12 December 2008

New Skills

As some of you may already know, I started a new job this week. I had been desperately looking for work for months. I was beginning to think I was going to have to take my mother's advice and find a real grown-up job. I'm bi-lingual, intelligent, very capable, and possess varied and valuable job skills, but the straight 9-5 world just didn't want me. It was so frustrating to think that none of those things were enough to keep me financially afloat , yet--- were I willing to go the route--- I could lease my feminine charms by the hour and make decent money. That's just not an option for me.

So where did I finally find a bit of succor and hope? A hellishly-themed night club, a hedonist playground where excess and debauchery are exalted. One friend messaged me earlier when I commented on the irony of this. She wrote:

"Don't fight ur destiny, sweetie"


It is there that I've been welcomed with respect, trust, and my very own shiny new desk from IKEA.

I'm grateful to have a job, but even more so, a job where many of the various skills I have picked up along the way, are being challenged and put to good use. Finally. Those little things that I've done over the years as "favors" for friends--- booking shows, managing bands, writing press releases and bios, networking, PR--- I'll finally be getting paid for doing them.
I'm even picking up a couple of new things.

When the new boss-man asked me if I knew Photoshop I said "Suuure..."
I do most of my photo editing in LightRoom. Sure, I can go into PS and take out a blemish or do some color or contrast adjustments, but I've never designed anything with the program. Well, there's nothing like trial by fire, right? It just so happened the the next poster which needed to be done was for a friend, very dear to my heart, who is playing there on there on the 27th of this month. it seemed rather fitting and a bit of an honor, but the pressure is definitely on.

I enlisted the help of my friend Kevin as real-time tech support over the phone. He was pretty patient, though his instructions were occasionally punctuated with an exasperated "Stop clicking on stuff!"

It took me about about four hours altogether. I cringe and apologize profusely. I'm sure to offend the delicate design sensibilities of Mr. Lloyd and a few other friends of mine who are absolutely brilliant designers. Yes, lame font. I know. Yes, the kerning is probably off and I likely used every design cliché that a fledgling designer probably could. But...baby steps, right?
I'm rather proud to be learning a new skill.

So here it is, my very first poster design ever:

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

07 December 2008

A Meditation on Autumn Colors

Autumn night, wet and sultry,
and I’m picking my way over
a slick yellow carpet of leaves.
I’m walking east-side,
past moss-covered grave stones,
watching the twilight fall.

I almost stop.

See her coming out of the gloom.
Brown leather trench sweepin’ her thigh,
calf-skin wrapped to her knees,
corn-silk curls spilling
from a brick-red beret.

Boot-heels giving a certain spring,
A certain swing to her step.
Red glove clasping her umbrella,
Wrist turned out just so.

American women do not move like this.

Tall and sure,
Smirk tugging at her lip,
Sidelong glance as she pass by
Reminding me of some
70’s French movie star.

My breath explodes out.
Didn’t even realize I’d been holding it.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

05 December 2008

Perfect Pitch

“Is the tool-box real?” he asked me. He wasn’t sure if it was just part of the myth.

”Oh, it’s real, alright. C’mon, I’ll show you.” and led him down the hall to my room.
”This,” I said straining as I picked it up, ”is the Infamous toolbox!”
It landed with a heavy thud at his feet.

I’ve alluded to my tool box in past blogs and it is featured in some recent photos. For those of you not in the know, I keep my sex toys in a heavy-duty, bright red Husky Tool Box.

He opened it up and his eyes lit up…like a kid in a…well, toy store.
Admittedly, my collection grew considerably this summer while I briefly dabbled in throwing sex-toy parties.
Not all of the new additions are things I would personally use, mind you. The red 12-inch jelly double dong? Where do I start? Nasty pthalates, and terribly impractical design, for solo or partner play--- the angle is just all wrong--- but it is a good conversation piece.

“What’s this?” he asked holding up a slim rainbow colored case.

“Ah, that’s The Lifesaver. Just a small vibrator,” I said, taking it out of its case and rotating the base. “Hmm. Batteries must be dead.” I shrugged, returned it to its case, and back to the box.

He continued sorting through things, some still in their packaging.
After answering a few more questions regarding the functions of some of the items, and watching him paw at my strap-on and the cordless Rabbit, I felt it was time to pack things up and usher him back to the living room.

We’d been chatting for what seemed like quite a while. I walked to my bathroom in the back of the house and realized I had been hearing an odd and rather pervasive noise for quite some time. It sounded like there was construction going on a few blocks away. I’ve heard similar sounds in the neighborhood, but never so late.

”Do you hear that sound?” I asked, walking back into the room.

“Yeah, I can tell you it’s a D and an E, but I can’t figure out what’s making it.”

We left that little mystery unsolved and talked about perfect pitch and gossip and other things until exhaustion and illness got the better of me.
After seeing him to the door, I walked back to the office and all that time I could still hear that noise, a sort of distant hum.
It finally dawned on me that it was most audible in the hallway…more so close to my room…could it be?
I put my hand to the side of the tool box by my bed and sure enough, it was warm and purring.

I searched for the culprit, which was none other than, you guessed it, The Lifesaver.
Well, now I know the batteries work!

The next day I told my house mate about the little mystery.

“Is that what I heard? It was like 3 or 4 in the morning! I woke up and I heard this really loud buzzing sound…”

*note to self: do not use Lifesaver while room mate is in the next room---or in the house. At all.

(Just a peek!)

Photo © Kenneth Barton, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

26 November 2008

In the Dreamtime

There is that place, somewhere between sleep and awakening, where time is not linear, where past and present blur, sometimes disappear altogether.
I heard a muffled cough, a clearing of the throat, my father getting up, about to start his morning routine. Softly closing the door to let my mother sleep, padding down to the garage to do his stretches before going on his morning jog---my mother would tell me that ever since I had told him he should always stretch before and after jogging, he had done so religiously.
For a moment I felt utterly content and secure, knowing that I would walk down the hall and see fresh flowers on the table, either cut from his own rose bushes, or picked up at the store on the way back from his jog.
I smiled to think of the routine I knew so well, and then I heard it again, the coughing. I opened my eyes, not to my childhood room, not to my father’s soft footfalls. It was my house mate in the next room, this room was miles away from my childhood home, and my father almost seven years gone.
It was a cruel trick of sense and memory.

For the first year or so after my father’s death, I dreamt of him almost nightly. Eventually the dreams subsided, but I still have the occasional bout with them. It is always the same. It is some strange mistake and I haven’t lost him, merely…misplaced him, almost as one would an earring or a pen. He’s on a trip somewhere or an errand and I catch brief glimpses of him, sometimes even catch up to him for brief conversations, and then the search is on again. The settings change. Sometimes it’s Colombia, sometimes Myrtle Creek, sometimes places I don’t recognize, but always there is the searching and the feeling that this is all just an elaborate pernicious prank.

I’m not much for regrets. That rare regretful moment I might have is usually fleeting. I figure once I make a choice, I’ve made it, and that path will lead me to my lessons, even if it is by a more circuitous route. Lately however, I’ve had the nagging doubt.
Would I be having these dreams if I had gone with my mother to the funeral home to see the body?
I had scoffed at the idea then, and wondered why she would torture herself with the sight of a lifeless shell, a likeness which was no more “him” than any of his pictures hanging on the wall.
Of course, I went to the farce that was his funeral. It was a Catholic mass. The priest wore white sneakers under his robes, like he’d just popped in on his way to an evening jog. He stood before my mother as she sat in the front row and went on at length and in great detail about how horrible it was to watch a loved one gasping for breath and desperately clinging to life, watching a loved one suffer for weeks on end. He then told personal anecdotes of the agony of watching his loved ones struggling for breath and desperately clinging to life and suffering for weeks on end.
Those wacky Catholics have a strange notion of comfort.
After I returned to Portland, I still felt no sense of closure and I asked my dear friends, Jen and Keith, to give him a send-off, Dahlia style. It may be the one and only time the band began, rather than ended, a show with their haunting didjeridoo/vocal improv, and that night it was dedicated to him.

Some time later, the family–– my mom, my brothers and a couple of our respective significant others–– met to scatter his ashes. The two stepsisters had gone from pledging undying fraternal affection over our father’s deathbed, to battling us for parts of the estate before the body was even cold. They declined to join us, but the rest of us drove to a lovely spot, where he had first wooed my mother. It is a beautiful lazy little creek where I once caught turtles and chased frogs, while he whispered sweet nothings to her under the shade of the myrtle trees.

The last time I saw my father in any physical form, he was a twisty-tied baggie stored inside an exorbitantly over-priced wooden box. It may have been particle board. I think we had to pour lighter fluid on the thing to finally get it to burn.

