Faces and Portraits

There's this little convergence happening around me lately where, without looking for them, the universe is presenting me with more images of faces and portraits suddenly. Tying in nicely to that, I've long had a kind of a fascination with how people create portraits of themselves more so than when an artist makes a portrait of another person. Depending upon the person and 9 million other factors, there can be a really amazing openness, vulnerability, in sight and humor when people create their own portraits. It also speaks to me as that human cry to be been seen and maybe even become immortalized to some degree.

I've considered starting some kind of self portrait project myself a few times but between sometimes reacting to life with the efficiency of a pinball and not really having a clear idea of what to try, it hasn't happened. Yet.

So here then, are some old and new links to a really cool collection of faces and people:

Vivian Maier: A recently discovered and completely amazing street photographer from Chicago' 1950s-1990s:
A blog created about her.
A brief video about her.
Also, there is a documentary in the works about her as well.

A sort of confusing set of portraits (not mug shots) of Australian criminals of the 1920s.

A fun and fascinating (while not necessarily new) concept of painting on people and then photographing them making it very difficult to tell what's real and what isn't.

Some people might remember this video of a guy named Noah Kalina who took a photograph of himself every day for six years. Talk about dedication to a project! It also features a beautiful piano piece called Everday by Carly Comando.

Another guy (Ricky Coates) also did the daily photograph thing, but instead to document growing a beard for year. I'm envious. Judging by the "related links" the daily photo beard thing isn't so uncommon either.

And finally, Wired Magazine, back in 2008 had a self portrait contest of which I loved the winners. Here are the people's choice winners followed by the editor's choices.

This moment in Time

I was cleaning up my Evernote notes a little and came across this story idea/thing that I jotted down after I woke up from it. Or something like that. It was late/early.

In a way... as episodic as it is, it kind of stands all on its own to me. No explanations, no history, it just is...

Collapse )

So far so good

Last night I finally decided (and got the courage up) to see what jewelry would fit back in my PA after all this trauma.

As a side note, or maybe not so far off to the side actually, I find it kind of "funny" that I've been feeling so skittish about it (and my still absent septum piercing) and not wanting to go through the process of stretching them both again. As it is, I can't get any septum jewelry (retainers) started even though I can fit the end of a taper through it so I'm just going to ask a professional again.

But the PA went surprisingly well last night with almost not even any initial discomfort and with my original ring even, which is a nice plus. Sure, it feels a little pinchy now but that's just like anytime it gets stretched. I just need to baby it a little more than usual though until the fistula can get reestablished.

So this weekend is possibly when I'll get the nose going again which is the one piercing that makes me truly whiny.

*sigh* The things we put ourselves through...

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I should be sleeping right now

My mind is wandering. So much for getting to sleep.

The first time when I came back after visiting my dad and seeing him so ill, I was naturally hit in the face with my own mortality. So much so that until I was doing it, I didn't realize that I was so motivated to overcome both my introversion and my current malaise and I began reaching out and searching for more connections. Particularly amongst kink oriented guys. My kink runs very deep within me and frankly it just hasn't been fed at all or nearly enough for most of the passed decade.

I reconnected with one kink friend and made a few new ones, either on line or in person. I was feeling rejuvenated amidst the tragedy that was my father's impending death. Even though I understood the situation, it was still confusing to my heart.

Now that I've come back home a second time, this time after my father's death, that energy for reaching out, to enjoy life is absent or waning. I took an extra day off before returning to work and of course since getting back there, it's been the usual uncoordinated, sloppy and frustrating mess which has always seriously drained me. I'm assaulted all day long (that's how it feels to me) and I get frustrated because I want to make things work better there for all of us and I feel like Sisyphus.

Tonight I realized that I was unreasonably cranky by the time I got home. I can feel my defenses, my walls coming back up again and I don't like it. Too much of that cuts me off not only from other people but from myself as well.

