Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The light is returning. Part 1

Since the Winter Solstice on Friday, the light is returning in the Northern Hemisphere. We entered the depths of Winter gradually leading up to December 21st--The Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. December 21st was also the end of the Mayan Calendar. It was an auspicious day and I was aware of the 9 day portal from 12.12.12 leading up to 12.21.12. For me personally, I've been on a conscious personal spiritual path since my early 20's. I have an Earth based practice, yet my spirituality can best be expressed in the image of a house. My Earth based practice is the foundation. Yet, there are many rooms in this house. One room honors my ancestors, lineage, and culture as a Jewish person, one room is a Pagan/Wicca room, another is a Quaker room, a Unitarian-Universalist room, a Buddhist room, Anthroposophical room, etc. I glean from different philosophies, ideas, books, articles, teachers, and paths that I resonate with and have studied. There is an expression, that many different paths lead to the top of the mountain. The spirit is infinite, eternal, continuous, expansive. Beyond definition and words. I cannot sum up my spirituality in a patch-work way. The spirit, my spirit is uncontained, undefined, infinite, and joyous. The house metaphor works well to express my feelings in a concrete, tangible way to readers such as yourself.

As a child and adolescent my parents, sister, and I went to the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Fresno for several years. I enjoyed the Sunday school classes, especially when my group met in a yurt for our lessons. I was exposed to the teachings of Gandhi and other lessons that I enjoyed learning. As a child, my Sister Isa and I had the opportunity to go to Camp Celo in North Carolina for several summers. Camp Celo is a Quaker camp in the Celo Community. On Sundays, we would walk through the beautiful, lush woods to a little wood cabin to attend the Friends Quaker Meeting. We all sat in silence and then eventually sang songs together. I had a choice at the age of 12 to either continue to go to the Unitarian Church youth group or to go to Temple Beth Israel's Sunday school class. I really enjoyed meeting in the yurt at the Unitarian Church, yet I decided to go to the Sunday School class at Temple Beth Israel to learn about Judaism and to connect to my Jewish roots and lineage. All of the other teenagers in the class at Temple Beth Israel had known each other since they were in Kindergarten or first grade. It took some time to warm up to my peers in the class, yet I enjoyed the lessons, especially classes with Margie Barks (Bless her heart). Margie was a wonderful teacher and I learned so much about Jewish history, stories, and culture from her. The teenage boys in the class gave her such a tough time though. I continued taking Sunday school classes at Temple Beth Israel until the end of 10th grade when I was in High School. I was involved in the youth group at Temple Beth Israel as well. During the summer when I was 16, I went on the L'dor V'dor NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth. It's the Reform Jewish teen national youth group. I'm grateful to my Mom for encouraging me to go to Israel and gifting me the opportunity to do so! Thanks Mom, you are wonderful!

The NFTY trip began in Prague, The Czech Republic. We were there for several days. I was with a group of Jewish teenagers from all over the country. I think there were around 30-40 of us. I didn't know anyone. I did fly with a few of the California teens to NYC before we flew to Prague. When I was 16, that was the first time that I had travelled internationally. Traveling to Prague was my first trip to Europe and I was excited. I remember really missing my dance classes though. When I was a teenager I danced 20 hours a week at the Dance Studio in Fresno. That was my main creative outlet and I was dedicated to it! I worked very hard in all of my dance classes and usually I was completely covered in sweat by the end of the evening. I studied Classical Ballet, Modern Dance, Jazz, and Tap. I was in excellent physical shape. Dance was my passion as a teenager. One of the adult guides/leaders asked me what was wrong on the bus in Prague. I said I missed my dance classes. Upon writing that and reflecting I think it's endearing how much I missed my dance schedule.

I did enjoy Prague. I was majorly jet-lagged, though. One of my highlights was seeing the Jewish Cemetary in Prague and going to a very old and beautiful Synagogue. It was a heavy trip. We travelled outside of Prague to visit the theresienstadt concentration camp. That was intense, to say the least. It had a huge impact on me as a teenager. I went through a period of several years from age 11-14 where most of what I read were books and stories about the Holocaust and WW2. We also visited a castle where I learned about defenestration. It means to throw someone or something out of a window. That term amused a lot of the teenagers in the group.

After leaving Prague, we flew to Istanbul, Turkey. The plan was originally to fly to Crete to take a boat to enact the Exodus. The intended arrival to Israel was by boat. Yet, we were told that the boat broke down and needed repairs. Thus, we all got on a plane not knowing where we were going until we landed in Istanbul, Turkey. I didn't have much of an opportunity to explore Istanbul. We did go to a few places and museums. I remember an underground palace and visiting several mosques. One of the highlights was traveling in a boat along the Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait. It borders Europe and Asia. As a teenager, I thought that it was amazing to boat on the waters of the Bosphorus bordering two continents. The views were amazing.

Israel was amazing! The land is so beautiful. I will save my experiences that I had when I was there for a month and a half for the next blog entry! Thank you for reading!

Holiday warmth and light!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bay Area rain storms and my most recent Clovis visit

Another rain storm is here. The rain continues to fall and I enjoy the sound of the water. I find it soothing. It feels like a Bay Area monsoon. During this past weekend I went to Tilden park to go on a muddy hike with a new friend. The loop trail that I usually hike on was obstructed by torrents of water! Usually, there is a gentle stream that I cross over before I hike up the hill to continue on the trail. There was no possible way that I was going to attempt to cross the torrent of fast moving muddy waters from the recent rain storms.

There is a second trail that I knew about at Tilden. It was a level, even keeled hike or more like a nature walk. Near the nature center there was a sign that said that a mountain lion was sighted earlier that day. The fresh air felt wonderful and I enjoyed stomping around on the muddy trail with my rain boots. I enjoyed hearing the sounds of the running water in streams that had become rivers.

Oh, life! So much has been happening and I've been busy, indeed. I've been acclimating back to my life in the Bay Area since my visit to Clovis for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was there for 6 days. Which, is the longest that I've been in Clovis since before I moved to the Bay Area, three and a half years ago. My sister Isa travelled up from La Jolla and I hadn't seen her in over two years. It was the first time since I was in high school that only my immediate family, my parents, sister, and I were all together for a holiday. That was really special. Isa is the mother of two children; Chloe and Lily. Isa's ex-husband had the girls this year for Thanksgiving. During past holidays Isa was with her husband, before that a boyfriend, her children were present, or other family members were invited over. It was very interesting indeed, how for Thanksgiving 2012, our paths aligned again so that the immediate Duarte family could be re-united. My intention was to be present and enjoy everyone's company during my Clovis visit.

Isa had not seen me since before I had begun testosterone. I aimed to be present, to go with the flow, enjoy food, and appreciate time with my family of origin. It wasn't the visit to bring up questions or a conversation about my trans themes and experiences. Most of the time, when I speak I feel inspired to do so. Themes and experiences arise when I feel called to express them. If I feel that the listener is ready to engage in a conversation of respect, reciprocity, and has the presence and energy to do so, I will express my experiences and how I feel. I wonder what her impression of me was? What is her process in regards to me right now? These are areas that I do not know. Those conversations did not happen at the most recent visit and that is okay. I feel that they will arise when Isa is ready to listen and is interested in a conversation of reciprocity, compassion, and understanding.

It is interesting. My process has been that usually, I intend to initiate healing conversations--to talk about prior experiences, conversations, and situations to heal them. Yet, for healing conversations, mutual understanding, and awareness to occur, I feel that both people have to be interested, willing, and present with each other to carve out the time for emotional depth and these conversations. From my experience, there needs to be mutual interest. This is the reason that during my prior visit, I intended to simply be, enjoy food, and enjoy everyone's company. Rather than the expectation to have these healing conversations occur. If and when these meaningful conversations of depth and healing arise my questions will be answered. My trans themes and experiences, especially the past two and a half years on testosterone were not even mentioned or a part of the conversation or interactions. The only question that I asked Isa was if she liked my ginger beard. She said that she did.

