Friday, May 29, 2009

get the f*ck out (me, not you)

for some reason i've taken into my head to label all my posts to date.
it's tediously slow going and i fear it'll take weeks to complete. i've only got about a sixth done. but i've started, so...
i've no idea what prompts this somewhat OCD-leaning behaviour that comes over me. perhaps some part of me feels in need of order or categorisation.

summer is here in dublin. it's tee and flipflops warm. and sunny. which begs the question, why the bloody hell am i sitting at my laptop when i could be outside...?

off to find some compost for my pots and nasturtium seeds... hands deep in soil makes for good therapy and gentle ordering of the soul... after a week filled with people and conversation, my brain is full and i'm in need of solitude...

hoping it's sunny with you,


Thursday, May 28, 2009

tyra banks can bite me

yesterday turned out good. choppy internal seas calmed thanks to some writing and then lunch with jayne in which we concluded that hormones are a rollercoaster of shit and that the only solution is a good cry and some cake. drinks in muriel's followed (photo's below) with lovely folks, and then ikon Last Supper at The Roost.

it was a privilege. peterson shared poetry, an extended scene from doin' time in the homo nomo halfway house and a wonderful extract from a brand new project he's writing.

and then peterson's partner, glen retief, shared an incredible chapter from his memoir, the jack bank, which is due to be published in 2010. an equally powerful extract available here. their offerings left me speechless, shaken and stirred. amazing stuff.


which brings me to today...
my plan was to return to dublin this morning but instead i'm staying an extra night. am heading to QUB tonight for an event peterson's doing (details here), and looking forward to a final nightcap with P&G after.

and the morning has proved rather eventful...

i awoke to find my plan B for 2009 of applying to be on America's Next Top Model cycle 13 (all models under 5'7") is no longer necessary. which is a relief, since Celia was knocked out of cycle 12's final 4 for being "too old". at 20-fricking-5.

so this plan B is in the bin thanks to,
(1) getting notification from UCD that,
"The Graduate Board of the College of Human Sciences has approved your application for the MA Women’s Studies programme (full-time)...We hope you will accept the offer and look forward to seeing you here in September"

colour me saying, "i will."


(2) at the age of 35 and a 1/2, i'm now adding "cover girl" to my resume - *without* the help of the above mentioned ms banks. seventeen magazine?, i hear you ask. oprah magazine? french vogue? ms.? bitch? bust? national enquirer? fly fishing weekly? nope. Christian Century. details here on pete's blog. the article's actually an interview with pete but the cover makes for a kind of ikon where's wally? of familiar faces and silhouettes.

as of tomorrow i'm gonna follow in ms evangelista's footsteps and won't get out of bed for less than $10,000. i presume this means i need to purchase a cathater forthwith.


photos of some of the lovely folks of the week - sadly missing is a pic of steve lawson, who surprised us with a visit. he managed to convince me of the beauty and possiblity of twitter. and did so without the use of thumb screws. i usually don't get to see steve any other time than greenbelt so this made for an unexpected treat.

peterson and ian (mrs tumnus) strike a pose in muriel's...

LittleBird and Pád, my love...

The Father (our host for the week) and Glen sharing a lunchtime pint at The Nook,
before walking down to the Giant's Causeway on Monday...

right, i'm off to meet the rollins for lunch. which reminds me,

friday night, centaur, gb09. ikon will be committing theological arson. we is rubbing our collective and collaborative hands together gleefully at the plan that is coming together... we've now 3 months to do a Macgyver on it...


p.s. i'm really rather proud and admiring of fr tim bartlett for standing up for his convictions. tim's a nice guy, was very supportive of zero28 and i've seen him faced with some very difficult questions over the years in various fora. but none as difficult as last sunday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"terror is easier to face than confusion", he said

i've been reading the analysis of dick cheney's speech to the AEI last week. wondering at the horror of the torture committed in afghanistan, abu ghraib and guantanamo. at the attempts to justify it, deny it.

and feeling powerless despair. we call it inhumane. but it was humans who did it. authourised it. legal-eased it. and there seems nothing but silence with which to respond. wordless in the face of images indicting us with just how far we humans will go to prove our might, our power, our authority, our triumph over the will of another. and as we rob the other of their dignity, strip it, beat it, break it, we lose our own...

i think of my infant nephew and feel the conflict of welcoming him into this world. for there is goodness and beauty but there is so much else besides. so many whose lives are marked by sadness, pain, suffering, horror. for whom this place is hell. i see the images of naked men, hooded, taunted by dogs, leashed, bound, and i think of this tiny boy starting out on his journey and wonder at what he will make of this world. wondering at what his life will be for... and if we can only tell him and his sister that we are present to a kingdom of beauty if we look the other way....

