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One psychological trip at a time

barry gibb

"Hayden Christensen!." he screamed, suddenly sitting up in bed.

"Oh dear lord, not again, are you okay?"

"I think so, thats the second time this week."

"Which movie sequel was it this time?"

"The Matrix - they recast Keanu Reeves with Hayden Christiansen. its like - he's moving through my subconscious like a virus."

"At least he hasn't moved into your wet dream set."

"Don't be giving my subsconscious any ideas, I mean - I'm thinking it's finally time to bring this up with Barry Gibb."

"Barry Gibb?"

"yep, we meet for lunch in my dreams at some wierdly lit Hollywood hang out and talk about my week. He's a good friend - well - at least in my mind."

"So your inner voice is Barry Gibb?"

"I guess so."

"Well tell him to beat up Hayden Christensen, or better yet, tell him to end Hayden Christensen for good."

"You're asking me to go into my dreamscape and purposely create a fight between the two - perhaps even give Barry a gun and say 'do this for me, Barry, you're my only hope' like Princess Leia?"

"Very much like Princess Leia, only fuzzier."

"But what if Hayden just clones himself into Barry and shows up at lunch, knowing I'd told Barry to kill him."

"One psychological trip at a time, darling, one at a time."

"Right. Must kill Hayden Christensen."

"Goals. sweety, goals."



st catherine montreal

They are, as we say, a ‘pilliers des bars,’ a pillar of the bar. Always there at 3 p.m. with a Sapphire and soda, smiling and enjoying cigars. They gossip, laugh, talk about the state of the neighborhood, reminisce about life before it all and before equality, where life was the struggle to not be invisible. They had all come out in times when faggot was said in a shameful whisper, leave alone a way to live, only to have the same world abandon them when they started dying.

The wars they'd been through personally and collectively created bonds that were simply unbreakable. Young gays frolic by on St. Catherine, blissfully unaware that generations before them had been forcibly removed from their experience. For the pilliers, peace and contentment was recognition from another human being, friendships where everyone lay their true selves on to the table.

Nothing else will do.


a lake to be drowned in


I scooted myself down in the bed, immersing myself like it was a lake to be drowned in. I explored with my hands while pretending I could still feel you there, smell you there. I daydream. I drift off into deep sleep and awaken tangled in sweaty sheets.


I'd looked into the mirror that afternoon and counted the grey even white hairs on the sharp of my face. They were visible markers of how my body was slowly breaking down and dying for everyone to see. I'd decided to solve the problem by spending the afternoon getting impossibly strong gin and tonics from Marcus at the bar.

You came in as I sipped my third, catching me stare as you walked by. You were meeting friends. I watched you exchange laughter and air kisses and I felt my shoulders fall, as I realized I was still alone despite it.

I don't remember how much later someone touched my shoulder and asked if the stool next to me was taken. I remember mumbling something resembling affirmative. When I finally turned and realized it was you, and involuntary smile erupted across my face.

After sharing stories over the din of the soundtrack of a Sunday beerbust, you leaned in close and whispered the magic words into my ear, "Hows'about we spend the night together and wake up smelling like each other by sunrise?"




He woke before dark, grabbing his bundle, trying to leave the house without anyone having an opportunity to talk him out of what he was about to do.

"Careful," she said in a whisper out of the darkness.

He turned in the dark as his grandmother lit a match, lighting the lantern.



"Great men speak of manifest destiny until they get out there where the grasses spread horizon to horizon for weeks on end. You should see the men that run back here like cowards to this civilization after a couple of weeks west. They come back completely broken, ruined for anything but a life acknowledging that they weren't careful.

Careful to keep your eye on the present moment and how it's leading you the new life. That new life, and your children's new life, that is the only reason to do this. Once you head out there - do not stop till you reach the new life. Do not look backwards, miss nothing here."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"When I was your age, son, I boarded a ship and crossed the sea, to create something new, to find it for myself - for your mother, your uncle. They have," she paused with a small, sad laugh, "Well, they have squandered it. Now you must go - and grasp that new life. The only way to is to only look west and worry yourself little about what's happening here. As we turn to dust here - you shall be planting a new life in Orygone. But you'll only reach it if you are careful. Don't let it swallow you whole, come through it, boy."

His instinct was to reach out to her, but they both knew if he didn't go right now, he'd lose this opportunity. As the dawn started to stir, he arrived on his father's horse to join Master Richmond and the rest of the caravan. He'd be an asset here, a smart boy who already understood horses and riding. He smiled to himself, having successfully evaded the punishment for being on this horse of all of them. He wouldn't miss his Father's anger.

He leaned down along the horse's shoulder, and affectionately whispered in it's ear, "We're both free now, boy, we're both now free."




