Friday, September 5, 2008


BOSS LADY IS MAKING ME CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



BIG BOLD ALL CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!

BIG BOLD BLUE ALL CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I feel better...

That is all...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This morning I woke up in a crumpled ball in my bed...but couldn't remember why...I burrowed my tongue into my dreams to see if the taste of their scrim could remind me...bitterness, an acidic old nemesis who has lost his face...dark, the back of his palm, reached for me...

When I was 25, Jeremiah decided that he wanted me. I had the audacity to think that I had some choice in this and demurred. When he continued to follow me through my days, asking literally without pause would I go out with him, no, would I go out with him, no, would I go out with him, no, please, no...I finally reported him to our supervisors. God knows how he found out who made the report - he asked all the women in the office out, despite his having a wife at home - but he followed me from work that day, followed me to a near-empty parking lot, stood outside my window begging, Please, tell them it wasn't true, pleeease, I'm asking you, his voice a low steady hiss - I should have known - I can't, I said, I can't, It was true, and his arm swung out then, tried to squeeze his fat fingers through the tiny crack of window I had opened...

A few days later, I left work. I remember I walked to my car feeling free. I slid my key into the lock, settled in my seat, spent several minutes going through my purse and fiddling with the items in the passenger seat - a book, a map, a single flip-flop - how could I not have noticed? - then looked up. My windshield was gone.

Another day it was my tires. Not all of them...only 3...why just the 3? Why did the fourth escape him? To show that he had some mercy, maybe, that he could be tender...

One day I walked out of my own house to find a tiny bone garden arranged delicately on the back of my car's trunk. Originally some sort of pentagram, I think, or a sunburst, but the cats had been at it. I called the police, of course, but what could they do? Had we seen him? No. Had anyone ever seen him? No. Then there's nothing...I held up my hand. Nothing, I said, I know. Nothing you can do.

We dubbed him The Invisible Man. I began to feel eyes everywhere. But I couldn't allow myself to be a prisoner. I laughed. I worked. And then, one day, a break...of sorts. I was walking down the street near my house, approaching a stoplight. I glanced at the car waiting...and found The Invisible Man staring back. I froze. He froze. And then...I felt my spine begin to straighten. I glared at him. My hands balled into fists and crept up onto my hips. My chin lifted. I stared so hard that my eyes began to water. And a funny thing everything in my body grew straight, he began to droop into his seat. He slid down further and further until he was half bent over. He crouched behind the wheel like a little old man. And when the light changed, a miracle. He made a U-turn. He drove away.

My sighting made absolutely no difference legally. There was still no proof that he was in any way connected to my bad fortune. But...after that, it stopped. And I had been alone that day. Who knows what pleasures he had plotted, planned out meticulously beforehand, relished the thought of?

Anyway, last night I dreamed of him. A simple chasing dream. Terror. But this time...there was something else, a new presence. A wholeness, coemergence, we will call it youmedragon. An inviolate sanctity, a circle of protection. Love. It shrouded me in its folds. Those lovely thick velvet folds. And I was safe.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

wherein I attempt to exhibit my commitment to blogging by blogging about my fear of commitment

So . . . because you are scurvy with ramble-deficiency and wondering what is happening in my life . . . or more probably just because I need to write . . . I will see what I can remember and report that may be of interest. Or not.

Yesterday was Labor Day, which I celebrated by walking. A lot. My day kind of went like this: Sleep. Sit. Walk. Sleep. Sit. Walk. Shower. Go to bookstore. Sit. Walk. Waste precious hours I could have spent sleeping nattering about on Facebook. Walk. Sleep. Fascinating, yes?

It was good, though. Just a day.

Not sure what to do about my life. I have a few things rolling around in my head but haven’t really zeroed in on a course I feel drawn to. Well, there is one. But I’m waiting for the pull to grow a little more barbed before I admit to myself that I am hooked and reeled in.

Other than that . . . I realized today that I need to commit to a single piece of literature. A friend asked, So what are you reading? and I rattled off about five books that I am dabbling in. That’s my problem. I’m a dabbler. A dilettante. What happened to the commitment of my youth, when I could read an entire Babysitter’s Club novel in a day? {Pause to allow the awestruck gasps to quell.) But seriously, do you feel me, people? Nowadays I read a sentence or a paragraph and then I stop to think. What happened to that me who was all Absorption? When did Reflection hijack everything?

So . . . enough outposts from my demented psyche . . . back to filtering out all the mung and gunk I like to hold up and call a self, and trying to see if there is any nubbin of basic goodness lost in there somewhere. Life is just easier when we think about other people, isn’t it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Everyday Vignettes

Here's some stuff that happened to me recently:

Yesterday I was walking the dog and we passed a car waiting at a stoplight. It was blasting hip-hop REALLY LOUDLY. A little old man wearing suspenders and a dapper hat was walking toward me. Actually he was kind of waddling with that old-man-rolling-gait shuffle. I smiled at him and suddenly he grinned, squatted down, pointed both his fingers in the air, and bobbed up and down in time to the music. Then he winked at me and shuffled onward.


The day before when I was walking, a woman was pulling out of the parking lot and trying to turn onto Bel Pre Rd. As she sat waiting, all of a sudden her trunk popped open. She put the car in park and started to get out when I saw she had a baby in the car. I called out, "Hey, I got it!" and Gypsy and I ran up and closed the trunk. The special thing was her face when she said thank you. She looked so happy and relieved.


Usually Gypsy and I walk at night when I get home from work but on Sunday we went for a walk during the day. At night everything is very peaceful and cozy. Sometimes you'll see someone bringing in the groceries or turning off their lawn hoses. For the most part, though, it's so tranquil and solitary, you could almost believe you're alone.

Sunday afternoon is the polar opposite. Everyone is running and shouting and having block parties. And that is a great energy too, although Gypsy and I had to stop several times because she was HOT. But as we were walking along, we passed one house where the garage door was open. Suddenly a man flung open the interior door and stalked out. He started gesticulating and yelling into the house about how much crap there was out there and how he was going to throw it all away and how nobody ever used THIS or THIS or THIS. He was just all anger. Any yearnings I might have had to believe that all the whos down in Whoville were living happy smiley lives were completely obliterated by his anger.

At first this thought made me look at the other doors we were passing. I wondered how many people inside were unhappy right at that moment. How many were scared? Or delirious with joy? It's not really a new thought - I wonder a lot when I'm sitting in the apartment how everyone in their little boxes all around me is feeling. But what was pretty new was that I focused back on the angry man and the family inside. Since Gypsy was looking pretty beat at that point, I decided to give her a break. I sat down on the curb across from the house. The man was still yelling and throwing things. So . . . well, it feels silly to write about, but I tried to focus on what exactly he was feeling and what he really wanted to communicate, you know, the whole backstory, the Why does nobody ever listen to what I am saying? and Why when I put something down in one place is it never there when I come back? and All this crap hanging around just reminds me how bound I am to this house and this family and this life that I am so so tired of kind of stuff.