May I continue to focus upon what I appreciate about those who are in my life. May I continue to express my personal truth, experiences, thoughts, and feelings with compassion and love. May I have the courage to express constructive feedback when it is the time to do so. May all beings speak with compassion and love.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rainy Days Are Conducive To The Creative Spirit

I have been enjoying the rain in the SF Bay Area. It is conducive for me, my creative work, and my current inward feeling of soul. Today I feel contemplative, like resting, writing, reading, or watching a movie. I would like to go on a hike off of highway 13 on a trail at Joaquin Miller State Park in the Oakland hills. It's one of my favorite hiking trails in the East Bay. I hike on a loop trail that takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to hike. There is a spot amidst the Redwood trees and rocks where I like to sit and simply be at the beginning of the hike. It is off of the trail and it's a comforting spot. One of my special natural areas that I go to regularly. A space/place like that is comforting and grounding for me. I enjoy being in areas that are familiar for me and also exploring and discovering new trails and natural areas. I like the consistency, safety, and comforting feeling--like a familiar kind of tea to enjoy when that is what I need. Yet, variety is the spice of life. I definitely enjoy new adventures and spontaneity. The dichotomy between comfort, what is known and consistent with newness, variety, the unknown, and adventures is what I intend to balance.

Balance in all aspects of my life is in continual motion. There is no possible way for me to grasp a tangible hold of it. It is moving, flowing, and this movement is life. My creative work, my thesis is moving along at an organic and sustainable pace. I am learning a lot about my creative process as an artist/filmmaker. It is a helpful reminder for me to trust in my creative process. How I work, live, and am in the world, is guided by my intuition and my inner knowing. Recently, clarity arose around my time-line for my thesis. It has its own time-line and I'm attending to the project and guiding it along. Currently, I'm working on the performance of the poem. I am utilizing the tools and skills that I learned in the Directing class that I took with Scott Boswell two years ago in the MFA program. Judith Weston's book has been helpful and useful to remind myself of active verbs when going over each line of the poem for Change Over Time. I'm working on figuring out how to perform this poem. Change Over Time is a process piece. The film is based on time--a year of my life. I intended to plough through my project so that I could finish it as soon as possible. Yet, my film is like a creative pregnancy and I feel pregnant with my creative work. This view and perspective of my creative work is in alignment with the organic and natural pace of the Earth, the seasons, and thus natural timing. From what I've experienced many creative time-lines and dead-lines are based on productivity and capitalistic modes of production. There is such an emphasis on product rather than process. Every creative person has their own style of working and structure. Through the thesis process, I've been discovering and clarifying mine.

I am interested in the creative process. There is so much to learn through this journey, during each phase and stage of the filmmaking process. Films for me, regardless of the length have their own time-line. Once a script is well developed and funding is in place, a narrative film can be sped through at a fast pace. A documentary, a personal film, animation, or experimental work may take longer. In reference to my thesis, I feel it does take longer. This is one reason that I feel it is helpful and useful for me to have short-term creative projects that I do regularly and a long-term project, such as Change Over Time that I continue to work on consistently. Short term projects for one being this blog, writing in my journal, drawing, cooking projects, gardening, etc. Any project that is creative, where I flex my creative muscles, and have a consistent practice is important. I feel that any short-term creative project or pursuit is beneficial and nurturing to long-term creative projects. For example, cooking a delicious and nourishing meal is creative, full of discovery, and is satisfying to me on many levels. For one, I have a connection and intimacy with my food and I'm nourishing my physical body. I enjoy the creative process of chopping up vegetables, experiencing the different colors, smells, tastes--all of those sense perceptions are wonderful and soothing to me.

I've been living with the question(s) before I began the MFA Cinema graduate program at S.F. State and continue to live with my questions. I'm at the cusp end of graduate school and on the bridge as an emerging professional. The questions of what areas of filmmaking to focus upon? Yes to, creative development, writing, directing, and producing. Yet, what technical skills to focus upon so that I can promote filmmaking skills that are marketable? A week ago, clarity arose for me during my appointment with my friend/facilitator Riza Baker. I have some clarity of areas to focus upon in regards to services that I can provide to filmmakers/creative professionals. What brought me to film/media overall, is that I am a storyteller and I love stories. That is the nucleus and core of my passion for filmmaking. My tools and skills of having a discerning eye and awareness of the overall vision, the big gestalt of a project are gifts that I have and can contribute to the overall story. Thus, I intend to focus and hone my tools and skills to gain experience as a story consultant. Also, I aim to be a creative coach for film/media makers and other creative professionals.

What excites me about the idea of being a story consultant and creative coach, is that I can contribute and express my creative and spiritual selves in both of those capacities.
Spiritual and personal growth skills such as compassionate communication, co-counseling, mirroring, meditation, intuitive guidance, etc. I feel excited and happy that I have this clarity. I do enjoy the collaborative process of filmmaking. I intend to also work and do other areas of film/media work such as editing, being an assistant director on projects, etc. for work. I also like the idea of working at a resonant film/media production company in the SF Bay Area. Working on documentaries and resonant narrative projects. These are my ideas that I'm mulling over and continuing to question/ponder on my journey.

These are my thoughts as I continue to carve my unique creative path, living in the SF Bay Area. I'm doing my best to be present, to take one step at a time, to trust in myself and the path that I am on. The only certainty I have is in the present moment. The only real known is what I have experienced, in the past. I'm continually stepping out into the unknown, exploring, being, experiencing as a creative being. Discovering and truly living. Feeling alive and proactive in my life. Balancing stepping forth into the unknown, with the comfort of the loop trail at Joaquin Miller State Park. Especially, the Redwood grove off of the trail. That familiar comfort, safety, and groundedness of that area is nourishing to me. That area is one of my sanctuaries in the Bay Area of familiarity and what is known. Like a familiar cup of tea, sometimes it is what I need during these times of accelerated and rapid change.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Life is for the living

I recently went on a short walk to look at the waning moon and to see Jupiter just above the moon. Jupiter is clearly visible tonight. My mom sent me an email today with an image of the moon and Jupiter. It's a bright planet in the night sky. I don't remember the last time that I gazed at Jupiter or if I've ever intentionally went on a walk to look at it. I am feeling the inward pull during the beginning of the darkest half of the year. This is a time of regeneration, renewal, and to recharge. A time to turn inward, the summertime of the soul, which is a line for this week in the Calendar of the Soul by Rudolph Steiner. Here is the whole verse for October 27th-November 2nd

Thinking's fruits spring ripened in the sun
That shines within the soul;
Into the certainty of self-awareness
All feeling now is changed.
And I can sense with joy the wakening
Of Autumn's spirit;
Winter will arouse in me
The summer of the soul.

-Rudolph Steiner

The verse was translated from German. Some of the translations in some of the verses sound awkward at times to me. Nonetheless, I like to recite the verses out loud with intentionality and presence.

I really like the last line, Winter will arouse in me, the summer of the soul. The Autumn/Winter time-the darkest half of the year is a time of soul richness for me. I intend to carve out time to be, contemplate, and to honor this natural inwardness. Yet, it is a balance for me living in the hustle, bustle of the SF Bay Area. There is always a lot to do! Yet, simply being intentional several evenings a week to carve out this time is possible. I intend to do my best to balance my work, rest, and play--to experience the soul richness of the season.

I've been thinking a lot about my ancestors. No surprise since the veil between the worlds is very thin right now. During Samhain and El Dia De Los Muertos, the Day Of The Dead it is a wonderful and auspicious time to re-connect in thought, feeling, memory, reading out loud to the dead, meditating, ritual--solo or in community (the Spiral Dance), through art, making altars, etc. This is the time of year to honor and to remember our beloved dead and ancestors.

I am a quarter German, a quarter Chicano (that is always a surprise to people), and half Eastern European Ashkenazi/Sephardic Jewish. My mother's side of the family is from Russian/Romania. Her parents were first generation Jewish-Americans and both were born in NYC. My grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bernie. From NYC, they moved to Miami Beach, Florida. My mother was born in Miami Beach. Aunt Heidi and Uncle Joel were born in Miami, Florida.

My Dad Mark is half German and half Chicano. His father, Ruben, my grandpa is Chicano. Nani, my Dad's mom is German-American. My great-grandpa Duarte, my Dad's grandpa fled Mexico during the Mexican Revolution and traveled to California. He settled in Fresno, CA. Thus, I'm the 4th generation from Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.

I've been thinking and feeling a lot about my Grandparents, Bernie and Shirley. They both passed away when I was a child. My Grandpa Bernie passed away from Melanoma when I was 6 or 7 years old. My Grandpa Shirley passed away when I was 10. I remember my Mother grieving immensely during those years.