I haven't really read LJ at all for months because I can't bring myself to let that many people in. I wind up retreating to anything that's light and fluffy, running away from any true meaning. I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be Gandhi or Mother Teresa either but I do want to be present and to have some balance between the lighter and the heavier stuff. I want to have more fun and I want to be happy.

Being an introvert is one thing and it's enough to deal with in this world which is predominantly extroverts, but being a depressed or melancholy introvert is worse. I do 't think I'm this way all the time but I do think it's more the norm than I care for.

Am I being melodramatic, possibly just because I'm feeling at a low point at the moment? Probably, but I'm also just trying to be honest with myself. It's my hope that by doing so, it will enable me to get the crap out so I CAN be more present for the good stuff that awaits me. It's out there, I'm staring at some of it and that's not me being figurative either. I'm making a serious effort to put some of my shit on the shelf long enough so that again, I can be open to it because if I keep fussing about, I'm going to miss it entirely.

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This weekend was hard for me as an introvert. Obviously it was rough as I flew home for dad's funeral but also because of all the attention going every which way.

People were especially concerned and considerate for mom which is just how it should have been but all the non stop interactions in addition to the stress of a funeral wore me out.

Please don't think this is so much a complaint as it is just an acknowledgement of the fact but man, mom just really wore me out after the funeral. Not from dealing with crying or any outpouring of emotion but because she really needed to talk apparently.

The stories just flowed and meandered everywhere. One thing I learned? That at least according to mom's perspective (to be fair) she had some seriously difficult events in her past as a child. An emotionally abusive (and sometimes physically inappropriate) father, an ignorant school system and relatives here and there who were also either abusive & mean as well as uneducated which reinforced the abuses.

Apparently in second grade, to keep the story short) this would have been about 1946 or so, she recited from memory, a passage from a story her class had only just begun to read, verbatim as she not only already read the book but because she also knew the story well. Instead of being acknowledged for her skill or ability to do so, she was deemed as "odd" and unnatural and after the instructor spoke with mom's abusive father, she was forbidden to read any books over the summer. Somehow, in that backwater colloquial town of Rumsey, WA taking the initiative to read ahead and being able to recite from memory was to be feared and she was even called a witch by her father. In 1946!

Not all the stories were bad though and this was the first time I've ever heard any of these stories, good or bad. Mom & dad were literally high school sweethearts, and when dad spent two years on Midway Island as part of the Seabees in the Navy (the Navy's construction corps) they wrote love letters frequently.

The stories flew out of order in a stream of conscious that spoke of reminiscing, pain and nostalgia. And I think a fear of a future of being alone. Mom and dad just had their 53rd anniversary 6 days before dad died.

Along with the emotions of such a weekend, it drained me. I was so relieved to finally go to bed, close the door and sit & breathe in silence for the first time since I woke up that morning. I blame no one and I don't want to deride or diminish anyone's pain or emotion or to even hint that any one person wasn't worth hearing, talking to or sharing experiences with. It was all just a lot. My body ached as well as my spirit.

Getting a better night's sleep in contrast to the week previous helped but I so need time and space to recharge and find my center again. Being back where I truly call home and amongst the friends who know me so well, will be a big first step.

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The lessons my father taught me

As dad was getting close to the end and once he had died, I didn't know how the whole thing with eulogies was supposed to work or if I was expected to or if anyone wanted me to deliver one. I started the process with a recent post followed by a lot of thinking and didn't feel like I was getting anywhere. In this process I realized that we never got many, if any bonding experiences.

Sitting around with relatives tonight is when I FINALLY started hearing the family history and stories which were oddly absent in my childhood. So mom & dad never shared those with us for whatever reason.

As I was waiting in the airport for my plane I pulled out my journal which I hadn't touched for a few months and started thinking about what I might say about dad. I hadn't completely verbalized it yet but I really did want to have something to say, both for my own sake and also because of my older brother who died last April. He never could get his life together and in sparing the details as to why, he was a complete ass to my parents all the way until he died, including abhorrent instructions upon his death towards my parents. So it was important to me that the rest of the family and his friends see that he wasn't cursed with nothing but ungrateful children. I may not have spent a lot of time with him over the course of our lives, but I still loved and respected him.

