Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Matter

I Matter

it was when she first dared
to see her truth
that the winds howled.
after a time,
it strengthened her
and she spoke her truth
and the earth shook.
and when finally,
she believed her truth -
the stars rejoiced,
the universe opened,
and even her bones
sang her song:
I Matter!
© Terri St. Cloud

I like the poem but I don't matter.

unforeseen circumstances have arrived

When I moved into my present, fantastic apartment, I often remarked that I would live here the rest of my life, barring unforeseeable circumstances.

Unforeseeable circumstances have emerged and are now foreseen.

Moving on but very aware I am older than I was when I moved here. I just want to take one suitcase and let go of everything. And maybe I will. Still cogitating on such choices.

you look older too

I love it when I see someone I love after not seeing them for a long time and my first thought, upon seeing them, is "they look older, they have more white hair". My next thought is, always, "I look older too, I wonder what he noticed."

And with those I love and am safe with, which is everyone I love, I ask them what they noticed looks differently about me and ask if I can tell them what I noted looked different about them.

Only the very bestest loves merit this exchange.


A week long houseguest has me working a lot to get ready, eh? 

My houseguest drinks alcohol. What alcohol to buy?  I have a bottle of very cheap vodka, that I bought when I was using a homeopathic remedy that needed any vodka and the homdeopath said the cheapest would do. I have no mixers.  I have decided I'll take my guest out for booze. Trader Joe's is only a half mile away and if he need booze sooner, there are delis around the corner that sell alcohol plus several bars within a block or two. He'll have all the booze he wants.

Then there was coffee. I bought a pound of coffee for him from a guy in my writers' group whose son's school was selling Peet's coffee for a school fundraiser. Yosemite Special is the name of the beans. I have a coffee grinder. My writer pals all rushed in to ask "but can you grind beans, he's selling beans". I surprised with the fact that I do, indeed, own a coffee grinder.  I don't drink it anymore but I never gave up the grinder.

I broke my last coffee pot. Today I trekked to the Target in Emeryville to buy a new french press. I like to make coffee with a french press. I would also have considered a Melitta drip but Target didn't have any.

And I got a hair dryer to replace the fifteen year old one that died last week. I needed to get a new hair dryer. And my guest may bring his own. But if he doesn't, assuming he can use mine, I needed to get it.

I took a bus to Emeryville, then a free shuttle to MacCarthur BART, cause it is way cold out and the 'F' Transbay wasn't due for 24 minutes. The free shuttle arrived at the corner just as I did.

Including everything, I was there and back in less than an hour and a half. There is no traffic. There were few customers. It is a bit of a ghost town atmosphere. Are folks waiting to go wild tonight? Do many folks take weekend getaways, esp. since New Year's Eve is a Thursday, a big plus for a weekend getaway.

I have rented a car for a couple days when my houseguest is here.  Maybe we'll do an overnight to Big Sur, although I would prefer to go to Yosemite, in spite of the winter. I will let my guest decide. Also, does he want to see ancient redwoods? There are options for ancient redwoods. Or Santa Cruz?

Chores left:  last dish cleaning and clean out fridge. Both of these tasks are half way done.

Boring post but I have enjoyed getting out of my doldrums and forcing myself to prepare for hosting someone I love.

Oh, dang. I forgot to buy some decent bread for breakfast toast. We can get some while he is here and grab whatever he wants in my neighborhood. We can buy bad bread at all kinds of places. And I don't even know if he wants toast. Last time I saw him, he ate sweets and coffee for breakfast each day, never had eggs or toast. Oh, bacon. I could have bought some bacon.  I haven't eaten pork in so long I forget.

My mini Target around the corner only had two hairdryers. The cheapest one, by far, was a hot pink one. I bought it. When I decided I had to trek to a big Target for a coffee maker, I also decided to get a smaller, collasible, better . . and cheaper dryer. The pink raised the price, with money going for cancer. The two hairdryers at the mini Target, which focusses on college kid market, were both way overpriced. I replaced the one that just died after fifteen years with an identical one for half what I paid for the pink one.

my one akashic reading

Several years ago, a friend became very interested in akashic readings. For about six years now, she pays for expensive, regular readings.  Apparently she has a high level of trust in her akashic reader.

Before she found the reader she has now used for several years, she worked with a guy who offered free initial readings. He was newly trained. I did not know this until I heard about this guy but apparently people pay to go to trainings and then, after a few days of class, they are certified as akashic readers. This seems sketchy to me. I believe there are seers, psychis and readers but I don't quite believe a class can advance someone in such ability. Who knows?

I took my free reading. I had been told, for preparation, to have the full legal names of each person in my life I had questions about. I asked about my daughter and about a man I used to know. The reader did not bother to get the full legal names of either person. And when he did the reading, he spoke in first person plural, as all good future seers seem to do. And that first person plural never said a word about my daughter.

The reading was only about the guy and it was brief.

They, the first person plural channeling through this guy over the phone, said I had to forgive the man. At the time, this man and I were not having problems so I was a bit dismissive of the reading.

In recent weeks, however, that reading has been on my mind.  I do need to forgive the guy I asked about for that reading.  I don't have to tell him "I forgive you". He is no longer in my life. I do, very much, have to forgive him for not loving me. Forgiveness is always about the one doing the forgiving.  I forgive for my own peace, without blame or judgment.

I forgive that guy.

My friend, who pays once a uarter for a spendy akaschic reading, has told me my reader was not very good. I can't evaluate the reader. I can only know what I know. And what I know is I must forgive the man I am thinking of for not loving me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

a chocolate rum cake

I bought a $29 chocolate rum cake today, for my about to arrive houseguest.  I bought the smallest cake available at Crixa Cakes, a six inch cake. I can't eat it. It must have tons of sugar and I really don't eat sugar anymore.

I walked down to Crixa to buy a coconut cake but they had none today. They would not take a special order for tomorrow, saying that sales of coconut cake for tomorrow are full up.  Just as well. I would have eaten some of their famous coconut cake. Chocolate rum I can resist.

Then I walked over to MLK and the #12 arrived a minute after I had arrived at the bus stop. I rode it as close as it goes to Trader Joe's. I bought some snack/treats for my guest, like thai chili cashews.  It was hard to choose treats because my eating habits have become very tightly limited:  kale/spinach/cukes/carrots/beets-once-in-blue-moon/cauliflower/squash with eggs a few days a week. I make frozen banana protein shakes with tumeric, coconut oil so my body can properly absorb the tumeric, cinnamon, ginger, chia seeds, flax seeds. The spices all help metabolism, always a good thing to boost in a diabetic. Green smoothies. Raw chocolate smoothies with spices and coconut product. And then, when I am feeling fancy, braised spinach. I also love homemade crisped kale:  awesome.

When I go into TJ's for me, I buy the same things everytime, which is not much.  I was overwhelmed and decided my guest will have to tell me. He can eat cake, cashews and go around the corner for ice cream or froyo or booze.

I would have bought some alcohol but I have two bottles of wine and a bottle of vodka. I had intended to get some tonic water for the vodka but forgot.

I had also intended to get some half and half for his morning coffee but I forgot that. I also forgot all my coffee pots are broken so tomorrow I'll buy one.

Having a house guest is not cheap.

What came over me that I bought the cake?  I was faking to myself. I wanted a coconut cake and when I found out it was too late to get one for my guest, I pretended the cake was about him.

On the bright side, Crixa sells slices of cake and after the holiday crush, their coconut cake should be available by the slice. Although I probably won't try it before I move.

stuff I kinda want

I guess I don't really, really want this stuff or I'd figure out a way to have it, but here is a list of stuff I sometimes think I really, really want:

•a smartphone
•new clothes on a regular basis (haven't bought any in 8 to 10 years, not even new underwear)
•amazon prime so I could watch their video offerings
•money to travel:  I want to go to Paris, Italy all over for art -- France too, Asia, esp. ancient Buddhist communities (I am thinking of specific place, blanking its name) and all over China and Africa. Or even just Mexico, which has great art and other museums I love.
•a NYC trip once a year, Chicago once a year: all about art
•money for theater tix, opera, symphony
•this is not a top priority, probably not something I really want but I think it would be amazing to collect great art
•a house with a garden that is mine

None of this stuff really matters to me. What I really want is loving, intimate relationships, a lover, a daughter, and a whole family that loves me and I love back. Children in my life would be nice.

•weekly maid service -- this might be my top want if I were serious about what I want.

