30 July, 2007

What will we leave?

I met with a friend yesterday, and over dinner I proposed to him to start thinking of his legacy. He had just returned from helping his parents when one had taken ill. Perhaps, that might give you something concrete to work on and for. Something besides work, even if it might be in a 'giving field'. When you are a gay man with no children, you often forget about what do you leave the world with. Sure, we have nephews and nieces both our families. We are close to our families, but as of yet have no children. Children help to remind you of a greater purpose. I am helping him to complete college, which will give him knowledge and a bit more power in a poor country. We are hoping it will also make his families life better in the future. As the first person in his village to go to college that alones gives him much respect. He inspires his nephews to continue school. I was thinking of working for an NGO helping other poor people when he finishes his degree, but I will see how things progress. Together, we were upset with how bad off children are in Cambodia (to help, see Streetfriends link). I will let him decide about this, and it depends if he goes on to a master’s degree. Trusting his judgment, we will work on our legacy together.

29 July, 2007


Oh, what a crushing feeling! They had better get it right with Iraq. We are producing more enemies than we had when we started. There is, contrary to Bush’s latest promotion, less than 10% Al Qaeda are fighting the troops in Iraq and they just started there in 2003-2004. Most, if not all, Iraqies dislike them because they would tell them what to do and how to live. Not understanding history and the culture will be our downfall in Iraq.
Now, take this down to our home turf. We are more and more divided in he USA based on our differences…and our love of money. We will sell our soul for money, and we will kill everything beautiful to make a buck. If we take time and think about our children and what they will have left in the world, we might support our dwindling natural resources, parks, and our heritage. If we try to leave a more beautiful world than we have right now, our children will be proud and our soul will rest easy in the future.

28 July, 2007

Conehead Not

I waste time, on occasions trying to think of what to write here. Oops, here it comes...coffee just kicked in! I do feel that we often put on the dunce cap when it comes to understanding others. It is very difficult to put yourself in someone’s shoes. We want to fix it fast and get rid of the problem, even when our way is not the best way for others. It is very hard to assemble someone else’s life experience in our mind and then come up with a good understanding of their reaction to similar circumstances. So I waste time, and not have empathy. But I still cannot just shut up and let it roll, and let unfold their lives as they see fit. Do we often want to fix others to avoid work on ourselves? I am having fun thinking about life, and my decisions. Happy with the work I do, and the disability that has brought me down to earth. I met an actor over dinner who assumed I am not from here with my funky speech. It allowed us a jumping point to an interesting conversation, because I was not offended by his remark. So in some ways, I have relaxed, in other ways I would like someone to kick me in the ass and say go for it. Do the radical move I want to do. You never fail in making a decision, only fail in not making them.
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26 July, 2007

Worry Hook

Are we hooked on worry? The same worry that allows us to make fools of ourselves when we don’t get our way. I am trying my best not to worry, and low and behold I woke up at 4 in the morning about my latest client’s job. I do want to make sure my work is done while looking at the big picture, but sometimes there are design decisions that are not done by me. These same decisions become my problem when they are not fully thought out. It amazes that architects even with a house remodel just slap something together. Thinking that most people won’t figure out their mistakes, like windows too high to reach when they could have started at chest level up. Or like moldings that go nowhere not knowing where to break a room. But my worry in this case is seeing the whole house done in my mind, which requires it to be on at times I would rather sleep. At least the client was happy, and thought about the same issue as I did at 4 a.m., as well. I guess I should be happy because we are on the same page.

25 July, 2007

Afternoon Cup of Tea

Working with a client now and she tells me she I make her feel more comfortable than someone else she interviewed. I attribute it being a lot more down to earth after my near death experience. Besides this, I am a lot more humble and work with people instead of telling them what to do. If they are involved throughout a project they become more attached and understanding when I explain my idea. She still is cautious, but I have assured her I will follow through until she is happy, as word of mouth is the best referral. I have also told her that I take my work home with me, and think it through, allowing me to get a better overall view of the project. I am still able to do other things while still keeping her house in my mind. Approaching it like a piece of art, finessing and fine-tuning, just like I am tying to do here with the blog. I am working towards a certain kind of casualness, like an afternoon cup of tea.

