, without looking beyond.

Context is critical for everything.

Now I have begun formulating an idea for paintings to submit to the show for next year. And I'm going on the assumption that I WILL be painting by then. Otherwise, you see, I'll have to slit my throat.

Now more highlights.
Fetishes of mine that became more apparent -

Back in 1996 I took an intro anthropology course in school. I fell in love. Right then, I considered giving up painting and switching majors. I didn't and went on with life, This man on Friday night reminded me how turned on I get by the subject.

Painterly paintings.
Seeing all the photographs - digital, film, over photoshopped images,
Seeing all the illustrative work, many well executed,
Seeing the prints or the handful of photorealistic paintings...I hungered.
I hungered to see brush marks. I hungered to see thick goopy gobs of paint. I hungered to see tension between a glaze next to one of those luscious gobs.
There you have it folks. It really hit me how fucking turned on I get by painterly paintings. I knew it, but had no idea how intense my fetish was until I recognized the fact that it's too easy for me to disregard the majority of the work because ain't painterly. I can't taste it. Most of what I saw left me feeling as if I licked the outside label of a can of food.

For real.

Now if it showed imagination, regardless of the medium, I can get into it.
That's the other one.

Huge turn on. HUGE. Methinks it supercedes all else.

Oh wait.
Imagination (which includes intelligence) must have compassion. It's a package deal. Otherwise, forget it.

Yeah I think that's it.
For now.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I'm tired. I spent Thursday night and Friday night at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Thursday was the preview party and last night the opening gala. Let me regroup a little from the festivities and then I'll share highlights with you. How's that?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

You know, I really, truly hate it when I'm hypersensitive about certain things. I think we all have our hot buttons. I've seen it in others as well. But when it's my own, it drives me crazy.

At least with the work I've been doing, I can now recognize it as soon as it comes up. And I also recognize the fact that it really isn't about whatever it is that pushed the buttons. It's just a reflection of deeper hurts.

When I read one blogger's idea of fine art being about shape, content and tone while erotic art is about capturing the sent me. Powerfully.
Personally, I think that's half right. Erotic in art is about the energy, but art is art. I believe to have it be art, it will encompass all of that. Therefore, no separation between 'fine art' (which is a term I detest anyway) and 'erotic art'.

Now, the reason it bugged me so is that I grew up as I'm sure many of us did, in a sexually repressed environment, with a separation of self/spirit and sex. And in the sex positive culture, I'm still seeing a separation of self/spirit and sex. Yesterday, it really hit home that it doesn't matter what camp you're in.

So not only did the definition first anger me, but incredible sadness poured in. And heart hurt. My stuff around the wholeness of life felt big. SO BIG. Therein the 2000 lb. elephant on my chest. It's the elephant I need to embrace regardless of what every one else is doing. As I realized that, an image, this image, came to mind. That's from the gift my coworker gave me last week.

I don't know why, but it seems that all my life, in spite of my family, I had an intuitive idea about the interconnectedness of all. I haven't a clue where it comes from.

Yesterday, in the throes of my raging emotions, there was a letter from my mom. The first since the polite reply to our newsletter. (And although my parents are New Englanders, they have never been the reserved ones. Instead, they are boisterous and passionate. I've only seem them be polite one other time in my life but that's a story for another day). She hadn't heard from me in a while, because I hadn't responded to that email. I didn't know how to.

So yesterday it was the regular chit this, family that. I decided that seeing they are walking the line in the middle, I shall join them. I responded in kind with one addition. I wrote (without detail) about the Seattle Erotic Art Festival this weekend, and how I'd be busy with that. (Ohhhh...I used the word erotic in front of my family.)

My sexual coming out to my family appears to be one I'll be doing over and over. And as the shrink pointed out yesterday, I will need to continue to claim my space, as the person I am, knowing that each time I do, the odds are they will never be able to see me.

I was just speaking with a coworker about moms. I think sometimes, it would be easier if I didn't love my parents so much. I could cut them off and out.

But the truth is I love them dearly. Regardless of the hurt, I cherish my parents.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Quickie update because I'm leaving for one of our grants celebrations in about 20 minutes. Tonight, we are handing out over $80,000 to queer and allied organizations. I like these events. Lots of warm fuzzies, and we get to hear great stories about strength, courage and need in our area.

Anyway, I went to my session. It was the toughest session I've ever had. So much so that when I left, I was raw, runny, oozy, ripped open, shredded and hit by a truck. Grabbed some food, went back to work to eat...and then had to go home to nap. Slept for over an hour and then returned to work.

Why oh why isn't this self learning a walk in the park? (kiddin')

Talk with you later...
Warning Will Robinson!

I am in an intensely foul mood, and have been since last night. It's taking all I have not to post a ripping rant regarding the misguided views on eroticism. Although, I suppose it's human nature to desire to segment. Aaaargh!!!!!

Last night I read someone's definition on the difference between art and erotic art. Not only did it piss me off and make me incredibly sad...but led for restless sleep. To boot, I woke at 5:30 this morning with that fucking entry in my head! Looks to me like it pushed a few buttons, eh? With it, last night, heaviness appeared. There's a 2000 lb. elephant sitting on my chest. I went to bed angry and feeling quite suffocated. The smothered feeling is still there. Not a panic attack kind of thing but it's more of a universal, cosmic kind of squelching.

