Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Go West

I'm on the road again.
Gas is $3.19 per gallon (87 octane) in Springfield, IL.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Selma Bluebird Days

Returned home to Indiana one more time before departing the midwest. Visited my grandmother, who is in the hospital after a fall in her home. She broke the coffee table, but no bones.

As in my visit before (see "Country Roads" post), I had a wonderful chance encounter with an old high school friend. This time, instead of the theatre, it was in the emergency room where my friend was awaiting her husband's recovery from a bee sting. They say it's a small world. I guess it gets even smaller in a small town.

Other high school friends were enjoying the annual Selma Bluebird Days festival, which has grown considerably since I was living there. Twent-one years after graduation, it was fun to be with people "who knew me when" and to learn about all of their comings and goings, who is in jail, who is out, who is now teaching our kids (and their kids!) and other interesting facts. My aunt and uncle won their divisions in a 5K run, with my uncle also winning the eldest participant award at age 71.

I will finish consulting on Wednesday and plan to drive back to NM on Thursday and Friday. Time to dry out from the midwestern humidity. I'll return just in time to catch the fall aroma of roasting chilis. Nice.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In the Land of the Living

What better way to kick off a visit with my broter and sister-in-law, Dustin and Rebecca, than to tour the Museum of Funeral Customs? That's right. We couldn't think of any, either. After viewing various elements of how to bury the dead, I opted to pass on buying a chocolate coffin complete with removable lid and a little chocolate body inside, although I do know now the difference between a coffin and a casket (shape). I did add New Orleans jazz funeral music to my CD collection. (The museum has a great Web site; click on the hotlink in this paragraph to see it.)

Dustin and Rebecca were here for Friday and Saturday and we filled the time as completely as was possible. On Friday, they visited the Abraham Lincoln Museum while I finished my work week. Afterwards, we met and visited the Lincoln tomb, followed by a leisurely cook out at home.

We began Saturday by eating a local traditional breakfast horseshoe: toast, (optional) meat choice, eggs, cheese or gravy and hash browns all stacked up on top of one another. We digested this while viewing the dead.

Then it was off to tour the Dana-Thomas House, a stellar example of Frank Lloyd Wright's genius. When one of the kids on the tour asked our tour guide for what the basekment safe had been used, I ominously whispered, "Dead bodies." Too bad I didn't have one of the chocolate coffins to give the kid.

To balance our morbid-leaning agenda, we checked out both new and old state capitol buildings, ate a great middle eastern vegetarian smorgasboard and ventured off for five hours of the Illinois State Fair. This included an elephant show; the high school national rodeo competition; deep fried pickles; a drop from the Mega Drop ride; reggae; viewing the 400 lb. butter cow (see photo above...yeah, that's all butter, even a butterfly that you can't see); and a departure heralded by fireworks. Although late, we also stopped to walk by Lincoln's old Springfield residence on our way home.

I'm in my final week and a half of working for The Autism Program, then it's back home to Albuquerque.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Can I Get This In Yellow?

I volunteered today to sit the desk at Springfield's Prairie Art Alliance at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. It's a very nice gallery with loads of artwork, everything from fine furniture to hand-crafted vases, from paper collage to watercolor.

One customer came in and summed everything up with one word: cute.

"What a cute place!" she exclaimed. "Such cute stuff." She said it more than once. If I'd been counting, I'd probably given up after a dozen or so.

"Oh, that's so cute. Such cute space. There are so many cute things here to buy for a cute gift."

Moral: artists everywhere beware. All of your hard hours of creative labor and subtly precise execution of ideas will be judged somewhere by a lady with a bouffant hairdo as to whether it is cute or not.

That, and whether or not it matches the sofa in the living room.

