30 December 2005

Severe Weather Alert

There’s a big storm coming. The center cannot hold. Those things on the periphery are starting to break loose and fly. The winds. The winds are supposed to maintain at forty miles per hour, rise to sixty from time to time. Tomorrow night. That’s when it’s supposed to begin, technically.

I don’t want to talk about anything and I don’t want advice or support. Sometimes it’s just about letting the winds blow and the rains wash over me. Sometimes it’s just about letting go.

21 November 2005

We Were Children

Eenie meanie miney moe, catch a tiger memory by the toe. If she hollers let her go. And my mother says to pick the very best one and you are IT!

Yesterday I drained and cleaned out the hot tub. The fiberglass shell is much slicker when it’s not full and just a little damp. There’s an inverted V-shape in one of the contoured seating areas, intended for your knees to drape over, positioning your feet at one belting jet that gives an awesome foot massage. For reasons I can’t explain, I was standing with one foot on either side of the sloping upside-down V and for reasons I further can’t explain both feet slipped outward at once and both knees crashed inward, toward the top of the V, simultaneously. It hurt like a mother. The right knee seemed to get the worst of the tork. I kept it elevated all night. I suppose I’m lucky. I don’t think I tore anything, just torked it good – no bruising but it hurts, hurts, hurts.

So while an early evening of chores was fumbled, I was laying on the rug in front of the fireplace, knee propped up on pillows and had plenty of time to think. Thinking is my affliction. The unexamined life is not worth living and all that rot. Examine, I do. Think, I do. I let my mind thumb through a pile of reruns, memories from this era or that. It paused on this one:

I was twenty four and he was twenty five. Under other circumstances I don’t think we’d have even been friends. In these circumstances, I watched his friends disappear one-by-one – unwilling or unable to sit with the changes happening in him. But I don’t think he really had friends – he just didn’t know it. Or maybe I just couldn’t see the friendships – built on such strange and frail foundations. I cared for him, perhaps I even loved him, but I didn’t like him. I spent hours and hours with him. We spent one night together. I arrived at his place around midnight. There was a candle on his bedside casting a warm, almost romantic glow around the room. Sometimes I held his hand. Sometimes I talked to him. Mostly we sat in silence. The folks from the coroner’s office didn’t arrive until five or six that next morning.

One day, a few months before, I held his frail, wasted, naked body as he wailed. The porcelain bathtub in his Tenderloin apartment was too hard and he lacked buoyancy – he was just bones and nerves covered by a bit of flesh. If I held him, he could bathe and not be in pain – nerves crushed between porcelain and bone. He cried. He shook as he sobbed. “I wanted to make $30,000 a year,” he screamed at the wall. “I don’t want the first time my name is in the newspaper to be in my obituary,” he pleaded. As though either money or some notoriety is worth anything – has any value. And some people don’t know how to make anything of their lives. He didn’t even really get one.

No one else knows these things about him. No one but you, now. You and I. That he wanted more. That what he got wasn’t enough. That it was just he and I. I cleaned shit off the walls and floor when he couldn’t make it. Sometimes he thought I was his mother – no, really, he really thought I was his mother. I was twenty four. He was twenty five.

We were children.

20 November 2005

It's Me

There are hippies who live next door who have impromptu drumming circles on the weekends. (I wouldn’t call them hippies, but they call themselves hippies.) They’ve offered an open invitation to their events, and while I don’t mean to be unneighborly, it’s doubtful I’ll ever take them up on the invitation. The invitation is kind and genuine, I believe. They have been gracious neighbors. The dog barks at them while they do Tai Chi in the yard (I surmise that the slow movements resemble aggression to her, she moves slow like that when she hunts. I think she’s trying to tell them, I know you’re there! I’ll kick your ass.) You see, it’s all how you look at things. Most people who practice Tai Chi likely wouldn’t view it as an act of aggression, despite the fact that it’s a marshal art – but the dog knows. It’s how I feel about them – you’re nice, but there’s something not right.

Despite the fact that I know, at least casually, many people in this town, sometimes I feel lonely. I don’t completely understand this. I’m happy here. I love this town. I felt even lonelier when I lived in the City… nothing worse then feeling lonely when you’re surrounded by millions of people (including those you count as friends) – it just proves that it’s not about access to people, it’s about something inside – some inadequacy, inability to make the connection. And it’s not even about not spending time with people. It’s about the quality of the connection. (It’s not you, it’s me.)

18 November 2005

On The Subject of Blood

I didn’t know Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia. I wonder if Rhodesian Ridgebacks roam the rural roads.

On the subject of blood. It’s very dirty. I think I’ve addressed this before. If you have fantasies and ideas of vampires, the whole undead thing, I think you’d do better off sucking on a potato. It’s safer, cleaner and it’s sort of undead – it thrives in darkness. While I say this, I personally have yet to come to appreciate the potato as a complex and beautiful thing. Blood may be dirty, but it’s also beautiful, historic and complicated. I wish a clever scientist with aural appreciations could find a way to convert cytokines to tones and unleash the symphony of blood. And you know it’s not just blood – it’s the entire system that’s so wonderful. It is not ‘irreducibly complex.’ The brilliance, wonder and genius of it is that it is reducible. The redundancy in the system is exactly what allows it to be a dynamic, evolving and learning system. It is mathematical, musical and mysterious.

