Saturday, August 5, 2017

How Big Is The Circle of Your Friends?

Do you ever think about the circles of your friends? How the circles shrink and grow and morph over time? I do. 

How consciously do you work to expand your those ever-important circles?


So I was talking to a Luther, a male friend, about how I find myself in mid-life with mostly female friends.  I'm a gay man. Nothing wrong with any of that. They're great friends. And many of my female friends are single women in the arts -- so we have things in common.  

But I used to have a larger collection of male friends. Many of them were gay. What happened?  Well, the AIDS crisis took some of those who should rightfully be living beside me today. So there's that. Some others found life partners. And of course any friendship can end with time. Someone moves away. Someone stops keeping the ball rolling on their end. Arguments happen that can't be resolved. And that special chemistry between friends can one day disappear for no reason. You are no longer necessary to each other. Things run their course, and there's nothing wrong with that.



"Did you count me? Among your male friends?" Luther asked, the man I mentioned above. He is a straight friend who I encountered many moons ago in a shyness clinic, and then later he wound up working freelance at my day job.  We both share a passion for writing and movies and laughter. Truth is, he's almost a close friend.

"Sure," I lied. "I counted you with my male friends."

"I don't believe you. My feelings are hurt," he mock-pouted.

The truth is when I'm talking about people in my inner circle, my close friends, I'm talking about people I see in person or call once or twice a week at least.  People I have bonded with over time.  People I can call in the middle of the night. We play a vital role in each other's lives.

Luther is a good friend. But weeks can go by without seeing each other, without a phone call or email. So maybe that's why he didn't pop into my head.

My innermost circle are people I would find it hard to live without. We play a crucial role for one another, have weathered storm together. We are not friends of convenience.  (Names have been changed.)


*** MY INNER CIRCLE includes the following. The list is not a complete one:

-- A.N. is a woman who used to live nearby in Chicago. But now that she's out of state, we talk on the phone more than ever. We are both single and creative. We've gone thru many crises together. We have chemistry. We've known each other about 20 years continuously.

-- H.L.  is a woman who used to live in Chicago too, but she now resides in a nearby state. She often visits Chicago. We known each other, off and on, for about 20 years. Our chemistry has blossomed with time. Our passions are closely aligned with literature and philosophy and laughter.

-- S.S. is a woman who has become a fast friend. We both work as pro cuddlers and got to know each other as I designed her website. She lives in California and we try to keep in touch. I've known her about 3 months.

-- J.M.  is a Chicago gay man who is now partnered. We are supportive of each other and always find time to go out for pancakes on a Sunday morning, check out a movie now and then. He is someone I trust. I've known him about 10 years.

-- G.C. is a Chicago gay man who co-leads a meetup group with me. We have a mutual interest in healing and scary movies. We are supportive of each other's business ventures. I've known him about 2 years.

Have you ever tried to name your inner circle? How has it changed over time and why has it changed?

Beyond my inner circle of close friends, there are circles that are not necessarily intersecting.  These are people who are from the following groups:  co-workers, writers, love interests, Buddhists and LGBT folk.

And most importantly, there are a handful of people I'd like to get to know better.  To maybe add to my innercircle if we find we are a good fit. Many of them are people I've met through work, or through common interests, or by chance. 

Finding a true new friend is a lot like falling in love. Chemistry is crucial.  We must be flexible to adjust to each other's wishes. We must have a vivid enough imagination to see a future together.

Okay, it's your turn, Gentle Reader.  Discuss. Share. If you like.








Monday, February 20, 2017

To impeach or not to impeach


The above headline ran in the Independent.
It inspired me to write the following Facebook post:

If we don't do it now, history will judge us and ask, "What were Americans thinking when they let this monster dismantle our beautiful country.  Were they asleep at the wheel?  Did they turn away in jaded indifference?  WTF, did they do nothing to stop him?"  The other two branches -- congress and judicial -- are charged with keeping the president in check.  Do your jobs!  Demonstrations are powerful, signing online petitions is fine.  But getting rid of his unbalanced megalomaniac will take congress and judiciary and the masses working together.  Let's aim for A DAY WITHOUT TRUMP.  And work our way up to 4 years without Trump.

