Friday, September 4, 2009

What We Should See

There's a big stink at the moment, about the AP's decision to publish a photo of a Marine in his last moments of life. I saw it come up as an aritcle about the stink, not the stink-causing article itself. So I went looking for the image, to see what all the stink was about, and I found this:



I thought, "Ah, that must be it. Then I read the caption: it said "dying Marine on the road to Seoul." That whapped me hard. I was looking for an image of a young man dying in one senseless, "modern" war, and as if one senseless war isn't enough, I get dragged all the way back to Korea. Amazing.








Stunned but unstaisfied, I kept hunting. Here's the Big AP Stink image:



The young lad, one Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, may he rest in peace, was hit by rocket shrapnel and died.

He died, some other soldiers died, and other people have died too. Women, children, civilians--ours and theirs, as if there's really any difference between one dead human and another, in terms of cost. Is an American life inherently worth more than an Iranian one, or an Afghani one? (hint: the answer is NO). All dead. Dead dead dead. Death is the price of war.

One of the things I remember about the Viet Nam 'conflict' was seeing images that disturbed my child's mind. It really made me wonder why all this was going on, why people had to die for what seemed to me then very silly reasons. The images were there, though, all over the six o'clock news.

Small wonder I grew up hating the news, and newspapers, and talk radio. They all stank like death.

Nowadays, I listen to talk radio and watch news--mostly online. I get the NY Times tweets, and a few other sources, too. I like to vet information. So this AP story about the big stink around the picture caught me for one primary reason: The dearth of images of our current war. It's been made terribly easy for us, as Americans, to not even notice we're *at* war. Well, we are. And not to beat a dead soldier, but death is the price of war.

Should we see the cost of war? Will that help us become so disgusted and appalled at our collective choices that we begin to make different choices, choices that don't result in corpses--or near corpses--that need to be photographed? Is that why some people are trying to say that publishing this stinky photo of a Marine in his death throes is a horrible thing, because there's some sense in our administrators that if us plain old regular people see these images we might get just a little bit miffed and want to do something about it?

At the very least, we should make sure that what we're purchasing with this abundance of death is worth the price we pay for it. I don't know about you, but I prefer to see what I'm buying before I pay.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Held by Hooks and Hitachis

Few years back, I got to do my first hook pull. Large gauge needles are placed in the chest; it’s through enough tissue to hold them in place just fine. The hooks aren’t gonna pull out; the piercings are rich and deep. Once the piercings are in, a 3-4’ length of cord is tied to the loops at the ends of the hooks.

It was my first time. Fakir & CM Hurt (out of LA) were the piercers; I had some history with CM, so I went with her. Her modowrk is amazing, and her spirit is vibrant, full of dark humor and huge love. Cleo DuBois was a major ka-see-ka (‘experienced guide’) for the trip. I was ready. I have a history of doing intense things with my skinsuit, and I figured this to be right up my alley.

I waited in line, held by my lovers G&S, safe in the arms of blessed community. Some of my other Detroit peeps were there, and it felt tingly and scary and bubbling with potential. It was like filling up your gas tank right before you head out to Burning Man, your vehicle loaded with gear and tribe.

The piercings hurt—for about a minnit. Of course it hurts! You’re poking 10 gauge hooks into your chestmeat. But then…oh, but then. I fell more deeply in love with my endocrine system in that moment than I’d ever been before. The drum sounds rippled through my skin; it was as though the new holes, tight as they were wrapped around the metal of the hooks, had opened me to the rhythms. The drumbeats and low chanting danced right into my skin along with the hooks.

Each of us—there were about 20 participants in this ritual if I recall (all bets on recall are off after the hooks go in because of the sudden, immediate and dramatic priority shift that occurs when you break through the boundary that most people believe separates us from one another) moved gingerly, finding our places in the pain, in the sounds, in the room. I can’t tell you how many people were holding space or just watching; from here, it seems like lots but I admit, it could have simply been all the angels in the room. There was presence.

After everyone had been pierced, whatever it was bubbling and brewing in that circle spilled over. The holes in your chest don’t just let things in—they let things out, too. Maybe it was the leopard print sarong I was wearing, flavoring my experience, but I transformed. I was wild, feline, joyful, wounded, perilous and ecstatic. I learned by doing who it was that I wanted to hold my cord, who it was I wanted to trade cords with, who it was I might be willing to tug on.

When we had reached a certain level of transformation, of energy building, Cleo danced her way into the middle of the circle with a large metal ring, a rattle and a Hitachi. She beckoned us to her. We went. Using carabineers, Cleo hooked each of our cords to the large metal ring. We stood around the ring, unable to be more than 3-4’ from it. It got more and more crowded. We had no choice but to touch each other, to find a way to comfortably stand and sway without falling down or knocking someone else over. We cooperated instinctively; that was my first proof that humans can cooperate instinctively.

Then Cleo began to play with the center ring. It was a circus of sensation; she vibed the ring with the Hitachi, and we all sighed and hummed with one voice. She lifted up; we came to our toes, laughing, moaning. She crouched down; we bent towards the source of sensation, chuckling and crying.

And then everything stopped. It was like someone had hit the mute button on my experience. I didn’t hear drums or people or moaning or chuckling. All was still. In that stillness, that silence, I realized:

No matter what we did, we were connected. If one person took a deep breath, someone on the other side of the ring felt it. If someone moved sideways, we all went sideways. There was nothing--not a laugh, a sob, a twitch—NOTHING—that didn’t reverberate through the ring and into everyone else attached to it. It was undeniable, inescapable. We were all connected. Yeah, yeah, I know I said that. But dig it: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. In that moment for me, there was no difference between that center ring and the whole of my world.

The hooks left my flesh later. I remember falling into a puppy pile of warmth, embrace, magical adoration. My puppy people left later, when I went back up to my room to bathe (this is also when I learned to never schedule a session for immediately after a hook pull. Silly me). The dried blood around the hooks left as I sank—slowly—into the warm water.

What never left, and still hasn’t, is that knowing of connectedness. For me, it took hooks to have that ah-HA. I don’t know what it’ll take for you, or for the rest of the world. But I do know that it is a knowing we must all come to. And soon. The illusion that something as fragile as a skinsuit somehow makes us *separate* from each other is ridiculous. It’d be downright funny, if that illusion didn’t cause so much fucking pain in the world. Even though we can’t always see it or feel it, we are, at all times, connected to each other that way. Not just the people we want to play with, or to family and tribe. Everyone. We’re all hooked into the web; someone thrums a string in Sri Lanka, and we feel the ripples of it in our own skin. We turn away from someone in anger, and we yank on other people’s spirits. We’re just too small-sighted to notice the depth, breadth and scope of our connectedness.

Hook in, people. Hook in. Find your own way of experientially knowing this Truth of connection. Choose wisely whose cords you tug on, and to whom you hand your own cord. And then come dance your truth with me. I’ll be waiting with the Hitachi.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Went to an I-Scream Social

I live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Nestled in the crook of the mountains, caressed by breath from the sea, bundled up in fog come summer and deluged by rain the rest of the time, we Humboldtians relish our isolated, rural community. Only two roads in: 101 north/south, and 299 east. Both are twisty, mountainous journeys that make you feel like you’ve earned the beauty by the time you get here. You can fly in, too, but you can’t always land. It’s almost like the sentinels, the semper virens, pick and choose who gets to come in and who doesn’t. We live in the Emerald Triangle, in the Red wood Empire, behind the Redwood Curtain.

We have a respectable (up til recently) university, one of the highest per-capita artist populations in the state if not the country, a few bars, some churches, a community college, and a particular economic structure with rarified local industry. Snoop Dogg plays here regularly, at the Vet’s hall, charging almost 100$ a ticket and passing trash bags through the audience, soliciting Humboldt donations. There’s magic here.

And not a lot to do on a Saturday night. Sidewalks roll up around midnight, leaving thrillseekers some pub action and maybe some exotic dancing (if you’re in Eureka or are willing to ‘drive into town’).

I’m kinky. I live in Humboldt. I like to go kinky places, do kinky things, see kinky people, chat up kinky stuff. In a place like this, that means creating community, something I’ve been involved in for as long as I’ve lived here (19 years this month). From working with small, house-meeting groups to working with organizations that host classes and events, it has been my privilege to serve my community in some delicious ways.

