Sunday, May 31, 2015

don't weep

Don’t weep, insects,
Lovers, stars themselves,
Must part.

-- Issa

I'll take me some of this

I dream to have this imaginary, elusive man who sees me and loves me, passionately, coheartedly and in every way a person can love, without wanting me to change a thing. Not one ounce, not one hair on my head, not one clothing choice, no one cleaning choice. Nothing. Acceptance is love.

I will love this elusive, magical man, who I have not yet met, as far as I know, back. I will love him back better than he has ever imagined being loved.

Men can be interested in powerful women but they tend to choose more docile women than I am as mates. When I suggest I am a powerful woman, I do not refer to economic power or marketplace power or influence power. I am powerful in the sense that I love myself, just as I am and I make no effort to hide myself.

Wow. To be in a committed life partnership with someone also committed to loving himself completely and loving me as much as he loves himself. I'll take me some of that.

to be treated like a queen

When I was about 30, I was visiting my mom in Ohio. My parents had been divorced since I was 18 and, although they were cordial to one another when events in their children's lives put them in the same place, they did not talk to one another unless they ran into one another. They both came to my law school graduation. Dad did not come to my college graduation because mom came with her new husband and dad couldn't face it and I totally understood dad's resistance. He had not wanted the divorce and it broke his spirit. I don't believe he ever met mom's second husband, who stayed away from my law school graduation so dad would feel comfortable. Blah blah blah.

When I was 28, and I remember the age because my daughter was a small infant, my dad underwent a medical test conducted by a resident who made a mistake that left my dad paralyzed on his left side.  My dad sued and won $680,000 in a malpractice law suit. Not only that, but he got a prestigious law firm to represent him pro bono, so he did not have to pay the firm any of his award.

I get ahead of myself.

Dad's law suit had been going on a couple years, maybe longer. Maybe I was older than 30. How old I was doesn't matter. I was an adult, a mother, a wife, a lawyer and lived five states away from mom and three states away from dad. I mostly saw both of them to give my daughter a sense of family beyond me.

My dad did not talk to me about his lawsuit. One of my brothers tried to keep tight control on info about the law suit. This brother, as my dad once said to me, wanted it all. "He would be happy if I gave it all to him and forgot all of my other kids. He's greedy. It's like a sickness. He wants it all and always has.  He takes money from me but complains when my other kids do."  So this brother, who is so mean spirited that I won't write his name on a blog I am sure he has never seen. I am afraid of him. He went to law school only two years but that's all one needs to know how to use the legal system. He is not eligible to be a lawyer but this brother is a bona fide genius. Seriously smart.  Scary smart.

I believe he conducted most of the communication with my dad's lawyer, purring to dad about dad's vulnerability and assuring dad that he, with two years of law school, would do right. Dad might not have known when a settlement offer was imminent. And if my brother could have accepted the money and kept it entirely from my dad, I am sure he would have.

During this visit at my mom's, suddenly I knew my dad had gotten his settlement. I said I would leave Ohio early so dad didn't give all the money to the brother I have mentioned and another brother, my dad's favorite child. Both my parents had open favorites. It was painful to see how they favored some of their kids, painful to know I was never a favorite.

Mom asked me why I thought dad had settled his case and thus felt a need to go to Chicago.  I knew the money would be all gone quickly. If my dad were ever going to keep it, I would have totally supported that. In fact, I had suggested dad put the money in a living trust, available to him until he died. My brother the half lawyer was furious and that is probably why he went below the radar with info about the lawsuit. Goddess forbid dad listen to my licensed attorney concern that he use the money for his own needs.

My dad didn't need anything. He never cared about stuff or status. All he ever cared about was his kids, his sons, two of his sons mostly with my gay brother a weak third and my older asshole brother an even weaker fourth. His two daughters did not exactly rank at all.  Dad loved Dave, my gay bro, because Dave is so lovable but dad was uneasy with his homosexuality. And his favorite sons constantly harangued dad about their faggot brother. Shame on them.

Mom said "how could you possibly know your father has settled his lawsuit?" I said "I just know. I am sure I am right but if you want me to prove it, let's call him and ask." And I did call dad and, yes indeed, he had settled.

Then mom said "You have always been like this, ever since you were a very young child. You just knew things no one had told you. Sometimes it felt like you knew everything."  I can see her taking a drag on a cigarette, then tapping the cigarette as she spoke.

I have my longest-running therapist Jane to thank for learning I am a high impath. Once she said to me, when I was crying about how my parents had not treated me as well as my brothers (I was the only daughter until I was fourteen). Jane said "I understand why they treated you the way they did. They sound like weak, damaged people who probably shouldn't have been parents, people afraid of the world. A child like you would have frightened them. I bet you knew everything that was supposed to be a secret. That would be scary to two already fearful, damaged adults. I bet you knowing as much as you did would frighten many parents."

The people I tend to be drawn to for close friendship seem to also be high empaths. If they aren't high empaths, they are damaged and I am drawn to their damage, confuse their damage with my own and things can be painfully muddled.   It had been  hard work, after thirty+ years feeling all kinds of stuff  until I understood I felt a lot of gunk that wasn't mine.  It was such a relief to finally start identifying "oh, this is me, and this is not."

When I feel a person very strongly, I want to get close to them, to understand what it is that I am feeling. And maybe, just maybe, help them. I gradually improve the quality of life of people I am attracted to, as they improve mine but I still let very damaged humans slip under my radar, get inside me and let them offload their shit onto me.

I am reminded of my dad, who I miss lately, missing him a lot. My dad had many astringent sayings that I don't think he ever said to my sister. He always treated her more delicately than me. I took it as a compliment that he treated me like one of the guys, like his friend. In hindsight, my dad gone almost 30 years, I remember that it pinched to see my dad maintain a meticulous gallantry with my sister, never uttering profanity in front of her but always doing so in front of me as long as she was not present. I was also mildly pinched that my sister got to be the girly girl.  Actually, I didn't mind being a plain chick. I am a plain chick. What I minded was seeing my misogynsitic family of origin, my father, my mother, and my four brothers dote on my sister's brand of femininity and scoff at mine.

Once when I had used some profanity dad said "Why do you use the word fuck?  it is unfeminine. Do you think your sister-in-law Marilyn, a long-since divorced first wife of my one older brother, a sadistic pig -- both of them were sadist pigs, come to think of it, the ex-sister-in-law and my one older bro.  Anyway Dad said "you'd never heard Marilyn talking like that."

I said "Dad, no one would ever hear you or any of my four brothers talking like that in front of her. You all talk like that in front of me, that's why I talk the same way to you. You are being unfair."

And he was unfair about Marilyn because she really was a cold, mean, greedy woman. And a phony. She used profanity all the time ,just never in front of dad who she thought she conned. Maybe she did. He sure deferred to her femininity.

Anyway, one of my dad's favorite sayings was "He thinks his shit doesn't stink.  Lots of people in this world think their own shit doesn't stink. Fuck 'em, honey. Don't let them know they hurt you.  Just fuck 'em."  By 'fuck 'em' he meant let them go from your life, don't take shit from them and don't let their shit hurt you.

I miss my da.  If he had been around when a guy was projecting his own unworked shit onto me, my dad would have said 'Forget about this asshole. He treats you badly when you deserve to be treated like a queen.It breaks my heart to see you take his shit."

Nobody around telling me these days I deserve to be treated like a queen.  Just me. And I do.

the accusation of being a NIMBY

It has become common practice for shills paid by developers to accuse anyone who thinks anything about a proposed real estate development might not be the best choices for one's city to call such active citizens "NIMBY's", invoking the idea of "not in my back yard".

But NIMBY originally became an acronoym for people who objected to what they considered unsavory developments, such as transitional housing for the mentally ill, group homes for people just released from prison, etc.

The idea of NIMBY was that some people objected to anything that they thought would be inappropriate for their neighborhood. The acronym invokes an unfounded belief that all citizen activists engaged in city real estate development are NIMBY's.