The anger is still there this morning, but I've turned it inward, toward myself. So what do I do? Called the shrink to reschedule my Friday appt for today.

Change of topic - how about loads of links?

I'm not feeling creative at all and so will list:

Rob Brezsny's Freewill Astrology.

Mark Morford talks about the enviroment in Earth To Humankind: Back Off.

I'll piggy back that with another article I saw in SFGate on our earth...and a new activist model. Check out Eco-porn: Great Sex For A Good Cause.

And speaking of sex, Canada appears to have a new political party, the first sex positive political party. It seems to be for real.

Hmmmm....seems to be all about sex, eh?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I found this essay on Sunday and, for me, it seems to ring true. It's one of the better definitions of why art is important and what constitutes art that I've read.

It's a good example of the paradox of life, complex and simple at the same time. Just get past the zenspeak, which in my opinion, almost always consists of a fair amount of mental masturbation. Hmmm, there's a paradox in that as well...

Anyway, here you go:

Do You Want To Make Something Out Of It?
Zen meditation and the artistic impulse
-by Zoketsu Norman Fischer
published in Success, Singing Horse Press, 2000

Allen Ginsberg begins his essay entitled Meditation and Poetics with this paragraph, "It’s an old tradition in the West among great poets that poetry is rarely thought of as ‘just poetry.’ Real poetry practitioners are practitioners of mind awareness, or practitioners of reality, expressing their fascination with the phenomenal universe and trying to penetrate to the heart of it. Poetics isn’t mere picturesque dilettantism or egotistical expressionism for craven motives grasping for sensation and flattery. Classical poetry is a "process" or experiment- a probe into the nature of reality and the nature of the mind.” And the poet Philip Whalen makes the same point in a poem when he say something like “I don’t want to be another pretty poety-boo; I want to be a world."

For me this sense of making poetry or art, any art, as an heroic and grandiose undertaking, whose cost and goal is everything, sounds about right- providing you don’t get too excited about it, seeing it as anything more or less than any human being is doing, or would do, if he or she reflected for a few minutes about what is a worthwhile and reasonable way to spend a human life. So: 1) art isn’t just another job, it’s an endless exploration, and as with any exploration there are proliferating avenues of pursuit and no final successes and 2) art is a necessity for humans, and we all need to find a way to participate in it.

The reason we need art so desperately I would say is that the world and we ourselves persist in being made. There is something exhausting and troublesome in the madeness of the world and in the madeness of ourselves. What is made has always the quality of limitation or unsatisfactoriness. Madeness captures us into a vicious cycle of desiring more madeness or better madeness, and the madeness we get only makes us want to make improvements or additions. Art making is an anti-making. It is an anti-making because it is a making of what is useless- this is what make art art, that it is useless, that it doesn’t do anything, that it is something inherently unmade and this is the source of its liveliness. Any piece of art stares us in the face with the fact of its being what it is uselessly, it is a record of a person’s commitment to the confrontation with the made, a confrontation one is bound to come away from second best, and yet one does it, and reaches a peak of exaltation in the doing of it, and the art work facing the viewer or hearer is a phenomenal testament to that useless confrontation, which by virtue of its supreme failure, calls our life into question. If you really look at a piece of art or hear a piece of music or poetry or see a dance, you walk away wondering about your life. This is what these objects are supposed to do, this is why artists make such sacrifices in the doing of what they do- because this doing is the undoing at least temporarily of what has done them in in their lives and would do them in to the point of death or madness if it weren't undone in the process of making art.

One of the qualities of art work that has always impressed me is its unstable nature. The artwork is its physical presence- its words or notes or paint- and yet it isn't that. If you are hit in the face by a plank you will definitely be hit by it and will feel the effects of it no matter whether you believe in planks or not, no matter whether you are in the mood for the sensation of pain or not. But if you make an effort to experience an art work you may not experience anything at all- it may strike you as a meaningless hunk of this or that, hardly worth a second look. Or it may strike you as profoundly moving one day, and completely beside the point the next day. Imagine an artwork sent from one gallery to another for a major show. Of all the people that will come into contact with that work- movers, curators, technicians who hang the work, security guards, the perhaps thousands of people who will file by to see it - of all these only a few, a very few, will actually experience it as an art work, and even those few might come back to the gallery the next day and not at all be able to fathom why the day before the work moved them so, or even if they could say why it moved them, and explain it, that would only be a memory. The actual experiencing of the painting has occupied only a few seconds or perhaps minutes in the hours and hours of human contact with the work. In other words, real experience of art is extremely rare, and it is fleeting, unstable. The poet Paul Valery said of poetry, that it is “completely irregular, inconstant, involuntary, and fragile, and that we lose it, as we find it, by accident.” I think it is a fantastic thing that people place such enormous value on something like this, something so evanescent that we are really hard pressed to say whether it actually exists or not. I suppose, to some extent, we value art out of long habit, or perhaps because it has become a good business: in art’s aspect of non-art, it can become just as much a commodity as anything else people will pay good money for, probably even moreso, because some sorts of art are even more subject to sudden economic inflation that a software or gene-splicing stock. Yet, at bottom, there remains the mystery of the uselessness of art, of the shifting and unmade quality of it, and of the tremendous need that we have for the unmade and the undone, no matter how unstable or accidental our experience of it may be. The experience of it is precious and life changing always.