I remember going to the Sierras with my Mom, Dad, Uncle Joel, and I'm not sure if Aunt Heidi was there or not. We went to the Sierra mountains, East of Fresno to the foothills. We went on a hike and scattered Grandpa Bernie's and Grandma Shirley's ashes around a tree. I remember seeing a pensive photo of my Dad and I that my mom or another person took. It was a great picture and in a frame. My Dad with his hand on my shoulder. I had red hair down to my shoulders and a pink Lands End jacket on.

I remember when my Grandma Shirley died, Isa--my sister and I were allowed to accompany my parents this time to Miami Beach, Florida. When Grandpa Bernie died, Isa and stayed behind in Fresno. My grandparents were political activists and often were philanthropists to causes that they believed in. I remember being in my Grandma's house in Miami Beach. The doorbell rang and I answered the door. A sanguine and upbeat woman stood there smiling and asked if Shirley Hutner was there. I said, no, she was dead. The woman's face turned into a look of horror. She became emotional. My mother stepped in to explain that Shirley had recently passed away. I remember the house in Miami Beach. There was a mini-tropical storm that blew off a part of the roof. Uncle Joel went to get fresh carrot juice someplace close by and I accompanied him. Fragments of memories like scrap pieces of paper. I want to remember. I want to remember it all exactly as it happened from my perception, my awareness, from my life. It was at Shirley's remembrance ceremony, I spoke in front of everyone and said what I would miss most about my Grandma. I know that this is definitely on a VHS tape. I recently went to Clovis to visit my parents and I helped my Dad sort through boxes in the garage. We found a box of VHS tapes. I will definitely transfer this tape to DVD. I know that it will be illuminating for me to see.

During the Spiral Dance this past weekend, I thought about my Grandparents. During Samhain yesterday in my meditation, I communed with my grandparents. What I enjoy most about being human is being embodied. I enjoy cooking and eating delicious, nourishing, and yummy food. Food is love! I enjoy thoughtful, heart-felt conversation, all of my sense perceptions, colors, textures, landscapes, the Earth and all of the elements. I enjoy being alive and I am grateful for my life. Recently, I've been so aware and feeling so poignantly that it almost hurts how ephemeral life truly is. The loss and letting go of my childhood/adolescent maroon, Pearl Export Series drum-set! It was a dream come true! I played on it for years. I loved and still love that drum-set. Yet, in my life right now I do not have the space nor commitment to devote to this beautiful kit. Thus, I am letting it go. Releasing it, passing it on so that another drummer can enjoy it and appreciate it as much as I did. All of these little deaths or big deaths. All of the completions, endings, conclusions. It all just adds up in the chapters of my life.

The releasing, the letting go, the endings. The loss of friendships, romantic relationships--those that concluded on their own. Some were successful and lived their time-line and life-span. Others felt unfair or short lived in duration. We each have the day and the night. Letting go of dreams fulfilled, dreams lived. A cabin at Huntington Lake, a drum-set, the lives of my ancestors, my Grandparents, my childhood, teenage years, early twenties, and entire twenties, the completion of chapters of my life. Letting go of Rachel and integrating her, letting go of Pre-T Ewan and integrating him, becoming who I am now. Wearing different clothes and shedding them like snake skins throughout the years. Always learning and growing older in temporal time. Simply being. All that I truly have is the present moment. Is this moment. As I go through books and make piles of what to keep and what to give away, it is difficult for me. This attachment, these attachments. Yet, all of us will ultimately need to let go of our bodies, of our lives. To surrender when it is our time to go. Thus, giving back to the Earth so much of what she has provided for us as living beings.

Life-Death-Re-birth. The circle, the cycle, the seasons, the day shifting into night, it continues. What a process. Life. I feel so blessed, so grateful for electricity, for heat, for clean water, for food, for a stable housing situation, to be on my path, for work, for the area that I live in. So many people on the East Coast do not have these necessities right now. My prayers and intentions and thoughts go out to them. Friends, family, humanity. May all beings have their basic needs met, receive the holistic support that they need, survive and thrive.

I do miss my grandparents. If I had a time-machine or if they could be embodied in their physical form I would love to have a delicious meal with them, a wonderful conversation, to take a walk in a beautiful natural area, or to go to an art/music/cultural event with them. I'm grateful for my bones. My bones remind me of my ancestors, my family tree, my connection to the Earth. To know one's roots is to know parts of oneself. I intend to begin to do research on the life of my Grandma Shirley. I feel called to make a movie about her. I feel that it will be an enriching process of discovery for me to interview her friends who are still alive and family members about her life and who she was.

Thank you for reading,


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Natural Life-Cycles and Rhythms of the Seasons

It's been a beautiful and warm Autumn day in the East Bay. Today, I've been working from home. I enjoyed eating in the backyard, feeling the warmth of the sun, and being near my tomato plants. The tomato plants are near the end of their life-cycle. I was feeling a bit sad as I watered them today. I purchased the compost/soil, procured all three plants as seedlings, have witnessed their growth, harvested several times hand-fulls of beautiful fruit, and now as I continue to prune the deadening leaves on the stocks, I'm aware of the life-cycles of my tomato plants.

It is a beautiful reminder from the organic, natural world of the natural rhythms and pace of life. What in your life is close to the end of its natural cycle? What still has unripened fruit that will come to maturity, yet what needs letting go of? What are your intentions? What would you like to grow in your life? There was a potent new moon in Libra on Monday. The new moon is a superb time to write and ground one's clear, direct intentions for what one wants to cultivate and grow in one's life.

I have learned quite a bit from these tomato plants. As I reflect, I can connect periods of my life to their season of ripeness, juiciness, and bountiful fruitful harvest when the plants were at their peak of growth and fruition. I am currently sifting through the layers and laying to compost what I have experienced in my life's most recent chapter. I am being present in the process and letting go of what I no longer need. Writing it out, laying it to rest. Writing on papers, then burning them in the fire pit. Pouring water above the ashes. Thus, recycling the energy of what I have experienced, gleaning the experience, wisdom, and filling up my soul container, and releasing what I no longer need. It's a process of digestion. How often do people in busy, urban areas carve out the time to allow for digestion of life's most recent experiences and lessons?

I've been feeling rather inward and contemplative. Having a cold for a couple of weeks allowed me to rest. On the topic of natural life cycles this definitely pertains to my thesis film, Change Over Time. I thought and felt that I could plough through this film this year. I spent last year beginning to work on it. That is not including keeping meticulous track of my inner life and experiences in my journals and audio recordings. The film for me began to take off during the Fall of 2011 when I took my first animation class with Martha Goryzki. I feel that this project is moving at an organic pace. Like the time it takes plants or trees to grow. I don't feel that I can rush it.

I feel and know that I move and live at an organic pace that aligns with the rhythms and pace of the natural world. I feel the conflict of living in a capitalist, industrial structured and based society that moves at an alacritous pace and doesn't honor nor live in balance with the natural rhythms and cycles of life. It is challenging for me as a creative being and artist to live in a culture and society that for the most part, I do not resonate with. Ideally, I would love to have time to focus on my creativity, art, writing, and film and to live a sustainable life. Finding a balance between providing for myself through working and having time and energies to devote to my creative work. I want to honor the natural pace and life cycles of my art work and film projects. Thus, my thesis film may be finished by Spring 2013 or the Fall of 2013. I am avidly working on it and committed to doing the best that I can, while learning so many lessons along the way. Indeed! I look forward to continuing to share my musings and journey with those that read and enjoy my blog. Be well!


p.s. The post-cards at the bottom of the page are for the Trans Post Project that will be in the William Way LGBT Community Center Gallery in Philadelphia in the next month or so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It's October, a new month and I'm getting over a cold. Two of my housemates were previously ill before me. A lot of friends and folks in my communities have had autumnal colds as well. As I sit down to write, it's like sifting through leaves on the sidewalk. Feeling the heat of the Bay Area heat-wave and then feeling the coolness of the breeze and the fog that has rolled in--greying the sky above the East Bay.

When I wake up in the morning, I want to focus on the day. To be present. To be aware of all of the movement that flows in my life. The movement that seems mundane, yet without rhythm, the practicalities, and the so-called mundane that is so human what would get done? Intentionally making my bed, drawing back the curtains to greet the morning light, sometimes seeing a squirrel on top of the fence post outside of my window, brushing my teeth, preparing hot water for tea, enjoying breakfast in the garden. Being present of the slight and gradual shifts of the early Autumn season in my back-yard. I often hear apples fall from the green apple tree in the back-yard while I eat my breakfast. Amelia harvested a bunch of apples and she left the ladder out near the tree. I, too climbed up the ladder and picked a small bag full of green apples. I intend to prepare apple sauce with them, which will be a first for me.