IN fact, all citizen activists I know, and I know quite a lot of them, are eager for new housing to be build in my city, Berkeley, CA. We are so not NIMBY's. We welcome new housing in our neighborhoods, housing that will help address the serious housing crisis in the bay area.

We are not opposed to new housing, although I guess we are, for the most part, opposed to  allowing out of town investors to dramatically transform our cities to generate millions in profit for the developer LLC (all anonymous!) and then creating investment vehicles for other investors, investors who probably will never live in this monster buildings that will dramatically alter our community.

Build affordable housing. Build a range of affordable housing, and tailor the housing range to be in algnment with how income is distributed in this country.

If a very few Americans skim the majority of profit/income off the top in this country, it makes no sense to allocate housing that only the top 1% or even 5% can afford.

Build some luxry units, sure, in proportion to how many people in Berkeley can afford luxury units.

Build housing units proportionately to the range of income levels in Berkeley, and everywhere.

If 30% of a city's residents can only afford low income housing, make sure your city has 30% low income housing.

Make it a priority, a mandated, enforced public policy, that housing permits should be issued only to construction that adapts to the actual range of incomes in a community, taking care to provide housing for the full spectrum of incomes.

be open to outcome

"Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

I am an AHIM in my neighborhood

Affordable Housing in My Neighborhood
Please be my neighbor, a good one please.

like training for the emotional olympics

The insensitive jerk I have been writing about once said to me that talking to me was like training for the emotional olympics. I am not entirely sure what he meant but when  I heard that, I wanted to say, but didn't, that interacting with him felt like training for the emotional olympics.

This guy is so unconscious. He beleives all problems he has interacting with others is the other person's fault. I know it takes two people to co-create any friendship but he seems to genuinely believe, even with his fancy PhD, years as a t-group facilitator, years as a process facilitator -- but no therapy, not him, he doesn't need any or believe in it, of course -- that he has superior relationship skills.

Once he said to me "You know, I know a lot of people known for their communication skills." like that magically made him a good communicator. Golly, I was facilitating intense process seminars in the eighties. I have worked, as a paid professional, with some of the biggest names in the consulting field (not lately). One of my main mentors is credited as one of the founders of the field of organization develoment but he is showing off because he knows a bunch of tgroup facilitators. News alert: I also know lots of tgroup facilitators and was trained as a tgroup facilitator by one of the founders of OD who also helped found the National Training Labs (NTL) and trained tgroup facilitators for at least 20 years every summer in Bethel Maine. But he brags to me about all the la di dah good communicators he knows, implying that means he is a good communicator.

I'll credit the guy with being charming. Most folks think he is very charming. And he is. Some of the time he is extremely charming. When he gess the least bit close to someone, and egos bump into one another, he angers as easily as anyone I have ever known and I come from a Black Irish family. At least in the way our family used the term Black Irish, Black Irish means bad tempered. It is not about skin and haira color. It is not about alcoholism, which the Irish seem to have a stronger weakness for booze than other ethnicities (well some others, certainly a few cultures are much more vulnerable to alcohol like Native Americans.). I know bad tempers. And I do not have a bad temper. This guy sees anger in everyone and in most of what they say, refusing to beleive me when I have said I am angry.

With him, like most predators, he confuses his prey with his gibberish, telling them black is white and down is up. And I let him treat me as he did and kept showing up for more.  I don't know who I am more angry with, him or myself.  I am so angry that I accepted so much emotional abuse from him, and even angrier that I didn't run away from interactions with him when he stated rojecting his stuff on to me and insisting his interpretation of what I had said or written was accurate.

He wrote one particularly absurd attack, focussing on one sentence I had written in an email. And this, I say with shame, was many years ago.  He actually wrote, and I have his crazy assertions in an email from him if anyone doubts me, that every word had auniversally agreed upon meaning. He wrote that language is a series of agreements and words have univerally accepted meaning.

I didn't say tis to him in resonse but I wanted to (note to self:  when you are afraid to say what you are thinking, run away as fast as you can, you are not safe), which was that I could tell he had not gone to law school. Much of law school is focussed on understanding basic legal concepts, the key codes or regulations such as tax code, uniform commercial code, etc. That's just knowledge. Most of the time in class in law school is spent with the law jocks sucking up to profs down in the front (I always sat in the last raw, as far away from the arguing and the professor as I could get). They argued about what words mean. REad a law school text of two buddy, and you would quickly see how absurd your assertion was that language is a series of universal agreements. That is his delusion. I know lots of people think words mean the same thing to everyone but that is delusion, fallacy.  It is quite rare for two people to give words the same meaning. Much arguing is rooted in miscommunication that stems from the simple truth that one person thinks words they hear from another mean something entirely different than the othe intended to convey.

With this guy, however, he always 'knew' what I had intended to say and when I tried to say no, that is not what I meant, he would say 'then you must have been unconscious' which must mean he is unconscious a lot. He sure accused me plenty of being unconscious when I am pretty darn sure I wasn't. Sure everyone does things unconsciously sometimes but now a rigid, black and white thinking borderline.  And not someone who grew up in an unsafe, predatory home. I learned very early to pay close attention to everything. I had to remain conscious to avoid being incested by my dad or abused in child labor abuse by my mother. And as my siblings grew, using me was just the way things were in our family. Even I thought using me was okay but I did wish to avoid being used or abused so I developed a close consciousness to what was going on.So I could anticipate abuse and misuse of me by 'going out to play' or hide in the basement. Heck, I learned, as I began to read novels (initially children's ones like Little House on the Prairie) that I could hide out by just being quiet and reading in my closet That trick worked for years. One day, my mom couldn't find me She thought I was over at my best friend's house next door and becmae concerned when I wasn't.She had all the kids on the block looking for me Aw, she cared! When she learned I was quietly reading, and hiding, in my closet with the light on and the door closed, she was furious. So was I:  my quiet reading hide out days were over.

When I first knew the insensitive jerk, and maybe narcissist (I can't really judge whether another person is a narcissist but it is fun mentally characterizing him as one -- he sure fits the criteria for one)

honor the in between

Saturday, May 30, 2015

reviewing a valued perspective

To be tolerant means in the sense of Spiritual Science something quite different from what one understands usually about it. It means also to respect the freedom of thought in others. To push others away from their place is an insult, but if one does the same thing in thought nobody would say this is an injustice. We talk a lot about “regard for the other’s opinion,” but are not really willing to apply this principle ourselves.
The “Word” today has almost no meaning, one hears it and one has heard nothing. One has to learn to listen with one’s soul, to get hold of the most intimate things with our soul. What later manifests itself in physical life is always present in the spirit first. So we must suppress our opinion and really listen completely to the other, not only listen to the word but even to the feeling. Even then, if in us a feeling will stir that it is wrong what the other one says, it is much more powerful to be able to listen as long as the other one talks than to jump into their speech. This listening creates a completely different understanding — you feel as if the soul of the other starts to warm you through, to shine through you, if you confront “her” in this manner with absolute tolerance.
We shall not only grant the freedom of person but complete freedom. We shall even treasure the freedom of the other’s opinion. This stands only as an example for many things. If one cuts off someone’s speech one does something similar to kicking the other from the point of view of the spiritual world. If one brings oneself as far as to understand that it is much more destructive to cut somebody off than to give them a kick, only then one comes as far as to understand mutual help or community right into one’s soul. Then it becomes a reality.
-- Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Brotherhood and the Fight for Survival – Berlin, November 23, 1905

In light of the above Rudolf Steiner quote, how can anyone practice adversarial law if one agrees with Steiner?

containing chaos

A growing number of Berkeley residents are becoming active in fighting city hall. I guess someone is always fighting all city halls about something. And Berkeley, in its past, has had a proud history of activism. Many in other parts of this country still think Berkeley is the very progressive place it was in the sixties. Berkeley has become a victim of political, conservative wolves posing in the guise of the progressive's sheeps clothing. Our mayor is conservative, querrulous and appears to only care about what the rich want. Our mayor seems to have swallowed the same kool aid many politicians in Congress have swallowed and politicians at all levels of governance.