I want to go a little further in considering what the actual experience of this unmadeness might be. In ordinary waking life we do make clear and hard and fast distinctions between separate things. This distinction making is what perception and thought is all about, and all day long we have perception and thought, piling one thing on top of the other, until there is a great weight of them. We define ourselves in the same way among or within our perceptions and thoughts, and get buried in the process. Life is very practical and very weighty, and there is a great deal of the conflict that comes from the bumping into each other of the various perceptions and thoughts which cannot occupy the same space at the same time. So there are decisions and considerations and there is desire for organization, yet there is less organization always than one would like, because as soon as the world is organized, along comes another one, and there is disorganization again, then the need to make something else to counteract what has just been made, and the weight of it wants to pull the house down. It is a persistent thought of mine that the problem of being human is historically always more or less the same problem, but it is tempting to imagine that in our current historical period all of what I have been saying is more true than it appeared to be in the past. There seems to be, simply, more going on, more piling up, more that cries for organization and will not be organized.

The work of art, by contrast, is entirely organized and therefore peaceful. Formally it may not be organized at all, but our experience in appreciating it, if we are fortunate enough to be in the situation of having such an accident befall us all of a sudden, is that of organization, radical organization. Artistic form is the expression of this sort of organization that is essentially an unpiling of the piling up of distinctions that make up our lives. The work of art unpiles everything and undoes us in the process; it raises a million questions that amount to one question: who are we and what we we doing here? This question is the essential question that undoes us every time because we never can answer it. So it keeps us fresh and it allows our life to fully enter itself.

What I mean by organization I suppose is a feeling of connection or inclusion or completion beyond thought. In the light of the experience of the work of art the world makes sense because it is no longer made of weighty and disparate parts; it is a world of nuance and shimmer: what I would say we call beauty though this word has become fairly useless because it has become confused with pretty. Beauty is not necessarily pretty: it is, rather, this accidental sensation, before we think about it and therefore make something of it, of connection, unmadeness, uselessness, perfection, freedom.

Again Valery, "I recognize it (he speaks here of the poetic experience, but I think his remarks can be extended to any sort of art) in myself by this: that all possible objects of the ordinary world, external or internal, beings, events, feelings, and actions, while keeping their usual appearance, are suddenly placed in an indefinable but wonderfully fitting relationship with the modes of our general sensibility. That is to say that these well known things and beings- or rather the ideas that represent them- somehow change in value. They attract one another, they are connected in ways quite different from the ordinary; they become (if you will permit the expression) musicalized , resonant, harmonically related..."

What Valery is describing here is a tracelike state that is more real to us than the real world we live in every day. It is a state that is oddly brought on by a formal arrangement of ordinary stuff in such a way as to discreate the ordinary stuff, take it apart, which is so startling, when we actually notice it, that we become literally entranced. The Jesuit poet Gerard Many Hopkins once hypnotized a duck with a straight white chalkline drawn on a black table. He held the duck down against great resistance, drew the chalkline, pointed the duck’s eyes at the chalkline, then lifted his hand. The duck kept staring at the chalkline and did not move. Hopkins wrote, "They explain that the bird keeping the abiding offscape of the hand grasping her neck fancies she is still held down and cannot lift her head as long as she looks at the chalkline, which she associates with the power that holds her. This duck lifted her head at once when I put it down on the table without chalk. But this seems inadequate. It is most likely the fascinating instress of the straight white stroke." (Hopkins p 123) Instress is the term Hopkins coined to refer to the potentially torqued nature of anything purely perceived without too much definition; he considered it clear evidence of the nature of God. The duck in this case was mesmerized, Hopkins says, not by becoming habituated to the hand on her neck, but by virtue of her utter fascination with the chalk line as such. For us, art is that chalkline; it points to the instress, to use Hopkin’s term, of each thing in our perceptual world.

I said a moment ago that the experience of art is an experience of connection beyond thought. The curiosity of it is that the experience, as a human experience, can’t take place anywhere else but in thought or perception. This is exactly why it is so hard to pin down what an artwork actually is, and it is its unpindownable nature, always the case, but lately more appreciated and examined than heretofore, that probably accounts for the history of art in the century that is now drawing to a close. This has been the job of this time: to point out directly and baldly that doubt and accident lies at the heart of what art has always been. And in doing this one comes close to the boundary between art and life and immerses the boundary itself in doubt and accident. The words art and life become quite indistinct and imprecise. One could substitute for both the word reality, or being. That the job of all art or living is to appreciate and authenticate what is- our life simply as it appears- to serve as reminder, as instance or exemplar, of that. Viktor Shlovsky, the Russian literary theorist, said, "to make a stone stony: that is the purpose of art."

Why don’t we experience a stone as stony? Why do we persistently forget to come alive to the world as it is in front of our faces? Why do we have to go to all the trouble of making art so that we can return to where we are and have been all along? I think it is because of the way thought works in us. To be present in the midst of our being what we are is a pure sensation that we can never exactly apprehend. It is fleeting and ungraspable. Thought is always coming a second afterward, telling us something, singing a song of the past. Thought includes the aroma of our being alive, but it also includes so much that is made, so much of doing and piling up, that it tempts us necessarily away from ourselves. To find within our thought and perception (for perception is already thought) a settled free and unmade place takes effort, and this is the effort of art. Valery again, "There is no other definition of the present except sensation itself, which includes, perhaps, the impulse to action that could modify that sensation. On the other hand, whatever is properly thought, image, sentiment, is always in some way, a production of absent things. Memory is the substance of all thought........thought is, in short, the activity that causes what does not exist to come alive in us... Between voice and thought, between thought and voice, between presence and absence, oscillates the poetic pendulum.."