These days I’m left to reconcile the contradictions--- being aware of a realm beyond the physical, and having been raised in a culture which only acknowledges that which can be proved, measured, or perceived in a “tangible” way.
I often sense peoples’ energy in a way that is much more real to me than their external trappings, but it’s just that--- energy. At times that energy can be so strong that I can feel somebody’s presence long before they enter the room, sometimes even if they never physically do.
And yet, thanks to cultural indoctrination, people don’t really become solid or “real” to me unless I have actual contact with them.
I have been aware of my father’s presence since his death. When I find myself in a situation where I would normally turn to him for advice or comfort, I often have odd experiences, mostly involving hummingbirds, for which he had particular affinity.
The last encounter, however, involved a small figurine, presumed lost for six years. I had been living in my new home for several weeks and I was out on my porch telling a friend that I was leaning toward attempting a monogomaous relationship with the guy from “The Talk”.
A man started walking toward me from my old building across the street, saying he had found this figurine in my old apartment and thought it might have sentimental value for me. My eyes welled up. I had been crushed when I lost it 6 years ago, as it had very strong associations with my father.
It was the last bit of encouragement I needed to give that relationship an honest go.
(By the way, Papi, I have a bone to pick with you regarding that last bit of advice…)

So I am left to ponder…would I still have these dreams? But it is an exercise in futility, the product of stress, disrupted sleeping patterns and impending holidays. Who knows? There are cultures that see no separation at all between what we call waking reality and dreamtime, rather seeing them as two manifestations of the same thing.

Right now I would settle for some sleepy-time.

Photo © Mister Graves, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

17 November 2008

Remembering Jeff Buckley

Today would have been his birthday.

I originally posted the following blog on my myspace page on 13 January 2007. It's about meeting and spending a few hours chatting with Jeff when I was 17.

Lest anyone think from my last blog that I think all musicians are trouble, I thought I'd write about one who is somewhat responsible for who I am and what I do now. Jeff Buckley. It is partly because of him that I am living in Portland and still taking photos, among other things. This isn't one of those "that song changed my life" stories. I actually met the man and spent several hours with him.

My older brother, Victor, was the editor of a music 'zine for over ten years. Growing up, I always got to hear music that was outside of the mainstream and usually before it was ever publicly released. In December of 1993 he passed along to me an E.P. titled Live At Siné. It was the most incredible thing I'd ever heard, so beautiful and haunting. I'd never heard a voice quite like that. I was enamoured with that voice and those four songs.

In April or May of 1994, my brother received an advance copy of Grace and gave it to me. Oh, and the news that Jeff was going to play in Portland in July. I begged him to take me to the show. He did better. He arranged to do an interview and got a photo pass for me.

The night before the show, he told me he didn't want to do the interview, that I would be doing it. Ack! I had never done an interview and, well, this was Jeff Buckley. I was just hoping I wouldn't make a total ass of myself. Victor told me I'd have about 15 minutes to talk to him.

The next morning, I put on my best lacy bra (for confidence, as well as lift) and headed off to Portland. We pulled up to La Luna, just as a white van pulled up. I hopped out of the car, notebook and tape recorder in hand. The main door was locked. A young guy in a pink button-down shirt, docker shorts and penny loafers hopped out of the van and looked as lost as I was. I was skeptical but told him I was there to interview Jeff Buckley. He made a face and said nastily "So you're the one we had to rush down here for". This bodes well, I thought to myself.
I followed him around to the back and we went into the green room where he asked me to wait. After about 10 minutes, he walked back in looking annoyed "Well, are you coming?" he said. I followed him into the main stage area where there were several guys milling about and unloading gear. "Here she is" he announced. "This is Jeff" he said, motioning to a rather short, scruffy looking young guy in a plaid flannel.

"Hiya!" I shook his hand and introduced myself. "Hiya!" he repeated. I was at a bit of a loss. An older gentleman in a suit walked over. "Did you say Juliana?" He actually pronounced it properly, the Spanish pronounciation. "I'm Steve Berkowitz", as in Steve Berkowitz, head of AR for Sony. He'd flown in from NY to see Jeff's show. It turned out his wife's name was also Juliana and she was from Bogotá, Colombia. The ice broken, I got introduced to the rest of the band. Mr. Personality turned out to be Gene Bowen, Jeff's tour manager.
Everyone dispersed and Jeff and I sat on the couch in the green room...for a second. It was miserably hot and anyone who ever spent any time in that green room can back me up on this...it smelled. It reeked of stale cigarette smoke and beer and who-knows-what-else on the best of days. I followed him through the place, on a quest for a fan and some incense. We chit-chatted along the way. In true Juliana fashion I made my first of several oh-so-tactful comments. "My brother's friends met you in NY and said you were pretty pretentious". I never did have that filter. He turned and looked at me for a moment with a raised eyebrow. "You just don't seem all that pretentious" I added. He looked somewhat mollified, then said "tell them I said 'fuck you'. No don't tell them I said that. What kind of an insult is 'fuck you'? Tell them I said 'may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpit hairs'. Now there's an insult!" and smiled.
He finally found some incense and sent Gene to track down a fan and we settled onto the couch again to do the interview. That was where my life changed.
I was aware that time was ticking. "Don't you have another interview to do?" I knew there was a reporter from a Japanese magazine waiting to talk to him. "Yes. No. it could happen at any time. But stay, hang out, I'm not going anywhere." We had exhausted my interview questions quickly and I was completely unprepared beyond that and told him so.
"What do you do? You look like an artist" he mused. I told him about my dreams of pursuing photography. I was turning 18 in a month, had just graduated from high school and my parents were pressuring me to pick a 'real career' and I was unsure of what to do. "Fuck 'em. Follow your dream, follow your photography. Move out. Why don't you move here? Portland seems like a really cool city." So here I am.

I spent about 2 hours with him that afternoon and we talked about all sorts of stuff, from music and spirituality to t.v. and toe jam. We shared a beer, because Gene wouldn't bring me one of my own. Jeff told me about his Panamanian grandmother and how she would sing to him. He sang me one of her Spanish lullabies, softly, almost under his breath, then got embarassed. At one point he got called away to do a sound check. He insisted that I stay, that he'd only be a few minutes. After sitting in the green room by myself for a bit, I decided I had better say goodbye until the show.
I found him sitting on the stairs, looking distraught. "Are you, ok?" I asked as I sat next to him. He and the band had gone to some music store downtown earlier and he'd bought a new effects pedal. When they unloaded everything at the venue, Michael, his guitarist, had snapped it up and Jeff had said something nasty to him. He was filled with remorse and shame for being selfish. " Well, you apologized, yeah?" I asked. He nodded. "Well, he's your friend, I'm sure it's alright.." He seemed to feel better and we talked some more. At this point my brother came huffing and puffing up the stairs. Oops. He'd been waiting for me outside the whole time, thinking I'd be out in 20 minutes. He was not amused. Jeff diffused the situation. He was pretty charming and my brother soon forgot his anger talking about his 'zine.
When I returned later that evening for the show, Gene saw the camera and asked me what I thought I was doing. There had been some mis-communication regarding the photo pass. Steve overheard, walked over and put his arm around my shoulder. "Of course she can shoot!". Gene shot me a murderous look. The gracious Mr. Berkowitz walked me over to the door girl to get my hand stamped "This young lady is my personal guest. She's going to be taking photos tonight" he told her. I realized then that it was also a 21+ show. Sometimes it pays to be Colombian.
It was pretty early and Jeff wouldn't be playing for at least another hour and a half, so I wandered around looking for someplace to pass the time. I made my way downstairs to the café and there was Jeff again. He invited me to pull up a stool next to him. I asked what he was drinking. "A mocha. Caffeine, it's my first drug of choice. Do you like them?" I'd never had one. He seemed almost offended at the thought. "You have to try one, do you want one? My treat.." And Jeff Buckley bought me my first mocha. Gene came in at some point to have me sign a release for the photos. "You know you would never have been able to shoot if Steve wasn't here tonight.." he pointed out. That guy just had a chip on his shoulder.
Other than that, we passed the time in pleasant conversation. In the course of our talks he also changed my entire outlook on spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual person. I consider him one of my first spiritual teachers. He asked if I considered myself a very spiritual person. Until then I had the mistaken impression that religion equaled spirituality. I had turned my back on Catholicism when I was 9. My mother was fond of saying I didn't even believe in the food I ate.
"Have you ever had an orgasm?" Jeff asked me. Gulp. "What?" He repeated his question, then seeing my embarassment, continued "that moment when you have an orgasm , or see a beautiful sunset , or hear a beautiful piece of music.. that's spiritual, that's spirituality. There's a word in Urdu, the language of Pakistan, it has no translation in English , but it means 'knowledge gained not by ordinary means'.. anything that moves you like that, that's spirituality." It was like a light bulb went on in my head and in my heart. It was on that day that I learned that I was indeed a spiritual person, I had been so moved, even if it wasn't by the means that my upbringing had taught me.
It was an exciting night. I had a lot to think about. The show was amazing. I was listening to his beautiful voice and taking photos, pausing once in a while to take it all in.
After the show, Jeff and I were talking again and an older man walked up and told Jeff he'd enjoyed the music---that he'd been a big fan of his father's (Tim Buckley). Uh-oh. The rep at the label had said "Whatever you do, do not mention his father".
His smile faded "Well you'd know more about him than I would" he snapped and stormed off.

