breakfast of champions

When I was a child, my breakfast of choice was Corn Flakes. In fact, I ate it so often that my grandmother began teasing me about it.

Years later, long after I had outgrown my obsession with milk, corn flakes, and sugar, my grandmother bought me a set of Kellog glasses. Six small OJ glasses and a large glass pitcher, each with the Kellog rooster stenciled on the side.

I don't often have large breakfasts that require six neat little OJ glasses, but I have found a use for them.

Or rather, NE has, and I've followed suit. It turns out those Kellog glasses are perfect for the casual glass of wine.

I'm not sure my grandmother had thought of this use when she gifted them to me, but I can't help but think of her and smile each time they are used.

entre vous

I think…to answer your first question, I have to answer your last.

It's not whether these attributes bring me happiness. They bring with them moments of sinful decadence, joy, sorrow, pain, laughter. They are the same attributes that linked us together at the beginning, and have threaded through our relationship ever since; in our time together, your own values of loyalty and innocence have become principles just as essential. The pain is where these threads conflict.

For me, it has always been about balancing my hungers (and I use hunger to describe both the desires I've cultivated since I was fourteen and the manner in which I remind myself I'm alive) against the stability and comfort of friends who both love and have faith in me.

You embody both, to me.

I manage my hunger through many means other then sexual predation. My motorcycle. Trips to shows, to the mountains. Sky diving. Hand gliding. Writing.

But they complement my hunger, not satiate it.

By nature, the greater the risk and danger in an act, the sharper it is felt. And even if the conscious mind doesn't acknowledge it, you can't convince wolf otherwise.


I read a lot.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating.

I'm not talking about technical manuals, lengthy treatise on philosophy, or illuminating biographies written by great men.

I'm talking about the junk food of books.

Fantasy and science fiction.

I started reading novels young, at about fourteen or so. I got hooked on Piers Anthony's early Xanth books, read David Edding's Belgariad series (and then read it again as the Mallorean, Elenium, and Tamuli series). I read Heinlein's young adult books (Door Into Summer, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers), his adults books (Friday, Methuselah's Children), his later, weirder, books (Farham's Freehold, Number of the Beast, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, etc), and of course, the book that sticks with me most – Stranger in a Strange Land.

I read Glen Cook's gritty mercenary series, The Black Company, and the sillier, yet entertaining Terry Brook's Kingdom for Sale books. I fell in love with Roger Zelazny's world of Amber, amused myself with Hickman and Weis' Dragonlance books, and learned from Mercedes Lackey that homosexuality is easier to deal with if you have a telepathic horse companion. I read early space opera in E.E 'Doc' Smith's Skylark series and later space opera in David Weber's Honor Harrington books. Dan Simmon's Hyperion books captured my imagination for weeks, and David Palmer's Emergence had me thinking in shorthand.

It wasn't /all/ fantasy and science fiction; I found time to read every single Perry Mason book I could get my hands on, each Sherlock Holmes mystery, and the 'man against the world' Destroyer and Executioner series.

I continued to read as I got older. I read the first six or seven of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, managed to choke through the entire Goodkind Sword of Truth books, became a fan of  George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice (but my true favorite books are Robin Hobb's Assassin books and Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels).

More recent treasures have come in the form of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn books, Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora, and Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind.

I got into urban fantasy with Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake books and enjoyed them until the plot became nothing more than excuse for twenty-page interspecial orgies. I read Jim Butcher's Dresden books, and still do.

The point is I read. A lot.

And it becomes harder to find truly good books. I've expanded beyond my junkfood platter, sampling the gothic in Shadow of the Wind, and historic in The Pillar's of the Earth.

I realized how far I've fallen when I paid over ten dollars to pick up an obscure 1989 science-fiction paperback (The Long Run by Daniel Keys Moran) based merely on the words of a brief message board discussion.

But how to describe the pleasure – that simple, yet amazing feeling you get when reading an unexpectedly enticing book? The kind of book that has you devouring the book in small bites, deliberately taking the time to wring the most enjoyment possible out of it.

At least this is one vice I can indulge in with no guilt. 

construit par des femmes

There are three things I remember best about her: her car (an Eclipse coupe), her perfume (floral), and her sweater (soft).