All I really want is a lover and a daughter and more money than I have now.  Not much more, just a little wiggle room beyond food, rent and laundry.

don't break your own heart

each person an aperture

Every one of us is an aperture through which
the whole cosmos looks out.
~~ Alan Watts

new beginnings are often disguised

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.

~~ Lao Tzu

the root of almost all conflicts

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I want to free what waits within me

"I want to free what waits within me so that it flows from me like a river, no forcing, no holding back." - Rilke

I am ready to flow like a river.

remember before luggage had wheels?

My daughter is 33. She never had a suitcase that did not roll. Rolling suitcases came around just about when she was born, or maybe a couple years after she was around. I can remember going to Austin TX when she was four or five and at her dad's and I used a suitcase with no wheels.

Before wheels and pull handles on suitcases, one had to lug suitcases from the handle. Awkward. Hard.  One could rent carts at airports.

When rolling suitcases appeared, I bought one for each of us immediately.

I remember wondering why suitcases had been around for so long without someone thinking to add the wheels. 

Just popped into my head. Meaningless rumination.

I want a kiss from You*

I want a kiss from You*, said my heart.
"Yes, but the price is your life."
My heart leapt with joy and said,
who cares about the price!

*You know who you are.Take the risk.  Love me back.

to flow like a river

"I want to free what waits within me so that it flows from me like a river, no forcing, no holding back." - Rilke

I am ready to flow like a river.

love is pull by God towards God

In the mind of westerners, love is usually understood as being the kind of positive feeling and attraction that one has for others of his/her own species, which in its higher levels helps an individual to be drawn to Reality. From this point of view the lover must learn the ways of love; but this is very elementary.

For the Sufis, love is not in the realm of sentiments or feeling but is rather, a divine attraction, the drawing of the lover by God towards God. Here the stress is not so much on the effort of the lover but rather on the pull of God. For this reason, Sufism says that love is 'that which comes', like a raging flood, and the Sufi looks forward to its coming and carrying him/her away.

We have said that Love is the ruler of the heart, the heart encompassing the soul, and the words convey the perceptions of the soul. Therefore all that can be said about Love cannot truly express it, since Love is beyond the realm of idle talk.

Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (Present Master of Nimatullani Sufi order)

 I love, especially, the part that says the Sufi says love is what which comes like a raging flood and the Sufi looks forward to being carried away by that raging flood of love/eros.

let love have its way with you

Trust the divine intelligence of love:
Let love have its way with you. All your rigid ideas about the way it's supposed to be and the way it's supposed to go, all your resistance, all your doubts, all your dense history, and baggage. Let love devour "you" like a wild animal. Let love tear you apart until "you" no longer exist and only the sheer passionate force of love remains, present, awake, attentive and alive in this holy now.
Let love look through your eyes as the pure, undiluted fire that lights up every star in the galaxy. Let love become your every breath. Let this love become all that you are.
-Brian Piergrossi

to possess such wisdom

spiritual enlightenment through relationship

"What an exquisite gift is ours to restore unity, Love, and understanding in our relationships, and Joy to our Hearts. Whilst love-making in the Old Paradigm can be a painful tug between resistance and wanting, in the New Paradigm we make it a safe place to unburden fears, pains, and confusion, and it becomes a vehicle for Compassion, Bliss, Peace, Devotion, and Unity; thus taking us beyond the personal." - from The Esoteric Path of Marriage: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Through Relationship

This captures the essence of what I have wanted in a lover relationship:  a safe place to unburden my fears, pain and confusion, thereby co-creating a shared container for compassion, bliss and beyond to the personal.  For many years I kept seeking this kind of space with one particular man. Each time I would unburden my wounds, he freaked out. I kept expecting him to respond with loving, compassionate, unconditional acceptance.

I did not give him unconditional acceptance, however.  I did not accept that he did not give me what I wanted. I kept falling into my wound, becoming angry when my needs were never met, when I was never safe to be me with him.

I can't see that this particular man and I would ever have arrived at where I wanted to go with him but I keep wanting it anyway, even though we have not talked in  almost 2.5 years.  I watch myself looking backwards. I wish I did not do this. All the thinking in the world is not going to change anything.

Although he sometimes said to me 'trust the work that happens in the silence".  Hmmm. .  .

them highways is slicker than snot: L-I-F-E

As anyone who has lived in the Upper Midwest and also been foolish enough to take road trips between November and April can tell you, the odds of driving in snow are high. If you are traveling through Wisconsin, as  I used to do a lot, you know that Madison is a weird, low-lying pocket that pulls down heavy snow.

During my short early marriage (not that early, I was already a lawyer when I wed, so was he), we traveled a lot for holidays, traveling through Minnesota and Iowa.

For some reason, the ex and I nearly always tried to tough out the densest blizzards, when all you could  see was a few inches of light beyond your car headlights and snow coming at you. Treacherous road conditions that drain the driver quickly. So stressful.

Once, after having driven too many hours through Iowa in a blizzard to get to his hometown in time for Thanksgiving, and having eventually given up and checked into a motel anyway, and then arriving for dinner the next day after everyone else had eaten (even though we were only about 30 minutes late to arrive and we had called to tell them we would be there when we were), we dreaded the drive home. But it had to be made. He had a lawyer job then and I had classes.

Our law school, in those years, anyway, had strict attendance policies. If you missed more than 3 classes in any course, without a doctor's letter declaring you had been too sick to go to that class, you were automatically flunked.  I never skipped classes anyway but the policy put the pressure on. Plus, right after Thanksgiving, finals would have been bearing down. One didn't want to miss the last few classes before finals, eh?

So after a fairly short drive in yet another snowstorm, my ex, then my fiance, decided early on to pull in. The bugger about first driving in a blizzard for a long time is that if you do come to your senses and decide to stop and spend money on a motel, it is hard to find an empty motel room. So, I guess he had learned some kind of lesson.

We pulled in as soon as it started to snow.

The clerk at the motel registration desk said "Yup, I know why youse are stopping. Them highways out there are slicker than snot, aint they?" For some reason, that line made us laugh many times that evening and throughout the next few years.

The worst part of that night was not the slicker-than-snot highways. The worst part was we had stopped at dinner time but the motel had no restaurant attached. The closest restaurants were a couple miles away, in that blizzard. And my fiance had lost his keys as we piled out stuff into the room. We went through the car and our luggage over and over. We pulled all the bedding off the beds and shook sheets and blankets. we did everything we could think of.

Then he bought some candy bars and chips at the motel's crappy snack machine and we went to bed hungry, with a plan to call a locksmith the next morning.

We called the locksmith and decided to load the car while we waited for him.

When my fiance took his outer jacket off the hangar he had hung it on, he saw his car keys hooked on the hangar. Half the weight of the keys had fallen on one side, the other half on the other. That did not strike him as funny and he was angry when I laughed.  What else can you do in such circumstances but laugh?

I am now reminded of the time I went to a movie in Austin Texas with friends Ben and Christina. Ben drove, as any manly man would have. Where did that bias come from, that men do the driving even with women who can drive are along for the ride?

I forget the movie. When we went back to Ben's car, we learned the car had been left running during the entire time of the movie and the car was locked. Ben had left the car running and locked the car.

I burst out laughing. It still seems funny to me. Christina was pretty angry. Ben was very stressed, worried that running the car for 90 minutes or so might have damaged the engine. Both of them told me, after the locksmith had come and gone, letting us into the car, that even though my laughter had bugged them, it has also broken a lot of the tension. On our ride home, for I was staying with them at the time, they tried to get into an argument about it but each time they tried, they kept remembering my response.

I said nothing on that ride home. I had laughed but I am not stupid. I saw how tense they both were. But, seriously, other than the wasted gas, and this was in the early nineties when the cost of a few gallons of gas just didn't stress many out and no one in that outing thought about the pollution factor of that running car, it was funny. No harm done to the car. Just an irritation and locksmiths are always so darn spendy, eh? They were angry in the kind of way mostly couples get angry. What's that about? Control?  It wasn't about the money wasted on the locksmith, was it?  They were both good earners and were living in an inexpensive two bedroom at the time. Their fight, which they never had within my earshot, was about the relationship. Or, I suspect, control. Both of them were very upset but, I think, for very different reasons. Ben did hate to waste money and that upset him. Chris, I think, had control issues, as if she thought Ben was irresponsible and leaving his car running while locked was her idea of irresponsible. the incident was my idea of L-I-F-E

I don't think I get upset about things like lost car keys, the price of locksmiths, or blizzards.  When such things have happened to me, if I had the resources with me to deal with the crisis, I was jake. And I could see the humor in the snafus that happen in all lives.