i think of the persisting scandal in the british parliament threatening to topple a government and i think of the abuse of so many at the hands of the irish church, of mass rape and mutilation of girls in Africa, which ilke enhanced interrogation appears to threaten no one. i can't help but wonder that the expenses scandal is but distraction. and matters more to people because it came out of their pocket but does not affect their conscience. it's perhaps not ethic that drives us but (love of) money. ethic should not be found on a sliding scale but this seems disproportionately scandalous... perhaps we choose our outrage by what we are willing to face. by what we are willing to pay attention to.

and in truth i fear all this is little more than a distraction from other things more personal that are pressing in unexpectedly and rubbing at wounds i thought i'd moved past. i feel the all too familiar claustrophobia setting in and i've been struggling not to resort to counting the hours 'til i can run. retreat to safer soil and be away from the triggers currently setting off tiny explosions of grief. it's not funny how the total degradation of strangers never cuts quite as sharp as the mere slights of others against us. even the words and actions we choose to see as slights, whether intended as such or not. and usually not.

but it feels upsetting to feel oneself regressing and in need of retreat. especially when surrounded by lovely, beautiful people. and then grace comes in and i don't know what to do with it either. feeling close to the brink, with it all caught up in my chest, trying to mask the twist of feelings keeping me from breathing easy...

i got to be at tuesday group last night. the unexpected chance to see mo and lynn's soft smiles was balm. we sat and read tobit chapters 3 and 4. tobit and sarah both pray to YHWH to have their lives taken from them, believing it better to be dead than bear the insults of others. both pushed to the brink by scorn and shame. and like them, i pray. in tears. because sometimes tears are the best prayers we have next to silence. i pray perhaps not for death, but for release from shame and anger and hurt.

when i touch the tiny wooden cross at my throat, i think, this is what we do... and i am no different than the rest...


Sunday, May 24, 2009

lots of dark, tiny signs of light

bit of laundry list this. stuff that caught my eye and ear inbetween to-ing and fro-ing... i'd write more on what i've been thinking on all of this but the tops of my fore and middle fingers on my left hand had an accidental encounter with a razor blade and so typing is proving awkward.

from the daily dish:
i've gone back to this video several times. an arresting juxtaposition of happy people and angry voices...

li wei's amazing *not photoshopped* images:

After Wars, Mass Rape Exists an important highlighting of an issue that has had pitifully little attention given its severity. and a not uncontroversial report by Nicholas Kristof in the NYT of the same - the comments are provocative.

it's been a troubling week for being part of Christendom on this part of the world...
there's good coverage of the 'gay debate' at the Church of Scotland's general asssembly over at sunday sequence and william's blog, including the big question that now hangs over CofS's daughter church, the presbyterian church in ireland. none of it entices me to return to the fold of the denomination.

sunday sequence yesterday gave most of the programme, unsurprisingly, to the 3000 page report on child abuse in the Catholic church in ireland published last week. the debate: will there be justice for victims? made for powerful and at times deeply uncomfortable listening.

i had a job a few years back typing up statements from victims of abuse in church run institutions. i'm not sure there's ever going to be anything to say as adequate response to the horrific history brought unequivocally into the light. the challenge lies in what should be done, rather than said, in response. with two more reports yet to come this summer, the role of, and extent of power given to, the roman catholic church in irish society is now severely under question.

on a (perhaps, slightly) more positive note, william had a very interesting conversation with susie orbach last Sunday about her new book, Bodies. the interview is no longer there but there's an Observer review here.


Friday, May 22, 2009

snapshots from Edinburgh

my aunt Morag (on left) enjoying her 60th birthday did everyone else. that's 8:30pm, and the sun was beaming...

dinner started with Stornoway black pudding... the best i've ever tasted...
and ended with party favours... tablet. from DiRollo's. yum.

a glorious 2 hour dander through the botanical gardens...

i found a little piece of AZ in the glasshouse...

and hugged a tree in honour of my niece...

perfect haddock from Armstrongs of Stockbridge in The Orchard...

a grand couple of days was had...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

hit ||

i've been away for most of the past week (lovely first trip to belfast as a visitor since the move & then flew with family to edinburgh to celebrate my aunt's 60th), but it's been packed and i had little time for online things or time on my own.
i'm home for 48 hours and then heading up north again, namely to hang with my dear pal Peterson and do some ikon-ey stuff.

in this space inbetween i've a load of things on my to-do list needing attention and with it that over-caffeinated feeling that comes when there's a backlog of thoughts piling up in the back right hand corner of my skull that i've been wanting to reflect and write upon and not had the space...

