Favorite Things


This song. So much, this song I might have written it. I truly wish I had.

I was lucky enough to be front row for Neko Case last night. I had originally decided not to attend; between my crowdfear and general distaste for “festival” concerts, I resolved to skip seeing her this time.  Then, as it turned out a friend of mine was  working the show and offered to get me in the side gate and backstage. Obviously I wasn’t going to pass on that chance.

I arrived early and after some consideration, decided to position myself as close to the stage as possible. I knew this would put my dislike for being surrounded on all sides to the test, but happily a Neko crowd isn’t exactly super pushy or aggressive so I had a decent personal space bubble to work with.

 I am pleased to say it went very well, and I was as close as I have ever been to the artist I admire most deeply. In many ways doing so was an act of challenging the limits I have placed on myself both consciously and by default. I am well, and I know that with the reserves of good cheer and mental resilliance I currently possess now is the best possible time to press beyond my boundaries and achieve growth. Getting up next to the stage was an exercise in weighing the value of the reward against the intensity of the anxiety. A good practice for me, in all respects. 

It was a surpassingly beautiful evening, the opening act was fantastic, and Neko was in rare form on her 43rd birthday. It was a priviledge I was most cognizant of to be there to enjoy it.

Her latest album is called “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”  The record itself doesn’t really dwell that much on the motif, but the title just explicates with such poetry a common theme in so many dysfunctional relationships – certainly some of mine. 

In the past I’ve gotten sucked into believing that the amount of effort expended in a relationship increases its value, rather than that the more valuable the relationship the more worthy of effort it is. It’s a common logical fallacy to think it works both ways… 

I walked away thinking about the greater significance of the moment; my very good fortune to be in the place I am in my life at this moment, the opportunities that have been afforded me of late, and the virtually limitless potential that lies yet ahead.

So, with the sound of her voice echoing in my ears and this sentiment percolating through my mind – here’s to the redoubled efforts to nurture those things that sustain us – and relinquish with grace those that drain us. 

By Mother Mother

 

This. Now. Always.

 

My new standard, motto, and most ardent hope.

 

And I got some very amusing looks…

I love Christmas. I am not sure why, since I have literally had like three good ones ever, but I do; unreservedly, unabashedly, and wholeheartedly fucking love Christmas.

One would think, considering my natural cynicism and gloomery, that I would be inclined to adopt an attitude more closely echoed by the following:

 image

But, no! While it did give me a chuckle, I find my attitude toward the holiday season to be utterly in earnest; I revel in the shiny things, I make crafts to keep and give away,** I leave candy out in bowls and boxes scattered in my wake; undermining the most devout efforts at weight control. I basically ooze Christmas. It totally gets on everything.

In this vein I went out this weekend to tame the piney beast, and cut down my own tree***

My friends Allison and Michael were also going so we decided to band together and conquer the forest en masse. We headed for Parts East and climbed Wildcat Mountain. We saw some lovely sights, as well as people tailgating their Christmas tree hunt, and located a likely spot to hunt us some tree.

The main difficulty, apart from finding a tree that wasn’t either:

a) 18ft tall

b) a bushy beautiful beast on one side and a sad dearth of foliage on the other

was getting through the “clearing” to even spot a likely candidate. Even accessing the “clearing” required elbowing through the tree break with the gusto I usually associate with navigating a crowd of hipsters on most-ironic-t-shirt-gets-half-price PBR night.

Once in the “clearing” Allison and I, both being less than 6’4″ were tree-ted to the repeated violation of our personal lady space by a range of rhododendrons, pines, and firs. Damp pants did ensue****.

Eventually, Michael, who is 6’4″ managed to spot not just one but two excellent Christmas trees. And cut them down. He beat me to it. Really.

 

 

Brought home, and lit (but not decorated further; I’m waiting for Hodie) my tree looks like this:

 

image

 I’m pretty excited about it. Once it was all set up, I was super happy to cozy up with a good book and hang out with it for the balance of my evening. I enjoy having it so much, I began to wonder why I don’t keep one year-round; apart from the obvious – The profound tree shortage in Oregon.