I harvested three beautiful tomatoes from my tomato plants today. This was my third or fourth tomato harvest. There are still more green and orange tomatoes! It's amazing to me how much fruit these three plants have produced. I notice the subtle changes in the plants. The different coloration of leaves on the trees in the backyard. As I am in touch with the seasons, the shifts of the calendar of the year this connects with the shifts and changes in my inner life, in my soul. In my intentional release and letting go, I feel cleansed and inwardly purified in a sense. This letting go--creating a list of what is no longer serving me and intentionally, letting it go is like the leaves falling from the giant oak trees or other lovely deciduous trees. During the Autumnal Equinox, I wrote a list several pages in length of everything that I'm grateful for. I also wrote a list of my new intentions.

Laying low and resting while getting over this cold I have had an opportunity to rest and process more than I've had in a long while. It almost feels foreign to me, yet much needed. My life is active, busy, and full. I intentionally carve out the time to go on walks around my neighborhood, carve out time to be present in the morning at least a few times a week depending on my schedule, intentionally carve out the time for a few long meditations every week, rather than short ones. I have had an opportunity to simply be and rest which is and was necessary. Living in the Bay Area, I want to balance work, play, and rest. No easy feat for an active and busy person. These pauses and intentionally carved out moments for a cup of hot tea, a walk, meditation, writing, contemplation--all of it recharges me and makes me feel balanced and human.

On the fun note: If any Bay Area friends want to take a short break from their studies or meet after or before work to toss a frisbee back and forth at Ohlone Park or another park in Berkeley, let me know! I've lived in the Bay Area for three years and I haven't played frisbee since I first moved here. This is one activity that I would like to carve out some occasional time for. The frisbee that I have glows in the dark (for a short duration) and has an alien on it.

Be well!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumnal shift and the Jewish New Year

Today I've been feeling in a very creative mood. I harvested a handful of tomatoes from my plants last week and I harvested another handful today. I wanted to make something special with the tomatoes that I grew in my garden; the plants that I showered with my love and attention. My housemates and I receive weekly produce from a CSA. Our produce box comes from Full Belly Farm, a local organic farm in the Capay Valley in Northern California.

I felt inspired to prepare a meal today with the tomatoes. What arose in my mind was to prepare an eggplant and tomato dish. This week, we received two medium sized eggplants in our produce box. I cut up one eggplant. I put olive oil on a large pan and sprinkled thyme and rosemary that I'm growing in the garden on each piece of eggplant. Then I cut up some Irish Dubliner Cheese and placed thin slices on each piece of eggplant. I cut up a handful of the lovely tomatoes that my plants grew. I placed the tomatoes on top of the cheese. I added some garlic salt and pepper on top. I cut up two small bell peppers from the CSA box as well. Then I placed the dish in the oven for 30-45 minutes. The before and after pictures are below.

The dish is a meal of love. For me, food is love. That is what my mother and Jewish cultural background taught me. It's amazing to me the connection that I had with the meal that I just enjoyed. I ate every bite slowly and it was so flavorful and delicious! The thyme, rosemary, and tomatoes are from my garden. The bell peppers and eggplant from Full Belly Farm. The Dubliner cheese from Ireland. Well, I had a connection to a majority of the meal except for the Dubliner cheese. When I travel to Ireland one day and if I visit the farm with the dairy cows and creamery, then I will have more of a connection to the cheese that I just ate. Dubliner cheese is one of my favorites, I love the sharp Chedder. I have plenty more of this delicious meal to enjoy for left-overs.

I'm grateful to have a connection to my food. I enjoy the process of gardening and growing some of my own herbs and plants. This is one aspect where I feel and honor my connection to the Earth and Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water). There is intimacy in growing one's own food. It's also a process of discovery and attunement with the rhythms and cycles of nature. As well as the process from seed, to sprout, to plant, to harvest, and to death of the life-cycle of a plant and also of human life. Although, I live in an urban area, I feel very much in tune with the cycles of nature and the shifts of the wheel of the year.

The Autumnal Equinox will occur this upcoming weekend on Saturday, September 22nd. Since the beginning of September I've been feeling the slow shift, like minute hands on the face of a clock to Autumn. The Autumnal Equinox is when it is the official shift, yet everything in the natural world happens in slow gradations. The nights grow longer gradually. These transitions and shifts can teach people in contemporary society and urban areas about their lives if people choose to pay attention and glean the wisdom of the natural world. Change that is sustainable with a solid foundation occurs in gradations over time. Thus, change over time is a process. To speed up this process would lead to fragmentation rather than integration. I'm continually amazed at the wisdom of the natural world; the plant, animal kingdoms, and elements. I am always learning with an open heart.

Sunday night was Erev Rosh Hashanah. The Beginning of the Jewish New Year. Recently, I've been feeling rather inward and contemplative. This is aligned with the Days of Awe, The High Holy Days and the shift to the Autumn season. As I walk around my Berkeley neighborhood, I look at the trees and notice the leaves change colors, fall to the ground, and the leaves that have already fallen, especially on California St. in my neighborhood. On California street, there are towering old Oak trees that are beautiful. I enjoy stepping onthe crunchy brown leaves on the sidewalk. When I was walking, I heard a child mention something about pumpkin pie to the parent the child was with. I look forward to preparing some pumpkin pie in October. It's one of my favorite pies.

My housemates and friends honored and celebrated the Jewish New Year by having an Erev Rosh Hashanah meal at our house. It was a delicious meal and I'm grateful for friends and community to share and celebrate the shift to a new Jewish year and the change of seasons with! We each shared an intention for the new year, as we passed around a platter of apples and honey. Each person dipped an organic apple slice into honey and then ate it. Ritualistically, grounding the intention through sharing it with community and then ingesting the intention so that it can manifest. May we all have a sweet new year and fall well into the Autumn season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Until A New Day Dawns

My schedule has been in transition with the shift of the Fall semester as I am at the cusp end of graduate school for my MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University. All of the pieces are coming together with my thesis. I'm moving forward into the production phase of CHANGE OVER TIME. This feels like the fun part of the process with my thesis. I feel the forward momentum and creative spirit guiding my project. My work schedule shifted as well. I'm working part time a day per week, interning on the TLC project a day a week, and I'm committed to focusing my time and energies on my creative work so that I can proceed with CHANGE OVER TIME and finish before the end of 2012.

I intend to have a rough cut to show my advisors; the wonderful professors Martha and Greta by November. I met with Greta this week and a very kind recent undergrad gave me a tutorial on DragonFrame--a program that I will be using to do stop-motion animation for my thesis. I did animation tests utilizing stop-motion this time last year in the Fall, when I took my first animation class with Martha at SFSU. The animation lab/studio on campus upgraded to DragonFrame and to the Canon T3I cameras in the studios.

Working with Martha as one of my thesis advisors and taking her animation class changed the direction of my thesis. My project began to evolve and move in a direction that I did not know was possible. CHANGE OVER TIME has evolved into a hybrid experimental, animated, poetic and impressionistic personal documentary about my soul and emotional experiences during my first year on testosterone. I aim for the film to poetically and impressionistically wash over viewers. So that people can perceive a slice of my experience during my hormonal transition. Many trans films that I have seen show the physical changes and focus on interpersonal relationships that are impacted and effected by transition. I intend to show my emotional and soul shifts and changes through the poetic lens of my experience.

I will soon learn how to use a Canon T3I to do time-lapses of the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), in the natural world. I intend to layer various images over the audio shifts of my voice change during the first year that I was on testosterone. The project has been in process for over two years now. The first year, I kept meticulous track of my holistic changes while physically and holistically transitioning on testosterone. I had a voice recorder and journal where I expressed and documented my inner and outer life experiences. I have some wonderful archived material.