Then I focused on the family inside. And then I tried to project some calm concilatory energy.

I don't know if it "worked." I don't know if it did anything at all. But . . . it did make me feel calmer and more conciliatory, so maybe that is something worthwhile in itself.


Monday, August 25, 2008

puppy love 4/12/08

So my brother Paul was able to join me for meditation at the DC Shambhala Center one evening a few months ago. Afterward he said he really enjoyed the experience but . . . well, he wasn't quite sure why he should meditate. What's the point? Here is what I wrote:


I've been thinking about your question "Why meditate?" Here’s my attempt to answer that.

First a cautionary note: I am not a Buddhist. I have no authority to transmit Buddhist teachings. I don’t even know which teachings have been transmitted to me. And obviously there is a lot about meditation that can’t be passed from one person to another, that has to be experienced directly on the cushion, and I have just started to meditate so my practical knowledge base is pretty shallow. So what follows is not necessarily dharma but just my own memories of and reflections on what has been shared with me and what I have experienced.

I’m going to go ahead and cc my friend Larry on this because he is acting as my guide, so if I make a grievous error or omission he can come knock me upside the head like the Buddha Bouncer he is. Fortunately he is swamped with work right now so I will take his inability to respond as acquiescence in the face of my enlightened wisdom. ;-)

Okay, now that I got that off my chest:

Basically meditation is a path to freedom. Freedom from our own suffering and freedom to alleviate the suffering of others.

When we meditate, we learn to allow our thoughts and feelings to rise and then float away, so we are not held captive by them. We are not imprisoned by our initial narrow concepts of how things are, nor are we mastered by our emotional responses. Instead of thinking about why we feel so angry or sad or delirious with joy, we begin to notice how these emotions feel. We can touch them, finger them like cloth, without being carried away on a magic carpet ride we have no control over.

We are very aware and noticing what happens around us and in us - our breath, our pulse, the toilet flushing, the cars whizzing by - we are allowing these sensations to touch us lightly and pass through.

Whereas usually you might be thinking about what Kelley said last night or that annoying commercial you hate or the guy who cut you off in the parking lot or the pretty lady who smiled at you, as you meditate you are not bringing to mind anything that is not there. Nor are you fixating on your sensations of what is there - the toilet flushes and you don't think, "I wonder who's in the toilet?" Eventually you don't even think the word "toilet." It becomes just a sound that passes through and onward.

It is that act of allowing sensations to pass onward that is really the meat of meditation. It’s the key to our freedom, because when we get up off the cushion and things happen to us, we can allow them to pass through. We don't try to hold on to the pleasant experiences and we don't try to ward off the unpleasant experiences.

The act of grasping after pleasure and avoiding displeasure is the root of suffering, because nothing lasts forever. Our desire to keep a firm grip on our pleasures and run away from what we find distasteful is doomed to fail. We wish to keep things one way, our hopes are thwarted, and we suffer. But when we learn to let go, we can no longer lose anything. We have no hopes or expectations and so we have no disappointed hopes and no frustrated expectations. We stop suffering.

The funny thing is that allowing sensations to pass through also frees us to experience them very deeply. You might be afraid that when I say, the meat of meditation is to allow experience to pass through you, that I'm telling you we should have very shallow experiences in which we are always thinking, "But none of this is real. It's all a dream. It doesn't matter, everything's cool," and not feeling those very deep passionate feelings of love and sadness. But really the opposite is true. Because our minds are not fixed on, "This is so amazing! I wish it would never end!" or "Oh God I have to get that project done! When will this ever end?" because they are not drawing conclusions about whether we are enjoying our experiences or not, we are free to notice the experience so much more completely.

It's as if we all have a crazy writer living in the attic of our minds. He stands by the window and instead of watching the cars drive by or listening to the birds or feeling the cold rain coming in, he holds his notebook up very closely to his face, so that all he can see is paper, and writes, "There are too damn many cars driving on that road down below, I'm glad I'm not down there because the smell of the exhaust would probably choke me, when I was four I almost choked on a cookie, cookies are yummy I like chocolate macadamia, I used to have a parakeet named Macadamia it was green, I wonder where my green soccer jersey is? I need to do the laundry, my life is just an endless cycle of sleeping and standing by this window and doing laundry, why am I always alone?" and on and on and on, so he totally misses the fact that a car pulls up, a beautiful woman steps out, she climbs the staircase and stands behind him hoping he will turn around and notice her.

So when we meditate, what we are doing is noticing. We are training our inner journalist to do some fieldwork, to put down the pad and the pen and walk out the door and just sit and experience without labeling that experience as good or bad or worthwhile or a waste of time. And the point is not that noticing in this way will make us happy. The point is that we will not be deceived, not even by ourselves; we don't make up stories about our lives, and so everything becomes very vivid because it is very true.

Our experiences don't change but how we interpret them does. Because you know that your current pleasure - oh my wife is looking at me with so much love! - is fleeting, you accept that in the future she may or may not look at you with love. You don't fight against losing her love, you don't concern yourself with how to prevent it or wonder how you will survive if it happens. Because you are aware that you cannot command or avoid the future, you are free to float along on the reality of this moment. Not that you are a passive blob – very frequently the moment demands some exertion, some effort from us – but whether we are absorbing or responding, we are fully present.

Because you are floating instead of trying to direct your travels, you are not distracted by trying to impose yourself on the moment. You don't stake out an "I" and then try to satisfy the "I" by feeding its sense of specialness. You don't fish for compliments from your wife or try to figure out how she really feels about you or wish that she would say this or do that or even obsessively consider how happy you are; you are just available.

So you begin to notice everything deeply - you truly see her face with all of its flashes of expression; you really hear her words and they make you think, they are fully absorbing; you respond to her, the complete and actual her that you are seeing very clearly, and you ask her questions or make observations that make her feel acknowledged and known.

Your authentic presence has implications both for you - you are fully joyful - and for her - your initial presence makes her feel seen and your continued presence makes her feel valued. So not only do you find your own suffering relieved but you alleviate the suffering of another, all with skills you develop through being still.

You have found your stillpoint. You cannot be toppled or plundered or cut down because you have nothing to defend. From your firm steady position of stillness you discover that you are free to serve others without hesitation or fear. You claim nothing and so you no longer have anything to lose.

So we have an experience of being very rooted in the ground, very present and firmly planted in the moment. But we also experience our own impermanence. We see how dependent we are on the rest of the universe not only to sustain our physical lives but to give us any sort of meaning or identity, what you might call a “soul.”

