Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2018: Salt Lake City

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Why I don’t wear costumes at Burning Man

I’m the Crossdressing Mormon Anarchist. I’m that guy who will show up to your party, a business meeting, or a first date wearing pantyhose, heels, tailored shorts and a blazer. When people find out that I’m a Burner, they almost always include, “I want to see all of the pics of you in your costumes at Burning Man!”

I hope you are ready to be underwhelmed by my answer.  I think most people assume I’ll take my normal look:

and multiply it by BURNING MAN YEAAAAHH!!!!

They conjure me in ridiculously flamboyant heels, weirder tights, skirts, all manner of sartorial debauchery.

At the risk of disappointing you all, Here is a picture of my typical Burning Man attire:

There are two basic reasons I don’t wear crazy costumes at Burning Man:

  1. I’ve already Radically Self Expressed all year long: Radical Self Expression is one of the “Ten Principles of Burning Man“, it’s the one that gives permission to people wear whatever they please – or nothing at all.  Most people spend their days wearing clothes they’d rather not be in, to jobs they’d rather not do – I understand their intense desire to let loose and wear all kinds of weird shit. Hell, back in my mail man days, a part of me died when I had to start wearing a uniform for 60 – 70 hours out of my life every week. I was like a broken stallion. In a mail truck. Bringing you pizza coupons every Tuesday. And your power bill.  Conformity for conformity’s sake has always made my guts uneasy.  I radically self express every day, all year long – I spend my days doing work I love, dressing exactly how I want to. I don’t have any fashion wiggles to get out of my system when I arrive in Black Rock City.
  2. Style vs Fashion: Burning Man is an opportunity to be completely genuine, to abandon social norms.  This includes dressing like the masses. See point #1.  There is a growing “Burner Look” in Black Rock City. Function gave way to form, which gave way to fashion. It’s kind of a cool look – don’t get me wrong. And, there are so many sexy people out there – holy shit. That being said, “the burner look” is a thing. It’s becoming more and more of a fashion show. While I’ve always loved style, I’ve never cared for fashion – they are two very different things.  Style is rooted in a deep knowing of one’s self and the boldness to be it. Fashion is all about following instructions. Dress the way the fashionistas have instructed you, and you too, can be cool. We are social animals – the temptation to fit in with the crowd is deep in our DNA. For me, Black Rock City is the one place where that thought should be the furthest from my mind. Hence, my completely boring, functional desert style.

Nevertheless, Black Rock City is still the most inclusive, loving, open minded, egalitarian city on Earth. Being mindful of these things is how we’ll keep it that way.  Fortunately, the worst judgement that gets passed on me for being a dude out there with a decent haircut,  normal clothes and horrible dance moves, is that people often think I’m an undercover cop. (Yes, there are cops everywhere out there, and a surprising number of them are undercover).  Not my favorite thing – I guess that’s the price I pay for being authentic.

Not gonna lie though. Just the thought that some might think I’m a cop is enough to severely tempt me to don some glittery fairy wings, striped tights, pink tutu, and a sequined captain’s hat.

Happy Burn!

Bombs and the Mormon Temple

On Aug 9 2018, a Saudi led coalition bombed targets in Yemen, leaving dozens of children dead.  This is a picture of shrapnel from the blast. This bomb was made by American firm Lockheed Martin. Much outrage has ensued.

The conversation around this picture of shrapnel got me thinking a lot about Mormonism.  There are some deep, obscure doctrines espoused by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are worth contemplating as we look at this thing that killed children:

I’m bringing you right into the heart of the Mormon Temple ceremony known as “The Endowment”.

For my non-Mormon readers: Here is a major simplification of the 3 main ceremonies that are conducted in Mormon Temples:

  • Sealing (the Mormon version of marriage which they believe grants the opportunity to be together forever as a couple in the hereafter),
  • The Endowment (Mormons believe this ceremony gives them both a clearer understanding of their relationship to God, AND gives them the secret passwords and handshakes that are necessary to proceed past the angels who stand as sentinels as they walk back into the presence of God in the hereafter), and
  • Proxy work for the dead (granting these ceremonies to people who have already died, via living proxy workers.

