Cynthia's Anilogue - 2001 ramblegreenspun.com : LUSENET : The Garden : One Thread
Here's a thread that's all about my favorite subjec t, Me.
I don't get me at all. I completely baffle me. Maybe that's why I have my attention so completely. Perhaps remaining enigmatic to myself is my way of staying deeply interested in life.
Sometimes I do feel that edge of flat sameness - some call it "jaded", and I think I see how that could be when I imagine the sea-worn jade, smooth and cool and round and offering no resistance to anything that meets it - and now and then I long for it, and yet I really do believe that it is in wandering this edge that the energy to continue is self-generated, self-perpetuated, and I remain very aware, and v ery interested in the most intimate mysteries and details of Life.
Few want to share - really - and so they don't have that much to share. But that's how you have something to share, you know - you practice for years at opening up, and keeping boundaries, and touching even when it hurts or frightens a bit (like the times when it feels really, really good...), and you just keep doing everything you can to keep your energy and your interest in life very, very high and all the rest of it unfolds in front of you, like an inevitable flower that wants nothing so much as to be seen.
Here are some scraps from letters and essays. I'll group them by month/season and let them grow over time. I've been meaning to do this for a long time, anyhow, for I've been writing on the web for years. It will be good to see these words again - some of them make me laugh.
Perhaps you'll enjoy reading some of this now and then. I hope so. I don't have the time I did last year to write as I was moved to. It's summer, and things are growing, and I am a person whose life is entwined with growing things. But I want to connect with you, and want you to know things about me.
You said we are light beings together. I have only a few of those in this web-world, and I do cherish them. They are my most dear friends because we've met through the Light - I heard their voices, and they heard mine, and we recognized something in one another that was very profound.
But as we talk and learn about the ground of one another, we become more real, more tangible. And I can't think of anything more wonderful than to become a friend on the ground with someone I met first as light. That would please me very much.
So, enjoy. I'll be putting things up here over the next little while, as the time opens up
: : : : : : : : :
-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002
2001-10-7 Sunday - first musing
I'm not really a "journal keeper" per se; I'm really more of a letter-writer, because I find myself much more inspired by others, and the invitation to communicate, than I am by the act of writing to myself.
I'm sure this is partially reflective of some dysfunction in my general make-up; I seek external validation as a result of one of fifty million childhood disconnects I experienced - you know, those things that are supposed to be soul-lessons and help our overall evolution but hurt like a bear while the band-aid's coming off. Oh, well. Perhaps the enlightenment will come with time. That's what I signed for in The Contract.
You know, this ready tendency to talk out loud toward others tends to get me into a bit of trouble. I always assume that everyone writes like me, and thinks like me, and feels like me - the ultimate naive solipsist to the end.
I also end up having mostly male correspondents, because they're the sex that finds the energy to converse about the things I'm interested in - numbers, and physics, the economy, societal abstractions and speculations about power (or at least argue about it, which is certainly lots of the fun). Actually, they'd probably talk about anything, and I'm most likely deluding myself about their true interest in what's being said, as opposed to the skirt that's saying it.
Unfortunately - and I haven't figured this one out yet - if I express interest, and then do what I always do, which is flirt, banter, cajole, and prod (because that IS how you get people talking with their fingers), I get amorous attentions flooding in the door. Well, not flooding. That's certainly an exaggeration.
Actually, one is probably a flood to me. I'm not exactly the girl who's used to getting a lot of attention - at least, not that kind. I was a homely adolescent, a fickle and obstreperous young woman, and marriage to my first husband - a dear but (back then) emotionally distant man - brought out the matriarch in me, since that was the only vehicle for caring that was allowed. And, when I have received that kind of attention in the past, it's often made me uncomfortable if I can't reciprocate in kind. Love is, after all, a gift that begs a return.
Therefore, because I'm an absolute wuss when it comes to boundaries in the feeling world (generally, I'm an all (rarely) or nothing (mostly) woman when it comes to the sticky wickets of sexuality, and I don't navigate the middle ground as deftly without body language that Mother always said should include a handshake), these attentions easily confuse me, and I rapidly get tangled up and can't get out very gracefully.
Well, I always do, but I usually stop feeling inspired to write.
... I have a lot to think through. I *want* to think it through. I want to contemplate what I've just been through, especially this past seven years. And I process the complex metaphors of experience best when I bounce them off my understanding of, and desire to reach, Another.
This is sort of where that god-thing I do comes in again. My capacity to feel Connected seems to ebb and flow. I'm learning to feel its presence more in my life (I get energy Juice that is, as I get older, increasingly hard to ignore) and cultivate it when it begins to swell. That means acknowledging it, and making a room for it, and engaging in dialogue and transaction with it, and cherishing the presence of it.
Sometimes it's a non-human presence that moves into my life. The Plants are a good example of that. So's the store. And the moments on stage in synch with the audience and the music. But sometimes it's a person that gets to wear that ebbing - or flowing - presence. I try had to keep seeing the *You* inside the more ubiquitous you that is Other.
Actually, I think it may be the most important thing to stay focused upon, and one of the hardest - to actually see the transitory, this-life-only-ego-manifestation of the very special Soul that's moving me and love *that* being just as much, or even more than, the Soul inside.
Funny how a lot of the New Age dialogue on relationship seems to be about getting with the Eternal Soul of another, and I seem to see that as just a bit escapist, or at least doing the easier thing. The harder thing must be to align with the frazzled, volatile, novel, and increasingly tired Ego du Jour, and loving *that* one deeply and fully. It seems that if I can manage that, the Soul Love is a given. ***********
-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002
dishes, floor, laundry... boxes open ask me in. what goes? what stays?
I make choices for a future that I finally can't pretend to understand.
I say I don't know where I'm going, and I feel the comfortable warmth of predictability from my convincing embrace of uncertainty. I *know* that I don't know - and I dodge some of the discomfort in that faux knowing.
But there is a legitimate security in the acceptance of uncertainty that I feel, and I take refuge there.
It's an unexpected place that I find myself in. I'm in my mid-forties. No husband. No mate. No children. No home to care for. A business and career that I'm bringing to an end. A community that I'm ready to leave.
I've spent a lot of nights in angst over this tremendous failure by an American woman to reach any pinnacle of recognizable achievement, in even the most mundane of worlds. But then again, because of so few ties/supports, I get to spend the nights in angst, and then wake up in the morning, and it's a new day, and the feeling passes, and I go on.
It's been interesting to discern just how much of my attitude is some kind of passing subtle physiology - some alchemy of stars, ideas, oxygen and dinner - and that has certainly helped how I process conclusions I come to in my more deeply feeling states.
What an interesting process. To me, anyhow.
So I look around the room at the open boxes and the things that will fill them. What goes?
The choices are coming clear. I'm praying the change like the shaman prays rain. Heirlooms, the remnant library, a bare-bones kitchen, some wardrobe and a few tools go to the storage area, packed for shipping. The rest is history - literally.
My primary thought/plan has been to sell the store and then go spend a few months in Europe - maybe longer. I spent some time in Varanasi some years ago and know of a great lodging spot right on the Ganges where I felt very inspired. One of my friends is a Sanskrit scholar there, and I've been thinking about whether or not I'd like to study some Vedic music for awhile. The University is just a short bike ride from the lodging and friends make such a stay enjoyable and possible. I also like India a lot.
Actually, I've liked everywhere I've been abroad (except for the part of Germany where my mother lives half the year - Dortmund), though I've not seen very much. I've been to Italy, a bit of Paris, and Nepal and India. I like the toilets in India. Isn't that odd? But they're just so practical, and the nice ones are, well, nice!