I gotta give the hard right a bit of credit. Accustomed to being willing to take long-term financial positions, patiently waiting twenty, thirty, even fifty years, to get a huge return on an investment, the very rich elite have patiently but steadily invested in buying judges through campaign donations, buying state legislatures that they then order to gerrymander our congressional districts, then getting people to run for Congress who will obey the rich overlords. They have funded conservative universities to groom troops for the conservative advance. They have groomed and continue to groom judges, holding conservative playbook conferences to which our U.S. Supreme Court justices, some of them, attend, in direct violation of their duty to not only be non-partisan but to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The appearance of impropriety has no meaning any more. Here in Berkeley, the lobbyist wolves, former city planning directors, guard the hen house full of opportunities to make hundreds of millions of dollars. Our mayor and his voting block on the council, along with planning staff who openly support developers above citizens' wishes seem, but no one can prove, to have made secretive agreements to give the lobbyist wolves what they want. And for what? What motivates a 75 year old man, who already receives a great state pension and who does not appear to be driven to accumulate accessive wealth for himself. He seems, to me, and what do I know, to be some kind of egomaniac. And a bully. Tommy Bates is such a bully.

And he has power, which a bully does not wear gracefully.

Gosh, griping about Berkeley corruptin is not my point at all.

I am interesting in thinking about, and I think better when I write, at least some of the time, the way people who oppose what's going on in Berkeley are coming together to join forces, hoping to create a grassroots coalition that will take Berkeley back from the conservatives on our city council.

It is astonishing to me how even in pseudo liberal Berkeley, a majority on our city council seems to have been given the same playbook as conservative sell outs everywhere. I don't think our city council is on the take, as in bribes.  I

my pay-it-forward gift

I got a small package with the line "today is your pay it forward day" in handwriting on the back. The package seemed to come from a business but it did not have a return address. The pay it forward note was written in pencil, in child-like block letters.

I waited until I had come up the elevator and entered my apartment to open the package because my hands were full. I wanted to tear that package open as soon as I pulled it out of my mailbox.

It was a bright, pretty, multi-stranded bracelet of green beads, with some gold ones. The strands came together in a magnetic clasp, and the strands kinda bubbled over a wrist, once placed on a wrist.

I have never cared to wear watches or bracelets. My being does not like having things on my wrists.  I bought a fit bit last summer and soon 'wore' it stuffed into my bra because it irritated me to have a band on a wrist.  I don't know why I am this way about things on my wrists but it is of no concern to me.

After seeing this pretty, shiny trinket which instantly represented magic, abundance, wishes granted, shine, light and happy mystery, my first thought was "I will wear this, even though it is green and I have never worn green, and even though I don't like to wear bracelets. This pretty thing arriving out of no where although I think I have remembered who offered pay-it-forward gifts to the first 10 or 20 folks who posted they wanted 'in' on their Facebook page. I think it was Diana Whitney. NB:  I am sure it was Diana Whitney, of Appreciative Inquiry renown.

In the next instant, I noted that the bracelet would only fit a child's wrist. It is a child's trinket.

I thought of a girl who lives on my floor with her single mom. I have friendly interactions with this woman and her daughter but not all that friendly. I don't know their names, nor which apartment they live in.  I don't see them often. Sometimes months will pass and I don't see the woman. I see the girl even less. But I thought "I will give it to that girl". I thought I might leave the bracelet with property management and ask them to give it to the girl. They aren't supposed to give out names or apartment numbers but I am sure they would have passed along the bracelet if I had asked.  When I gave a bike to another neighbor recently, the property manager broke the rules and told me the neighbor's apartment number before I remembered I had her email. I know this neighbor's name!

So, not having seen the mother in a few months, she came into my thoughts. A couple moments, I thought "I will hope to run into her soon and if I don't see her soon, I'll get help from property managers on Monday".

That day, yesterday, a couple hours later, I came into the building and found the woman at the elevator. I told her I had just received a gift bracelet, an anonymously mailed gift. I said 'it is a pretty trinket, bright and shiny bracelet, but it is too small for my wrist. I think it is for a child and I thought I'd give it to your daughter."

She came to my place, accepted the bracelet. And I still don't know her name.  In hindsight, I regret that I did not ask her name, tell her mine.   Sigh.

The best part of that very nice, unexpected gift bracelet:  the way I thought "I'd like to run into the woman on my floor with the young daughter" and the woman appeared. That is my takeaway gift, the power of my will capacity, the force of my being brought the woman to me so I could also pay it forward.

this brings back memories

For many years, my daughter and I took my great aunt Effie, my maternal grandmother's baby sister out to grocery shop and to have lunch. We also took Effie on outings, going to Como Park year round. Effie loved every inch of Como Park. She had lived a couple blocks off the park for sixty years. In winter, we would to to the Como Park Conservatory, shown in this photo here. The photo was taken by my friend Lana, who visited Como park today with her granddaughters.  Hat tip, Lana.

Effie loved the Como Park Zoo, which had many buildings we could tour even in winter. She loved walking along the lake, although she was no longer up to walking all around the lake. She loved it when we caught a concert on the lake. Most of all, she loved the Conservatory.

Our weekly visits were not a lot of fun for Rosie and me. I faithfully kept up visiting Effie because she came to rely on me to take her for weekly groceries, because my grandmother had asked me to help her baby sister and I had dearly loved my grandma and because, and this is a stinging joke now, I hoped that by caring for an elderly relative, I was showing my daughter to respect her elders. I thought that was an important life lesson.

It appears to be a lesson that my brainiac kid flunked.

Rosie moved to Chicago about ten years ago, with my mother still alive and three of my brothers living in Chicago, plus her cousins. She never once visited her grandmother, who made Waldorf possible for Rosie, among many generous gifts to Rosie from my mother. She has never, in all these years, reached out to her uncle, who doted on her as a child and spent far more time with Rosie than her father ever did.

I didn't imagine it. Rosie loved my brother Dave.  I am no longer sure that she ever loved me. I seriously wonder if she loved her mother. As I write it, I am incredulous over what I wrote but I do seirously wonder if my daughter ever loved the only parent who raised her.

I feel bitterness when I let myself reflect on my futile attempt to teach my child that humans have a duty to older generations. I never thought she needed to be taught to respect me as I aged, never thought i had to 'teach' her that I would still have some value, like love, for her as I age.  Nope. Rosie missed that lesson.

I can no longer write about my shared past with Rosie and make any claims about her experience. I know, now, that I never knew her. The child I had, the love I thought we shared, and my belief that she and I had an unbreakable bond, all these things are figments.

Heck, maybe my having a daughter was one long, hellish psychotic episode, maybe I imagined I had a daughter and that she loved me.

I didn't imagine Como Park. Here is is in the photo.

this is my inner world of late

I seem to see stars, constellations, comets, planets, outer space, more stars, gaseous clusters of staggering beauty all the time. In a way, and this sounds crazy to me but it also reflects how I am inhabiting the experience of being of late.  I am a part of the exquisite, magical beauty.

Stand still. Let it find you.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
~ David Wagoner ~

today's farmers' market score

The best part of my trip to the market:  I ran into a friend, two friends, a husband and wife.

For folks who have lived in the same watershed all their lives, they might not know that it takes a long time to knit one's self into a community to the point that you run into people you know as you go about your life.

These days, I run into people I know every time I am out and about in Berkeley. I don't really know anyone who lives in SF so I don't run into folks I know in the city.

strawberries, six containers. Three are cheaper per basket than one, and six are cheaper still than three.  I didn't get to the market last week and I did not eat all my last six-berry-basket buy from two weeks ago until the last couple days. I was pleased that the berries were still fresh.

blueberries. I love blueberries.