needless to say, however, all is going pretty good, and so silence for the past week is simply down to the above and not because i've fallen down a dark well of... well, darkness.

colour me consciously hitting the pause button and aiming for the next 36 hours to be something other than rushed and containing some solitude so i can write those piled up things out of head and onto page.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


thought to be at least 35,000 years old, the oldest depiction of a human figure found to date... see bbc article for more


for celtic Irish and British versions, Sheela na Gigs - see here. there are over 100 known sheela na gigs around ireland.


mind-bendingly weird fact: i've just heard that if you gave everyone 2 square feet of space to stand you could fit the world population into County Roscommon. which i've just discovered is twinned with Tucson, Arizona. the only thing i can think they have in common is that neither has a shoreline. it certainly ain't the weather. still, if we were all to meet, probably best to choose Roscommon over Tucson, if only for the lack of cacti.

go figure.


"in a word: wrong"

Pádraig got my day off to a crying-with laughter-start by sharing Awkward Family Photos

it's a shame this site doesn't use categories like cake wrecks, but it's good for a laugh.
my top 3, which definitely need the tag, awkward:

(1) the sEARS family

(2) while the family watches

(3) the wonder years (warning: you may not want to look at this while your boss is around. or children. call your therapist. you'll be wanting an extra session. seriously. wrong.)

and yet, i doubt anyone will ever take our hearts like those Christian album covers have.

if i had a church, i'd use one of these covers each week for the front of the order of service.

if you fancy a quick one, you'll find Jay under the tent.

oh, and it turns out Nietzsche was wrong:

i think it's safe to assume, however, that "Liz" is.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collection of Stamps

can you help with a project?
my enthusiasm to do more of this decoupage but on a bigger scale (chest of drawers) is now limited by a much diminished stamp collection.
if you have,
(1) advice on where to find (cheaply!) loads of old stamps (either specific places or suggestions of generic places where they might turn up), or even better
(2) an old stamp collection* you or someone you know has and are not planning to do anything with and would be happy to give away, or,
(3) if you've got 15 secs on a daily basis to spare, start cutting stamps off your mail (they don't need to be removed from the envelope, a diagonal snip across the corner of the envelope, leaving the stamp intact will suffice) and keeping them in an envelope and posting them once the envelope is full, that'd also be very cool. it doesn't matter if the stamps seem uninteresting or you have lots of the same type.

gimme a shout on email or post in the comments below. if you don't have my email or postal address, leave a message in the comments and i'll work out a way of getting them to you. (i'm not a fan of posting my email address online and i certainly won't be advertising my snailmail address publicly.)
i'll cover postage if we can't work out a way to pass the stamps via hand in as few degrees of separation as possible.

i'm happy to add the stamps to the chest over a number of months so consider this an ongoing request.

i can't say there's much in this for you, except maybe a pint or cocktail if we are in the same place at the same time, but if you can help, you'll certainly have much gratitude from me, and you can pat yourself on the back for a nice thing done.

*if there's a Penny Black in the collection i'll be even more appreciative. ;)

small arms = big problem, big business, big damage

picked up over at the daily dish's Cool Ad Watch...

from The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) - the global movement against gun violence - a network of 800 civil society organisations working in 120 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW).


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

gay venture

every house move i've made, for as long as i can remember, my childhood stamp collection (a sizeable proportion of which i think i inherited from someone else, maybe my dad or some great aunt) has come with me with the express purpose of using the stamps to découpage.

i've had this wooden drawer unit (from ikea) for, i'm thinking, at least 7 years. it holds my stationery items. in my determination to be more organised there's now a drawer for jotter paper & post-it notes, one for paperclips, staplers & rubber bands, another for sharpeners & erasers and so on.
ever since i got this little unit, i planned that one day i'd get around to using those stamps i've been trawling about.

so, this evening, i *finally* got around to doing it. it still needs a few coat of clear varnish - it's currently got craft sealant over it but i want a smooth finish. having started out feeling a little irked and anxious for no real reason, whatever was irking and anxting me slipped away as i enjoyed a few simple hours listening to gareth and jett prattle away about films on their podcasts in the background while contentedly glueing stamps and thinking about absolutely nothing. i'm kinda pleased with how it turned out.

i'm now eyeing up a fairly ugly chest of drawers i've only held on to just so i could do this to them too...

i can't bear to recycle this album (from 1968), even though there's no stamps in it.
the lengthy blurb on the inside front cover opens with the immortal line,

Yes, a Gay Venture indeed for every enthusiast, for there is no more enthralling and exciting hobby than stamp collecting - the only one that can interest you whatever type of person you are!