I’ve been through every Temple ceremony countless times, I will speak in first person about a particular aspect that grabbed my attention the very first time I went through and continues to reside in my mind:

There is a point early in the ceremony, after having gone through a symbolic “washing” and “anointing” (it’s extremely similar to Catholic baptism – one drop of water is considered a sufficient symbol for total immersion in water).

A few minutes later, I find myself in the next phase of the ceremony. We are about to watch a movie in small movie theater, depicting the creation of the Earth and the Garden of Eden story. A narration is playing:

“…you have been washed and pronounced clean, or that through your faithfulness you may become clean, from the blood and sins of this generation.”

“Reconsiderations” by Paul Duane

 

Now, hold on just a fucking second here.

As a Mormon, I was raised to believe in a system of moral accountability that is highly individualistic: that Man will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions (and ostensibly anyone else’s). It’s every man & woman, for themselves.

Seems fair.

But here I am in The Temple, receiving what is ostensibly the most essential ceremony one can receive in their lifetime, and I’m being told that because of that symbolic drop of water “washing” a few min ago, now I’ve been “washed and pronounced clean from the blood and sins of this generation”?

WHAT IN THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE

I HAD NO IDEA THAT I WAS ON THE HOOK FOR EVERYONE ELSE’S SINS

We live in a world where where most people believe in a sense of moral culpability where you can be guilty in degrees –

For instance, if I’m driving you around in my car, and you jump out, rob a bank at gunpoint, and then jump back in, ordering me to drive away quickly – I will be held partially accountable for your crimes. Most reasonable people can see how being an accessory to a crime brings a degree of culpability, guilt, and accountability.

Let’s take another look at that shrapnel:

That bomb didn’t build itself.

Lots of hard working Americans were paid to design it, test it, build it, and sell it.

That bomb could not have done it’s job without those hard work Americans.

This is not a criticism of those Lockheed Martin employees. I trust that they would be horrified to know about these fruits of their labors.

It doesn’t stop there.

How many bombs have Americans dropped that have caused “collateral damage”? (This is a military term created to sanitize the truth – it refers to the unfortunate fact of innocent people being killed while we go about the messy work of trying to get the bad guys).

Untold numbers of innocent children and adults have been killed in this way.

With bombs built by Americans.

Dropped by Americans.

Paid for by Americans – you, me, and mostly our grandchildren, who will still be paying off the debts incurred by these wars.

If facilitating a crime constitutes responsibility, then by paying for these deaths, you and I, and our children, and our grandchildren, are, to an extent, murderers.

I know it sounds harsh.

It’s true, though.

Mormonism is the only religion I am aware of that makes a SERIOUS contemplation of moral accountability on a global scale like this.

[note: I’ve never met another Mormon who has even thought about this… so, I’m speaking in hypotheticals here. The reality is, 99.9% of Mormons just go through the motions in the Temple and never dig deep into what they’ve experienced, so don’t worry about talking to any Mormons about this. Sad, I know.]

For me, this part of the Temple Ceremony essentially says, ‘Modern life is very complex, very messy, we are all entangled in webs of money and influence that we are often unaware of – and we are all in this together’.

That, brothers and sisters, is a painful, messy, and beautiful truth.

much love –

Paul Duane

The Crossdressing Mormon Anarchist

Mormon Church: I understand why you want to keep the youth “worthiness interviews”

The traditional practice of “worthiness interviews” between youth and adults leaders has caused a lot of stress, on both sides. I understand why.

[For my non-Mormon readers, a bit of background: Mormons have a strict code of sexual behavior for all ages: no sexual activities outside of marriage. Period. That includes masturbation and anything like unto it… and as every former teenager knows, this is where the spotlight turns to the kids. It is a Mormon tradition to have regularly occurring interviews between the congregation leader (the Bishop), and it’s members. They often ask specific questions about sexual behavior. Failure to comply brings very heavy social and religious consequences. For a Mormon, this stuff is a BIG DEAL.]