  • kale
  • spinach
  • sorrel. I am not sure how I discovered sorrel. It has lots of micronutrients that are good for me. I should branch out with the microgreens, try others. I was doing fenugreek for awhile. It's supposed to be good for diabetics but I finally accepted that I don't like its taste.  My sorrel, fyi, is not mountain sorrel. It is a green leafy microgreen that has no bitterness. Mountain sorrel, especially redwood sorrel, can be bitter. The sorrel I buy from a microgreens farmer adds a lovely note to my greens.
  • organic, handmade, corn tortillas -- I don't eat gluten and I have taken to using corn as my 'bread'. I've been eating corn tacos with refried beans, avocado and salsa a lot lately. Yummy and easy.
  • organic, handmade tamales with spinach, mushrooms and salsa; no dairy*. I eat one of these as a dinner entree. So delicious. And I love it that I am a regular. The tamale/tortilla guy sets aside a pack of dairy-free spinach muchroom tamales for me.  Recently, walking in downtown Berkeley, my tortilla guy passed me, recognized me and indicated he did by his smiling nod to me and then his greeting. I nodded back, smiled back, but I was a half block down before I remembered how I knew him. "Oh, he's the tortilla guy". The tortillas he sells are the best I have ever tasted, except for ones I have made myself, in a long ago life, or ones made at great Mexican restaurants. I love watching the cook pat down the masa dough.
  • sugar snap beans. These are my summer candy.  I eat them raw and plain. The more I avoid all sugar, the more I taste the sweetness in foods I could not recognize when my palate was dulled by all the sugar added to processed foods. I eat no processed foods these days, not at home. I can't be 100% about what I eat at parties.
  • 1/4 pound maitreya mushrooms. I have been skimping myself in recent weeks, denying myself mushrooms, which are a little spendy. Mushrooms, however, had many great nutrients that aren't readily found in other foods. Until I started skimping, I ate mushrooms at least once a week so splurging on 1/4 pound didn't break me. I'm back in the mushroom habit. It is the end of the month and I was worried about being overdrawn. On my way to the market, I stopped at a bank machine. I had $185 in my checking account. I don't have that amount any longer. I got fifty dollars cash at Trader Joe's. I don't have to pay a bank withdrawal fee if I get cash when I buy something at TJ's or CVS. Two bucks matters to me.  I orderd a water pic, which I had been waiting to order until June 1st. Now I have about $85 in my bank account, not too shabby for the penultimate day of the month.
I usually do a Trader Joe's run on market day. TJ's is close to the market, I rationalize. My primary target at Trader Joe's is bananas. No locally grown bananas in N. Cali. Today, TJ's had no organic bananas. What's up with that? Was it an inventory management glitch or has a weather challenge messed up the supply of organic bananas?

So here is what I bought at Trader Joe's

  • bananas. But you knew that, eh?
  • nonorganic blueberries, 18 ounces. The organic ones cost more for a small pint than the 18 ounce nonorganic package of blueberries. I like to eat berries for my dessert. Blueberries are sold at places like TJ's most of the year but they are only locally for a short season. I eat a lot of blueberries during the short, local season. I think this is the first nonlocal berries I have bought in many years.  I like it when I can purr to myself "you have not allowed nonorganic food to enter your temple for months". I don't like, in a vague, muted way, the idea of eating nonorganic anything.  I could not resist the bargain priced pesticided blueberries. Sigh. I am sorta regretting it. But, geez, the same volume of organic berries at the market would have been $13. I shelled out five bucks.
  • salmon, although each time I buy salmon these days, I think of the increasingly frightening reports of radiation and pollution killing life in the Pacific ocean. Will the salmon I bought today leave radiation in my body? This morning, someone posted an article that landed on my Facebook wall about all the dead fish being found in the Pacific ocean. It might be Fukushima radiation, garbage polltion, changing water temperatures that cause the food fish to die before the bigger fish can eat them, so the bigger fish die. What is happening to our oceans is scary. And heartbreaking. Do I dare to eat fish? With all my fussing our eating pure food, how can I rationalize my occasional wild salmon?  I rationalize my occasional wild salmon dinner by telling myself it's probably already too late for me. And I might have horrible thoughts about the rapacious rape of our home, Mother Earth, for some private greed. I'm going to die. I'm ready to die. But as my nurse buddy sometimes reminds me, taking good care of myself will allow me a higher quality of life. And as my doctor has pointed out, if I don't tightly manage my diabetes, I could have a stroke and then have a poor quality of life. Talk of strokes gets under my skin.   My dad had a massive stroke, attributed largely to his unwillingness to manage his diabetes. But people without diabetes get strokes too. My endocrinoilogist offers me medical advice to prevent all kinds of fairly remote possible health challenges that 'studies have shown' have higher incidence with diabetics. I haven't decided if she is simply giving me a party line from traditional, allopathic medicine or if her warnings should be taken seriously. I don't have a lot of faith in allopathic medicine. I have no faith in drug company products.  I have to use insulin but beyond insulin, I think humans can avoid health problems and heal any healt challenges that arise with food. The right food, of course. And herbs, potions, tea and good, real food.  I also believe I will live as long as I am supposed to.
  • two packages of processed food:  paleek paneer. It has some cheese but it is so easy to heat one of these packages up, eat a lot of spinach and have a deliciously satisfying meal.  I think this might be my only processed food slide these days. It's so easy.
    a cantaloupe. I love melons and this was an organic melon. It was priced pretty low and I am sure the low price reflected the melon's ripeness. I will be eating that today and tomorrow.
I did buy some green vegies but I bought a lot of fruit today. As I rolled around, to the market, to TJ's and then back through the market on my way home, I kept thinking "There are fruitarians, people who eat nothing but fruit. Maybe I should be a fruitarian."  I have read about a guy, who got a PhD in Biochemistry from Cal a few years ago, who is a type one diabetic and an endurance athelete. He only began to study biochemistry once diagnosed as a diabetic. he sought a biochemical solution. He eats only fruit, as much as he wants. He is able to manage his diabetes, with insulin, of course.  I'm not turning fruitarian but the idea has some appeal.

My big culinary venture this week is to make zucchini banana bread using very little flour, using chia seed gel as an egg substitute and adding a whole lot of chia seeds into the dough. Why this combination?  Because it keeps coming to mind.  I am craving something I have never eaten, something in my imagination.

I also plan to make a batch of chocoate almond butter chia seed protein bars this week. It's handy to have these on hand, to take with me when I venture into the world.  I love dining out but I virtually never do. I don't want to spend the money. So when I am out and about, I always have nuts, sugar snap peas if they are in season, maybe an apple and always a protein bar or cookie. The recipe I cobled together from a friend's peanut butter/chia seed cookies (she used flax seed to substitute for eggs but I lean towards chia seed gel for my egg substitute). I eat eggs so I could make my protein snacks using eggs.  I just like eating a lot of chia seed: high in fiber and high in protein.  My output is noticeably better when I eat lots of fiber, which I do.

Once again, I have written a scintillating post.

going to the chapel

A good friend has just told me she is newly engaged, so she's going to the chapel and going to get married.

I take heart from her news. I'd like to be in a committed life partnership. Marriage is not a dealbreaker for me but someone to love and who love me back, someone to see and be seen by, in a committed, exclusive partnership is what I want.

I hear about the rise in polyamoury.  Being poly is cool with me, just not cool for me.

If it is not too late for my friend, maybe it is not too late for me.

it took ten years


I overheard a young father discussing with his two young daughters whether he should take advantage of the price break if he bought three containers of strawberries. Dad wanted to get the three-pack. Nowadays, at least at all the farmers' markets I have been to in the Bay Area, berry farmers put berries in containers that resemble the old pint-sized baskets but the containers today are not a full pint.

So one container of strawberries was less than a pint.

The oldest daughter, perhaps age 8 or 9, say "No, dad, they'll go to waste."

The smaller girl giggled and stared up at her daddy, happy, it seemed, to be hanging out but also eyeing the beautiful strawberries.

Dad said, "Come on, there's a price break if we buy three. How could we not eat three pints of strawberries?"

I wanted to intrude into their private exchange to tell them I buy three packs of strawberries every Saturday and they are gone, with only me eating them, in two or three days. I opted to stay out of the discussion but I lingered to hear their decision.

With the older daughter pressuring dad not to buy three, dad caved and said "I"ll just get one, that sounds right."