During this past Winter and Spring of 2012, I recapitulated and went through ALL of my many volumes of journals--which were hundreds of pages. I read everything that I wrote. Then, I took 80-90 pages of notes gleaned from my journals. From those 80-90 pages of notes, I distilled my year long experiences into a page and a half poem! Quite a feat, indeed! It took me four drafts that I worked long and hard on to edit and choose what to convey compactly in a page and a half poem. Martha was amazed when her printer only printed two pages. She thought there would be at least a 10 page poem with the amount of material that I have. I will perform/recite the poem in CHANGE OVER TIME. I also listened and transcribed all of my audio recordings from the entire year! Two plus years of work for a 5-6 minute film! Yes, indeed. I feel that during this process I have learned so much about trusting my voice, continuing to believe in myself, my creativity, and art, as well as choosing to tell my story in a unique way that I have not seen other trans stories expressed. Continually, throughout the process I have taken and am still taking leaps of faith--exploring and traversing new territory that is unknown to me. Thus, growing as an artist in the process.

I feel that it would have been immensely helpful and refreshing for me to see CHANGE OVER TIME before I began testosterone. The film is for a queer/trans audience as well as a broader audience. I look forward to continuing to work on my thesis film and to sharing the production phase of the journey with you. I feel that this film is not only for the completion of my Master in Fine Arts in Cinema--it is a gift to all who will choose to be receptive to seeing and experiencing it with an open heart and open mind. It is my personal lens of my experience of my microcosmic and the macrocosmic theme of change. Change which is so prevalent in most people's lives right now. These are accelerated times. One of my gifts and contributions is to teach about change from my own unique experience, from a trans perspective, and overall from a human and spiritual perspective.

What arose in my mind as I'm writing right now is the image of the Wheel Of Life tarot card-- or the Wheel of Fortune card. The themes of change, luck, and the ups, downs, and all degrees in between in life that are experienced and lived as a human being. The creative process and the filmmaking process overall for me can be encapsulated in that image of the wheel. At moments, feeling on top of the world and moments where I feel in the dark and I'm exploring unknown terrain with a lamp of hope and faith that shines as I continue to walk step after step, not knowing what direction my art is taking me. Yet, trusting my voice and the process as my lamp shines bright and I continue until glimmers of sunlight emerge as a new day dawns.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Patient and strong like the mountains

Yesterday and today I enjoyed the Autumnal sunshine in my garden, while I watered and attended to my plants. I picked the first large Cordova tomato from one of my tomato plants. I've been enjoying the cherry tomato jewels from one of my other tomato plants. I've picked most of the ripened cherry tomatoes. The larger tomatoes are gradually ripening. There are a handful of large tomatoes that are various hues of red. I've been preparing my own sauces with an onion, garlic, and heirloom tomatoes simmered in a pan on the stove. The only spices I add are salt and pepper. I learned how to prepare this sauce from my housemate, Amelia.

I did take some cooking classes when I was 20 years old and living/studying abroad in Siena, Italy. At that time, I learned how to prepare sauces as well. The tomato plant is originally native to South America. There are around 7500 different varieties of tomatoes that are currently being grown world-wide! It's amazing how cultivation of the tomato spread from South America to Europe, North America, and to most of the world! I find joy in watering, nourishing, and being near the growing plants in my garden.

I recently went on a camping trip with friends at the end of August, near Guerneville in the Austin Creek State Recreation area. We found a wonderful campsite that was spacious enough for all 6 of us. I enjoyed walking to the top of the hill that preceded the campsite area and gazing at the rolling hills and mountains. The first night, I saw a shooting star from the expansive area at the top of the hill and gazed at many stars and constellations above me. I later joined up with my buddy Sam and Amelia near Bullfrog pond to look at some constellations. Amelia pointed out the constellation of Cassiopeia--which was clearly visible. I saw several more shooting stars that night and the cool forest air felt refreshing.

On our walk back to our campsite we saw a Spotted Owl fly from a branch above us. That was the first time in my life that I had ever seen an owl before in the natural world. What an amazing omen! The next night while I was brushing my teeth near the water spigot, I heard the rustling of leaves and shone my flashlight in front of me. A few yards away was a small Spotted Owl! The Owl rotated its head and looked at me and then rotated its eyes and head away. I gazed at the owl for several minutes until it flew away. I was the only one to see the Spotted Owl near the spigot.

That night I slept under the stars right beneath a tall manzanita tree. Near the tree I found a beautiful Red-Tail Hawk feather! During this camping trip, I felt that I received many blessings from the natural world and animals in that area. The Red-Tail Hawk has very special significance to me and is one of my animal totems. I revere and honor the Red-Tail Hawk. This was the first time in my life that I've seen or found a Red-Tail Hawk feather in the wild. The feather is now on my altar in my room with the other feathers that I've found during the past couple of years.

During our last morning at the campsite, I went up to gaze at the mountains and rolling hills. It was a warm day. I had my water bottle beside me and I meditatively watched the mountains and felt the warmth of the sunshine on me. I love gazing at an expansive natural landscape and only hearing the sounds of the natural world. It feels so expansive, nourishing, and liberating to my soul to only see the natural world in front of me without power lines, cars, concrete, traffic, and urban planning. I was acutely aware during the weekend, how quiet it is in nature. Except, the last morning when some of us were woken up by many loud bird calls. Yet, during my time in nature on this trip, I was reminded of how quiet, peaceful, and nourishing to my holistic self nature is. There wasn't any urban noise pollution.

I yearn to live in an area that is that peaceful and filled with the sounds of the natural world. The external peace that I experience and feel at times in the natural world is like the inner peace that I create and cultivate within myself through my meditative and mindfulness practice. Everything in nature is communicating. One only has to be present, clear, have a willingness to listen, and a reverence and respect for the natural world to truly hear. These California mountains are old and wise. As I gazed at the mountains, I felt peaceful and grounded. May I be as patient and strong as the mountains.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blue Moon

Tomorrow is the Full Moon in Pisces. It's also known as the Blue Moon. It's called a Blue Moon if it is the second Full Moon in one month. The energy of this particular blue moon is extra potent! I don't remember the last time when there was a blue moon. I just looked up when the next blue moon will be! It's July 31, 2015! During my evening walks, I've been watching the moon grow ever more full each visible time that I see it as it waxes.

Yesterday, after my visit to my East Bay trans barber for a haircut, I explored a metaphysical bookstore on Telegraph in the Temescal area. Yesterday was my first time there. I wasn't looking around for anything in particular. When I go to a new bookstore or metaphysical shop I like to look around and let my intuition guide me to books, rocks, and around the store. I browsed the books but what caught my attention was the 2013 We'Moon Calendar book.

I remember first being introduced to the We'Moon book by my friend Samantha Avnet. I was 20 years old and I met her on the Sierra Institute backpacking trip in the Southwest during the Summer. That Summer was the beginning of my awakening on my conscious spiritual path. The summer before, when I was 19 and a camp counselor at Camp Celo in North Carolina, I meditated for the first time near a river during a backpacking trip. I found a book in the Celo library about meditation for children. One morning, I led the children in a short meditation. At that time when I was 19, I didn't know much about meditation, yet I was interested in learning about it. Samantha had the We'Moon calendar and she was a Pagan Witch who also went to UC Santa Cruz during undergrad. She was the first Pagan Witch that I met and she became a spiritual teacher and advisor to me during that Summer. I listened to her speak about the moon and its phases. I soaked up whatever she spoke about that was spiritual and I resonated with. A lot came up for me during that backpacking trip, including gender inquiry. Samantha was the first friend that I expressed to, that I didn't know if I was a boy or a girl. Synchronously, Samantha now lives in Portland, Oregon. I hadn't seen her in years.

During my most recent trip to Portland, I went to the Edgefield in Troutdale, near Portland to hear one of my favorite bands, SIGUR ROS perform during their world tour. It took two buses to get to Troutdale. It was a hot day in Portland. I picked handfuls of ripe Northwest Blackberries from the bushes as I walked from the bus stop to the Edgefield Venue. There was a delicious breeze and the trees and flowers were so beautiful. It was a magical summer evening and I was excited to go to this outdoor concert as I enjoyed the scrumptious blackberries of the season.

The show was completely sold out. Yet, I booked my flight to Portland to coincide with the date of the concert. The day of the show, I got online and bought a ticket that was released the day of the concert. I was elated! This was my 6th Sigur Ros concert including hearing JONSI perform solo during his tour three years ago in Berkeley. The ethereal, spiritual, soothing, ambient, and resonant music stirs my soul. I love it. I heard other concert goers say at the end of the show that every time they hear SIGUR ROS perform, it's a spiritual experience. I could not concur more. Out of the hundreds or thousands of people at the show, I felt a hand on my shoulder after I filled up my water bottle. It was Ivana one of the teachers from the Waldorf Training program that I went to in Portland. I had not seen Ivana in years and we walked and talked until we met up with her husband Chris on the lawn in front of the stage. The opening band was playing and we had a chance to talk and catch up. Ivana was one of the first people who I connected with in the Waldorf Community when I moved up to Portland. It was great to see her and connect.