It was as I was wringing my hands over all of this a bit that I also realized that we just didn't have a lot in common, which was another reason I was struggling with what to say about him. I was only coming up with stuff that everyone already knew about him and praised and honored him for. I felt that I needed to show (probably mostly for myself) that dad had impacted my life in a meaningful way.

As I tried reviewing my few anecdotal experiences about him and what they meant to me I was still coming up blank. As the memorial began and I listened to the pastor speak, I was reminded of the challenges someone in that position has, of summing up the life of someone they only know (usually) through the stories of distraught and grieving families and it always feels impersonal to me.

But it hit me finally. I did have something to say and it was from a SON'S point of view. God I was nervous as I volunteered a turn to speak about him. I spoke of the lessons he taught me that I never realized he did. He never espoused or lectured, he taught by example by just being who he was and doing what he did.

Since he was one of those perpetual motion handyman, can fix and build anything type of guys, he taught me ingenuity. By always helping others and never asking for anything in return he taught me generosity. By helping those in need and by always (albeit fruitlessly) trying to help my brother straighten out his life, he taught me compassion.

Those were the lessons that my father taught me and I never knew it until today.

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Yes... I needed help again (last Sunday)

I haven't spoken about it much here but now I'm gonna because I need to lighten up a little.

This last Sunday I had a little cringe inducing accident where I wound up in the emergency room for a few hours. This ultimately culminated in two stitches in my penis and the "safety" precaution of getting to sport a catheter for a week just in case.

It started innocently enough with a coffee date that went so well that we spent the entire day together, had a smallish bite to eat and came back to my place to make out a bit. The first part of the making out was great. It's been far too long since I got to feel and share that kind of energy with another man. During the course of this sweat and tongue fest, we decided to hook our PAs together, which seemed safe enough. That lasted about as long as it took for us to actually hook them together. Suddenly, as near as we can tell, we both moved and then there was pain. Lots of it. And blood. I don't know what a good measure of "lots of blood" might be that wouldn't utterly freak someone out or that might diminish the experience, so I'll say that there was "enough" blood.

And it was all mine. My meatus had torn on both sides of my PA piercing as well as just a little in the front of the piercing itself. Yes... I nearly fainted. At least twice. Shock set in so badly that at one point I could barely feel my hands and feet. But thankfully not before we managed to untangle our jewelry and got me sitting down.

Once a little emergency triage had taken place and the bleeding thankfully subsided, we called a couple dear friends of mine who got us to the emergency room. That's twice now they've come to my rescue for something having gone wrong with my penis. Or one definite event and the other was to talk me back of the edge of panic about another event.

Hm, life has had some interesting curves coming my way over the passed few years now that I think about it.

Anyway, at the ER things went fairly well. We had a moment where the secretary behind the safety glass both could not apparently hear me nor understand what I was saying and I had to keep repeating that "I have a torn meatus." Ultimately, she clicked on the microphone that was mounted in the glass and suddenly I felt like that poor schmuck standing at the counter where an insensitive cashier announces across the store's intercom system, asking for a price check for suppositories or condoms as it really was almost that loud. Suddenly it was  "I HAVE A TORN MEATUS" and then we even had to spell the word for her.


So long story short, two stitches and the catheter. The catheter was "just in case" to reduce the risk of infection from urine getting into the wound, and to allow any scar tissue to form in a more natural shape around the catheter to reduce the chance of developing a stricture which would restrict the flow of urine.

Now... for a long time I've wanted to play with and explore catheters. Just, not quite like this mind you. I'm reaching for the silver lining a little in taking it as something of an exercise and practice for when I *do* get to play with them. Play... not "live with".