Again, I wanted to intrude, to say "Geez, the three of you could knock off that small container of berries before you get to your car. Does your family eat a lot of fresh fruit, fresh produce?

Again, I stayed out of someone else's business.

I bought two three-packs today.  I love strawberries. I also bought a pound of blueberries.  Berries are low glycemic fruit, so less insulin needed when I eat them, compared to lots of other food.

I am going to make a spinach, kale, blueberry and strawberry smoothie, with a dash of cinnamon, after my 1 p.m. conference call. For the call, I have two large mugs of my custom blended chai with my homemade coconut milk.

Gosh, I've been drinking daily morning mugs of caffein-free chai daily for about two years. With coconut milk, my own homemade cocomilk. I guess chai is now my habit.

I have read that caffein and coffee are now thought to be good for heart heatlh. I was never a major coffee person but I did have a daily habit of coffee. I gave it up to escape te cholesterol in the cream. And I don't like black coffee. I never sweetened my coffee and I no longer sweeten my chair.

isn't this scintillating?!

to market to market

To market to market to buy a fat pig'
Home again home again, jiggity jig
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog.
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
 I loved this nursery rhyme when I was a child. My parents recited it while bouncing me on their foot so I must have been very young. I recited it to my daughter while bouncing her on my foot.

Guess where I am headed this morning?  I won't be buying a pig. To the market I go.

I'm staying open to you

trusting in enough

healing from inside out

Dharma Comics.

I have been painting. I have to work to get past the voice telling me it is too late to paint anything. Healing from the inside out should fix that problem, eh?  I'm working.

silent sound is as loud as love

Dharma Comics again.

follow your heart

this is a comic from Dharma Comics, a FB page. Everything she does is great.  This comic reminds me of "The Runaway Bunny". If you run away, I will come after you, says that book. No matter what the little bunny might try to do to run from his mother, she will come after him because he is her little bunny. My heart is my little bunny. I will follow it fearlessly.

Friday, May 29, 2015

i'm a candle in the dark

I am very happy

I am very happy today.
Energized with bubbling joy
Feeling a love buzz
La di dah
Life is good.
Life is great.
And I can see stars in the night sky where I am right now.
I rarely can see stars from home, not even on the roof.

Thank you goddess for my joy now.

we are all in the gutter. . but. .

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." —Oscar Wilde

my friend Becky rocks

Bates gobbledegook spoken aloud in public!!!!!

why doesn't Harold Way offer significant community benefits?

If the Harold Way project wants to get its building permit, why don't the unknown investors behind the insider lobbyist Mark Rhoades give our community some meaingful, and legally binding, community benefits?

At last week's city council meeting, Rhoades had a small tantrum as he made his one-minute public comment. He sounded like a whining toddler in need of a nap. He sounded like a man quite accustomed to getting his way in our city hall. He sounded like a man who mistakenly thinks he has greater rights in our city hall than the people. He whined about how long it is taking the Harold Way project to get its approval. Apparently he thought it would sail through approval on the strength of his insider dealmaking and I imagine that is part of what he sold to whoever funds his lobbying for Harold Way. And Mark isn't delivering.

I sincerely believe that if the project for Harold Way would simply offer legally binding commitments to provide some reasonable community benefits, the building permit would be issued.   Guarantee the return of Landmark's Shattuck Cinemas, give Habitot a big chunk of the many tens of millions in profit that will inure to the anonymous investors who will likely buy the project once the build permit is granted, if it is.

Berkeley residents that care about corruption in our city government should be asking themselves why Rhoades doggedly refuses to give the city anything? Does he have some kind of back room agreement with our mayor, or Capitelli or city staffers that he is going to get what he wants irregardless of what public opinion wants? All he and his anonymous investors have to do is offer some significant community benefits, accept lower but still huge profit margins and they can happily rush to building.

"I am like a cat"

I asked an acquaintance who was working to improve his fitness level, and had recently joined a 'Y', why he didn't include swimming in his fitness regimen.  Many years ago, when I first knew him, he had told me his then-girlfriend was into lap swimming and he had to work hard to do laps with her but eventually he did. Everyone has to make an effort when first doing laps.  In my experience, once a person conquers the challenge of swimming half a mile or a mile, it's like riding a bike:  one does not forget how.

I have had stretches that lasted longer than I care to admit when I did not swim a mile daily, which is my standard distance. When I lived in Seattle, there were not convenient pools and I lacked the commitment of trekking long distances to swim.

Then I moved to CA and discovered the sheer bliss of swimming outdoors year round, rain or shine, hot or cold. I will have to stay in CA simply because I can't go back to swimming indoors. Swimming in an outdoor pool sometimes allows me to feel the Earth rocking me. Well, the Earth is rocking the Earth and the pool, which is why even in an empty pool, the water is never still, but if the pool is rocking as the Earth pummels in its orbit in this majestic universe, it rocks me if I am in it.  The Earth rocks all of us all the time.

This guy, when I asked him last year why he didn't integrate some pool time into his workouts, he said "I am like a cat. No swimming for me."

So was he faking with his old girlfriend?  He did say, all those years ago when he told me how hard it was to build up his swimming that it had taken him some effort. I thought, however, that he also said he and the former girlfriend did one of those SF to Alcatraz, or Alcatraz to SF swims, using wetsuits because the bay water is so cld. maybe I imagined that.

As a swimmer, I often run into folks who train for swimming in the bay in wetsuits.

I dislike swimming in open water. I like the clarity and light in pools.  I am edging up to committing to doing a mini-triathlon, beginning in the fall, but triathlongs virtually always do the swim portion in open water.  I've never been a runner, so I'd have my work cut out for me there. I have always biked when I owned a bike. And I am assiduously saving up to buy a decent bike for the bike ride in this, thus far, fantasy triathlon of mine.  Mini-triathlon's usually only involve a one mil swim.  I can do that, no problem. Bike?  No problem. Well, I have limited experience going uphill.  I have never been a runner. But it is the open water I resist.

Like a cat?  It was a charming thing to say. Was he like a cat but faking with that old girlfriend when he went swimming with her?  this guy is a charming, adorable man. Not mine, but way adorbs.

stop the world and let me off

I knew about Congress' venal, undemocratic giveaway of public lands that are sacred holy lands to the Apache when it happened. There is news  of rich folks stealing through politicians on a daily basis. It happens on the national scale, an international scale (did you see that Israel dropped a neutron bomb on Yemen a couple days ago with virtually no U.S. news coverage?) and the local scale.

Corruption everywhere I look.

In the Apache Holy Lands giveaway, both Arizona Senators slipped a last minute rider into a military spending bill. That bill 'had' to be passed and the rider was slipped in furtively so it prevented public oppossition. Get this: McCain is one of the dirtbag senators from AZ but the other guy that is responsible for the rider giving away Apache Holy Land to be desecrated by environmental destruction so we can have more earth-destroying, air polluting coal. . the second senator used to be a lobbyist for Rio Tinto, the foreign-owned company that now owns the Apache holy land, for Rio Tinto's mining interests in Namibia.

I don't want to fall into American arrogance and think the shit going down here hasn't been going down all over the world. I have no doubt that poorer countries, especially ones in Africa (because racism?) have been raped and raped for their resources without giving the communities in which the rape and pillage occurs any meaningful benefits.

Are there meaningful community benefits for the destruction of the Earth? What could possibly mitigate creating, as Rio Tinto itself has suggested their work on the Apache Holy Land will do, an ugly lifeless crater?

Here's a NYTimes link to an op-ed about this heartbreaking true story:
secretively selling-off-apache-holy-land

Thursday, May 28, 2015

may your heart open

May your heart open
May joy emerge
May love flow through you
May you be healed and help others
~ Buddhist Prayer

when I feel good

When I do good, I feel good.
When I do bad, I feel bad.
That is my religion.
                         Abraham Lincoln

Water Lady by Osha Newmann

This sculpture can be seen at the Albany Bulb. It is by Berkeley artist, and lawyer, Osha Newmann. The photo was taken by Nancy Carleton.