At 22, I left for the South Pacific, an island city called Fotuna in the small island nation of Tonga. I arrived, bible in hand, for a three year stay as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was bringing untarnished drinking water to a small village - with a firm chaser of the word of God.

Haight and Ashbury had combined genetically to create an artist, my sister, a writer, my brother… Me? well... My parents were so proud to see me take an expensive degree in engineering and put it to work in the Peace Corps. The rest of who I had become truly confounded them.

An atheist and an agnostic had created, a Christian. When I told my parents that I’d found Jesus Christ - it played out a little bit like the stereotypical coming out conversation might have.

“Jesus…. Really?” My mother asked like she hadn’t cared for me enough as a child, and somehow now I needed Jesus.

My pop remained very quiet about it for a while, and told me quietly that I was entitled to my own choices but he wouldn’t tolerate evangelism and discussions of hellfire or damnation, because all that was stuff he’d escaped and become smarter about as a man himself. He’d escaped Jesus - but part of him, he understood Jesus as well.

To go from city life to South Pacific life was surely described as isolating. I was such a blithering stereotype of whiteness, lets just be clear and say I knew nothing and everything at the same time.

Energized by faith, I just let each day roll out before me. If you’d ever read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, she often composes little poems and songs to express her feelings or to amuse her siblings. I was completely blind to how ridiculous, naive and infuriating my learned hyper-happiness could be. Nobody had questioned my buoyant, weaponized happiness until Tobias arrived.

He arrived about three months into my stay, and came from the complete opposite world of affluence and white privilege I'd been soaking in before leaving the States. He was a big thick built, curly haired hispanic. He looked like he belonged on the offensive line of a football team than planning well digs for the Peace Corps.

His arms and neck were covered in tattoos. Myself and the other volunteers had suspected were gang related. And on his neck, a christian cross had been both tattooed and dutifully shaved out of his hair and beard. Describing Tobias as intimidating is an understatement.

I started noticing he’d spend meal times by himself and that when services happened he was absent. So one day I took it upon myself to sit with him at mealtime. I learned he’d come from south Los Angeles, and this was his way of escaping some of the problems his siblings had experienced. Completely oblivious to any of the real power of what he’d just told me I started in on my San Francisco childhood and almost immediately complimented him on his cross tattoo, and jumped into meeting Jesus.

He almost hit me out of my chair within a few seconds. He was not amused being so blithely introduced and kindly suggested that if I didn’t temper my faith - that someone was liable to smack it back down throat so hard that I wouldn’t eat, but from a straw, for a few months.

“I know Jesus too - but perhaps a different Jesus.” He said leaning at me over the table, “I’ve seen your little black book used to punish and keep entire nations and whole communities controlled. I’ve seen poverty reasserted while gold lined vestments walk the cathedrals in its midst. Jesus was probably an amazing man, but his world was thousands of years ago - and now his church uses the cross to dehumanize and hold once proud cultures under its thumb. I wear this cross on my neck for a sister that was gun downed in drug violence at six years old, playing in our front yard.

I think it's clear from that look on your face, that you actually don't know Jesus as well as you claim, because if you didn't know any of that, then you don’t really understand the faith you so blindly wave around. You keep making assumptions about people based on only that, and you are going to a lonely, friendless man.”

He left me there alone.

There are few life pivots that you can so clearly remember. I remember touching my cheek, as if in an alternate reality his fist had destroyed all the teeth in the side of my jaw. I remember becoming very emotional, almost crying, from the intensity of the moment. His words hit me almost harder than a fist would have, and that was one of his first lessons for me.

Tobias and I finally saw our way through our stumbling first meeting to become friends. We both stared out at the ocean as it raced away from the small islands shore, bonded together by the time both of us dreaming of people we’d left behind to be there.

One morning, I found a neatly wrapped package on my doorstep. I opened it to find a tattered book of poems by a Sufi from Afghanistan named Rumi. Tobias wrote on the card very simply, “Not all prophets walk on water. Learn from all of them….”



ice cream truck

dischert - dey - meh - tay

برای دسر چی میل دارید؟

Dischert as a child of Iran, was 'sohan' - a saffron brittle made with wheat sprout, eggs, rosewater, sugar, butter, and cardamom, it is covered in crushed pistachios. Given the crunchy, buttery texture, it is highly addictive, which makes it easy to polish off an entire tin in one sitting, especially when there is a glass of piping hot tea nearby.

Most of our dischert are savory with a hint of sweetness. There are puddings and rice dishes with saffron and cinnamon. The closest we get to a western dessert is the gaz. Gaz is made with the sap of the Angevin plant, native to the Esfahan region; the higher the percentage of sap, the purer the gaz. Combined with rosewater, egg whites, and pistachios mixed with the sap then rolled in flour creates a sticky nougat. Many a great childhood memory of coming home with sticky faces covered in little shards of sticky gaz.