I did have a dream last night of getting a job in my old field of advertising in New York. It showed me the excitement, but also the awareness of the work I would have to do. In my dream, after much deliberation I declined the job yet felt honored. I guess I have come to know what I can do and what I can’t do with this brain injury. I tell my new brain-injured clients in my volunteer at the hospital to be more realistic about life and above all have humor with yourself.

23 July, 2007

No Black Hole Here

I am a realist, and so I was not too surprised when watching a show on PBS called Supernatural Science (Between Life and Death #104)) about near death experiences. They have proven that the feelings described like the tunnel with light at the end, and leaving your body are brain-orchestrated phenomena. I have suspected this even after having experienced it. I left my body and traveled near the ceiling and was traveling down the hall at the hospital when a nurse called me back to my body. It seems that the brain while in anoxia will be shutting down some items like pain while it develops this imaginary way to deal with an extremely difficult and stressful time. So maybe the Buddhist continuum of spirit may not be the parts of you left to seek attachment in a new life, but in fact, those remnants of you already left in your children or family. Your memories, your ideas, and your life force left to them to be accessed long after you are dead. Now, this is of course, my deduction. Take my idea with a grain of salt, but rest assured your brain will at the very minimum, work hard to overcome the stress of dying. So I will die happy, because what I saw was comforting and even warm. Regardless, this last fact follows quite nicely into the Buddhist teaching of rebirth.

22 July, 2007

Sands of Time

Finishing the book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” which was a three-month process for me, I felt accomplished. Since it first came out, I waited until I could read it. Books with fewer facts and a clear story are easier for my half-speed abilities. Now, I can still read complicated books, but it means no noise or distractions and a lot more time. Ten years ago I would have never been able to read this, so I’ve come far.
Today, I signed some photograph prints I took back in 1988, reminding me of the sands of time. Hoping that they will be discovered in my friend’s estate way after I am gone. I can still remember exactly where and when I took these photos of a mutual friend. Good thing my memory about the emotions, I had at that time, have seriously relaxed. We are all still friends now, twenty years later which is a testimony to our intent back then. I helped my friend after his apartment had nearly burnt down and he needed a place to stay when it was red-tagged. In the process we got closer, and I helped him with a referral to a new apartment a couple of months later. So these photos document our past and point to some consciousness, as well as fun.

Up Early

I may be a little bit tired after getting an early morning phone call from my partner telling me his AMX card was declined. This is even after he has been using it for two years and the balance is 0. I called them earlier in the week and they said it was fine. He asked me to call for him. I had to call them again at 6 am on a Saturday and verify my past addresses for twenty years for them to release his card. No explanation as to why. I did make the best of this so we continued and got caught up, ending our conversation on a happy note.

It has been brought to my attention through the news that China’s products have little or no standards. If a US company like Walmart wants the bid for food or charm bracelets lower they will make it cheaper at whatever the cost. So a few people or pets die ...so what! Charms with lead in them at almost 92 times the maximum set by the CPSC(Consumer Product Safety Commission). At least they got them at a lower cost and can pass it on to the stockholders. USDA is being understaffed just so that food gets imported, and they can say honestly that they missed it. I have also heard of cheap Garlic dumped here at lower prices than it costs to produce in China. This is quietly putting our farmers out of business, and do you think our government will protect you? Or maybe Gay marriage will out scream your pet death. We might be a bit naïve to assign absurd values to threats that are put in place by the same folks that brought us the Iraq war (known on your news politely as “Iraq Conflict”).
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20 July, 2007