We can break the immune system down in many ways. It’s no different than anything in this regard. For example, we can walk into a room and talk about the number of people who wear glasses versus those not wearing glasses. Similarly we can talk about the cellular versus humoral arms of the immune system. We can talk about people who write left versus right handed. We can talk about innate or acquired immunity. And in all instances there is a spectrum, a spectrum of sight, those who wear contacts, and those who perform some functions with their left hand and others with their right and of course those who fall smack dab in the middle as wholly ambidextrous.

So what’s the difference between innate and acquired immunity? Innate immunity is what we’re born with, ancient immunologic knowledge passed down generation after generation. It’s very old wisdom – very valuable. It’s our first line of defense and it’s typically extremely effective. That we carry this ancient wisdom in our blood, this intelligence, isn’t it some kind of evidence of reincarnation or at least proof that it’s really quite possible that we have other kinds of ancient wisdom that we’ve yet to really tap into and understand? When birds migrate or animals engage in certain unlearned behaviors that promote their survival, we’ll call it instinct. But what is instinct other than mysterious wisdom? And why is this wisdom mostly recognized as behavior? Haven’t you ever had the experience of knowing things and not really understanding how you know it? When people say, trust your gut, what they often mean is trust the innate wisdom that is within you – the ancient knowledge that we need to learn to get in touch with and learn how to listen to. But then I wonder, in the same way some people’s innate immunity fails to control disease, perhaps not all innate wisdom is good. Makes you think.

And acquired immunity is learned. While certain cells and functions within us are a result of ancient wisdom, to complete the system there is also the ability to learn and learn we do. We can teach cells to do new things – which is the foundation behind vaccination – to teach the immune system to recognize and respond to say a flu virus before it ever actually encounters the flu virus. Thus if and when someone becomes infected with the flu virus, the immune system is primed and ready to act – to contain and control the infection before it causes disease. A very misunderstood thing about vaccines is that they do not prevent infection, they prevent disease. But I think a very cool thing about the acquired immune system is that we are not all equal – we’re not all able to mount an effective and robust immune response to an “immunologic lesson” – we do not all learn the same. Some have immunologic learning disabilities and/or defects and often these are in discrete areas – in some instances causing no noticeable harm or effect, in other instances leaving one vulnerable to certain diseases and in other instances these defects have benefits (perhaps unintended.) And I think when we dig deeper, what we find is that on some fundamental level, something is controlling our capacity and breadth of learning. I’m apt to believe that what’s controlling our capacity and breath of immunologic learning is actually much to do with ancient wisdom, genetic information passed on through history, from the earliest days of evolution, from our mothers, mothers, mothers, mothers, mothers, mothers… and so on. So there’s that spectrum, that continuum of experience – the inability to slice diversity neatly along a line.

It seems (almost) the human condition to deny this link with the past. It seems (almost) the human condition to deny this link with the future. It’s perhaps something we need to rail against, the inability to live in the long now. Somewhere the silver cell divides.

I digress.. more on blood later. Or, well, maybe not (does it bore you?) But you know, think about it… if I touch you is there perhaps some wisdom my skin cells whisper in the ears of yours? I like to think on it – the logic of your touch, intelligent kisses, our ancients communing while we pretend we’re just having tea…

17 November 2005

Souls In The House

There are no soles in the trees today.

Night before last there was a mighty racket in the back of the house.. or was it in the house? There was a clatter and a bang… we have a cast iron bathtub. It sounded like someone tossed a few rocks at it – it echoed in that hollow way. Ed and Secret Agent Dog sprung to action, checking the doors, surveying the house and were preparing to check the perimeter out doors when a cloud of skunk oil came pouring through the house like nuclear bomb. You could feel it like a wave washing over everything. I swear it moved the air, stirred up a kind of wind with it.

The really fucked up thing, as the investigation was slowed, was that this skunk smell wasn’t particularly notable anywhere outside the house. (Secret Agent Dog, having been skunked a number of times, just getting a preliminary whiff of it, before I smelled it or had any idea, came running from the kitchen, jumped into my lap, curled into a ball and hid her nose beneath her own body.) We suspect, after careful and cautious investigation, that the smell came from under the house.. from under the bathroom – likely from under the bathtub.

Remember that the only room we really haven’t addressed in the new place is the bathroom. Here we can’t use the bathtub or shower because the numbnuts who build the place didn’t use waterproof materials around the tub. We’ve ripped up the linoleum but haven’t laid anything new – so there’s simply exposed subflooring with its cadre of cracks and the what-not, pretty much letting things like spiders and well, the SMELL OF SKUNK, come right on up through from under the house.

I’ve suspected that something suspicious is happening under the house. Since April I’ve been complaining that there are a few areas around the perimeter of the house that are open, where we’ve taken the siding off for access while doing this or that project. They need to be closed back up so that rodents can’t get under the house. I think it’s too late. Last week Secret Agent Dog took to barking at the bathtub in the middle of the night. I think rats are living under the tub. Night before last I think the rats were displaced by a rogue skunk. I’ve got a guy coming at 3 pm today… I’m not gonna tell him about the skunk.. but I’m gonna send him under there and have him close it up. I haven’t yet thought through how we’re going to go about trapping all that have made homes under there yet. I don’t think kindly on the smell of dying things wafting up through the subflooring either.