I was 43 the first time I came to New York and experienced the onslaught Americans call dischert. My first encounter was the Dunkins donut. Let us just say that my imagination could not have created such a thing. a ring of dough you deep fry - then frost with sugar and then sprinkle with more sugar. Single chocolate glazed with sprinkles has more single-serving calories in sugar than I experienced before the age of five! So imagine, on a lovely perfect April day in New York when a group of Iranian friends and I stumbled upon Emilio's soft serve. Persian cuisine is based on the idea of “hot & cold”, which is not to be confused as spicy or not spicy, rather it’s whether the food would create a sort of energy in your body or whether it would have a cooling effect. It is our joke that Emilio's soft serve is simultaneously both hot and the cold. The sugar and the exciting creates a distinct, almost mystical energy while eating it most definitely cools you down.

We have become convinced that he only comes to our neighborhood on the most perfect of the perfect days. Someone will mention Emilio's truck - - - And like a spell has been cast, the simple music will start, announcing his arrival in the neighborhood. A pied piper, if you will, for middle-aged Persian men. Emilio's is our heaven and we are his most devoted.


thing is, doll


"Do you want to come stay at my place instead of taking the train home?", I said in a drunken late night slur.

Over the crazy loud disco bar music, he leaned in and spoke softly and directly in my ear. “Oh honey, no, sleeping with you? No. That would complicate things and the last thing our darling friendship needs is complications. Don’t fuck where your secrets lay, dearest. Never fuck the grrl who knows the most about you.”

He immediately read the crestfallen look on my face. "Thing is doll, is that we both know you are looking for love. and that is awesome for you. For you. I am not looking for love. I'm looking for red hot fucks that end as quick as they ignited. I've done love a few times, I know the difference. And I'd be a pretty horrible best friend to take advantage of that."


earned respite

snow town

The crazy pace of the summer and autumn seasons are gently but completely eliminated when they arrive. Once we're past Thanksgiving weekend, everyone waits impatiently for their own set of reasons.

There is a wagering case of beer down at Asterbar on who guesses the time and date correctly.

Eager elementary school artists have been frantically creating and decorating construction paper replicas in hopes of calling them from their hiding place in the sky.

Bickman's Foods has stocked up knowing that they will keep people close from heading to the Walmart on the freeway or the food court at the mall a few exits down.

Gilman's hardware store displays a gleaming array of the newest in winter shovels. Just inside their front door, in a top lit case is the new fangled heated windshield scraper you've seen on TV.

Teachers will wake up and upon looking out the window, smile while putting the kettle on, having earned respite from the usual morning routine.

If there is a true magic spell, they are definitely it. The snowflake's earned reputation for blanketing our small town with calm and serenity is generations earned.


imagined reaching for them


I spent a great majority of my youth staring at the stars and imagined reaching for them. I had a poster of the astronauts that reached the moon on the wall of my bedroom till I was 20. I had hanging models of lunar modules and the space shuttle.

I have this book from my childhood that tracks what my aspirations were and every year on the line where it says "what do I want to be when I grow up?" - it says 'Astronaut' or 'Airline Pilot' or any number of aspirations.

I was a smart kid and wanted to do smart things.

"Look at your grades, I'm always after you about how lazy you are, you are nobody's future astronaut," he said to me nonchalantly.

It's amazing looking back on those years how much impact that single conversation had on me.

Pilot. no.

Engineer. impossible.

School Teacher. never.

Forest Ranger? too hard, too much biology. no.

By middle school, all of my greatest career aspirations were dissuaded.

Pop has been gone now for sixteen years and I'm fifty-two years old.

Every time I'm out in the country and I look up at the stars I stop and sigh, replaying that conversation like it just happened. Why did I let myself spend so many years whispering to myself, "not for me."?

I stop, rewarding myself with a big smile, realizing that childhood tape is playing in my head. I hit the firm stop button on it, take a deep breath - and I purposefully look back up at the night sky and reach for the stars.


they don't be listening to me


The call came through for medical assistance from Stately Meadows at 2am. It's that large assisted living center over on Wilkers street?
We laughed in the ambulance on the way over about what kind of trouble could they possibly be in at this hour.

We parked and grabbed our kits. Standing out front was a clearly upset female nurse, smoking a cigarette.

"I'm Nurse Higgins, the night supervisor," she said, angrily extinguishing her cigarette with her foot, "Sorry ta bother ya'll but we've got a mess on our hands."

She leads us into the facility and up a wide staircase into a set of rooms labeled "EXERCISE FOR LIFE!" - and in the center of one the room was a group of six men in a pile on top of a twister board.

"I told these fools that Twister in your 90s was a bad idea, but they don't be listening to me."