I miss laughing over life's absurdities with my daughter. We used to do that. Or did I imagine that?  I don't think I imagined it.

Once my daughter locked us out of the house with all keys on the inside. I had just told her "Don't close the door, I don't have the keys" and she laughed as she slammed the door shut. This was long ago, she was, maybe, ten, so like 23 years ago. It cost $60 to pay the locksmith to bore into the Schlage deadbolt plus the price of a new deadbolt. I made my daughter pay for half the locksmith. I didn't make her pay because of the money. I wanted her to learn a lesson, to pay attention.  I didn't restrict her much. I don't think telling a ten year old not to lock her family out of the house is being strict. I hoped that by paying, and she would get money from various sources, like birthday money and holiday gift money, that might take my requests with more attention.  In this situation, I was the parent, mentoring my child to be more responsible. L-I-F-E but a different aspect of L-I-F-E.

She never locked us out of the house again.

I have never in my whole life locked myself out of my home.

when I lived in oligarchic Colombia

When I was 19-20, I studied at Universidad de los Andes, the most prestigious university in Colombia. My junior year abroad. I fell in love that year but when he asked me to marry him, I said no. Looking back, I wonder if he was hoping to escape Colombia by coming to America with me. I said no because he had dropped out of college, had no job skills to offer in my home country. And I had no credentials to do anything but teach English for peanuts in Colombia.

No way I was going to live out my life in Colombia. Perhaps being an outsider allowed me to see the one-party oligarchy system that was not so different than what this country, the good old USA, has become. We have, technically, two parties, but the corporate sponsored candidates are all about the same.

Trump, I'll give you, is scary. He seems to understand, in the scary way very crazy people sometimes have prescient insight, that being outrageous is, in this dysfunctional culture, a way to get elected, which is a way to gain power.  He gets more media attention than Hilary. Poor Bernie gets almost none.

I confess I don't read about the Republican kerfuffle enough to be able to distinguish any of the cnadidates past Trump. Two Latino names, a couple recycled names that are vaguely familiar. Only Trump stands out for me and he is bat shit crazy and bat shit scary.

And then we have the coldly calculating Hilary, who has lied corruptly her entire life, stalwartly loyal to Bill when he, as a proud centrist, lurched the country to the right and to personal wealth post-presidency. Did he promise Hilary the throne if she played along with the story he pretended he represented?

I liked Bill when he was president but now I see that he was evil.

Oligarchy. There was a national presidential 'election' the year I lived in Colombia. But only one party.  I paid attention to that election, trying to understand how all the Colombians I knew could believe it was an election if only one person was actually running. But people did believe it was an election. And, no surprise, the one party's chosen candidate won.

A friend did some consulting in Colombia about 30 years after I had lived there. She was brought there by a guy from the very upper class of Colombia, a very rich man posing as a good guy professor. And he probably was a good guy. But he was at the top of the heap. Lavished in privilege. So he was her tour guide. And he convinced her that Colombia had come a long way from the early seventies when I had experienced it. That it now had a middle class.

If Colombia now has a middle class, it has less power than our middle class and  our middle class has none.

We need a Robin HOod to come along, eh?  Someone to take from the rich and share with everyone else. Redistribute our unequal bounty. Make things more fair. Stop funding the military industrial complex and feed the hungry, house those who need housing, repair our roads and bridges, build our schools back into something great.

Bernie wants to do that. But   could he make any headway?  I doubt it.

So. Do we have one or two candidates for president. Hilary has been anointed. And trump seems to grab all the air around him. Is that being anointed? What a nasty motherfucker he is, eh? I think Hilary is just as nasty a motherfucker. She just has a more careful packaging machine.

Monday, December 28, 2015

one of my better days in a long while

I only slept until about 2 p.m. I have been sleeping until it gets dark in the early evening.  When I awoke, after having some breakfast, because my diabetes insists on being fed.  How the heck does my blood sugar rise when I haven't eaten anything for 12 hours of sleep? It's bad news when my glucose reading is high upon awakening and it's always high these days upon awakening. So I dutifully eat some protein and inject insulin.

Today I was invited to a reading at the Berkeley City Club. I didn't think I'd go, and I didn't go, but my hair dryer died recently. If I was going to go, I needed to shampoo my hair with enough time for it to dry, or mostly dry. So I took a shower.

And get this:  I cleaned the bathtub before and during my shower, one tiny chore to prepare for my weeklong houseguest due this Friday. Cleaning the shower, which was only dirty from dust, because when I am not sleeping my life away, I shower at the pool.

And then, watching myself with amazement, I gathered up all my laundry, again to ready for the Friday houseguest. I didn't do the laundry. I will do it tomorrow. And, fingers crossed, in between waiting for the wash loads to finish and then the dry loads to dry, I usually enter a burst of housecleaning. Something about starting a few loads of laundry, which will require the work of putting away a few loads of laundry, energizes me to clear off my table and countertops, wash my small kitchen floor and vacuum, as if the place has to be clean before I put away all the clean laundry.

For a houseguest, I have to clean everything, including bedding so it will be many loads of laundry. Plus clean all the washable throw rugs. It will be a lot of work. And I am already telling myself that if I don't do it tomorrow, Tuesday, I have Wed and Thurs to do it. But I think I'll do it tomorrow.

Then on Wed and Thurs I'll do a deep clean out of my fridge. I already half-cleaned it but I haven't pulled out the bottom drawers and cleaned the gunk that magically accumulates below those drawers.  My guest is not going to inspect under those drawers but I have to clean there. I will know if it is not clean.

Then, my final chore:  make up the guest airbed.

Boring post. And boring chores. But there is something enjoyable about having my home clean and tidy.

I've been slowly clearing shelves and desktops, throwing out the endless stuff that I don't throw out along the way.

I have about forty music CD's.  I'm going to offer them to my visitor. If he doesn't want them, I will eventually take them to the store that buys, for pennies, I suppose, CD's to sell to folks who still want them.

I need more storage.Drawers and cabinets. Maybe my houseguest will go shopping with me and help me move a dresser I might find at a thrift shop. The only thing holding me back from buyiing some storage furniture is hauling it home. I can rent a car, easy, but I can't haul something big alone.

My life is boring.

I should be focussing on the positive. I cleaned my bathtub. I had thoughts, for awhile, earlier, of cleaning the toilet and giving the bathroom countertop a quick once over with the same cleaner I used on the tub. It would have taken, what, ten minutes including time for the toilet bowl cleaner to sit a bit but it got away today.

I'll have it all done come Friday around noon when he arrives. 

What will he want to do for lunch?  I also have to do a grocery run so I can be ambidexterous:  offer to fix him lunch here or hold off until we get to the city.

who knows. We can always get a burrito around the corner or some truly great chinese just a block away.

I am thinking we'll take a transbay bus over to the city on his first trip ever to SF so he can see the city get closer and closer, see the whole bay while we cross the Bay Bridge. It is a beautiful ride, a free kind of tourist ride, in a way.

We'll see.

things show up in life, eh?

I have a friend who has always had cats find her. And always the same kind of cat, sleek black ones that mirror this friend's dark, sleek beauty and soul.

One cat must have been feral a long time, for it always retained some traits I found hard to deal with. That cat would sidle up to me after I had been sitting alongisde my friend, visiting for awhile. I would reach down to stroke the cat and the cat would scratch me, leaving painful cuts. My friend seemed to either ignore her cat's sometimes vicious behavior or maybe she though it either acceptable or, and I can't quite wrap my mind around this option, part of the cat's charm.

That cat never scratched her and I think she had convinced herself people that got attacked had done something to provoke the cat.

Man that was a nasty cat.

When that cat died, my friend and her husband did not replace it right away. They were moving across the country, also grieving their lost cat, and decided to wait until they moved to think about a new cat.

Just about as soon as they moved, while still living in a rental as their new home was being built, a black cat appeared. They put up signs for "lost cat" with photo and contact info. Put adds in the local paper. My friend knew, instantly, that the new cat was her cat. She even seemed to think the new cat was the old cat reincarnated 3,000 miles from the old cat's death.

I once asked this friend if she always adopted cats that just appeared. She seemed to have never thought about it. She reflected for some time and said "Cats have not always appeared out of the woods, but I believe every cat I have had found me.

She named her newest black cat the same name as that nasty, somewhat feral cat.

When she had found the feral cat, it had been covered in burs, had been living a wild, harsh life. The cat had been quite feral but she felt an instant bond with it and worked through its hissing, scratching attacks.