Gate of Possibilities

Last night I was treated to a free preview of “No End in Sight”, a film that details the people in charge of letting the Iraq War spiral to where it is today. I always thought the war was a made excuse to grab some power in the Mideast, but there are things that I was totally surprised on. Like the disconnect of the decision makers and the ground, some of them had never been there. I won’t detail it for you as the film opens in August, and it well worth your time to find out how it really got this bad. The people who presented it was The Center for American Progress, a think tank who are trying to be smart about how to effectively get us out of there(http://www.americanprogress.org/). After I was lucky enough to see a neighbor after and invited him for wine and a discussion about the film that we both saw.
I really think we do want an intelligent group involved to undo the horrendous mistakes made there. These, in my mind, resulted in our huge karmic debt to the people who lost their lives there, both American and Iraqies. I am hoping we Americans will feel this guilt, and a gate of concern and responsibility will flood us. It may mean learning more and spending more time involved, but lives are at stake…may in the not too distant future be our own.

19 July, 2007

Smart People

Well, today we find out that bad loans by banks on houses could eventually lead to over $100 billion in losses. “Smart people” loaned money to those that can’t pay it back, then they were smart enough to sell them again leaving our already bankrupt government holding the bag. Now who exactly loosed these loan restrictions? Meanwhile the borrowers were out shopping with their newfound “wealth,” came home and the house was gone.

So, I am going out berry picking to get in practice for having to live off the land. This will also allow me time to figure out how we can teach young people to be tolerant and make smart choices in life. Perhaps a website that is educationally awesome. I am amazed that having to watch 50’s era filmstrips in my poor school in the 70’s that even I came out O.K. Perhaps it instilled in me a healthy dose of skepticism. Check out P.O.V film, Chances of the World Changing by Eric Daniel Metzgar and Nell Carden Grey.

18 July, 2007

One Book

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how I will pay for my partner’s college, when they stopped student loans in his country. Although he works very hard, and is paid there is no room for anything but the most basic necessities. I was thinking of selling my art collection starting with the best piece, which in my mind would help me quickly get over it. I was in contact with museums that specialize in the area my collection is in. Today, I was very surprised by a healthy check from an old lawsuit I joined three or four years ago. It is almost the same amount I needed to complete the remaining school tuition he needs. Feeling extremely lucky I took a walk on the beach to give thanks and to reflect.

When I was a young boy at 6 or 7, I became fascinated with The Family of Man, by Edward Steichen. My parents had it on the coffee table, and it provided with one of first insights I had to the outside world. An image in the book showed naked, happy, dancing boys in the savannahs of Africa. What was odd to my child brain was not they were happy but the poverty they had. This photo stuck with me. Even though we were never well off, we had clothes and were well fed. It played an integral part in my being and eventually came to play into a few of my relationships. The ones were I felt I was helping someone less fortunate than myself. Blessed by my loving parents who keep on inspiring me…sometimes unknowingly.
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16 July, 2007

A sunday drive

Even though I meditate I went on a Sunday drive to get out of my rut. It can be the same old things but out of your environment they somehow look fresh. Actually, what it is...is a refreshed mind looking at them. I have a few very important challenges coming up and I want to make clean and well thought out decisions about them. Taking the day to remind myself how lucky I am instead of being too self-critical.

I knew the following day I would go to the hospital again to volunteer and talk to new brain injury survivors. Every time I see them it brings me to a more realistic view of life. It is also good to see clients who are already seeing some hope and changes. I tell them to remember to have humor about yourself, when you can’t quite achieve those high goals. Most people would benefit from a hospital visit to make them quickly realize that their life is fine. But who I am to tell people what to do, as it will come to them when they are ready.

