Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Boy Sits Alone

Rows of painful pews
Made of solid oak slabs
Shoulder blades poke
Through thin skin

A huge room with
Ceilings reaching for heaven
The crosses stare down
At shifting eyes

Whispers run rampant
Filling the air with smog
Wafers and wine
Create crumbs and stains

A river of blood red carpet
Pours from the pulpit
Paper cuts from hymnals
Tear away layers of skin

An organ screams
While handbells clash
Mouths fly open
Pouring prayers for the sinners

Men said cold showers
Would save his soul
Babies dropped in baths
Foreheads crossed in coal

The boy sits alone
Counting his fingers and toes

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Midnight Musing

Seawall at Ten

I remember sitting on the seawall
My legs dangling delicately as the sun set behind the house
Everything behind me was on fire,
But in front of me was the beginning of the cool night.
The breeze that came off the bay
Always made my skin feel sharp and chiseled
The sand beneath my feet
Let off the heat from the day as it absorbed the night’s darkness
My shorts itched my legs
Covered in sand and algae and shells
My sunburn gave me chills even though my skin still sweat
And in those moments
I felt innocent.

I felt like part of the earth
An extension of Mother Nature’s cycle
I absorbed the sun, welcomed the night, and prepared to howl at the moon.
My toes were covered in a layer of sand
The sand: my exoskeleton
My hair was filled with the smell of lake
My perfume that of the carp and walleye
And my heart beat with every crash of the bay
The waves washing away all worries
Their sound clearing my memory.

I remember being able to forget
Meditating in the sound of the approaching mosquitoes
Knowing terror was ahead, but also knowing in that moment I was safe
My eyes adjusting to the new light
And my mind resetting

While the bell would toll,
Calling me in to get ready for bed,
My mind would start walking across the water.
While I’d sleep in my bed
With my hair dropping grains of sand to form small dunes in the sheets
My mind would drown its pains
In the great depths of the lake
The bodies of regret would sink lifeless to the floor
Their spirits prepared to haunt me when I swim
But for now, powerless.

As the sun rose, always too early
Filling my room with heat and humidity
I'd start again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Today Matters

If you don't already know, today marks the day DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States.  This means marriage will no longer be defined as being "between one man and one woman" at the federal level.  The doors are opening for LGBT couples across the nation thanks to today.

Let's take a step back and understand why this is so vitally important.

I grew up in a world where everyone and everything around me said I was to some day meet a beautiful woman with whom I would fall head over heels in love, marry, and have children.  That was the basics.  If nothing else in my life went right, but I was still able to have a loving marriage with a woman and children, I would always be happy.

Unfortunately for me, I realized early on that that was something that may never happen for me.  I didn't understand how and why boys felt the way they did about girls.  The future for me did not see me with a woman, it had this black hole that I didn't understand how to fill.  I would listen to what other boys said about girls and regurgitate their words when talking with other classmates, friends, and even family- all so I could make myself sound as "normal" as possible.  I even dated a few of my best friends to avoid being called a "faggot" and attempt to understand what the other guys were feeling.

As time went on, I've learned that that black hole I saw in my future was simply an element of myself I didn't understand.  The black hole was a space of mystery, a part of me that I could not come to terms with at such a young age.  It was my attraction to other men.

My journey to where I am today (a happy, proud, successful, head-over-heels in love gay man) was not easy.  I spent years trying to ignore certain thoughts, feelings, and urges.  I made sure I was constantly involved in leadership positions, school, volunteer projects, work- anything that could keep me from being able to think about myself.  I felt depressed, worthless, broken; I felt like an outcast.  There was no one I could look to for help, there were no role models for me, and everything was pushing this major part of my identity into the darkest corners of society.

Today matters because for the first time, on a national level, light is being shed on the gay community and our need for equality.  Youth who are in the same place as I was only 10 years ago see someone standing up for this part of themselves they don't understand.  Individuals coming to term with their true feelings and attractions see that it isn't something that is weird or wrong.  Couples who have been in a loving, committed relationship for decades see that they are finally going to get a piece of paper that says, "Yes, your love is real."  For the first time our fight to be seen as equals in our communities, states, and nation is being supported by the major population of this great country.  Today matters, because with every marriage campaign won, with every DOMA shut down, and with every open and positive report of the gay movement depicted on the television; a child, somewhere, is being validated.