I hadn't had a chance to say goodbye. My brother walked in at that point and I managed to catch Jeff's eye and waved from across the room. He walked over and put his arm around my shoulders and said to my brother "You have an awesome step-sister". We hugged goodbye. I promised to go see him again in November.

It never happened. I was so excited to be living in Portland then, and had been taking photos. I wanted to thank him, but my friend flaked on me and I never made it to the show. Jeff played one more show in Portland after that and I've already written about how that turned out. I still have the photos and a tape of part of our conversation. I also have a beautifully autographed CD--- he tried to write me something in Spanish. "How do you say beautiful in Spanish?" he asked me.
The more intangible gifts are the most precious to me, though. I won't say that he put me on my current path, but he certainly gave me the gentle nudge I needed to start walking it, for which I am ever grateful.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

Favorite Reading, Favorite Show (PDX)

Favorite Show is a multimedia comedy event that combines stand up, stories, videos, and more into a single night. If you're the one in the office who shows all your friends you tube videos until they start crying, you'll enjoy the videos of Favorite Show. Like to listen to funny words read by people you can look at? We have that. And if you are a fan of sitting down, we got you covered with our luxurious, state of the art, "seats".

November 22nd will be the date Favorite Show goes down in infamy. Maria Bamford, stand-up icon and international woman of mystery, made a web series called the Maria Bamford show. Prepare to watch her episodes in all their infamous glory. Society has been warned.

What could make it more infamous? The Infamous CoatCheck Girl will be gracing the stage to read a story. Katie Jean Arnold will play music that's brimming with infamousness. Kevin Wilson will be hosting this ragtag team of daredevils, as well as providing some stand up comedy of his own. This is not all there is. There will be more stand-up, more stories, and more fun to make this night end with explosions and/or a satisfied audience.

When: Sat, Nov 22th

Where: Happen'N Place, Portland Oregon

Time: Doors open - 7:30p

Price: $5

13 November 2008

Getting My Hands Dirty

So, Obama has been voted in and everyone is hopeful. Or most everyone. I vacilated between trying to stay informed, and utterly desparing of following any of it, since I’m not allowed to vote in this country. You see, I’m one of those legal U.S. residents who loses more and rights by the day.
I come from a country where politics are more often run by the gun than the popular vote, so I'm withholding judgement and jubilation. I don't see it as entirely impossible that some lone nut will decide that Obama shouldn't be president and will take matters into his own hands.
Wait. What?. This has happened here before...?

But, when it comes to discussing politics I am a little old-fashioned. I just don’t feel comfortable doing so in public. Another thing I am typically not comfortable discussing in public is money, the economy. (Come to think of it, I don’t know if these are so much old-fashioned quirks as they are Latin ones.)
However, it is difficult to deny that most everyone I know is facing economic hardships right now. Some of my friends have taken on second and third jobs.
I’d settle for just one.
The luck I’ve had in the job market would make a splendidly cheesy 80’s film montage––“She Works Hard For the Money” plays in the background, I wipe sweat from my brow, the screen quickly cuts between a mind-numbing blur of equally mind-numbing jobs, and finally at the end I plop down into bed, exhausted.

Even the Infamous CoatCheck Girl can’t get by on her looks alone (believe me, I’ve tried).

While I look for something more permanent, I do odd jobs here and there. Probably most entertaining to my friends is the fact that I’ve been doing manual labor.
After many off-color jokes and incredulous comments, I figured a photo shoot was in order.

(The following images are all © Kenneth Barton, 2008)


Feelin' lucky, punk?

(And yes, that is indeed the Infamous tool box.)

Really, the manual labor stuff isn't so bad. I've become a wiz with a caulking gun, a paintbrush, and the like, but when it comes to power tools, I still feel a little bit like this:

And, I'm sorry boys, as much as I know some of you wanted nothing more than to see me sporting nothing but a tool-belt...well, it just messed with my lines.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

11 November 2008

We'll Burn That Bridge When We Get There

Several years ago I got involved with a guy who was some sort of Marilyn Manson wanna-be (yeah, I know). He ended up trying to run me over with his beautifully restored Cadillac hearse when I insisted on being paid for a photo shoot I had done for him. He then showed up at my apartment an hour later, and asked me out to breakfast as if nothing had happened.

With the exception of that guy and maybe one or two others, there are very few people I have known or with whom I’ve been involved, that I wouldn’t at least have a curteous “hello” for, should our paths happen to cross again.

I have continued to follow the Beachside Bukowski’s blog, because I always enjoyed his writing. When I saw that he was gearing up to do some publicity work in town, I emailed him and offered to help in whatever way I could.

Four words from his reply made me smile and forgive.

The first two, a cheeky:

Nice letter. (Argh! Punk!)


miss you.

You, I replied, are a punk, but I miss you too.

And just like that we were friends again, and made plans to catch up while he was in Portland for the Wordstock Festival this past weekend.

He invited me out to dinner and had me pick a place in the neighborhood.

“Meet me there in fifteen minutes? I want you sitting in the corner, reading something by Flaubert or something like that,” he joked.

”I’ll see what I can do to oblige.” I replied dryly.

It wasn’t quite Flaubert he found me reading, rather one of the local weekly rags. I only felt a fleeting bit of…something…and then we hugged and he said “Kiss me.” And the last several months of tension never happened, as we sat across the street from the coffee shop where we had met for the first time.
We were colleagues again, friends, drinking buddies. We swapped stories and filled in the blanks we knew were missed between the lines of each other’s blogs.

“Of course I’ve been reading it! I think that last piece you wrote about me was one of the best pieces of yours I’ve read yet,” he confided “ and not ‘cause it was about me...The ending though, I didn’t think it was a good ending for a piece of non-fiction. You assumed a lot. If it’s fiction and you’re the narrator you can do that, but not with non-fiction…”

For a flash of an instant I wanted to throw my beer at him, but I just laughed and shook my head. Such are the hazards of fraternizing with fellow writers, not to mention of maintaining a chronicle that blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction.

He apologized about the incident with the now Infamous letter, admitting he may have been a little insensitive.
“In my defense though, you never really told me how you felt about me. I still have the letter. I re-read it after you posted that, and it was kind of cryptic.” It was a gentle reproach.

I never have been very good at telling people how I feel about them. I try to express my fondness through action. Rather than say “I love you” to a friend or lover, I might cook and present them with a steaming hot bowl of lentils (one of my trademark tokens of affection, as some people very dear to me could attest).
I have always treasured the people that were able to truly see these affectionate getures for what they are.
This, however, may be the one area of my life where I might actually be accused of being too subtle.
And stubborn.
If they can’t see it…


I shrugged it off. “We’re here now.”

“I don’t like to burn bridges and neither do you. I know you don’t.” he shrugged back.

I could only partially agree. I believe some bridges you never burn–– others you raze because you know it is fruitless to harbor even the illusion that you can ever cross them again.

But it was neither the time nor the place for such debates.
We raised our glasses, toasted to reconciliation and got back to swapping stories.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

10 November 2008

A Passing Thought (in pronouns)

They sit on either side of me and I can feel their hands--- his steel-hardened, hers soft and tentative. I kiss them in turn, enjoy the press of her ample breasts against mine, the feel of his breath at my neck.
That ache which had threatened–– it’s back.
I feel it in the pit of my stomach and pounding, pounding in my head and...
It’s too soon. Too fast.

In the cab home, I have a passing thought.

He won.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

09 November 2008

Citadel of the Spirit

Several months ago I posted a myspace bulletin or two mentioning that I was being published as part of an anthology of Oregon writers. The book, Citadel of the Spirit, is a celebration of Oregon, and arrives just in time for the state's sesquicentennial.
When I was asked to contribute a story by editor Matt Love, he reiterated that he was looking for stories that were uniquely Oregon--- that could only happen in Oregon.
That was my inspiration for a story titled "Sauvie Island Heat". I knew Sauvie Island was pretty unique, but had no idea of just how varied (and sordid) its history was, until I really started doing my research. My essay is true to form––humor, sensuality, eroticism, but with a good dose of erudition thrown in. Let's just say, that small island is no stranger to Misadventure.
I am so honored to have been included in this anthology, particularly as it's my first "officially" published piece. Citadel includes over 60 original essays by Oregon writers, past and present, as well as many excerpts from primary documents related to Oregon history. It has a little bit of everything–– sex, drugs, rock n' roll, politics, environmentalism, you name it.

