Sunday, April 28, 2019

This masterpiece who I found.

I'm in love. It's happening too quickly, but what a relief. When their kindness came into focus, my defenses crumbled. I wasn't expecting gentle and kind. I was developing feelings and butterflies, but I was holding them at bay. I was protecting myself; preparing for the stoic aftermath of probable rejection. Now I have opened myself fully to see what can happen. They say they feel lucky to be with me. I feel like they have been an underappreciated genius for too long. We're both right.

Best to not type about these things, but I can't help it. I'm not thinking about anything else, and I can't think of anything clever to say. Here is something I haven't felt in a long time. Here is something I have never seen before. I submit myself to the forces of nature. Let me show my friends this masterpiece who I found.

Friday, April 26, 2019

I'm glad I had the gall to change locations. I'm relieved that I was able to stay afloat and mobile long enough to allow such a move. It's hard to imagine that I've already been in Austin for almost four months. But I'm also not good at time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I stood eight feet back from a giant blank canvas. I gripped a paintbrush in my fist - the kind of brush you would use to paint a house. Pennsylvania hadn't felt like home for many years. I submerged the brush in a bucket of paint, letting the gray primer cover the bristles, the handle, my hand just past the wrist. I pulled my hand out of the bucket and watched the paint dribble and stream to the floor. Then I pitched the brush forcefully at the canvas.

Monday, April 22, 2019

That's my jam.

Loquats. Nobody has ever heard of them. They are little fruits in Texas, and we've got plenty of ripe ones in the yard. My personal genius and I picked most of a 5-gallon bucket, and proceeded to make jam. I can claim an assist, but that jam probably wasn't getting cooked up too fast if it was left up to me. It was a learning experience. Not only did I learn something about making jam, I witnessed a rational and efficient method of approaching any experimental new project. I recognized areas where I would expect to find hurdles, but was instead guided carefully around these with a certain nonchalance. Move forward with imperfection; make adjustments as needed.

The jam is delicious. There is too much sugar, predictably, because we followed a recipe. People always add way too much sugar. But still, it is delicious, and we've only made two jars. We have a huge bucket of loquats to experiment with, and the preparation is now streamlined. We figured it out. We can try reducing the sugar in subsequent small batches until we arrive at something which at least pretends to respect the flavor of loquat. Or we can let a bucket of fruit go rotten, and have more sex instead.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tiptoe cautiously through doors.

I recently finished the book "Thinking in Pictures" by Temple Grandin. I read "Animals in Translation" years ago, and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to have more information about Temple's unique way of thinking and interpreting the world. Both books provide insight into the way people with autism think. Like a lot of non-autistic people, I am a verbal thinker, which I didn't know or understand until Temple Grandin explained the way which she organizes her thoughts and ideas like playing back a video. Her explanation of this superpower is fascinating. I had no idea that some brains work in the way that she describes. How could I? I lack a firm grasp on even my own.

Both of Temple's books serve as a reminder that humans process information in vastly different ways. It is important to remember that we can't assume what another person's thoughts or experience might be. Our processes are different, and our interpretation of inputs and variables are different. We can learn an enormous amount from listening to different types of thinkers - but as a whole, I am afraid we do not prioritize this. We value one type of thinking, and we allow one type of personality to gain and hold power over all of the rest of us. It causes suffering. We routinely ignore valuable insight from fringe thinkers because we don't focus on how to communicate better and accept new information and ideas from people who are natural experts on matters which we don't even understand the possible critical importance of. The world baffles me. I feel like I am trying to jog through waist-deep syrup. Did I put the syrup there, or is it institutional? Why do we value a money-based measure of economic health, rather than trying to maximize happiness and access to a sense of community and wellbeing? I'm glad that these questions have been asked, but I am not confident that improvement will be swiftly forthcoming.

Temple Grandin said something that I think about all the time. She describes in Thinking in Pictures how she visualizes a new chapter in life as going through a door. She will visualize a specific door which has significance to a period of her life, and imagine herself walking through this doorway to represent entering a new era, or the completion of a big project. When graduating from college, she pictured a specific door on campus that led to an area which she found peaceful.

