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The Authenticity Experiment

The Authenticity Experiment: the Trust Edition

Here's an infomercial before the post. The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons From the Best & Worst Year of My Life is available for pre-sale.  It helps me if you order early and order often.  The book launches September 12th.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. ∞ The Authenticity Experiment, the trust edition.  I am in a straw bale house on the edge of a canyon at the end...

The Authenticity Experiment: the Western Weekend edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the Western Weekend Edition.  As a kid, I went to Western Weekend in rural Marin County, in a town without a stoplight or a sit-down McDonald’s.  I didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel because the swinging cars gave me crawl up and a fear that I’d flip out—literally and figuratively—and plummet to my death. Strangely, though, I did ride the Zipper, me alone in...

The Authenticity Experiment: the coal shovel edition

The Authenticity Experiment: the coal shovel edition. A giant United Moving van took my mother’s furniture, clothes, dishes, and memorabilia to Portland.  Part of the load was destined for California for my sisters, too.  Still, we barely filled a third of the truck, but because the bid was based on estimated weight, we weren’t allowed to add anything extra to the manifest.  And by we, I mean me.  My mom was sitting on the dove grey leather couch in her family room alternating between catatonic and Napoleonic, sleeping in a delirium of denial that this day had finally come or ordering the movers, Stef, or me to add more items to the load.

The Authenticity Experiment: the City edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the City edition.  Last week, I spent the night San Francisco—“the City,” as everyone in the Bay Area calls it.  The City—as if there is no other city in the world.  But I’ll tell you, on a morning when the tide is out and the fog is burning off, and you step onto O’Farrell Street and cut up and over to Union Square, the impatient honk of cars startling your small town self (and don’t kid yourself, Portland is a small town compared to any other city on the West Coast), the smell of Chinese restaurant grease and garbage assaulting your nose, the clang and grind of the cable cars lifting your

The Authenticity Experiment: the lifetime grieving process

The Authenticity Experiment, the lifetime grieving edition.  The Alaskan Poet said to me, “I’m beginning to think that grieving is a lifetime process. AND I also think that it’s possible to be at peace with that and just realize that you can grieve and move forward.”  And, I think she’s right.

It’s no surprise to find grief here—thoughts about it, stories about it, rants and rages about it.  But there’s a particular grief I’ve been thinking about.  Last week, two of my oldest, dearest friends—sisters—lost their child and nephew.

Yeah, a 25 year-old kid. 

The Authenticity Experiment: the anniversary and anxiety edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the mostly anxiety anniversary edition.  My friend Lesbiana Profundis, aka my secret weapon, laughs at my Rainman-like ability with dates.  Take  July 20th, for instance.  A year and two days ago, I began the Authenticity Experiment.  AE was a writing challenge for myself—to see if I could be authentic and tell the truth on social media.  Here’s the lead from that very first post: “I’m posting this to kick off my own personal FB Balance Month. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we use the FB to post our good news (book), our fun times (Cycle Oregon), our amusing insights (photos of grammar errors at the DMV), and cute cat videos. But we don’t really talk about the dark. And a culture that consistently ignores its dark winds up like…well, like us, where we are hap, hap, HAPPY all the time and we get our dark out by watching reality TV (or violent movies) and snarking on grammar signs at the DMV (not that good grammar isn’t important). 

The Authenticity Experiment: the paterfamilias edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the paterfamilias edition. I have a picture of my three sisters.  Jule, Sue, and Sue’s wife Jen, who is as much my sister as my blood relations.  We are in Minneapolis, memorialized in black and white after our mother’s own memorial earlier in the afternoon.  We’ve all been drinking, because death.

I love this picture and I look at it daily because it calls up the feelings of protection and unconditional love I have for my family.  How I will kill the fool that hurts them.  How, the minute my mother died I suddenly felt the need to buy a big house, a house with enough bedrooms for everyone, a formal dining room with seating for 20 so that I could fit my blood family and my chosen family, a family room with a big screen television and 200 channels of cable for my sisters who love their shows:

Authenticity Experiment, I don’t even know where to start edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the I don’t even know where to start edition. That’s the prompt that the woman who is not my girlfriend threw at me on Sunday night when I told her I was blocked. She said, Start with ‘I don’t even know where to start.’ And then give me two pages by morning. She laughed her big laugh, head thrown back and white, white teeth shining in the light of a beach fire, and continued, That’s what you’d say to me. Two pages by morning. There was pure delight in that laugh, in the turnabout.

Authenticity Experiment: the clothes make the man edition

The Authenticity Experiment, the clothes make the man edition.  Six years ago I saw Hamlet at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland, just a month after my dad died.  I was there with the woman I thought was going to be my next wife, my final wife, actually, and with her family who had been attending plays at OSF since the 70s.

This Hamlet was different than any other I’d seen before—and with undergrad and graduate degrees in English, I’ve seen my fair share of Hamlets, including a BBC recording of Olivier playing the Dane on a West End stage (the version I liked the least).  But this OSF version, rocked my world.  Maybe because my own father had just died and I swear to you that while I didn’t see his ghost, I did receive an uncanny, other worldly message from him.  So, I understood Hamlet in an entirely new way: his grief, his obsession, his confusion, his longing for more contact with the other side.