You realize that we only exist because other beings have an experience of our existence. For example, let's say you are meditating and someone arrives late. You think, "Hey I'm glad Joe made it. I know his kids were sick and he wasn't sure if he could be here." But maybe another person thinks, "Oh Joe’s here! There is Joe and he is the most wonderful person in the world! He is such a caring father! I love him." And another thinks, "That sneaky bastard Joe. He borrowed a hundred bucks from me eight months ago and still hasn't paid me back. I wonder what sob story he'll have tonight - probably tell me that his kids are sick again." So is Joe just a guy having a tough time, is he the most wonderful person in the world, or is he a shifty SOB? We begin to see that as solid as we believe our Selves to be, we really only exist as interpretations.

We begin to wonder, Who exactly is it who is doing all this interpreting? If I don’t exist without you to experience me, and you don’t exist without me to experience you, then we are not individual beings. We are like organs in the human body – living tissue but not separate lives. The “soul” is not your little bit of consciousness existing within your own body. It is the universal tapestry of all consciousness interwoven and affecting each other. We see no point of origin – no first soul, no controller or creator – and we see no end – no destroyer or enemy. If you try to pull your own little soul out, you see that you can’t. There is no “you” separate from the rest of us. There is simply One.

All very interesting, right? but is it really motivation to meditate? Maybe not if you hope that meditation will make you happy. But I’ve always thought happiness was a stupid goal. It’s not a goal at all. It’s a list of contingencies: “When I have enough friends and enough money and enough education, as long as I keep the right job and the right face and the right religion, then I’ll be happy.” Or even, “When I can be satisfied with what I have, then I will be happy.” It’s all about control, either my ability to control my surroundings or my ability to control myself, and it is very harsh.

The only reasonable goal is significance, because being meaningful in the life of another hinges only on your willingness to see that person’s needs and respond to them. Wisdom and action, discernment and skill, those are the tools and they already exist within you. Once you are ready to acknowledge them and use them, you can begin immediately to help others. And the work is frequently sad, and very lonely, but it is based in your willingness to see things as they are without hiding or flinching or denying. You do it because it is based in your actual experience of the world, because the only other options rely on numbing yourself to some of your experiences in order to fit a dogma. Your practice is built on truth and not deception.

You are very gentle with yourself, even when you are sad and lonely, so the experience of sadness and loneliness is no longer something to be ashamed of. And because you are very gentle with yourself, when you meet another person who is sad or lonely, you can be gentle with them. Your gentleness has allowed you to experience your emotions entirely; you have traveled every inch of those emotions without rejecting or berating yourself, so when you sit with that sad lonely person you don’t feel uncomfortable with their rawness or judgmental of their vulnerability.

Of course we can “make people feel better” without being gentle with ourselves, but that is just purpose-driven manipulation – well-intended manipulation but generated by our need to control their emotions. We want to make them better.

The relief that comes from sitting with a fully present person is so much more profound because you sense that he doesn’t have an agenda or a schedule, his mind is not pacing trying to figure out how to help or heal you. He simply sees you, the bare naked heart of you, and he does not run or recoil. So you begin to relax, you don’t apologize for being, your body and your mind begin to uncurl, you no longer try so desperately to stuff Who You Are into the box of Who You Should Be or hide it behind Who You Wish You Were. You begin to feel that you need not cling so fiercely to your shame, that it is okay to be raw and tender.

How many times have you felt sad or discouraged and someone has tried to cheer you up, but you only end up trying to assure them that you’re okay, it’s not really that bad and they shouldn’t worry? Where does that need to comfort our comforters come from?

It comes from knowing that they have stopped to help you, that they have a goal and, despite their best intentions, they are waiting for you to live up to that goal. Whereas the comfort of a meditative person has no explanation. She is not soothing you with the intention of relieving your suffering. Because she is very open, however, she notices you, and her noticing is so consoling because it is so steady and accepting and without need.

I am not sure if you can get to that point of stillness without meditation but I am pretty sure that the quickest way to the stillpoint is to learn to be still.

So in summation, if the mind is like an unruly puppy chasing after butterflies, we are very tender and loving with the puppy. As we train it, the mind becomes disciplined but at the same time very gentle, like a seeing eye dog. And as our practice deepens, our mind becomes sure and strong and willing. With our new strength and confidence and willingness we are more and more able to aide others and so we become ever more significant in the lives of those we touch.

And that’s why we meditate.

Your thoughts?

There are some things I might say differently now. But there is a glimpse of where my mind was a few weeks after I started meditating. And your thoughts are still welcome. :-)

stillness 2/27/08

Another exchange about meditation.

Me: Some thoughts about meditating:

Stillness isn't a shroud that settles around me. It's not a smoothing of the thoughts into placid obedience. Stillness is a burning sphere of emptiness that welcomes endless permutations of One into the mind. In the circle of stillness I feel rivulets of energy run over my shoulders and my hair and my knees but I am not scalded by their seeking. Like sunlight rolling across the shoulders of the moon, wisdom blazes and illuminates the face without perturbing my tranquility. Like the moon passing over the sun, only my blank emptiness gives meaning to my alternate aspect, to the other side of the moon radiant in lunar whiteness.

If that makes sense.

The Sakyong uses the metaphor of horseback riding when he writes about training the mind. I think this is somewhat like my experience of "riding the surf." There are times when I am writing and I can feel the surge of words swelling beneath my ribs. If I can stay centered on my board and not try to impose conscious direction - if I can keep my opinions and evaluations of the work at bay and simply let it come - then I can ride the wave all the way to a complete poem or argument or question. But you can't get floppy on the board - you can't just say, "Whee! Look at me!" and start waving at everybody. The body's tiny shiftings, like breath, drive the mind atop its canal of focus so that it skims the wave from swell to crest, diverting it at the last moment before the crash to catch the next swelling.

LF - Very good. So when you get up from that experience to move back into daily routine ...what aspects of self do you always take up again, what aspects of self can you let go of and not take up again, and what aspects of self that have not yet manifested can you take up?

Me: To be very still helps me to see that the energy around me can't stop. It continues to tangle and snarl just as it always has and always will. The energy, which is composed in part of all the emotions and thunderings of creatures throughout history, helps me to remember that I have felt every emotion and performed every act possible - the evidence is around me, in the history I helped to create. If I have been abjectly miserable or depraved, then I have also been exquisitely joyful and pure. If I have been forgotten, then I have also been worshipped. That helps me to remember that anything I might want to have, I have already had. And because I believe that all of time exists synchronously, that means that I still have it, that feeling of repletion still exists within me. If I can be open to the feeling of repletion, then I lose the desire for the "aspects of self" I had previously clung to - in my case, solitude, pride, avoidance, control over my routine, lack of pliancy - being unwilling to bend to another's needs, self-absorption, etc.