I love this piece.  Water gives life. Women give life.  When I look at this, I see a mermaid just left the water and as she began to walk on the solidity of land, legs emerged. I see a metaphor, in my imagination and what I see might not have been in the sculpture's vision for his piece, a lovely blend of equating water and woman, both givers of life.

Water Lady, give of life, that's what I see and think and feel and even will, as I enjoy this photo. 

ever been to Mt. Rushmore?

I was born in South Dakota and spent time in South Dakota every summer of my childhood, visiting my maternal grandparents.  These trips were long drives from Chicago and back. My folks were never willing to take us to see Mt. Rushmore, which we sometimes pleaded to see. They would explain that Mt. Rushmore was hundreds of miles from my grandparents' home. I think my parents and the aunt and uncle who often took me to South Dakota with them promised to take us kids to Mt. Rushmore but they never did.

Now I think of Mt. Rushmore as a monument to man's ego, and yes, it is male ego on display. Four men who are 'honored' by gashing scars on this beautiful planet.

Has anyone else noticed how all large "earth' sculptures, sculptures that use natural settings for massively scaled artistic creations are always men?  I'm thinking of 'Spiral Jetty', the vast desert light sculpture created by James Turrell and Donald Judd's work in Marfa, Texas.  I have not seen this pieces, only some photos of some of these pieces. If I were near these pieces and they were viewable, I would go.

Why does testosterone seem to prod men to leave their mark on the world?  Phallic skyscrapers, pyramids in Egypt, Mexico and South America and, I imagine, pyramids I don't know about. I know, there are some pyramids in Asian jungles, some overgrown by the jungle but once upon a time, monuments were built on large scale. I can't prove men were the driving force that created the great pyramids of Giza or Macchu Picchu or the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon south of Mexico City. But I trust my own knowing:   it is males, with, I am sure, very rare female-driven large stuff, who gave us the Pyramids of Giza or Macchu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, etc.

I was in a Moot Court competition in law school that was held in Rapid City, S.D. The two professors who accompanied the two Moot Court teams our school sent to Rapid City insisted we take a tacky tour that took us to a good viewing spot of Mt. Rushmore. I went, but not to see Mt. Rushmore. I went to hang out with my friends.

The tour took us to a recreation of Deadwood, S.D. From the wooden-plank walkways of that Disneyfied Deadwood, there was Mt. Rushmore, looming large.

I paid ten cents (now it must be at least a quarter!) to look at the single eyeglass Teddy Roosevelt always wore, which was carved out of that mountain that somebody scarred in hero-worship to some men.  It was fascinating to see how carefully the scarring monument had to be planned. All about geometry, I bet, after having a very clear vision of what they wanted to sculpt. 

I think once, when my daughter and I were driving from MN to CA, she and I passed a patch of interstate from which we had good-enough views. I offered to detour, to get closer, but I also discouraged her by saying there was not much to see. I probably derided the history of men getting monuments and women ignored.

I rewatched Hitchcock's great movie, North by Northwest, today. Mt. Rushmore looms in the background in a few scenes.

Laughing at myself, as I so often do.  I can't wait to talk to some movie fanatic friends. Lately I have gotten to know a lot of filmmakers. It was like whoosh, suddenly my life was people with filmmakers. Turns out there are a lot of movie makers in Berkeley.

I want to have the fun of talking to someone who knows the movie, The Big Lebowski and North by Northwest.  Like many, I belong to the cult that loves The Big Lebowski. It was only today that I realized the Coen brothers, who love and know all great films, I am betting, relied on North by Northwest. Lebowski is confused for another Lebowski, and that other Lebowski never materializes, by the way, just like Mr. Kaplan does not exist in the Hitchcock movie. Lebowski is a comedy and it reveals many other influences but it sure looks to me like Lebowski plays off North by Northwest.  Here are elements I see in both films:

  • an enigmatic male lead who is the victim of mistaken identity
  • the enigmatic male gets drawn into mystery and confusion
  • a woman is involved
  • there are fights, battles (I point out the airplane chasing Cary Grant in an attempt to kill him and compare it to the nihilists in Lebowski who, with absurd weakness, attack the real and the big Lebowski.

    Thinking is fun.  I have more thoughts but I have run out of gas.

to infinity and beyond

Many have used the idea of loving someone so much that they 'love to the moon and back again."  I love like that. I am learning to love myself as much as I love others. I am fearful that I am too old and it is too late to ever get loving myself mastered.

One thing I have mastered is unconditionally loving others. I love people to infinity and beyond and then back again.

Stars. Planets. Moons. Rings around planets. Constellations. Northern lights. Starry nights. Comets.

This week, I dwell in outer space, in the starry heavens, and in infinity and beyond.

conscious co-creation w/supersensible beings

Art, poetry and the supersensible realm, all in the same necessary impulse required for mankind's ascent into conscious participation with the higher kingdoms.

We are here to consciously participate in cocreation with the higher kingdoms. We are not here to make obscene profits, prioritize greed above caring for one another.

The supersensible realm needs us as much as we need the supersensible. None can achieve their highest destiny without collaboration between humans and the nonmaterial, supersensible, some would say spiritual, world.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

noticing what and who appears in one's life

I have a friend who has been adopted by stray cats all her life. She always attracts all black, sleek cats. She is a dark brunette, as sleek as a woman can be. She attracts feline versions of herself.

Cats appear in her life when she is ready for a new cat.

She and her husband do their due diligence, such as posting signs in their neighborhood with pictures of the cat. But cats find her, cats that need to live with her find her. Irregardless of what some human or humans might have mistakenly believed when they thought they owned a cat, some cats, like my friends, live free. Some cats mosey out of the wrong home and suss out the new one.

What energy does a cat attune to to find my friend, to find the cat's right next home?

Similarly, I am noticing how people appear in my life, in the activists' effort I am a part of to stop corrupt real estate development that rapes the commons to bestow obscene private profit on rich people whose only claim to the wealthy is the fact that they are already super rich and can buy whore lobbyists that use insider back room, secretive and illegal dealmaking. .  but corruption is for another post, another blog.

I am fascinated as I have watched people show up to the endless meetings I now attend related to the corrupt real estate development process in Berkeley.

People catch wind of our meetings and just show up, like my friend's new cats show up in her life.

One person tells another, then that other tells another and, well, gosh, I attended a legal strategy meeting tonight with former Berkeley mayors, people on current city commissions and nonprofit boards, people formerly on city commissions and nonprofit boards. I am getting to know the natural leadership that emerges in any community.

High cotton. Well connected. And smart. And caring.

I am touched by all the caring I see in people who care about Berkeley, not as the fantasy Berkeley that most in this country mistakenly imagine 2015 Berkeley to be. The people I am collaborating with care about their community, their home, and their neighbors and fellow resident sin our town. Highly positioned people and lowly. The unifying power is love.

what I mean when I say 'cosmos'

When I refer to the cosmos, I am referring to the all of everything, to the infinite galaxies that, as far as science and spiritual science can tell us, spin out in all directions from the cosmos we seem to find ourselves in, into infinity and beyond.
I think some use the word cosmos to refer to the earth, life on earth and the entirety of life on earth and its position in this galaxy. If that is how some see 'cosmos', that is a beautiful thought, but it is not how I use the word cosmos.

When I use the word Cosmos, it is an equal substitute for Love, for many people's concept of God and also for the material world of matter that is believed, by some, to be galaxies spinning endlessly, like elephants all the way down but galaxies, systems of planets, stars all orbiting around a centrugal force that, for a time (and the time could be millions and/or billions of years), living in sync with one another.

It's not just a question of how old the earth is and when it emerged from an accumulation of gaseous materials, as Steiner describes in Occult Science (a great book with a beautiful vision for how life on earth morphed from subatomic parties to what we know as life on earth today). How old is the galaxy the earth dwells in?  How old is the system of galaxies after galaxies into infinity?