This reminds me very much of the saying of the Heart Sutra, form is emptiness, emptiness is form...

All of what I have been saying is I suppose a Zen perspective on art, although I have a strong resistance to the idea of a zen perspective on anything for reasons that are probably obvious from what I have said already. So take the words zen perspective please with a grain of salt, and understand them as shorthand for a way of looking at the world that is essentially unmade and undefined. We can’t get away with that of course. We will always have to be someplace and called something so we will have to use terms somehow in the hope that we will remain willing to have them deconstructed right before our eyes, and to find their deconstruction amenable. In the practice of zen meditation we are not trying to do anything other than to undo everything and simply be present as directly as possible with all phenomena that arise. This necessarily involves a moment by moment letting go of definition and perception and thought. I do not mean that we would attempt to become stupid blankminded and unthinking. Rather that we would let the world come and go as it naturally does, without trying to stop it at some arbitrary point of our own conscious or unconscious choosing. Which of course is what we do try to do by making a world up, piling it up, as I have said, and becoming its victim. In zen meditation we happily enter a radically simple, even an absurd, situation- just sitting still and breathing- so that we have the possibility of seeing how this troublesome world is made. Although we may not be able to do anything with this meditation practice, it does serve as a kind of training, helping us, by familiarity, to become directly used to the actual situation that prevails more or less within being. Meditation practice is a return, over and over again every moment, to that particularly odd situation, which we can see as time goes on exists in the middle of any situation, no matter how simple or complex.

Zen master Dogen wrote a well known text called Genjokoan, which I translate as Koan of the Present Moment. In this text he kindly extends the notion of koan, or fundamental meditation object, to our simply being within the present moment of our lives. A classical koan presents us with an insoluble problem. The only way to extend ourselves into that problem completely is to stop trying to solve it, in other words, to stop trying to make something of it, and simply to allow it fully to be what it is, which would necessarily mean that we would take it so personally that it would be our life. In Genjokoan Dogen points out that we do not need to take on some old saying of the masters in order to confront directly the issue at hand; in fact each moment of our lives, if we would let go of our definitions and protections and elisions, and lean fully into it, begs the question. What is to be done? What is this moment after all?

Here is a passage from Genjokoan. "To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be confirmed by all things. This confirmation is the dropping off of body and mind of one’s self and all others. It is enlightenment that dissolves all its traces, and the tracelessness goes on endlessly."

"To study Buddhism is to study the self." This means that one looks deeply and honestly at all points at the way in which one’s life actually unfolds - looks, enters, and allows. This is always interesting, always provides a path forward, no matter what it is that arises. That anything arises at all is always miracle enough, whether we like it or no, so there is no judgment or resistance necessary, and even where there is judgment or resistance there is a settling into that with appreciation and awe.

"To study the self is to forget the self" means that once you practice in that way your definitions and hedges against yourself fall away, and you can be perfectly happy going on with life, simply life, without any need to make anything out of it.

"To forget the self is to be confirmed by all things." Allowing things to be as they are without any protection is to appreciate the materials at hand. In everyday living, as in artmaking, which might not be so different after all from everyday living, there is a sense of form and presence in each and every thing that comes forward in the present moment.

"Dropping body and mind of self and others" is harder to see for it expresses the freedom that one would feel in the renunciation of everything, being willing to live as one is right now, without any need to hold onto life now or in the future, and to see that everything shares in this already.

Finally ("enlightenment dissolves its traces, and the tracelessness goes on endlessly") this sense of life as anything distinctive dissolves- it doesn’t look like anything. There is the sense that in the useless and unmade space and time of actual living there is a subtle endlessness and namelessness that is delightfully available to everyone at all times.

I take this vision of Dogen to be more or less descriptive also of the process of making art- of, anyway, the sense of artmaking that I am advancing here, which is I suppose, after all, following Ginsberg and Valery, an inherently religious one. I do not want to conflate art and religion of course. I recognize that they are not the same thing, and yet I suppose it is inescapable that I am arguing that what we call the aesthetic impulse is at bottom identical to what we call the religious impulse. Certainly the cultural history of Zen, particularly in Japan, would attest to the close relationship between the two activities.

Insofar as both art and religious practice always manifest in the world as we know it as particular things, both have serious built in problems. Religion solidifies into doctrinaire narrow-mindedness or institutional power-brokering, or usually both, and art solidifies into money, if it is successful, and despair if it is not, a defeat in either case. I do not think I am the first to point out that art in our radically mercantile society is more or less doomed to becomes commodified, and that it is generally made for the wealthy, and becomes for them in various ways a kind of sanitized and enriched currency. Even artists who do not make economically valuable artwork must create economically attractive explanations to attract funders to pay for the generally high costs of the art habit. Even poets, who need only about $10 worth of materials to create their works, must vie for these dollars. Despite this, I do not think the situation is hopeless, and that is why I have taken the time to think about this topic. Because I believe that if the artist can be clear about the nature of the project that he or she is finally concerned with, and actively work at being clear about it, for clarity is never a given, it needs constant revision, just as if the religious practitioner, which is any of us, can be clear about the project he or she is engaged in, I think it is possible to proceed with liveliness and integrity, despite the difficulties. Life well and seriously lived has never been without these difficulties; it is part of the fun and simply a given in the situation. A certain amount of complaining is probably normal but it would certainly be counterproductive to give one’s self over to complaining entirely.