Let’s start with the premise that it’s a good idea to mentor kids as they mature sexually. Parents should be the first and foremost resource in mentoring kids, through word, deed, and loving dialogue. Obviously, this is an ideal scenario that doesn’t always happen.

It does take a village to raise a kid. We are tribal animals, and it really is good for kids to have positive mentorship relationships with adults in their community. I most definitely benefited from many adults in my life outside of my good parents. It has been argued that it’s a psychologically healthy thing for Church leaders to talk about sex with kids. Proponents claim that kids who have significant adult mentors who are religiously literate fare better as adults.

In secular society, we’ve become honest about the oft-failure of parents to take care of the basics, and have developed backup plans. Head Start, school breakfast programs, and… God forbid… television – all have become surrogates, safety nets, to fill in the gaps that parents often miss. The above argument for Church leaders stepping in to teach kids about sexual ethics reminds me of the increasing reliance on The State to step up where parents stepped out.

Moms, Dads, We are the first line of defense, the first line of resource, for the kids. Let’s handle the really sensitive stuff in the walls of our own homes so that the bishops, scout leaders, teachers and neighbors don’t need to pick up so much slack, but can perform their role as extra adult role models.

That being said – this interview practice is not sustainable. It’s a ticking time bomb. Mormon Church, you are determined to hold your ground and I understand why. Let’s cut right to the chase:

If you stop asking kids about their sexual behavior, ie, conducting “worthiness interviews”, this will eventually spread to the adults too.

“Reconsiderations” by Paul Duane

No more interviews about sexual behavior = No more enforceable policies about sexual behavior. This will cause a doctrinal and cultural landslide. It will echo into the walls of the Temple, because a major part of Temple worship includes entering into a covenant to maintain “sexual purity”. Suddenly, a person’s sexual behavior will be between the individual, their partner, and God – and that’s it.

For me, being a Mormon means believing in the essence of what Joseph Smith claimed: that if the individual desires to commune with The Divine, it will be granted, in private. No intermediaries are necessary. We believe in a God that is conscious of, and attendant to, every individual seeker of truth.

Eliminating “worthiness interviews” might just force The Church into a strictly supportive role, rather than an investigative role. It would force the Church to trust each individual to pursue virtue on their own terms…

…just like every prophet of old has done.

 

In love and freedom –

Brother Paul Duane

#SoulAnarchist

 

 

 

Duane Rides, Part 1

I just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Ok, in all fairness, I listened to it on Audible, and I loved it. It’s a story about a father and son going on a cross country motorcycle trip. You can get a free 30 day trial of Audible and a free book by clicking this banner. Enjoy!

 

If you are reading this, you probably have already been reading along with the chapters I’ve been releasing.

It’s for a book. I’m not sure what it will be called yet.

This book is about my motorcycle journey:  Both the path leading to learning to ride, and the adventures I’ll be having on that bike as I take the podcast on the road.  I put out the 6th chapter today, and decided to do a spoken word version off the first 6 chapters together. That’s wha today’s episode is. I’ve never done anything like this, so let me know if you like it.

  1. The Muse, The Rum, and The Motorcycle
  2. Black Holes and Hatred
  3. Breaking The News to Mom
  4. One Way Or The Other, Moms Know Things
  5. Rifles, Roller Skates, and Recovery
  6. No Fear, No Guile, No Regrets

 

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

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2. black holes and hatred

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

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Here’s what you need to know right now:

I grew up with a disabled father. I’ll explain more about it in an upcoming chapter – for now, it’s enough to say that I didn’t have a “normal” Dad growing up.

My Dad’s condition created it’s own gravity in our family. His disability limited the kinds of jobs he could take, necessitating my mother working, and placing us in that “we have the essentials but nothing more, and barely” socioeconomic status.  My Dad’s situation often put me in the position of middle man / explainer / translator between him and Joe Q. Public.

Every public outing with my Dad created a huge moral dilemma:

Do I try to explain to this person what’s going on with my Dad?

Do I just try to keep him quiet and rush through this interaction as fast as possible so no explanation is necessary?