Solitude: Solitude has been a very comfortable place for me. I like to be separate from other people's hopes, demands, and expectations. In order to maintain my isolation, I have frequently shut people out who might have benefited from a little acknowledgment on my part, and who might have added to my experiences. After meditating, I feel that I can really give myself to T when he is talking, rather than just enduring what he says and picking out the grammatical mistakes and wondering why in God's name he has to say everything three times. :-) And the people are coming again. They were always coming, I guess, but now I am more open to it. Anyway, I am once again the harborer of secrets.

Pride: Which beings us nicely into pride. Pride manifests in me in several ways: people's dexterity with language has been one basis on which I have judged their intelligence, though not the only one; I have at times believed that catastrophe was coming and I was just the girl to stop it; I have struggled mightily and continue to struggle with admitting when I am wrong. Emerging from meditation, I can see how silly that all is and give myself a little hug and tell myself it is all going to be fine. Even if ain't nobody talks good 'ceptin' me, and even if bad things happen to good people, and even - yes even - if I say something really stupid, ignorant, ill-considered, egregiously inaccurate, even then, it will all be okay. And the world will not stop and most people will not hate me if I say yes, I goofed, I was dumb and you are right and thank you for pointing that out for me.

Avoidance: Avoidance is like solitude in that most of what I avoid is social obligation, but this also includes avoiding responsibilities like cleaning up my desk - which I am handily avoiding right now - or unloading the dishwasher or getting my phone fixed. I guess this could also be called laziness. I have found that when I rise from meditation, I don't feel hunted and so I don't have to hide. That makes it easier to exert myself on behalf of others (or myself). Control over my routine: If I have a plan, that's my plan, it's mine, and I don't want to change it. Meditation helps me remember that yes, there is a plan, but gravity and magnetism and the pulling of one need to another's capacity are in control, not me.

Lack of Pliancy: I've already talked about my unwillingess to be shaped by others' needs. I build walls, it keeps people out, but it makes me brittle and tired and ugly. After meditating, I have spent some time actively not controlling or being controlled. It's like pressing on a trigger point in a muscle - there is acute pressure for a moment, like the very focused stillness of meditation, and once released the muscle or person is much mose fluid and better able to respond to hopes, demands, expectations of others.

Self-Absorption: I hide in my thoughts so that I can avoid experiencing my surroudings. Not that there is anything wrong with pondering or imagining, but the sort of frenzied mental masturbation that I have indulged in only serves to keep me stagnant as an actor in my own life. Right now, I won't say there are any aspects of self I won't take up again. I will probably find myself taking up many aspects over and over again. That's fine, little conception of self, I say. Don't worry, and if it happens, just let it go.

Gratitude: One aspect that I think I experience fairly regularly and hope will be strengthened is that there is usually a part of me that enjoys being confronted. Not responding confrontationally to another, but the part before where you feel affronted or disgruntled or somehow wronged. I like to step back at that point and enjoy the experience as a story being told. In the past I've tried to direct the story so that the heroine is clever, but I think now I'm aiming more for kind, loving, nurturing, or wise. It's good to give thanks for those moments because they are the only chances you have to refine your thoughts, speech, and actions and eliminate some of your misguided notions, as well as be a salve to others who suffer. The aspects I have not yet manifested with any consistency would include the opposites of my list, things like availability, humility (including self-forgiveness), compassion for others, pliancy, and peace of mind.

individual perceptions in a coemergent world 2/26/08

Here's an exchange with LF after I admitted to some less-than-charitable thoughts that left no doubt about my place among the unenlightened rabble. ;-) I was a little surprised that I was so open and suggested that if he ever got tired of a ten-month work year, he could always find a new career as an interrogator.

LF: In a non-dual universe where the interrogator and the interrogated are one, where the question and the answer are co-emergent, how do we understand the actions of the players? In the larger sense how do we as organs of perception function in a co-emergent expression of this moment?


"In the larger sense how do we as organs of perception function in a co-emergent expression of this moment?"

Our perceptions are essential. If we fail to perceive, it pulls a snag in the fabric as potentially damaging as glutting oneself on sensory perception. Your perceptions are like your wisdom - they are not yours alone. In order for the organism of One to function, you have to feel your special feelings and make your observations which are different from mine. Together, the sentience of all beings throughout history and future becomes a tapestry, all the folds of which can be accessed by a sufficiently enlightened being. Some call the being God, some call it the fifth dimension, some call it Buddhahood.

"In a non-dual universe where the interrogator and the interrogated are one, where the question and the answer are co-emergent how do we understand the actions of the players?"

If I may, the Interrogator and the Interrogated are not one so much as separate ripples in One. The question and the answer are not identical - even when both are aware of their non-duality, Interrogated doesn't know what he will be asked and Interrogator doesn't know how the answer will be expressed. But the questions must be asked - they must move into the space of the Interrogated so that he can then deliver his answer into the space of the Interrogator. It's less a loss of identity as two merge and more accepting the other wholly into yourself and permitting yourself to be wholly carried in the other. In an interrogation session, it requires the Interrogator to reveal as much of himself as he hopes to receive from the other. In such a state of mutual exposure, each one is equally vulnerable to the other and any wounding of the other results in wounding oneself.

nowness, availability, moving 2/22/08

Thursday, February 21st was the first evening I wandered over to the Shambhala Center for some meditation instruction and a dharma book talk. I had a few things I would have liked to say in the book talk in response to two of the questions that were being considered but I was too shy and felt that as a newbie, I should just keep quiet and get a feel for things before jumping in. But I e-mailed my thoughts to my old buddy Larry anyway:

So here's what I was thinking last night, with the benefit of a night's sleep and a morning's scattered and intermittent musings. Please feel free to eviscerate as needed.

Is there a difference between nowness and mindfulness?

Yes. Nowness is availability. It is submission, being ready for whatever the moment presents. When one rests in nowness, one is able to look backward with a sense of peace and forward without the ego's investment in what the future brings. All of the sensations of that moment are allowed to enter without judgment and once registered, they may provoke us to act but they don't incite any sense of need.

Mindfulness is presence. While nowness receives, mindfulness acts. Mindfulness imprints itself on the moment. It is the force that presses our foot into the dirt, that dunks our hand beneath the dishwater. It takes possession of the moment and in staking its claim, loses itself to the moment. And in losing itself becomes all the more powerful and more present.

Is it helpful to think of them as separate? Only because it forces us to recognize that they are mutually dependent states of consciousness - mindfulness is a conquence of nowness, and vice versa.

Is it okay if I engage in a routine physical task while I listen to Dharma teachings?

Yes. Moving the body digs furrows through the mind.

We perceive the body as a gateway between our selves and the All, but physical movement forces us to the edge of our boundaries by demanding that we inhabit our flesh to its farthest reaches. Once we are fully engaged in movement - and yes, you can be fully engaged and listening, you just can't listen hungrily - once we are deep in our bodies, only a tiny step separates us from seeing the porous nature of flesh, how the self is a pulse of awareness that flows in and out like tidewater. As we inhabit that knowledge, our self mingles with All, slowly merging into the indistinguishable.