Citadel of the Spirit hits bookstores next month (just in time for the holidays!). In the meantime, it can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Nestucca Spit Press. Look for the official launch at Powell's on February 13th 2009!

*I haven't and probably won't post the entire essay on my blog, so the only way to read it is to get the book. So go out, buy it!


Infamous CoatChek Girl

07 November 2008

I Dig The Tarot

"Stupid cards...what do they know?"

Or so I ruefully ask myself every time I give myself a reading.
I usually do so when something has happened which raises more questions than answers.
Sometimes I use tarot cards--- Crowley's Thoth Deck is my favorite. Other times I use the Medicine Cards, or if it's a new moon or I'm just particularly in tune I need use nothing at all. I get pretty psychic if that's what you want to call it.
Today it was the Medicine Cards, since I am feeling easily duped by my own intuition.

The very first card, indicating what has just transpired, had this to say:

Beware of con artists and users.

Son of a...! *smacks forehead*

Where was this advice a month ago?!

Stupid cards...!

P.S. The first person to email me with the name of the band I am referrencing in this post (Portland connections, people!) gets...well...I'd say my undies, but I'm planning on selling those on eBay.

All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved

05 November 2008

"The Talk"

”Today is gonna be ‘the talk’,” I tell my room mate and his friend over lunch. “I can feel it”

When he walks in we hardly say a word. I hug him and he kisses the top of my head and I just hold him, because I know. Then we kiss and he is pulling me down the hall and into my room. The door still open, he runs his hand over my breast then tugs my shirt up. I shut the door as he kneels in front of me and pulls at my belt and jeans. Still, we haven’t said much more than hello, but I know, as surely as I knew his ex was sleeping in his bed two nights before.
My clothes are in disarray as I hold myself up between my bed frame and the door. I come twice before we tumble onto the bed and hastily tear away our clothes.
It isn’t sweet. It has all the passion, anger, and desperate intent of the good-bye fuck. Something to remember him by.
And he makes it count. Once. Twice. Almost a third and he pulls out, offers himself up to my mouth.
One last taste.
This time, he choked just right, pulled my hair back just so, and this time, he was the one to pull away just as soon as it was done.
He looks at me from across the bed, so far away.
I dash to the bathroom to clean myself up, straighten my thoughts. When I return a moment later he is zipping up, already half dressed and I half expect to see cash on the night stand.
I had planned on cooking dinner, but he wants to go out to eat. There’s a bar nearby where his friend works. They chat about the new record on which she’s just recorded.
When we get back to my place, I suggest a movie, so he chooses one and settles onto the couch. I try to find a spot to settle into his arm. In Sex and the City, Carrie called it “the nook”. It feels awkward and he absent-mindedly touches my back on occasion. When my room mate comes home, I spring up and pounce on the cake he’s brought home.
I try to settle back in to “the nook” but it’s no use.
I go out for a smoke then wander into the office, where he finds me at the computer.
It’s time for bed and I find him laying on top of the rumpled covers completely clothed. I change into my pajamas and lay down, with him watching me the whole time.
He comments on my body language, says it feels weird.
If he were more observant he’d see that I’ve assumed “crash position”. Have been all night.
“You just feel so far away” I tell him. ” I felt the moment you disconnected a day ago. I could physically feel it, even though you were nowhere near.” And I wish he would just say it and get it over with, swing the axe hanging over my head.

“I’m reacting to your energy.” He insists. Says it’s too awkward and that he is going home so he can get some sleep.
I walk him out so I can lock the door behind him. He tries to kiss me and I resist for a moment, then give him a quick peck on the lips.

The following afternoon, the axe finally falls. He’s on the phone with excuses and reasons. Too much on his plate right now, financial worries, ex-crushes, ex-crutches, too much transition…he just can’t handle it right now.

”Well, I was a day off. ‘The talk’ I mean, I thought this was coming yesterday” I tell him. ” Guess I’ll see you around.” and I think that’s that, but he’s not through.

“I’m afraid you won’t want to.”

“Want to what?” I ask.

“See me. I’m worried that you’ll go back to what you were doing, dating other people…”

Well. Yeah.

”If we’re not together, what do you care what I’m doing or who I’m seeing?”

For this man I stopped seeing others. I turned down intriguing propositions, appealing men, enticing couples, old lovers. For this man, I faced my fear and discomfort around children, spent time with his son, met his ex-wife, her husband and their kids--- went trick-or-treating with the lot of them, for cryin’ out loud! For this man, I respected a woman I don’t even know--- his ex-girlfriend--- and hid our budding relationship to spare her fragile feelings.

“Well, you’ve been transitioning into being in a monogamous relationship…”

”Yeah…with you. It’s kinda person-specific, this monogamy thing. All of the changes I made were because I wanted to be with you, and I knew what that meant. I’m not opposed to monogamy, but it takes a specific person to inspire me to do it. I thought you were that person--- all of it, your son, your ex-wife, turning away other people --- it was a change, yes, but I think I took it all in stride. Because of you.” I countered.

And this seems to be the relationship theme of the year, these men who want to be with me, but seem to have countless reasons why they shouldn’t. Then they’d like to fuck me but can’t bear the thought of me fucking somebody else.

” What am I supposed to do?” I continued, “Just hang out and wait to see if you decide you do actually want to be with me? Look, I’ll just talk to you another time, ok?”

But he seemed to have more to say. More reasons, and excuses. My past, my exes, my public persona, and the fact that one of my exes propositioned him. Us.
And his ex. The unwillingness to hurt her or lose her friendship.
He ended things with her because he had put his life on hold to take care of her. He was through with being her crutch, or so he told himself.

”You said that part already,” I reminded him. It was all I could say, as the “interested party”. I had already told him if he really was that concerned, he should realize he is not the most fit person to help her get over him. But he would put his life on hold, “put the breaks on us” he told me, if it was going to hurt her. And I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for this girl--- the hope she must feel and lack of incentive--- getting mixed signals: “move on, but I won’t move on while you still need me.”

That’s if that was really his reason to begin with. I felt like he was just talking to talk. He said he might change his mind, might just be thinking out loud. He would still like to see me sometime, but felt weird about the thought of me dating again.
We’d been over this already.

“Right now I feel like I’m just more fodder for the blog…” he says finally.

Uh, well…if the shoe fits, as they say…

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

29 October 2008

(work in progress)

"Human nature is what we were put on this earth to rise above…"(Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen).

When I was preparing for my show with Auditory Sculpture I dug up some old pieces I thought I might want to re-work for the occasion, or to see if they might inspire new pieces. Amongst my own writings, I found poems and songs written for and about me by different lovers over the span of several years. Oddly enough, two of them were about one specific night, a night when I also performed with Auditory Sculpture 8 years ago. I was out with a full entourage and two of the boys presented me with their respective views on the evening.
One likened it to watching a parade, and, though then "favored by the Spanish queen" as he put it, he pointed out the futility of he or any of the other hopefuls waiting for me to stop for them. One of those very same hopefuls mused whether:

"…to pace round the station, my temperature dropping
Or chase down a train that will never be stopping
At all…"

Another wrote:

"It's easier to tie her up
than tie her down"


"She has mastered the craft of the 6 night stand
and on the 7th day she rests."

It's a brilliant line, but, ouch! I just wish it hadn't been written about me.

My first thought, of course, was: wow, I've dated a bunch of whiny man-bitches!

But it's my nature to be aloof, my nature to run, have one foot out the door, jump from rock to rock. It's my emotional identity, part my creative process.

All of these reasons I had flung back at me by lovers who "had" me only in the most fleeting sense. For the most part there were no painful, explosive break-ups. I simply never let them in and moved on when somebody else caught my interest. I am fortunate to count many of them as friends today, but occasionally the question comes up.
Why? Why didn't it work out between us?
Sometimes it was a matter of circumstance or timing, but in most cases all I can say is: I don't know, it's just how I am.
Ten years later, the tune hasn't changed. And there is no point in speculating on whether any of them could have been The One--- I don't really believe there is just One--- but many of them were good people, with good intentions, looking for love or companionship that I wouldn't give them.

It's just how I am. It's my nature.

There's that phrase again.

I'll never forget one dear friend, former lover, standing at my door with a book and an earnest look in his eyes. "I'm giving you this because I love you. Will you please read it?"
"Are you kidding?" I asked looking at the title 'The Sexual Healing Journey'."Really?"

He and others trying to dig deep for dark secrets in my past, something that would make me "this way".

It's just how I am. It's my nature.

I always had multiple crushes when I was a kid. I watched my parents flirt, watched Dad woo Mom daily--- even from his death bed. No knock-down-drag-out fights, maybe the occasional terse words and an hour of silence, but "never go to bed angry" they always said.

And still, I never longed for that One person. I didn't dream of marriage and kids. My biggest fear was getting trappped into the life of the women I saw around me in Colombia. My father's biggest fear as he lay dying was that I would never have, never allow a man to take care of me.