And if nothing else, let's get that special investigation rolling to get to the bottom of Trump's ties to Russia, etc. This is a house not meant to not stand.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Let's hear it for romance




In my life I have had my heart stolen at least three times, each theft lasting less than six months. A lifetime lived in those six months of connection, beauty and loss.
1. Martin Z. -- I met Martin at an event for gay asians, though he was Latino. He was playing pool late that night. He was losing. We started talking and he suggested we grab midnight brunch across the street. He worked with fine metals and had tiny splinters of iron in his hands too small to be removed. He lived downtown and I lived north.
One night he dared me to jump in a cab and spend the night. I did exactly that. He was surprised. The next morning, he called in late to work so he could make me pancakes. They were the best pancakes.
One night it was raining and he called me from a payphone. "I'm one block away from you. Can I come over?" I said yes. He was drenched and started to take off his wet clothes. I offered him a bathrobe to which he responded, "I'm not shy." I remember that night as we lay in bed he sang a song from "Phantom of the Opera" to me in his charming, off-key voice. No more talk of darkness, he sang.
A year later I got a call. Martin had been travelling the country. My friend on the phone said, "Martin's dead." He was a veteran and died of tuberculosis. I still have pictures of us. They are the best pictures.
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2. Marshall -- I met Marshall in college in the weight room and we wound up in the bedroom. Marshall is a cool guy, into the arts, funny, childlike. I still say hi to him on facebook though he lives far away now. We were so comfortable together, like spoons in a drawer. After we parted, years later I asked him if he want to date again. "I can't date you, Dwight. I know you too well. We're like brothers now." The curse of familiarity.
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3. Frank O. -- I'm trying to remember how I met Frank O. but I'm drawing a blank. It seems we always knew each other, though that's not possible. Maybe I also met him in the weight room in college. I had a major crush on Frank. He was tall with red hair and a mustache but he had a lover. Decades later I get a call out of the blue: "Hi, this is Frank O. We knew each other in college." He wanted to tell me two things: He was sick. And he was writing poems. Would I read them?
We would go to Borders and he'd load up a tote basket with poetry books I recommended. As he lived in the burbs, he would come into the city on weekends and stay at hotel. Once he sent me a poem. At the bottom of the page he wrote, "Sometimes I imagine kissing your neck." I called him to ask him if that was part of the poem or something he really thought about. It was something he thought about. We started dating after that.
I remember driving in his convertible in the summer with the top down. He played Joni Mitchell's song "Cherokee Louise" as he drove.
I remember the night he cooked an all vegetarian dinner for me. It was the blandest meal I ever tasted. And one of the best. He wrote poems about me in which he depicted himself as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, complete with little monster drawings.
Eventually, we had a nasty fight over nothing. We left horribly cruel messages on each other's answering machines. After one month of him avoiding me, he agreed to meet over coffee. "When I start to feel close to someone, I shut down emotionally," he explained. That was the last time I ever saw him.
I don't know what happened to Frank. I don't know why we didn't try to fix things. His name is too common to be googled. I hope he is still alive and we will meet again and have scrambled eggs. If you're reading this, Frank, private message me. Let me know you are all right. There's something I want to tell you.
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NOTE:  At some point I might revisit this post and add in photos of these three men.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April 9, 2016 -- What's new?



I've decided to put new and evolving info about my books and web design and life in this handy blog page, rather than in the body of my home page.  It's easier to maintain and may encourage me to blog with greater frequency.

NOVELS -- My first novel The Prospect of My Arrival is on Amazon.  It is being shopped around Hollywood as a possible movie or TV project.  My second novel The Hope Store is complete and I want to start shopping it to publishers open to unagented writers.  My third novel Every Time We Say Goodbye is being developed as we speak.


WEB DESIGN -- I'm thinking I might do a Spring Sale for those interested in having me design their websites. Contact me if you're interested.  Samples of my work are on this site.


CUDDLING: GROUP & PRIVATE -- As some of you know the Cuddle Movement has been growing for over a decade.  I started my own meetup group "Cuddle Adventures for Gay Men" about half a year ago and that's going well.  I also became a certified cuddler through Cuddlist.com and now offer one-on-one cuddling...whether for healing and increased connection... or just for the joy and romance of it!  Why should partnered people have all the fun.  Single people are singular!


GENERAL LIFE -- The weather in Chicago has been snow one minute, sunny day the next.  Never dull.  Have been dating a little, hanging with friends.  Recent movies I've liked:  "Midnight Special" has some thrilling moments as a movie speculating on faith and intergalactic phenomenon.


VIDEO SHARE OF THE WEEK -- For those budding writers out there, here's my gift to you.  James Patterson's video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgeuc6AZObw



What's new with all of you?
Dwight



Friday, April 8, 2016

Some new services...

Recently I was asked by three different people if I could provide various services and what would I charge.  I didn't know what to say at the time.
-- An entrepreneur asked what I would charge for 3 hours of marketing assistance for his new business venture.
-- A woman wanted to give a holiday gift to her sister who had finished her memoir.  She was curious what I would charge for my professional feedback on the manuscript.
-- A counselor and energy worker offered to pay me to give feedback on how to make his existing website more compelling and effective.
Since there is a need, I thought I would expand the services I provide:
WEBSITE FEEDBACK FOR EXISTING WEBSITES NEEDING REFRESHING OR A MAKEOVER: $25 an hour.  
(Will post Before & After photos on my site.)