I went to get a slice of pizza and a PDX McMenamin's beer before SIGUR ROS performed. When I was walking back down to the grassy area where most of the concert goers were I saw Samantha Avnet. I thought this is wild, synchronous, and magical! What is the likelihood for me to see the only two people who I probably know who are at this concert?! I met Samantha's friends and had a chance to exuberantly and excitedly speak with her. I don't know how long it was-it was a timeless conversation amidst the excitement of soon seeing and hearing SIGUR ROS. The place was abuzz. Samantha at first didn't recognize me. The last time that we saw each other was over two years ago when I was pre-Testosterone Ewan. My voice is deeper and I am visibly male. Her face registered and I think she said, whoa when she realized it was me. Most of my Portland friends I have not seen since most of my visible changes have occurred.

I traveled there last two years ago when I was one month on T. I had seen both of my Portland friends, Lanz and Victor during the past year or so in California. For other PDX friends, my voice and physical transformation was more dramatic. I enjoyed the timeless connection and conversation with Samantha. There was so much that I wanted to say and so much that could not be expressed in words. I have infinite gratitude and love for her in my heart. I enjoyed our brief conversation and connection and then SIGUR ROS got on stage and that was the Infiniteverse's cue that it was time to say goodbye to Samantha. It was time to go back to my spot near Ivana, Chris, and their friends, eat my slice of PDX pizza and enjoy my McMenamin's beer as I had the wonderful opportunity and pleasure to feel my feet on the cool summer Northwest grass, feel the gentle breeze, and listen to one of my favorite bands that resonates so strongly with my soul and spirit.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Colorful Threads of Connections on My Life's Tapestry

Lately, I feel that I've simply been present with what I am feeling and experiencing rather than writing about it. I usually go to my journal often to record my experiences from my meditations, inner life, emotions, life experiences, dreams, interpersonal connections, etc. I've been feeling more of a pull to draw rather than to write. My past and current journals are filled with drawings; black ink on acid free paper, colorful markers, oil pastels, etc. I felt something was amiss when I didn't write as much as I usually do. It's not for lack of inspiration. So many amazing experiences and connections have happened and are happening in my life! I've been very active lately and I often feel like the Bay Area is a playground where I feel a pull to be external and active. Friends, community-- all of these interpersonal connections to be out, connecting, and in the world. I've been working a lot as well.

I recently learned a lesson in regards to traveling that I forgot or haven't learned yet. It's best for me to take off a day from work before my travels and also a day to recover from my travels. Yet, as I wrote previously I've been working a lot so I worked up until the day that I left for Portland and I worked the day that I returned from Portland. My days are full. I feel that at moments it is hard for me to balance livelihood, my soul's purpose--which is being an artist and creative being, working on my thesis and thus finishing graduate school, sustaining my spiritual life, the practicalities of life-errands, bills, laundry, chores, my relationship with myself, my relationships with friends and loved ones, cooking, yoga, hiking, taking walks.

I feel that for me as an artist and creative being I really need those moments of calm, contemplation, and easeful processing as I walk around my Berkeley neighborhood, hike at Tilden or Joaquin Miller State Park in the East Bay, water my tomato, beet, strawberry, kale plants, succulent, and herb plants in the backyard, enjoy the sunlight, and experience those moments where I can simply reflect and be without having a purpose to accomplish what is on my list of things to do, preparing for work, working, going to an appointment, errands, the practicalities of life!, a friend date, an actual date, etc. etc. The space between the notes, the space between the inhale and exhale.

One of my Portland friends, Orchid who I recently visited lives in an amazing area close to Portland on land near the Tryon Creek Farm. We were friends in our early twenties in the Santa Cruz queer community when we both went to UCSC for undergrad. We had not seen each other in years and it amazed me how much we had in common as we re-connected again. Synchronously, we are both friends and in community with some of the same circles of people in Portland. She also did the Waldorf teacher training as well. We both speak eloquently about our spiritual lives, insights, emotional depth and realities and are each on our individual paths of authenticity and spirit. It was nourishing, healing, and wonderful to see her.

I was amazed at our points of convergence on our life paths first during our years in Santa Cruz and currently the overlapping connections of our parallel points of connection and convergence in our life presently. What I appreciate and noticed that had changed and evolved about Orchid was her voice. Her voice is very soothing and beautiful to listen to. I enjoyed singing with her while we and other friends gazed at the amazing meteorite shower at Rooster Rock. I appreciated the opportunity to see the magical location where she lives, time-less conversations, and to sleep in her wonderful yurt. While I explored the area and looked at the trees, leaves and heard the birds, during the late morning the next day, I listened to the natural world. The message that I received in that beautiful area is that we can live in harmony with nature. It is possible. I've felt this to be true and resonant to me.

What arose for me is that the yurt, the natural world, and this beautiful location would be a wonderful place for an artist residency. I felt that If I lived in an environment that pristine, peaceful, beautiful, and healing for a month it would be very clearing, inspiring, and amazing. I would definitely have a shift of perspective(s) in regards to my life and creativity. A part of me yearns to live that intimately with the natural world. Yet, right now on my life path I am meant to live in the Bay Area in Berkeley. I love living in Berkeley and in the Bay Area overall. Yet, I compare and contrast to the peace and tranquility of the yurt and the beautiful natural world. It would be so much easier for me to not have to deal with public transportation, traffic, a dense population, and the daily stresses of life that one experiences in an urban environment. Yet, there are pros and cons.

I'm grateful to be living in an area with a vibrant queer/trans community and to enjoy what the Bay Area has to offer on many levels. As a filmmaker and artist, I currently feel called to be here and I'm grateful that I am here. I'm currently setting the intention to experience and be an artist in residence for a stint of time in a natural area as beautiful and magical as where Orchid lives when it is the time for me to do so. I feel that I do live in harmony with nature as much as is possible in an urban environment. I enjoyed having the opportunity to re-connect with Orchid and other friends from my past who I have not seen in years. I am grateful for the conversations and connections with old friends and new friends that weave in and out of my life's tapestry. Each person is a vibrant color in the beautiful tapestry of my life.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Grander Picture Emerges

Birth-Death-Rebirth. Birth-Death-Rebirth. Birth-Death-Rebirth. Repeat. Ad Infinitum. The amazing scholar and writer, Joseph Campbell wrote about mythology and how there are themes and myths that are similar in most cultures. The language of mythology is universal. Human beings need stories--which speak to the soul. THE POWER OF MYTH was one of the first books by Joseph Campbell that I read when I was living in Portland. The HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES is also an influential book for me that Campbell wrote. One of Campbell's philosophies is to "follow your bliss." I reflect on stories and their importance to me as a creative person. A while ago when I asked my mom to tell me about my child self she told me that I always loved stories and thus books and movies. In essence, this is true.

In contemplation what drew me to film/media was the storytelling aspect. I feel called to tell stories and be a storyteller. I remember having such a challenging time remembering stories and telling them in front of my Waldorf teacher training cohort in Portland. I had the belief that I was not a storyteller. I transcended a huge obstacle when I began to embrace seeing myself as a storyteller and I gradually improved my skills/ability in this area in front of the nurturing audience of my Waldorf teacher training cohort. This was a gradual process. I had a shift of gears, insight, and clarity which lead me to pursue my MFA in Cinema in San Francisco, thus concluding my time in Portland and closure of the Waldorf Teacher Training. All of the tools, skills, and work that I accomplished in Portland were and are utilized in my approach to film/media and holistically in my life.