Saturday last I attended a Social hosted by The Impropriety Society (HumboldtImps.com), which followed classes taught earlier in the day by BusDriver and Pink (fabulous Bay Area cousins who came north to share their playful spirits and useful information). Our local Munch (run by Master M & salve Kelly; visit eurekamunch.org), sponsored by our local intelligent and sexy purveyor of pervy delights, Good Relations (http://www.goodrelationseureka.com/), arranged for the classes; the ImpSoc hosted the Social. We’ve also had the great folks at MedicalToys.com teach and support the community. Socials are smaller events that happen once a month, with large events happening in the general vicinity of Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Socials sell out at 75 tickets, and the larger events sell out at 200-300, depending on venue. No, it ain’t the Citadel, but it is our shining bastion of pansexual, kinky, poly-supportin’ cross-dressin’, hard-playin’, good lovin’ impropriety that some of us require in order to have sane, healthy balanced lives.

Since the area’s so small, we don’t really have the population to support a huge variety of specific splinter groups (the one exception to this seems to be gay men, who have their own community up here but don’t come play with the rest of us nearly often enough). The benefit to this is an exquisitely diverse community. If we want safe places to play, we must work together to create them. We cut a wide swath of freakliness in which we all try to support each other and get along. I’ve seen the hardcore D/s couple frolicking right alongside some folks playing strip Hokey-Pokey. I’ve seen riggers & flying right next to a plush pile of people. I’ve seen spanking alongside medical scenes and bellydancing in the background. I’ve seen a tiny little kitty rhythmically playing the bum of an adorable cross-dressing kitten; I’ve pummeled pals with boxing gloves while watching predicament bondage between blows. I’ve been offered brand new, untouched fresh meat (I hope they come back!) and we’ve got old dogs like me, who’ve been at this for a while. We have noobs, novices, naughtys, notoriae and most everything in between, all managing somehow, sometimes even with grace, to coexist and co-create.

We’ve worked hard to get here, all of us, from the folks who started the first ‘guerilla sex theater’ group to its present incarnation, the Humboldt Impropriety Society. Three women run the Imps; they bust hump to bring these things off (sometimes we even get to thank-spank them!). Our community sports a volunteer spirit that warms the heart, even on the foggiest of days (and they’ve been known to stand guard at the outer entrance at 3 am in 40 degree rainy weather, too). We have our Impresses, we have volunteers that impress, and now, having attended a party equal to those I’ve attended across the country in major venues with all sorts of splendid players, I’m renaming our place.

I hereby dub Humboldt County (and surrounding areas) The Redwood Impire. In our Impire, there is frolic, laughter, cries of pain, squees of delight and dismay. There is rope, leather, satin and skin. Within our enclave there is safe haven for the respectful freak of every stripe, spot and pelt; there is education for the seeker of new knowings. There is camaraderie, commiseration, construction and collaboration. We have art days, where folks gather to create visual stimuli to be used at events (I’m still impressed by the 7’giant fabric-mache penis & the 5’ yoni). To be fair, there is also the familial bickering and social distress that comes with being part of a small, ever-so-slightly incestuous community where everybody thinks they know who and what everybody else is up to. I admit, it does get tough, figuring out how to hold members of the community who move from one phase of their lives to another, all within the community sphere. And I still wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I am Impressed; I hope that this model of cooperative education and support is Impspirational. And yeah, I do mean to Imply that we’ve got a thing goin’ on up here that’s just as fine in its own way as anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else. The greatest Impasse for most is just getting up the gumption to come; once they arrive, they find we’re not Imperious or Imperiling but rather Impish, waiting to Impclude them in our community. We’re about Impowering folks, not Imprisoning them (although I do recall a cage with wheels that had a cutie in it that I got to ride around on and a blowjob I got through the bars of a cage from someone with the prettiest mouth I think I’ve ever seen).

So if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, stop by. We welcome Imports, Impresarios, the Impractical and the sexually Impoverished. Feeling Impotent? Come hang out with us; we may not have a cure, but you sure as hell won’t be bored here in the Redwood Impire.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blackberries, Blood & Bottoming

It’s been an action-packed couple of weeks; things are settling from adventures, and writing resumes! I’ve missed you!

Blackberries are evil, insidious, invasive, mean, nasty, cruel, barbarous creatures. Why do we endure them? Some would say, “Because killing them is impossible;” others would say, “Because of the fruit.” I do like the fruit. A fresh blackberry, right off the vine, tastes like our gentle, coastal breezes mixed with sunshine and sugar. It comes in your mouth, and you like it. You lean down and look for more. The risk of pain is worth the reward of flavor.

Here in our little bit of Humboldt that we like to call M’skeetah Holler, we have blackberries. Lots and lots and lots of blackberries. They are like a usurping, unwelcome occupying force and they are resource gluttons. With all that a blackberry bush has going on, I’m surprised that it has any energy left to make fruit. Canes there, runners here, thorns everywhere. It certainly is productive and efficient.

Just outside my morning window, where I like to sit and merge into my day is what I call my ‘fishbowl,’ a small, enclosed area that makes me feel like I’m all by myself, out in nature. I have elegantly, whiffly jasmine, sweet, fragrant honeysuckle and some gorgeous basket and bird’s nest ferns. Hummingbirds and monarch butterflies come to taste the butterfly bush and pink teacups; spiders weave webs for me at night that glisten with fresh mist in the morning sun. It’s la luxe verte.

I sit in the morning and look out into my fishbowl, watching the creatures pollinate things and dine on nectar (and sometimes each other). In spring, I watch the ferns unfurl a bit each day; in fall, I watch the berries to see if they’re ready today? Today? Today? Lately, there’s been this ginormous blackberry cane moving steadily westward, from one side of the bowl to the other, and I’ve witnessed it grow by inches each day. It bothers me. And it has friends.

Meanwhile, my jasmine isn’t as productive as I’d like. I enjoy having it in such a state that if I open my window, nature’s best air freshener just wafts right on in, tickling my nose with happy. But the blackberries are taking up too much resource for the jasmine to flourish. This bothers me. Yes, all living things have the right to, well, live, but as custodian of my little patch of dirt, it’s my job to make decisions about these things. And then act on them. Today, I decided to do something about my botherdness.

Too hot to work in long sleeves (a thermal event uncommon in Humboldt), I went out to tend my bowl in a tank top & jeans. I knew it’d be a tradeoff.

If I were a plant, I might be a blackberry: Persistent, tenacious, successful, well-equipped for its job, fruity, mean, sharp and (if I anthropomorphize just right), sadistic. I swear, I can hear them chuckling as they pull on my pants like a sugar addicted toddler in the treat aisle at Costco begging for “suuma doze cookies, Mama!” They snortlaugh and act like it wasn’t them when they untie my shoelaces, but I know they’re watching to see if they can get me to faceplant. They laugh outright when their tender caresses produce fine welts that begins to trickle red, the same shade of red as an almost-ripe berry. It’s eerie, how much their laugh sounds like my own when I wear thorns and welt people.

Did you know that you can use some of the long and supple thin runners from a blackberry bush for bondage? And some of the thick, thorny canes make great canes (single person use, please). Yeah, go ahead and wince and maybe make the teeth-sucking sound; it’s appropriate.

But I digress.

Everything that didn’t have fruit on it, I cut. This year’s crop of berries already looks magnificent, and I know that if I get the plant to put its resources where I want them, the berries will be even sweeter and more plentiful. I’m crafting for a swell harvest. Meanwhile, I free up the jasmine and get the honeysuckle more light so that they can be abundant, too. And all it cost me was a little blood and aggravation. Small price to pay, really.

An hour later, I’m almost hot and definitely cranky. I trip over the hose (partially because my shoe’s untied), the vines won’t let go of my gloves (but will leave thorns in them), I have as much schmeg in my hair (despite wearing a do-rag) as my shaggy dog gets when he’s anywhere near redwood duff and I’m covered in dirt, dead leaves, pokes, nicks, scratches and a gouge or two. I have bottomed to the blackberries and, right about now, I hate my top. I chose my top today, and nobody to thank—or blame—for that but me. It isn’t about the top; it’s about what I bottom to showing me about where I fall short. Today my fallings short would be in patience, endurance, and band-aids.

I’ve bled for my blackberries. I’m hoping that’ll make ‘em even sweeter, because each scratch, poke, and thorn gouge represents a blackberry that I am going to eat the hell out of come early Fall. Cobblers, wine, confit, maybe some preserves: all those berries will be mah bitches then, and I’ll remember that bottoming to them got me there, to that sweet juiciness I do so enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Damn it, Toto, we're still in Kansas!

A cop was recently arrested in Kansas for domestic abuse. The alleged victim is his (now) ex-girlfriend (and former contracted submissive).