But the self doesn't only flow out into the All. The All floods in. Memory and knowledge do in fact mark themselves on our bodies physically. They brand themselves into our tissues. That's why I can touch a client in a certain way and she remembers something that happened in her body years ago. That's why great ideas come as we lather a thigh in the shower. There is something about the churning driving momentum of repetetive motion that opens the mind and prepares it for seeding.

Shouldn't these realizations be spontaneously generated? Shouldn't we move and simply allow the understanding to come, not allow ourselves to be muddied by someone else's voice?

It is impossible to move, or to be, without stimulation. No realization springs from nothing - the buzz of a fly, the play between darkness and light across tree bark, the heat of your hand on your knee will all direct you to your new awareness. Nothing is born of nothing, so the voice of the dharma teacher is no more or less valid a stimulus than any other.

At least as I understand it right now.

gnosis 2/11/08

Random rambling from the last few months, this one about my practice as a then-Christian:

more about my Christian practice:

It's true that I am a Christian. But it is also true that I have found no home among any body of believers. There are several reasons for my status as an outcast. They include:

1) An interpretation of scripture's exhortations to defend the defenseless and give a voice to the voiceless as reinforcing liberal proposals for public policy;

2) A recognition of the gnostic texts not included in the Bible, particularly Jesus's reported teachings on self-knowledge as a path to salvation and on the inviolate sanctity of all creation, as being divinely inspired and quotable resources equal to the New Testament texts;

3) An understanding that each person is created to give love and to receive it, regardless of ephemeral distractions like sexual orientation or gender identification;

4) A reverent attitude toward the body, which I see as a sacred expression of divine intelligence and a font of creative potency. I believe that touch and the body have the power to bring us to salvation and they should be respected and refined as redemptive tools;

5) A tendency to push my fellow believers to the breaking point, demanding a depth of analysis in their philosophical discourse that they interpret as doubt on my part. I don't doubt their faith; I simply wish to strengthen it by asking them to realize the consequences of each tenet as they currently understand it, and inviting them to look deeper;

6) A disinterest in the petty minutiae that divide believers - Pope or no Pope; NIV, NASB, KJV; miracle of divine tranfiguration or symbolic gesture . . . Who cares? Jesus taught us how to find truth in love. Living the truths requires a strength of will akin to alchemy, transforming the character from a corrupted lump into its brilliant undiluted natural state. One must first become like fire and burn off all the dross that vitiates that initial (or primordial) energy, then one must be water and receive the new understanding, after which we are like earth and nurture those who call on us, and then finally one simply exists as breath. A lot like the yanas, I guess. It demands an enormous exertion of focus and these disputes impoverish that focus.

So you see, not only have I been a bad Christian because I have been unyielding, judgmental, and cruel, but I don't even start my walk from the same point as so many others. Am I fatally flawed as a Christian seeker? I don't think so - the teachings resonate with me. They simply strike a different chord in my understanding. Maybe that's my purpose, to challenge the dogma. I don't know. All I know is that the Christianity I find in the churches is a rigid sclerotic mutant of what I read in the texts, and I can't reconcile the two without rejecting the church.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

arse in gear...sorta

Okay. So I need to get my arse in gear and start blogging again. But what to write about? Hmmm . . . {tapping chin}. Really all that come to mind are intensely personal heartrending struggles that involve the happiness and well-being of others and aren't really suitable for semi-public consumption. Although at this point probably no one wastes their time checking this blog anyway, so what am I worried about? :-) Still, others would be hurt and rightly so if I used this space as an airing ground for my personal implosions.

So . . . awfully dry summer we're having, isn't it?

You're right, that's not working. Maybe I should just stick with funny stories and keep the fact that my heart is trembling so close to annhilation to myself. Here's an observation for you: even though I think I see some pain on the horizon, I'm not afraid. I think that's because I have a few people I trust now. Trust is good. A good starting point anyway. Someday when I'm a little stronger maybe I won't need caretaking. But I've lived my whole life up to this point pretending that I'm already there, that I exist without need. Maybe that's not quite true. I want to be brave but maybe the brave thing is to be honest about this one point: I hurt.

So there. Now you know. Not that I was fooling anyone to begin with but . . . it feels good to come clean.

Maybe some funny stories tomorrow.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spicy Meat-a-ball

For Luap, my Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi, playing his piece "Andare."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Watch This

Santana, Soul Sacrifice (Woodstock 1969)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

Ladies, without saying too much, I will just mention that this book makes a mightily good Valentine’s Day gift.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Word of Explanation

I want to be honest with you.

This is not usually the place to look for honesty. In my head I call this my “entertainment blog.” I write here to amuse myself and to help your days pass a little more brightly, and I tend to steer pretty clear of my own pathos. But . . .

Remember all those New Year’s resolutions? All those vows to get healthy and become a better person?

We’re now 100 days out from my thirtieth birthday, and I haven’t been slacking. The weight is slowly coming off - 23 pounds so far - and with this year’s theme of “no regrets,” I am steadily tracking down people from the past and doing my best to make amends.

Still, you may remember that I had some work to do on my own character.

The post you’ll find below is the result of my beginning that work. As I examined why I have become so unkind and obstinate, I acknowledged that I have several facets, some of which are on display nearly all the time and some that are crushed nearly to obliteration. It’s those ignored parts, the gentle and the passionate ones, that I would like to rekindle.

So that I could reconnect with each of my voices, the following piece was written from four perspectives, each one a part of my person. It follows my life from childhood up to today; for my “cicada readers” who I only get in touch with once every seven years, it may help you to have some background:

Briefly, after college I worked for an agency for children with autism. I loved the kids but the workers were badly treated. After I found my friend crying because another snafu had left her without a paycheck, I called a labor union and began a campaign to organize my workplace. In the course of organizing, I grew close to and fell in love with another teacher at the school, my husband T-Bone. We won the campaign, went to work for the labor union, got married, decided organizing wasn’t for us, I went to massage school, he worked his heart out and got fired anyway, and now here we are.

You guys, this was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. I don’t know if it’s “good” writing. And it may be pretty f---ing scary. But it’s true, and rank exhibitionist that I am, for better or for worse, whether you “get” it or hate it or are just left scratching your head, I am sharing it with you.

Lithopedion Sing-Song: Nursery Rhymes for a Stone Baby

Mother Goose
"Wednesday's child is full of woe"

Far back on the top shelf of my childhood closet, buried under rolled-up sweaters and bags of shoelaces, lay a dusty blue cardboard box. It sat there for years on end, barely ever moved or acknowledged. I knew never to touch the box, but occasionally my mother would reach in, lower it down, and lift off the lid. We would peel back the layers of tissue paper and there, nestled in her billowy veils, was a doll.

