Thursday, November 22, 2012

found family

there i was last night at maui’s with zebra, mikiel, and john.  we all sometimes argue like brothers, but we’ve been through a lot together.  i think it’s allowed.  i think it’s expected.  and it usually works out in the end.

my friend mikiel and i sometimes talk about the importance of what he has called "found family," those people who become your family in whatever place you live, no matter how close you are to your biological family.  i’m talking about the people you choose to surround yourself with.  john, mikiel, and zebra constitute my drinking family: our home is any bar.

from what i understand, mikiel finds himself still close to his biological family, though like him, his siblings have flung themselves outward from their parents’ indiana home.  my family still lives back in the south, in alabama and georgia, but i try to keep up.  i call them frequently.  i visit them whenever possible.  i miss them.  but i think the propensity mikiel and i share to integrate others into our familial fabric stems directly from our parents, from the way our families functioned growing up.

mikiel has shared with me stories about his parents’ sociability: a backyard garden his house shared with his neighbors, other families that created a larger tribe, the dinners that his parents regularly prepared and shared with others, the traditions they built with other families.  mikiel in portland has stitched together a wider net just as his parents did.

growing up my relations existed beyond blood.  uncle dave (or super dave my sister and i called him in reference to his compulsion to speed) had befriended my father in years before in birmingham while my father had been in college.  dave still lived a debaucherous life i’m sure; he and my parents young.  as a child, we understood him to be a part of our family.  he eventually came into trouble though.  i found himself strangely reminded of him this past weekend when i received several phone calls from an unidentified number: “this is a collect call from ‘the tallapoosa county jail.’”  dave eventually found himself estranged from our family as his own life fell apart.

i haven’t seen one of my other “uncles” in years either.  my sister and i loved our uncle robert, probably because if dave was a friend of my father’s, our uncle robert actually loved us.  as children he didn’t just dismiss us as children.  he liked seeing us and playing with us and talking to us.  he probably wanted children of his own.  robert always gave us the best christmas gifts: large leather-bound national geographic special editions.  books he thought we should read.  books that made us feel mature and smart.  books that were beautiful.  one year he gave me a political biography of abraham lincoln, a little difficult for a nine or ten year old but a subject matter i found interesting when i finally read the book later in college.  and one year he gave me a copy of look homeward, angel by thomas wolfe for my birthday with a note telling me he thought this should be my coming of age novel.  three generations of steam of consciousness later and a decade of my life, i finally made it through look homeward, angel and it has become one of my favorite novels, something i definitely need to re-read.

eight years ago, i did not share any love for a particular novel with my friend jordan, but i did share art history with her.  as art history majors in a tiny department, we attended almost every art history class in college together, sitting next to each other right by our professor dr. spies with whom we were in love.  we held hands during the lecture and cooed over the smooth beautiful of a caravaggio or ingres, delighted in the painterly texture of john singer sargent or the talent of thomas eakins, laughed at the antics of marcel duchamp or yves klein.

eight years ago i lived in my first apartment, on a hill on sixteenth avenue south in birmingham.  the dorms were closing for the thanksgiving holiday but jordan did not want to go home.  so i suggested she stay with me for the holiday, come with me to my family’s dinner.  and that’s what we did.  jordan and i drove with my mother and sister two hours north to my aunt’s home where we dined with all the extended family: grandmother, aunt, uncle, and all my uncle’s family.  a hungry hodgepodge of people pushing each other of out the way to eat.  jordan and i smoked and bitched and laughed at the peculiarity of the group that had come together.

back in birmingham, the weather had become so cold we refused to go outside so we sat on the couch by the window and smoked through the screen, which really didn’t work at all.

as my parents integrated their friends into our family, so too have i collected and contributed to my wider circle.  we all do.  we come together and take care of one another and share gifts and meals and champagne.  we will share this holiday together.  especially the champagne.  i have two bottles in the fridge and i am ready for a feast.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

going caveman

i’ve been adhering to the “paleo diet” since the beginning of november.

to eat more like my caveman ancestors, i’ve cut grains and potatoes and legumes and beans and peanuts and dairy from my diet.  i’ve quit eating the foods that were domesticated, farmed; that began appearing in the diets of humans only after the advent of farming.  this leaves meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds.  the idea is to concentrate on a high protein, fatty diet and to consume carbohydrates in low levels in fruits and vegetables.

this strategy makes some sense to me for losing fat and gaining muscle.  furthermore the diet prohibits the intake of foods to which large numbers of humans have historically been allergic or intolerant, specifically wheat (gluten) and dairy.  i know personally i have problems drinking milk and it will interesting to see how giving up dairy (which i love) and wheat (i live on bread and cheese) will affect my body.  i know those with a gluten intolerance can see significant changes to their health and body after removing gluten from their diets.

what i like and find simultaneously ridiculous about the adherents of this “paleo diet” is the fluidity of the practice.  some practitioners add dairy back into their diets, or rice, or certain grain substitutes.  they analyze nutrient levels to absurd degrees, research to which cavemen would not have had access.  they romanticize our paleolithic ancestors as healthier, taller, more muscular - all attributed to their diets.  they praise unprocessed, organic food, then expound upon the use of powdered protein shakes for exercise, for bulking up, for building muscle.  i am writing they, but really i mean something of the opposite.  as a group they all eat a paleo diet, but each member of this community has adapted this general diet to his or her own needs or desires.  this exemplifies for me the flexibility of the human diet, the range of pleasure and satisfaction that can be derived from eating.  from a basic human diet, in this case referred to as a the paleo diet, humans have and can start at a basic nutritional point which can then be added to and modified to explore and enjoy a range of tastes.