Michael Percival (age 44) set up a fishing trip for he & his kids on June 15. Elisha Cabrera (age 42) and her son weren't invited. After his return from the trip, there was an exchange between Percival and Cabrera which, in line with the terms of their agreement, which resulted in her being assigned 50 whacks, which were then administered over the course of 2 days.


On June 18, Cabrera got drunk, went to his house and pitched a fit. Charges against Cabrera as a result of the June 18 arrest included third-degree assault, harassment, DUI and obstruction of telephone service (no details on what that might actually mean).

Cabrera goes to jail. She's in the restroom, changing into a jail suit and being supervised by a female officer who happens to notice marks on Carbrera's butt (without knowing dimensions of the room, location of the two women, etc. it's impossible to say if the marks were "noticed" or exhibited purposefully). Cabrera says Percival made the marks during a punishment. Without seeing the pictures that were taken by the police, in jail, of Cabrera's butt, it's hard to deduce the age or direct source of the marks. Reports of affidavits are unspecific as to the nature or condition of the marks.

Cabrera has provided law enforcement with contracts, documents used to affirm and record consensual negotiations about roles, limits, and consequences to prenegotiated activities. Items discussed in the contract included "personal hygiene, general behavior including sexual behavior and clothing,” and specified punishments if she failed to meet expectations. “The punishments could be as simple as standing in a corner, or as severe as ‘spankings’ on her bare buttocks with a belt or other object,” the arrest affidavit for Percival said.

As a result of all this kinky, incarceration, dayglo orange clothing fetish scene, Percival gets arrested, is suspended from duty and is out on $2,500.00 bond. His trial is scheduled for September 11, and the attorney he's running with is named Scissors. Running with Scissors on September 11? I dunno. You figure it out.

I first heard about this on Dr. Gloria Brame's blog. The header is "Here we go again: male dom on trial in Kansas." Her response to Cabrera’s admission of consensual BDSM activities is:

What can I say except if you ever find yourself at a doctor's office, in an emergency room, or under arrest and someone notices the marks of your sexual play, and ASSUMING YOU WISH TO PROTECT YOUR LIFESTYLE PARTNER...please LIE. The sad thing is that real victims of domestic violence usually do lie about the source of their bruises, while sadomasochists (unaware that what we do can and will be viewed by courts as assault) will blithely spill the beans. Stay safe and keep those beans to yourself UNLESS you feel you are being abused.

It seems that Cabrera has no interest in protecting her "lifestyle partner." Contracts about standards, protocols, rules, roles and punishments may sound fierce and foreign to the nilla ear, but having participated in long-term consensual service arrangements myself, I am not appalled. In fact, it shows damn good sense on both their parts. If Cabrera whipped out the contracts in an attempt to foil her ex, it may backfire. I'm not sure if Kansas is a 'consent is not a defense' state (but I do know that California, my beloved, bankrupt home, is such a state). If she entered into those contracts willingly, then they are of no use to her as a punitive device. In fact, using them as evidence may prove that he wasn't abusing her and that she knew what she was doing.

According to the arrest affidavit, “If she failed to count (each strike) or miscounted, Percival would start over from the beginning.” Well, duh. That's how those things work. If I had someone under contract, in service to me and they were displeasing or violated the contract, there would be punishment. And it would hurt (not much of a punishment, otherwise). I have found that if I am not self-mastered enough to be willing to be the hard wall against which others dash themselves during kinky adventures in self-discovery, then I don't deserve to have someone under my supervision or in my care. Period. Within the BDSM context, this all makes perfect sense. Outside of their context, these things become leverage and sensational soundbytes.


Dr. Gloria Brame is one of my heroes. Her shoulders number those upon which I stand; her work made it possible for me to do what I've done. But lying? I must respectfully disagree. Yes, abuse victims often lie about the abuse, because they don't want anyone to know. Home life could get worse, or there's so much guilt, shame and fear that it's best to rot slowly from within than face the often dire consequences of bringing abuse into the light.

If I wanted to protect any of my "lifestyle partners" the LAST thing I would do is lie. Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you;” I think that lying is an anti-protection device also. I would discuss it as I would my laundry, or my grocery list, quite matter-of-factly. This is who I am and this is what I do. Your squick-factor is not my responsibility; my responsibility is to conduct myself honorably, within the bounds of my own integrity, while compassionately respecting the fact that you’re squicked. Sure, there'd likely be some grief to take for being honest and frank, but that sort of thing needs doing during the normatization process, in culture, of things previously held as major social taboos. I'm alright with that. It is the silence of those of us who practice both personal culpability and consensual kink that creates the loophole for someone like Cabrera to jump through, using shocking "facts" outside of the context in which they make perfect sense in order to further her own personal agenda, whatever that might have been. If people had better, clearer ideas about what we do and how we do it, it would become far less possible for facts to be twisted like that. Social clarity about our subculture with its rituals and traditions will not be created by BDSM practitioners lying. As long as we hide behind the guilt, fear and shame, arrangements like the one between Percival and Cabrera can--and WILL--be used against us in courts of law.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Standing on Her Shoulders, Staring Down at Her Cleavage


I love sex. I love kinky sex. I love the presence of Spirit in sex. I love prostitutes and sacred whores. I love my own amazing femparts, and all the fun things they can do. I love women who start strong and finish stronger, reinventing themselves at increasingly higher octaves as they live their own magnificent lives. I love smart women; nothing turns me on like a big ol' brain on a woman who knows how to use it. I love women who've done the work to discover who they really are inside, and bring that joyful, hard-won wisdom into the world to help others.

In short, I love Annie Sprinkle. And today is her birthday, which is cause for a day of celebration indeed!

Sprinkle is a prostitute and porn star turned sex educator and artist. Her best known theater and performance art piece is her Public Cervix Announcement, in which she invites the audience to "celebrate the female body" by viewing her cervix with a speculum and flashlight. She also performed The Legend of the Ancient Sacred Prostitute, in which she did a "sex magic" masturbation ritual on stage. She has toured one-woman shows internationally for 17 years, some of which were are titled Post Porn Modernist, Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn, Hardcore from the Heart, and, currently, Exposed; Experiments in Love, Sex, Death and Art.

The first porn star known to have earned a Ph.D., Sprinkle received her Doctor of Philosophy in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Her work, spanning more than three decades, is studied at many universities, in theater history, women's studies and film studies courses. She also is a faculty member at The New School of Erotic Touch.

Sprinkle's first porn movie was Teenage Deviate, released in 1975. Perhaps her best known featured role was in Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle which was the #2 grossing porn film of 1981.

In 1991, Sprinkle created the Sluts and Goddesses workshop, which became the basis for her 1992 production The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop – Or How To Be A Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps. which was co-produced and co-directed with videographer Maria Beatty. She later starred in Nick Zedd's experimental films War Is Menstrual Envy (1992), Ecstasy In Entropy (1999), and Electra Elf: The Beginning (2005).

She has appeared in over 200 films and many television programs, HBO's Real Sex among them.

Sprinkle's work has always been about sexuality, with a political, spiritual, and artistic bent. In December 2005, she committed to doing seven years of art projects about love with her wife and art collaborator, Beth Stephens. They call this their Love Art Laboratory. Their projects are all documented on their web site, www.loveartlab.org. Part of their project is to do an experimental art wedding each year, and each year has a different theme and color.

And that's the short, short, short list. Fetish model, comedienne, advocate, activist...the list is as long as her legs look in the picture I have of her in heels and a corset.

Dr. Annie Sprinkle's work is an inspiration to me. If she hadn't done what she did, me doing what I've done would have looked much different. She broke ground, she blazed trail, she offered me her hand across space and time whispering, "See? It's fun! And if I can do it, you must at least try!"

I stand on the shoulders of giants. In this case, the giant is Annie, looking just like she does in the picture of her I have in in my hallway: she's adorable in her bouffant flip hairdo, hands flared, balancing on the left foot while the right foot says, "Oooh, la la!" Her cleavage grins and winks at me; sometimes I swear I can see it jiggle tauntingly. As I stand on her shoulders, I'm looking straight down her voluptuous, corseted cleavage. Thanks, Dr. Sprinkle. Thanks for everything!

Visit Annie's website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Next Thing to Say

In conversation with others, my tendency is to listen attentively with detail, and then script the thing I'm going to say next. When you're in silence, you're free to devote all your attention to listening, because there *IS* no next thing to say. You weren't talking in the first place!