She was a Madame Alexander Sleeping Beauty doll. She had long blond hair that curled at the ends, open-and-close eyes, and a beautiful gown made of lace and blue satin. Her face was round and cherubic like a child's and her body too was straight and unformed. I sometimes wished to lift her out and make her eyes wink and flash, but we never touched her. She simply lay there, year after year, her real eyelashes sealing the lids shut.

I thought of her only rarely, when I pulled down a blanket or reached for a pair of shoes. Truth is, I never cared much for dolls. I loved stuffed animals. I kept a huge pile of them, every animal imaginable, jumbled precariously in the corner of my bedroom. I made up stories for each one and I was sure to circulate them through the pile regularly so that each had equal time at the top. None of them should have their feelings hurt, I decided, from spending too much time pent up in darkness.

It was during the stuffed animal years that I had my first experiences with passionate friendship. Passionate friendships are remarkable relationships that grow when two people come to hold each other in such high regard, and learn to trust each other so deeply, that they open up whole previously unshared vistas of their personhood. In many cases the two share a level of maturity and self-awareness that serve to strengthen their bond. Just as frequently, one friend may find his or her skills or innate abilities outstrip the other's, yet the two are drawn toward the same goal. They may both strive to become more competent, reliable, brave, or compassionate, and their shared focus unites them just as concretely as two friends on equal footing.

Passionate friendships between two people who are not equally adept carry their risks, however. One friend may find herself drawn to the role of counselor while the other claims his place as learner. The more skilled friend, though refreshed by her companion's enthusiasm and appreciative of her friend's promise, may find herself elevated to a level of idolatry that she is ill-equipped to handle. The learner may develop such a reverence for the counselor that the counselor's words, expressions, and even mere presence take on a disproportionate weight. She is hard-pressed to honor the responsibility when the learner delivers up total control over his self-image and peace of mind to the counselor, relying on her observations and favor to inform his sense of worth.

However, my early forays into such deep connection contained nothing so dire. My friends and I imagined; we collected acorns on the playground and created Germinatia, a civilization of acorns bent on defeating the evil Squirrellians. We named the flowers and encouraged them to grow; when they faded and turned to seed, we thanked them and held funerals. Sometimes we would stop and look at each other, realizing that an entire hour had passed while we ran in circles around a tree. It hadn't seemed like a tree at the time; at first it was a mighty tyrant, then an ice queen, then the king of the mouse army come to protect us. Only we seemed to see the spirits that imbued everything around us, but if we were ridiculed or avoided for our flights of fancy, we never noticed.

But soon the pleasures of the playground had dimmed. Recess was a thing of the past, replaced with homeroom, and our entertainments changed too. For the first time I found myself fulfilling each of the three roles of the passionate friend. With younger children I was still the captain of imaginary exploits, telling stories, singing songs, and leading them through freshly created worlds. I kept my babysitting charges up way past their bedtimes, directing slave escapes and fairy dances and Viking raids throughout the house, only to dash them into bed once we heard their parents return.

I had a few friends my own age. They were and are extraordinary people, with hungry minds, gifted in all sorts of ways I could barely comprehend: an artist, a spiritual leader, a keen observer, a quick-witted humorist. Each one whetted the mind and excited the spirit. The hours we spent challenging each other's capacity to dream, wonder, or amuse are precious memories.

I loved my friends. But equally powerful was the esteem of older people.

I was never a favorite with adults. As a baby I was too serious. "Why does she never smile?" people asked after my mother's simpering and happy babble failed to elicit my own toothless grin. The little girl watching silently in the corner was best avoided; better to swoop and whirl and find some joy with these giddy laughing children.

Occasionally a soft-hearted soul would join me. "Don't be shy," she would prod. "It's okay to join the fun."

They were kind but they misunderstood.

I wasn't shy.

I was watching.

But if like me you prefer to receive confidence rather than share it, if you like to watch faces and hear others' stories without feeling compelled to drown them out with your own voice, if you are simply quiet and not shy, then you found as I did that your singular restraint made others uncomfortable.

If, however, like me you were blessed at every stage of your youth with one special guide, if you found at every crossroads a single guardian by whom you were especially shepherded, then you know what a peculiarly brilliant ray of sunshine the favor of one person can become.

So I entered young adulthood happy and fulfilled. I wondered at times if I would ever have the courage to accomplish all I wanted to achieve. I wondered what grand adventures were in store for me. But I knew great things awaited. I was whole.

Change came, however, and came abruptly.

Very quickly, several of my friends were struck with serious blows. Their difficulties would have been disturbing alone, but each one seemed to spring from their friendship with me. They faltered. They lost the regard of their friends and neighbors. They suffered, and their suffering wounded me.

I felt I had misguided them. I should have been more disciplined, not so free. I should not have opened my nether self to so many eyes.

I resolved to banish the nether self, the part of me that I kept hidden from all but a few. With its enchantments and spinning, singing barefoot in the woods, it pulled animals from the trees and onward into captivity, even death. The dreamer, the innocent, the prophetess. I saw a contagion spreading.

"Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
and Jill came tumbling after."

So I killed it.

Forget Mother Goose - she's full of shit. So hoity-toity. Say what you mean, I tell her. Not all this precious flowery bullcrap, acorns and mouse kings.

Oh, stop staring. I didn't really kill anyone. Harder to kill a part of yourself that you might think. Drown it, beat it, ignore it all you want. You are still you.

I did the next best thing. I locked it up. I walled up the thing, the festerer. I had to. We all might have died.

Look, it's like in medicine. There's this phenomenon where a fetus grows outside the uterus and then dies in the mother's adbomen. It can't get out. But it's dead. It starts to rot. The mother's blood surrounds the baby's body in calcium. It makes a hard little shell to hold the baby and keep the decomposing tissue from infecting the mother. They call it a lithopedion, that's Greek for "stone baby." It's true. I saw it on Discovery Health.

In our case, the baby wasn't dead. Just bad. A little liar, full of words and daydreams. Not safe for human consumption.

So I sealed her shut. I smacked the last brick in with mortar from my own hands. It sounds cruel but it wasn't. I saved us. And I took over the business of living.

I can see you don't like me very much right now. That's okay. Before I go, though, I should ask you: Who do you think has been writing this blog? Who do you think makes you laugh, who writes so ruthlessly of other people's faults, who mocks them in their weakness?

Yeah, so I'm mean. I own that. But I'm funny. And I can get us through anything.

I plotted our course through college and into the working world. And we avoided the words I despised: "extraordinary," "remarkable," "astounding." We passed through without recognition. We stirred no disappointed hopes, inspired no misplaced faith. We were safe in the world and the world was safe from us.

The Lioness
"Lion, with enduring heart, suffer the unendurable
None of mankind that does wrong shall fail to pay the penalty."
-Herodotus, "The Histories," 5.56.