A final quote from Valery, "The mind is terribly variable, deceptive and self-deceiving, fertile in insoluable problems and illusory solutions. How could a remarkable work emerge from this chaos if this chaos that contains everything did not also contain some serious chance to know one’s self and to choose within one’s self whatever is worth taking from each moment and using carefully?"

And a poem of Dogen:

Being as it is,
What’s that?
In a waterdrop
Shaken from a duck’s beak:
An image of the moon

-Zoketsu Norman Fischer - copyright 2000
Movie update.

About a month ago, I mentioned I was supposed to be on my way to see In The Realm of The Unreal. It never happened. First, my movie date was sick and so we cancelled. Then I was going to see it on my own, and I became sick. It's no longer playing in Seattle and so I'll wait until it comes out on dvd.

Born into Brothels is the next film I want to see. Right now, it's at the Metro in the Univesity District. I'm intrigued by the story.

Last week, after not going to the movies in over a month, I saw Millions. It's absolutely captivating. Alex Etel, as Damian, is...amazing. And so cute you just want to eat him up. Those freckles!!!! This was his film debut. He reaches right in and grabs your heart.

If you have a chance, go check it out. Really.

Monday, April 11, 2005

I am truly sorry for something I said in my earlier entry this morning.
I just got back from a session with the shrink, and mentioned my entry to him. We spoke, and I realized that although I've let go of some of the anger, I haven't resolved all of it yet. Proof? My choice of "lowest common denominator" instead of "common denominator". It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Thinking about it now, I'm absolutely mortified. Simply because something is the norm, it is not less than. After I post this entry, I will go in and edit that sentence.

Yet my insecurity, my struggle with freakiness and lack of long ago acceptance because of it, is still something I'm working on. One day...maybe...hopefully...I can get to a place where I no longer have to prove myself. I envision a person who is sure enough to be able to do what they want, not caring what the rest of the world thinks or does. And with that, I envision and calmness and quiet heart, filled with strength. No small ambition. But it's something I crave with all my being.

Forgive me?
This weekend is the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival. Speaking of which, last year they had this really fabulous clip by Cole & Weber advertising the festival. It's still up on the website. You HAVE to see it. Ummm...something to do with jumper cables.

I know that last year I went off on erotic art. That was December 2003. . And then here is my experience with attending the show. A few months later, I wrote about the subject again, ending that entry with:

"Here's another thought. Maybe the question we should be asking is, "why is pornography such a big deal anyway?" What is it about sex that scares us silly? Then again, death does the same thing. As does birth.

All natural, truly primal, and yet, our governments and religions have seen fit to control with a heavy hand.
I wonder if part of the reason is, birth, orgasms and death are similar experiences. I think they are ecstatic moments, times when we are closest to omniscience.

In our living, breathing lives, it's that energy that allows us to move mountains. Powerful spaces of time. Controlling forces are threatened by the gale winds that stem from the individual self.

And maybe…we allow ourselves to be controlled because we also fear our unique strength."

This year I've resigned myself to the fact that the word 'erotic' appears to have been slaughtered. I guess they mean erotic art in the context of sex and figurative art. If people, in general, want to portray one view of eroticism...then so be it. I decided a while back to not be so sensitive and stop being angry about it. Instead, I'll focus on what I can do in my own way to enlarge the idea of what is erotic. I can't kowtow to what seems to be a common denominator.

There are going to be tents with different activities. One in particular excites me because it blows apart our perception of eroticism. And I think it'll push buttons as well. Now that turns me on. I found out yesterday that I'll have a part in that exhibit. I'll be more engaged than I originally thought.
I'm not going to describe it now, but I promise I'll write about it after the fact.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Stone soup.

My apartment building has a gated entrance. It opens up onto a little courtyard with our building in a horseshoe shape surrounding this space. In the courtyard is a little pond with a small fountain. A month ago, the manager placed about 6 goldfish in the pond. This morning, on my way back with a cup of coffee I stopped to talk with a few tenants who were hanging out. I met a man who purchased additional fish that were put in yesterday. He's been living here since October and has taken responsibility for their feeding and care. Someone planted what seems to be calla lilies on the edge of the pond. Someone else placed additional greens. Management hooked up small lights around the pond. And slowly there are little creatures appearing, tucked in the rocks. Little plastic figures. A small rubber snake.

In a quiet way, this little bit of water is connecting people.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Want to know what was in the letter?

I enjoy giving the shrink gifts. I mean it can't always be a lot of fun to sit there, 50 minute hour after 50 minute hour listening to folks cry, rant, rave, attack, whine and even transfer some of the stronger emotions onto you.

Over the years, I've discovered a few things that turn him on (shrink-wise). Dreams. Dreams are a biggie.
The first time it happened, I took note.