So there are no soles in the trees today. But it seems there are other reasons to be a little dissettled.. a little shaken from the regular routine. And one is the smell of skunk that permeates the big house sort of like a ghost.. lurking in every corner. There’s no escape..

16 November 2005

Men At Work In Trees

Good morning world. I started the day off with a 7 am conference call. In honesty, I had the phone on mute most of the time and was perusing the internet for interesting reads. Isn’t it their job to keep me engaged and entertained? Oh wait.. where’s my responsibility in that? Well.. there’s that again now isn’t there. Back to my responsibility.

I have my morning routines – my ablutions, rituals, what-have-yous. I drink my coffee, scan the blogs, read the newspaper, cuddle with the Honey Bee (she is such a cuddly punim!) When I’m done reading and cuddling I take my coffee out to the hot tub and meditate on the day while I look at the sky – be it clear blue like today or marbled with veins of wispy clouds like yesterday – whatever the case, I look at it and I contemplate the day while my coffee is perched on the edge.

Yesterday the clouds reminded me of my grandmother’s fireplace mantel at Christmas. She’d drape multicolored lights on the mantel, cover it with spun glass and place little angel figurines in the clouds of spun glass that reflected and diffused the lights just so. She’d sing Sunday school songs to me and my sister. Her efforts never cultivated or instilled in either of us a belief or faith in God, but I loved to hear how her voice trilled and quivered when she sang. It made her happy and that was fun to watch. Equally entertaining was watching her in church, sway like a fan at a rock concert, hand in the air, waving back and forth like tall grass in a gentle breeze, chanting like a mantra with eyes closed, “yes Jesus. Thank you Jesus." That was part of the color of my youth.

Her and grandpa’s purple Cadillac, his big silver and turquoise rings, his boleros with scorpions encased in amber or Lucite and his Pentecostal preacher ways. Fire, brimstone and the odd and out of place pool table and pin-up-girl calendar in the basement. In the weeks and months before his death he would chant, “Through faith we are healed. Through faith we are healed.” But he died anyways, quite young really – a painful death from cancer. That big formidable man brought to his knees like that. It just wasn’t right. He was larger than life, like the character from Big Fish. He spun tales. He’d win us prizes at the winter carnival ice fishing competitions by going to his fish house on the big lakes up north, catching huge fish and keeping them alive in ice water until the competition on Lake Nokomis. They’d never seen such fish come out of that lake! He’d proudly present his grandchildren with the spoils of the day – a twinkle in his eye and a big belly laugh. He could instill belief and faith in a frog.. not necessarily a faith a God, but definitely a faith in him. He was the kind of person you could believe in.

I love my memories of them. So back to my ablutions. I am distracted in my routines because there are tree trimmers in the redwoods next door and there’s something disturbing about peering up at the sky and redwoods and seeing a workman’s butt and the soles of his shoes. It somehow disrupts and disturbs things like fond remembrances of grandma and fails to bring an order to the day. So instead, I’m here, leering at the workers through the living room windows who are infringing on my routines and wondering when I can get back to the dealings of the day.

14 November 2005

Watch This Space

It’s nearly noon and I should be hard at work. Instead I’m drinking coffee and blogging (well, not just blogging… thinking and blogging.) I’ve finished one of those deadlines that has been hanging over my head and it’s released me to some degree such that from now until the end of the year my days should be focused on contemplating each day and creating the foundation of a job that I’ll do for a few years and love. A job that will make a difference and I’ll look forward to each morning. It’s hard to explain the journey to here and why it is the way it is.

I read a good article about Warren Buffett on the front page of the Wall Street Journal weekend edition. I’m tempted to get in touch with him, ask him perhaps if we could chat for an hour or so over coffee. What would Warren Buffett and I have to talk about? He doesn’t have a computer on his desk. He spends most of his time thinking – he doesn’t ruminate for hours over decisions, he takes a very liaises faire approach to management, his phone doesn’t ring constantly. It just seems like I might have a good deal to learn from this guy despite how disparate our vocational callings might be. What he does that I like is he reads - I assume voraciously – but I’d love to just witness it and ask questions and seek a little inspiration. Not a phone call. I just want to sit down and have coffee in his office and chat.

I’ve been thinking about children lately. I’d like to have more children in my life so I’m trying to convince my friends to start having babies. ((Lawyer Babe says to me, maybe you should have a baby. But the thing is I enjoy sleep, career options, a degree of financial freedom, personal freedom, choices…)) I think I would feel imprisoned by a child – at least for the first several years. These would be bad years of my life to feel imprisoned. Maybe if I could figure a few things out – find a good path in my career, then maybe.. but I’m not certain and it seems if I’m not certain it’s a pretty big commitment to walk half-ass into. Yes, I know… if I went there I’d be blinded and persuaded by love. I don’t even want to go there.

There have been times in my life where accidents could have happened – the anonymous Peruvian soccer player with the lickable hips, or even that first dysfunctional boy I loved. Isn’t it interesting that I really only see myself as a single mother? I just so fundamentally understand that that would be mine, regardless the context. It’s not a question. But see, I want Cassie to have a baby – she’d be such an amazing mom – and we could have such fun showing that baby the world.