14 July, 2007

Losing Heart

As a fan of RadioLab on Podcast, I proposed to them the idea of something that I have encountered. With the advent of personal computers, we are losing or ability to see someone’s intent or their soul(ie Heart). With my disability I get a wide range of responses to hearing my voice in person for the first time. I have no great visible signs, clear eyes, and clear face (meaning not red). Yet younger people, like those under 35, cannot see my intent, even when it as simple as ordering tea when at a café counter. Instead of trying to help me they actually “fight me” by assuming I am drunk, stupid, or insane. (see also June 28) I am generalizing, of course, but I use this to my advantage to find out who has a good heart. Those with a good heart almost immediately try to figure out how to understand and help me.
Now this idea goes as far as when people date, if they don’t read each other’s intent they are doomed trying to find a worthwhile relationship. They trip, fall, and get up like most yet find they fall in the same hole. I have been trying to answer people’s questions online, even meeting a few people to help, but it seems if they don’t have these skills already, then there is not much I can do.
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13 July, 2007

Right, bicycles

Driving my car, the other day I signaled to turn right. Looking carefully, because I was aware that I passed two bicycles, a block earlier and they were moving fast. I stopped to let them ride by, before completing my turn. Suddenly, the woman in the SUV behind me blew her horn. We are talking about 45 seconds, before I turned after they passed safely. I took a lot not to jump out of my car and point to the two bicycles to the impatient woman. I had to remind myself again, that everyone wants to be happy. If I had made a scene, all it would make her do is become more upset. This might actually set in motion a chain reaction where more people would be caught in her impatience, after I pointed out how silly she was. I have a lot in my mind and I can only guess that she may, as well. “Being right,” that thing I sometimes get caught up in, that does not offer much in sharing the world and peace. This for me, came out of being looked down upon as a gay person, especially when I was young and vulnerable. Being right when you are told that you are wrong. It may still an issue with society, but I hope I can evolve myself. That, I can change.

12 July, 2007


Yesterday, before eating at the ill-fated restaurant, (read below) I waited for my friend outside. I sat on the ground resting against a pole, reading a new book. Nearby a Volvo had a dog inside with all the windows rolled up on a sunny day. As man walked back to the car after being in a store shopping, and I said you could have killed that dog in the less than ten minutes with the heat. He replied, “Whatever”. Then another guy stopped and asked my directions to a near-by street. I gave him the most direct path there, but he did not believe me. He walked into a store close to me, obviously to ask them and walked out….walking the opposite way than what I told him. I was trying to hold my chagrin back, when after 10 minutes walking in the wrong direction, he came walking back by me. I said now what is the point in lying to you? He said, “Whatever”. Now this is either a sign of people not understanding me with my disability, or the general dumbing down of America. Or, I can take this as one more way to remind me that I am not the most important person in the world.

11 July, 2007

In one quick minute

Just when you think you are invincible, you are reminded that even you are only human…in one quick minute. I had a nice lunch with a good friend of mine at a seafood restaurant. This is one that I have noticed for almost a year. One day, a couple of months ago I was riding public transportation by the place and I had a funny, bad feeling involving some foresight. It was like feeling sick when I went by, that actually kept me from going there earlier. It was a real premonition that I chose to ignore because it was not like a hammer to the head. Well, you guessed it. I got terrible food poisoning within three hours when my body worked hard to get rid of the clams I had. Which brings me back to the premonition I had just before my medical nightmare where I was lucky enough to get my dual strokes from two Doctors errors. At that time, I actually voiced the fear I had to a close friend just before getting out of her car when she drove me there. We are usually so busy in life that subtleties like a premonition are easily ignored. I know my mom has some powers like this, which we always dismissed as the kookiness of having children. That makes moms closer to their feelings they have after they have carried you in their womb. Now, not only to have to apologize to my mom again....but, I have to learn how to pick these up that I miss.