I walked in, sat down and said,
"I have something for you."
"What is it?"
"I had a dream last night."

I'll never forget the look in his eyes. They lit up like New York City. His countenance changed. I could feel his body get excited.

So yesterday wasn't any different. Except, his reaction was even stronger.

"Guess what this piece of paper is."
"What do you have there?"
"Well, I received a response from my folks, regarding the newsletter and I haven't read it yet. I wanted to wait and read it here."
"Oh goodie!"

I do believe that his reaction was also bigger because that damned trust thing is becoming greater. Whether the email was good or bad, I NEEDED to go through this with him. He saw that.

Okay...the letter.

It's not a bad letter. But it's not a good letter. Essentially, what I received was,

Dear girlfag,
We received your magazine. We can see it is professionally done and all the organization has accomplished. You have a natural instinct for this.
So and so was sick last week. The weather is nice here...blah, blah, blah.
Mom and Dad.

I didn't know what to do with that. I still don't. If it were a bad letter, I could be angry and would feel justified. If it were a more positive letter, such as "Now I understand what you do. We're so proud of you. You are showing us a bigger world..." I'd be feeling warm fuzzies right about now.
Yet, this middle of the road, polite response leaves me in a weird space.

I understand that they probably didn't know what to do with what they read. Honestly, it's a lot for them. And, as the shrink mentioned yesterday, even without the newsletter or the articles, the photo alone spoke a thousand words. It's so out of their realm of vision. What could they do when they see their daughter, who they think is a lesbian, surrounded by large gay men, tattooed, shaved, pierced, etc.? Then they piece that together with the fact that in the last 4 years, I haven't mentioned a woman's name once. Yeah, it confounds my friends.

My poor parents.

Now, in addition to understanding, I'm feeling sad and angry. I mean, I'm their kid dammit. As their child, I don't think it's enough for them to simply love me. I want them to embrace who I am. Polite support doesn't leave me with much.

This isn't going to stop the feelings of being smothered when I go home for visits. Their response felt like "that's nice dear, now make sure you wash your hands before dinner."

Family is about sharing. If you can't share and really engage with each other (on both sides) then what is left?
What I realize now is that I hoped I could involve them in some type of dialogue. Let's begin the process of talking.
But I need to respect their comfort level with this.

So that's that.

Oh yes, one other thing. I did mention to the shrink that I feel a sense of relief. Finally being able to say "this is who I am", regardless of their reaction, frees me up. It's cleaner now.

Maybe this will slowly filter through them. Maybe at some point they'll be able to talk. Or maybe never.
Only time will tell, eh?
I knew about Google maps. But I didn't know about the satellite shots now offered by Google. That is, not until this morning, when I read about it in Mark Morford's latest column I Can See Your House From Here.

Of course I needed to try it for myself. I popped in my address, hit 'satellite' and after seeing my neighborhood I spent a few minutes using the arrows on the top left to scroll that satellite photo right down to Elliot Bay. Fun!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Welcome to Seattle.

My coworker was required to call doggie daycare and let them know that he had to pull his dog out early today to take him to doggie acupuncture.

He was cracking up while on the phone knowing how crazy it sounded.
There is an email sitting in my inbox. Unopened. It's been there since yesterday afternoon. I've decided to wait until this afternoon to read it. I'll print it and bring it to my session. It's good news or bad news and either way, I want the shrink's support.

What's the letter about? It's a response from my parents, regarding a certain envelope they received.

You see, I kinda came out to my parents. Again.

7 years ago, before moving to Seattle, my sibs and I agreed it was time to tell my parents I was queer. They were loving and supportive. But with that, came the silence. It is partially my fault because I never took the risk of sharing my daily queer life with them and partially theirs because they created the climate of 'don't speak of awkward things' because it's too uncomfortable.

Since that initial coming out, my life has gotten bigger in regards to sexuality and how I view the world. In some fashion, it's all about sex. Knowing that is one arena my parents will not deal with, I shut myself down. I remember when I came out my mom played the dutiful Catholic mom and said she loved me but I needed to remain celibate. Yeah. Right.

So I'm 3000 miles away, work for a queer organization, volunteer to raise funds for a scholarship in human sexuality, and surround myself with people who are comfortable in all facets of sexuality. My emails home have been:

Dear Mom and Dad,
hope you're both doing well. I've been crazy busy at work.
The flowers are blooming (or insert some other appropriate weather phrase).
Thinking of you.


Yeah it sucked. I felt deceptive and hypocritical in the sense that I was trying to fit in by my silence. And I hated, absolutely hated not being to share who I am with them.

Now here's a strange statement. Coming out as gay was one thing, but coming out as a sexual being was another. What I mean by that is I'm claiming my space in the family as a queer person who is proud of what they do and will share that with them (appropriately) as well as declaring the fact that I'm part of the leather community. Now it will be interesting to see if they even have any idea what that means. I'm not going to volunteer extra info but will honestly answer whatever questions (if any) are asked.

You ask "how did you do that?"
Well, our latest newsletter came out. 11,500 copies were mailed all over the country. The lead story is, not only written by me, but about the sex scholarship I've been working for (in my free time). In addition to being an article about the importance of funding sexual research, it speaks of the leather community. And inside there's this photo of myself surrounded by a bunch of leathermen.