Another friend told me of a wonderful monastery in Isernia, Italy whose nuns (from Berkeley and Washington - my kind of ladies!) study bookbinding and gregorian chant. They offer rooms for folk like me to come and study the music and participate in the monastic life - no vows or anything like that, just a lot of soul and singing. I've contemplated a month or so there to clear out the cobwebs.
I know that leaving all the life I've had here is going to be a pretty significant stone in my pool. I don't have the energy, desire nor intent to manage the ripples. But I do want to feel them, and perhaps let them change me somewhat.
Whenever I've left the country, I've felt a freedom of self that is reminiscent of a Ketamineimpulse. It seems like a useful thing to do would be to put myself in an environment that facilitates the alteration of some of my more fundamental patterns. Not because I think I need anything to change, but simply because I have that happy confluence of freedoms that I describe above, and that I *can* change.
My singing is a great example. Five years ago I never thought I'd see a stage or a microphone again. I thought I'd left that behind in Southern California, years ago. I started singing again - just to touch it, just because I could - and it's been growing quietly ever since.
I did it because finally I could. I did it because it was different. I did it because I was tired of everyone assuming they knew who I was, and what I thought, and what I ought to do, just because of the business I ran.
I wanted to put on my gowns, and my make-up, and curl my hair, and walk on high-heeled shoes (which my high-arched feet are designed for) and just dump those assumptions about being vegetarian, and hairy, and anti-everything-debauched-and-fun right on their own pompous asses.
I have no desire for any kind of fame, although making a living as a club singer for awhile would be alright. Since my needs are embarrassingly modest, and my voice is average, and my tolerance for bullshit is about zero, this is probably all I both need and could expect.
I don't like large audiences. My favorite times are small rooms, with just a few people left, hanging on to each other and their last drink and the soulful refrain. That's not money, but it's about as rich a place as I could ever ask to Be.
But all this goes by way of saying that really deep change, at the sort of level opened when you're in a brand new country, feeling a whole new world, means an unfolding of potential and opportunity not even guessed at, or even desired, before.
I don't want to go after what I want. I want to go beyond what I want. I want to see what I'm deeply desiring that I don't have an inkling about yet.
That's what I really want...
-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002
Monday October 8, 2001 Father thoughts
I'm rehearsing a new group tomorrow, and so I've got the rather brain-fuddling task of making the house presentable enough to rehearse in without creating too much extra work by altering the planned disarray of Cynthia in Moving Mode.
Dinner. That's on tonight's list. Turning off the smoke alarm is next.(I guess that was dinner).
I think I'm much less together than I appear on the surface. At least, I assume I must appear together, because my staff has some sort of running commentary of surprise whenever I make a mistake, or don't know something.
I'm much more of an absent-minded professor type than my Inner Critic allows. And sneaking around your Inner Critic is like trying to play chess with yourself. You can't really win unless you're intentionally looking the other way, and you know when you're doing it, and about the only way you can pull off a good coup against the IC is if it's totally unconscious, or if YOU were unconscious when you were getting away with whatever laziness you tried to sneak by it. And dang it, if you're not aware of the laziness when you're in the middle of it, and you can't savor it, then what good is it anyway?
Laziness is either fully enjoyed in the moment, or regretted later - either its consequences, or the fact that it wasn't fully enjoyed.
I can be a real lollygagger. People think I'm a workaholic, but it's just because there's this huge task in front of me, and it really does need to be done, and I'm the only one to do it. But that doesn't mean I'm not ready for it to be over.
I didn't plan it this way.
It started out with my ex-husband, Galen, and I coming to Eugene in 1989 with my mother, my disabled step-father, and my little brother. We'd been living in San Clemente for several years. Galen and I had been running a wood products wholesale business since 1986, when we were officially married, and my mother worked with us in the office.
It was good for us, because her husband had suffered a terrible stroke and was difficult to care for. He had been a quite stellar engineer with a flair for management and had been very successful in the aerospace world.
This is very unlike my father, who had been a quite stellar engineer with absolutely no flair for self-promotion in any way, shape or form, and merely created innovation after brilliant innovation for the war machine, pleased that whatever task he took on that had to do with making a thing go where you wanted it to go, really fast, all the time, and perhaps explode when it got there, he could do.
Once Dad was giving me a ride to work when I was about 19, and he and I had this brief talk. I was engaged with a group that was picketing Lockheed, where he worked, over the Trident Missile project. He told me that he'd been sitting in a business meeting and for the first time it had dawned upon him that the kill-ratio numbers they were discussing (one measure used to compare the relative worth of missile development projects, I'd assumed) were referring to *people*, and that the things they were talking about were intended to kill *people*. He said that he brought that up, and that he was met with complete silence. He never spoke of it with me again. I doubt he talked of it with his peers, either.
I think of the statement Rumsfield, or someone of his ilk, has recently made with regard to the development of chemical weapons by the bin Ladens and the Husseins (not us, of course), and the use of toxic biological agents, declaring any such actions as inherently terrorist precisely because there was no use to put those things to other than to kill human beings.
This is perhaps and finally a good thing. Of course, anyone can point to us and see that the kill ratios my father spoke of in the 70's referred specifically to people and were, therefore, deliberate acts with murderous intent. Our administration gets poor marks for history (ala Mr. Bush and his "Crusades" reference), so we'll see if they attempt to try such things in the World court under Nuremberg, forgetting that we did a lot of stuff that will also fall into that prosecutable camp.
But back when my Dad was working, they couldn't even speak of the reality of kill ratios in the rooms where the machinery was being designed - the trajectory and momentum of the war machine was so fervently ideological, and the mission so terribly inhumane, that to even begin to see the targets of missiles as human beings would have begun the unraveling and doomed the projects to incompletion.
That, too, I see as a hopeful thing, because it does suggest that we knew, somewhere deep inside , that if we dared talk about the truth out loud we would stop the terrible things we were planning to do. This means that our humanity is *not* soul-less, nor doomed, but somewhat gullible and willing to be misled in the name of societal security and other imperfect visions.
My father, on his own small scale, was in that camp of folk who agreed to remain silent and do the work. He told himself it was science. He believed it to the core. He believed that he wasn't responsible for the use to which something he'd created was put. I hold little judgement about this perspective any more - I do understand it.
He and I were doing our mutual parts in being the check-and-balance of our Democracy. We just happened to disagree on methodology, but I think that we shared this perspective, because I never felt he was angry with me - I think he always admired it when any of us actually had a thought-out opinion that was different from the mainstream, because it meant that we were thinking for ourselves.
He believed that someone had to do the work of defending our territory. He was always willing to do work that someone, somewhere, would have to do in order for the Whole - the Nation, in this case - to endure.
He is eminently practical. If I had handed him Jack Kornford's "Indian Givers", or made some comment to him about how "we took the land from the Indians" he would have asked me if I expected we should give our house to the Indians and, if so, which Indians, and did I know them, and how would that actually work if we did it ,and would we move to another house and give that away, too, or did we just have to give away one, and did everyone have to give away their house or just us, and what would happen to the people who didn't want to do that, and so on.
I suppose the missile conversation would have worked the same way.
His family is from the deep Mississippi South. My grandfather was a postal worker, and delivered mail back when the "rain, hail, sleet, and snow" motto meant something. Dad got a lot of those Confederate Post Office genes.
-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002
2001-10-10 Somewhere There's Music
Well, it's a complex day. I received an e-mail from a friend who hangs a lot in Europe and he keeps some pretty interesting stuff on his web site. He's linked to a detailed exploration of the WTC disaster-as-scripted-terror, motivated by money and territorial control (is there a relationship between "terror" and "territory"?), and it aligns so closely to the flavor of IGFarben, AT&T, et.al. during Hitler's rise and WWII that I just have to keep an open mind. The story is circumstantial, but the circumstances can't be ignored..