I’m kind of embarrassed. Am I a bad son?

He can’t help it. He’s doing the best he can. It’s still weird and hard.

How is HE feeling right now? (For some reason this consideration was so heavy that I could hardly entertain it in real time and usually brushed it aside).

The back and forth debates over how to be in public with my Dad were soul rending.

Even something as mundane as ordering a burger was surprisingly challenging – and not just because it was outright hard to do, but because of the layers of inner conflict and questions that I’d have to wrestle with during and after.

This business of helping my dad interface with the public was a surface level concern. things got much darker.

In private – I used to fantasize about hunting down the person who I thought was responsible for my Dad’s disability and killing them. Slowly. I would cry in fits of rage and curse them to God. Countless times. Sometimes I didn’t fantasize about killing them, I dreamt of badly maiming them to the point of permanent disability. I felt the they robbed me and my family of a “normal” life and I was unspeakably furious about it.

And then, there’s my mother… being married is a challenge enough, even under “normal” conditions. I can only imagine the exquisite, unspoken and multiplied frustrations my mother must have endured. I know about some of them, and they are more than I can share right now without collapsing into tears in this coffee shop where I’m writing. Struggles are like cockroaches – for every one that you see, there are two dozen that will forever remain hidden.  I am confident that such is the case with my mother – a hundred mysteries that will probably never leave her heart.

My Dad was a very good man – as good as they come. That being said,  his disability was a black hole: full of unknowns, possessed of it’s own tremendous gravity field, and emanating vast radiation that, although unseen, most certainly affected everything within it’s reach.

 

Next: Breaking The News To Mom

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5. Rifles, Roller skates, and Recovery

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

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You know me as “Paul Duane”

Truth is, Duane, is not my last name… it’s my middle name. My Father’s first name. There are a number of reasons I’ve chosen to go by my first and middle name…  Among them, is the pure badassery that is my Dad…

Duane Huber Jensen.

I want you to meet my Dad.

I’ve got to be honest with you though – I didn’t always feel this way. There were times in my life when having you meet my Dad was really challenging.

Every teenager thinks their parents are dumb.

My situation was a bit different: my Dad actually… was… dumb:

This is the story of my dumb dad.

His brother, Al, always said, “Duane had the world by the tail.”

Every girl in school swooned over him. Apparently, roller skating was hot back in the 50’s. Look at how effortlessly he holds her up.

He was a brown belt in karate.

My dad took his rifle to school.

Yeah. Read that again.

He was the captain of the ROTC rifle team and one of the top marksmen in the state. It’s hard to believe the that this was not only okay at some point, but celebrated. How far we have slid. I digress. This is not meant to be a treatise on gun laws and schools, but it’s worth noting, this is how it used to be, back when America was truly great.

He enlisted in the Army and went to basic training, narrowly missing being activated during the Korean War.

He served an LDS Mission in England for two years. To this day, we still have the 10 speed bike he rode around in England (he disassembled it and shipped it home)

Upon his return home, he had a university scholarship in electronics waiting for him. My Dad was an all American young man. Not just a bad ass by even today’s standards, but a kind and happy guy who made friends everywhere he went.  In the words of his brother Albert, “Duane had the world by the tail.”

“Ok, great, your dad was basically Wally Cleaver, a handsome strapping young man that had everything going for him. What does that have to do with motorcycles or anything else? What does this have to do with me? TELL ME ABOUT ME. MAKE THIS ABOUT ME I’M GETTING BORED.”

Okay, dear reader, I will. Stick with me for a moment.

He returned home from his mission to a lovely girl that he had been dating for a long time whom he planned to marry. He started working at the Bear Lake Marina in northern Utah.  This required him to commute through the often treacherous Logan Canyon every day. He bought a Honda CB450 motorcycle to make the commute on. He had to order a helmet in. In his typical bravado, he didn’t wait for the helmet to arrive before he started making the daily trek on his CB450.