Even as a verbal thinker, I am finding utility in using door imagery in my own life. I don't use images of specific doors like Temple does, and for me the image of passing through a door does not represent a major milestone, but rather the simple act of trying anything new. There is a measure of calculation and discomfort every time I try something new. Because of this, I tend to repeat the same activities, and go to the same places which are familiar. In spite of this tendency, I recognize the value of opening new doors - something helpful or wonderful could be behind any new door, and the risk involved to see is usually negligible. I am a horrible organizer. It would be easy for me to get stuck in a loop if I didn't make a conscious effort to force myself to sometimes open new doors. I don't explore - I do a cost-benefit analysis, and conclude that exploration would be in my best interest. I require more time to acclimate. I am a late bloomer and a slow reader.

I have been opening some new doors recently. One door was as simple as finding a new bagel and coffee place which I like. Pretty easy. New doors are not always hard to open, but it helps a lot if there is another person to walk through a door with me, who also has a catalog of tons of fun doors, and they will hold your hand as you tiptoe cautiously through.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wait it out.

Two days ago, I was doing great. That's the date on this post. And oh what a day it was. I don't fuckin' know. Now I'm sitting around sorta bugging out, and it's been awhile. It's not even a real panic attack - it's more like a panic attack you would have if you were a giant stupid baby. I knew it would happen again, and here we are. Typing through waves of discomfort. I'm not feeling very smart. I don't have much business trying to write anything at the moment, except I said something about posting on even days, so fuckit. Puke and cry? No. Wait it out. Wait this shit out. Wait this goddamn shit right the fuck out.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Learning more about birds.

I am floating slowly to the surface of a cool lake the consistency of molten plastic. Every nerve ending is kissed and warmed with a torch. I am exposed and unafraid. My defenses are swept away like dust under an anthropologist's brush. I might be eviscerated where I sit; watching with calm detachment. It would be worth it to learn more about birds.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Posting in repose.

I am posting on even days. We'll see how long that goes. It was a beautiful weekend, spent mostly in repose.

Friday, April 12, 2019

I recommend dropping acid.

I support hallucinogenic drugs. I have experimented and found value. If you are curious, seek them out. You should have water with you, and somebody who you trust. I have a respectful relationship with such drugs - I am ready to learn, or I am equally satisfied realizing that my wisdom is currently adequate and I am simply a 36-year-old person having a flat-out good time.

I was sitting on the porch wrapping up the previous post when Evan stopped by to see if he could use my printer. An hour later we were on acid and wandering around under some bridges. It was the middle of a hot afternoon, and I felt comfortably amused to be hanging out with this dude and making a joke out of absolutely everything.

When I moved to Austin, Evan was one of the first people I met. He was renting a room at the previous house where I lived, a forty-five second walk from the porch on which I now sit. We have a similar world view. We share similar strategies for interacting with people and the world. Evan is intelligent and hilarious. He has no bank account or ID and he keeps a load of his belongings in an unregistered van with broken windows in the back yard of the house where we lived. His stories are borderline alarming, and he operates in a manner considerably more cavalier than my own. One example of that is how he has liquid acid just chilling out in a drawer.

"I'm supposed to just trust you with that?" I joked; sticking out my tongue. "Yes" he replied matter-of-factly as he carefully dropped a small dose from a little squeeze bottle. Of course I did trust him, as strange as that might sound. I make strong connections quickly. When the pieces all fit, I listen. We have a spiritual bond that many people might find hard to understand. We get to choose which humans we associate with as members of our tribe. That is how it works for me. I have a tribe. I trust myself to be guided by vibes.

Should I tell the rest of the story? I had a fundraiser event at a thrift store downtown to raise money for Bikes Across Borders, a group that I am riding to Mexico with in May. When I took the acid I thought my odds of making it to the event were about 50/50. As the trip intensified over the course of a couple hours, I was able to gauge my control and recognize that I was absolutely ready to bike. I was riding to the event with Jaguar, so I filled him in about why my pupils were saucers, and we set out for Treasure City Thrift.