That sort of freedom is delicious and rare. To fully immerse in anothers' words which lead you to their feelings which lead you to their innerscapes and a vast, deep way of knowing them, and moving in smooth, fluid tandem with what they're trying to share with you.

I bring this from the silence into my speaking life. May I always be allowed the freedom to hear you, to feel you, to be with you, and be with you very, very well.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Love Note to Myself, or Things One Remebers When It's Quiet Enough to Hear

Dear Me,

We’re never merely who we think we are. There’s always more to know, more of you to be discovered, more to love, more to be grateful for. The rest--stuff, expectations, blame and other ways of outsourcing authority--is a trap. It’s a bottomless, spiraling path to a pit. This downward path affords opportunity after opportunity to discover who we aren’t. We get so used to seeing what we've seen before, what we expect to see, that by the time we notice it, we’re so accustomed to the status quo that we assume that’s all there is--or will ever be. We walk down and down and down on this spiral and we forget that there’s an up to match our down. But how can we see an up when we don't even notice our down? It's easy to miss the down (and therefore the up) because the slope is often so gradual as to appear flat. But it isn’t. We may think we're waling forward in a straight line, but we're not. Einstein even proved that this whole timespace thing is as curvaceous as a stalking BBW sub in a corset & a short skirt. All we see is what we’re used to, what we expect to see.

But we can remember. We can remember there’s an up. It’s scarier only because it lacks that woobiness of comfort, familiarity. It really isn’t any more scary than finding the down, though the up is, in my opinion, certainly no less pleasant than the down.

Realize your downward walking so that you can look up. Plato was just telling you about the cave; he didn’t mean for you to stay in it this long.

Be grateful for everything. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Gratitude makes a big difference in your quality of life, especially when it’s tricky; to be able to weed your life so finely that you discover a tiny jasmine blossom among the blackberries, trying to thrive, takes some doing. It requires stamina, effort and grace to truly experience gratitude when it all feels and looks like fertilizer. Keep practicing. You get better at it with practice.

The world is subject to change – dramatastically – without notice. We can’t know. What we can know is what’s inside us; that’s ours to control.

Go back and get the pieces of yourself that you’ve left behind in chasms of resentment, bungholes of fear and concrete galoshes of hate. Unbind yourself from those Marleyan chains, and bring yourself fully present to this moment, right now (flogging-giving or receiving- is great for practicing this, by the way). You won’t believe how much extra vitality you’ll have to work with, to apply to your desires when you call the abandoned pieces of yourself into the present moment!

Love and gratitude have in common that they can both be tough to see in a messy situation. But they are always there, if one insists on looking for them til they’re found. Find something to love about everything. Easy when things are pleasant (which is why pleasure is such an excellent ground for discovering how easy it is to love something if your perspective is just so); hard when things are icky. But if you practice looking for things to love and get used to that lovin' feelin', why, then, you’ll be ready to notice it elsewhere. Hone yourself on love. Everything else breaks.

Ever yours,
Me

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not whispering sweet somethings

Happy Friday! Boy, what a trip. My first words this morning were, "I love you." I wanted to make sure I said something good when I got to speak. That's a theme in and of itself. My rules were simple: no talking, and no entertainment media consumption. Oh, and no beer (that was the easiest part).

I'll tell you all about it over the next week or so, but I'm on my way out of town for a couple days, away from technology. But here's a sweet little something I rediscovered while cleaning my hard drive. It was written for Annie's blessing way, and her daughter, Korazon Pearl (whom I was lucky enough to witness entering this world) just turned one year old. And since I'm going out of town, in part, to celebrate the impending arrival of new spawn, it seems right. Though written for Anne & Korazon, here it's dedicated to B&D and the Zeppling about to appear.

Enjoy, and more soon.

__________________________________________________

Once there was a woman.

She was a good woman: pretty, smart, fiercely temperamental. One day, she wandered away from her village into the woods, where she met a beautiful stranger. The stranger called to her and she went; they danced in a clearing and laid down under the stars and whispering trees. In hindsight, she felt that the whispering trees might have been telling her to go back home, but that was hindsight, and it had been good for those moments on the forest floor with the beautiful stranger.

In the morning, the woman awoke alone and with a big, hungry belly. She had opened up to the beautiful stranger; during the night while she slept, a spirit had crept into her belly asking her to give it a body so that it might become a human and discover the mysteries and wonders of being a person. Surprised, the woman thought about it for a moment, and agreed. “Alright, spirit. You may live in my body for 3 seasons. But after that, you must come out here where I can see you, and we will finish growing you in the open air.” The spirit agreed, and the woman went home to tell her village.

Some in the village turned away from the woman. They were not ready to help a spirit in a new body learn to move through the world. Some in the village ran towards the woman, asking what they could do to help. Some quietly went about the business of getting the village ready to house another spirit in a body as it journeyed through the world. The woman spent time dancing and crying and screaming and redecorating and talking to the spirit in her belly, just like all crazy women who wander into the woods and lay down with strangers do when they find themselves unexpectedly hosting a hungry spirit in a big belly.

As days and nights tumbled over one another, moving time forward through space with their antics, the woman’s belly got bigger and bigger. The spirit in the woman’s belly became more accustomed to wearing skin, testing out the idea of being in a body by stretching and poking and punching the woman from the inside. The woman’s belly got so big that she was certain she would burst before the spirit ever decided to come see what the world looked like with its own, new eyes. The spirit laughed at the woman, telling her, “Don’t worry, mother woman. I have been here before; I have seen the world. But by the time I get outside, I will have forgotten much of what I know, which is why I need you—to help me remember, and to survive the remembering.”

The wise, cranky, itchy-bellied, woman smiled and patted her belly, saying, “Of course. And when I remind you, I will be remembering myself, and we will move through the world together. After all, if we wish to know the way ahead, we must ask those coming back.”

The spirit laughed, making the woman’s belly ripple from one hip to the other. It said, “By sharing the pain of my becoming, I will show you how strong you really are,” and took a nap.

A little while later, the spirit woke and knew it was time to leave the warm, dark comfort of the woman’s belly. The spirit still remembered that each new beginning is an ending of something else, and that’s always the way of things. The villagers walked with the woman to the gatehouse, where all beings come out of the previous world and into the present. The villagers faded into the trees, close enough to be there should the woman call, and far enough to give the woman room to expand into new life.

The woman walked around the gatehouse rubbing her lower back. She squatted low when the pains came, breathing the rich, fertile earth into her body and blood. She leaned against a tree when her legs grew tired, the world itself cradling her. She breathed deep. She panted shallow. She contracted. She expanded. When she had at last surrendered enough of the world she had known to make room for the new life to enter, the baby slid easily from her body, landing gently on the soft, welcoming earth. The woman removed her shirt, cleaning the child’s face and wrapping it close. She cradled the child in her arms watching it remember how to breathe while wearing a body. When the child inhaled deeply and let out a strong cry, the woman laughed and put a nipple in the child’s hungry mouth. The woman, the child and the entire universe breathed a deep, easy sigh of contentment, and everything kept moving right along, just as it has always been and will ever be until it isn’t anymore.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I've Come for an Argument, Please

A couple weeks ago, I had a pretty stunning realization: I don't know how to be, outside the context of an argument. To test the realization, I checked myself the following morning, to see what happened. My eyes weren't even open yet and the argument in my head had begun. Sheesh!

Reason follows that if I am in an argumentative internal state, if that's how I'm treating my relationship to myself, then that's how I'm treating other relationships, too. I cannot see that as a good thing, a thing that requires no work on my part.

So I talked to some friends who've done some serious internal work. Silence was suggested, and that is something I've been mulling over for ages. Seems like now's the time to go in and see what the hubbub is really all about.

From Tuesday morning when I wake until the same time on Friday morning (7.7 - 7.9), I will be in silence. Using Teresa of Avila's model of the interior castle, its seven mansions and many rooms, I'm gonna do some housecleaning. From here, the external manifestations of this inner work will be cleaning my hard drive, working on my virtual business in Second Life to set it aright and tidy, and writing. I may not end up doing any of that; I may end up doing more. I've never done a silence practice before; I'm excited to see what's in there, to see what will emerge regardless of what I think I might be doing. I guess you could say I'm closing down the storefront so I can pay some mind to the store.

I'll letcha know how it turns out. The writer in me is fair drooling over all the fodder that could come of this (as well as dreading trying to inventory and catalog it all!). Other parts of me are having different response, and I'm trying to put all of them back in the river that runs through me (that's a reference to this post: http://musingsofamysticmess.blogspot.com/2009/06/river-runs-through-me.html?zx=b6d9d7ba5659108 ). My baseline is to keep my mouth shut, my heart and mind open, and see what arises. I may have come for an argument (not just a contradiction, mind you), but I'm hoping I'll end up with one of the most interesting staycations ever.