 

*Not tits the season, you pervert.

**Sorry if you have been on the receiving end of such efforts; I enjoy crafting, I am not particularly good  at it.

***Ultimately, Michael ended up doing the actually cutting part, but I set out with good intentions.

****It had recently rained. What kind of degenerate are you??

I just want to listen to this on repeat for all my life

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed

Stephen King~

And so begins one of the most powerfully lyrical pieces of fiction in the English language. The unrelenting harshness of the desert sun is somehow cast in tones of twilight, as we meet the Gunslinger about his end-times work. His quest is inimical, his progress inexorable. His intent dimly understood but utterly honorable. He is an archetype driven by a force truer than the shadow he casts on the hardpan beside him.

Stephen King wrote this novel as a young man and it is unquestionably his finest work. The Dark Tower series is his opus and anathema bound between covers and burned into pages. The cadence of his language resonates on a level that is difficult to articulate, but utterly manifest. The impact of his prose is subtle but profound; you look up from reading with the taste of dust in your mouth, squinting from the hard desert light burning at your eyes.

We are introduced to Roland The Gunslinger as he is in pursuit of The Man in Black.  It is made evident in stark and grotesque terms that this Man must be called to account, but we do not know what started the chase to begin with. Roland haunts this figure for reasons that only become clear through the cracked and hazy window we are afforded into The Gunslinger’s memory.

Strewn in his path are obstacles and dilemmas cast there by The Man In Black with supernatural power and demonic glee. As the stakes of these complications mount, The Gunslinger is forced with increasing urgency and against his will to look inward to observe his nature, his actions, and his unswerving devotion to his ultimate end; The Dark Tower.

Within the greater context of the tale, there are constant echoes of a relentless progress toward an ineludible end. Under the mountains in the eye-aching darkness the pull of his ordained act is palpable, hideous, and necessary. When Roland makes the choice he is not at liberty to avoid, and in the service of his quest loses most of what remains of his soul. We must wonder if he can or even wishes to be redeemed if it cost him his aim. 

I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It should be required reading for any person of imagination and spirit. It will touch and open both beyond reckoning. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I wander away from it for a while, I forget how much I love the gym. I tend to be rather various and inconsistent about fitness unless I have a routine, a plan, and a place to go. No matter my access to workout DVD’s, fitness channels, or muscle magazines, I can never seem to get into a rhythm that works for me without the gym. I seem to need the structure of a place to go, the inspiration of an expanse of machines, racks of weights, walls of mirrors. 

I was in a good routine, just starting to plateau, and considering what it would take to increase my intensity when I fell down and dislocated my tail-bone in a “I can’t tell if I was having fun unless I got hurt” episode. After that it was very difficult to get back in the swing, since I took so long to heal. Once I was recovered, I had moved to Eugene where there were, to my shock, no 24 hour fitness locations. This was most distressing, since I had a lifetime membership there. Trying to find a new gym was sort of a pain, and I couldn’t commit until it had been so long I barely remembered what it was like to lift on anything approaching a regular basis.

And this arm is not what it used to be

But with my Christmas bonus, and a bargain membership offered through the Gold’s gym here, I was excited to get back at the rack.

I have a tendency to overdo things after a long absence, so I tried to take it super easy the first day back. Minimal weight, short sets, only 2 of each. I stretched for at least as long as I had lifted, and apart from some chicken wing tightness, I felt pretty good. Second day back, I tried to maintain my plan, but pushed a little harder on the lower body than I had on upper body, just by virtue of the greater capacities of the muscle groups in question. I did some of the harder lifts in my repertoire with minimal weight, but despite my caution, I could still feel the strain even before my second set was over.