So raise a glass, whether is champaign or sparkling cider, and cheers our nation on moving forward and opening doors.  Today we can say, "Yes, we are the land of the free.  Yes, all men (and women) ARE created equal."

Thank you Supreme Court, you have opened so many doors for the love to spread.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Monday Evening On the Porch

--> I don’t want to be useless.

I don’t want to sit at home eating ice cream and getting fat.  I don’t want to wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, and just go to work.  I don’t want to drive my car.  I don’t want to eat meat, leave lights on, or take long showers.  I don’t want to ignore the facts.  I don’t want to pretend I’m the only person on this planet.  I don’t want to know there’s wrong in this world, but be too selfish to do anything about it.

I don’t want to be useless.

I don’t want to waste my youth, my energy, my creativity because opportunities aren’t pawing at my door.  I don’t want to turn 40 and think, “What just happened?”  I don’t want to dream a dream every day, but never take action in working toward completion.  I don’t want to write every night to no one.  I don’t want to sing in my head.  I don’t want to dance in an empty house.

I don’t want to be useless.

I don’t want to make acquaintances.  I don’t want to pass strangers.  I don’t want to lose friends.  I don’t want my Facebook to be the bonding glue in relationships past and present.  I don’t want to text.  I don’t want to tweet.  I don’t want to wake up one morning and forget what my voice sounds like.

I don’t want to be useless.

I’m tired of missing sunsets.  I’m tired of sitting on my couch.  I’m tired of thinking within the walls of my house.  I’m tired of doodling, but never drawing.  I’m tired of thinking, but never writing.  I’m tired of hearing, but never listening.  I’m tired of taking, but never giving.  I’m tired of being tired.

I want to have purpose.

I want to wake up in the morning with a to-do list.  I want to walk outside and breathe fresh air.  I want to forget my shoes and walk through tall grass.  I want to see someone, meet someone, get to know someone, befriend someone, trust someone, believe in someone, support someone.

I want to have purpose

I want to make waves, I want to cause change, I want to make good.  I want to piss someone off.  I want to make someone believe in themselves.  I want to make someone laugh.  I want to give someone the confidence to continue living.  I want to make someone see their beauty.

I want to have purpose.

I want to use my strengths, my opportunities, my life for good.  I want to know my smile makes someone else smile.  I want to learn about problems and help find solutions.  I want to say, “I did something to make that better.”  I want to know someone else is benefiting from my being alive, not the other way around.

I want to have purpose.

I want to wake up dreaming and fall asleep remembering.  I want to take photos that remind me of everyone I’ve met.  I want to go places I’ve never been before.  I want to eat food I’ve never tasted before.  I want learn new languages, make my own traditions, and never forget what it feels like to love.  I want to know that every day was used to its greatest potential.  When I die, I want them to say, “He was always alive.”  I want to laugh hysterically, cry hysterically, and live hysterically.  I want to always move forward and never stand still.

I need to put it into context.
I need to write it on paper.
I need to make a commitment.
I need to make it a purpose.
I need to make life my purpose.
I need to make others my purpose.

I need to make today my purpose.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

True Dat Tuesday #3: Why I LOVE Christmas

Bronner's Covered Bridge Ornament... it doesn't get more Christmas than this.