He points to difficult things and I read them. They are harder to read, and to stand in the midst of, than the ideas that make me feel good. I wrote him a letter with text I like that I thought I'd share here.
I'm no stranger to conspiracy. I've read many of the prominent ones. I continuously struggle with where to file all of the information in my mind. I struggle with the fact that this - this particular disaster, this century of destructions, this millennium of malcontents - is not the worst that has, or can, or will be done.
Of course there was a conspiracy. At its more immediate level, it was certainly present in the individuals who colluded to take over the planes. At its larger levels, it may cycle through the interests of corporations and their nation-state vassals, capitalizing on the momentum of acquisition and apathy present in most mindless industrialization.
The masterminding may extend to elite ideological sectors - some, perhaps, still engaged in covert wars that span generations and centuries, markers that I am blind to. There are realms beyond what is here...Anunakki, demons, greys, reptiles...and those just cover our current dimension! Each of these levels, when revealed to someone hungry for explanation that will lead to personal action, can swallow a mind whole, and refuse to release it for a very long time.
And then, of course, there's the opposite end - the tiny little place where the first seed of aggression toward the life space and breath of another was first sought and taken.
So what's a girl to do?
"Give me a pigfoot and a bottle of beer..."
Somewhere there's music, It's where you are, Somewhere there's heaven, How near, how far?
It's a rainy afternoon. The sweetgum trees in my front yard are just beginning to turn red. It's poured all day, and the sky's been pretty grey, and there's wine, and there's music, and I'm just pulling hot bread out, and I'm in absolute heaven.
I've just started rehearsing with a woman that I've been dying to play with for a couple of years. We've done a few things together - Ray's booth at the Country Faire last summer, and a couple of sit-ins at her regular Jo Fed's gig - but nothing to write home about.
She's a wonderful pianist. She's really got that "something" that clicks, beyond technique, beyond repertoire, beyond chops. She's got ears, and she listens for the spaces, and the really subtle modulations that make the difference between a tune that is familiar, and a tune that is hauntingly pictorial of a landscape you carry within you.
I've incessantly asked her to play with me over the last 2 years, but she very graciously declines, only giving in on the Country Faire gig because it meant we got to run around stoned and happy with colored lights late at night after all the paid-up people went home.
Others around town told me that she just didn't like working with vocalists, and that everyone in town wanted her to play with them. I wasn't alone in my adulation.
Once, mom was talking to me on the phone and I had Barbara's CD playing in the background. Mom - who knows jazz *very* well - was certain it was a Bill Evans CD I had on, but she hadn't heard it before. She was very surprised to learn it was Barbara, and reinforced my suspicion that we'd make a great team. I did, after all, learn my music at my mother's knee, and whatever I do is shaped largely by what she did - so if she spots a sound that I should go for, I pay attention to her advice.
Anyhow, things have slowed down a bit in musicianland for folks around here, and Barbara started losing gigs. I know, because in the interim we've become girlfriends - we'd agreed that just because she didn't want to gig with me didn't preclude our developing a friendship.
At about the same time as she's losing gigs, I'm starting to get a few because it's getting into my season (I don't play summers around here because I sing for the night time, and the darker sombre mood that fall and winter bring - partly to resonate with it, and then to pick people up and bring them out of it by the end of the evening>)
Well, I start callling around to book for November, and I use the musicians I've played with in the past. My favorite drummer just moved, and I'm not really crazy about my most rehearsed piano player because I knew from the first that he was a musician who was out "playing the field", so to speak. He's good, but fairly new to performing, and what he wants is really much more in line with a Coltrane/Monk avant-garde experience, and doing standards "hems him in."
He's a very capable pianist on many levels, but he didn't have that love for the genre and feel that I have so strongly, and if you don't have that, then you can't penetrate the structure and tradition of the standards, and make them new. I think because he lacks that love, he can't get to a place in the music that keeps taking him higher, nor inspires him to learn things he didn't already know. And if you don't know the tunes, you have to learn them.
Although I'm a johnnette-come-lately to the music scene, one thing that I *do* have, again because I grew up in this music, is a deep familiarity with a couple hundred "standards". The era is 50-80 (!) years ago, so the term "standards" is a misnomer. In fact, I feel more and more like some kind of nostalgia queen who takes people back in time to a place that was different than it is today. It's not so easy to find players who really know this genre, and feel it in their bones - I was naive about that bit, and have since learned to cherish the folk who do know how to get there.
Two weeks ago my piano player cancels out on me - actually, he forgets he's booked the gigs with me and schedules others. Not only does he do that, but he takes my bass player with him.
Anyhow, it was truly delicious in its cosmically orchestrated "perfection" because I called Barbara and learned that she was ready to consider other opportunities, since she was losing so many instrumental gigs to other groups.
I'd maintained for a long time that she actually "needed "a vocalist, because the audiences for instrumental-only piano jazz, while devoted, are small. Vocalists, on the other hand, tend to appeal to a larger number of people - people who come out for dinner, and then have a few drinks, and rekindle love and then go home and finish what I've started (as I like to remind them) - and I also thought it would be a way for her to expand her audience and stay somewhat fresh.
She agreed to play, and "try it out". When my bass player, Hamilton, learned that Barbara was going to do the gigs, he told me "I'm there." It is very cool, because I really like this guy, too. He had a similar childhood exposure to the same music I did - his father was very into jazz and played the music all through his boyhood.
So, we had our first rehearsal today, in my living room, and it was so smooth we could have gone on stage just like we were and no one would have known we'd never played as a set before.
I am so happy! It turns out that our pace and phrasing are very complementary. She says she can feel where I'm going. That means so much to me! We love the same songs, and we both have the same favorites that "nobody does anymore." She said that she was excited, and could see the value of collaborating with a vocalist, in order to broaden her own horizons.
This is going to be good for both of us. I'm a lot more goal-oriented than she is right now. I pick these bright little stars in the sky to shoot for, fix my sextant, and then move the freightliner as deftly as I can (I can't wait for a smaller boat to turn!) She says she'll benefit by thinking more along those lines, and I agree. She is very talented, and she needs to get enough exposure so that she can at least be "seen". She never plays out of Eugene, but she's very well known here, so I think she could go somewhere good if she could just get over the horizon of this tiny-tot town.
I told her about my "busking to gondoliers" plan in 2003 - and I said "look, I might be singing by myself on some bridge in Venice, but how long do you think it's going to take for one of those gondoliers to get the word to the jazz cats in Saint Marks Square that an American woman in a black dress is singing jazz on the bridge, and would love to meet a saxophone?" (this is one of my favorite little visions...it's so do-able, with just me, and a mic, and a little amp, and a battery, and a dress, and a moon, and a bridge...of course, I could use someone to sing to...)
She's got a 13-year old son, and she's just finishing a very similar relationship to mine; 3 years of waiting for the fellow to figure out that more than once a week, Without Complaining, was pretty much a necessary next step. What is it with the male sex? Is this really a guy-thing, as Douglas maintains? Or is it just that we've been through a bad batch?
Hamilton is in heaven, too. Barbara is of the caliber that will bring out the best in him. I think I'm really going to like our sound. I've been adding songs in French and Portuguese, and these lyrics take musicians who know how to get out of the way of the words, so that the audience can feel the nuance of another language outlining the tune. Barbara's amazing in her capacity to do this.