10 July, 2007

Era of Dreams

Dream catcher, Kent Couch flew 193 miles in a lawn chair fixed with 105 helium balloons. Wow! I had the same dream as a kid especially after my father gave me a weather balloon. I thought about trying to jump off the roof, after he filled it with helium he had from his garage shop. I ran around the yard jumping up, hoping it would lift me up. He tried to explain how much it would take to lift me, but I was already lost in dream projections of where I would fly. My father had he own dreams of flight after scaling the fence at Lockheed, to sketch planes as a boy. That later transferred to him being in the air force, sadly disqualified from flying by rheumatic fever. Nonetheless, he photographed enemy bridge building in Korea. We went to air shows watching old planes duel in the sky. One time watching the brand-new 747, skim the air show runway in its proud largess out of the blue. It was an era of dreams and possibilities. I often think if we had money he would have paid for me to go to flight school. As he grew, much like me, we still had the dreams morphing into many other areas. My father’s dreams where in his art, and sometimes spilled over in drunken discussions with me. I tried to become my own person, confused by who I am, oftentimes rejecting his vision to prove myself. But alas, no matter how I tried to be different, I am still a son of an artist who flew… if only in his dreams.
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08 July, 2007

Clean House

Someone the other day, asked me, “Who cleans your house?” I told them, “You are looking at him.” I think when comes the time to get help to clean your house, you either are too damn busy, or you have too much stuff. Now, this does not take in consideration of the handicapped, elderly or single working moms. But in general, there is something to be said about taking care of your space and the pride that comes with it. I was just out of the hospital with a stomach tube, exhausted with the healing process of the brain that needed tons of sleep and I still was happy to be able to clean my own house. That meant I was getting better. What about cleaning house in your mind? Do you think you just store thousands of worries, disappointments, signs of anger in there, without some leakage? Someone will see you don’t have a “clean house” one day, and usually won’t be a day you picked. Now I am nowhere close to perfect, so I am always working on it. Today, for example a friend needed to talk to me very impromptu. I was going to leave to go home, but this was important for him to talk. I just thought about putting my own wishes aside, and I am glad I did. I am honored to find out how much he cares about others. I have to remind myself to be a listener, so that others will listen to me… which can be extremely difficult.

07 July, 2007

Be somebody

Are we what people see, or what we want people to see? Almost 45 years after Marilyn Monroe’s death, we are still dying our hair, and getting pretty. Too pretty, to match our favorite star. And, for what? …to hide our insecurities? We are human, and we do have flaws, and trying to live up to ideals of perfection thanks to advertising. I am not talking about basic care like washing and putting on clean clothes, People that let it all go, need help. I am really talking about showing people who you really are, not some TV reality show version of you. What happens when the person you are interested in, finally gets to know you, without all the bells and whistles? You will be so unlike how you presented yourself, enough to facilitate a “buyer’s remorse” claim. Any wonder why 11 million Americans are on antidepressants? Perhaps they are depressed because they don’t know who they really are or facing it made them sad. You are not what you own or wear, or for that matter, how great your hair looks. It can be scary to be yourself, but can be so liberating. It just might help to turn off all the noise to meditate and find out who you really are.

06 July, 2007

House of Dreams

If I am lucky, some nights I have a long sleep full of dreams. Filled with versions of my real life, both past and present. Traveling to places I have been or want to go to, or even a house I want to live in. I find myself laughing or being amazed while participating in the dream. Waking up, I try to figure out where I am and what was real. The act of putting your feet on the floor solidifies reality and then I go to make coffee. Your mind created this and the waking world can be just like this, too. I meditated at the gym before a yoga class, in a room full of noise and activity. That helps me to get better. Stopping as soon as the class started. Opening my eyes, I saw the teacher. Who would ever believe it was taught by a show tunes/modern dancer substitute? Why be upset the regular teacher was not there? I just continued the dream while being present in every move. Of course, he knows how to stretch from dancing days, so it was based mostly on this. It was very different experience, ending up in Savasana(corpse pose) on the floor, hearing some wailing show tune. But it beats sitting at home, wondering if you had enough coffee or not.
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05 July, 2007

A Fourth of Something

I got it, I often show only a fourth of the appreciation I have for the people in my life. A reminder that we have to acknowledge all the things your friends do for you. We went for drive on this hot July 4th day, through a kind of “The Day the Earth Stood Still Day” city, surprisingly void of ugly traffic, to a town by the beach. It amazes me that my friends tolerate my disability, only because it is a hard for them to listen as it is for me to speak. I jokingly say that listening to me is playing charades game. I felt a bit out of the party of the day, which just left me the usual voyeur. Although, it did make me fall in love with where I live again and thank my friends.