What kinds of stories do I want to tell and explore in the film/media work that I make? This is a question that I am living with. It changes as I grow and evolve--as parts of my beliefs and ideas are deconstructed and composted. Seeds are planted and sprouts of new ideas and multi-faceted perspectives grow. The stories that I know for certain and are true to me are the stories which I have experienced and lived. These are the stories that I wish to share. They are universal in their qualities of themes that touch upon the human experience. The stories which I wait to tell are the ones that I have yet to experience, to savor, to live. I feel that I am co-creating the stories in my life--with colorful brush strokes on the universal canvas. I am the screenwriter of my life--on my path of destiny, on my hero's journey as Campbell wrote about in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. My ideas and beliefs are malleable and open to change and shifts as I continue to ride the waves onto the shores of the unknown, following my bliss.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I am writing from a porch swing at my friends, Lanz and Christen's house in Portland. I am currently on vacation and have been acclimating to being here. The summer evening is lovely and cool and I'm enjoying being on the porch swing. The last time I traveled to Portland was two years ago. At that time, I had been on testosterone for one month. I've been very tired recently due to an active schedule, so today was an easeful day. I intend to catch up on my rest, visit friends, eat delicious food, have fun, and go to a couple of music shows while I am here in Portland. I aim to have an easeful, relaxing visit. My dear friend Lanz picked me up from the PDX airport earlier today. We had lunch together and went food shopping. I've been relaxing, connecting with Lanz, and her two and half month old baby, Cole Harris. He is adorable and it was wonderful to hold him earlier in the afternoon sunlight on the porch swing and rocking chair. I forgot how friendly people are in Portland. I've seen a lot of smiling faces, neighborhood gardens, flowers, cyclists, and it's really peaceful and relaxing in SE PDX near Mt. Tabor park where Lanz and Christen live. I view Portland as a rather Yin place to live. As Lanz expressed earlier, there is more BEING here in Portland rather than DOING. I would definitely say that the SF Bay Area is a yang place to live. I'm definitely more active in an external, yang way in the Bay Area in comparison to the work that I did when I was living in Portland for two and a half years. The winters and overall grey climate in Portland are conducive to a soul impulse of hibernation, inwardness, and contemplation. I did a lot of amazing meditative and earth based spirituality work while I lived here. Lanz and I drove past my prior place of residence on Hawthorne Blvd. in SE Portland, the Mt. Tabor Apts. I lived there for a little over two years on the second floor and I had an amazing one bedroom apt. for an excellent and affordable price. When I first looked at that apartment there were 40 other applicants present for a viewing of the place. The apartment manager chose to have us roll dice in the basement of the apt. complex to discern who would live there. I happened to get the highest number several times when I rolled the dice and thus with my mazel (luck) I lived in that wonderful apt. I did a lot of inner work in that apartment which created the groundwork and foundation for my spiritual, meditative practice, and life. I feel and know that I am thriving in the SF Bay Area in part due to the foundation that I created for myself while I lived in Portland. I would sit on my orange yoga mat and comfortable maroon cushions and explore as my teacher and mentor in Portland, Allison Bradley would say, my PERSONAL INFINITY. I did stay grounded and connected to life in the outer world as I explored my inner world. When I lived here I was a nanny/child care provider with children in the Waldorf community. I also worked at two different Waldorf schools and was in the Waldorf teacher training. I still miss the wonderful community of folks who I resonated and connected to on an authentic soul and spiritual level. Whenever I travel back to Portland I am grateful and nourished from the soul and heart warming conversations, connections, and presence of resonant and dear friends. I appreciate and am grateful for my film and queer/trans communities in the SF Bay Area, yet I'm still interested in co-creating and integrating a spiritual community within the film and queer/trans communities that I inhabit in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fruits of the season

It's Wednesday night. A full moon and also the pagan holiday Lammas. Life has been flowing at a fast pace and today is August 1st. The pagan holiday Lammas aligns with the first harvest of Summer and having gratitude for the sun filled days and summer produce. It's also a reminder to enjoy the sun, fruits of the season, and moments of summer because it is inevitable for the wheel of the year to continue to turn. We are swiftly moving onward to the Fall season. I'm enjoying as much seasonal produce as I can. I especially love stone fruit. Stone fruit are fruits like peaches, nectarines, apricots, pluots, plums, etc. These varieties of fruit are called Stone Fruit because of the stone like seeds. My mother taught me that. I grew up with a variety of stone fruit in Clovis/Fresno. Fresno is also known as the "bread basket" of the nation for the abundance and variety of the region's produce. The Fresno area is the largest agriculturally producing region in the United States. Yet, most of the produce in the Fresno area was conventional when I grew up. Presently, there is more organic produce being grown in the Fresno area. T&D Willey Farms in Madera is one such organic farm. I remember eating vast quantities of peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, apricots, and melons. My dad's favorite summer fruit is watermelon. It's impressive how much watermelon he can eat. In our backyard when I was growing up there were two pear-apple trees and one asian pear tree. These are Autumn fruits, yet I remember them well. My parents planted an abundance of trees, flowers, plants, and herbs in the front and back yards. My mom loved and still loves to water all of her plants. It brings her joy. When I was a child she would spray me and/or my sister with the hose, if we were in the yard and in swim-suit attire while she was watering. I enjoyed swimming, playing, and frolicking in the pool with myself, my sister, friends, and other family members. The pool is a necessity in the Central Valley or having friends/family who have a pool that one can swim in. Temperatures during the Summer months are often in the triple digits. My summers now are vastly different--in linear time, space, place, and people. I'm grateful to be living in Berkeley and to be in a more progressive area. This thought arose in my mind while I walked through my Berkeley neighborhood today. How very different my experience of the summertime is currently, than when I was a child growing up in the Clovis/Fresno area. I currently do enjoy the fruits of the season. That hasn't changed. Yet, summer's spent in the pool, watching a lot of movies, and stretching out time are from that specific time and place of childhood. It's important for one to know their roots, where one came from. To reflect and contemplate back and to re-vist those spaces and places in physical time and presence. I feel like a visit to my hometown to connect with my parents in their Clovis home and also to visit Huntington Lake with them will transpire before the Summer is over. I'm feeling the pull to go and visit them there. Gratefully, there is still a pool and my dad makes delicious margaritas.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cod fillet

I intend to post an update on this blog every Wednesday. Today is Thursday. I do my best to be flexible as I intend to co-create my life with the universe. This means being flexible at moments or taking an entirely new direction completely depending on the context and circumstances. I like to cook often. To me, food is love. I was inspired after work yesterday to try something new. Rarely do I buy fish. I chose to get a small cod fillet. I was going to look online to see how to prepare the cod. Yet, my housemate, Amelia was home so I was able to glean her knowledge and cooking wisdom to prepare the cod. I put garlic salt, pepper, slices of heirloom tomatoes from Happy Boy Farms on the fish. Then I sauteed garlic and onions with thyme harvested from the garden. Finally, I added fresh squeezed lemon to the fish. Amelia suggested that I prepare the cod in the oven and turn on the broiler. As the oven was heating up, I re-heated some cabbage, onions, and garlic, brown rice, and a few potatoes from a previous meal that had been in the freezer, yet had de-frosted in my fridge. This reminds me of a very entitled customer who I had an interaction with a month or so ago at work. She purchased an overly priced half pint of cabbage and quinoa. I asked her if she knew how to prepare cabbage. She looked at me stunned that I knew how to prepare cabbage and then she inquired as to how I prepared it. I told her I added spices like cumin, turmeric, thyme, salt, pepper, etc. I first saute onions, garlic, and then add cabbage. Sometimes I include bragg's in it too. I told her that I prepare a large amount, usually with quinoa and brown rice and/or potatoes. I usually make kale, chard, or collard greens to go with the rest of the food. Then I have leftovers for lunch and I put the rest of the food in the freezer for several meals that I will eat within the month. As our fridge is old in the lovely house that I live in and the landlord may or may not procure us a new one that has a consistent freezer where food can be kept for more than a month that doesn't taste freezer burnt. When I told the entitlement woman at the store where I work about freezing the cabbage she looked at me, an adult woman looked at me and said an exaggerated "eeewwww," in a shocked tone to my face with a look of disgust in regards to hearing that I freeze some of my meals. I live a very active life and I have a literal and figurative full plate! Thus, preparing more food in advance saves me time, energy, and I have a delicious variety of meals to choose from when I'm hungry. This experience highlighted one of the most interesting, blatant, and rude class dynamics I have personally experienced while at work. It is one thing to disagree with someone. Yet, a grown adult woman saying something that a child would say in a school yard or playground was very surprising to me. This brought up many feelings and thoughts. One thought was about class dynamics. I was raised middle-class. Both of my parents went to graduate school to become social workers. They are both Licensed Clinical Social Workers. Both are retired now. I've been a student most of my 20's. I'm at the end cusp of graduate school and I work part-time. As an artist/filmmaker I view myself as a graduate student and in a creative/artistic class. Is being an artist working class? I view the artistic/creative fields as a realm of their own. The class dynamic that I experienced while working was one that felt like I was working-class and this women upper-class. That is the dynamic that I felt. Is it working-class or artistic/creative class or not based on class at all to think ahead, plan, be economical with food, and prepare meals to put in one's freezer? What do people think/feel about this? I personally let this experience go, it feels good to write about, and it high-lights different forms of eating habits, etc. This woman can afford to buy an $8 half pint of cabbage and quinoa, while I a student and emerging creative professional prepare quinoa and cabbage at home. Getting back to the cod fillet. I put it in the oven. I checked on it after 6 minutes, as Amelia had advised. Amelia suggested that I put the cod in the broiler. I thought that if I put it in the oven it was on broil. Yet, in the oven in our kitchen there is a lower broiler area which I had recently discovered. I accidentally touched the hot pan that was on the counter across from the stove as I prepared to put the pan into the actual broiler. I instantly burned two of my fingers on my left hand. I put my hand under cold water in the kitchen immediately. I cook often and I don't remember being burned like this once. The last experience I remember burning my finger(s) was when I was in pre-school at a friend or babysitter's house and I touched a heater with one of my fingers as I was exploring around. That memory and age instantly came back to me as I plunged my hand into a jar of cold water and sat down for a few moments before putting the fish into the broiler. Two blisters emerged and my fingers continued to hurt. I'm feeling better today, yet it was a very unpleasant cooking experience to get burned. Amelia apparently burns herself all the time when she cooks. I'm grateful for my mom's input about how to deal with a burn and my buddy Samuel's hug, neosporin, and red crayola band-aids for my fingers. They are feeling better today. Yet, hurt for a while last night. The fish came out excellently and I enjoyed it more today rather than last night. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wheels Of Change