On June 15 1965, he was coming over the summit of Logan Canyon from Bear Lake, and something went very wrong. The sheriff’s investigation was inconclusive – the two theories are that he failed to negotiate a turn and slammed into the mountain side, or that someone hit him from behind and took off. The rear fender on his bike was dented in at the height of a car fender, lending credence to the hit and run theory.  One way or the other –

Someone found him nearly dead in a ditch.

Authorities were called, he was hauled off in an ambulance (there was no such thing as life flight back then). The nearest hospital that was sufficiently equipped to handle the severity of his injuries was two hours away in Ogden.  Upon arrival, my grandmother and grandfather were told that he would probably not make it through the night.

He made it.

The doctors told his parents that he would probably not make it another 24 hours.

He made it.

The doctors told them if he made it through the next 48 hours, he would live the rest off his days in a coma.

He made it.

The doctors told them if he made it through the next 72 hours, the most they could ever hope for is that the would be a vegetable in a wheel chair.

He made it.

My Dad’s injuries were so severe, the doctors kept setting very low expectations.

He kept making it.

He was in a coma for a few months. When he emerged, he was essentially completely paralyzed.  He emerged into the vegetable state that was predicted.  A whole book could be written about what happens from here, but for the purpose of this story, I’ll summarize it:

One near death experience, one miraculous faith healing experience, countless prayers, untold hours of care by hospital staff, doctors, family, and one godsend of a physical therapist and a few years later – he learned how to do everything again. He had to learn how to walk, how to eat, how write, and even how to think, all over again. He emerged from those years of rehabilitation with only one remaining problem:

His tongue was paralyzed.

For all intents and purposes, he couldn’t speak.

He could not control his saliva, either.

He drooled constantly and could not form words very well.

His former athletic prowess was gone, too. Being able to walk and ride a bicycle was the pinnacle of his physical abilities from that point on.

And though she tried,  his fiancé could not abide this new version of Duane.

She left him.

This magnificent young man had been completely humbled. He lost everything but life itself.

This was all taking place in the late 60’s; I was born in 1976. During the ensuing time, my Dad got to work reinventing himself with the cards he had been given. He met a woman named Ann, and they got married. He got trained as a draftsman and took a job working in a cabinet shop. The details were never clear as we never talked about it, but after 5 years of marriage they divorced, setting the stage for him to meet my mother. They met, dated briefly and got married. His doctors set very low expectations about one last thing – and again,

He made it.

Specifically: Me. 

Nice hair, Mom.

What’s the point of all this?

My hope is to give you a glimpse into why the word “motorcycle” was such a forbidden word in our family.

It wasn’t at his behest though…

Just my mom.

And his mom.

And his siblings.

And anyone else who was remotely close to him through the process.

For all of his congeniality, my Dad was a stubborn sonofabitch. Once he decided he wanted something, nothing would deter him, much to my Mother’s chagrin, and if we are being honest, much to the chagrin of the Grim Reaper. My Dad had an indomitable will.

One of my early childhood memories is of my Dad and a couple of his friends riding their 10 speed bikes (yes, the one he brought home from England) from Logan to Bear Lake, all the way through Logan Canyon. For those of you familiar with the geography, you know that the only people you see doing this are extremely committed cyclists who are training for the Tour de Something….

…and Duane.

Aside from the pure physicality of this bat-shit-crazy, punishing ride, it is a symbolic one.

It’s the place where he lost everything.

I’m not sure if it didn’t phase him, or if my Dad has the most bad ass poker face and penchant for beating odds, but here’s a picture of him and his friend Lynn on one of those rides. (He did it a few different times).

Nevermind that he essentially lost his life on two wheels in this canyon. He’s now going to go wag his dick in the face of his past, in the face of death, and in the face of his disability:

My Dad was not an athlete anymore. He was basically a functional cripple – riding his bike through Logan Canyon.

On many occasions, my Dad did things that just weren’t supposed to be possible: a heritage I hold sacred.

When I use his name as part of mine, I pay homage to his legacy.

Every time you say my name, “Paul DUANE”, there is a part of me that bows in reverence to this magnificent giant of a dumb man.