Have a great week, and wish me good consciousness!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Freedom, Liberty and Independence


Ah, the 4th of July weekend approacheth, with all its attendant BBQs, patriotism and exploding devices. In America, We're ostensibly celebrating our Independence from those nasty English red-coated oppressors. It'd be swell if, while we remember and celebrate our extraction from the grips of a tyrant that we could look at the tyrant, at least long enough to go, "Ew. We don't ever want to become that!" IN order to overcome judgment, we often become that which we judge, so I guess it makes sense that we turned out the way we did. It's a great way to learn compassion--becoming what you judged.

Continental North America was a long way from England--a relatively tiny island that, at different points in history, managed to colonize & rule far larger portions of the known world. That's a high concentration of power in a small place. And not even the English were exempt from being picked on by the English. The Puritans weren't, to England, the way we remember them--stuffy, rigid, uptight. They were actually key in attempts to reform the Church, to return to a "pure" from of Christian worship. They were Conservative, sure, but in many ways they were a bastion against ongoing corruption in the Church. They got picked on a lot--for their clothes, the way they ate, the way they prayed, the way they lived in the world. They were so different that they clashed with the dominant culture; something had to give.

Back in the day, if you hated someplace enough and were willing to face the rigors of a sea journey you could go somewhere brand new, somewhere 'uninhabited' (read: already occupied by some heathen peoples but don't worry about them because God loves us better and we can take their stuff and turn them into Christians we'll never have to respect because they're a different color!) The Puritans thought this a fine idea, hopped on some boats and headed west. At last! The promise of freedom to live and worship as they chose!

But England came with the English. Eventually it came down to telling George (hmmmm...pondering the ratio of association of the name George with empirical tyranny...) to bugger off, that this land is my land and you can shove your taxes and the teabags they rode in on somewhere the sun doesn't shine.

You'd think we'd remember what it's like to be picked on. The Puritans came here because of it. They, in turn, picked on the indigenous people. As more folks arrived on this continent, more people got picked on and more groups for the picking on of people formed. And so it goes. If we don't heal the wounds that result form picking and being picked on, we become cruel, aggressive abusers ourselves, perpetuating the cycles of nastiness. Fortunately, other choices can be made.

This weekend, whether you're grillin, thrillin or chillin, take a second to find someone who gets picked on and do something kind for them--even if it's only a smile, a moment of pure & unconditional acceptance from a another being. That is, after all, some of the original ground for this country: a safe place for the picked on to go and just be who they are. Liberate yourself from ignorance and arrogance. Free yourself from the contrived, socially enforced demonizing and otherness that keeps us from compassionate understanding of one another. Become truly independent by learning who and what you truly are and refusing to settle for anything less.

Happy Fourth.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pat & the Lad

I had a nice rant the other night after I saw this:

http://gawker.com/5302311/exorcise-your-gay-demons-in-connecticut

It provoked potent, immediate reactions in me. I expressed those feelings, and knew I'd want a more considered response to something that triggered me so hard. Watch the video, and then come read my story, the considered response to what I saw and felt.


Pat and the Lad

Once upon a time, there was a peaceable world where people of all colors, shapes, sizes and identifications lived in harmony with the land, each other, and something else that nobody fully comprehended, despite claims and best efforts. On this world, there were many tribes of folk who had chosen to occupy the same time and space because they derived pleasure, comfort and joy from the company of like-minded folk. Not everyone in each tribe, let alone the tribes themselves, agreed with all the others. Oh, no. Some people called common things by different names, and this did tend to cause disputes. But the people knew how to communicate without taking differences personally, so they worked it out. Harmony and individuality within a group are not mutually exclusive.

One of the most common disagreements--so common a disagreement, in fact that there were jokes about it that made everyone laugh--was what to call It. Consciousness, Divinity, Spirit, God, YHWH, Jehova, Allah, Krishna were some of the names that had glibly marched down through history like a whole parade of clothes without an Emperor. After a very long parade, the people agreed that there was something Else, that it seemed possible for individuals to interact with it directly, that time spent in Its company could provoke astonishing feelings of love and balance and that the rest was pretty much up to interpreting breadcrumbs left in the woods of ignorance by the denizens of the forest themselves.

After that long parade, it was pretty easy to just go ahead, agree to call it It, and to agree that the individual was free to decide what relationship one wanted to It--if one wanted a relationship at all (which some folks in the pub up the road thought was enormously amusing because to choose to not have a relationship is a relationship).

Though it was usual for the like in mind to congregate, the people did a fantastic job of getting along in the form of collectives almost as well as they got along as individuals. But one day, a very poor arguer decided that in lieu of proof of stated beliefs, assertions of faith and heart-feelings was enough, somehow, to make the other people involved wrong.

Just plain wrong.

Though a poor arguer, this person (whose name is lost to the shadows and time but whom we'll call Patricia McKinney just for the sake of convenience) was terribly charismatic. Her beliefs and her faith were so very, very strong that people who lacked their own strength of conviction came from far and farther to borrow some of hers. And all it cost to borrow conviction was a little bit of soul. Only a small bit, and for a thing as spacious as a soul, it didn't seem like much. Thing is, though, when you don't know how big your own soul is, a small piece can seem like a whole lot. When one pays for something with soul, they tend to treasure their purchase because, somewhere, even if they don’t know it, they understand that they have paid dearly. Once you have something that cost so much and is so cherished, holding on to the thing becomes more important than holding on to what one paid for it with.

Eventually, Pat had enough friends to make a tribe. They all got on famously, holding the same faith and borrowing from the same branch office for their conviction of belief. Oh, sure, that kind of externally-originated imposed homogeny caused some trouble behind the scenes, but that was to be expected.

A child was born into this tribe. He was raised by Pat's folk, parents who loved him, and a community that held its children to be precious and who educated them thoroughly. They loved him. But then he entered puberty, and things began to change.

Some of the changes happened on the outside--like hair in new places, and a funny croaking voice. Some things happened on the inside--like realizing he didn't want what he'd been told he should want if he wanted to be a good man and a good lover and servant of It. Having been so taught, the lad assumed that there was something wrong with him (even though if he'd walked up the road a spell to meet Harvey's friends he'd have learned he was perfectly normal and that the messenger, Pat, sent to deliver Love and Compassion had gotten the message a bit skewed). The lad took matters into his own hands and set about to change his ways. But he couldn't. Every thing he did to combat his rising terror of wrongness was just that: an action. It in no way expressed him, his nature, his being. You see, changing what you do gives others the impression that your insides have changed, But if it doesn't come from your insides, the outside only changes in appearance.

The lad despaired. He went to Pat. He begged for succor and aid from the hideous plague of longing for the proscribed, aligning with the forbidden. He got down on his knees, a supplicant to a human, a human just like him. Pat's heart swelled with love and pity for this child of her tribe. She had to help him, she knew it. But how? She turned to one of the rare books, one that had been transcribed through at least 6 languages and copied by many different hands to the point where one could easily value it as an exquisite work but knew better than to interpret literally. She looked into the book, searching for something to help her help this child of her tribe. Her tribe. The tribe that had come to her. She began to think of her tribe as beginning with a capital T. Then her thoughts turned back to the book. She found something that seemed suitable, and then some other pieces to weave together and before long, she had it. She knew what to do for the lad.

"Child, I will help you. Come to the Grove at dawn, just before the sun is born, and we'll fix you right up. Then God will love you again."

The lad beamed, kissed the back of her hand with the enthusiasm of a swashbuckler offered 10% more free booty and skipped from the room.

He entered the circle in the Grove before dawn. Thin light trickled through the mist. He felt like the world was a ghost and he was the only real thing in it.

Pat told the lad what was to be done. Gaining a shade of pallor with each revealed detail, the lad nodded his head once at the end, too weak to do much more from loss of blood to the head. He assented to the torment, in the name of love. The circle closed in, and they began.

There was yelling, shouting, flailing, poking, puking and proselytizing. It was traumatic. Pat told the lad that he had a badness inside him and they were going to get rid of it. The lad was dubious, since how he felt seemed so thoroughly natural and organic to him.