And my god, the woman is an absolute beauty. She's blonde, with strong Scandinavian features, and a lithe, gorgeous body - the epitome of class in any setting. Hamilton is a strikingly handsome, tall, thin, Japanese-American man with a shaved head, and he looks magnificent with a stand-up bass. I'm probably the ugly duckling of the bunch, but I just doff my wine glass and call out "more!"
Anyhow, I just wanted to pop off this little bit and describe our first rehearsal. I hope it's one of many. I hope we make it to a studio someday and lay down some music. *That* will tickle my mother so pink she'll get a ticket!
Now let's see - should I do the bookkeeping or go Zydeco dancing? hmmmm. hard choice... **********
-- Anonymous, June 12, 2002
2001-10-11 The you-never-know-how-things-are-gonna-go department
Zydeco Nights. ooh la laa!
what a fun, fun time. so much better than double-entry bookkeeping.
It's 1 beer and 2 wines later. It's hot, and it's sweaty, and it's out of breath, and it's very well held and danced. It's happy.
I just went to Zydeco night. It has been awhile, but Etouffe and thinking about you got me up and going. Step, touch, quick-quick, Step, touch, quick-quick.
Scott, who really did seem to enjoy dancing with me, couldn't quite get that rhythm, because he's one of the swing dancers. He kept putting the "one" in a different place, so I had to do the womanly thing and follow him. Ken, who is notorious for usually having to navigate a dance floor occupied by at least two, if not more, of his former lovers, has a very insistent knee. He definitely knows how to Zydeco.
I think that's a really interesting aspect of dancing - the lead/follow arrangement. I'm part of a generation that dissed the value of that too quickly. There's a lot to be gained by learning how to follow. You learn a LOT about leading by following. You learn what a leader should do, because you learn what makes it easy to follow. If the leader does something that's easy to follow, and it's fun, and it gets you through the song gracefully, without accident, to the end - with maybe even an artful fluorish or two painted in - then that seems like a good thing for a leader to do.
I wish more politicians would take dance lessons.
I like Zydeco. I like how strong a partner gets to be. One of the teachers tonight reminded us of the importance of shifting weight into the steps when dancing Zydeco - something that's opposite of swing, where your center of gravity stays pretty much in one primary alignment.
By shifting weight fully into your steps, it becomes a much more down-to-the-ground stance. Then the man can push his weight strongly toward the woman and, when both peoples' centers are in their pelvis (what's the plural of pelvis? pelvii? That just doesn't sound very good...) and thighs, and their bodies are moving fully into the steps, she can reciprocate with just the right amount of permission and resistance, and they find a place that really fits the name "groove".
I'm not a great dancer, but I do like it.
2001-10-14 Another lovely day
It's a mixed mood evening. PLUR. Remember PLUR
Peace Love Unity Respect
On the happy side, I had my first piano lesson in years today. What a hoot! I hit it off famously with Bill Sabol, kind enough to "take me in" and teach me to accompany myself. It was a lot of fun to see what I do and don't know, and I really do like this guy - especially when he said that watching me was like watching a 6 year old in a sandbox. I guess I am a silly little nit.
It's going to take some time, but I think it will go much faster than I'd initially imagined. I already know a lot, thanks to devoted parents that made sure I was playing the piano early and often; I just don't know that I know it, and that's what he's already helping me to uncover.
Down the road, accompanying myself means freedom - it means a kind of musical self-reliance that I have been very hungry for. I'm glad to be joining up with Barbara, but musical relationships are even more ephemeral than personal ones, and I want to move beyond *needing* someone else in order to make the life sound of my soul. I doubt I'll ever be able to transcend wanting a human partner in my life for my heart to play with, but my voice can strike out on its own. And today, it took its real first step.
-- Anonymous, June 12, 2002
In the you-never-know-how-things-are-gonna-go department I had a living space upheaval that was a little unexpected.
I've been bragging about how loose I'm letting myself become, giving up my house and getting "light" and "flexible". Meanwhile, a little part of me has been wriggling uncomfortably inside, not so sure that she likes the general trend that the rest of the Internal Board of Directors is lobbying for. She spoke up yesterday, in a bit of a bad dream - something I very rarely have, so I always pay attention - and the first thought on my mind when I awoke was to go look for a place to live as soon as I could.
I tried to talk myself out of it. I tried telling myself that these next steps were a "partnership with Spirit" (so why isn't Spirit packing up the garage?). It seemed somehow as if I would betray my walk in flexibility if I cemented myself into another space to live, no matter how much more appropriate it might be.
Nick also came to mind. Nick's ability to be fluid was completely dependent upon his total commitment to fluidity. He did NOTHING that met with any conflict, and the minute it did, he went the other way. Meaning, he fully went - walked, left, hit another space - away.
I doubt that he would have stayed as sane as he did if he'd been forced by any circumstance - taking care of parents, children, a business, concerns - to stay in one place. It was his capacity to be completely flexible and move exactly where Spirit propelled him that gave him the ability to follow Spirit.
What was it that I said - half measures short change the fullness of a theme?
I'm not yet capable of such fluidity. I can dream about it. And even talk like its near at hand. But I have to get up in the morning to go open the store, because I am still holding onto some structures like family, and community duty, and general obligation to see a task through, that will not yet bend to a living Free Fall.
I have tried, of course. I thought about, and even wrote a bit here about, just housesitting and going where the flow would have me. And then I also remembered an experience I had in Southern California - I was living in a trailer at the tail end of a canyon in east Orange County. No running water. No electricity. I was in the Santa Ana National Forest. I worked a straight job in OC, and to mesh the two worlds was a huge amount of effort. You had to be in either one or the other, but you just couldn't straddle them without a lot of work, so you'd better love the work of straddling the worlds, and all the time and energy that it costs to do so.
And then little awarenesses started creeping in over the last week. I'd wake up in the morning, and move around my house, and take note of the fact that I really didn't need very much room, but I really liked about "this much" - about 1/2 the size of my little house will do my current lifestyle just fine. I'd wake up in my bed in the morning, and enjoy waking up in "my bed". I could put on music. Make my coffee. Wander around, sing, dance, write - stuff like that.
The prospect of sharing a household with my friends is enticing to my communitarian parts, but I also realize that I do keep rather different hours and personal energies than most people I know. I also noticed that, in the last two weeks - since I became aware of the night for the household's weekly meeting time - that I've found things I "need" or really want to do for each of the next 6 meeting nights. Not a good sign. Well, not a bad sign - it's actually good that my warning lights are working - but a sign that does suggest that I'd better pay attention, because some part of my Inner Council is putting a thumbs down on the group living *and* the bohemian scene.
So this afternoon I trekked downtown to see what I could see. It seems that I've found a tiny little studio in a sweet old historic building on one of the few streets in Eugene that has any character at all - trees, galleries, a block from the Hult Center and the weekend Farmer's and Crafter's Markets, and several blocks from most of the clubs I sing in. It would be simple to sublet when I go away, or cheap enough to cover while I'm gone. There are NEVER any vacancies, and today there were two, with south facing windows, over the trees.
I've called this evening and left a message that I want one. I feel a lot better.
Visiting Chef Ray tonight helped. He reminded me how nice it is to live downtown, and he's right - the Tiffany Building is a jewel and I'd be a fool not to take it - and then I ran into another friend, who'd also spent a number of years in the country and has just returned downtown, and he told me that he's having a blast.
...And so, another good day. Most of them are. I live a blessed life. Sometimes I even notice.
2001-10-16 Of Books and Book Keeping
Another beautiful day.
What is it about this cosmic turning of things that makes it possible for one person to feel overwhelmed and nourished by the bounty and beauty of the world, and another to be in the midst of its greatest pains?