(I call her Cassie, by the way, because of a teenage coming-of-age novel I read when I was twelve or so. It was called Me, Cassie and the character Cassie lost her virginity to a foreign exchange student from like Zaire or something… And my Cassie is so NOT like that Cassie that it’s funny to call her that.)

Anyways… why am I waxing this way? Perhaps because I’m evaluating life and choices (not in a maudlin or regretful way, but a good way… questioning whether or not these feet are touching the planet rightly, walking in the right direction, seeking boldly inward and outward with integrity and honesty.)

We learn from one another if we open our eyes to the lessons we need. The people I learn from aren’t even aware of the lessons they remind me of.

There is one young woman who reminds me that we make drama and trouble when we fail to take responsibility for finding and realizing our destiny. Yes, I believe in destiny – but I don’t believe everyone finds theirs – probably most people don’t. Some people run from it like wildfire, going to clubs, on vacation, creating drama with friends, lovers, family – as though emotional rollercoasters constitute doing something. Humans create drama with their loved ones by picking fights, betraying one another, lamenting irretrievable moments from the past, when they need to escape from the boredom that they wrap themselves in as an excuse not to look into those deep dark truthful mirrors, to not do the hard stuff of living - of following and realizing dreams, destinies, purposes.

I’ve been guilty a bit of this lately too. It was a lesson I learned many, many years ago while laying in a meadow in Heidelberg, Germany. I was so sick - feverish, distraught – my head spinning, my body ached. I prayed for death. I didn’t know anyone. I was alone in a strange land and I felt miserable – I was done with living. After several hours, death did not come. I only got up and moved because I was bored and suddenly some bit of wisdom sharpened into focus. Moving about just because we’re bored of waiting for death does not constitute living. Distracting ourselves from the boredom doesn’t constitute living either. There was this flash of a moment when I understood the difference between actions and reactions that were about distracting myself from the boredom and actions and reactions that were truly about living. Words fail me.. there is a difference between these types of actions. It’s qualitatively different - it leads to entirely different places.

I’m guilty of reverting to living in the boredom again – to some degree. Partly this is because I’ve needed to rest, or I’ve convinced myself that I’ve needed a rest. Living is hard work – despite how fulfilling it is. But here I am, resting on my figurative hillside – and out of boredom, once again, I am inspired to move on. When boredom is the underlying inspiration – well, no good can come of this. It’s time to take responsibility, recognize the boredom and, frankly, start living again.

I feel like I’m always writing here about how it’s time for a change, or I’m changing, or things are about to change – blah, blah, blah. This isn’t about change. It’s just about living – and I know how to do that. Watch this space…

05 November 2005


I keep leaving way too late for the Honey Bee’s walk and finding myself in the forest in the dark without a flashlight. It’s spooky. We’re walking at dusk when supposedly the Mountain Lion’s hunt and we’re walking in pitch blackness – only the white tip of her tail to lead me onward. I hear things. In the rain last night mostly I heard the swoooosh, swooooosh of my rain gear and it left me with the impression that we were being followed. And once I really let that impression sink in, even though logically I confirm it’s very unlikely, I’m just left spooked until I get home. Coming upon the stables in the dark is equally haunting – the dim stable lights, the breathy banter of horses, the tap and scrape of their hooves, the mad dash of a stable cat coming out of nowhere and returning to blackness. And then out of nowhere a buck rushes by – startling us both.

31 October 2005


This ranks as a bad week. Something like food poisoning struck Tuesday night/Wednesday morning of week last. Much pain, an Emergency Room visit, and no small amount of blood later, I’m crawling out of a dark place and readying myself for NaNoWriMo.

A year ago today the Honey Bee had the mishap with the stick, through the leg, and we spent the evening running back and forth from the Emergency Vet while they performed surgery and released the Cookie Pie in quite a state of stupor to our care. This and a night of hundreds (yes hundreds) of trick-o-treaters, left for a surreal evening. A month of tendering, head cones, ripped and re-ripped stitches followed. Last year, November was a cruel month.

Despite my malady, I’m looking forward to a cozy November. The rugs are beginning to arrive, which makes the living room feel so much warmer. The new gas stove/fireplace thing fills the room with a nice ambiance and there’s always hot water heating atop it for tea in the evenings. The evening is brisk now, a biting cold. Sitting in the hot tub under the towering redwood trees, beneath a canopy of stars, while steam rises around my shoulders… sigh. Snuggling into a new soft robe and drinking tea by the fire – the Honey Bee curled in a ball with her head on my leg. Butternut squash with maple syrup. Split Pea soup. Hot apple cider with cinnamon and cloves. All these things, for me, are harbingers of……. spring.

24 October 2005

Good Luck and Good Night

A small group of us went to the Sunday matinee of Good Luck and Goodnight. I loved the movie – the texture, the script, the acting… It left me feeling betrayed (again) by America and her infrastructure and ideologies. Listening to Murrow’s speeches – insightful, thoughtful, provoking – and actual text from newsprint media – addressing real issues in meaningful ways and using three-syllable words at that! I felt so disrespected by modern culture – with its sound bite treatment of the most complex of issues and fifth grade reading levels to appease the ignorant masses. I felt dimwitted by a country that expects us to be dimwits and we all stoop to achieve understanding. We need to get out our fucking dictionaries and learn how to communicate.