I had an experience when I was 19, living in Mexico and smoking way too much dope. My American college pal and I always stuck close together when we smoked dope with the endless Mexican college boys who all believed all blonde American college girls 'like the fookie fookie', that all of us had lots of casual sex. No kidding, I do not exaggerate when I state that my friend and I were nearly always trailed by a group of intelligent engineering students (the city we lived in had a state engineering university with virtually no female students in 1972 and even if there had been female coed about, Mexican girls were  much more conservative than us gringas). The Mexican guys we met never believed my friend and I were virgins and they all offered up lots of dope and then peyote, and would have given us anything they had that we might have wanted, in the faint but futile hope that we'd have sex with them. It was wearying, to be panted after by an endless stream of guys. I think I finally broke down and picked one to be my first lover as much to fend off all the other perfectly nice guys.  I ramble, I digress, as I do, the secret to nonpublication for my writer self.

I returned to the Mexican home where my friend and I paid for room and board while we studied with a program with our home university very late and very high. I don't remember if it was marijuana or peyote. I used the bathroom and on my way out, I caught a quick glance of my eyes. My instinct was to avoid my eyes in the mirror but I was stoned and not acting wisely. Looking at my eyes in that mirror seemed like an irresistible, centrugal-like force drawing me in. I tried to resist but soon found myself staring into my eyes. I was frightened but compelled by a force beyond my Self. Probably some spiritual guide, eh?

I stood in front of that mirror, getting as close as I could to the reflection of my pupils, then I stared into my pupils for a long time. Long for someone very very high but in truth, probably not a whole minute.

It was as if I had stepped through a portal to another dimension, or another plane of experience.  In perhaps 60, perhaps 90, seconds, I saw myself in that restroom in that house in Mexico, then I saw, the next second, myself from outside the house but inside that bathroom at that mirror, then I saw myself above the small city of Guanajuato in the house in the bathroom staring at my pupils, then I saw myself from the perspective of being above the country of Mexico but still able to see the town/city of Guanajuato, the house, myself in that bathroom and my tiny pupils. Then from a larger perspective of Central America and Mexico, than from outer space.

It was an intense minute or so.

I quickly felt overwhelmed. As my vision grew larger and larger, my perspective on myself went out into outer space but always retaining a clear vision of my physical self in that bathroom in that house in that Mexican city.

Suddenly, I felt frightened. My fear was based in a thought that came to me:  in all that vastness, I was a meaningless speck. That thought allowed me to break the hold my pupils in the mirror had.

I took the few steps into my bedroom and began to tell my roommate and partner in drugs about my experience. She cut me off and said "you saw yourself, I don't want to hear what you saw, stop" so I stopped.  I felt ashamed and instantly told myself that my experience had been bad. It had been amazing and wonderful but I internalized that long-ago acquaintance's dismissal of my own knowing.

When I returned to the states, hanging out and smoking dope with a male friend named Dennis, I told him about my experience in the mirror. Dennis was a wonderful, magical being, at least to me and always to me.  He suggested I was mistaken to have concluded my vision experience had revealed me to be a meaningless speck.

"A meaningless speck would not have the self awareness, or the capacity, or whatever we might call what you saw, as nothing. I think you are seeing your experience all wrong. I think you have an amazing mind with amazing potential to be able to retain a clear connection with your self from the perspective of distant outer space. That's one amazing being you are. That's what I hear in your story."

I haven't seen Dennis since college. I love him still, as a friend. We were never lovers. He had a lovely habit of reinterpreting various experiences I shared with him, revealing to me that I was amazing. Not meaningless. Amazing. Wonderful and magical.

I am wonderful and magical.  Everyone is but not everyone realizes this. They should

economics as if people mattered

Buddhist Economics: How to Stop Prioritizing Products Over People and Consumption Over Creativity

“Work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.”
Much has been said about the difference between money and wealth and how we, as individuals, can make more of the latter, but the divergence between the two is arguably even more important the larger scale of nations and the global economy. What does it really mean to create wealth for people — for humanity — as opposed to money for governments and corporations?
That’s precisely what the influential German-born British economist, statistician, Rhodes Scholar, and economic theorist E. F. Schumacher explores in his seminal 1973 book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (public library) — a magnificent collection of essays at the intersection of economics, ethics, and environmental awareness, which earned Schumacher the prestigious Prix Européen de l’Essai Charles Veillon award and was deemed by The Times Literary Supplement one of the 100 most important books published since WWII. Sharing an ideological kinship with such influential minds as Tolstoy and Gandhi, Schumacher’s is a masterwork of intelligent counterculture, applying history’s deepest, most timeless wisdom to the most pressing issues of modern life in an effort to educate, elevate and enlighten.

One of the most compelling essays in the book, titled “Buddhist Economics,” applies spiritual principles and moral purpose to the question of wealth. Writing around the same time that Alan Watts considered the subject, Schumacher begins:
“Right Livelihood” is one of the requirements of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is clear, therefore, that there must be such a thing as Buddhist economics.
Spiritual health and material well-being are not enemies: they are natural allies.
Traditional Western economics, Schumacher argues, is bedeviled by a self-righteousness of sorts that blinds us to this fact — a fundamental fallacy that considers “goods as more important than people and consumption as more important than creative activity.” He writes:
Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions. Some go as far as to claim that economic laws are as free from “metaphysics” or “values” as the law of gravitations.
From this stems our chronic desire to avoid work and the difficulty of finding truly fulfilling work that aligns with our sense of purpose. Schumacher paints the backdrop for the modern malady of overwork:
There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labor. Now, the modern economist has been brought up to consider “labor” or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of view of the employer, it is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it cannot be eliminated altogether, say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, it is a “disutility”; to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice. Hence the ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.
The consequences of these attitudes both in theory and in practice are, of course, extremely far-reaching. If the ideal with regard to work is to get rid of it, every method that “reduces the work load” is a good thing. The most potent method, short of automation, is the so-called “division of labor”… Here it is not a matter of ordinary specialization, which mankind has practiced from time immemorial, but of dividing up every complete process of production into minute parts, so that the final product can be produced at great speed without anyone having had to contribute more than a totally insignificant and, in most cases, unskilled movement of his limbs.
Schumacher contrasts this with the Buddhist perspective:
The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. To organize work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.
From the Buddhist point of view, there are therefore two types of mechanization which must be clearly distinguished: one that enhances a man’s skill and power and one that turns the work of man over to a mechanical slave, leaving man in a position of having to serve the slave.
E.F. Schumacher
With an undertone of Gandhi’s timeless words, Schumacher writes:
Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products.
But Schumacher takes care to point out that the Buddhist disposition, rather than a condemnation of the material world, is a more fluid integration with it:
While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. But Buddhism is “The Middle Way” and therefore in no way antagonistic to physical well-being. It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them. The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern — amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.
This concept, Schumacher argues, is extremely difficult for an economist from a consumerist culture to grasp as we once again bump up against the warped Western prioritization of productivity over presence:
[The modern Western economist] is used to measuring the “standard of living” by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is “better off” than a man who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational: since consumption is merely a means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption.
The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means.
[Western] economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity, taking the factors of production — land, labor, and capital — as the means. The former, in short, tries to maximize human satisfactions by the optimal pattern of consumption, while the latter tries to maximize consumption by the optimal pattern of productive effort.
This maximization of “human satisfactions,” Schumacher argues, is rooted in two intimately related Buddhist concepts — simplicity and non-violence:
The optimal pattern of consumption, producing a high degree of human satisfaction by means of a relatively low rate of consumption, allows people to live without great pressure and strain and to fulfill the primary injunctions of Buddhist teaching: “Cease to do evil; try to do good.” As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by means of a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s throats than people depending upon a high rate of use. Equally, people who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on worldwide systems of trade.
Writing shortly after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring sparked the modern environmental movement, Schumacher presages the modern groundswell of advocacy for sustainable locally sourced products:
From the point of view of Buddhist economics … production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.
He concludes by framing the enduring value of a Buddhist approach to economics, undoubtedly even more urgently needed today than it was in 1973:
It is in the light of both immediate experience and long-term prospects that the study of Buddhist economics could be recommended even to those who believe that economic growth is more important than any spiritual or religious values. For it is not a question of choosing between “modern growth” and “traditional stagnation.” It is a question of finding the right path to development, the Middle Way between materialist heedlessness and traditionalist immobility, in short, of finding “Right Livelihood.”
Small Is Beautiful is a superb read in its entirety. Complement it with Kurt Vonnegut on having enough and Thoreau on redefining success.
Thanks, Jocelyn