When I awoke today it was overcast and grey in the East Bay. Now, the sky is clear and the sun is shining. I don't mind the grey and overcast weather at times. It's a nice shift from lovely summer weather. It also makes me appreciate when the sky is clear and the radiant rays of the sunlight are available to enjoy. My tomato plants in the garden are soaking up the sunlight. Yellow flowers and buds of new green fruit are sprouting on the green stalks. I often times gaze at the three tomato plants in pots that are flourishing and growing so well when I eat my breakfast or dinner outside, enjoying the summer rays of light. After one year of living in Portland, I began to crave the forces of the sunlight. I had one of those ott lights that my mom gave me as a Hannukah present to prevent seasonal affective disorder. I would sit under the ott light on my couch as I wrote in my journal, read, worked on my computer, or decompressed from the day. The ott light wasn't enough. I could feel it. I felt called to be back in California and one reason was the sunlight. The forces of the sun. I enjoy feeling my feet on the earth, the grass or dirt outside, wearing my brimmed hat, enjoying tea, a meal, or simply being outside as much as I can during these summer days in the East Bay. I feel grateful for the house that I live in, the spacious backyard, and the little plot of Earth that I tend to with water, love, and presence. This past Friday the 13th was my two year anniversary of being on testosterone. It was also my two year anniversary of being a man. I lived as Ewan and was out as a trans guy for two years before I began testosterone. During that time, I was a trans boy. Did I go through an initiation to become a man? Most definitely. I went through so much and was tested by the universe many, many times so that I could walk through the initiatory fire and become a man. To me, being a man means to be responsible in so many ways. Responsible for my actions, words, and behavior. I intend to embody and express positive, balanced masculinity in this world. To integrate my feminine and masculine energies and to simply be who I am. Simply being who I am in the world has ripples of unseen and perceived impact. Like the rings of concentric circles that ripple in water after skipping a flat stone in a river, lake, or gentle creek. As a trans man I have the opportunity to self-create and self-construct my own personal, empowered, embodied masculinity. It's my path and also a huge responsibility. While working on my thesis film, CHANGE OVER TIME for the past two years, I've been living with the question, what does it mean for me to be a man? I could write one page every day for the rest of my life, musing and contemplating that question and there would be move to explore, delve into, examine, experience, and to write about. It is unending--infinite inquiry. I choose to be an aware man, a man that honors the divine feminine and masculine. As a man, I choose to integrate those energies within myself. A man who is a trans feminist. A man who can express his emotions and request from those closest to him to be heard, seen, mirrored, supported, and emotionally held in love and support. What space is there for a man to fall apart emotionally in this culture? When can a man break down and be seen as having strength in vulnerability? In these ways, how can our society and culture change and evolve? In honor of my two years on testosterone, I planned a solo two night camping trip. Just as I had packed up the car with most of my camping accoutrement and supplies, I noticed a nail in my left rear tire. I had a flat tire before in Portland. I know how to pick up my phone and call Triple A if any car issues arise, yet I didn't know how to change a car tire. The tire looked fine, was inflated, yet I didn't want to drive anywhere with a nail in it. I talked to my housemate, called my dad, called the california state park to cancel my first night camping reservation and was put on hold for an hour, called the tire place a few times, etc. It was a frustrating afternoon. I was present with my frustration yet decided to take my car to the tire place in Walnut Creek on Saturday. At that point, it was Friday evening and I decided to go with my housemates to the Circus Bella performance in Oakland that my friend Wendy and her boyfriend Nick perform in. The circus was great! There were probably over one hundred babies and/or toddlers at the circus. It was baby land and reminded me of my Waldorf days in Portland when I worked at a Waldorf school and was around many children and families. There were so many cute babies and attractive parents. One highlight from the circus performance was a man who stood on a ladder on a tight-rope. It reminded me of the amazing documentary, Man On Wire. I asked my friend/housemate Shannon to teach me how to change the tire on my car. How synchronous that on the date of my two year anniversary of being a man and being on testosterone, I finally learned how to change a car tire! To me this is a symbol of masculinity in our society. Self-reliance as a man and knowing how to deal with cars. My buddy Sam and I both learned how to change the tire. It was more intimidating than difficult. Before learning this lesson, I didn't have an active interest in learning this skill. I feel grateful to Shannon for teaching me. The camping trip will be re-scheduled yet the universe had a lesson to teach me and now I feel empowered as a man in this way to change my car tires.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012--A New Beginning

I began this blog four years ago when I was first coming out as a transgender guy and living in Portland, OR. The first post is still active. I'm now reclaiming this blog as a weekly exercise and a service to my community, as well as personal expression. I intend to write a weekly blog about any relevant themes and experiences that I feel need to be conveyed in this format. I contemplated earlier if it was best to carefully construct and plan out what to write. What inspires me is for this blog to be a stream of consciousness--to express and convey to an audience what I feel intuitively needs to be shared from my unique perspective. The current question that I'm living with is, how can I be of unique service to the Earth and to humanity as a creative, artistic person carving and paving a unique, non-normative path in this world? What unique tools, skills, and gifts do I have that can be of use during these radically changing and transitional times? At moments, I feel overwhelmed, as if my arms can't even reach around the larger issues of these times that impact us all. Another question arose for me during this same time last year. The question was, how can I build hope in this world? I moved to Berkeley, CA last year in July. Before that I lived in San Francisco for two years. I have always dreamed of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was grateful, three years ago when I had a way to move here with a purpose--graduate school to pursue my MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University. What struck me was that even in Berkeley, CA there is still so much work to be done. In comparison to my hometown of Clovis/Fresno--the SF Bay Area is the land of milk and honey. What image comes to my mind is that of Moses who led the Jews for 40 years in the desert before they arrived to the land of Israel. Moses looked on as the Jews that he led were able to enter the land of milk and honey, while he was unable to journey with them. I imagine that the Jews had many hopes, dreams, and visions of what life would be like in the land of milk and honey. Yet, there was a lot of work to be done then and there still is an immense amount of work to be done in the Middle East. I believe in co-existence, living in peace with a diversity of people, and bringing as much light to the Earth as possible. May all beings live joyous, balanced, grateful, and aware lives. For me, the Bay Area is the land of milk and honey. Milk--as in Harvey Milk, queer/trans empowerment, visibility, and an abundant, diverse queer/trans community. Although, the community does feel small to me now. Honey--for pleasure. I imagine a jar or vat of honey being poured on a hot queer body as another hot queer(s) lick it up. The honey represents the abundance of pleasure and sex positivity in the Bay Area. Those images were in my mind when I first moved here, three years ago. The queer/trans land of milk and honey. There is much work to be done. Yet, one still needs to have fun and enjoy every drop of sweetness.