​MANUSCRIPT FEEDBACK ON COMPLETED OR EMERGING NOVELS & MEMOIRS: $25 an hour.

​MARKETING ADVICE FOR NEW BUSINESSES OR EMERGING AUTHORS: $25 an hour.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW OF ANOMALISA: An Edward Hopper Painting Come to Life



Charlie Kaufman's film ANOMALISA is the movie that moved and thrilled me the most this year. It's not for everyone, but it was for me. Kaufman gives us trippy, amazing movies like ETERNAL SUNSHINE, and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. And this movie is just as trippy and amazing but not in his usual way. Eternal Sunshine threw us into sci-fi territory with a machine that could erase painful memories, and the visuals were a beautiful nightmare. Malkovich gave us John M in a red dress on a piano, John M in a hallucination of multiple Malkoviches.
But ANOMALISA felt different to me. What was trippy was the presentation (stop motion puppets) but for a change the content was surprisingly naturalistic and realistic (middle aged man has identity crisis en route to giving a motivational speech). But it's in the lovely, cryptic dialog, the surrealism appears. Kind of like in a Haruki Murakami novel where simple reality starts taking tiny, menacing, magical U-turns. 
It also reminded me of an Edward Hopper painting come to life with its urban loneliness and empty hallways, places peopled with mannequins yearning to be alive.

Other movies I enjoyed this year: CONCUSSION gave us Will Smith with an African accent and a character unlike himself. He was lovely and touching as a coroner who literally speaks to the dead. SPOTLIGHT was about the pursuit of truth and justice thru a deeply flawed system where no one, not even the audience, is let off the hook easily. The acting ensemble rocked, led by Mark Ruffalo. But it wasn't until I saw ANOMALISA that I could say I really was blown away by a movie in 2015. Thank you, Charlie Kaufman for restoring my faith.

Posted by Dwight Okita
www.DwightOkita.com

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hug & Cuddle Group for Single, Gay Men arrives in Chicago

by Dwight Okita


Today was the launch of my Chicago Meetup Group "The Hug & Cuddle Group for Single, Gay Men" at the Center of Halsted, Chicago's LGBT community center. Our first man hug session was an intoxicating, nurturing mix of beautiful diverse music, a safe cozy space, and 12 men who were strangers in search of tenderness and intimacy in a non-sexual setting. It was about an hour and a half of embracing, talking, caressing, and engaging. If you look at the picture above, it looks like we're slow dancing. The effect was a deep feeling of affection and connectedness. I'd never quite felt this feeling before.

Our group currently has over 70 interested members.  I developed this event with Assistant Organizer Charles Gamble.  Initially at the event, people seemed a bit nervous which is natural.  Chairs were arranged in a circle and people were asked to tell their name and a little about themselves.  I spoke a while giving an overview of the Cuddle Movement, and Charles raised the discussion question:  "What are your unmet needs for intimacy, and how do you go about trying to fulfill them?"  Then we moved on to doing five different hug positions, each last lasting five minutes.  

A volunteer kept track of time and rang a resonant Buddhist bell to signal it was time to move on to the next hug, the next hug partner. Music played from my powerful Bose bluetooth speaker which was connected to my iPod Nano which allowed me to create different playlists.  The evocative music ranged from an orchestral piece called "Intro" by Camera Obscura to Elton John's classic song of yearning "Rocket Man" to the ethereal music of Bon Iver. It helped add to the dream state evoked by all the touching and warmth and oxytocin (the hormone which is released in the body twenty seconds into a hug).




At the end of this part, the spirit of the group seemed transformed. From a group of strangers they evolved into a group of men comfortable in their own skins. They were beaming.  I wish I'd taken a photograph of that moment.  We will do so next time.  A before and after shot would be nice. For the last part of the event, members were allowed to do free-form hugging for a period of time, and encouraged to seek out those they hadn't yet embraced, and to practice the new hug positions.

Maybe the need for such a group is due to our increasing dependence on social media and online personals, and the great number of unpartnered humans who still enjoy and deserve affectionate touch. Some in the group just love the joy of human touch. While others have been dealing with various chronic illnesses, stress at work,  mental wellness issues like anxiety and depression, or the loss of a life partner.  Some had just been single for years, decades, unable to find their better half.


At the end of our Hug Session, I felt like I had been sleeping with someone, cuddling them -- though my feet never left the ground. It made me think of how horses sleep and dream standing up. Chair cuddling was an option though we all chose to remain vertical. Many in the group shared that this unique experience was deeply satisfying and moving. Others you could just see it in their faces.  We're just one part of a Cuddle Movement that started in 2004 and is gradually spreading across the globe. Could world peace be just a few more hugs away? Our next event Dec. 12 will incorporate Cuddling along with the Hugging, and will be held at a dance studio. We're already half way booked with reservations. Nothing like hugging and cuddling in the holiday season.