It’s time to allocute our crimes in a literary court – we’re culpable. We made it wires and flickering light. By our complicity it has really become Fahrenheit 451, though it’s not enforcers burning books of heretics – it’s so much more insidious and unforgivable then that. It’s libraries standing bereft of readers - dust gathering on the tops, glue turning brittle in the spines, pages yellowing and falling apart not from use but from neglect and abandon. Even music has become simple, lifeless and dim. I’ve spent what feels like a lifetime dumbing things down for the average reader when increasingly the average reader doesn’t, in fact, read.

Wiley’s visit was nice – relaxing and comfortable. He arrived in the afternoon on Saturday and left early Sunday evening. We walked for miles and had Ed come retrieve us from far away. We sat in a hot tub, went out for dinner, watched a documentary, chatted, watched a mindless movie, drank hot apple cider, fell asleep early. And on Sunday we strolled about town in the morning, went to the theatre in the afternoon and ended the day with a short hike. I felt empty – uninspired and intellectually listless – only made worse by this realization of how dim witted we all are.

The death of a neighbor’s King Charles Spaniel (Romeo), hit by a car and killed, has both Secret and I in a state of grief. We bought flowers this afternoon and will be delivering them to their doorstep shortly. He is terribly missed and fondly remembered.

19 October 2005

No. It was NOT a Dream.

Secret’s ears perked alert and she began barking. There was a man standing at the gate, half cast in the rosy glow of light from the street lamp above. He was just standing there at the gate. Lit from behind and above, his face was dark and he looked rather sinister with swirls of black iron gate in front of him like some monstrous criminal from a bad thriller.

I opened the door and she rushed the gate, baring her teeth and barking. He backed away and a voice came from the carport.

“There’s a big white bunny,” it said.

“What?” I replied as I called the Honey Bee back to me.

“In your yard, there’s a big white bunny….. there,” he said, pointing.

Sure enough, not a few feet from me there was a big white bunny standing easily over a foot tall not considering the length of its ears.

I broke her trust as I called her to me and lacking a collar I grabbed the loose folds on the back of her neck. It was about that same time that she saw the bunny and pulled a bit. I wonder if the chip they implanted for electronic tracking pinched a nerve, because I didn’t grip her very tightly but she began yowling and screeching in pain, her eyes dilated in fear and she lay immediately at my feet looking up at me in terror. The most heartbreaking thing.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I tell her as I’m tearing up. She’ll spend several hours huddled in a corner of the sofa, eye’s dilated, body stiff and afraid, wary of me. It will take pepperoni and other treats to coax her out of her sense of betrayal, fear and injustice.

The bunny runs toward us, stands in front of us, eyes the open door that our bodies are now blocking and then turns and runs for the gate, slips under with ease, alludes the sinister stranger’s grip and the dark figures of two men, as mysteriously as they appeared, disappear – running at break neck speed down the street under the light of a full moon, chasing a big white bunny.

18 October 2005

Freeze Frame

Looking through the lens of a camera I’m never more aware of what my mind erases. It forces you to look, really look, at what is there – the debris in the foreground, the splinter in your eye.

I’m tired. How was it that I became so bitter? On a day-to-day basis I don’t really see that bitterness, but it’s there – the figurative debris in the foreground, the literal splinter in my eye. I want to find a way to dissolve it like sugar cubes under absinthe.

I wonder if the trees make me feel lonely of if I’m lonely and thus have developed an affinity for the trees. One day I’m so happy, content and feeling apart of life – the next I’m a bit wrecked. As I have parted ways with lovers more than one has said, you’re just too intense. I wish I could part ways with me sometimes too. I think I’m coming to know what they meant – maybe. I really crave, demand and need a high level of engagement.

Okay, okay.. back track. I’m sick. I’m sick today – I’ve been fuzzy, foggy-headed, dizzy for days on end. And last night I was up most of the night, at least every hour and today is no better. I’m not feverish (unless the thermometer is broken… just my luck), to the contrary my body temperature is incredibly low. I just realized that most (really, maybe all) of my symptoms are side effects of an antibiotic I’m on. Fuck it. I’m stopping the antibiotic – frill’n MPH ho. I’m not convinced I need it anyways. While I love (in principle) the idea of solving a problem with a drug, it’s just not always the answer. In fact it’s rarely the answer. I just want my body to work better. The point of telling you that I feel sick, however, is that when I feel sick I come to the conclusion that my life sucks – even though just a few days ago I was riding high on how lovely and cozy and wonderful things are right now. So really it’s to say likely it doesn’t suck at all, I’m not really lonely, generally speaking, pervasively speaking (can one speak pervasively?) and perhaps I’m just intense, needy and demanding when I feel sick. Or maybe I’m intense, needy and demanding all the time – sound attractive?

Anyways, if you’re not in the mood for intense, needy, demanding and whiney then do not inquire within.