****

Next: No Fear, No Guile, No Regrets

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4. One way or the other, Moms know things

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“I know. Someone already told me. They asked me not to tell you who it was.”

There is a very short list of people who this could be, and within seconds, I’ve narrowed it down with 99% confidence.  I’m pretty certain it’s my Aunt Maureen – she means well. If only I could have had some knowledge that my Mom already knew. This would have saved me from all of that stress.  I’m both frustrated and relieved.

I’m glad that the memory I’ll always have of this day is of her wry and conflicted smile that said, “How did I ever give birth to you – oh that’s right, you are 50% your Dad and that explains everything”.

I thought it would be horror and tears. I much prefer this version of reality.

For the next hour, I told her about how it all came to be. I told her about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider’s education course I took. I told her about my experienced rider friends who have been coaching me.  I told her about hours and hours of practice in empty parking lots.  I told her about all of the safety skills I’ve been learning in a nearly frantic effort to calm her nerves. I showed her all of the nice, thick leather riding gear I was wearing: leather boots, chaps, quality leather coat, leather gloves, and helmet, of course. 

We talked about all of the people we know who have whole careers of riding safely on two wheels.  She wasn’t mad, and honestly, she didn’t seem terribly surprised.  Definitely nervous, though. 

“I just lost your Dad… I don’t know if I can take another loss…”

(note: My Dad passed away last year of causes incident to his age and condition, which I’ll explain to you in the next chapter. While his death has made a huge impact on my life, the focus of this story is his life.)

To know who, and why, I am, you have to know my father: 

The original Duane. 

****

Next up: My Dumb Dad: Rifles, Rollerskates and Recovery

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3. breaking the news to Mom

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve done a lot of nerve-racking things in my life – 

Stand up comedy, 

Going out in public in pantyhose and high heels, 

Riding my bike naked through the streets of Portland, 

Putting the spirit of F*@K YOU PAUL DUANE into action.

A few things at Burning Man that shall remain at Burning Man…

What I’ve now done tops them all. 

I’ve found a new love, and the time has come to come clean with the most important woman in my life:

My mother. 

She’ll worry about me so much, she’ll be confused, she’ll lose sleep over this – 

She deserves to hear it straight from me, eye to eye. 

I’ve gone over this decision so many times…not only this new love, but the conversation I’m about to have with her. 

All of it is right. 

But God, I hate to break her heart.

I know how deeply she hoped I’d never do this. 

Hell, for most of my life, I didn’t know that I had this latent desire inside of me. 

I’ve played with the idea before, but never dared go further…

Something happened last year. 

An opportunity showed up. 

A friend extended an invitation.

I said yes. 

A switch flipped inside of me. 

I was terrified at first – it took some getting used to… I had to confront some of the most basic stories I had about myself and my relationship to the world – 

With the help of a couple of very supportive friends,  I did it, and I’ve never been happier. 

Something came alive inside of me that I did not know existed before, and I’m not going back.  I cannot unsee this new bliss. This will be a huge part of my life moving forward. 

I love everything about it…

the sounds… the smells… how it feels between my legs… even the black leather outfits. 

It makes me feel more alive than anything I’ve ever experienced. 

I

Had

No

Idea. 

I have to tell her. 

It’s not just her that would be shook up by what I’m about to drop on her –

My grandparents, too. They would be devastated. This goes against the very fiber of our family culture. 

The fact that they have not been haunting me and trying to persuade my course differently is a solid case for there not being an afterlife.  

In fact, I’m left with three possible conclusions:

  1. There is no afterlife
  2. There is an afterlife and they are too busy doing cool departed spirit stuff to know or care about what’s going on in my life
  3. There is an afterlife, they know about it, and they understand how important this really is. 

I spent an hour sitting in the parking lot of a nearby gas station, trying to sooth my nerves, preparing my speech. Hell, I even talked with an ex girlfriend  on the phone for 45 minutes about it.  

“Just do it. She’s going to be okay…. Your sweet mom.”