When it ended, the lad was tired. He felt bruises in places that weren't of his body--at least that part of him was relatively unabused. He searched around on his insides to see what was different, to see if he could find an empty spot where the badness had been, but there were no empty tables in the diner of his mind; no empty stalls in the restroom of his soul. It didn't seem like anything was gone, or different. He was just tired. They took him home, fed him warm broth, wrapped him in a soft blanket and put him to bed, promising they'd come see him tomorrow. They left.

Outside the lad's window watched one of Harvey's folk who went by the name of Mary. Mary had witnessed the whole thing in the Grove and was stunned, appalled and pissed right the fuck off. Making sure the lad was alright, she went home to seek the collective wisdom of her tribe. Some were just as appalled as she was and even more outraged (because they felt that being more outraged than the outrager gave them more cachet, somehow); some stood calmly, hearing the whole tale from one perspective and choosing their relationship to the story they were hearing. They discussed it. What should be done, if anything? How to choose?

They thought back into their own tribe's past. They could remember well-meaning folk with extra shares of conviction to sell that ended up doing not so good of a job at running things. From there, they were able to find their compassion, and see Pat as no different than they were--just carrying a few extra issues. They could see that Pat was just as much a part of It as they were, no matter what either of them called it. They decided to go talk to her, to truly hear her side of the story.

She was not moved. They talked to her some more. She still was not moved. They asked her how she would feel, needing to have her badness removed just because she was around people who didn't share her values, ideas and worldview? They kept at it for hours, with no sign of a dawning of recognition anywhere in the sky of Pat's eyes. Even though they disagreed with her actions, then knew that Pat deserved the same love and justice as anyone else. Unable to sway her conviction, they at last decided to leave her in peace but with this caveat:

We congregate out of love and affection for one another. Love need never make another being wrong or bad, so the next time you see one of your tribe suffering, direct them to those whose actions as well as words will be a compassionate gift and an act of love that aligns with the nature of the sufferer’s being, not yours."

When Harvey’s people left, the lad went with them. He's there to this day, with Harvey's tribe on the other side of the Grove, manifesting the glory of love, harmony, and authenticity. His husband comforts him at night when he wakes with bad dreams.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Raccoons & Brooms

Many thanks to all my FB coupins who answered the call for a question as a blog prompt. I now have fodder for at least the next week!

But this one jumped out at me for today, from Leticia Arvizu:
"Have you ever met a two and a half legged raccoon that could stare even YOU down?"

And the answer is 'no.' The one that stared me down had all four legs.


We'd been on the road a lot. It was summer, when traveling gigs come easier. After a few trips out of town with only brief stops at home in between, the coons discovered the cat door, the cat food, and the cat's water (as well as the toilet, the sink and anything else they could reach. We'd come home to a paw print encrusted kitchen and bathroom. There's something to be said for the survival aptitude of determined, hungry creatures with opposable thumbs.

We were gone so much of the time, even with the neighbors keeping an eye on things, that the little bandits got brave. Or stupid. Or addicted to whatever crack they put in organic hippy cat food. The cat door was across the room from the bed, in plain sight. We could see them poke their adorable little noses through the catflap, whiskers aquiver. If we made a noise, the coon would retreat. If it was just my nancy cat, Tux, standing watch, they'd waltz right on in, flicking their tails in an apparent gesture of "Yeah, bitchcat, that's right. We're the coons, and we've come for your food, so backoff!" And Tux would let them. He seems to have a very clear understanding that the obligation for providing food is not his. He only has to eat it. Supply is obviousy a human problem, as is dealing with raccoons.

One night, assuming we were alseep, one of the buggers ambled right on in and headed straight for the kitchen. Fed up with the mess, noise, and extra cat food expense and charged with the adrenaline surge of an urban dweller conquering some part of the mighty wilderness, I flung off the covers, sprang to my feet with a warrior's "ah HA!" grabbed a broom, and cornered the fat bastard in the kitchen, where I held it at broom point while it tried to evade my menacing sweeps. It sat down, looked at me, and did that funny little raccoon noise that's cute unless they're looking right at you with coonly menace deep in their beady eyes.

I hear graciously suppressed laughter inflecting the syllables of, "Hey Babe? Whatcha doin?"

"I got me a coon! I got it trapped in the kitchen with this mighty broom!"

"Oh, really? Now whatcha gonna do with it?"

Between the flush of successfully cornering the coon and irritation at its devouring my cat's food, I had indeed neglected to formulate a post-capture plan of action.

Made me wonder what other areas of my life I run on surges of adrenaline, frustration and a mighty warrior vibe without any solid, considered, intelligent after-the-sacking plans. Where else in my life do I pursue a perceived adversary without any idea of what I'm gonna do if my pursuit results in capture? Where in my life do I target what appears to be the cause of my emotional surges (eg., raccoons) instead of dealing with a broader, more encompassing issues (eg., the cause of raccoons being in my house)?
The raccoon just stared at me. It knew. It knew that, despite my enthusiasm, larger brain and supposed intellectual advantages, it had bested me--and without a gol-durned broom. I lowered my eyes in defeat, having been thoroughly stared down by a four-legged raccoon. Having vanquished its foe, the raccoon dropped down on all fours, speedily waddled to the cat flap and was gone.

Maybe, if I ever rewrite this bit, it'll be a two and a half legged raccoon--you know, for dramatic effect. I dunno--I'm not sure that the ratio of my silliness to the number of raccoon legs involved shouldn't be kept a little higher; is it more pathetic or less so to corner a coon with fewer legs?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Everything Is a Mouse Turd

Due to a deepened comprehension accompanied by a major shift in the material world, it has come to my attention that I am not to begin graduate school in mid-August as planned. I am still to begin graduate school; just not yet.

Or not.

You know what? I dunno.

See that quote over there, in the sidebar? The one from Joseph Campbell? Yeah, well, that's about right. Everything is perfect. And sometimes life throws you a curveball (but only when it needs to get your to turn your head and look at something from a different perspective). The specific curveball here is not moving to the Bay Area to begin grad school in August.

Having been the recipient of what I feel is an unusually high number of curveballs over the course of a relatively short mortal existence, I can say that this shift--though one of the most major in terms of life shifting--has been one of the easiest to deal with. While profoundly invested in my work and deeply attached to the idea, I am not now nor have I been profoundly attached to the outcome. That lack of attachment and its attendant projections, speculations and subsequent investments of my own chi (read: personal energy, life force, etc) has made this shift easier than anything else like it that I've done to date.

As a friend of mine once warned me, one should not pole vault over mouse turds. Pole vaulting over mouse turds is an unnecessary expenditure of effort to attain a desired result. As long as the result one's desires is outsourced or exclusively material, one can nut the fuck up when things go "bad." Don't get me wrong--I have my preferences, and my ideas about how this should work. I have also somehow miraculously acquired enough good sense to know that the evidence (things not going as planned in spite of enormous amounts of chi, time and will applied to it) points to the fact that my ideas were probably not the most beautiful ideas possible. Like Einstein said, and I paraphrase: "If it isn't beautiful, it probably isn't true." My ideas not being the best ones to get the job of my continued academic education done does not imply in any way that my goal is faulty. That message would come under separate cover. What this redirect means is that I, the thinking me-ness, did not come up with the most beautiful, elegant way to go about my mission.

I'm fine with that. My mind is hardly the be-all-end-all of minds. Though I am the center of my own universe--the little dot with an arrow pointing at it that says 'you are here'--I am most decidedly not the center of THE Universe. I actually like the idea that I don't have all the answers or final say in the Universe. I'd be worried sick if I thought that my finite capacities had to be enough to run the whole show. I am learning in this where I have deficits that prevent me from being fully prepared to undertake my mission. I have learned that I am no longer willing to put myself or others at risk to force my dreams into being. I no longer cherish nor am I defined by the bitter, excruciating self-inflicted pain and drama of pushing even a "good" thing too far, too fast. I didn't even know I'd gotten that far until I got this far!

Until and unless I get word that my goal isn't right choosing, I'm sticking to my course. It's just going to take a bit longer to arrive at my destination (and only if I choose to believe that there was an itinerary I had access to in the first place which, obviously, I didn't). Meantime, I will have the privilege of serving my community in Humboldt for a little while longer as I hone my already mad skills into an even finer tool. I refuse to allow the tyranny of my goals to undermine the reason I set them which, in this case, is to help as many beings as I can come to an end of suffering. I can do that from anywhere.