I know that it's been explained by a number of people over the centuries, and its reasons range through the influencing spectra of luck, karma, fate, choice, endorphin chemistry, privilege, capacity, work, deific or malefic intent or whim, or some odd combination of the preceding.
I'm tempted to contemplate the laws at work, on the off-chance that I can repeat some of the magic formulae, and bring the goodness and the nice things closer. But it defies the rules that I try to put it safe within, and I'm reminded that one can't keep ephemeral understandings like these.
The smart ones would say not to poke or prod it too deeply.
It was another beautiful day. I drove up the river with Jeanette Reynolds, a woman who joined my store in 1991 and has, over the last decade, grown into one of my very best friends.
What a delight and a gift to have someone work for you who works *with* you. We've been through so much together - and yet, not so much together as simply alongside one another, doing the work we were doing, married to the men we were married to, leaving and burying them, coming apart, moving on - and so very much of it has been moving on.
We loaded plants, and then had breakfast. We went to a local potters' show and saw our friends and their work on display. We collected more plants, and then drove up the McKenzie to Horse Creek. It really is a very good drive for talking. It's just about an hour, up a gently winding, lightly sloping river road. The valley runs east/west, so the light is usually some version of gorgeous. Trees meet across the road now and then, and the talk can get intimate with the seclusion the shadowed lane provides.
Every now and then, the way opens onto a valley of golden fields and farm houses, with the river's ridge companions off to either side, lined with sometimes solitary sentinel trees alone in the clear cut squares of the ubiquitous stump quilt that pocks the hills of the Northwest.
Conversations can take those turns, too, opening into wide fields and meandering through grassy swales as aimless as Oregon bottomland. Our talking was like that, and we touched on so many things.
One especially laugh-filled topic was the subject of making love on horseback (neither of us have, and a friend of hers was hankering for such an experience). After my Southern Magnolia button was pressed and got over her shock at considering such a thing, I blurted out "Finally, a reason for the trot!".
I've done a *lot* of riding, and actually remain skeptical about how well the fantasy would stand up to the reality. We did, however, decide that draft horses were best, because they *are* the size of a twin bed: she opted for a western saddle, but I think the fewer distractions, the better. My final suggestion for her was to remember to tie up the horse.
I'm looking forward to "writing my science fiction novel". I'm not kidding. I actually have one. I've been working on the story for years, because it's primarily my favorite vision of How the World Could Be. Jan's heard several of the major plot developments over the last couple of years, and today was a perfect day to tell her more of the story.
It kind of writes itself this way. I almost have enough structure for it to take shape - it's still in its pre-written stage, like the "undifferentiated slurry" of plant cells before they hit some critical Beingness mass and split up the various tasks of becoming a tree, or whatever the DNA plan has determined to be.
It is now a definite story. I know who the main people are. I know what they're about. I know the dramas they get to play around. And soon, when I finish with the store, I will need a vessel for all the energy that has to go into words and thoughts, and can't reside in my songs, and this story will be ready to be that place.
...We unloaded plants and I did chores. We had a scrumptious lunch of Cinnamon Walnut bread, almond butter and fresh marionberry jam, with a half a bottle of cheap Italian white wine. We swam in the hot spring, watched the sun go over the ridge, and then drove down the river valley, chasing the sun all the way.
2001-10-17 Sometimes through song
...Lately, it has been my time to pack the books. This is NOT an easy task.
I've always loved my books. I used to sleep with my books. When I was a little girl, I would go to the library every Saturday and check out 6-10 books. I read constantly, and was never without a book. I was so tiny - 58 pounds in 8th grade - and I used to carry all of these heavy books around. I laugh when I think back on it. What a sight!
I traveled light for a number of years. Everything I owned fit into the back seat of a small car until I was 26 and met Galen. I had only a couple of boxes of books, but as soon as I was able to generate the stability to own a bookcase, I began the accretion process.
I'm not sure what's more interesting about the books - the ones I'm keeping, or the ones I've given away.
Books that have left imply, in a sense, phases of my life that are over - or, at least, the parts that I've assumed on at least one particular day, that are "over", or over enough, at any rate. In fact, if I look closely at the categories as I pack them, perhaps I can discern something new about myself.
Since I kept the books that I thought were most important to me, what remains is a kind of map that covers what I value exploring.
I've done two serious culls in the last year, and the last one was ruthless - about a month ago. Since then, the events of September 11th and September 13th have completely altered my world. I keep books. Some - mostly classics - I store in the Libraries and on the Web. They're within reach of the proper levels of interest and wisdom, should I ever attain those.
Some I need to hold, because they're never in libraries. Memmi, obscure Shaw like "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism" or "The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God"; "The Iron Heel" by Jack London.
Some I need to hold, because I never know when I'll want to touch them, but I do - Emerson,, Borges, Bucky Fuller, O'Henry, Gyatzo, et.al. who touch somehow on everything, and various folk who dive deeply down one long row - the physicists and logicians and mathematicians (the Reasoners - gosh, remember when math was actually "reasoning", and the numbers were simply a vehicle for teaching a system that stacked ideas amongst and against one another? - how sad that it just devolved into numbers...) who have books that I dip in and out of, like a woman at an ever-over-flowing well.
I feel a lot of muddiness when I get to my plant books. I am not finished with my plants.
This is interesting to me, and I wonder what form it will take. As I think about the future right now, I don't feel myself trending toward any future that holds the Collection in a significant way. That's curious.
My bond with the plants and the Conservancy, and the future I saw that used to hold them, is very weak. I've made a huge investment of time, money, and vision into this project, and it's odd that the extent of my plan involves (eventually) being in the States a few times a year, and spending a few weeks each season in Eugene.
I think that my love for this work with the Conservancy was harmed somewhat because of the downward slide of my business coincident with trying to grow the Conservancy. The loss of income from the store, modest as it always was, meant that I had no time to deal properly with the Collection, or develop it, and instead I was forced to dismantle much of what I'd built to hold it and move it forward.
Great fortune smiled when I found a way to establish the bulk of the Collection in one of our nearby city parks. The land is watered, and fenced, and lit, and tended, and my job is to plant the plants, manifest some vision, and create something that people can enjoy for a long time. I haven't yet found the energy to do more than the rudiments, but I have laid paths, and planted over 200 plants, established the basic beds.
With the rest of the Collection established up the river, and the space up there being conducive to retreat, I can see a time when I'll just come back to wander around the mature garden ... I imagine taking the books to the store, and continuing to open an official Medicinal Plant Conservancy office there. I really should do that. I have this wonderful loft space upstairs in the Red Barn. If I want the Conservancy to gather energy so that it can maintain without me, I need to give the energy a place to come to.
And still, I continue to cart around the plant books.
All of the psychotherapy and self-help books are gone - What does that mean? I wonder...Is it that I'm "fixed", or that I've simply decided to give up on such a thing, at least through these sorts of words, these afterthought clothes of others that may fit, if I try them on - and that I may not be able to get off...There was a Grimm Tale to that effect, I believe. Pinkola-Estes referred to it.
I couldn't part with a couple of old friends in the Head Department, of course, but the focus is less on the software of the brain theories, and more about the wetware explorations. Julian Jaynes and his "Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind" stays - what a concept at the time! Jung went. Charles Tart stays. NLP went. Mindell stays. McKenna went. Shulgin stays. hmmmm.
Human social theory breaks down into the Leavers: Bookchin, McKibben, Illich, Chomsky, Nearing, the Feminists, the Anarchists, actually, most of the Ists, including most of the Taoists... the Stayers: Fairy Tales, Native Myths, Original religious texts, ... Interesting that the stories endure, and the analysis doesn't.