I cat sat that cat. I dutifully brushed it with a special brush, doing what my friend had carefully trained me to do. The cat loved to be brushed and during those minutes that I brushed it, it did not harm me. But if I tried to interat with it at any other time, it tried to scratched me always hissed nastily. I learned to ignore it.

I'm thinking about my friend's lifelong habit of having cats appear in her life because I need to have some right things appear in my life.  I am deeply burrowed into isolation so there are not many paths by which anyting new can appear. What should I be doing? What door or window to my life might I open to allow the right people to appear.

I am not intersted in a cat. Nor a dog.  I don't feel any draw to domestic pets. Once my primary doc suggested I get a cat or a dog. I found the suggestion a bit repulsive. The thought of a cat or a dog in my apartment has zero appeal. Yuck. And I'd ahve to deal with its bodily functions and, to do right by the cat or dog, show it affection and let it show me affection.  I sorta envy folks who have deep bonds with their pets but it just aint happening for me.

So. Whoever is suposed to show up in my life now would be a good time. show up.


I am reflecting on an angry, unkind tantrum I unleashed on someone a couple years ago and asking myself what did my behavior reflect my state of relationship to myself. I was angry, hurt, unloving.  If the above 'wisdom' is accurate, my behavior reflected a failure to love myself. But, man oh man, it sure felt, at the time, like I was lashing out because I had been wronged. And not just over the triggering incident, but wronged over a span of years. So, if the above wisdom is accurate, and I am not sure that it is, had I failed over a span of years to love myself? Yes, irregardless of the above wisdom. I had accepted treatment of myself that did not meet my standards or my needs. That wasn't the other person's fault. It was my responsibility to stop interacting with someone who did not treat me in a manner I considered acceptable. Not his responsibility to define how I deserved to be treated but mine. I think I accepted unacceptable treatment because I was afraid that if I made my standard of how I wanted to be treated clear, he would leave. And I think he would have dissociated from me if I had insisted he treat me well. So I had nothing to lose by holding out for my standards for myself.

He used to chide me for having hopes and expectations. I would feel much shame when he teased me for having hopes and expecatations, for hoping my hopes and expectations would be met. 

So, if how I treated him was a reflection of my relationship with myself, how he treated me was a reflection of how he treated himself. That is something I will cogitate on for a bit.

to be kind is more important than being right

wearing nothing but paint to a dance

At her first college, my daughter Rosie once went to a dance, with at least a couple other girls doing the same stung, naked except for body paint. She was seriously anorexic at the time, so seriously thin. And she was seen as one of the hottest girls in her freshman class. As one boy put it, she was the thought bubble over the boy's freshmen dorm. He said she was the one girl all the boys thought about in the first weeks of that new college experience.

Several years later, while at a weekend of Spirited Work on Whidbey, an Israeli woman attended with her teenage daughters. They were, and probably still are, about the same age as my daughter who would have been about 21 when I talked to those Isaraeli girls.

I talked to them a bit about my daughter. For some reason, the story of her going to a dance nude but for body paint, popped into my head. I was trying to give them some anecdotal stories about college life in America.

Later, their mother, a colleague and friend, told me I had quite shocked her daughters.  I had explained it was a very small college, with a total of about 300 students. I had told the girls this. I explained that it was a very artsy, hippie college, and it was. And, no way to tap dance away from it, my kid really did once go to a college dance wearing nothing but body paint.

I never saw pictures and she never described the paint but I'm still willing to bet she more or less looked like she had clothes on, with the image of clothing painted on her.

Geez. She went to an early college for brainiacs, the first one of its kind in the country. The Coen brothers went there before moving on to Princeton and NYU. And it was an arty, hippie-throw-back kind of place. I wonder if it still is.

You take a bunch of fifteen and sixteen year olds, who are very smart and bored in high school, put them in dorms with lots of freedom for kids that age and you get some shenanigans. You get the same kind of shenanigans at most colleges, don't you?

I never went to a dance wearing nothing but body paint but a couple girls at my undergrad did. More than once. And the brainiacs at my undergrad would have made-up pageants, like crowning a hot guy and putting him through the kind of paces that beauty pageants put women and girls through.  And some wildly ribald parties were held. Drinking. Illegal drugs.

The most wild I ever got was drunk on 3.2 beer. I think I did once, when so drunk I didn't quite rmeember it, enter one of the goofy pageants students made up but I remained clothes and my entry was not a serious one.

My daughter had, by the time she went to a coillege dance wearing nothing but shoes and body paint, had been in a couple professional dance companies and been training as a modern dancer for years. Being naked, or almost naked, in front of many was a daily occurrence. It was not quite as shocking as those Israeli girls thought it was, not in the context of who rosie was.

Now Rosie seems to be very, very establishment, driven to achieve much like her father always was. And, like her father, she always cared a whole lot, in ways I did not fully grasp and still don't, what other people think.

Ever heard of the MMPI. It is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. It is not quite as respected here on the West Coast as it was, not surprisingly, in the UPper Midwest where it was created. Most PhD psychologist give new patients a series of tests when beginning treatment. Our marriage counselor did, and gave me the MMPI. jThen during the divorce years, my child psychiatirst administered it toi me and my ex was suposed to take it with my child expert witness but my ex wouldn't show up. He would always say something came up at work. Even after we went to court and asked the judge to order him to go or find him in contempt of court, he still didn't go and the judge never censured him as being in contempt. He hired a child expert witness, too, and I dutifully showed up for all the testing.

A favorite memory:  my ex's child expert witness, a child psychologist to my child psychiatrist and professor, took Rosie's social history from me. That psychologist claimed, when he ultimately teestfied in court, that my ex and I were equal co-parents but he said he took her social history from me because I was more likely to know her milestones. When such expert witnesses take a social history for a child, they are looking for when her first word was spoken, when did she take her first step. It was quite telling that the shrink my ex hired understood that I would know Rosie's milestones and that her dad wouldn't.  My child psychiatrist never found out what my ex knew or did not know about Rosie because, in spite of a couple very expolicit court orders that he show up, he never did.

It turned out to my advantage. My child psychiatrist, who had told me my husband was gaslighting me and there was nothing wrong with me a divorce wouldn't cure, opened his testimony by syaing "I met with Ms. So and So and administered these tests, I observed her with her daughter, I administered some test to the daughter. I am unable to testify at all about the father in this case because he ignored your court orders, your honor, to some to his multiple appointments with me."

Then the other expert witness got on the stand, with my lawyer almost tittering his glee. He had to suppress laughter when he questions that 'expert witness'. Dick, my lawyer (who was a bit of a dick personality wise but he got the job done for me!) first asked my ex's expert witness what my ex's IQ was. Right away, that shrink began sputtering, before Dick asked anything else, giving Dick the fun of reminding the guy that Dick was asking the questions and the shrink did not get to editorialize Dick's questions. So the guy stated my ex's IQ and then Dick asked him what my IQ was. Then the 'expert' sputtered and harangued, trying hard to avoid directly answering the question.

That PhD psychologist (to my MD professor and child psychiatrist -- Dick said no one ever lost custody that had the approval for parenting from my guy and that was how things shook out for me) kept trying to say things that were nonresponsive to the questions, to tell a story that qualified why my ex-s IQ was significantly lower than mine. He wouldn't say my IQ out loud in court, so Dick dropped it and had me read my IQ into the record once that jerk shrink's files had been entered into evidence. That jerk shrink said he was sure my ex had only scored low in his IQ because of the stress of the processings. Then Dick asked "Isn't Mrs. So and So under the same stress?" and the guy had to grudgingly concede that I was. Then Dick handed him our marriage counselor's IQ tests on both of us and had the ex's 'expert' read our marriage counselor's analysis of our respective IQ's.

Our marriage counselor, also a PhD and also a professor was another expert witness on my side -- it was kind of like I had a full house and my ex had a paira of threes. Our marriage counselor had evaluated my ex's IQ as being identitcal to the child psychologist my ex hired later. It wasn't just average. It was just a smidge below average. After Dick had my ex's expert child psychologist read his IQ results for both of us, and our marriage counselor's IQ results for both of us, Dick asked "They took those first IQ tests years ago, with no divorce on the horizon and Ex came up with the same low IQ. Does the stress of this divorce retroactively explain his low IQ score from several years ago?"