I have always been this way, string sets of lovers. Even young love, innocent love, where we held hands until the recess bell. I always wondered what it would be like to hold hands with that other boy, that other girl.

It's the thought of what else I might be missing out on that keeps me on the move. And so I ponder the nature of habits, of human nature and what that really means.

It's just who I am.

It's just who I've become.

It's just who I've choosen to be.

And suddenly, it's a choice I've made.

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved.

16 October 2008

Beachside Bounceback

"So whatever happened 2 your blog? Did u finally burn through all your boyfriends?"


Well, it's not the first text or message I've received in the past couple of months asking for an update, but this was too much to bear, especially from a smart-ass ex.

My dear, my social life is hydra-like--- I cut one off and two more spring up in his place… But this is about a story isn't it?



My beach trip was a little tougher to write about than most, more elusive. Other stories are clamoring for attention but will not be written until this chapter is closed, so…

 I was walking recently with a new friend, one who is new to my stories, as well. He had read about the Beachside Bukowski. He pointed also out to me that I hadn't really posted anything since. I had been so excited, and then… nothing. So what happened?

"I was heart-broken. Well, no, not heart-broken…" I said searching for a succinct way to describe it.

He scoffed at my unwillingness to admit to or to feel heartbreak.

"Well, it's not like I was in love with the guy…I just spent a weekend with him," I protested, still struggling to explain.

I told him my story.

He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. "My heart's breaking just hearing this!"

I rolled my eyes.

"No, seriously, this is just heartbreaking!"

"And that is why I haven't written since."

"NO! No, no, no NO!" he refused to move forward as he began the well-intentioned harangue that has lead me try to write this.



My time at the beach had promised to be another Misadventure, a free-for-all, a meeting of two characters–– The Infamous CoatCheck Girl and The Beachside Bukowski. We'd traded "fuck stories", as he called them. We'd flirted and shared almost nerdy, literary-minded fantasies–– trading stories over gin in his back yard, reading Shakespeare under starlight, a quick skinny dip and frolick in the surf…

I don't think either of us were quite prepared for reality.

It was not a romantic idyll on some remote beach, nor was it a vacation. He invited me into his home and shared with me the things about which he is most passionate–– his beloved dogs, his beloved beach, and his passion for writing.

He had a gift for me as soon as we arrived. A book, of course. How else do you court a writer? It was a first edition (UK) of Mary Gaitskill's collection of short stories "Bad Behavior". One of my favorite movies, Secretary, was based on one of the stories in that book.

It was a perfect gift. 

His beach cabin is cozy, full of books and Rolling Stones memorabilia. We sat out on the sunny deck and ate a quick snack before heading out to do an open-mic reading at a local café (the name and location of which I was sworn by the locals to keep secret from Californians and other undesirables).

BB seemed to be quite the local celebrity, as much for his profession as for his impassioned writings about the local beaches. He signed us up to read, carefully choosing a time which would maximize our audience.

It was such an eclectic little microcosm of people. I met a Surfrider in love with an ODFW, Capulets and Montagues of the Oregon Coast. I met people of all ages, writers, musicians, teachers…even one older gentleman who had actually heard of the Infamous CoatCheck Girl. This man, old enough to be my grandfather, told me my photos were "hot".

The next day was one of those rare days you get on the Oregon Coast that are actually warm and beach-like. I even donned my bikini. But I wasn't on vacation, and neither was he. It was a work day, bikini notwithstanding. I sat in the sun in the backyard doing research for a Sauvie Island piece, the one BB had encouraged me to write. He was inside working on his book. We'd occasionally pause to chat and check on each other's progress, share a quick kiss or a comment, but the feel was more of colleagues sharing ideas.

One of the things that originally drew me to him was his passion for Oregon, for the beaches here. He regaled me with tidbits of Oregon history and lore, and my admiration for the breadth of his knowledge and for the uniqueness of my home state grew.

I realized then that this was no mere Misadventure.

I was being offered a precious gift, whether he realized it or not.I had begun to think of myself as a writer, rather than a "mere blogger". I was beginning to feel more rooted in where I live, beyond my apartment and the clubs, cafes and bars I frequent. I won't be setting off on a three week back-packing trip through the Cascades or anything anytime soon, but I certainly gained a better appreciation of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the ongoing efforts to preserve it.

I also found the personas falling away. BB and Infamous CoatCheck Girl had been left behind--- probably still sitting at Hoover's, slinging back gin and tonics.

As night fell, I felt more and more exposed. It was just Juliana and M.,  and Juliana was feeling tentative and unsure.

 "So, I just had sex with the CoatCheck Girl," he teased.

"No. You had sex with Juliana" I corrected, feeling even more naked.

The next morning we decided to go to Mary's Peak, the highest peak in the Coastal Range. We loaded up his pups in the truck and drove through little coastal hamlets and clear-cuts. As we began to climb up the range, we drove past what I've come to consider quintessential Oregon--- stands of old-growth forests. We rounded a corner and suddenly…

I felt like I should be twirling in a burlap sack of a dress and a butch haircut, raising my voice in song. The hills were alive, with thousands of wild flowers and knee high grass and sunshine.

We parked the truck, leashed the dogs and walked the rest of the way up. The view from the peak was absolutely breathtaking. On one side, you could look into the Willamette Valley and on the other, through the haze, we could just barely make out a hint of coastline.

We took some photos, watched the dogs run around for a bit before returning to the car. I absorbed the sights and sounds--- the humming and buzzing of bumble bees, the chirping and birdsong, and…ABBA?!

There was a family in the parking lot, complete with white mini-van, blasting "Dancing Queen", utterly oblivious to the symphony playing all around them.

This is what BB has been up against in his fight to preserve his beloved Coast.

 My lesson in Oregon history continued as we drove back to Newport, and onto a lecture later that night. I'd never heard of Derrick Jensen before, but I was very moved by his stories. Some were very relevant to some of the questions that BB himself had asked of me.

Derrick told of a tradition among some Native American warriors who would stake themselves to the ground during battle, vowing to make their stand there, and there they would stay until dead or victorious. He talked of the importance of making a stand and figuring out where that will be. It doesn't matter where as long as it's somewhere, whether in the context of environmental activism or otherwise.

BB, too, had asked me where I make or will make my stand, as a writer, as a person, as a personality.

 "How about CoatCheck Girl does politics?" he asked.


When I returned from my trip, I was very introspective. I was pondering the many things I had heard or discussed. I also pondered how to convey to BB my gratitude for sharing his insights, his wisdom, and his camaraderie.


A week later I had the opportunity to work on a movie production called "The Road". They had come back to the area after finally getting permission to film on a long-deserted road on Mt. St. Helens. The road has been closed for good reason--- there are parts where one lane has entirely fallen away.

The landscape, while bleak, still had a sort of melancholy beauty to it. Everywhere there were signs of nature making its steady comeback. I wandered away from the catering tent where I was working and befriended some of the locals. A curious little chipmunk came out to see what I was about. After a few moments he darted away, and I remained sitting where I was. A moment later the little guy came back with a bigger (and I must say tougher-looking) chipmunk in tow. After a while they went about their business and left me to mine.

Feeling inspired, I walked back, grabbed pen and paper and I wrote. I wrote a good old-fashioned epistle. I wrote of the stark beauty around me, of the gratitude I felt to BB for many things. I wished that I could share that view with him, and felt that I was better able to appreciate it because of the time I had recently spent with him. I thought he might appreciate a hand-written letter, and one that was so heart felt.

I mailed it when we got back into whatever passed for a town in those parts.

When he had received and read it, he called.

I don't know what I expected. A "thank you", perhaps.

Certainly not:

 "It was really well-written."


"And what? I said it was a great letter. Your nature observations were well written"

"Well, I didn't mail it to you to edit!" I said in frustration.


I was utterly crushed. As hard as it may be to believe, I rarely really let my guard down and make myself completely vulnerable to people, be they friends or lovers.

Later I emailed him:

You may be a writer, but your soul lacks poetry.


Corner a Leo, and we'll lash out and hit your weakest spot. One shot is all we need. It was a bull's-eye, too.

He said he was removing himself from the conversation and did so. Permanently.

That was the end of my adventures with the Beachside Bukowski and the beginning of my writing hiatus.

Good thing Leos are also resilient.


All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

17 July 2008

Beachside Bukowski

A lovely vision of a man told me a few years ago that I should not be afraid of meeting people online.
"You work with energy, you can feel people out. The internet is just energy...you should be able to feel people out online the same way you do in person."

I don't know that this view is entirely true, but so far my instincts have been pretty good. There are people who with a simple "hello" chill me to my very core, and others whose initial awkward attempts at conversation have developed into significant relationships, both romantic and platonic.
I have become less reluctant to meet people online, though I always remember what Jeff Buckley told me when I asked if how he'd met his band.