Last week, I sent the newsletter to my parents and each sib. Every envelope had the same letter attached, addressed to all: Dear Mom, Dad, sis, sis, bro, and bro. This guarantees they all know the other received it. The letter simply said that I was proud the endowment goal for the scholarship was reached, pleased that I was asked to write the article, honored to work where I work, and most importantly, I wanted them to know more of who I am.

I will be very surprised if they know what the leather community means. I wonder if they'll ask.

So now there is this email in my inbox. The subject is the name of my organization. I'm sure it's about the newsletter.
And I'm nervous.

My appointment is this afternoon.
I'll let you know how it goes, okay?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Little big things.

I'm still cooking for myself. If you're just tuning in and wonder what that's about then read this. By the way, Sunday lunch was spinach salad and then spaghetti with doctored up jar sauce for dinner. Tonight was homemade junk food. French toast. I love french toast but rarely eat it because's pretty much all simple carbs. Yeah, yeah...other than the eggs and butter.

Today was a good and really hard day in therapy which meant tonight was a treat night. An hour later I made a big batch of egg salad for sandwiches. Egg salad is one of my comfort foods. And I keep it simple. Eggs, celery, mayo, salt, pepper, normally onion (but I didn't have any in the house tonight)...and mustard. There's a coworker who loves egg salad so I'm bringing the bowl in tomorrow and we can each have a couple sandwiches this week.

See? A little big thing.

Small sure steps.

I'll work my way up again to fuller more elaborate meals. One of my favorite things in the entire world is a table groaning with food surrounded by people I care about.

Hmmm...other comfort foods.

Thanksgiving dinner
Mom's cooking, especially shepherd pie, corn chowder, meatloaf and toutiere (canadian meat pie).
Macaroni and cheese (homemade) although at times the box stuff is total comfort. But only with cut up hot dogs cooked inside.
Nuna toodle casserole

Now...newer comfort foods. Sushi rolls. Ethiopian food (what's more comforting than a stew that gets slopped up with their wonderful bread?). Homemade ravioli, especially something like pumpkin or sweet potato ravioli on a bed of sauteed arugula and pinenuts. Serious yum.
Septieme's gnocchi served on red chard. I love those leafy greens.
And a good cheeseburger with steak fries.

Killer thick soups.

Fried bay scallops. (This is when I miss New England). And yes, lobster. These two have become a comfort food in the last 7 years because in addition to the taste, it's all about the memory of my old coast.
Here is this week's Freewill Astrology and Mark Morford's latest column.

Morford acknowledges the fact that there are good Christians. I find it sad that he may have received enough flack to feel the need to write this. I know he's ranted about the extreme fundies and what's happening politically because of their loud, overbearing demands. And yet, I don't know about you, but I've been able to separate what he's said and not lump all Christians into that. I know this because I do the same. I believe there are very few people, when angry, frustrated and/or hurt, who don't use words that appear to generalize. Intelligent, self-aware individuals know the difference even when they may seem to spout off in one direction. It's all about context folks. Sometimes I get so fucking tired of playing the goddammed semantics game. Look at the overall message instead of picking apart every single word.

Yeah...I'm spent. I feel so beaten down and yet, at the same time, not. You see, I vomited another truth regarding my recovery. And it is all centered around religion. In time I'll write about it.

Personally, I am leery of anything that attempts to rope in and bind the most natural, organic, and lusty part of who we are. Our spiritual core. I believe it's the piece that cries out for connection, the surreal within us, the part greater than our own physical selves and the essence of the most glorious orgasms that one can have. It is the source of our imagination, our creativity and our passions. It is liquid and craves to move in and out in the most natural of ways.

To be tied up and tangled in dogma and doctrine, this unearthly energy locked in a man-made machine with ego-driven committees, rules, and the hunger for power squelching any shred of compassion is the blackest thing I can imagine.

And yes, because of my, I said MY, personal history, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Now I am filled with curiousity. I continue to be awe-struck for those who can balance their love for their religion with their love for the big world around them. I can see the integrity in their eyes and feel their hearts. Somehow they can work with this unnatural machine - need it, fetishize it and maybe not only come through unscathed but stronger because the structure of religion fills something inside of them.

At 16 years old, I discovered I could not continue to be held by the catholic church. The questions began and it made no sense to continue following the edicts of someone just because. It felt wrong. It felt illogical. And it angered me. In that moment, I first realized I could hold opposing viewpoints in my hands and allow them to sit side by side, albeit uncomfortably. As much as I began to see my hatred for the church and wished it had never existed, I also knew that I would never want my father to leave the church for me. I saw his heart and innocence in his belief. It was such a part of him. There was never any malice in his intent.

People need to follow their hearts. The kicker is they must allow others to do the same. Yes it is a balancing act. But I believe that our responsibility as members of the human race is to allow, regardless of personal feelings, others their spiritual beliefs. It's a circle. Unfortunately, in this day and age, there is a segment of the population that feels they can decide what is moral and immoral, using religion as their argument, for all of us. I am a proud godless, tax-paying American who is profoundly pissed off that a very vocal group is using their concoction of god to legislate all of us. It is offensive on so many levels.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Something's in the air. Saturday night I was gifted with a new easel. A new/old easel. On his way up to his apartment, Auxugen noticed a nice wooden easel near the dumpster one night. Without hesitation, he stopped what he was doing and brought it upstairs. For me. Although I couldn't bring it home yet, due to the size, I took a look at it on Saturday night. Nice. Right now I have a Stanrite easel. I've had it for about 10 years. It was inexpensive, solid and easily folds up. Good for apartments.