Safety. A small word for small minds.

Untethered, the lioness prowls the hallways. She loves. She fights. She extinguishes the darkness. Fear, most hated prey. Fear sheds its scales and turns to ash before her.

They worked. Mother Goose liked the work, caring for children. Jill studied their afflictions. And the stone baby slept.

But the lioness smelled injustice. She smelled wrong. And in her smelter she hammered her scimitar and scythe.

The workers stink of fear. Why are they so mistreated? Why so abused? Why the same dull faces day after day, bludgeoned by the same inescapable woes? She saw them bowed beneath the weight of an oppression they could not resist.

Look here at this man, not even the strength for anger, not even frustration, only tears.

The feral beast leapt within. The nostrils blazed. Hair on end. Blood on fire.

Only fire in the blood will make her speak:

(to the bosses) How can you excuse your infamy?

(to the workers) We are not afraid. We are not even angry. We are right, and our righteousness protects us.

And she succeeded. By her strength that some call madness she succeeded, and the people shed their fear and followed, and laid claim to their own voice.

They built their union, and the man's tears dried, but the lioness had blood on her teeth and wanted more.

She wanted the man.

Your wrists I grasp in my circlets of fire. Your haunches I pin between my thighs. Your oasis shimmers across the savannah; I stop to drink from your fountain. My head dips low into the deep waters.

The lioness's thirsts were quenched, and she was silent once more.

The Stone Baby
"Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait."
- Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"

You are all tender, all you young
wild shoots of grass, tender and warm
in your riotous soils.
My lawn is a carpet of breathing;
your long bendings filter the night.

My hands are craters; they claim nothing.
When you were little birds I nested you
in the palms of my hands
and your beaks were thin and breathless as paper boats.
I myself set you adrift in the water.

My own toes like pebbles salted the water,
the arc of my ankle, its dolphin-flash upstream.
When your soldier's songs promised death,
I opened my hymnal. I saw the pain of my toes dipped
too often in the outcroppings of men.

But death did not come; no atonement
but a tomb, I hang from the branches, a cobweb, an after-sigh,
One-footed, scoured, with my mouthless mouth,
in my bottomless shelterings,
heavy, in all my rootless ripening,
I wait for you.

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."
Revelations 12:1-2

My voices are mine; they are all me. I lay claim to my self, my single self, with all its warring and contradictions. Like Walt Whitman, I too contain multitudes.

But my searching is not for me alone.

I will be your friend. Each of my “I”s will serve you. You will be nurtured, you will be protected, you will not be misled. And if in the course of your days you find need of a harbor, a safe haven free of judgment, I will understand, and I will give you refuge.

No longer do I drag my wounded sisters behind me.
I do not betray myself.
I do not betray God.

I live in service to a self greater than my own, to the eternal, the beyond within me, the always and forever,

forever and ever,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Blow

Tabe was terminated today.

His supervisor said that he was giving too many people overtime. I'm not sure what the alternative was. Tabe works - excuse me, worked - for an agency for children with autism. It is a twenty-four hour a day program, and each child has at least one staff person dedicated to his or her care, as mandated by state law. In an agency that is chronically understaffed, he could either have awarded overtime to anyone willing to fill in or left the children unattended. Not a tough choice.

But as usual when someone is fired, his termination is most likely a smoke screen to distract the board from his supervisor's activities. Tribal loyalties are deeply ingrained, and his supervisor has been awarding overtime only to his "countrymen," his fellow Ghanaians. When this man was questioned, he pointed to Tabe and started accusing him of awarding too much overtime to everyone, regardless of tribal or national affiliation.

The director told him today that he "wished this had happened to anyone but Tabe," but termination was necessary. Tabe is a powerhouse in the agency. He works with a passion and loyalty that leaves others dumbfounded. He is capable of coaxing success from the most stubbornly uncooperative, most recalcitrant of employees. Pardon me for saying so but I hope they all writhe in agony as they struggle to absorb the countless responsibilities that had previously been shouldered by Tabe.

So, if anyone knows of any positions available in the metropolitan DC area for an African lawyer and human rights activist, exiled from his own country for his efforts to bring democracy to Cameroon, with experience in refugee and asylee resettlement, special needs learners, human resource management, legal support, and/or community organizing, please let me know. My little family would be most grateful.

3616 Pear Tree Ct.
Apt 41
Silver Spring, MD 20906

Professional Experience

Residential Business Manager January 2005-Present
Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children Gaithersburg, MD

♣ Negotiate collective bargaining agreements with employee union
♣ Adjudicate employee claims with union attorneys and field representatives
♣ Directed successful mediation between union officials and agency management and averted
potential work stoppage
♣ Oversee audits of residential homes and enforce staff’s strict adherence to Developmental
Disabilities Act regulations affecting clients’ health, education, and well-being
♣ Hire employees and recommend appropriate actions relating to employee job performance
♣ Conduct exit interviews and suggest strategies for employee retention
♣ Counsel workers on laws and expectations regarding fair workplace practices, non-
discrimination, and grievance procedure
♣ Schedule employees to cover all shifts and emergencies and reconcile employee time sheets
♣ Extensive budget development, including preparing weekly budgets and disbursement records
for residential services
♣ Proposed program to reduce phone service costs by selling internet phone service to community partners and supporters. The agency receives a reimbursement for phone services purchased through its account and donors support CSAAC by purchasing personal phone service through the agency.
♣ Recommended enrollment in to reduce grocery costs for residential homes

Teaching Assistant January 2003-2004
Community Service for Autistic Adults and Children Gaithersburg, MD
♣ Designed and implemented educational programs for children and young adults with autism
♣ Instructed students in self-care tasks such as dressing, tooth-brushing, and toileting
♣ Trained students in vocational skills such as gardening, folding clothing, and assembling boxes
♣ Consulted with behavior specialists, psychologists and occupational and speech therapists to
coordinate the most appropriate curricula for students

Secretary of Elections 2002
Tiko Electoral District Southwest Province, Cameroon
♣ Monitored and supervised 42 polling stations for the June 2002 national elections in Cameroon
♣ Trained and supervised over 100 polling officers
♣ Enforced free voting space standards to ensure all polling stations operated free of intimidation
♣ Ensured ballot boxes and electoral materials conformed to government standards
♣ Documented and reported all elections irregularities to the national elections board
♣ Oversaw material provisioning for all polling stations
♣ Delivered lectures on electoral procedures, laws and ethics
♣ Organized the electoral register for upcoming legislative and municipal elections

Associate Attorney 1999-2002
Tabong Law Firm Tiko, Cameroon
♣ Designed defense for felony and misdemeanor defendants under senior attorney’s supervision
♣ Drafted briefs, interlocutory applications, memoranda, petitions, civil complaints and claims,
correspondence, motions and other legal documentation
♣ Prepared clients for trials, including conducting mock interviews
♣ Counseled clients in immigration proceedings
♣ Carried out legal research on procedural and substantive law