I’m freaked out by the idea of having to look for a job. I thought, oh, I’m not working today (because I called in sick.. because I am sick – it’s a weird thing to call in sick when you work from home), I’ll work on my resume. But I’m too dizzy-headed to work on anything.. duh.. that’s why I called in sick. I have to take a conference call in an hour and I really just want to heave. ((Why I am writing about this?)) Anyways, I’m freaked out by the idea of having to look for a job. I haven’t had to do that in over a decade and I didn’t really look for this job – it found me.

The truth is, I’m really freaked out about not having a job. And while not having an income does wig me out, not having a job wigs me out equally if not more. And worse, the fact that not having a job wigs me out more freaks me out even more. What does that say about me, what I’ve come to rely on for identity, purpose, blah, blah, blah? It means I’m becoming someone I don’t like – I’ve become someone I don’t respect and maybe that, as much as anything else, has inspired me to quit the job. I mean, you may have a job that you really love – and believe me I can relate to that – that used to be me – but the day that the job that you love and your identity become so intertwined that you don’t have one without the other, that is a problem.

And through all this lamentation my boss leaves a message on the machine telling me that she can’t give me any information about the possibility of a severance because they’re now entering into some kind of discussion about restructuring my job into something that might be palatable to me – something that I might be willing to stay for. I’m not calling her back. Talk away. Talk is cheap. I’ve had nearly fifteen years of talk. Blah, blah, blah. Do something already.

17 October 2005

Lonely Trees

Lately I’ve become taken with documentaries about skateboarding. I’ve seen most of the surf movies – move on to Dogtown. The appeal? I don’t know… some stream of conscious esthetic that’s physical and poetic? Something that happens in a split second, art, an experience, and the wind perhaps convening for inimitable moments of fleeting beauty – or something. Like I said. I don’t know.

I snuzzled on the sofa with the Honey Bee and the laptop on Sunday evening, after a chore-filled day. Ed bought a new computer. I’m SOO frill’n jealous – it’s awesome. He convinced me not to impulse-buy driven by envy and wait it out – consider if I really need a new computer. I don’t. He understands all too well. “I felt exactly the same way the last time you got a new computer,” he tells me. So the compromise was upgrades to the wireless - now I can pretty much be on mars and still be on the internet. Why look at a tree when you can google one?

Speaking of trees, I bought three pictures of trees. Yes – canned art. The kind you buy at chain home furnishing stores for $19.99 each. They’re photographs somehow printed on metal (tin? Aluminum?) and the metal picks up the colors around it. Two of them are a little beat up around the edges. They’re lonely and fragile and yet so, hmmmm, tenacious? Something about trees – I can’t put my finger on it. Yes. Certainly, I find the Madrones and Buckeyes impressive, but I also have a handful of favorite trees in the forest – one particularly impressive Bay, a fine lone Oak on a hill and so on. I fussed in my head for weeks over what I felt about buying art like this. But I like them – so fuck me for being such a snob about these things. I have them. They’re mine… and I just need to get over myself. They’re lined up against the wall – waiting to find their place in this room.

So as I’m writing this, Ed walks in the room and I ask him, “so what do you think of the trees?” He replies, “honestly, I’m not so hot on the trees.” “Really? Why not?” I query. “They’re lonely,” he says.

13 October 2005

Into The Light

The way the light gets caught beneath things - dying things, dead things... things that most of the world tramples, turning to dust. It attracts me in the soulful and longing way - not to save it - but to bear it witness.

10 October 2005

L is for Loser

Sometimes I have so much to say, think and do and then I stop rather dumbly and become part of the great unwashed masses (wash them, won’t you!?). This isn’t me. I don’t know who this woman is - forgetful and slow witted. I don’t know her. I’m not using parts of my brain and I can feel it screaming feed me! I never stopped before. Why do I stop now? Why do I pause dumbly and slip into some trance of normalcy – or maybe it’s not normal, but it’s not me (is it?). Who the hell is this woman?

Enough lamentations – waxing like this, it’s the same as doing nothing. I feel like I’ve spent too much of the last few years wasting time. Perhaps it’s all relative. Sure, not compared to most people maybe. But I don’t know what that means. In this life, we’re our own control group. We don’t get to compare ourselves to others. It’s about change from baseline.

I did the interview with the local reporter. He encouraged me not to think of myself as a Loser. Heh. He doesn’t understand that being a Loser is liberating on some level. I’m a Loser who isn’t afraid of losing, doesn’t have issues about being called a loser and doesn’t make losing or fear of losing an excuse for not trying. Winning anything doesn’t take half as much courage as trying virtually anything for the first time, and sometimes even the second and third time.

06 October 2005

Trees Again

Simple. I walk on my mountain every day and bring the camera. This is among my most treasured of times, to be among the quiet of the towering Redwoods, the peeling Madrones, the bustling Bay, the falling Oaks, the drooping Buckeyes that are in their Christmas-bulb phase. When it comes to fascinating and fabulous trees, Buckeyes, I think, are second only to the Madrones. I call them Dr. Seuss Trees for their cartoonish and bold changes throughout the seasons. I think if you’ve never seen a Buckeye through the seasons, perhaps you haven’t fully lived.