Painfully aware of all of the other ways I’ve disappointed my mom over the years, cringing at the morbid cherry I’m about to place atop it all, I head toward her house. 

This is my green mile. 

She’s not going to yell at me. She won’t lecture. 

She might not even cry in front of me…

…but I know that she’ll never sleep well again for the rest of her days. 

My heart breaks – 

But I must tell her the truth. 

I slowly and strangely ceremoniously pull into the driveway, 

I turn off the engine,

I wonder if she heard me arrive…

I walk in the house, and there she stands.

In a fraction of a second, I can tell she already knows. 

“Hi mom.”

“Hi….. “ she said, that syllable a sponge saturated with oceans of motherly worry.

“Mom…

I got a motorcycle.”

*****

Next up: I know

*****

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1. the muse, the rum, and the motorcycle

Hi. 

I’ve been away from writing for a while.

The return is awkward, like two estranged family members reconvening after far too long. 

Thank god for alcohol to ease such reunions. 

Speaking of which, I’d like to propose a toast. 

In a past and creatively fruitful chapter of my life, rum was my drink of choice.  

In the spirit of opening the next phase of fortuitous creation, 

My cup is filled with that old familiar spirit, mixed into a classic cola cocktail- 

To creation, to new adventures, to channeling the sacred and the profane into simple words that all can understand: 

Cheers! 

Tonight’s elixir is made with a fine spiced rum bearing the image of Admiral So-and-So, who closely resembles a well known national brand of pirate captain themed rum – It seems to be his dorky younger brother. 

One thing is for sure: they both love big ships, and rum. 

Brothers, sisters, and everyone in between- 

I have a tale to tell, and I’ve committed myself to the sharing of it. 

Of all the story worthy adventures I’ve had, this is by far the most important one, because it’s about the core of who I am and the humans that raised me, and where I’m going. 

This story is about the essence of my family culture — but don’t worry. I know you really don’t care about an exhaustive family history, so I’m going to keep that shit very brief — barely enough to set the stage. 

How’s your drink doing, anyway? I’m pouring another. 

This generic coke really has a way of opening up the vanilla notes in this Admiral… who? Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum. 

And those caramel notes, are they from the cane molasses that I wish this was distilled from, or the added caramel flavoring that was unceremoniously squirted into this sugar mash hooch one step before bottling? 

I have my suspicions, and for now, I’d like to leave them at that. 

Cheers!

This story matters so much to me, that I’ve been intimidated to begin the telling of it. I’ve learned that when fear really takes hold of me, it secretes a venom that anesthetizes me and makes it feel more like indifference. I’m starting to learn that indifference is often my passion numbed out for some misguided notion of safety. 

I’ve put this storytelling off for long enough. 

Speaking of spirits, (how’s your glass, by the way)? Thank God for the muse. 

Muses come in many forms. 

I’ve recently found myself with an interesting pen pal on the other side of the country. For whatever reason, we haven’t exchanged numbers. We aren’t connected on Facebook. Our small talk simply outgrew the tiny window of Instagram messenger and expanded into email. She’s an adept wordsmith herself, which awakened my penchant for serving up the word.  A few emails later, and here we are. 

I’m all inspired to write. 

Let’s top of our glasses, shall we?

This Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum and cola makes not only a fine aperitif (that’s a medium sized dumb word that just means, “I’m getting shit faced for desert, eat your ice cream, kids”). This spirit makes a fine muse, too.  Admiral, I think we’ll be sailing the seas of synonyms all summer long. 

I’m ready for some word play, story living and truth telling. 

What proceeds from here is a tale about transmuting fear into love. 

It’s a story about noisy Harleys and fear and God…

And radio

And being a kid

And destiny

I’ve embarked on a personal rite of passage that has taught me a new way to dance with the devil. She can be a magnificent partner.

Pro tip: 

If that samba with Satan is going to go smoothly,  

You must take the lead. 

More on that later. 

Cheers to Admiral Dumbass and his grog, 

Cheers to pen pals, 

Cheers to motorcycles, 

Cheers to the road,  and cheers to the muse!

*****

Next up: Black Holes and Hatred

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