Today, I attempted a recovery workout. I tend to alternate days lifting focusing on specific areas: arms & abs one day, legs & ass the next. For a recovery day I do an all over workout focusing on movement, stretching, and simply creating bloodflow to the areas I think might need it. I usually come away from this feeling great and much less stiff and sore than I am if I just rest completely. When I left the gym today I felt pretty good, but by the time I was done with my chores…. mercy.

Now, I know they say “No pain, no gain” but today I feel like I was beat with sticks. It’s pretty clear I haven’t done myself any great injury, which is certainly an improvement over other starts, but every time I stand up, sit down, twist, bend, move or breathe, it hurts. I’m trying to take this as a sign that I activated all the muscles I wanted to and I’m well on my way back to super-buff status, but right now all I know is that I’d give my bad eye for some Ibuprofen, Aspercreme, a hot tub, and a massage. And the thing is, I don’t even need to, I have access to each and all of these things, it just hurts too much to move enough to get them.

Rolling In The Deep

 

Watch this. Listen with your whole self open. Let it wash you away.

 

I dare you to resist…

 

There’s a fire starting in my heart,
Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark.
Finally I can see you crystal clear
Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your ship bare.

See how I’ll leave, with every piece of you
Don’t underestimate the things that I will do.

There’s a fire starting in my heart,
Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark.

The scars of your love, remind me of us.
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it
To the beat

Baby I have no story to be told
But I’ve heard one of you and I’m gonna make your head burn,
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Making a home down there as mine sure won’t be shared

The scars of your love, remind you of us.
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all

Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it
To the beat

We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
But you played it
With a beating

Throw your soul threw every open door
Count your blessings to find what you look for
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold
You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow

We could have had it all
We could have had it all
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it to the beat

We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand

But you played it,
You played it,
You played it
You played it to the beat

It’s been a bumpy ride of late, and by the time Friday rolled around, I was starting to feel the strain pretty thoroughly. I haven’t been resting enough, or eating right, and that coupled with events being totally crazy all around me, I was ready for a break.

I had a guest for the weekend in The Boy I like. He came into town and let me play tour guide a bit.  I managed not to fall down at all, though I will admit, he caught me at least once, and maybe, technically, more than once.

We did some chores, had an impromptu lunch date with some folks I like a lot, wandered around town making fun of hipsters, and then went on;

Quintessential Date #1

A Hike In The Gorge: Growing up in Gresham meant that when you were too young to go to bars, and you were also too young to have your own place, you needed somewhere to go and do the sorts of romantic things you can’t do at your own house because your parents would frown on them (and I do mean YOUR parents, my mom was all ABOUT those things) To this end there was the drive in the gorge. You piled in the car with your CD’s and a desirable person of interest and off you went. Scenic make-out locations abound. It’s cozy, and romantic, and prompts good conversation. It was pretty much an ideal getting-to-know-you activity. And it turns out, even though I am old enough to get into bars AND I have my own place, it continues to work about as well as it did when I was a teenager, and it’s still a good time with someone I like a real lot.



Quintessential Date #2

Hug Point & Battery Russell

I am charmed by the fact that my favorite little cove on the beach is called Hug Point. That’s just fucking cute, and there is no getting around it. It was my Uncle James’ favorite place on the coast, and he took me there several times when I was young. I have nothing but sweet memories of this place, and it is both beautiful and important to me.

Battery Russell I like for weirder but no less compelling reasons; it is fun to scramble around on the top, dart and dodge through the mazelike rooms below, play hide and seek if it’s dark. But the real reason I like to go is for the acoustics, which are epic. It’s basically a concrete bunker with nothing in it, so sound just carries and rolls around in the best possible way. I like to stand there in the dimness and let my voice sweep through the structure in waves of sound like I cannot produce anywhere else. I’m showing off, it’s true, but it makes me weak in the knees at the same time.

The weather this weekend ranged from cooperative to amazing, so that was quite nice. We ate well, got lots of rest, and nothing tragic happened to us or anyone we care about.

Going to call this one a win.

 

 

 

 

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