Education and Professional Certifications

Maryland Real Estate Salesperson Licensing Exam 2003
Maryland Real Estate Commission

LL.B. Law, University of Buea (Cameroon) June 1997
Minor: Management

Honors and Activities

Finalist, Moot Court Competition 1996
Class Delegate, Student Representative Assembly 1994-1996
Vice President, Student Representative Assembly 1996-1997
♣ Coordinated student activities in the Department of Law
♣ Represented students at disciplinary hearings
♣ Mediated student conflicts to satisfactory resolution

Bachelor of Arts, University of Yaounde (Cameroon) June 1992
Major: Business Management

Internships and Seminars

National Elections Officer Training Program February 2002
♣ Trained on elections organization and supervision
Cameroon Bar Association Training Seminar June 2000
♣ Admitted to the Cameroon Bar
Cameroon Judicial Week 1997, 1998, 1999
♣ Attended three annual law dinners. Topics included: Ethics of the Legal Profession, Diminished Capacity Under the Common Law and The Rights of Minorities Under the Law
Tabong Law Firm 1996-1997
♣ Followed court proceedings in civil and criminal cases

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Gypsy and I discovered a new walking path today. We were walking along our usual route when an old grizzled man appeared in front of us. He had a long snarled white beard and leathery skin. He wore a red and black checked flannel lumberjack's shirt and he carried a walking stick rubbed smooth with use. His step was determined; as he walked, he bent his head and leaned into his gait, as if he was fighting a searing wind. He bustled past me. I said hello but he did not respond. As he passed, I wondered where he was going. He seemed better dressed for hiking than a suburban Sunday stroll.

I looked over my shoulder to see where he was headed. He had disappeared, but I noticed that the street I had just turned onto continued to a dead end, followed by trees extending deep back into the grass. I peered into the trees, trying to determine if they were just a screen between houses, but I couldn't see any buildings through their branches.

Puzzling for a minute over whether I had time for a detour, I shrugged and decided, What the heck! Gypsy and I turned around and followed the road to where it ended. I scrambled up a hillock and could see a walking path way back in the trees. Gypsy and I picked our way through the mud and finally found ourselves on the path. We set off into the woods and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We'll definitely have to try that route again!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Everyone Loves A Sandwich

from Cute Overload: "And the moral of the story is; Keep Your Yapper Shut."

from Crittergal: Nah, CO's got it wrong! As the older sister of several gimongous brothers, I can tell you that the moral is most unequivocally: beat them when they're young - it teaches respect, and when they get hunormous, they'll pull Thanksgiving turkeys and Friday night pizzas off the countertops and bring them to you.

Or in my case, reach things on high shelves and help you move into your fourth floor walk-up and carry your 50 pound massage paraphernalia around for you.

What?! I'm a firstborn - it's my birthright.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I would also like to note that we have only 385 more days left of this:

That's right, folks. When in despair, refer back to this page

for an immediate reminder that this is coming:

Sayonara, Mr. President!

"Sorry folks, the looting and pillaging are over - corporate America got there first."

Or we could even get lucky:

"No Sir, you don't get to keep the flight suit."

New Beginning

This is the year I turn thirty. I'm pretty excited about that. In four months and ten days, I will say goodbye to the tumultuous twenties and settle in for a decade of . . . who knows? A house, a baby, seven or eight more dogs? A world-conquering career, a revelatory relationship? Or something more sinister, death, deception, disability? I don't know, but I know that whatever it is, it will leave me a stronger, kinder, more humble person.

There are 129 days until my birthday. Four months and one week into the new year, it offers a good benchmark of my progress.

I do have some goals for the new year. I would like to lose 66.6 pounds. No, not because I have sold my soul in exchange for a sexy new bod. But a 66.6 pound weight loss would bring me to what I weighed when I graduated from high school. I was a pretty juicy morsel even then, but at least I could wear a skirt without the friction from my thighs igniting a Nightrider-esque conflagration up my backside.

I know I need more specific goals in order to reach this nebulous "I'd like to be skinny" goal. I need inside-out goals, not just "I want my body to look like this." But I am not sure yet what these goals should be.

I want to push myself as hard physically as I can without injuring myself, but then, how hard is that? How do I know when I am reaching the brink of injury? Does it make sense to do something that I love when it is high impact and I may be grinding my knees at weird angles? But then, fat people are far more likely to have arthritis in their weight-bearing joints, so that fear is probably mostly bullshit with a twist of actual risk.

Speaking of risks, I would like to start taking more. I have dreams, you know. Sometimes I forget that.

Some risks I want to take:

I want to jump out of a plane.

I want to fly in a hot-air balloon.

I want to teach in a foreign country, something like sanitation or preventing disease transmission or teaching girls who might otherwise not receive an education.

I want to make an investment.

I want to run really fast and really far.

I want to hike to the top of a mountain.

I want to sing in public.

I want to write a short story.

I want to write a song.

I want to write a book.

I want to share all of these writings with people without being afraid of their opinions.

I want to learn a martial art.

I want to finish a collage.

I want to go on a cross-country horseback expedition.

I want to understand people's bodies more deeply. When someone asks me, "I have a pain in my .... Do you know what that is?" I want to be able to feel it in my own body and know.

I want to learn about plants. I want to take really good care of plants.

I want . . . [deep breath] . . . I want to speak the truth about my husband in public. The truth is, he is the most phenomenal, wonderful being I know. He is so good, forgiving, hardworking, understanding - not in a paternalistic "I understand dear" way but in an exhilarating, almost creepy soul-reading kind of way. He just gets me, even the things I don't want anyone to get.

Now why, dear reader, would it be difficult to speak the truth about him when the truth is so delicious?

I don't know why. Because it's nauseating, how great he is. Because it's easier to be funny. Because I like to make people laugh, not squirm in their seats when they have to look straight into how much I love him.

But if I could be honest about this one thing - not strident about it but at least more balanced - I think it would help me become a little gentler and less abrasive, which are characteristics I used to possess and have lost somewhat.

I would also like to regain some of the patience I had in high school. I used to be more understanding, more forgiving. I used to understand others' perspectives better. Now I'm getting older and I'm getting some sclerosis in my opinions, a little hardening of the preconceived notions.

I would very much like to regain some of my openness and compassion.

I used to listen to people and "bear witness to their suffering." People need that. They need people who just hear their pain, without worrying whether they are justified or "should be" doing this or that. I'm a little more of a blowhard now, and I'd like to practice the discipline of Just Shutting Up and Listening.

So, one hundred and twenty nine days until I turn thirty. Is that too long too sustain an experiment in passion, to live so that I do not regret even one day?

Well, I guess we'll find out.