"...Did you already know them, did the label hire them...did you put an ad out in the paper..?" I'd asked him.
"No, no...never advertise for a lover or a band mate!" he'd said emphatically.

But meeting people through personal ads doesn't have the same sort of stigma it once had. I had wonderful luck on Adult Friend Finder last year--- it's why I canceled my account. What are the odds I'd keep meeting incredible people like the Leo Couple and the Frenchman?
About a month ago, however, I signed up on Lovelab, the Mercury personals. It was part curiosity and part marketing move, as I do make reference to the Misadventures.
I still refuse to pay to use any of these accounts, so I can only reply to emails. However, it doesn't stop me from going window shopping. Who doesn't like to shop?
While perusing, I came across a ruggedly handsome figure, a writer who lives on the Oregon Coast. He made me think of Indiana Jones, the pre- alien/nuclear bomb-fiasco Indy.

As luck would have it, I was contacted by a young man, on myspace, who had seen my personal ad. The handsome writer happened to be among his top friends. What a lovely coincidence.

We began exchanging emails and phone calls, trading stories. I love his stories. He writes about drinking and fucking. I've begun jokingly referring to him as the Beachside Bukowski, or BB.
But he is at his most eloquent when he writes about where he lives. He has made of the Oregon Coast a home, a lover, a place of worship...
I have become enamored of this place I have glimpsed in his writing. I feel I have never really seen it before, though I have been to the Oregon Coast.

It was inevitable that we would meet.

He came into Portland early one Sunday morning a few weeks ago and we met for coffee. We hit it off instantly. So much so, that he has invited me to go and stay with him this weekend. It promises to be part Misadventure, part writer's retreat.
While he has made it no secret that there is an attraction, we have spent as much time talking about the craft of writing as anything else. He's even talked me into reading at an open mic while I'm there.
He has already influenced the way I write and think about writing. I'm even doing research! At his urging, I am going to submit a story to a huge anthology of Oregon writing/writers that's going to be published next year.
He'd asked if I have a good "Sauvie Island fuck story". As a matter of fact, I do. He gave me a brief history of the place, of the events that took place and the laws that were passed so that people could run around naked and fuck on the beach there. Well, when you put it that way... it appealed to my sense of whimsy and got my mind working.
So, between readings and glasses of gin, and whatever trouble we can get into, we'll be working on an outline for my story. Wish me luck kids!

16 July 2008

Woke Up In a Strange Place

Red wall, light-filled room, warm body stirring next to me...
No, not home, and not my typical M.O.
I'm more the hit-and-run type, the "Thanks, now turn the light off on your way out" type.

"Do you want some coffee? Some eggs?" he asked me.

I tackled him and rolled him over, snuggling into his arms, planting little kisses on both his cheeks as I did so. I may have even giggled with girlish glee.

"Yes please!"

The house holds painful memories for SB, but I found it hard to believe a negative thought could exist in that place. I felt completely peaceful and comfortable...and girly! I smiled and I stretched as he started bustling around in the kitchen downstairs.

After such a perfect day at The Mississippi Street Fair, it had seemed a shame to cut the evening short.
After tea, it had seemed a shame to waste such a perfect night.

We ate dinner on the back porch, with no light but that of a few candles and the unusually bright waxing moon. There were more stars than I ever remember having seen from within the city. We talked outside until we could feel a chill creeping into the night. We talked of the changes and transitions he has experienced over the past year.
I tend to encounter (some would say I seek out) men in this particular phase of their lives. The transition phase; existential crises, divorces, break-ups...I'm the perennial rebound girl, and perfectly suited to it. I'm affectionate and free-spirited, the companionship without the emotional demands.
It suits my purposes, too, as a free agent. Perhaps when the weather turns cold and I have the urge to hibernate a bit, I'll feel differently. But it's summer and everyone is jovial and scantily clad and coming back to life.
Why would I sample just one dish when presented with such a feast?
But it's never about the random fuck.
I much prefer "friends with benefits", and things with SB were certainly friendly... and mutually beneficial.

We had our morning coffee and eggs on the back porch, and the day just seemed to unfold perfectly from there. His morning appointment canceled, so he invited me to the planetarium at OMSI.
I must confess, I am a nerd at heart. Science turns me on. We sat in the dark, looking at a fake firmament, listening to Robert Redford talk about colliding heavenly bodies. I found myself breathing just a little faster and wishing we had sat in the back row.
After the planetarium show, we strolled through the dinosaur exhibit, getting more and more frisky all the while, but knowing we would soon have to part ways.

"If you say the word, I'll call and cancel my afternoon appointment" he said with a grin, "but aren't you supposed to hang out with Rob?"
"Yeah, but I know him. I'll get a last minute phone call, and he'll cancel. Make the call." I love playing Devil's advocate.

No sooner had he hung up his phone, than mine rang. Of course , as I'd predicted, my friend couldn't make it, terribly busy, work to do...Of course.

It was the perfect way to wrap up a perfect weekend. We spent the last couple of hours together laying on a blanket in his back yard, eating strawberries with home-made whipped cream and little bites of chocolate. By the time I got home that evening I was blissfully exhausted.

"I'll see you when I see you" he called out as I got out of the car.

Indeed. Perfect.

All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

15 July 2008

Mississippi Street Fair

This is Portland at its very best. Summer in full swing, sun blazing down, Bastille Day, Mississippi Street Fair, beautiful people everywhere...
Even though I'd got home at 9am and only slept a few hours I was ready to head back out and enjoy what the city had to offer. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up in the tropics...though I prefer to be out of the direct sun, I do thrive in temperatures reminiscent of more equatorial climes.
I had made plans to see a friend later in the evening, after my voice lesson. (We'll call him Shark-Bite, because it's silly and fun, and in keeping with the tone of our weekend). My lesson was canceled and his afternoon plans had fallen through as well, so he picked me up early and together we went to the Mississippi Street Fair.

We wandered up and down the street, listened to music, took in the sights, talked. Though we have known each other socially for many years, we had never really had a chance to get to know each other. As we walked, the conversation turned from the general to the more personal. We eased into an affectionate, flirtatious rapport.

Having seen all there was to see on Mississippi, we doubled back toward the Bastille Day celebration that was happening several blocks away. Just as we turned back, who should I see walking toward us, but The Magus (more on him later). I had thought he might be there, but had hoped to avoid any awkwardness. He saw me with my date, nodded his acknowledgment and continued in the direction from which we had just come.
Awkwardness averted... or so I thought.
As we reached the street we had intended to follow to the other event, The Magus brushed up from behind, passed us and turned up that very street.
Had he doubled back and followed us?
It did seem rather suspect, but we brushed it off, giving him a minute or two to reach whatever his destination might be.

Once we arrived at the Bastille Day event, we went straight for the 21+ section where they were serving oysters and champagne.
I love this city.
Eating oysters and drinking champagne, al fresco, on a gorgeous summer day. Watching The Sprockettes, Portland's all-female synchronized mini-bike dance troupe. Where else would one find such an eclectic event?
The only thing that could improve upon our day was chocolate.
Fortunately for us, PIX Patisserie was just yards away. Unfortunately for us, Th Magus was sitting on the sidewalk just outside of the place. I was already feeling a little uncomfortable with his earlier behavior and did not know what I could expect were we to have a more direct encounter. There was no helping it though. We would have to walk past him, or rather behind him, as he sat on the edge of the sidewalk.
We had almost passed him, when he abruptly stood up and bumped into me.
"Oh sorry, I didn't see you there!" He glanced at Shark-Bite, then turned and walked into the crowd.
SB and I exchanged amused glances and shrugged.

PIX was doing brisk business, but we didn't have trouble finding an empty table and satisfying our chocolate cravings.
There was something about the festive atmosphere, the sunshine, the decadent indulgences, my little random encounter with Flirty Boy by the bathrooms (Bastille Day Bisous)...
My entire body was buzzing from all of it.

As SB and I left, we debated on where to go next. We both had invitations to backyard barbeques and shows that night. Flirty Boy had even invited me to go see his band.
The company and conversation were too pleasant and we were both reluctant to part ways just yet. We settled on tea, at his place.

I was instantly charmed by his house. It is so peaceful and airy. The back yard was my absolute favorite part, though. The heady fragrance of honeysuckle permeated the garden, and passion-flowers dotted one part of the fence.
The sun was setting, and everything seemed to glow. We watched the butterflies flitting about the blooming butterfly bushes and fed each other ripe raspberries as we picked them off the plant. I could feel the grass beneath my feet, his hands on my hips, and his lips grazing my neck. It was all too perfect and I felt utterly content.

Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Bastille Day Bisous

PIX was bustling with revelers from the Bastille Day Celebration. My date was standing in the seemingly endless line, trying to get an order in while I waited at a table. I saw a familiar face a few tables over. Flirty Boy. He smiled when he saw me and ambled over.
He is the friend of a recent acquaintance, The Magus. When we were introduced he had lived up to his reputation as an incorrigible flirt, despite the fact that I was on a date with his friend.
And why should Bastille Day be any different?
I smiled as I greeted him.

"Hi" he smiled back "Where's (The Magus)?"

"I don't know...I'm not here with him." I replied archly.

His manner immediately changed, became more playful.

"Well, are you here with me, then?"

"I could be..." I crooned, unable to resist "but I'm actually here with somebody else. Another time...?"

"Yeah..." he said with a self-satisfied smile. " 'cause you're the most beautiful---"

"Yeah, another time..." I interrupted. My date returned with coffee and dessert in hand and I introduced him to the interloper. Flirty Boy, meet Shark-Bite (more on all of the new players later).

"Nice to see you again." Flirty Boy said as he went to rejoin his friends. I could see that he kept casting the occasional glance in my direction. I excused myself to use the ladies' room, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Flirty Boy watching me.

When I came out of the restroom, he was standing just outside it, in the little hallway.

"Oh, hey..."
Without a word, he moved toward me, hands moving over my arms. I felt the wall behind me, not quite knowing how I ended up pressed against it. He touched his cheek to mine for a moment, then kissed me full on the lips. I kissed him back with equal abandon.
Public, illicit, inappropriate displays with a near-stranger... does it get more fun and exciting? One more second and we'd be locked in a bathroom stall, I just knew it.
I pulled away as I remembered my date, patiently waiting for me.
"We should hang out sometime" I called out as I turned to walk back into the dining room. I couldn't help but grin as I thought about the look of bewilderment I saw on his face just before I turned away.
The only way for him to track me down easily will be to ask The Magus.

I was laughing mischievously by the time I returned to my table, to my date.

Vive la Revolution!

Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

12 July 2008

Morning musings

I rarely get to see the sunrise.
When I do, it's not the kind that marks the start of day, but rather the kind that marks the end of a long, long night.
This particular day... night... moment in time, I found myself at a bus stop in an unfamiliar part of town, squinting against this shining reminder of just how long my night had been.

The last thing I had done before leaving my apartment was to take my sunglasses out of my purse, thinking I'd have no need for them. When did I begin making such rookie mistakes? In my twenties I would never have left the house for the night without sunglasses, toothbrush, condoms and lube.

Cursing my own oversight, I squinted some more and watched people with fresh-scrubbed faces starting their day... morning coffee, pastries, smiles. All I could think about was getting home to bed. Still, I couldn't help but smile a bit.

He smelled of whiskey and cigarettes and conquest.
I'd had my eye on this one for a while.
Full soft lips and a little rough around the edges, a gentleman in hooligan's clothing--- or maybe the other way around.
He told me he'd wanted to grab me by the hair and throw me down on the table the first time he saw me. But there, in the dark, his kisses were sweet and his hands moved lightly, skimming over my skin.
I've never been terribly shy about vocalizing my enjoyment, but I felt suddenly self-conscious. There was a house-full of people trying to sleep just upstairs. He seemed to sense that I was trying to be quiet and redoubled his efforts... deliciously... relentlessly. I heard a soft chuckle in his throat as I finally let out a loud moan.
He may have won our little battle of wills, but guess who got the prize?

But I like to give almost as much as I like to get.

It turns out I need hardly have bothered.

Ah, whiskey-dick. So much promise, so little follow through.

"That felt so good... but I took a Vicodin..." he said sheepishly.
I sighed in defeat, and nestled into the crook of his arm as I stretched out the cramp in my jaw. A couple of hours of sleep would do us both good.
"I'm gonna have to roll over" he mumbled sleepily.
"That's alright. I can't sleep all cuddled up like this anyway" I said as I relinquished his arm.
He rolled onto his side and I placed one hand between his broad shoulders.

"Hey, would you like to have dinner sometime?"
He sounded so earnest, so polite. I giggled at the absurdity of such a question at such a moment.
"That would be lovely" I replied in my most genteel manner.
A few moments passed and I thought he had fallen asleep.
"So why only the one nipple pierced?" he asked abruptly.
" I think people should always have options" I quipped.
" I thought you might say that" he said with a chuckle.

Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

30 June 2008

The devil is in the details...

Often, when the muse eludes or I'm short on time, I'll take advantage of the status updates on myspace to post what have become micro-blogs. Some of them elicit almost as many comments as the full length entries do.
In a recent one, I alluded to a particular evening I had with The Banker. I didn't think much of it, until I received a grudgingly envious message from one of my male readers. How is it, he wondered, that I have all these extraordinary misadventures, and furthermore, how could I be so glib about sharing them.
The latter sentiment has been expressed by others, who feel I do myself and my lovers a disservice writing about the intimate details of our...well, our intimacies.
I would disagree.
It has been said that the best way to conceal something is to hide it in plain sight.
I wholeheartedly live my experiences, lovingly wrap them in words, and craft them until they resemble colorful little packages tied neatly with a bow. You can shake them, rattle them, make out the general shape of what's inside--- but the true contents are known only to me and the other parties directly involved.

As for the "extraordinary" quality of my misadventures, I would say it's a matter of perspective. Like everyone else, I work, I play, I go out with friends occasionally. Even some friends, however, are surprised to learn that I spend a great deal of time at home, alone in front of a computer. (These blogs don't type themselves, dearies!)

No, my life is not extraordinary, I simply see the magic in the mundane.

The secret, I told this envious young man, is in the details.

To the average observer my evening may have looked like this:
The Banker and I went to Fred Meyer, bought some groceries and some inexpensive wine. We then cooked and ate dinner at his apartment, listened to music, then retired to his bedroom.

But...my friend The Banker is a fellow sensualist, though you might not know it to look at him. The above "date" is no more in his nature than it is in mine.

The seduction began in the produce section.
Together we chose red and green peppers, not because the recipe required them, but simply because they were beautiful. It was the same with the rainbow chard, the leeks and fragrant jasmine rice.
Once in his kitchen, we snacked on sweet-tart cherries. Soon the scents of peppery olive oil and garlic mingled and sizzled on the stove with plump scallops. Then tomatoes, and that elusive earthy scent of saffron.
He picked fresh herbs and chopped them with abandon, pausing occasionally to take a sip of wine. Even a modest wine tastes like the finest vintage when sipped from hand-made ceramic goblets.

When heat and time had worked their special alchemy, we had a beautiful paella.
We eschewed his dining table for a smaller one in his sun room. On our way there I saw a most inviting sight in his room. Spread across his bed was a luxurious alpaca blanket, and I couldn't help but smile in anticipation of feeling it against my bare skin.
We ate as we watched the sun setting, chatted, clinked goblets, and savored the complexity of the dish we'd prepared.
I kept thinking about that bed.
Once he cleared the dishes, I scooped up my goblet and made my way to that inviting expanse of alpaca fur. He followed, bringing his harp with him.
It was sensory overload, and I surrendered to it--- the food, the wine, the sound of the harp...
Those last notes just seemed to linger in the room and we became a tangle of fur and skin and limbs. Fur feels so lovely against bare skin...

And that, my envious friend, is called: living life with gusto. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved.

03 June 2008

Mes Rêves

Some people dream of exotic things. I dream of the mundane.
I dreamt last night that I lived with a hot French girlfriend (ok, so maybe not everyone's version of mundane). The dream had a lot of detail, but was very much slice-of-life.
I was sitting at a computer desk, photo editing presumably, while she moved around in the other room. I could hear movement and catch an occasional glimpse of her through the open door.
It was very cinematic.
It was one of those unmistakably Parisian apartments, light and airy, cozy, complete with little wrought iron balcony.
So where does the mundane part come in?
It was just a relationship.
She had moved in with me and was rearranging my furniture and decorations, and adding hers. I was too absorbed in work and she had to call my attention to some of the changes she had made in the place. I was nervous about meeting her parents, especially her mother, for the first time. I was self-conscious of my French accent. There was an awkward moment greeting mom---was it two kisses or three?...

I am a romantic at heart, for all my misadventuring.
Is it really any surprise that I should dream of the boring minutiae of "normal" relationships?


I'm going to take a nap...and hang out with my hot French girlfriend...

All Content Copyright 2008, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

30 May 2008

He’s a loner...a rebel

Curiosity is a bitch for a Leo. Rather a Leo is Curiosity's bitch--- like Pandora, who knows what likely hides inside that box, but can't help taking a peek.

So it is that a Leo will even put friendship on the line to satisfy a long-smoldering lust.

He beckons through the curtain, finger curling toward him and a glimmer of a smile on his face. I smile back. I know this little game. We're bravest when we're surrounded, when there are no possibilities. We banter, we flirt, we make unspoken promises we never keep.
Get us alone, and it's all propriety and friendly chit-chat...