The physics stays. Ah, yes. "The Pheezzeex" Nick would say, showing teeth and adding a little hiss at the end of the phrase. The music. The numbers. Things in lines, like geometry, and architecture, Thelonius Monk and the I Ching. Intervalic and punctuated, like the Mayan Calendar and Modal Music. Periodic, like the Cosmic Chemistries of Walter Russell and Rudolph Steiner; of Godel and Goethe; like my own periodic table, drawn once at the end of a fever, and a window Out There ever since.
The books are fewer now, but in their reduced numbers, they seem no lighter. Brighter, perhaps. More doorway now than ever. More like those thoughts I'd had as a little girl, dreaming of the day when every page of every book would touch every other page, and I could wander for hours and not have to go home, ever again. *******
-- Anonymous, June 12, 2002
2001-10-17 Of studios and solitudes
I'm hitting some kind of saturation point. The articles and commentaries *about* September 11th, and all it has pulled into its event horizon, continue to unfold like iterations of the dialogues I hold in my mind. Everything that is said, I have thought. Everything that sits between the lines is between mine. Every edge that cuts, every silence that persists, every word unwritten - these, too, are mine.
I keep staring at waves - waves, upon waves, upon waves that wash in - breaking over me, and slipping into the beach of me, the sand of me...the warm, packed, sun-drenched wind-swept sand of me.
My thoughts, these fragile, flimsy constructs of floating bytes of history and reason, are no match for this particular tide. Mores the pity. I've become rather attached to my thoughts, and my capacity to think them. Finally I can own them, hold them in my hand - and now, within my grasp, they're just too small to hold the world I see.
Today, after the news and all the valid points-of-view, they're old, elaborate and brittle shells whose occupants have left them, like horseshoe crabs and abalone abandoned on this strange flat beach of world-examination that I find myself less often in.
They ring hollow, these shells that seemed so recently to hold my understandings of the world I wander in, and when I put them to my ear I hear the old faint roar of something, once, but now no longer, there.
The history has lost its fit. Everything I knew, I don't.
And still, the day is still, and perfect. The sun fits low between the reddening sweet gum trees, and hits a spider's web - no, two - out to make their last fat catch before the frosts and winter winds make dining out too great a chore. You know, without a friend the cold is just a bore.
Our music on this afternoon (for Barbara's come, and it's time to play) is like that web that silvers in the sun, catching all the sadnesses and laying them out into the air around us, spinning off this planet in a spiral twirl of sound that stretches aching down the long galactic plane, behind us - splashed through meteors and comet tails and someday stars - and fans out in our two heart's remarks, our own soft trail of tears.
It's nice how you can sometimes wander backwards into a poem, and it tosses surprises - like flowers on Wednesday - for you didn't even know it was waiting there, for you.
So, today I asked myself to make The Choice.
I headed into work this morning, knowing that by the end of today I'd need to give an answer on this studio I've been considering. "Yes" means "no" to other things. It means "no" to the group life with the friends I've grown accustomed to. It means "no" to any further reconciliation with Douglas. It means "no" to a house, and "no" to my furniture, and "no" to the last of the tools I still save. It's such a difficult "yes" when I look at all the times "no" must be said.
So, what does this step say "yes" to?
It says "yes" to my independence. The place is sized for me alone. There's room for a guest, if they sit close, if they sleep close, if they like close. But it's certainly a place that's sized for me, alone. It says "yes" to my leaving. The size of the place packs me. It puts me into boxes, and stored - or onward, into others' hands. It puts me into my trunks and garment bags, my gig bags and book bags. It puts me into my laptop. It makes the step from Eugene to Portland, or Seattle, or Venice, or Amsterdam, that much smaller, that much nearer in time.
It says "yes" to my music. I can take few indulgences, outside of the chores of daily life - the eating, the sleeping, and the cleaning of it. My keyboard and computer fill the room. I can only assume that they'll take on a corresponding portion of my life. I'm walking distance from the clubs I sing in.
I hear the traffic - I'm not used to traffic. It reminds me that I'm in a city, and I'm still not Home. I'll see offices from where I sleep, and stay mindful of the bed of commerce that supports me. I'll cherish the trees, and the wind, and the light up the river each day that I can spend there.
So, "yes" to Independence, Music, and Leaving. I think this fork in the road is a good one. I'm a little scared, this late in the game. But this is a game where even big losers are winners - that's why I play it this way.
Eye of the Needle
I remember hearing once, through some obscure source, that one origin for the phrase "passing a camel through the eye of the needle" had to do with an old custom of collecting tariffs, in which merchants paid taxes on the number of camels laden with goods that they brought into the city, and that the load per beast was limited in size by two poles that the camel - and the load - had to pass cleanly between.
I'm scheduled to pack The Garage this next few evenings, starting with this one. I'm going to avoid it, for the sake of high art, for at least 20 minutes and one glass of wine, while I type this few paragraphs and do my part to keep this forum one of the most active in LUSENET.
Arriving at my decision to take the less encumbered path at this latest crossroads in my journey has been a liberating one for me. I feel like I'm shedding clothes - well, loosening my scarf anyway - at the entry to an oasis. I almost shudder to think what I'm going to be like when I get close enough to smell the water.
The Garage is a story similar to that of The Books. I already alluded to that extra roll of Romex. I didn't mention my oxy-acytelene torch (don't get any ideas, because I can't even turn the thing on - it was one of those parental leftovers, but I was at least willing to take it on), or the fact that I've been an erstwhile herbalist and tend to make witchy brews and potions from things I gather in the woods (hence, jars and vessels and presses...), or that I like tinkering with electronics.
When I look at the things, one by one, and weigh them, and measure them, and find them wanting (to stay), my most useful question is "would I buy a plane ticket for this thing to go with me to Venice?" followed by "Am I willing to buy it a hotel room for a year in the StoreAll?". The most oft-heard phrase in my mind is "But someday I could..." Boy, is that ever a clue to hit the box!
I found a lot of what I have by sheer luck and serendipity. Or rather, what I have has easily found me. I think it's a good thing to imagine that someone else is going to come across these various tools and have the same pleasures of discovery and utility that I've had. I like that a lot. ***********
-- Anonymous, June 12, 2002
Here's another set of words bubbling forth... what a nice surprise...
... I see what people who see me might see - someone moving so quickly on her own track that no one else can grab onto the train. I remember moments of looking back, and catching the face of the One I needed just as it slips out of view. The One returns, over and over again, I know. Sometimes a brief flash - moments, phrases, a moon or two and then it's over.
What do we see when we get to see that One, too rarely when we're feeling alone, but always and again when we feel that we've lost touch one more time? Is it the face of some Spirit that we know, in that world where we, too, are Spirits? It seems to be a Special one, one that I know and that's meant for me alone. It has seemed, at times, to be a face of God. But always it seems to leave, to chose to move on, to fade. This feels so like a trial that I wish would be over.
Sometimes it seems as though that time has come, and then I see, especially lately, that even when I want to I can't stop. This last decade has sped on and I'm lashed firmly aboard. I couldn't stop for Douglas. I couldn't extricate myself quickly enough from this life's momentum to grab onto what he had to offer - my family, my business, my process here is too thick to let anyone in, and too precious to just drop out of hand....
So I sing this Friday. That's a saving grace. Then I move into my studio and settle down to the work of getting through the winter. I, hopefully, sell the store. Peter's talking about meeting up in Europe, and going someplace together - we both find Varanasi interesting, though India might be getting restless, and he's suggesting Luxor. Looking ahead gets me looking at something besides my feet, so to plan feels good. ...