Obviously, the ending of suffering begins with me. If this had happened even a few years ago, I would have been an a terrible state of suffering right now. I'm not. I don't feel bad. I feel a little sad, which I think is normal, and a tad disappointed. I'm deeply grateful that I got to move through this with grace and without undue, inappropriate pain. What I mostly feel is peaceful; even in the face of rapidly and dramatically shifting circumstances, I have not lost my center. I'm still on the right path. Maybe someday my experience will prove useful to another being who is contemplating a pole vault when all that's really needed is a gentle, elegant step over the mouse turd. And maybe the secret here is that everything--when seen from the proper, perhaps larger perspective--is no more than a mouse turd. It's the choice of how to be in relationship to the mouse turd that matters. I choose to keep walking, and to save the pole vaulting for when I really need it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

5 Words Meme

My beloved Alesia posts this last night on FB: Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" in the comments and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.

So I shouted, and she worded me thusly, replying: Hm, let's see if I can reduce the clamoring avalanche of Deborah words down to five: spider, journey, mask, will, reach.

While I am tempted to include 'clamoring' and 'avalanche' in my package, I'm sticking with the five for now.

Spider: In some Native American stories, there weaves Grandmother Spider, the Weaver of the Web of Life. She spins, and we all scuttle about this enormous web that's made up of tiny, heartstoppingly thin yet breathtakingly lovely threads. We are all connected. I was part of a hook pull once, and at one point all of us had lines tied to the large hooks in our chests the threads where then clipped to a central ring. If one person so much as took a deep breath, everyoen else felt it, through the strings running from individual to the central point of connection. Whetehr we see it or not, everything we do, everything we are affects everything else we're connected to, which is everything.

Also, spiders are some of the most successfully adapted creatures in their niche. I pray for that kind of success. They also have eight legs, neat parts, and the feamles run the show vis a vis mating then killing. But the males don't feel anything; I kinda like to think that the venom shot that puts them into lunch wrappers helps them feel only their mate's sweet kiss as they dissolve back into the system. Spiders produce thread from their own bodies and, proportionately, this substance is some of the toughest in the world.

I weave webs of people.


Journey: I'm so on one. My life is the trip of a lifetime. My destination? Yes. Everything else: A pleasing, fragrant blend of "Ow!" and "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!"

Mask: I spent the better part of my life pretending to be things, exhibiting the surface states & conditions I believed would reflect most strongly in the eyes of others so that when I saw me in them, I would see my big, important self. Whups. We all wear masks of many types. I strive to be aware of whatever mask I'm wearing in any given moment, and to make sure that I know why I'm wearing it. My masks hafta be a reflection of my innards, not an artificial projection so that I can identify myself with false reflections.

Will: I haz it. In spades. My will is like a hammer: I can use it to build a birdhouse, or bash in some brains. It's a tool whose application is evaluatively significant. It's the bear I'm training to dance instead of maul innocent bystanders.

Reach: If this was free association, my answer woulda been 'toilet brush.' I had to clean the bathroom when I was a kid with whatever trendy new product was available, and at one time that was some spoogy lookin crud called 'Reach' (I also had to clean the bathtub with Comet & a toothbrush, naked, so I didn't get my clothes dirty or ruined from cleaning. If you're thinking 'Mommy Dearest,' then you get the idea). Reach was marketing-spiffy because of its curved neck so you could squirt the spooge up under the inner rim and clean the hard-to-reach places. But even though it was supposed to do the cleaning work all by itself, I still had to scrub it with the toilet brush.

In a non-free-association kind of way, my reach is the expansiveness of my arms, my heart, my spirit. My limit of my reach is the limit of what I can hold, love, expand into. I'm working on a longer reach so that I can hold, embrace, touch more, without coming off center or bullshitting myself. I stretch, I reach, I seek. There are things within my reach, but I can reach so that I might expand my reach, and that's no stretch.

Thanks, Alesia! I love you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

addendum to Holding patterns

...and then Brezny chimes in:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things," says actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo. "The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth." As witty as that thought may be, I don't recommend you make it your approach in the coming days. My analysis of the omens suggests that reality will be especially malleable. Even more than usual, it will tend to take the shape of your expectations. So please, Aquarius, try hard to see the lovely, graceful, unbroken glass as half-full of a delicious, healthy
drink.

[SLURP!!!!]

Holding patterns

Quantum mechanics predicts and physics experiments verify that the universe is made of things moving in patterns. It's all one big ballroom floor, with some things waltzing here, oh look--some tango, a bit of foxtrotting over there, a reel over there, a stately pavanne over there. Everything's dancing with everything else, within predictable, expressable rhythms and patterns. Patterns are everywhere, and then the patterns interact with other patterns in even more patterns. It really is exquisite. And mind you, I'm not talking about a closed system in which the absolute predictability of patterns makes variant outcomes impossible. Oh no. Even with all the predictable, magnificent patterns in play, variability always arises in the interaction between the patterns. The designs produced by the certainty of patterns combined with the uncertainty of their interactions is our world. Tasty.

Some patterns I like better than others. A nice Fibonacci string, for instance, rocks my world. Some patterns don't rock me quite the way I like; some patterns seem to think I'm a cat that it's fun to pet backwards. I'm one of those right now: A holding pattern. This depends on that (which I don't know) which depends on this other thing (don't know that either) which means this looks like that (unless something changes and ACK!! I'm paralyzed.

Except I'm not. I am my own chaos agent. Carolym Myss puts it like this: "God loves a verb." She means that when we are in action, moving, things happen. And it's true. So I push this button, I pull that trigger and things change. It's like dropping a pebble in a pond--there will be ripples. It's the effect of the ripples in toto that's impossible to fully know, and some part of me really craves knowing that whatever I'm doing is the 'right' thing to do, all the way out into the furthest ripple.

Waiting isn't living. Patience is one thing; being present to unfolding, observing and participating in my own becoming. The other thing is watching for the patterns and hitching my wagon to the star in motion that seems most likely to get me where I'm going.

Patterns there are, but this holding pattern is my own construct. I dunno what to do, particularly, but I've got to keep doing, and my actions must emerge from my being, not from an attachment to outcome. So I choose, and choose and choose. I watch, I attend. Chop wood, carry water and see what happens next. It's not the holding pattern that's the problem; it's what I hold on to (and, conversely, what I release) that matters.

[airplane raidio noise; click:] Alvaraddington Airlines flight 69, requesting permission to land, Tower.

Tower: Sorry, Flight 69; everyone's out to lunch. Hang tight a sec, and we'll get back to you when we know more.

[flap flap flap]

Roger, Tower. Flight in progress. But man, are my wings getting tired! Nice view, though....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Monday!

That's right. Happy Monday. Even with a yoga practice that wracked my weak-sauce knees. Even with me being a raging bitch. Even with grocery listing, marketing, cooking (ha!) and the bank and the this and the that and all of that other crap.

Monday. Happy. Makes me wonder how many of my other days during the week that I treat with the same accord as I do a nice, big, fat steaming Monday. I was thinking to myself earlier, "Self, you don't want a day job. You want your life to be your day job!"

I was very self-congratulatory over that spiffy realization. So, how do I make my life my day job and then proceed to love it if I treat it (or any other day) like a steaming pile of Monday?

I can't. And see, I get that on one level, but those creepy bits of hereditary dislike for a 'workweek' crawl into my brain and nibble. Don't get me wrong. I got a metric shit-ton done today. And there's more tomorrow. I mean, we're supposed to be moving in 2 weeks, and there's hardly a box in sight. It all needs to come together now, and they need to play like nice (if ADD/manic/bipolar) children on the playground so that everyone gets to participate in a solid round of my favorite game, We Win.

I guess I get to be content with the fact that, even though we never made it to the park, I got all the "kids" on the bus, anyway. It all showed up for Monday, and so did I. Some days, that's grace enough for me.

At least Tuesday reminds me of Lena's cat, who liked to be tied up and spanked. Uncanny. Never seen anything like it--in a cat. So here's to Tuesday. Be gentle with me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bacon in Junuary

A quiet, grey Sunday in Junuary. Baconscent wafts from the kitchen, which means blueberry pancakes are soon to follow. Lots of work is tempting--I could just do a bit of this, or work on that so I'm in better shape at thehead of the week... you know, the ususal.

But I'm applying discipline today. I'm not dealing with that stuff. I'm sitting, being, organizing in my head, noting what will need more attention this week. After all, we are supposed to be moving in 2 weeks, even though I still haven't heard about tutiotion and have little direct clue about where the rest of the funding is coming from.

But that's okay, cuz it's Sunday. It's be still day. It's refuse distraction and be present day. It's remeber how good sleeping in feels and then eat some bacon day.