The room was hot and I felt a bit uneasy. I walked into the store and felt the artificial lighting upon me and breathed in the humid air. People were drinking cups and cans of beer. Jaguar kindly helped me confirm that the hibiscus tea contained no alcohol. I put some in my bottle and returned to the safe pavement in front of the store. I sat on the ground with my back to the wall, and I looked up to outer space. As the sun set, it illuminated a long line of clouds from below. Winds at the cloud level stretched the vapor, and it looked like the clouds were being teased with a comb from below. I watched the subtle shifting of light as the sun was tucked underneath the earth where I sat. Once again, I signed life's contract, which I find dubious and had no hand in drafting. I sat on cement, an organism or a conglomeration of objects and concepts, part of an impossibly complex interconnected whole. I sat relaxed in my ignorance, and at peace with what I think I know.

One thing I knew is that I needed food. I felt qualified to obtain fuel, but I sought Jaguar's assistance to make sure the transaction went smoothly. I was experiencing lime green and turquoise, and thought Jaguar might help interpret part of the taco ordering process. He did.

Should I tell the rest of the story? I got Jaguar a couple tacos too, and we sat in front of the thrift store and ate. A bicycle-y looking girl walked over and stood above us. As we all talked about the upcoming bicycle trip, I offered half of my second taco, which brought her down to street level. We soon learned that she knew of Jaguar by his previous name, and they share several friends and acquaintances.

Our new friend said she was planning to meet up with the Thursday night social ride at the mid-point. I had planned to skip the ride, since I'd be at the fundraiser, and I hadn't felt very social on the previous week's ride. I was invited to come along, and I considered this bonus content for an acid trip gone well.

Anybody familiar with the origin story of LSD is aware that it can play well with bicycling. Some people might feel uncomfortable riding a bicycle after dropping acid, but I can report that I am well equipped and uniquely qualified to handle such a circumstance. I cruised with a handful of folks over rolling hills for a few miles, to a large park with a basketball court where hard-partying adults were riding kids bikes in a tiny criterium race. I stood on the sidelines as a friend of mine, Jay, put on a surprisingly adept performance. He later told me he knew about the race in advance and practiced at work. Bicycle mechanic perk.

I felt great. I felt calm and at peace. I floated toward home in a flock of bicycles, listening to music from multiple sound systems - speeding up or slowing down to change stations within the group.

That is the full story.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I am a bird with one foot.

I'm going to fill in some gaps. I'm going to let thin drool escape my lips, enter my keyboard, and type for me. The goal today is twofold: I want to describe how I feel about people changing their gender pronouns, and I want to explain the manner in which I've been typing as of late.

"I feel like I'm floating." Easy enough. That's a statement people readily make. When I started writing here, this blog was a writing prompt. It still is. The pages sit here and ask me to practice. Everything I say here is true as a rule, but I have been filtering the truth through lenses of varying strength and color. I'm practicing doing something that I love; something I would like to expand and be more skillful at doing - creating a space where semi-colons and sentence fragments can roam free. I want to be a better writer, so I am experimenting with different paints. It is pretentious. It is hard to follow. I am a bird with one foot.

Hi Mom. Your kid is ok.

Non-binary! Genderqueer! Language is evolving fast enough that we can watch it happening. Now, in addition to the familiar "he/him" and "she/her" pronouns, "they/them" is coming into the mainstream. Now that I have the choice, my pronouns are "they/them." It's hard to remember and you'll mess it up every time. I'm cool with that. Change takes practice, and goofing up is a part of the process.

Last summer I was working at the bike shop. A new person who I was working with asked me directly what my pronouns were, and I was flustered. "I'm... like... just some dude" were the words which stumbled from my mouth; the words which tumbled to the floor. "He/him" my new friend offered helpfully... "my pronouns are they/them" they said. I proceeded to butcher their pronouns regularly while feeling grateful for opportunities to get it correct. I continue to blunder often, and nobody has cut off my face yet. Younger generations will be seamless.