03 July, 2007

Shoot High

Let’s celebrate this funny desire here to live beyond your means. Just about everyone around me has or wants to have a Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, etc. You know so many of these people cringe when the lease payment comes each month. Perhaps, they thought they were so smart borrowing on their house to buy one. Guess what? Just like fireworks, they all coming crashing down one day, if not financially…spiritually. Do these cars really make you happy, especially when someone backs into it or scratches it? I figure if you can afford it, you can buy it outright. But wouldn’t it be better to buy a nice used car and help poor people? I know it is a huge sacrifice to give up something you really want to help others. I will tell you when you get close to your death, you will be glad you did. Helping others will give you a real sense of purpose, next only to that, I suppose, of having your own child. I know this from experience, and drive an old car and help a poor family, so I am not talking out of silly habit. Plus, if you know me, I give gifts of donations in your name instead of gifts. That helps to lessen the non-stop garage sales for those that have everything they want. A few people, when they bought my birthday gift that I asked for, like a donation to a Mercy Corps, have actually told me they felt better. There is another one of my charities listed in my favorite sites, Street Friends. After seeing poor children, some with mine destroyed limbs, I knew I had to help. You can just send the amount you spend on two cups of coffee a week, and hardly change anything in your life. In turn you are able to help kids learn and have hope. Giving up the new car I know was a stretch, but I always shoot high.

Stuck Nostalgic

Forming your new self after an important re-birth after an extreme close call with death, brings you constantly to who are you. Certainly, I have relaxed the idea of my old self ever returning, but often some nostalgia creeps in life. Watching one film on a famous and now older race driver, John Fitch still continuing at 87. The other was watching Günter Grass interviewed on Charlie Rose about his new book. Peeling the Onion. I can already imagine myself reviewing my life as an old person, and much the same as these two totally different men I watched. I hope this propels to do even more than I do to help others, so my regrets are fewer. I did today go to the hospital to be a peer visitor to new stroke victims. The way I can help is mainly to just be there as a reminder there is life after the hospital. Few words need to be spoken once they see me walk in. Surely, I can tell them some of my personal wisdom, but it seems to me that this comes to people when they are ready to assess their new life. So, I try not to tell them anything difficult unless asked and just smile. After, I felt the need to pick blackberries in the sun and have a beer with my roommate. I like the idea of getting stuck while picking the fruit, so it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes them taste even better. Something kind of normal for me, and nostalgic.
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01 July, 2007

Prisoner of Sorts

Sometimes you got to do the things that you don’t like. An early morning meeting with a client, just to let them babble on about their own life enabling them to get used to me. Walked away 2 1/2 hours later, and not a penny richer but was able to get under their skin. So I know they will call me when it is time to get started. I have to play games, never give out my phone number, and communicate by emails. I learned the hard way, when new people hear my voice, they immediately think “Quasimodo”. They ever say, “Thanks, but no thanks” or pretend they have a wrong number. Figuring two can play that game. Upon meeting me and thus feeling better, they joke, “So, that is why no phone number!” If I laugh with them, and they think they are so smart. Best of all, I am calm enough to work around other people’s fears and not fight them. Happy that when I left we felt like old friends after talking about other things than what they needed. I know it is important to give them a little bit of your life beyond work so that they feel connected. Came home a little tired, because speaking to new people for that long wears me out. I wanted to nap, but went directly to the computer to forward my other good clients emails to them.
Then I left to enjoy the sun, by going to the park to meditate. Full of kids, and happy noise yet I was still able to go inside myself for 40 minutes. Upon returning home I got tangled up in figuring how to use a new program to protect my photos. Finally, and again calmly eliminating bad results over a four hours time period, that any sane person would spend outdoors. I put fun on the backburner, just make me feel ok about providing my own photos on the blog.
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