This new easel is larger, and prettier. Hoss looked at it and saw that some of the screws and whathaveyou can be tightened. It will make it more solid.

I'm pretty excited about this one. It still needs to come home with me. I'll have two easels. One for me, and the other can be used by someone who's been hankering at the bit to learn. I have a large plastic tarp leftover from painting the walls. Wonderboy saved it because he knew I'd need it for painting. So the damned thing will get spread all over the living room carpet and then the easels erected...and voila!

Let me see if I can find a picture of something like it.

Here it is...I think. Mind you, I only saw it once.

I realized something about painting and my new apartment. I love my apartment. It's pretty. And not very conducive to painting in it.

I decided that I'll keep 'em small. Little paintings, mostly about 8x10. I have about 5 canvases that size, waiting for paint. It seems I'm more successful with smaller images anyway. They are quicker, and so there's less time to think, angst, overwork and kill. Yes, I miss painting large pieces. But it will come with time. I know because I know because I know that once I begin painting again, and it continues on a regular basis, the universe will open up because I'll have put forth the energy and motion required to meet the need...of a larger paint space. So I'm not worried. And why oh why should I have the space now? I'm not friggin' painting. It would be wasted.

It'll happen. When it's right.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Oh dear. Where do I begin?

First off, my coworkers returned from NYC. One of them went did go to the Ashes and Snow exhibit. He just handed me a gift. It's Book No. 1 from the show. What a beautiful book, not only the images, but the book itself.

I've received a few great responses to my Don't Listen To Me piece and they've been working overtime in my head. I want to write about it but it's still all percolating.

On top of it, all this religion stuff has pushed big flashing red buttons for me. It hits all the family stuff right in the nuts. Since last November, we've been inundated with the not flattering face of god and it's heightened in the last few weeks. Between Terri Schiavo, Easter week rituals and now the death of the pope, I've had enough. I can't even begin to really write my thoughts because it seems to me the whole world has gone crazy. I've tried to keep out of discussions although I gave in last week.

I think right now I'll just post a couple links. One is for an article, The End Of Reason by David Morris, that I posted in Uppity Faggot last week. I wasn't going to post it here, but have since changed my mind. I've been trying so hard to maintain some modicum of grace and tolerance...sit back and let the others cry and rant. Allow people to shriek out their god-infested beliefs. But, honestly, at this juncture in my life, it is poking its fingers in my raw, gaping wounds and I'm going to howl. The pain and hurt all this god stuff brings up is too much.

Dan, from Leather Adventures, wrote a thoughtful piece on this whole religion mess.

And yes, in spite of this umm...disruption, although I know it's really only another step in my journey, I'm still excited by all the positive changes in my life.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Can I say that I'm pretty pleased with myself?

I woke up after my second solid night in a row of solid sleep. So deep that I barely moved the blankets. This was done without the help of Sleepytime tea, Nyquil or Ambien. Other than a few days around christmas, I haven't had two nights in a row, without assistance, since October. Shit. It makes a HUGE difference.

The shrink mentioned that I was still terrorized from the late night drug deals and violence that would wake me with a start in my old place. He said it would take a little while before my sleep self felt safe at night. That's why I'd been sleeping lightly, awakened by just about any slight noise. In addition this eternal cold from hell didn't help with sound sleep.

So this morning I woke, went out to grab coffee, came back, did dishes, ate breakfast, picked up my house and now still have the energy to write to you. On my list of things I need for my house is this item. Then I won't need to run out on weekend mornings. Yesterday afternoon I actually, really and truly cooked for myself. Nothing elaborate. Honestly, it was only eggs and toast. But it was the first time in over 8 months that I could even accomplish something that basic. Opening a can or nuking a frozen something isn't cooking. Yet that's all I've seriously had the energy for.

Trust me, it's a big deal.

Sometimes I would think about creating a meal yet I'd wander through the grocery store in a fog. I couldn't decide what I'd want. Everything, even the littlest and simplest things felt difficult to the point of being insurmountable. The act of baking a potato felt like climbing a mountain.

Sometimes I don't realize how sick I am until afterwards when I can compare it to feeling well.

Sometimes I really didn't believe the shrink when he would say, over and over, that I'm actually spending all my energy on internal work. What did that mean...really?

Yesterday, I began to feel better, although a migraine attempted to put a damper on things.

I hung out with Hoss and his boy last night. Because I'd been sick, they felt that I needed a good dinner of homemade chicken soup and biscuits. Then we hung out and ended up playing board games. Let me suggest that Monopoly becomes a whole new game with a little scotch.

Auxugen then came up and kept us company while I was being thrown into the poorhouse. Bereft and bankrupt. A sad case actually. I tried and tried but couldn't get ahead. My homes went, property was mortgaged and although great attempt was made to stick it to the man it quickly became a futile effort.

It was a good evening.

I've more to write but seeing it's attached to something else...I'll be back later. I need to dump one thing from my head before beginning another.