I changed my pronouns because a new option dropped out of the sky, and it happens to describe how I feel about myself. Simple. This is an accepted and convenient way for me to dissociate from manly bullshit gender expectations. This is shorthand for my rejection of norms assigned to a gender. When I tell somebody that my pronouns are they/them, I am not making a statement about what kind of genitals I have or want. I am pointing to an area on a spectrum, and saying "my heart lies there."

I don't tell anybody what my pronouns are unless it comes up. For some people the pronoun distinction is more important, so if you care about other humans, it is worth the effort to get it right. When somebody refers to me using masculine terms, I do not feel a barb. Some people do, and it happens all of the time. It is uncomfortable to see a friend be misgendered. To do it on purpose is frankly just mean.

I choose they/them pronouns largely in deference to technical accuracy. Other people choose the same pronouns because it is important to them. I feel vastly more feminine than I appear. People who care about me know this, but most folks probably notice the beard. In practice, this has caused me more confusion than discomfort, and my shoulder muscles are strong from my propensity to shrug.

I am a queer person. This is another case where I am choosing technical accuracy over just shutting up. Queer is an umbrella term, and important parts of me stand under that umbrella. I question my decision to call myself queer, because I feel like I am not "queer enough." And there is something to that - especially considering that I have faced no struggle. I am at maximum privilege while my gay and trans friends need to concern themselves always about the possibility of violence. Think about that. Nobody will fuck with me because of the way I look. Therefore, I feel an obligation to speak in defense of the queer people who I love. It matters.

The core tenet of my personal code is that everybody should be free to do whatever they want as long as it isn't hurting other people. Respect other people. Respect everybody's differences, and seek to notice what we all have in common.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Onion's place.

The house I am in is Onion's place. Did I mention that? I've known Onion throughout my adult life. Our friendship is a testament to the value of penpals. Onion found encouraging words for me when this very blog seemed to indicate that I could use some. Ages ago. We stayed in touch, sending updates when we felt inspired, or when a van or tiny house build got particularly interesting. I visited the Walking Onion for the first time when I was traveling to the west coast with Kristin in our Ford Festiva.

It's always interesting to meet a person in real life after knowing them for so long through written words alone. I've experienced this on a handful of occasions. There is a brief period of adjustment as you recalibrate your mental image to the human standing before you. At first glance a stranger, their familiar words, now spoken, become associated with mannerisms and tone as you quickly discover that you already know this person well. Kristin and I received a warm greeting. The bright colorful lights were as evident as the tension in my body as Onion embraced us with a firm sincerity, and calmed me with his gentle smiling eyes.

The following day was gray and misty, and a Ford Festiva isn't much of a retreat. Kristin and I didn't stay long in town - we got no real hint of the essence of Austin on that trip. I was on the run as usual.

I visited Austin and Onion on other occasions after my separation, when I was once again a lone operator; rushing too soon always on spurious missions of self discovery and escape. Onion is somebody who I admire. I have met some wonderful people while wandering. When I reflect on this, my good fortune feels hard to comprehend.

Years later, I am typing this with the front door open. A bucolic spring day is filtering through the vines and flowers which envelop the front porch. I was living a block away in the house with nine of us sharing a kitchen and two bathrooms. I liked that place too. I occupied the front room, which was positioned to receive all abundantly available sunlight. I occupy the equivalent room in this house. Large old windows let in all of the sunlight there is.

This is a little old house standing in a stoic state of disrepair. Onion purchased the house nine years ago, and built auxiliary structures in the sizable backyard for living, bathing, sauna-ing, and storage. Four to five people can live here. The compound is welcoming to friends and travelers. I've parked my vans behind the gate in previous years. I've taken many showers here when headquarters was a van parked on the edge of downtown. Now I share the house with one other person, and it feels like a well-suited match. (It helps, I admit, that I am easy as fuck to get along with.)

The neighborhood has changed since the Walking Onion moved in. The old houses are being bulldozed, and large modern structures are being dropped out of the sky. Property values and taxes are fast on the rise. My good fortune at being able to call this place home has me in a near state of disbelief. For now. For the first time I can remember, I want to be precisely where I am. I hope that it stays this way long enough to catch my breath. I have been unsettled for ages, and while the trip has been blissful at times, I have often felt alone, misunderstood, and indescribably tired.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

This appears to amuse you.