At this point, we were not actually contesting custody anymore.  I think Dick had brought in the battle of the experts because he was pissed off over all the nasty, expensive legal wrangling my ex had put us through.  I already had been granted custody when we had the battle of experts. The hearing I am describing was supposed to be about my petition to remove our minor child from the jurisdiction of that state.  Our parenting skills were not on trial but my ex had been such an asshole and Dick, like I said, was a bit of a dick. And it was me paying for his time. Dick enjoyed shaming my ex under oath.

Courthosues can be small towns. Most lawyers in a courthouse on any given day are aware of other trials going on that day. And, gosh, in that jurisdiction, the security for accessing court files was almost nonexistent. Anyone could go to the clerk's office where they kept all lawsuit records for all of time and check out a file after showing a driver's license. With a hearing with a judge, the transcript was in those files.  My ex was furious to have a discussion of his modest-to-low IQ talked about on the record.

Dick was just being a dick and, I confess, I enjoyed it. The ex had put me through the wringer for several years, threatening to take away my baby when all he reallyw nted to do was keep me in that state. He feared I would leave as soon as I got my divorce. Hell, I had toild him if he gave me custody, I would sign an agreement to stay. Then he put me thorugh custody hell and huge expense, for several years and then he extracted my promise to stay.

But in the meantime, he had destroyed both our reputations, disclosed a lot of very private shrink files about me to anyone that would stoop to look at them. And people do. Some folks can't resist slowing down and looking at a big car crash. Not everyone read my personal journal that my ex stole and photocopies but some did. It was so humiliaitng, knowing many had read such very very private stuff that I ahd written for my therapist. Whenever I think of it, I cry hard, as I am doing right now 30 years afterwards.

 Bob Cimino ad warned me that Frank had soemthing but Bob said since he had been friends with Frank all their lies, he wouldn't tell me what it was. He just warned me that Frank had something. He had my therapy journal, a stolen, very private document. I wish I still had that journal. it would give me great material for ficton but I burned it. He hadn't stolen all of it and when a subponae came for it, I wanted to be able to say it was burned.  I knew I could have lied and said I had burned it but kept it but I couldn't take any chances. When you have been violated as badly as I was, trut doesn't come easy.

have you ever been attracted to someone but

Have you ever been attracted to someone, even felt in love and deeply attracted, but declined to get close to that person because you were anxious, or ashamed, at the idea of introducing them to your friends and/or family?

I have been attracted to someone who was attracted to me but ashamed of me. I don't know if he was ashamed at the thought of an overweight girlfriend/lover or ashamed that I am poor or ashamed of his projections of what he projected I might say if I was ever admitted to his real life. This guy kept a connection with me for many years, always testing me, dangling the possibility that he might, just might, start trusting me if I would only toe the line, accept insufferable treatment from him, allow him to treat me shabbily such as unfriending me on Facebook and then demanding that I accept that FB slap as inconsequential. He even had the gall to tell me that if I could accept that FB slap, which he kept up for 8 to 10 months, and then suddenly, with no explanation, reversed himself and 'friended' me on FB, that if I choked down his demand -- it was not a request, he was not willing to hear a no or willing to hear my perspective, he rigidly, unilaterally imposed terms under some kind of whacked plan to make me earn the right just to be treated decently. He said I had to earn the right to be treated the way he treated friends 'step by impeccable step' and the first step was choking down that FB rejection.

What was wrong with me that I kept tap dancing, hoping to win his approval?

I was perfectly good, and wonderful, all along. I still am.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

love consists of this

"Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet,
protect and greet each other. ”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

well, not all love consists of two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. There's all kinds of love. This is the kind I want that I lack.

don't you dare shrink yourself down

I have shrunk myself all my life, always for someone else's comfort.  It was not a successful strategy for happiness.

don't shrink down for nobody. lapsing into bad grammar, eh?

he saw Star Wars without me!

I was saving up seeing the new Star Wars movie in case my pending one-week guest and I needed something to do that did not involve being solely focussed on each other. Like some relief from a week long visit.

You know the old saying, fish and company smell after three days.

I can't plan much of our week together, for he gets to have a vote on everything we do. He's paying for everything. I can't afford to eat out at expensive restaurants, which is his main interest for what to do. He can see movies at home.  I have made a few reservations at a few hard-to-get-into famous SF restaurants but I hope we can also play it by ear.

Muir Woods? Or how about the redwood stand down near Pacifica with ocean views?  I was thinking I'd drive up to Muir Woods, then up along the coast up to Bolinas, have lunch and come back to Berkeley. I'll let him choose, of course. Maybe he'd like to do an overnight to Big Sur. His choice. A faint voice within me is hoping he'd like to do a one day overnight trip to Yosemite. I know it's cold and snow must block some of it but I could see a lot and I sure would like to.

And cheap places to eat are also possible, classic SF places like Lucca's deli, Foreign Cinema (not cheap and a real restaurant), cheap Mexican.  I am hoping he'll try a highly regarded vegan place. After all, he says he wants to try the latest trends in CA cuisine. Greens, at Fort Mason, has been a Zagat rated vegan place for a long time. If not Greens, there is Gracias Madre in the Mission, also a wowsa vegan joint. Many friends have urged me to try Gracias Madre. My guest is probably more into the Zagat rating.

He cares about appearance, status, clothing. I am worried my shabby wardrobe won't be nice enough for some of the places he wants to try.

I feel a little worn out as I think about doing stuff with someone for a whole week, day afer day.  I hope he lets me fix breakfast at home. Last time I visited him, he took us out for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.  I made my own protein shakes but he still insisted on going out for breakfast.

I want to cook a little, a basic part of hosting for me. I want to make my favorite fancy meal:  pan roasted salmon with lemon and ume plum vinegar alongside garlic-infused braised spinach:  inmo, the perfect meal. High in Omega 3, high in fiber, high in healthy protein, low in fats. The spinach if chock a block full of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and even protein!  Then we could go out for dessert, I am thinking.

And I want to show off my increasingly awesome oatmeal. I can't remember if he likes coconut milk. I cook oatmeal with a small amount of a blend of cried berries: cranberry, blueberry and bing. The dried berries plump up. I put in a lot of cinnamon to hide the absent sugar. I will put out sugar for my guest. And, the best part for me, dousing it in coconut milk. This is like a special dessert and I often have it for my dinner. But I can eat it for brekkie one day for a beloved. If he'll eat it instead of dragging me out somewhere.

I have even bought a pound of coffee. A guy in my writers' group was selling coffee for his son's school. When I heard that, I bought a pound since I knew I needed some for my visitor. And I'll even buy some half and half. If he doesn't want coconut milk with my oatmeal delight, he can go with dairy. Boring but also tasty.

This guy is a very fussy, picky eater.  I have never cooked for him and I bet he doesn't have a lot of interest in letting me cook. He has visions of SF wonderfulness dancing in his head.

I keep thinking "I can show him a great view of SF from the windows right by my front door, that's enough" but of course, like all tourists, he will want to see the Embarcadero, the Golden Gate, land's End. Gee, would he want to eat at that retaurant by Land's End?  Goodness, I think of it as mediocre and overpriced with great views.

We could go to Duarte's down Pescadero Way, drive along the ocean and stumble into expensive, overpriced restaurants.

I bought him a Christmas present that I am waiting to give him here.  I have not bought anyone a Christmas present in so long that I don't remember when. I suppose the last time I did Christmas gifts was when I bought my daughter gifts. And when she dumped me, I kept sending her things, little things, for a few years.  This will be my first xmas gift for xmas in ages.  I haven't wrapped it but I bet I do before he gets here on Friday.

Look at all my fretting. I should be housecleaning.

What movies are a big deal right now besides Star Wars? I don't really mind not seeing Star Wars. I never really have been into Star Wars. I don't think I've seen any Star Wars movies. Big Short? Danish Girl? Carol?

Anselm Kiefer: one year old video, brand new show in France

Anselm Kiefer: Remembering the Future from Jack Cocker on Vimeo.

I was just thinking and writing about Kiefer yesterday and today I learn the Pompidou Center is doing a major new retrospective. He's done a lot of very different, and awesome, work since his big show in SF in 2006, the year I moved here. I went to that show at least once a week the whole time it was up, soaking up as much as I could.

I would give a great deal to go to the show in France. Oh well.

Just look at the photo where this video begins. He had not shown anything close to this kind of work when his big show was at SFMOMA. This piece, without having watched the movie or read anyting about it, suggest galaxies, worlds, constellations, intersection, interbeing, overlap. And beautiful. And love.

to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of being

As far as we can discern, the sole
purpose of human existence is to
kindle a light of meaning in the
darkness of mere being
~ C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

God appears, and God is light,
To shoe poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
~ William Blake (poet I don't read enough!)