...I'm easily pulled by love. It's like a magnet for me, and I find it very hard to resist. My astrology compels me toward Another. I've spent my whole life surrounded by people who thought my need to be with Another, deeply, was some form of weakness, some patriarchal social conditioning whose only result is the oppression of the True Female Nature. Yet, in me, it doesn't feel like a weakness at all. It feels like my complete and most powerful place of strength...
Saturday, November 24, 2001 5-ish
I'm Unfolding. Unfurling. Unwrapping. The metamorphosis is happening. Things retained find their place.
I like my new place. It's OK. I'm surprised so far. My plants cover the apartment ----(in fact, I just remembered a wonderful plant in the greenhouse that I *must* bring back home - it's called an epiphyllum and in Japan they literally have parties around its blooming, for the blossom is so amazing - so sensuous, so fragrant, so bold - and it does its complete work of being in 30 hours! ) ---- and the fountain babbles in the corner; the musical instruments cater to my impulse, the handful of beautiful things that I like work well with gravity, generally staying in one place, and just look, well, beautiful. I'm grateful.
My favorite art's on the walls. My most meaningful art. The needlepoint my stepfather did for me one year, after the worst of the stroke had fried his interior wiring, and caused all of the sequential order in the Universe to subside beneath the barrage of living asked of a 60 year old professional man in the peak of his intense and satisfactory career. No speech. No emotional inhibitions. To care for him twenty years after our war began was a sobering karmic lesson. What an intense connection we had. So violent. How can a large man hit a tiny child so many times?
The core books are left, the ones I thought that perhaps I'd touch again over the winter - what are they? Let me look at what made it over here [...SCANS SHELF INTENTLY...] onto the shelves, the things I consider important this year...
Pound - Confucius; Fuller - Synergetics; Rinpoche - Tibetan book of Living; Michener - Voice of Asia; Steiner - the Fouth Dimension; Collingwood - The Idea of History; Gleick - Genius; Adler's Great Books; Eames - the Power of Ten; Lindenmeyer - the Algorithmic Beauty of Plants; Ackerman - Natural History of the Senses; Frasier - Golden Bough; Mary Catherine Bateson - Peripheral Vision; MacCaulay - The Way Things Work; Arguelles - Earth Ascending; Kandinsky - Point and Line to Plane; Witcher - Plant Between Sun and Earth; Alli - Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection; Dalai Lama - Power of Compassion; Russell - Authority and the Individual; The Kaballah; Inayat Khan - Music; Gies - Cathedral, Forge and Wheel; Tucci - Theory and Practice of the Mandala; Bolter - Writing Space; ...
Interesting. I wonder what this says about me? Perhaps it's the chord I'm making of my mind, as in times like the one when I hold the pedal down on my keyboard, put it in "organ" mode, and begin to stack a series of notes one atop the other, till the layers are so dense that a new idea doesn't even stand out any longer, but simply rolls in the belly of the tone, and flings round the room with a pulse and pitch that are above and beyond any single note I'd ever thought to play. I suppose these books all stack their words inside me like that layered chord, and the overtone - could it be an overmind? - becomes something interesting and novel to attend to.
Playing for the overtones. Kind of like the Tuvan people - and odd to think of that, and have the book of Feinman in the list, Feinman the physicist whose stamp collecting passion led to that journey to Tuva with that guitar player from San Francisco - what was his name? Blind. He was the subject of the film "Ghengis Blues" Darn - wonderful fellow. I see him in my mind and hear his singing as I think. Throat singing with the Tuvans, and knowing that the music made more than just the sound.
My writing desk made the cut. I didn't know if it was going to survive the cull. It was touch and go there for awhile. I love its old claw feet, and it's sweet little writing board that pulls out from under the desk. It's now home to music chart writing - an unexpected turn that suits perfectly.
Oh, look at that. [...PANS ROOM CURIOUSLY...] The microscope! What do you know - it made it over here. I thought it would at least end up in storage. That's funny.
Not too much in the way of knick knacks survived. Rocks - a large number of rocks made it over here. I'm always picking up rocks. Perhaps it suggests a need for grounding. But they're always interesting rocks. They have stories.
...There's the Story Stone, and the Two Set gathered side by side on the beach where the seabird died in my hand - one perfectly rectangular, one perfectly round, lying beside one another, washed on the same beach, in the same cove, by the same waves, yet worn into two completely different shapes that look, well, perfect together.
Or the Family Stones - balanced, balancing, sometimes toppling with the slightest tap, sometimes enduring the most intense chaos - but always able to return to their centered family place - with a little help, since I happen to be the music that raises the stones.
I kept the right dishes. The ones I use. The ones that work, and the ones that friends made. And finally, out of the box, the china my aunt bequeathed me when she lost her capacity to navigate in our mutual world, but before she has left it altogether - those few pieces of smoke-stained German china in the "Spring Breeze" pattern that she said always reminded her of me. I suppose it was the wind through tossing flowers that caught her mind, and perhaps she saw me as a bit like that breeze, never staying, never rooting, touching and kissing and prodding everything, and then moving on.
Perhaps like I imagine she might have wanted to be.
I'll never know her story, now. Not from her. I've lost the capacity I'm certain my elders once had of drawing the culture out from our ancestors, teasing out the stories that would help us make sense of who and how our genes have trended us to be.
I can't fault myself for not knowing to ask the questions. Raised in the 60's, I was handed a story of who I was that had nothing to do with my family, or its particular Appalachian holler idiosyncrasies, and even less to do with that old genteel Southern Mississippi/Memphis, Tennessee ripple across the face of frontier America that's pooled like a fresh and private place, and found a spring from passion for a War that hasn't been decided yet. But if you're not from the South, it's a hard thing to understand.
I missed a lot of that story, not knowing whom to talk to, or how to ask. I learn, over time, that my parents didn't ask their folks either, so perhaps I'm just assuming that once we all talked - perhaps we never did.
Perhaps we always, mostly, just kept all the stories of ourselves inside the boxes of our own minds - perhaps it was more rare than not for the stories to be told, except for in their official versions, by the story tellers. Hmm. Perhaps telling stories is a freedom today, for people who know they're sovereign. I wonder if fiction is a barometer of the freedom to invent?
I don't know, and it's one more story I'll simply have to wonder about, but it reminds me that, while I'm thinking of what could be, I have to grab what *Is*. I have to reach as well for those who Are, and not just those I wish would someday be, or be again.
I've decided not to store my life in a box. I eat off the china now.
"...Songs are thoughts, sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces and ordinary speech no longer suffices. Man is moved just like the ice floe sailing here and there out in the current. His thoughts are driven by a flowing force when he feels joy, when he feels sorrow. Thoughts can wash over him like a flood, making his blood come in gasps, and his heart throb. Something, like an abatement in the weather, will keep him thawed up, and then it will happen that we, who always think we are small, will feel still smaller. And we will fear to use words. But it will happen that the words we need will come of themselves. When the words we want to use shoot up of themselves -- we get a new song."
--Orpingalik, "The Netsilik Eskimos, Social Life and Spiritual Culture," Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924
I thought perhaps I'd start this, leave it open for the day, and finish it when I got back from upriver, but it grew too large in the blink of an eye and so I'm just going to lodge it in the Tales and chalk up another for the Muse... ************
...My T-Day was spent with family of sorts. For the last 12 years, I've given the staff the day off, and opened the store for that small few hours in the middle of everyone's mad meal preparation, being there with that extra lemon, or that last pint of whipping cream, or beginning to defrost the last frozen Tofurky for a customer "on their way" just as I close.
It's nice to see everyone's joy and connection.
I had a stronger sense of solitariness this year than in years past. There were a few options - the sort extended by loving friends at the last moment who were checking to see if I "needed a place at a table." I begged off, with the store as the excuse, but inside I was feeling a deeper need, beyond the one of connecting, that acknowledges the place that I'm at.