Monday, May 11, 2009

when all your plan As are in one basket

after 7 hours huddled over the keyboard filling out a now submitted application to university i am left with nothing but
(1) tears of relief to have beaten the most !@£$%^& annoying online form i have ever had the despair of encountering,
(2) a smidgen of hope that i might get accepted,
(3) a big dollop of fear in my gut that i won't and i'll have to come up with a plan B, and
(4) a burning pain across my shoulder blades that only appear eased if i avoid standing up straight and stay at the laptop typing.

but it's not all knots of frustration...

i don't know why the weather report to the right says mostly cloudly because the sun has been shining brilliantly all day with only the wispiest clouds high above flitting by. it's made for a nice view from my desk.

and my day has been peppered with lovely back 'n'forth emails with lovely people, and some surprise messages too, all of which have made me smile and feel warm gratitude at knowing the kind of folks that drop you messages for no reason than to say, "hello" and send loving words out of the blue.

oh, and this morning i submitted a piece for the Queermergent blog (linked in the side bar over there --->). so that feels like another little achievement. it'll be published in a few weeks in two parts. i'd been struggling with it for weeks in belfast, but here at my desk looking out at the trees, my head seems mercifully less cluttered, and so tidying it up today came with refreshing ease.

right, i'm (hobbling like an 80 year old) off to my parentals' to be fed a fry up for tea and then it's into a scalding shower for me to try and work out these knots.

oh, and universe, if you should have a plan B in mind for this autumn, make it a good 'un please. i've done the best i can manage with plan A and i sure don't have an alternative waiting up my sleeve...


Sunday, May 10, 2009

indigo hosannas

this poem from today's writer's almanac reminded me of the garden at the degrazia gallery/house in tucson. adoring love drips from the page... timeless, dazzling devotion...

Wind chimes ping and tangle on the patio.
In gusty winds this wild, sparrow hawks hover
and bob, always the crash of indigo
hosannas dangling on strings. My wife ties copper
to turquoise from deserts, and bits of steel
from engines I tear down. She strings them all
like laces of babies' shoes when the squeal
of their play made joyful noise in the hall.

Her voice is more modest than moonlight,
like pearl drops she wears in her lobes.
My hands find the face of my bride.
I stretch her skin smooth and see bone.
Our children bring children to bless her, her face
more weathered than mine. What matters
is timeless, dazzling devotion—not rain,
not Eden gardenias, but cactus in drought,
not just moons of deep sleep, not sunlight or stars,
not the blue, but the darkness beyond.

- "The Waltz We Were Born For" by Walt McDonald, from Blessings the Body Gave. © Ohio State University Press, 1998.

love was never meant to be restrained or reserved... at least not to a 4 like me. i wonder if mcdonald is a 4... seeing beauty in the darkness beyond...


Saturday, May 09, 2009

same story

the screen-saver scoops up photographs and creates a mosaic. and as the images multiply, they combine to become yet another photograph - an image of my little nephew, minutes old. swirls of red paint i made last summer with my right hand colour his florid cheek, sylvia meets jonah charging in the bend of his arm... and a favourite moment of you, laughing with head thrown back, melts deep into the black of his eye...

Even if I were to stretch this letter out, God forbid, to a thousand pages, would I ever be able to convey my full story to you? I suspect the answer is no. I suspect that our stories in their fullness will always be hidden from each other and that all those whiskered old men and bonneted old women looking out at us from their photographs in the family album will always remain mysteries to us even if, like me, they happen to have written their memoirs. And yet I believe that all is not lost. Maybe we can never know each other's stories in their fullness, but I believe we can know them in their depth for the reason that in their depth we all have the same story.

Whether we're rich or poor, male or female, a nineteenth-century Swiss jeweler like Isaac Golay in his oversized frock coat, or a twentieth-century American clergyman like me with a penchant for writing books, or a young squirt celebrating his twenty-first birthday in the twenty-first century like you, our stories are all stories of searching. We search for a good self to be and for good work to do. We search to become human in a world that tempts us always to be less than human or looks to us to be more. We search to love and be loved. And in a world where it is often hard to believe in much of anything, we search to beleive in something holy and beautiful and life-transcending that will give meaning and purpose to the lives we live.