Behold the Sun at the midnight hour;
Build with stones in the lifeless ground.
Thus in decay and in the night of Death
Find Creation's new beginning, young morning's strength.
Glory in the heights the eternal Word of Gods;
Shelter in the depths the Powers of Peace.
In darkness dwelling, create a Sun;
In matter weaving, know spiritual joy!
~ Rudolf Steiner

During these Holy Nights, it is good work to seek inner light in the darkness of our beings, in this darkest time of the year.

if any magic wishes are offered to me. .

I think I would seriously consider wishing for the opportunity to become friends, real, close friends, with Anselm Kiefer. I could be his administrative assistant, cook and bottle washer, tidy up daily. Anything to be able to absorb some of his genius.

I would also happily be servile to Gerhard Richter, eh? Any great genius.

I'm not talking about lust for the men. I lust for their artistic energy.

Kiefer is, and has been for almost ten years, my all time favorite contemporary artist, even above chicks. It is uncharacteristic of me to favor a male but Kiefer is special.

when you don't fight it

Despair is what happens when you fight sadness. Compassion is what happens when you don’t.

I have been surrendering to the deepest despair I have ever known. Day after day, I do nothing but use the toilet, rummage a bit in my kitchen for easy-to-eat food and sleep. 

I have completely let go of any shoulds.

I have a week-long house guest coming on Friday. Way way way in the back of my thinking I have planned to do a deep clean and, while I was at it, get rid of a lot of the piled up 'stuff' I don't use. I have about forty CD's that are all loaded on iPods so why not get rid of them?  I don't own many books but I own too many. I only have about two dozen books I care about. It's funny how books find their way into my home. Where do the ones I don't care about come from?

And the clutter in drawers, baskets, closets. How did all that stuff get here?

I was so sure that having this week-long house guest would motivate me to transform my place into an immaculate home and help me purge any bit of stuff I don't use.

Scarves I bought from neighbors at a building 'garage sale'. I bought them mostly to please the neighbors. I will never use them. Sometimes I think these scarves would make good fabric for doll clothes but I don't do anything about it. I think "I might give them to a preschool or afterschool program that does real crafts, like sewing. Like Waldorf World. But I do nothing.

Or all the kitchen 'stuff' cramming my limited cupboard space. I use very few kitchen things so why do I have mounds of unused stuff?  I had the fantasy I would clear out every cupboard before my guest arrived. So far, I have not cleaned out any.

I did achieve one big task, although the amount of work involved was pitifully small. I cleaned out my one storage closet. Turned out that closet was only crammed full of empty amazon boxes. It took about ten minutes to break them down and walk them down the hall to the recycle room. Then I refilled the closet with detritus from other parts of my home. Still unused stuff but now, at least, out of sight.

I had vague plans to clear out this close so my house guest can hang anything he might wish to hang, like a dress shirt and put his suitcase in there on a stand I have that fits in there. Not gonna happen. I'd have to organize lots of stuff packed into the stand. My guest will just have to deal with my mess. He can hang the few things -- he always travels very light anyway -- on the hooks on the closet door and he can keep his suitcase under my built-in kitchen table that I use for counter space and never for a table. If we eat a meal here in my apartment, we'll eat it at my desk, which is also full of clutter but I will do a slapdash clear away.

When I realized, only the day after Xmas, that I only had five more days to clean, I realized that my cleaning plans would have required at least a couple hours every day this month. I realized it is too late to do the master clean I had hoped to do. And, yes, my motives were selfish. I wanted to have a spic and span home.

Instead I have stuff in every nook and corner that I never use, never even think about. My closet is crammed with clothing I don't remember owning and I sure don't ever wear it. I have urges to just dump it all in my grocery cart and hall it to a tharift store. I wouldn't miss whatever is crammed in the back half of my clothes closet. I live from the front half of the closet. What is all that stuff and why do I have it?

The salient, important point:  I have given up pressuring myself. I will clean out the fridge, which seems minimally decent for a house guest who will store his half and half in my fridge. I will clean the bathtub, for he will use it. And clean appliances.

But all the stuff, the clutter, the mostly useless detritus is probably going to be here when he arrives on Friday. I am open to a surge of energy.

However. All I have done for several weeks is sleep all day and most of the night. I don't see that changing before Friday.

Oh well. This person loves me a whole, whole lot, as I do him. It will be fine.

And I am finding I can love my surrender to my depression. I used to beat myself up about how depressed I am but I have let that go. It is what it is. I am what I am.

I am unhappy and I like, for the time being, sleeping as much as I possibly can.


chocolate bliss w/apple slices

I haven't made chocolate bliss in years. Last time I made it, I was showing an acquaintance how I make it in a good blender. He severed ties with me after that visit. I didn't stop making the chocolate bliss because he began to shun me. It was more like this:  I had found my way to making sugar-free healthy candy with only raw ingredients that is delicious and also healthy. The fat in the coconut is food fat. The raw chocolate loaded with super food nutrients. The raw almonds add protein, fiber and good fat.

Right after it ia made, it is warm and dippable.

I made this jar for my pending out-of-town houseguest. I will have to make more if my guest is going to get any because it is too delicious for me to resist.

I had the great memory of slicing an apple and dipping the slices into the warm chocolate almond sugar-free candy.

For folks accustomed to sugar being the only way to get to candy, I recommend chocolate bliss. It has coconut flakes pulverized into coconut butter:  the high speed friction of the blender melds it into butter and it still counts as raw. Then I add finely shopped raw cacao butter, which is what they make white chocolate from. Chopping it finely helps it melt faster. Then lots of chocolate powder. I love chocolate. This latest batch is very densely chocolate-y.

I added what I thought was a lot of cinnamon, like a tablespoon, but I can't taste any cinnamon in this batch. I also added a dash of vanillas but not enough to taste it, I guess.

I had intended to make myself some chocolate bliss for my holiday treat but I have been too depressed to do anything. I am sleeping 20+ hours daily. I keep thinking it is not possible to sleep as much as I want to sleep but then I roll over and give it the old college try and, presto, I sleep through most of the night, all of the day light and wake up the next evening when the sun has gone down.

I have not tidied up nearly enough for a week-long houseguest, a fussy neatnik houseguest.  I am so depressed that I kept thinking I still have weeks to tidy up. Duh. He'll be here in four ays and I have two weeks of housework. He loves me so he'll just have to deal with my clutter.  My place is clean. I had hoped to use this visit to motivate me to purge.  The best I am getting out of my twenty minutes, at most, daily housecleaning attempts is to reshuffle stuff.

The warm chocolate bliss with apple slices is so delicious. And  I am countng it as a balanced meal:  fruit, fiber, protein, healthy fat and deliciousness.  No greens but I ate a huge bowl of spicy green beans earlier.

Spicy green meals are so easy to make.

the mental institution of the universe

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, December 26, 2015

the world darkens

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,
for hope must not depend on feeling good
and there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
of the future, which surely will surprise us,
and hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
the streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
of what it is that no other place is, and by
your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
place that you belong to though it is not yours,
for it was from the beginning and will be to the end.

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
and the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing
in the trees in the silence of the fisherman
and the heron, and the trees that keep the land
they stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
and how to be here with them. By this knowledge
make the sense you need to make. By it stand
in the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.

Speak to your fellow humans as your place
has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
before they had heard a radio. Speak
publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.

Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
from the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
to the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
by which it speaks for itself and no other.

Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
and the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
which is the light of imagination. By it you see
the likeness of people in other places to yourself
in your place. It lights invariably the need for care
toward other people, other creatures, in other places
as you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place at last is better than the world. The world
is no better than its places. Its places at last
are no better than their people while their people
continue in them. When the people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens.

"2007, VI" ["It is hard to have hope"] by Wendell Berry. Text as published in This Day: New & Collected Sabbath Poems (Counterpoint, 2013).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Give yourself to love

Give yourself to love.

some of them kings

this is my official favorite Xmas poem.  Ms. Oswald is a British poet who does a lot of gardening,sees nature more clearly than most.

Various Portents

By Alice Oswald
Various stars. Various kings.
Various sunsets, signs, cursory insights.
Many minute attentions, many knowledgeable watchers,
Much cold, much overbearing darkness.

Various long midwinter Glooms.
Various Solitary and Terrible Stars.
Many Frosty Nights, many previously Unseen Sky-flowers.
Many people setting out (some of them kings) all clutching at stars.