Monday, August 15, 2005

When We Were Six

I never liked the book much as a kid (I did like Winnie the Pooh), but this weekend was all about things age 6. I visited my godson, Emil, in his hometown of Winnetka, a northern suburb of Chicago. Together we:

  • Played whiffle ball;
  • Explored his new elementary (a really cool structure built designed by Finnish architect, Eliel Saarinen, although 6 year olds don't really care);
  • Played whiffle ball;
  • Rode bikes to the public library;
  • Played whiffle ball;
  • Read Cam Jensen and A-Z mysteries;
  • Played whiffle ball;
  • Watched "Escape to Witch Mountain" (my choice);
  • Played whiffle ball;
  • Went to see the new Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (so that's why Willie is so weird); and
  • Played whiffle ball.

On the adult side of things, I got to eat my favorite Chicago pizza (Giordano's deep dish) and went to a game at Wrigley Stadium where the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-4. All this and I got to see Ken and Kathryn, my good friends from way back in our college days (20 years, in case you are trying to do the math). Ken is associate priest at the Church of the Holy Comforter.

The heat wave finally broke. Even now, back here in Springfield, the summer days are in more pleasant.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Remember Back When We Were Small?

Had some interesting correspondence with a friend this week. He is straight and was discussing feelings that I might have for him. One of my responses was a surprise to me in how easily it flowed and how good it felt to let it flow. I had that satisfying feeling that you get when you have the opportunity to express yourself accurately.

I offer it here as a a small step in honesty and self-revelation.

"Yes, I realize that you are straight and that there is not the possibility of our becoming a couple in a physical sense. Ours is a deep--yet platonic--friendship, and we enjoy its depth and even its occasional intensity. But this does not mean that we will further it along the same ways that you or I would pursue a life partner.

"Simultaneously, I do admit to always having a bit of hope and emotion around that being otherwise. Because there is such a spectrum of connection among all people--and because I don't fit too well into conventional boxes--I don't want to force others into acting according to preconceived formulas either. So I accept that there are limitations in our friendship which do not lessen its meaningfulness nor its continued growth. And there are connections we have, both physical and emotional, that do not imply a sexual connection. There is a playful balance in sharing qualities we both desire our life partners to have and not projecting onto the other that he is the life partner.

"In short, I recognize that some dreams and desires are of the heart and worth pursuing through confusion and discomfort to resolution and comfort, while others are merely light-hearted, fanciful creations of the moment which dissipate like chaff in the wind. Those I hold concerning you and me 'encompassing physical, sexual aspects of our selves' [a quote from his e-mail] I believe to be belonging to the latter; the dreams and desires of friendship I consider worthy of the former pursuit.

"My trying to dissect what relationships mean is a bit tormenting and also a bit pleasant. It is an emotion I encounter most distinctly with straight, male friends who are comfortable with considerable depth in their relationships, both with straight and gay men. The depth blurs old distinctions I once relied upon for my clarity. Questions arise. For example, Is it okay for (straight) men to hold hands? Can the two men still do so if there is a deep emotion attached to the action? What is that emotion allowed to be...deep friendship love...deep other love? What does it mean to feel deeply connected to your friends? Can good friends live together as housemates? Can they still do so if they care deeply for one another? What does it mean for two persons who care very deeply for one another to live together? Can one only kiss someone as a friend when you don't have deeper feelings for that person? What about hugs? What about massage? Does all of the defining get you anywhere? How do I distinguish differences in the meaning of what is physical comfort, like hugs, naps, holding or massage and what is sexual fulfillment? If sexual fulfillment is at times merely physical release and the holding of someone a much deeper connection, then which is permissable among friends?

"Which is more sexual, or more truly platonic, and which is more safe? To be lighlty engaged in a friendship, more buddy-to-buddy like and just hanging out, but also having sex? Or to not be physically involved, yet deeply connected on emotional and spiritual levels? And what about the in-between friendships where there is a lot of touch involved, and there is a deep emotional connection, but no intercourse?

"I had two friends in Boston who were intimately close to each other, one straight and one gay. They wrestled with these questions, too. I think the dynamic of straight-gay male friendship raises issues in unique ways that are not encountered through other friendships.