I was fifteen and she was probably twenty-five or so. We flirted on a local BBS (this was before the 'net was around in any public capacity); the majority of our talks took place during the summer, while she was at work. Those few moments when she would log in from home were precious, as it meant she was more free in action and language.

I remember our first meeting. My first real date. I managed to convince my parents that she was just an older friend of mine with whom I chatted with on-line. Looking back, it seems incredulous that they allowed me out on a school night to see a movie with an older woman. But I was stubborn.

I remember the way she smelled, of flowers, a scent I would come to associate with soft femininity. She drove me to the movie, Dead Again (my first rated R movie – my parents were quite strict about what I was allowed to see), and we chatted. I was unsure of myself, back then; I didn't even have the courage to steal a kiss. 

As a teenager, I was quite the deviant; between the years of fourteen and twenty, I had affairs with a number of women, most at least ten or more years older then I. The majority of these affairs never left written seduction. A small number transitioned into spoken passion. And a few – a small few – became flesh. I was a shy adolescent, despite my bold words and curious nature. Most in-person encounters were limited to a kiss, or a furtive touch.

Those years taught me what women wanted; what *I* wanted.

There was Heather, the girl who was actually envious of my poetry, which came as quite a surprise as I thought my writing would never approach the skill of her own. She joined the army and wrote me from boot camp, attaching photocopied short stories and poetry by Frost.

And Elgato, who used a Spanish handle but who spoke in a heavy German accent; her real name was Ursula, and she thought the idea of computer sex was absurd – and yet, she always wanted to chat with me, knowing what I wanted. It took me eight months to seduce her.

The opera singer, Natalie, who was having a tumultuous affair with her conductor – and who had the dirtiest mind of anyone I had met in my sixteen years up to that point.

Rebecca, to whom I wrote fairy tales; I met her only once, and we spent the day in the large yard at my grandmother's house. We kissed. When it turned dark, and she had to leave, we stood and I accidentally broke her glasses; in our teenage fumbling, they had found their way under my feet.

Through these women, I came to understand the beautiful weakness of a moment where nothing else matters but desire. I hunted for these moments. Lived for them.

I thought this knowledge, those moments, would be enough; I thought knew what would make me happy.

And then I met NE.

…and at least one day spent practicing knots.

What have I been up to?

For those playing along at home, it should come as no surprise that I recently attended a Pearl Jam concert. It was, undoubtedly, the best concert I've attended to date.

This summer, I have several small vacations planned. I've already spent a few days at the beach where I found that water temperature can dramatically change from one day to the next. The first day in the ocean, the waves were amazing but the water had us literally shivering. The second day saw tamer waves but the water temperature was perfect.

In early July I'll be heading back to the lake house, one of my favorite vacation spots (due in large part to the excellent friends I go with). They've added a pool table and air hockey since we were there last, and I'm quite keen to lose my shirt at billiards.

The first week in August will see me in New York for four days, attending a play or musical on each (Wicked, Passing Strange, Young Frankenstein and South Pacific) and I plan to spend at least one afternoon exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My recent fascination with Opera Seria and Belle Canto operas led me to the NY Metropolitan Opera house's website, and I noticed they are playing Don Giovanni – which may require that I take another trip to NY early next year to see it.

I have a mountain trip scheduled for October, and I plan to set a date for a mile high hand-gliding excursion sometime before winter hits. I'd also like to find time for a motorcycle trip in September, taking a few days to drive westward and get some serious mileage onto my bike.

And those are just the vacations I have planned. 

The real trouble happens in between… 



long-limbed and lengthwise,
         in repose, upon my bed
               less and less the dark silhouette
                     at play, within my head
eyes lachrymal and cerise
         limbs argent, adorned
               an angel child with the devil's will
                     carved sibyl heart, and lithic born
reprobate, I wait unturned
          in my sanguineous desire
               to rest my head against the breast
                     and await the funeral pyre



When I was ten or eleven, an older cousin of mine told me the story of Our Lady of Fatima. The general story is relatively simple – in 1917, Mary appeared to three young children in Fatima, Portugal and shared with them three great secrets. The first two secrets described hell and the saving of souls sent there. The third secret was meant to be shared with the world in 1960 – but, at the time I was being told the story, in the mid-1980s, it had yet to be told to the public.