More than one North Star, more than one South Star.
Several billion elliptical galaxies, bubble nebulae, binary systems,
Various dust lanes, various routes through varying thicknesses of Dark,
Many tunnels into deep space, minds going back and forth.

Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and/or water, snowflakes, stars of frost . . .

Various dazed astronomers dilating their eyes,
Various astronauts setting out into laughterless earthlessness,
Various 5,000-year-old moon maps,
Various blindmen feeling across the heavens in braille.

Various gods making beautiful works in bronze,
Brooches, crowns, triangles, cups and chains,
And all sorts of drystone stars put together without mortar.
Many Wisemen remarking the irregular weather.

Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watches of wisp of various glowing spindles,
Soothsayers, hunters in the High Country of the Zodiac,
Seafarers tossing, tied to a star . . .

Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.
Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars towards them, bringing snow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

the ones meant to be come back

I hope.

visions and divine visitations

In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life.

I've been sleeping odd hours the past couple weeks or more. Today I was awake during daylight the longest I have been in about two weeks.  I wish I had someone with me, to comfort one another, tell stories, make love with the right someone. . . and, maybe in the middle of the night, make some coconut milk cocoa and have some wild rice soup.  I can't do everything alone.

I've had a couple vivid visions.  I have had vivid dreams, become lucid, then awakened so I could write them down.  I thought it was depression but as I rise out of what I have been doing, I see it has been divine, sacred personal work.

holy holy nights to all

Painting by Alara Mares, on FB page Anthroposophy Alive

Do it. Then do it again. And again.

I found what I was looking for

A shihsen, raw tuna, sushi burrito!  Delicious, healthy, filling, nutritious. And around the block, across the street from my go-to Mexi burrito joint. A person who prioritizes her health will never get a Mexican burrito again, only sushi burritos. Raw fish, salad. The only thing I'd add, and next time I will, because I always have this on hand, is some pickled ginger. I missed that tang.
And I like sushi more. Oily tuna, hamachi, wild salmon, unagi. Wasabi soy suace and lots of pickled ginger. With the sushi burrito, comes salad.

you know who you are and what I want

I want a kiss from You*, said my heart.
"Yes, but the price is your life."
My heart leapt with joy and said,
who cares about the price!

*You know who you are.Take the risk.  Love me back.
Why can't I get just one kiss? Why can't I get just one kiss?!

did the baby say stuffing? a Xmas miracle

My niece Ruby was nine months old for her first Christmas. My sister, Flannery, and Ruby came over to my house for a Christmas Eve supper with me and my daughter, Rosie. My sister had just moved to our city, plus this was her first Christmas as a mother. As I read this today, Ruby is a sophomore at Smith College. Rosie is a Vice President of Operations for a real estate development company and hasn't spoken to me in over fourteen years.

Rosie and I had few Christmas traditions. We had tried to visit relatives over Thanksgiving because we preferred to spend Christmas in our own home. This gave us the gift of avoiding the Christmas fights. Eventually, we gave up on traveling for winter holidays because we always ran into snow. Snow can ruin a drive across the Great Plains and snow can ruin air travel.

Staying home for Christmas, we had Cornish game hens for dinner on Christmas Eve. Without my sister and niece, we had usually to the Basilica, the Catholic Cathedral in Minneapolis to listen to the choir sing Christmas hymns but we bugged out before midnight mass.  We went out for Chinese food on Christmas Day. We were regulars at the same Chinese restaurant throughout the year. Going there on Christmas always felt special. A popular restaurant all year,  the place was almost empty on Christmas.  Minnesotans, not even its Jews, had not fully embraced a tradition of going out for Chinese on Christmas.
Some years we spent time on Christmas with friends but we always spent a lot of quiet time together, just the two of us. And we always went to The Great Wall for Christmas Day dinner, usually after going to a movie. Rosie always got the mandarin chicken. I always got the kung pao shrimp. And we always promised one another, on the way over, that we'd order something different that time but we never did.

My sister had decided that she and Ruby would spend their first Christmas Day alone together so they had come over for Christmas Eve supper. I served stuffed game hens, as I did every Christmas Eve. We probably exchanged gifts that evening but I don't remember presents.  I had not cooked a cornish game hen for Ruby, my niece, because she did not eat much solid food and she had only hints of her first teeth breaking through her gums.

As we sat down to dinner, seeing my daughter, my sister and my niece as shimmering orbs around my table, I was happy. Perfectly happy.  I remember noting that my daughter was more vibrant than usual. I realized our somewhat lonely holidays had not met her extroverted nature. Rosie was lit up by our dinner guests.   I loved my sister Flannery and my little niece Ruby deeply but I found myself loving them just a little bit more that evening as I noted Rosie's joy to be with them.  This was her first 'big' family Christmas with me. Well, we had had a couple big ones when she was a baby but she might not have remembered those. This felt like our first big holiday together, she and I, plus my sister and the plumpling angel. Sometimes we went to friends' homes on Christmas day but I think this was the first time Rosie and I had Christmas company. What special guests! In my mind's eye, we had candlelight but I don't think we actually did.

Having a baby around is always bliss. A baby at Christmas more so. Ruby was at a peak of perfect plumpness. I think of how many nativity paintings have a radiant light focused on the Christ child. All babies glow like this for me and Ruby was alive with radiant light that evening. My daughter,  thirty two, still dazzles me, in memory, with her radiance when I think of her, the loving madonna cradling her red-cheeked bundle of joy.  Rosie was the most dazzling that evening, for me at least. I was blissed out, surrounded by three angelic beings I loved unconditionally and bedazzledly. If that is a word and if it isn't who cares!

My sister, born was I was fourteen, was as much a daughter to me as a sister. Our mother had never really cared to tend to her babies and had turned over as much care of her babies to me as she could. I had spent more time with Flannery when she was an infant, then toddler, than our mother ever had. Mom spent as much time as possible out of the house. As the eldest daughter, I tended all mom's babies. And mom gave me quite a brood. When Flannery was born, I was also caring for two year old Dave and four year old Tom, rocketing home from school to get the latest babies from their babysitters, pressured to get them as soon as possible to save on the hourly babysitting fees mom paid while she tried to finish the college degree she had abandoned when she had married our father at age 19.

In my mind's eye, I keep looking around that table,  from Rosie to Flannery to Ruby, then back to Rosie, around and around, noting the radiance in each of these women as they sat around my table, loving them with all my heart. I had this experience at the time as well, looking loving at each of my beloveds around that table. Rosie, a high school freshman, was doing a spiky thing with mousse in her hair. She was wearing a brown velvet dress. A fancy dress. Flannery was a picture perfect madonna, with her thick, blonde hair and red-lipsticked lips. And Ruby. Ruby wore red, a precious jewel in any color but she popped in red.

They were all beautiful. I loved and love all of them so much. Just sitting at that table with the three of them was all the Christmas gift I needed.

We began eating, all of us chattering happily. The meal was not very fancy. My big flourish had been to place a few tablespoons of stuffing in each of the three tiny birds. We joked about that stuffing. It was delicious but it seemed like such a lot of trouble for such a small return. Digging it out of the tiny birds for such a tiny reward. Two tablespoons, maybe three.  We talked about stuffing recipes. Flannery was partial to stuffing with chestnuts. I noted aloud that I liked chestnuts in stuffing but I was partial to stuffing with walnuts. Rosie was fussy, sliding into the eating disorder that I had not yet allowed to enter my conscious awareness.  Rosie, my baby even at fourteen, liked her stuffing plain: no walnuts, no celery, no onions, just those seasoned cubes of bread one buys in bags stuffed into our cornish game hens. The stuffing this night was plain, one of my gifts to Rosie. We were all happy to have it the way Rosie liked it. Who cared?! Stuffing, stuffing, stuffing. We had a lot to say about stuffing that evening. We had all shared, in aimless detail, how we each liked our stuffing. And shared tales of stuffings past.  Just silly, aimless chatter, the company being what mattered.

Which might explain what happened next. It was a Christmas miracle.

Flannery was feeding Ruby tiny bites of stuffing. With no walnuts, celery or onions, the soft bread of that stuffing was safe to feed our baby. Ruby had just begun to eat solid foods. She couldn't eat the poultry. She didn't like the cranberries. Ruby liked that stuffing.

As we laughed and chatted about all things stuffing, Flannery began to exclaim, "Look at Ruby! Look how she likes the stuffing!" We all gazed adoringly at our baby as she opened and shut her mouth, fishlike, to indicate she wanted more.