"Because I just viewed the Oliver Stone movie Alexander and have been thinking about old Rome, I wonder if all of this is not unlike the presumed male-male relationships that were more common and accepted back then. The best sex I've had (and the most often) has been with a straight friend of mine and yet there was never any sense that we might somehow be getting together as a couple. We just enjoyed the closeness of our skin to skin and had fun exploring and being playful together. There have been more than one such friendships. And I have been closer emotionally to some women. At times the deeper the emotion is, the more the connection actually feels physical. Where does it all leave me?

"With you, our relationship feels less physically sexual and yet deeper emotionally. It feels to me to be a true and very deep friendship. I had set out in this e-mail to give you a quick and clear response, letting you know that I appreciate your message and that I don't confuse your love or my love with something that would lead to sex. I want to assure you that you don't have to be guarded and that we can continue to enjoy our deep connection, even physical touch in its various forms, without my expecting it to be sex or the relationship to become that of a life partner. I continue to look elsewhere for that fulfillment in a man with whom I can run down the road in the rain. And, while I look, I will still enjoy running hand in hand with you and others without expecting those friendships and the love shared in them to be more than they are.

"I have rambled on long enough to have surely answered all the secrets of love. Unfortunately, I have managed only to scrape at the surface of my own lack of understanding.

"As for us, you and me, I feel as close to you as ever. I hope to always feel that depth and to always share a freedom with you that is unique to our friendship. I do recognize that I have occasional and fleeting fantasies that do not match yours. I enjoy the confusion which this gives me--and I trust that I will always remain able to let go those confusions, to embrace reality. I am content to accept exactly what you have to offer without pressuring it, either intentionally or with my imagination, to become something else. In that I find joy and love."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Always Room for That

I'm at work right now calling resource providers to verify services and contact information. The last call was a sweet, elderly woman at a site where they offer craft programs.

I told her that I am converting our directory to a grid format this year so she may notice information changes that need to be made the following year.

"I understand ya, honey. Always improving. That's what I was doing just now when you called me."
    A lady.
    Sitting at her desk.
I love that image!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Likin' It Or not

I stand corrected. The midwest does have everything to offer. Just yesterday the Chicago chapter of the American Bryological and Lichenological Society offered a "Lichen Hike" through the Lincoln Memorial Garden (1/2 a mile from this home). They touted over two dozen lichens in the garden.

Unfortunately, my floppy straw garden hat and seersucker suite were at the cleaners. I felt it highly inappropriate to attend in any less stunning attire.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Still Reading

My sister-in-law gave me a book sent to me by her father titled Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian L. Weiss. I just finished it. Dr. Weiss is a well-credentialed psychologist (Yale, Columbia University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami) who experienced--and believed in the validity of--the past-life regressions of a patient.

I don't have much belief in past-lives. I question original orignation and why everyone originates with debts to pay. But I also wonder what I'll do if I encounter this in my practice. Fortunately, natal and pre-life regression are both electives in the course I'll be taking in the fall. It will take some time for me to discover my niche.

I did finish reading Transformational Therapy by Gil Boyne and Hypnotherapy by Danny Elman, both required reading for my certification as a clinical hypnotherapist. The Handbook of Brief Psychotherapy by Hypnoanalysis, authored by Dr. John Scott, Sr., is a selection of my own. I have about 50 pages to go in it. And then about $300 more worth of textbook reading. Thanks to Sharon of California for paying for my textbooks!!

No doubt there will be more to say about all of this reading and hypnosis as time progesses, linearly. And maybe you'll share a question or experience or two.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rise and...?

My alarm sounded at 5:45 this morning and I spent the next hour and a half dozing in and out of dreams (one of my favorite hobbies). Got up to watch the lightning and see the rain that is finally breaking our heat wave. Jude (17 months old) and I played with his cars and read a book. Now I'm drinking some coffee and posting this message.

Basically, it's all procrastination.

Time to get dressed and go to work.
The image to the right is The Autism Program's logo. They are the organization where I am currently working. I'm making good progress with the directory of resources.