shoes homeless guy dying psychiatrist

I agree with you, Elisa. Cash means choice.
When I first moved to CA in 2006, I moved to Mountain View. I moved to Berkeley in Feb 2008 and I still don't know how I magically landed a one bedroom on the top floor of a beautiful 520 square foot apartment. it is very sunny, being on top floor. I am on the courtyard so the views are limited but I hear the street side apartments get lots of street noise, esp. garbage trucks and delivery trucks at 4 and 5 a.m. I can see the hills as I lie in bed! At least I see green! And on the top floor, no footsteps overhead.  I live in what might be a million dollar condo, at an affordable rate. People in my building cannot have a household income above 60% of area median income, which varies depending on how many in the household.
My longwinded point: when I lived in MV for two years, I saw a doc at Stanford for my health care, taking Caltrain from MV to Stanford, then taking the free and convenient Stanford shuttle to the doc's building on campus.  I also took the train to Palo Alto often for various reasons. And I always saw this one homeless guy who spent most of each day at the Caltrain station. He panhandled and wore shoes that were taped together and falling off his feet.
One day I met a man also taking the shuttle to the same building as me and he was disoriented about the shuttle so I said "follow me, I am going to the same place'. We struck up a chat, he turned out to be a psychiatrist who had just been told he was terminal. He had already gotten some reprieves from his cancer but now had been told there was no more hope. He was going to get the final results of his latest second opinion.
I was amazed that a married guy with adult kids had taken the train from San Jose to STanford to learn if he had any hope of living more than the three month death sentence had had been given. My appointment was just for a very quick coumadin check.  I was in and out fast. Then I waited at the shuttle stop for this guy. I wanted to ride back to the train with him if he got the bad news he expected to hear. And he did get that bad news. And he was glad I had waited so he wouldn't be alone. I still wonder if he told his wife the truth of his terminal diagnosis. He said "I haven't had a drink since I got cancer, I want a drink, let's go to a bar in the Stanford Mall."  I agreed, although I don't drink alcohol.
Anyway .  . . how I ramble. . .
I ordered sparkling water. He told me he and his wife had bought apartment buildings, building up a significant rental business and when they sold it, they sold for 17 million. I said "Then I'll let you buy my drink!" and he said "I like that, what a clever retort."
One of the many things we talked about that day:  he proudly told me that he had offered to buy the homeless guy at the train station dinner but only if the guy would go to dinner with him. He was so proud of his offer, his largesse. I said "No offense but I think you dishonored that guy. What if he did use any money you gave him for a drink?  I don't think that guy has a drinking problem. I've seen him so many times and he seems very stable to me. Homeless and poor but table.  He might not have been comfortable dining with you and your wife" (which is what the psychiatrist had insisted on, coming back with his wife. He was shocked that the guy turned him down.
I said "If you want to control how he spends money, you are demeaning him. all the freedom he has is how to spend whatever he panhandles. If you were going to control how your money was spent, you should have bought him a pair of shoes and gone to the shoe store with him."
To the cancer shrink's credit, when we got back to the train station, with the shrink having been told he was toast,

a message in a bottle

Like putting a message
in a sealed bottle,
then casting it into an ocean,
I cast a message into the cosmos,
into a timeless eternity
of stars, beautiful gaseous rings
planets, northern lights
I think of 'the cosmos'
as all the galaxies
in outer space, from here to infinity
and beyond.
Hat tip to Buzz Lightyear. 
I do not think small
I do not see this Earth as
'the cosmos'
'the cosmos' is all.

My message, cast upon the sea of infinity:
I love you all the time no matter what
and the half life of love, all should know,
is forever.

pieces of heaven

a falling star
a moonbeam
a lit firefly
on dark nights
can be small
and be everything
bigger than big
a falling star
can be
a glimpse of heaven
fallen into your life
the lit nova
dazzles your sky
you become lit
from within
like a comet
or shooting star
it can be gone
in an instant

the radiance
can lit up your soul
but like a firefly
only sometimes
flicker flicker

pieces of heaven, glimpses of heaven

The Pieces that Fall to Earth

One could
almost wish
they wouldn't;
they are so
far apart,
so random.
One cannot
wait, cannot
abandon waiting.
The three or
four occasions
of their landing
never fade.
Should there
be more, there
will never be
enough to make
a pattern
that can equal
the commanding way they matter.

"The Pieces that Fall to Earth" from Say Uncle: Poems (Grove Press, 2000), © Kay Ryan 2000, used by permission of the author and the publisher. - See more at:
"The Pieces that Fall to Earth" from Say Uncle: Poems (Grove Press),
©Kay Ryan 2000.

To me, Ms. Ryan's poem is about the pieces of heaven that fall into our lives, or glimpses of heaven. Lovers, babies, gardens, glory.  Stars.  Planets.

"The Pieces that Fall to Earth" from Say Uncle: Poems (Grove Press, 2000), © Kay Ryan 2000, used by permission of the author and the publisher. - See more at:

taking care of izzy

going tot central park tot pool, using the restroom in tarvern on green etc

my own dome of heaven

My carburetor was clogged this morning. I wanted to swim, of course, but I did not want to walk 1.5 miles to get to the pool. I tried to sleep in, until it was too late to go swimming. Try as I might to oversleep (I am doing a lot of oversleeping and I am on my guard, for this is never a good sign), I could not sleep past 9 a.m. and the pool is open for laps until noon.

How I caterwauled inside myself, shrieking my resistance.

I brooded. I told myself that it is easier for other people to do laps because they can drive to the pool. I told myself, there, there, darling, you can skip one day.

OK, I said back to myself, today you will skip.

But then I started to think about the sunlight in the water. The light began to speak to me, insisting that I glide through the starry water.

I grudgingly trudged to the pool. Once I set off on a walk, I am actually good for hours.

Oh my gosh, I am so glad I went swimming. I’ve been done for an hour and I am already craving the pool again. Today I particularly noticed all the sparkle that bubbles around my face when I breathe. All the air bubbles become floating, evaporating diamonds, with each rhythmic intake, rushing around my face. These bubbles made me think of Anselm Kiefer’s painting “Falling Stars”, which is a picture of a man laying on the ground under the stars. Kiefer believes that every single human being ever born has a star in the cosmos: one particular star for each particular person. What a nice thought to think. As the light bubbled around me, over and over, I wondered which star corresponds to me. I wondered about the corresponding stars of all the people I love. The whole cosmos was alive for me in a new way. I saw brilliant love rays connecting all ‘my’ stars. A dome of heaven customized by and for me.

I am full of gratitude to be alive and able to swim in an outdoor pool. Praise goddess.

If I sit in this coffee shop long enough, perhaps I will be transported home and I won’t have to walk 1.5 miles home. The walking leaves me creaking at the end of each day. The swimming brings me more alive.

Anselm Kiefer, a contemporary German artist whose work I respond to in lovely visceral ways,  painted a piece he named "Everyone lives under their own dome of heaven." Kiefer usually works on large scales, but this painting is a small one. It shows a blue, abstractly hilly terrain with a tiny figure in the middle, dressed in academic robes.  The figure in the center of the blue hills is surrounded by a clear dome. The dome of heaven.We create the environment we dwell in. We dwell in the kingdom of love, although too often we fail to see the light and beauty that is always holding us. We live in a dome of heaven. It is up to us to recognize the dome.

I often think of Kiefer's dome of heaven when I swim. I sometimes sense the earth's gentle rocking, remembering that I live on a planet that is constantly hurling through space. Being in water, which, like light and love, fills every nook and cranny it meets, allows me to be more attuned to the mystery of heaven, heaven on earth, heaven beyond. This alone is all the reason I need to swim.