"Here," I said, "She can have my stuffing." And I scooped out my tiny portion of stuffing and put it on my sister's plate.

My sister kept feeding the baby stuffing. We were all rapt, joyfully watching Ruby gobble stuffing as fast as my sister could spoon it into her mouth.

"She can have my stuffing, too!" Rosie exclaimed. This was a miracle in itself. Rosie was fussy about sharing her food. She had never been willing to share food, not even when she was a baby herself. She was a little OCD. When Rosie offered her stuffing to Ruby,  we all exalted. I think my sister and I may have squealed our surprise. It was so perfect that such a little thing could make us all so happy.  Our backnoise was filled with more aimless talk about stuffing.

"Stuffing!" Ruby said.

Ruby was not yet talking. She and her mother communicated, of course, but we were not yet thinking of Ruby as someone who could talk.

"Did she just say stuffing?!" my sister cried out.

"Did she just say stuffing?!" my daughter cheered.

"She did, she did. She said stuffing. Ruby say it again. Stuffing. Say 'stuffing! She said stuffing. I know I heard it right." We all chattered, repeating the word stuffing over and over, hoping to coax the baby into saying it again. "Say stuffing, Ruby, say stuffing!"  "Say it again, stuffing!"

"Give her some more stuffing, maybe she'll say it then."

"She's already eaten all of it."

We dug around our poultry carcasses looking for more stuffing. It  was all gone.

"It was not our imagination. That baby said stuffing." Stuffing stuffing stuffing. All three of us kept exclaiming the same things. We were so thrilled that our baby had finally said a comprehensible word and such a complex one. Stuffing is not a daily vocabulary word. We all nodded meaningfully back and forth, signaling to one another that our baby was a genius if her first word was stuffing. We remarked repeatedly on how stuffing was a complex word to be her first comprehensible one. A genius! We had a baby genius!

Her first sentence, which came a short time later was 'ree-da-buk'. Read the book. She was read to a lot and she liked it. She sometimes said 'ree-da-buk' dozens of times in a day, pleading the adults around her to read her another book.  At first, we resisted believing she was saying a whole sentence. We told ourselves it had been our imagination. Nope. She definitely was saying "read the book", baby short hand for 'read me a book'.

A genius. She's a sophomore at Smith this year, majoring in math and statistics. On a full academic ride. Once a genius always a genius.

beef tartar

When I graduated from law school, my class planned its own graduation party. I think the school organized the graduation but students got together, rented a beautiful, newly renovated Landmark Center and organized the food.  I remember sitting in on discussion and one particular guy suggesting the caterer provide steak tartar. I also remember most objecting to steak tartar but when we got to that party, there were huge mounds of raw beef and almost nothing else. 

I never understood why, instead of a selection of heavy appetizers, we got huge mounds of raw beef.  I guess no one was in charge so someone took charge. A male, of course. Even though by the time I attended law school, virtually all law schools had fifty percent female student populations, in my day, the males still dominated everything.

A classmate of mine, a married woman, got pregnant unintentionally. She and her husband had intended to wait until she finished school to start their family but when they learned she was pregnant, they decided to have the baby. They knew they wanted kids and they did not choose an abortion.

The faculty, which only had one full time female professor at the time, and one part time female professor who had a very very part time gig, demanded that married, pregnant student appear at a faculty meeting where, they let her know in advance, the faculty would demand that she withdraw from law school. 

The meeting never happened. That pregnant female law student told whichever faculty had confronted her with the faculty's concern that a female could not be pregnant, think and study all at the same time (the essence of their concern, right?!)  that making her quit law school because she was pregnant was a violation of her civil rights.

Keep in mind: all law school faculty at my law school were lawyers. These knuckledheaded humans with penises knew about civil rights. These neanderthals taught female law students but revealed, in their lame attempt to get that pregnant women to drop out of school simply because she was pregnant, that they did not really see female law students as equal to the males.

Having been pregnant, I can tell you from first hand experience that I kept on thinking just fine throughout my pregnancy.

all I want for Christmas

all I want for Christmas is YOU and you know who you are cause I have told you I want you.

winter solstice

for a moment
the keyboards will stop clicking,
the wheels stop rolling
the computers desist from computing,
and a hush will fall over the city.
For an instant, in the stillness,
the chiming of the celestial spheres will be heard
as earth hangs poised
in the crystalline darkness, and then
Let there be a season
when holiness is heard, and
the splendor of living is revealed.
Stunned to stillness by beauty
we remember who we are and why we are here.
There are inexplicable mysteries.
We are not alone.
In the universe there moves a Wild One
whose gestures alter earth’s axis
toward love.
In the immense darkness
everything spins with joy.
The cosmos enfolds us.
We are caught in a web of stars,
cradled in a swaying embrace,
rocked by the holy night,
babes of the universe.
Let this be the time
we wake to life,
like spring wakes, in the moment
of winter solstice.

~Rebecca Parker

sushi burritos everywhere but none to eat

According to yelp, there are two sushi burrito joints within two blocks of my building.

I set out yesterday afternoon to buy one for breakfast. I walked all the way around the two square blocks south of my building, where these alleged sushi burrito joints might be. I couldn't find one, not anywhere there.

I had read, apparently a typo, that there was one such shop near Oxford on Center. I know that street very well, for I walk up and down it all the time, usually more than once daily. I had never noticed a sushi burrito shop but, I vaguely recalled, there was that new vaguely Asian spot called the Purple Cow.

I thought maybe I had mistakenly assumed it was a bubble tea and/or froyo shop but it was really a sushi burrito joint. I went in, found no froyo. And, truth told, I am still not sure what that place considers its main business. In addition to whatever they use organic milk for, because they have big signs proclaiming their recent shift to only organic milk so I assume some kind of dairy product if the main focus, I saw a sign for a few crappy fast food snacks. Like Japanese tempura fried crap:  chicken, something else and sweet potato french fries.

Oh, get this. I asked the Asian girl selling the sweet potato frieds if she knew anywhere with sushi burritos, explaining I thought there was such a place on the same block. She said she had never heard of sushi burritos. Ah ha!  I am not the only person who hasn't heard of sushi burritos. There is a chain called sushirrito, I told her, and there are 3 or 4 of them in SF, one in Palo Alto and even some in my hometown Chicago. Sushi burritos are real. I think.  She seemed skeptical.

For some insane reason, I decided to get the sweet potato fries. I am always reading that sweet potatoes are good for diabetics, although I am not sure why. Carbs are carbs, eh? I was hungry, feeling discouraged in my sushi burrito quest. I had set out with hope and, while not high expectations, I had set out with a mild expectation of a moderately okay and almost healthy dinner, a sushi burrito.

I walked all around Oxford to Center south on Shattuck, eat on Allston, back around again, then I headed further south, to Center and walked all around.

But there were no sushi burrito spots, not anywhere there.

I was glad I had those greasy, but tasty sweet potato fries. They were just all fried batter. They were nice sized and I really tasted sweet potato.  I have no illusion that it was a healthy meal and I shot some insulin as soon as I got home, guestimating on the carbs, figuring I'd just test a couple times and adjust accordingly.

Then I got online. The sushi burrito spot is around the block on Allston, next to Saturn Cafe. And it closes at 6.  I kept walking past it because it was darkened. Closed.

Tomorrow, I will try again. Or another day. 

I am in the middle of making awesome wild rice soup. That will be very filling. Between the soup and braised spinach, I won't need a sushi burrito.

And then there is my annual Christmas dinner, which I won't write about here. I alwys eat the same lonely meal on Christmas. Except a couple Christmases when I went out for Thai with ACIM friends and last year when a friend treated me to chopped liver at the Jewish Museum.

This year, I'm falling back on my alone-for-Christmas standard. Hush.

But maybe a sushi burrito, if the joint is open on Christmas Eve. At leas tnow I know it closes at 6.

I am reminded of a Christmas my long ago husband and I spent in Christmas at my dad's. WE thought we'd go out to dinner on Christmas Eve to have some couple time before the big noisy family rush of Christmas Day. We couldn't find anywhere open but pizza.  He wouldn't accept pizza for Christmas Eve so we spent hours miserably trying to find a place open. This was pre-smart phone when we couldn't just get online from anywhere and find a place.

We ended up eating pizza, with my ex moaning and groaning the whole time, like it was my fault.

Everything was always my fault. That seems to be par for me and men. Any tension is always my fault.

Sigh.  I hate this holiday week. But I am hopeful about sushi burritos.