Mmmmm, bacon. I can be present to bacon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A River Runs Through Me

I'm not much of a meditator. Can't hang. My hands crave something to do; my mind is a humming bird, only interested in the candle flame for long enough to see it isn't a flower and move on. And my chiro tells me that my days of sitting crosslegged are over; that hip I cracked while roller skating when I was fifteen has finally caught up to me. Along with meditating poorly, I don't visualize well. There's something in my nature that distrusts and dislikes the notion of visualizing. Part of me says, "Hey! That's' not present moment! Get back here!" Problem is, that's not true. A visualization is a present moment activity; it's just one more engaged in the field of potentiality, where the virtual particles are, rather than the real. Ahhhh, the sweet smell of neutron clouds in the morning...

...as they pass over the surface of the river by which I sit (crosslegged and comfortable). The small, poofy clouds of vapor disappear over the surface of the river when the sunlight touches them. They go happily to union. Me, I sit by the river. Not doing. Not babbling. Just being. Sitting. I don't always look like me; sometimes I look like a wizened old Zen monk, in a simple brown robe and a shiny bald head. Sometimes I look like Marie Antoinette in full court regalia. I have come to discover that it doesn't matter who it looks like is sitting at the river's edge, as long as I remember it's only just me.

It's me, sitting there by that river. It's a bend in the river; it curves gently away to my left, and to my right. And I sit.

This river is full of things, from the requisite old tire, antique & sodden brown leather boot to my thoughts and my feelings. Some things have shapes, like a giant crawdad/mutant lobster thingy or a metal dustbin with legs (at least 3) or a butterfly with a beehive hairdo, hornrimmed glasses and a ruler. Some are like the puffs of mist that vanish with the touch of the beloved sun. Every thing's in the river, and the river just keeps right on rolling by, easy as you please.

I am serene. I have pristine posture. The sun is good on my naked pate. Something pulls me from my enlightened reverie. I focus my eyes on the river and something emerges; it's headed right for me. Might be pretty, might not. Might be pleasing, might be frightening. Sometimes I want to pull it into my lap and snuggle it, sucking the comfort from it. Sometimes I want to grab a stick--I wouldn't want to touch some of these things--and fling it way, way away, to the other side of the river or beyond.

Instead, I treat each thing that emerges from the river in the same fashion: I pick it up as gently as I can and put it back in the river. The hardest things to put back are the things I want to coddle in my lap and the repulsive things I don't want to touch. But they all go back in the river, as I watch them arise from my consciousness and return to it.

I am not the things that emerge from my consciousness. I am not that which arises. I am the river, the trees, the mud, the water, the monk, the stick. When I let something emerge from the river and come right for me, I'm being shown elements of my consciousness that would like my attention. But they all go back in the river, and I remain serene, unattached and, well, meditative.

It's a nice day by the river today. So far, it's been pretty easy to put it all back in the river. But my life will keep heading right for me, offering me endless opportunities to identify myself with one thing or another. Or not. As the part of me that must function in this world gets up from my seat by the river, a part of me sits there still, watching things arise and recede, manifest and dissolve. And the river flows. I can't wait to see what happens if I ever get good at this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cat: A tonic

Yesterday was one of the Not-So-Good days, what with all the balls still hovering, damclesian, in the air & my fixations. At the end of a day--especially a N.S.G. day, I like to indulge in a bedtime snackytreat. My favorite is gummy bears. I can tell you which of the 3 grocery stores in town has the best bears (Wildberries, by far--the ones in the little bags above the bulk foods) and who has the worst (Safeway. Ew). I savor the textures and flavors of the gelatinous ursine delights. It's a good bag when you can really taste the pineapple in the clear bears. I'm on a mission to find me the best bears ever; suggestions appreciated.

At the end of my N.S.G. day yesterday, I was ready for some bears. I'd have even been happy just to have the Safeway kind. But no. Adding insult to injury, I was bear-free. And cookie free, and ice cream free, and muffin free and vanilla yogurt free. None of the things I enjoy as snackytreats were in the house. I fwumped myself on the bed at this discovery, which happened to be put me partially atop my cat, Meeser Toes (you can call him Tux). I was feeling very sorry for my poor little bear-free self, lemme tellya. A day like that, and not even one damned bear. Ugh. Typical. Damnit. This is stupid. Nothing works for me. Why do I bother. Fekkin bearless existence. Bargh.

Can you hear the rising grumblings as they fade into the horizons of despair and chagrin?

Over the sound of my own dissatisfied grumblings and foot stompings, I heard a sound. It was Tux, purring from underneath me. His buzzbox was in fine fettle. Still obsessing on the treats I didn't have, it occurred to me that Tux did have his stash of healthy cat treats, even if they do smell like they've already been in the litter box once already (I got the fishgut and innards variety this time; next time, it's the less-stinky lamb variety). He loves them. I think they smell like kitty butt.

Since I'm assuming that neither you nor I has any interest in eating kitty-butt flavored snackytreats, you may be wondering why this matters. Here's where I tell you. I didn't have any treats (waaaah), but my cat did (hurray!). And since there's only one of us here, I decided to see about unifying myself with my cat so that, even though I didn't get to have the direct experience of eating my beloved gummy bears, I did get to experience the joy of my cat getting his beloved fishgut & innards stinky treats. I got to experience joy in treats, even though it wasn't "my" bears or "my" belly. It was lovely. He radiated happiness and I got to soak that in. I felt better after that. I got to experience gratitude that one of the creatures in my house had treats. I got to experience joy in treat consumption. I got to pet a purring cat. I got to get over myself in a kind and slightly humorous (if smelly) way.

When I'm more enlightened, I'll be able to tell you that experience was just as good as eating my bears. For now, let's just say that it was almost as good, even with the kittybutt smell.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baptismal Blog

When I was a kid, there were 3 things one simply did NOT discuss at the dinner table: Sex, Politics and Religion. So far, my career path has encompassed 2 of those, one of which I'm about to pursue in grad school.

I got accepted to the GTU at Berkeley fro my MDiv. Right now, we're in the middle of attempting to sustain the structures that provide us income, prepare to move, sort, clean, reduce, maintain, sleep, eat, poop regularly (you really can't afford to underestimate the value of that), make more money so that we can move, walk the dog, clean the cat's ear, do the dishes, pack, cry (me mostly--Lawrence is holding up like a champ) and generally hold it together. So whadda I do? Start a blog, of course!

There are many delightful, tasty, challenging aspects to this major life transition. I'm trying to make sense of them. As a mystic, I believe that there's really only one of us here (a notion supported by quantum mechanics--individuation in unity) and that there are ways to function as an apparetnly discrete being while sustaining unitive states. And because there's only one of us here and we are all connected in a profound web, net of life, it behooves us to get our acts together and learn how to do this human thing a little better. Me first.

That's my goal. To become all of who I really am, without judging any of it, and use that beingness to help end the suffering of all beings. Suffering, in mysticism, is not getting stuck in the illusion of "I" or the illusion of "that;" suffering is when one gets stuck in the illusion that there's any difference between the "I" and the "that." Part of how I've gotten to this point has been through alternative sexual modalities. God wears black leather. To hell with the head of a pin; how many angels are dancing on the tip of it as it's inserted beneath skin (okay, so that'd be a lance or needle instead of a pin, but I'm hoping you get it anyway).

Pema Chodron wirtes, "Discipline is the conduct that de-escalates suffering." Right now, I'm suffering. I'm suffering from the illusion that the way I feel right now is permanent and will never change. I'm suffering from fixating on the details that I think are necessary to the upcoming transition. I'm suffering from a rising anxiety centered around a feeling of not-enoughness. I'm suffering from my own PR. So, technically, discipline can de-escalate my suffering. Believe me, I thought about going out and finding someone to discipline, til I remembered that the kind of discipline she means is self-discipline. If I can get myself to consistently do something I love, who *knows* what might happen!

I've tried as many encourage-self-to-write experiments as most overweight, over privileged Americans have tried diets. None of them have worked. But I mean to end my suffering by seeing the true nature of things (pretty Buddhist in that department) and by disciplining myself to do something I love doing and somehow manage to constantly talk myself out of. My thanks to Lee Harrington for the idea that writing when it's scary is good, and Janet Hardy's reminder that one can get hooked on writing scary.

It may suck.
It may be boring.
It may be irrelevant.
It will certainly be irreverent (either everything's sacred or nothing is, like Einstein said about how you can live your life--like everything's a miracle or like nothing is).

Tellya what. I'll just write, and not worry so much about saying the right thing in the right place and see how it goes, mkay? At least I did it today, and I liked it. That bodes well for tomorrow.