"What's up?" he asks, and I sense the rules are changing. There is an inflection, a certain posture...an inability to hold my gaze.
He's testing the waters.
Who am I seeing. Who am I with...?

"Why do you care? You're the one who runs away every time there's an actual opportunity..." I tease.
"When?!" His indignation is charming. "Well...I'm kind of scared" he admits.
"Of what? Of me? I'm harmless!" I know I am lying, know I am guilty even as I plead innocence.
"You're trouble..."
I stretch and smile, prepare for the game of cat and mouse.
Something tells me each of us thinks we're the cat.
He is afraid of getting physically involved. Afraid he will like it.
"You're like the forbidden fruit"

We are in his car now, away from the crowd and the noise, and I think this is where he'll turn tail and scurry back to safety.
*twitch, twitch*
I can wait out this little mouse.
I watch him intently and he asks what I'm thinking as he looks at the dashboard.
Hey! That's my line!

"I'm thinking that I'd like to make out with you, actually" And he calls my bluff. He cups my face as he kisses me. It is sweet and thrilling, new yet familiar, and awkward as only a kiss in a car can be. I start to feel a little breathless, being this close to him---those are his soft lips, that's his playful tongue, that's his hand on my face...and I can hardly believe it.

"See?...harmless!" I say as I pull away and pull myself together.
He lets out a chuckle that says he disagrees.
We're each waiting for the other to back out, we're children locked in a match of dares and double-dares.
"I kinda wanna get outta here" he says.
I dare you.
"Me too. My place is closer"
I double-dog-dare you.
"I know" he says with a nervous chuckle. I don't play fair. I've upped the stakes.

I wonder if he's still scared of me. He is, but all he'll give by way of answer is a helpless:
"Because you're...you're you..."
"Is it the blog?". No. Maybe. Probably.
"If you're gonna blog about me, I want a cool nickname..."
"Oh yeah? Like what?" I ask him as we drive along.
"Like...Rex! I wanna be known as Rex. I wanna be a loner... I wanna be dangerous...!"
The tipsy giggle that punctuates his speech ruins the effect. In my mind, all I can hear is "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel..." and I giggle too.
I am sure he will leave me at my doorstep, but he is following me up the stairs.

The way he smells, the way his skin feels, the way his hands feel on my skin...it all makes me dizzy. And it's too late now to retreat. We're past dares and double-dares. Now it's lips and tongues and warm skin, lust and just the slightest hint of regret already lurking in the corner.
I wonder briefly if this will change the easy affection we share, and then he shifts beneath me, bringing me back. I pull him over on top of me, wanting to feel his weight. I want something other than the weight of my thoughts to anchor me.

I watch him sleep, afraid to touch him, watching the morning light play...now on his face, now on his shoulder as he tosses fitfully. Through paper-thin walls I hear my neighbors having a morning romp and I start to get ideas of my own.
He is so sweet when he wakes. Boyish. He's feeling the late hours and the drinks he had.
Damn Jäger.
He'd lay in bed with me all day, he says, if only he didn't have things to do.

He kisses and hugs me goodbye, mumbling apologies, leaving me to my thoughts.

I wonder if it's just him. I wonder if it's just me...
I have a friend who has tried to convince me that while I blog, I will be incapable of maintaining a romantic relationship, or even any sort of "friendly understanding" with anyone.
I was having perfectly dysfunctional relationships before blogs even existed, thank you very much!
I do wonder, though.
Some people fear my blog, fear saying or doing something embarrassing in my presence that might end up public knowledge. Men worry about being inadequate lovers, about being too normal or "vanilla" to hold my interest. Worse yet, some of them, I fear, just want the CoatCheck Girl experience, the fantasy, the seduction.
It's way too much work--- I want to be swept off my feet for once.

All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

17 May 2008

PP---gettin’ dirty

I have a black thumb. I own a couple of plants that are desperately clinging to life in their dark little corners. Lately, though, I've been thinking that maybe gardening might be a nice, rewarding hobby to take up.

Wouldn't you agree?
Check out Portland Pistils for more information.

All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

02 May 2008

Misanthropes Anonymous

I am the Infamous CoatCheck Girl, and I am a misanthrope...

Whether one blames it on the political climate, the economy, war, the planets...whatever your scapegoat of choice, it's hard to deny that 2008 has been a hard year so far. For everyone.

"I hate people" seems to be the motto of choice these days. So many people I know have suffered disappointments at the hands of others, myself included. Ordinarily, I try to be aware of what is mine---my own projected expectations, viewpoints which might color my interactions--- and take responsibility for them. But this year in particular, I have noticed people just being unapologetically mean and inconsiderate and extremely selfish. It's hard not to be affected by it.
I hear about the experiences of friends and acquaintances, and know that these incidents are not exclusive to my experience. Recent work has brought me into contact with mental health professionals who say they are hearing the same from many of their clients. One has been heard to joke about starting an "I hate people" support group.

Much to my dismay, I find I have adopted that motto myself. In attempting to mend rifts between members of my family (at their request), I ended up having both of them upset with me. They, of course, are doing peachy.

A very dear friend asked for advice with her rather tempestuous romantic situation, one that has many of her friends concerned. I had received similar calls at least once a month for the entire duration of this romance, so I knew expressing an opinion was futile, and told her so. I asked her instead to look to herself, determine whether in her heart of hearts she believed things would change, and if not, whether that was the life she was willing to accept for herself and her daughter.
I pledged my support, regardless of her decision.
That was a little over a month and a half ago, and I have not heard from her since. With the encouragement of mutual friends, I attended a dinner held in her honor. Flowers in hand, I went, ready to offer the loudest cheer and the heartiest congratulations...and was unceremoniously rebuffed.

As for romantic ventures...I'm probably more jaded than ever when it comes to dating or relating to people on a romantic or even sexual level. My little interlude earlier this year had some lasting repercussions. The most significant was that it left me doubting my intuition. How many times did I ask him or tell him directly that I felt like a mere place-holder until he found what he was really looking for? It could have been so simple.
"You're not it."
But no. It was this or that, timing, personal inquiry, sex, polyamory....All the while he was leading me to believe that I was being unreasonable, making me think that my radar was "off" somehow. He would become indignant when accused of sending mixed signals, while in the same breath admitting he didn't know from one day to the next how he felt about me.
I have since found out what appears to be common knowledge--- that he's been hung up on the same girl for over a year, just waiting for her to acknowledge him as something more than a glorified errand boy.
Something tells me if that were to ever actually happen, he would still not be "ready", he'd still be questioning what he wants, etc....

I currently have some gentlemen friends, all of them nice smart and cute, who I am keeping at arm's length. Every invitation to spend time together initiates an avalanche of thoughts.
"He's nice, fun...but it's probably a matter of time before he starts lying or other issues surface...and I can't stomach any more conflict or drama...so what's the point. I'm not even going to call him back..." And I just put the phone down and go back to my editing, or curl up on the couch.

When the general populace acts in a callous or selfish manner, that's one thing, but when it's the people you really care for, the smallest betrayals cut deeply. It has lead me to keep to myself for the most part. When I do have to interact with people I feel this new cynicism seeping in. It saddens me, the eternal optimist, to look at people with disgust and distrust, and yet, I can't help it. I have come to think the worst of people.

I suppose my financial situation has done nothing to improve my mood this year, either. The interpreting thing, which held so much promise, has kind of fizzled. When I do get photo work, I end up having to educate people---show up on time, if you agree to have my name on the photo you actually have to do it, don't take 6 months to tell me which photos you want then tell me you need them today, and most importantly I will not shoot your band in front of a brick wall...
I've even been doing odd jobs for a guy I have affectionately dubbed "The Rock-n-Roll Contractor". He hires mostly musicians to do odd jobs---light construction, remodeling and yard work. The jobs rarely start before noon, and it's not uncommon to have cancellations due to hangovers. Most of the clients know they're not getting pro-quality work, but are trying to do their part to support the arts in their own way.
It is in this manner which I have come, in the past month, to caulk a bathtub, paint an apartment, and wrestle with ruthless blackberry brambles and ivy plants. They won, by the way, as the many scratches on my arms (and, curiously, my ass) will attest. I am such a delicate flower. My skin is unused to such treatment...unless it's in the heat of battle, the clashing of teeth, fingernails and skin.
So here I am, almost halfway through the year, and still unclear of the direction it will take. I've had hopes, of course, but given the previous 4 months, I'm letting go of even those.
I did get a little push from the universe yesterday. One of my co-workers turned out to be a Reiki master. Just another reminder that I have all the answers I need.
I'll let you know if I figure anything out.
In the meantime, I'll be over here on my couch. The Infamous CoatCheck Girl is so very tired.

Help me out, kids. Send me a story, publicly or privately, of something good or great that you've witnessed or experienced in 2008.

All Content Copyright Juliana Tobón, 2008. All Rights Reserved.