The reason the church had not shared this third and final secret, my cousin explained, was because it spoke of terrible things. The end of the world.

Now, as a young child, the idea of my own death was much too abstract for me to even begin to grasp. But the idea of the world itself ending was just large enough for me to understand. Frightened, I locked myself in my grandparent's bathroom and tried to cope – it felt like a large chasm had opened beneath me, and there was nothing, nothing, that could pull me away from it except for my own fraying willpower.

This was the start of my grappling with mortality and religion. Raised Catholic, I was well acquainted with the idea of an afterlife. But my increasingly logical understanding of the world around me insisted that such ideas were created to stave off the threat of oblivion. No matter what other feelings I have about religion and faith (which is another topic entirely), a part of my mind simply refuses to rely on the fact, on death, I'll be banished to hell or lifted to heaven.

For some, the idea of oblivion is a balm. But for me, my mind refuses to accept the idea that I may someday no longer exist as a sentient being.  For most of my life, my answer to this was simple.

I would avoid thinking about my own death.

For a while, this worked quite well. But the older I get, the harder a fact it becomes to ignore. It does not help that I am not in the habit of ignoring an issue. I tend to hit them head-on, deal with the consequences, and move on.

And I did, in fact, try confronting my fear, spending entire nights laying awake and staring straight into the void that I know awaits me. This lead only to a sickening feeling that refused to go away and a distinct lack of sleep.

It was time for a different approach. In my mind, I separated myself – the self that understands and accepts inevitable oblivion, and the self that goes on. Now, whenever my thinking skates along the back of mortality – such as exploring the limitations of human thinking or examining the inherent fragility of human life –  I direct the output of such though experiments to my other self. 

inherent value

 "To know that one has a secret is to know half the secret itself."
   – Henry Ward Beecher

There are many kinds of secrets.

Secrets to hide guilt. Secrets to protect the innocent. Naughty secrets. Embarrassing secrets. Disturbing secrets.

For me, the most important secrets are the ones we use to describe who we are. They are the collection of small conceits in whose shadow we define ourselves – a silent stream of commentary that is relevant only within the contextual integrity of our inner thoughts. In such relevance is born the idea that we are unique.

To share too many of these secrets is to become less so.

accidental sadist

I'm not afraid of dentists.

I get my teeth cleaned every six months without a shred of trepidation.

And I certainly don't expect a dentist to be gentle; their tools of cleaning are a small mirror and a sharp stainless steel spike. On the other hand, I also don't expect them to treat my gums like a pin cushion.

I'm not being entirely fair – it's not a dentist who actually cleans my teeth. He only comes in afterwards to check for cavities, monitor the state of my teeth, and chat about the local weather. I like my dentist.

The actual teeth cleaning is done by a dental hygienist; there is almost always a new one there each time I visit – I've never had the same one more then twice.

In my head, I imagine them as roving gypsies, nomads, moving from place to place, never lingering too long in one town. In truth, I have no idea. I'm sure many dentists have a stable group of hygienists.

Just not mine. 

Most of them are good people. But the one I had yesterday was pure evil – and not the deliciously kinky kind. I should have known something was up when she began the procedure sitting down (unlike every single other hygienist I'd ever had before). Working from this position, she couldn't access various parts of my mouth without extensive facial contortions that left me wondering whether nose cartilage is meant to be that malleable.

And that was simply the beginning.

She attacked my gums with a vengeance, spending more time scraping my gums than my teeth. It got to the point that each time she would clean up the excess blood with a gauze or the suction tool, the only thought I had was, 'She's hiding the evidence.'

The worst part is that she can't be considered a sadist. She wasn't intentionally inflicting pain.

She was simply being careless.


Last night, my grandfather passed away.

The man was made of iron. He joined the Navy when he was young and had the tattoos to prove it.

I never once heard him raise his voice, although he could cuss like a sailor.

He built the house he lived in most of his life.

He loved walking for miles for the sheer joy of it.

He taught me about deep-sea fishing.

He was a devout husband, a stern father, and a loving grandparent.

I have never seen him do a single petty or hateful thing; he was, quite possibly, the most decent human being I have ever met. 

Salut, Bumpy.