28 September 2005

The Big Blue

I got on an airplane on Sunday afternoon and whisked through the sky, clear blue above the fogs and cloud, to the seats of power – Washington, D.C. ((I can’t figure out why it’s called Washington D.C. I mean, why not just D.C.? It’s not like there’s a Jefferson, Hell or Paradise, D. C.)) In truth I didn’t set foot in D.C. – only to the extent that IAD/Dulles is considered D.C. the same way SFO is considered San Francisco, albeit not near the City at all. Straight to Bethesda with me.

I got on an airplane on Monday evening and whisked through the sky, indigo and starry above the rain clouds, back home. My flight was cancelled and instead of arriving home at a relatively comfortable 10 p.m., I was delayed until the small hours of Tuesday morning. Mostly I just got a day older. So much fucking life is wasted on airplanes.

I took Secret on the mountain Tuesday mid-morning. I had intentions of taking photographs of trees. Instead I took pictures of leafs. Sometimes it’s like that – I go looking for the whole and I get distracted by the beauty of the dead and discarded parts. We had to journey earlier than usual because I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. I’d say I dreaded the dentist, but this one is so jovial, kind and genuinely concerned that part of me really looks forward to the visit despite the impending pain.

What makes it all the better is the traveling there. I ride my mountain bike ten miles along streets canopied with trees and a canal that leads to the bay – where I catch the ferry to the City. There’s carp in the canal this time of year – some over three feet long, that get trapped in the shallows when the tide goes out – in less than six inches of water in some places. I didn’t know carp lived in brackish waters.

And then back again once it’s all done with. But behind a shopping plaza I caught my handle bar in the chain linked fence while trying to maneuver around some scaffolding. The bike, of course, stopped abruptly and my knee slammed into the scaffolding. Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. That’s the kind of pain that reminds me I’m alive.

It seems like the further we distance ourselves from the planet, the less valuable our experiences are. That’s a strange thing to ponder as it seems like it would be such a treasure to look back at earth from outer space – a big blue marble of a planet (who some have said should have been named water instead of earth.) I bet it would be beautiful. I bet it would feel incredibly lonely too.

27 September 2005


I'm enamoured by trees - drawn to them like a magnet - the way their limbs sway in the wind or their roots grip the ground like curling toes, fastening tight to something reflexively. Pictures of trees, alone on a hillside, illuminated by sunlight in clumps by a river, reflected in everything or nothing at all.

16 September 2005

Oh Look, A Clown!

Can you frill’n believe that someone visited my journal as a result of an MSN search engine inquiry on Ioganson!? This restores my faith that there are indeed Russian art connoisseurs out there and perhaps, indeed, the people will one day prevail.

Given the changes in my job status, I’ve been catapulted (in a good way) into a place of introspection. I realize I’m kinder than the world has allowed me to be these past several years. I realize I’m more intelligent, thoughtful, thorough and engaged then I’ve been allowed to be. I realize I’ve been increasingly pushed into a box that is so the wrong size, doesn’t fit, isn’t even the right shape. I realize I have had some (a good deal of?) culpability in walking into that box and slowly adjusting overtime until I’m wholly uncomfortable. Isn’t that the way it invariably is in situations like this? At the end of the day there’s a funhouse mirror of our own making.

15 September 2005


Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe. I keep forgetting to breathe. Here we stand on yet another precipice, clinging like magical creatures to the rock when what we should be doing is practicing letting go. Letting go. One of the most important lessons we learn, I believe, is how to let go. Next there’s this business of trusting the current and getting over those bruises when we’re swept up and dashed on the rocks every now and again. Those are the lines that give us character. ((I got your character right here buddy.))

Today will be a good day, a successful day, if I simply remember to breathe and if I practice letting go gracefully.

20 August 2005

Whichever Comes First

The frog in the riverbed at the top of the falls was maybe the size of a dime. It looked like someone doodled on its back with felt tip pens.

Back at Doodlebug it was just me and a few teenage girls who work there. At one point a ten year old came in to work on a project for spell. I sang along to Tommy James and the Shondell’s while I put the second and third coat of ceramic glaze paint on Secret’s bowl. The teenage girls seemed to know the words to all the songs that I didn’t. We have committed different things to memory.

Tar and rock roads were laid through Southwest Minneapolis, in the 1970’s, during the recession. At that time it was a blue collar neighborhood. My parents rented farmland from Mrs. Rudder in Eden Prairie in expectation of disaster and the basement was stocked with canned foods when the first news and ripples of economic crisis began. We filled our red wagon with ice and bottles of Coca Cola and mom and I pulled it round to where the workers were laying road and sold them Cokes for a nickel or a dime – I can’t remember which. We waited while they drank so as to get the return on the bottles. Mom laughed while dad tossed mud crusted squash across the kitchen after the harvest. He worshiped her and she was happy. I wonder what happened to them.

Despite everything, there’s not a part of the story I don’t cherish. I wish I could have loved it all more when it was happening. I remember being a very nervous child. Something frightening lived behind the wood panels of the walls. At night, the vacuum cleaner would come alive and make sinister faces at me. When I dared leave the bed and slip downstairs, mom would let me slip my cold feet between her thighs to warm them up (that must have been cold and uncomfortable.) My grandpa was a Pentecostal preacher who wore boleros with scorpions encased in Lucite, big silver and turquoise rings, loud Hawaiian shirts, drove a purple Cadillac and pointed to a scar from an appendix operation and wove tales of being injured by Indians. Grandma canned tomatoes and made strawberry preserves.