- from letter to benjamin, by frederick buechner, in the longing for home (1996)

all witnesses to one another's becoming... it was never your destination i cared about, just as i've long since forgotten the punchline. your laughter made the air vibrate...
i watch you in the transformation...


spritz me, baby

my kind of art installation. or is that art asphyxiation?

i feel a little light headed at the mere thought...

a *cloud* of Hendricks and tonic


Friday, May 08, 2009

my brother

for my bruvver,
with love and congratulations. i think this was on the infamous "All Aboard" kids' compilation album.
regardless, ewan and i used to love singing along to this.


big sister, little brother


i hope Lochlann will be as much of a blessing to Sequoia as Ewan has been, and continues to be, to me.


getting there 2...

i've no art work up*, i'm a couple of bookcases short, i've not started on the deck, the windows aren't cleaned and "jayne's room" is still to be sorted, but the bathroom is spotless (thanks to bleach and an electric toothbrush) and there's food in the kitchen cupboards. so until the bookcases and art get here, the unpacking and sorting is on pause. so far so good. phew. LB

*bar the jonny mcewen above the mantlepiece but that's in a category all of its own.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lochlann... :)

welcome nephew

finally, he has arrived!! Miriam went to the hospital in Toronto at around 11pm last night and delivered baby Lochlann at 2.15am . 8lb9oz with light brown hair.
Miriam and baby are doing well so far and Ewan says his son is, "so beautiful" and, "very cute". he spent his first few hours in the world feeding and sleeping on his parents' chests. if they get the all clear they'll go home Friday morning and Lochlann will get to meet his big sister.

photos to follow when Ewan's had a nap. i can't wait.

hurray. what a blessing.


Monday, May 04, 2009

" "

there's a nice story to go with this but i've been scrubbing the kitchen most of the day and now with some pints in me i'm ready to drop. so, in the meantime, if you want some good (really good) music out of nashville, check out Quote. also here for their latest multimedia project.

i met half of the duo tonight and he, justin, was good people. more on it all and other good music sent my way over the weekend once i've slept.

thanks to julie lee for sorting my first night out in dublin. good loving work from over 3,000 miles away, sister.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

how to make a new home. with update.

here's the recipe.

1. take all, well, nearly all (as many as will fit in a van) of your worldly goods...

(foto taken yesterday evening by jayne, before the hardest of the "see you soons", which had me crying all the way to the border...)

2. open apartment. make inventory of,
a) furniture provided (marvel at ugliness of lounge furniture. make mental note to find throws and cushions at nearest opportunity)
b) kitchenware provided by landlord that one plans to put away in a box for duration of lease,ie. every single bit of it (while saying, i wouldn't eat off/drink out of/cook with that if you effing well paid me. )
c) miscellaneous crap found in cupboards
d) damage, broken things.

3. stir in insulting names for the previous tenants, who clearly had better things to do than clean. think up further insulting names for the supposedly professional cleaner who supposedly cleaned flat after aforementioned unhygennic messy scumbags vacated premises.
optional: curse previous tenants for removing lightbulbs.

4. take fotos for jayne et al to see.

the hall:

the main bathroom:

"jayne's room" aka the guest room:

as above, with shower room:

i could lie and say i'm being a generous host by letting my jayne and any other guests have the en-suite, but in truth
i'm taking the 2nd and only fractionally smaller room, because,
a. i may end up getting a flatmate to split the rent, and if they have the en suite, i get to have the main bathroom, with BATH, for me.
b. i didn't fancy sleeping between "his 'n' hers" wardrobes.

my room:

my room:


kitchen (taken from dining area) containing miscellaneous shite provided by landlord/former scumerators:

lounge, looking toward dining area/kitchen:

5. add all ingredients from van to flat.
6. empty boxes
7. don rubber gloves and proceed to scrub, hoover, wash, polish, wipe. (may take several days.)
8. arrange to suit taste.

i'm currently at no 6 and have emptied 13 & 1/2 boxes already.
more pics to follow once it's all out of the oven...


a hard lesson...

last night i talked to my bro on skype, (birth watch update: still no sign of baby no.2 but all is well.) my 25 month old niece was looking through the banisters that lead from den up to kitchen and displaying her counting skills. on reaching 12, which impressed me no end, she disappeared screen left up the steps and then promptly came tumbling back into view head over heels on hard wood in a downward trajectory and exited screen right, where she came to a sudden halt on the tile floor at the bottom of the stairs. needless to say, my visit was cut short to the sound of tears, although i don't believe any lasting damage occurred. but if she grows up disliking maths, we know why. counting and keeping balance are big jobs when you're small.

sunday update: still no baby no.2. and sequoia's only damage is a small bruise on her foot. my brother checked that she can still count to 14. she can. he took this to be a good sign.
it never ceases to amaze me that the human body, especially the skeleton, evolved in such a way that at the very time when we are learning to master control of its movement, is capable of surviving these "accidents" relatively unscathed. that said, i'm not sure i want another skype visit involving quite such dramatic live streaming. next time, i want to see my neice on a chair. the use of duct tape is optional.