Throughout this whole experience so far, I've had some observations that I just can't help but share because that's who I am lately.

In no particular order:
Cleaning one's own blood from the carpet is a little surreal. Steam cleaning will follow at some point.

I am truly amazed and somewhat impressed with the output of the human kidneys and bladder. You might not think about it so much when it's all safely inside but when it's strapped in a bag to your leg and sloshing around, you notice it. And it's a lot.

I am also surprised at just how quickly liquids actually go through us. When we say that coffee shoots right through us? We were right on the money.

Peeing for me currently is something of a non-event. Since in fact, I am not peeing but instead, draining a bag. So parts of the process are missing. That sensation of immediate relief when peeing is currently gone. So is the sensation of squeezing out those last, few satisfying drops. I never once considered any of that until I was draining a bag into the toilet and I swear... my bladder had a sympathetic reaction akin to nostalgic longing. It's almost like sticking your hand into the cookie jar to get that last, oh so yummy cookie only to realize that it's already gone.

Being at work with a bag of urine strapped to and sloshing about my leg is an amazingly self conscious experience. And I'm wondering if I have enough loose fitting pants to make it through the week.

Sleeping however, aside from the annoyance of occasionally waking up to some tension on the tube, is actually a little more convenient in that I don't have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. But there's tradeoff for me, because of my little injury, the early morning 3:00 am erections are uncomfortable and require me to sit up and wait them out until I can get back to sleep. I have no idea if it's a similar problem or not for guys without stitches in their glans.

I'm also walking a little funny, to me. It's the apprehension that SOMEhow... something might get knocked undone and *goosh.* So yeah... no running right now. kthx
And that's about it. For now. I should mention though that the incredibly sexy man that was with me, sustained his own bruising from the experience and was just beside himself with guilt (if anyone was keeping score). It was what I would call a freakish accident, and I most certainly don't hold him responsible in any way. The truth of the matter is that I can't wait (well... I HAVE to wait actually) until we can start playing again. Until then, it's a good time for getting to know each other better.

Thankfully everything seems to be healing up just fine and before too long, the playground will be open for business again. Just remember kids, if your sensitive bits are attached to anything other than you... DON'T MOVE!

What sometimes keeps me awake at 3:00 a.m.

Imagine if you were fast.

Very fast. So fast that you could watch a bullet being fired and that you could run along side of it. You might have the time to really observe a bullet in flight, to examine it in mid air. You might think "Huh, so that's what it looks like in motion". You might even be able to nudge it with your finger and change its trajectory so that it misses its intended target. For fun.

Imagine not only that you can move that fast but that you can observe life that fast, perceive it all just by changing your focus of the world.

You might be able to sit at a sidewalk cafe for breakfast and watch every flap of an insect's wings and wonder how it stays afloat moving so slowly. The water being poured into your glass might flow at a glacial pace, water from the fountain across the street might take an eternity to fall.

You tighten your gaze and can see even faster, time slows to an imperceptible crawl and the people around you seem as permanent as statues. Sound has stretched out so much that it's barely audible as some kind of low hum of which you're barely aware as you're moving or seeing much faster than sound by now.

Glowing particles begin appearing, floating around everywhere you look, bouncing off of everything into every direction. You realize that you're starting to see particles of light. More and more fill your view as you see faster and faster and as you wave your hand through them you leave a wake and swirling patterns of light to fill in behind you.

You realize that you can see even faster and the particles of light become almost solid as everything turns white and you feel that you might be able to vibrate so quickly that you could become one with everything around you, and just turn into light itself.

But you realize that it's not quite time for that yet, you're not quite ready for that and so you slow down your perceptions. The blinding whiteness of light begins to disperse and soon the dancing particles of light vanish, the low hum of sound increasing in pitch as it starts to catch up with you again. People begin sliding into motion, water becomes fluid again and just as easily as you watched the light, you find that you're right where you belong, from where you left in the first place.