                The past week I have begun to dive head first into the Christmas spirit.  Mariah Carey, N’Sync, Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, Relient K, Elvis, Amy Grant, and all my other holiday classics are playing on my computer while I work, in my car while I drive, on my radio while I cook, etc.  You see, I love Christmas.  I mean, I LOVE Christmas.  I don’t love Christmas enough to listen to Christmas music year-round, I have respect for the other holidays, but I love it enough to allow my entire life to be consumed in nothing but holiday preparations, snowfall wishes, and candy cane dreams from November 25th-December 25th.
                Kris doesn’t feel the same.  For him Christmas is another holiday.  Yes, it is worth celebrating, but he doesn’t hold the same emotional connection to the holiday as I do.  For him, he sees it as an artificial holiday based around the stress of gift giving, the commercialism of expensive products, and exasperation of the Christian church.  I have been making fun of him for being a Grinch, but the reality is that we are coming from different places.  We have different things that remind us of home, family, and happy memories.  For him our dog Ackley, funny calendars, and good books are things that inspire him to think of his family.  For me, holidays, like Christmas, remind me of yesteryear when my mom would cook all day, my dad would pull me outside to help shovel snow, and my extended family would pile into our house with delicious food and hungry bellies.
                For me Christmas is less about Santa Clause, White Elephants, and baby Jesus, and more about quality time with friends and family, the opportunity to make something special that spreads a smile across someone’s face, and the joy that only the sparkle of snow and taste of sugar cookies covered in pastel frosting can bring.  When I think of Christmas, I think of family, laughter, and the excitement of what wishes will come true on the morning of the 25th.
                Christmas reminds me of dreams coming true.  I remember as a child driving home from the evening Christmas Eve service and searching for a red light in the sky.  I remember visiting the Santa House and believing with every little piece of my heart that that large man with the soft white beard was Santa himself.  I remember being a part of the Christmas pageant, playing a sheep, and bleating my heart out.  I remember the race of who will wake up first- the girls or the boys- and shake everyone else out of bed to open gifts.  I remember waking up at 3:00 am with Andrew and watching early morning TV while eating sugar cookies and drinking a soda so we could beat the girls and be the first up for the first time.  I remember Christmas Eve’s at my aunt’s, Bronner’s trips with my grandma, watching It’s A Wonderful Life with my dad, and making chocolate covered treats with my mom.  The list could go on forever.  All of these things warm my heart because they are moments in my past that were among the best, moments when I was most happy.  I don’t know that there has ever been a year that I didn’t feel in the Christmas spirit.
                This year my Christmas is going to be much different.  This year I’ll be far away from any immediate family.  It’s likely I won’t have a “White Christmas.”  I won’t wake up to a tree exploding with gifts on Christmas morning.  While this breaks my heart in many ways, it also warms my heart.  That is because this year is the first year I get to begin my own, personal Christmas traditions.  We had the same Christmas dinner almost every year growing up (with a shift in salad every now and then).  This year, I get to decide what my Christmas dinner looks like.  I won’t be able to frost Christmas cookies with the children, but I will be able to make my own Christmas treats.  I won’t be helping set out gifts at midnight after all the youngins go to bed, but I will be able to find the perfect gift for my partner and make homemade gift baskets for my friends here in Oregon.  It won’t be a Classic Braman Christmas, but it will be a Braman Christmas, an Eric Braman Christmas- with a Kris and Ackley twist.
                Kris and I may have different views on what Christmas means to us, but there are a few things we agree on: we value quality time, we love our puppy, we care deeply for each other, and we love wine.  With all these things combined, I can’t see this Christmas being ruined by any geographical divides, disagreements on Christmas tunes, or rainy weather- Christmas is about family, and family we have with each other.
                Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends.

Manic Monday #3: ASL Study Guide

The only thing I had time to write was my study guide for my ASL final... enjoy.

Short Play Sunday #3: Strings

Setting: An empty stage.  A black floor.  Nothing occupies the floor space.  From the ceiling hangs thousands upon thousands of strings, ribbons, yarns, fibers, ropes, etc.  No two the same.  The lines run up so far into the ceiling you cannot see their origin.  All the lines end just a few feet above head-height.  All should be able to be reached with a stool, or long rach by a tall individual.

Scene 1:
A woman walks in, a stool in hand.  She approaches a frayed and stained white roap, obviously aged.  She sets her stool down, steps up, reaches, and pulls the rope.  The lights flicker.  One spot light shines down through the lines. She releases the rope and walks into the light as an old, rugged man using a walking stick he found on the beachfront hobbles into the light to meet her.

FATHER: Be a kind person and the world will be kind to you.  Take advantage of your beauty.  Let it get your foot in the door, but rely on your heart to make a lasting impression.  You're a smart girl with a good conscience.  Use that head of yours to get you places.  I've never doubted for a second you would make me proud.

The lights flicker as the woman begins to panick, she reaches for her father as he slowly walks out of the light and off stage.  she sits alone on the ground as the light return to their original setting, the strings hanging above her head.