Thanks to Matt Koziel for the photography.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sneak Peek at my reincarnation novel EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE


NOTE:  To me it's always fun to read excerpts of novels in progress.  Here's less than a page from MY NEW NOVEL "Every Time We Say Goodbye" by Dwight Okita (c) 2015.

FEEL FREE TO READ AND GIVE COMMENTS. THIS COMES FROM THE END OF THE BOOK.


The two men entered Casa de Esperanza, or The House of Hope for dinner. Frank's cell kept ringing through the night, so he put it on vibrate. In fact it wouldn't be till he got home after midnight that he would listen to his voice mails and learn that Trudy had shot herself to death. He would be shocked and saddened. He was just starting to like her, getting to see her more vulnerable side, starting to see her less as an adversary and more as something else.

He would have to write a difficult column about The Death-by-Gun of a Gun Lobbyist. It would be provocative, drawing ire from both peace activists and gun activists alike, how one American grew up to be a statistic. And it would be part cautionary tale, part eulogy.

But since Frank hadn't checked his messages, for these fleeting hours Trudy Loveless was alive and well as far as he knew, still stirring up trouble as gun lobbyist extraordinaire. And so she floated in a kind of limbo between one world and another.

How would her next reincarnated life be different from this one? What lessons would she carry from her past life into the future? Or would she enter her next life empty-handed, having learned nothing, doomed to repeat her mistakes?

Nico and Frank had put in a long week's work and began slurping their Margaritas. The two of them were finally sharing a meal together after all this time, which was a miracle unto itself. They were eager to experience some serious Mexican cuisine, and whatever dangerous, boundary-crossing conversations that might ensue.

Inside the restaurant, a galaxy of star-shaped paper lanterns hung from the ceiling in assorted colors above the two men. Frank thought they might be luminaria but he couldn't say for sure.

Was life magical? Time would tell.
The night was young, and getting younger.

                                                                  # # #

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Here we go again. Another senseless American shooting.

Here we go again. I chant for a solution to the violence and madness that America has become. I pray for the enlightenment of the NRA and gun owners -- both responsible and not responsible. I chant for more meaningful background checks that will prevent weapons from getting into the hands of malicious killers and those who are severely mentally disturbed. I chant for a peaceful world we can be proud of.  That we as an American society can put all of our heads together -- both conservative and liberal -- and learn whatever lessons these acts of violence are trying to teach us. I pray that we evolve before we become extinct.


A man wielding a gun, a hatchet and pepper spray was killed inside a Tennessee movie theater on Wednesday after police responding to reports of an active...
CNN.COM|BY STEVE ALMASY, CNN

Sunday, February 1, 2015

SLUMBER PARTIES & LOADED GUNS: My Other Novels in Progress


Hi folks, a while back you subscribed to my blog which deals with my being an indie writer, an online dater, a gay asian man, a Nichiren Buddhist, a person recovered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and a frequent movie-goer.  Please let me know you got this email as my previous gadget wasn't sending them out properly.  You could post a comment below or email me at DwightOkita@gmail.com  Thanks.


My first novel THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL will always be a top three finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest, out of 5,000 entries.  I self-published it in 2011 and it has doing respectably, garnering enthusiastic reviews.

My second novel THE HOPE STORE I've been fine-tuning to enter in the new Kindle Scout competition presented by Amazon.

I wanted to mention the next two novels I have in the works which I'm developing concurrently:

SLUMBER PARTIES FOR GROWN-UPS is the third novel. A mid-life guy regrets he never attended slumber parties as a youth. He misses the fun, mischief, the yummy food, the movies, the snoring...mostly of all the comraderie that can only come from sleeping in a room with other humans. Now that he's middle-aged, single, and less hopeful that he'll ever partner, the allure of slumber parties is even stronger. He starts to schedule monthly sleepovers with array of friends -- single, married, gay, straight, of various faiths, political parties, ethnicities and genders. 
He starts to learn things about his friends never-before known. What alchemy occurs when human brains sleep in such close proximity? If you can't fall asleep at night, is it because you are awake in someone else's dream? What happens when the lines that separate us as individual people -- begin to blur? A magic realist adventure.

THE UN-GUN is the fourth novel.  It explores the phenomenon of hand gun violence and mass shootings in America. A think tank turns to science for possible solutions. THE UN-GUN is about the invention of a gun with retrievable bullets. The shooter has a one hour grace period to un-kill his shooting victim -- if he grows a conscience and has shooter's remorse. Or he can let the dead remain dead. If the shooter chooses to un-kill his victim, the bullet returns to the chamber in the gun. The wound vanishes from the body, any damage to clothing is reversed. All is as it was before the shooting.

The victim will never know he had been killed.  Unless the shooter one day decides to tell him.