on the quotidian level i am discovering that this pared down, conscious diet may promote and sustain for me a better health.

here at almost three weeks following this diet i want to believe i already feel healthier.  i understand this may be psychosomatic.  i have lost some weight, though i believe the diet will help me build muscle (if i can get my workout routine together.)  i cannot say that i have more energy.  when i started the diet i felt constantly hungry, while my body craved bread and rice and potatoes, protesting the sudden lack of carbohydrates.  these foods had been staples in my diet previously.  but i have adjusted to the change.  i no longer feel constantly hungry, but i think i have been eating more frequently, finding myself hungry more frequently.

i have been cheating.  once a week i may take myself out to eat.  mostly because at the weekend i find my house foodless meaning i need to go to the grocery store.  and i’ll be honest, sometimes i get lazy.  too lazy to make myself dinner.  and i meant to keep myself mostly sober during november.  i have been drinking a lot less than i had been this summer, but i haven’t fallen completely off the wagon.  i’m still on the wagon.

and i’ll eat thanksgiving dinner.  all the fixin’s.  everything.  it’s a holiday and this diet is not a religion.  it’s more like an experiment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

earnest happinesses

when i wake up i want to kiss him.  kiss his neck.  kiss his shoulder.  kiss his cheek.  whatever is closest. but he beats me to it.  and that’s how i don’t mind mornings: to know that i wake up hating to go work, hating to leave to leave him.  and if i were just searching for a kiss, it would feel so desperate, but he’s there already, awake with with me.

whether he wakes up not wanting me to leave, or whether he’s wants to get me dressed and out of the house so he can go back to bed, i like waking that way.  dressing and biking to work and working through the day: it’s a good day.

small beautiful moments.

a friend hosted some of my coworkers at his house to celebrate the great success my company has seen recently.  we drank together, told jokes, related stories that we might not have shared in the office together, happy to share a night together away from work, away from our duties and responsibilities and professional demeanor.  one woman’s young son danced around the living room, danced through our legs, grabbed our hands and led us for chases.

no scandal.

but at the end of the night, i found myself left with the host and our friend with a kid, all of us young, finishing our drinks, having a cigarette in the backyard.  we stood on the porch while the boy showed us his best moves in the semi-circle of porch light, the curtain black behind him.  i felt older to have friends with children, felt responsible, felt as if i had found my own time in the world.  and i felt young, somehow still too young to have children, not ready for families and houses and larger responsibilities.

the moment seemed beautiful and awkward and unusual and secret, but made me happy somehow to know that we three adults shared this private performance and the child danced earnestly then laughed.

in these particular moments i think i must be living the way my father and mother must have lived when they were my age.  jobs and responsibilities and waking and sleeping and children around.  i know that most of the time i must lead a very different life than that of my parents.  social: i go out often with friends, and generally date casually, and attend plenty of parties.  not to mean my parents were not social, but they had a family at an earlier age than me.  i have my friends and my cat and my job and my various interests, but not a lot to tie me down.  no judgement: just different lives.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

annoyingly happy

my friends might find me annoying right now, my effusive happiness grating.

i've had a great couple of days.

as you may have heard, saturday afternoon i found an iphone in the street.  walking down n. killingsworth in the rain, i found the phone in the middle of an intersection.  locked, i didn't immediately know how i would return the phone to its owner when suddenly the phone started ringing.  i found the owner on the line when i answered and i was able to walk back and meet him near albina.  the man expressed great gratitude, and i felt lucky.  it felt great to be able to give this man's phone, and it felt like luck that i found the phone's owner so easily.

a good afternoon, a good evening.  adam met me later that night, accompanying me to the party at chris and tom and justin's place up near alberta.  i've been seeing this guy for a few weeks now, which is good, right?

i suddenly did not feel like going big, having some huge night ending in drunken whatever at three in the morning.  but i thought we should be social, so we decided to stay for just a beer or two.  the beer i brought almost immediately disappeared anyway.  we're all thirsty, thirsty, thirsty, and everyone at the party drunk, drunk, drunk by the time we arrived that night.  adam and i stayed long enough to talk to sexy teddy roosevelt, werewolf barmits, the spirit from the cover of bjork's drawing restraint 9 album, and tintin.  we escaped before the cops arrived.

adam and i went home, watched television in bed, fooled around, and fell asleep together.

we woke up to a gray sunday morning.  slept in late, but felt good.  when we convinced our bodies to move and dress, adam and i stepped out into the drizzle and walked to las primas, the peruvian restaurant on n. williams, for lunch (with a minor detour for coffee of course.)  we did not get too wet on the walk over to n. williams, but finishing lunch it began pouring.  instead of walking home, adam and i dashed into vendetta for a beer, sat on the patio and played yahtzee until we decided the rain had let up (which it really hadn't.)

back at my apartment, we shed our wet clothes, got in bed together.  we spent the afternoon in bed, watching tv, chatting, idle and happy, getting up only when i had to meet mikiel.  a perfect day - i want days and days of this.  adam went home and mikiel and i skipped down to produce row where we had been invited to dj short sets at an event there with a ton of other djs.

and it does not end there.  that's not the end.

monday i received a promotion at work, which will be great.  it will be a huge change; i think it will be fantastic.  so by monday, flying, like that scene in titanic.  i invited adam to have celebratory drinks with me at departure.  it just needed to be beautiful; i wanted to mark the moment.  i found it hard to leave adam after our drinks though.  we stood on the sidewalk together while i grinned stupidly at him.  and kissed him.  and then finally forced myself to get on my bike.

i ended monday night at shawn's house, watching drag race with a couple of the guys.  well-rounded, happy, elated, annoying i'm sure.

did you like that story?  boring, but i'm happy about it.