...That seems to be some sort of sacrilege, or perhaps it's actually a rejection of them, unintended on my part. Solitude on formal Gathering Days is not well understood, and implies a poverty of sorts to those who underestimate the currency.
This season I think I'm having just a tiny emotional cold, one of those hormonal purgative things that clears out the odd isotope lodged somewhere behind the eyes during a particularly dissonant or transformative time, a neuro-chemical byproduct of reconfigured ideas that has no place in my new mind's configuration, and so must be squeezed out in the emetic water of a tear.
There are lots of tribal sanctions against brooding and tears, and when one's in the throes of an emotional purge, clarity of thought takes a back seat, and all the canned tracks come in - the religious maxims from Sunday School and TV, or song lyrics painted the same color as ones' mood - so it can be somewhat difficult to mine the ore of sadness well. You have to sluice a lot of schist to get at the gold of it.
I cry a lot. I always have. I think I cry a lot less than I laugh, but I still cry a lot. My automatic response to almost everything is to laugh. Since I usually see both sides of many things, whatever makes me laugh can usually make me cry, too.
The reverse is true, and this can be helpful when I grow tired of crying, for there's always a smile around the corner if I'd just pick it up, but crying has a function when done alone, and sometimes one just has to wander around the slough of one's history, slog in the swamp, lose a boot (grateful for the other, as you suggest - and the foot to put it on), and get firmly past being bummed about being all cold and dirty and wet.
Have you ever wandered in a swamp?
I have. It looks a lot worse from the outside than it does from the inside. From the outside, it's foreboding and mysterious. It has dark places, and deep places, and unexpected places. Things can get very close to your skin, very quickly - or under it, irretrievably - and the barriers that work in the dry world just don't manage to hold up here.
But from the inside, if you can get past (or simply into) the cold and wet parts, there's a whole different world in there that has a life and functioning ecology of its own. The underside of a fern, viewed while your hair is floating on the water, is a beautiful vantage point to look from - an Ophelia place of soft green lights and yielding surfaces that only give.
And if you're looking up, well then you just happen to be well positioned to catch the sun when it comes out again....
************ RE: Ophelia
>Don't forget what happened to her amidst all that beauty...
You know, I was thinking about this on the way up river. I was thinking about madness, and about the edges that people walk, and what makes them choose to see things in ways that are unreal, but perhaps more bearable - at least until they're dragged under the water, as Ophelia eventually was. It seems to me that one of the good jobs in the world is to make sure that reality is safe and sane enough so that no one has to stay in the swamp, just because it seems better than dry land. (The swamp is *not* better than dry land. It's just do-able) And one way to do that is to continually frame the Real World in a way that makes reality look mo' better than not.
You mention the TFG - the Totalitarian Feel Good - and that's such a tactical mistake, even for the powers that be. We were much better off when we though life was Hard But Had Rewards. It makes reality more visible. The tough stuff can stay seen. How can you ever really appreciate flowers in the rubble if you can't see the rubble? Hell, how do you know where to plant the flowers?
...I need to feel my center, because I'm becoming a very different person, very rapidly, and too much distraction interferes with the monitoring of this. All that's emerging within me is incredibly familiar, so "different" isn't the best word to use - it's more as though I haven't been *all* of myself for much too long, and I'm quickly becoming most, or at least, a much larger amount, of me. I have to laugh as I write this - I suppose, for the first time, I'm probably overwhelming myself. I suppose I've asked for it.
I'm just so full. I'm like this big moon who hasn't quite figured out the sun thing (I still think *I'm* shining, I suppose), reflecting upon so much right now, and internal places that were shadowed now have outlines and features, and I can see in my own darkness without being submerged in it - somehow, I'm finally able to hold the breaking parts of me, so there's something inside of me that's stronger than it was. I like that.
I'm noticing this, but it's harder to hold if I'm in the old contexts, especially the ones that have a vested interest in seeing me stay the same. Family - the familiar - tends to keep us in its comfortable patterns and, while I hunger incredibly for that comfort and miss it terribly, I've hungered even more for the maturation of spirit that I feel in myself right now.
Alone time, and time with new and different friends, is furthering this transformation - the holidays this year just seem to fall into the space between the circles of folk, the ones I've known, and the ones I will soon grow into. I think it's just an odd year. I know there's family in my future, and when it comes around I'll cherish it as it's supposed to be cherished, precisely because of years like these.
Another possibility: As I wrote in one of the earlier "Tales", I'm at an unexpected juncture of life. I didn't expect to get this far and not have a family, and by this I don't mean my people of origin - I mean the people with whom I create a daily life, as well as the people I would have created. This is quite a surprise. It undoes me a little bit, because family was something I wanted a lot, and now, to find myself looking over my shoulder at the time when that might have been, but wasn't, is a bit harder this year than it has been in the past.
I hope it's not an age thing, intensifying over time. Perhaps my inclination toward solitude is a pre-emptive strike in that direction. Sogyal Rinpoche talks about one Tibetan practice that has you visualizing the death of your body, and then visualizing its decay. It's supposed to free you from false mental attachments to physicality, and free you from fear.
I held onto my husband, Galen, for longer than was wise. I held onto Douglas longer than I should have, as well. I did this because I loved, but also because I didn't want to be alone.
Now, perhaps, in experiencing and contemplating my solitude and feeling my aloneness, my so-called "freedom" (for I don't buy into this notion that freedom is only freedom *from*; I feel certain freedom must be, in even larger part, freedom *with*) I'm engaging in a kind of deconstruction of whatever it is in aloneness that I'm afraid of, if anything.
I don't really think I'm afraid of being alone, but I suppose this is one way of finding out.
I really think that I just don't *want* to be alone. It's inefficient. It's hell on cooking a good meal. It's impractical. It's much easier to get some alone space in a good relationship than it is to get some good deep intimacy in a mass of alone space. It's bad citizenship and poor stewardship. It's colder at night. It's not as much fun.
So, why the solitude? I don't know - guess I just haven't found the right company yet.
Another possibility: Douglas suggested we spend Thanksgiving together. He was Alone. I was Alone. I kept it loose, thought about it, and then declined.
I sing this old jazz standard "All or Nothing at All" -
"...if it's love there is no in between; why begin then cry for something that might have been? No, I'd rather have nothing at all..." I can't bear the idea of being together just because we have no one else to be with - especially not after what we've been through (gentle though it was), and come out on the other side of, and not after all the times that I've wanted so much to be Together, and been told "no".
Am I a scrooge, or a grinch? Perhaps. But I'm not moaning around too much - certainly not to anyone who would have felt they'd had it in their power to take care of my aloneness. When I'm with someone, I want to be with them to be with *them*, because of who *they* are, and how I feel when I'm with *them*, and who I am because of *them* - it's not about taking care of my feelings of aloneness; it's about being *with*, dang it. (There, did that get emphasized?)
If I'd wanted balm for loneliness, I would have gone South to my mother's and hung with all my aunts, and it would have been wonderful, just like your time with your girls, and everyone would have been great, and I would have felt held in my family, but it just wasn't that kind of time - in part, because everyone's in another state, and I'm tethered rather tightly to this world that I manage - alone.
"I just want to be alone," she sighs, wrist to forehead, eyes to heaven. God, how Garbo...
You know, I've worked every single angle I can think of - including not working the angles - to have a heart companion and still retain the core of who I am, and I haven't been able to do both. So, I'm sitting with the one thing I've actually been able to accomplish: Me. It ain't so bad, really. *************
-- Anonymous, June 12, 2002