Me: "Doctor, I've been feeling discomfort. I don't know what the problem could possibly be. I practice self care, and I've been getting plenty of sunlight. I have been focusing on my breathing. Yesterday, I exhaled pale pink rose petals, and they left a sweet taste as they drifted from my wide open mouth; floating away slowly on a cool breeze. I am the luckiest person alive, and I see no logical reason to explain why I become queasy and frozen and unable to move."

Doctor: "Logic is not a diagnostic tool. You are an alcoholic who has only been sober for three weeks. You have compartmentalized your mind to hold several versions of yourself, and you can't seem to remember that they are all the same person. You feed on people's pain like a vampire, and now you've begun to laugh and cry at completely inappropriate moments. None of this is yet to mention that you have a sword sticking out the middle of your chest, and confoundingly this appears to amuse you. Have you considered getting help?"

Me: "I've considered it. Do you have other advice?"

Doctor: "Make some tea, and wait for the rose petals. Once they are yellow, you can return to outer space."

Thursday, April 4, 2019

How to eat a hat.

I am looking for a reason to eat my hat. I feel hungry for hats. Surprise me. I am poised with hat in hand. Hand it to me. You've gotta.

I moved. The place I am living now is a block away from the last place. With the assistance of Jaguar and his Tacoma, I moved in less than an hour. I am renting a room without glass in one of the windows. How could I be closer to home? The sun pours in, and city buses glide past on the wide wide street. I have a new porch to sit on. A porch who wears a hat of foliage and flowers.

I can turn music up to volume. It's medicinal. Barefoot with a big espresso on a dirty porch. It's medicinal. I have quinoa and lentils for days and days. I have eggs and espresso. [Eggspresso]

I went on the latest edition of the Thursday night bicycle ride. It got me off the porch and on top of some pedals. Medicinal. I made myself talk to some folks, but mostly reprised the role of aloof goof. I sat to the side and watched the cracking and stacking of Lone Star cans. I felt like a junior high dance as I sat demure and gentle in the shadows alone. You couldn't drink this down anyway. You need to tear it into little pieces and chew slowly. I would never ask for anything different.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

My true human nature.

I am afraid to hurt people's feelings. I am afraid to inconvenience people. I am not able to decline when any person asks for help. So much is this true, that I will arrive a half hour early for any appointment. Sometimes I will park nearby and wait for a little bit so it doesn't look like I've arrived as early as I did. I don't want anybody to feel uncomfortable because they think that they've kept somebody waiting.

I like nearly everybody. Strong personalities who others won't tolerate are interesting to me. I try to find an explanation for a strange or abrasive nature, and then I befriend the person and try to learn more. I am good at it.

I put a lot of energy into being liked. If I am not liked, and there is nothing I can do about it, I try to accept the fact gracefully, but always with some regret and discomfort.

I would like to be more assertive. I would like to stop worrying that somebody will think I am not a nice person. No matter what I do, some people will not like me, and some people will be hurt by me. Some people will not see the kindness in my heart. When this happens, I wish I could shrug more and fret less.

I offer non-judgmental acceptance in the face of any horror story, oddity, shame, embarrassment, or perceived shortcoming. Sometimes I sense people becoming attached to me. Because of these aspects of my nature, they feel a bond. I have no fear of strange or damaged or broken people. If a person wants to dialog or interact with me, then I welcome them with open arms. I keep a lot of secrets, but I have none of my own. This can be a recipe for fast bonds and strong connections.

I leave myself wide open for people to feel an attachment to me, but I don't have any answers. I just want affection, and I want to be liked. I can't provide solutions or guidance for life. I am not a guardian angel or a manic pixie girl best friend. When people who think they need me find out who I really am - another human who can't help, and will ultimately disappoint them - they sometimes become hurt, and then I feel responsible, which is precisely what I never wanted in the first place.

In friendships I am safe. In dating I need to learn to grow up.