In the summer, mom would haul a lawn chair and a cooler to Lake Harriet and I’d stay in the water until the very last minute – crawling along the shoreline and then running across the hot, hot, hot black top foot path to the shade of the concession and just hope she might buy us ice cream or saltwater taffy. We’d all put damp towels on the searing vinyl seats of the Buick Station Wagon – avocado colored I think, or was it mustard? Everything was made of splintering weathered wood painted forest green or white with sun faded red lettering, not quite pink. Grandpa caught fish on big lakes up north and kept them alive in buckets of water outside his garage so we could win the ice fishing contest at Lake Nokomis during the Winter Carnival. My brother sold my sister’s turtle for five dollars at the Aquatennial. Under a full moon snow sparkles like diamonds and the trees have secrets. Before Dutch Elm disease, every street was a canopy of color in the Fall – you couldn’t even see the sky.

These girls in Doodlebug, they don’t know seasons like that. They don’t know poverty or wealth like that. They know it all differently. We have committed different things to memory. They will have memories of Oleander and Naked Ladies blooming in late summer. They’ll talk about what they were doing when the Twin Towers were struck by airplanes the way my parents remember where they were when John Kennedy was shot. And then once these pictures are painted just so, with the right number of coats and we set them to rest… we’ll fire them up and fix them like this for eternity or whenever they break.. whichever comes first.

18 August 2005

Coupling Over Spirits

In addition to my ritual walks with Secret, I went on an amazing bicycle adventure yesterday. While only a mere fifteen mile ride, the terrain likely adds double to that, at least, in terms of difficulty. If words could describe adrenaline, sweat, dirt, wind, water, mountain and whir of bike through the dusty trails I’d no doubt have a better tale to tell. But words fail. Today my legs are wobbly and sore and I’m taking it easy while the muscles knit themselves together again. (I imagine them in pieces like heartbroken strangers coupling over spirits in a tawdry dark bar…)

The absolute physical exhaustion of yesterday was awesome. My mind quiets, my heart beats in smooth steady rhythm – I feel right as rain. And that contentment lingers into today just like the fog that ventured over the coastal mountains and now nestles in my sleepy little town tonight – bringing a crisp cool air (curling twice around the house, yes? And then to sleep?)

17 August 2005

The Lies We Stand On

Now you might think I’m overly obsessed with this kitchen, with this floor – but you’d only think that way if you’ve never been in a major earthquake. What we think is solid, isn’t. Concrete, brick and all we stand on as foundation is like sand in the face of nature. To run my toes through the grass and feel rooted in the earth – it’s pretty to think so. I like the illusion and there’s nothing wrong with that. And I want black and white flooring covering up the dust of dead things that form the carpet that we walk on from which springs life only to decay again and again. I want something more permanently dead beneath my feet and my feat in my kitchen – the center of home life. This is the place from which all nurturing springs and here, of all places, we need the lies to stand on. I want my fucking floor.

15 August 2005

On Principle

Won’t it be crazy when I post that the FLOORS ARE DONE!!!! YAHOOO! I’M ALL MOVED IN!! Yes, that will be crazy, wild and exciting. Too bad they’re not. Too bad I’m not. I won’t belabor this point. There’s been more delays in getting the product (it’s not easy being green.)

There’s a new cyclery in town. Well, it’s been there for a year but I made an effort to stop in for the first time on Saturday – so it’s new to me. I finally broke down after these several years and bought a pair of bike shorts. I promise I won’t wear them without board shorts – on principle.

Speaking of principles. I am struck that we rarely write about principles (perhaps at this age I prefer poetry to heady prose on principles and political conviction?) What are my virtues? Ah… what a tangled web we weave and what a weave of contradictions are my virtues.

My virtues are that I can be kind and that I can be cruel and that mostly I am wise in using my rulers and meting out right proportions of the two. Unless, of course, you think me too kind or you think me too cruel, then there’s either something wrong with me or there’s something wrong with you. So perhaps this isn’t a virtue at all?

My virtues are that I am fiercely independent and don’t compromise on my values. This is all well and fine unless you don’t fit neatly into my spectrum of good, moral and just and then I’m sure you think on me as rigid and a thought fascist. Yet I try to be open, a relativist and listen – still I’ve been given the gift to think, reason and act and I use these gifts.

I am humble. I have an idea of myself that is right sized. I am small in the face of the enormity of the universe yet my size doesn’t hinder my ability to stand up for what I believe in. While I don’t know if I can change the system I accept that I might not be able to and I try anyways. Not trying is choosing a certain kind of death. I actually have beliefs – not a belief in God per se, but a set of articulated values – of judgments if you will, well conceived, I believe, overtime – an ethical framework or lens for evaluating circumstances and informing my actions within them. Though again, I’m flexible.

To tell you that I have beliefs, however, doesn’t tell you what those beliefs are. You’re to take on faith that they’re interesting, good, sound? And then you’re to take on some faith that I act on them accordingly? I believe, for example, that health care should be a right, not a privilege. I believe that science needs democratizing. I believe that we can experience a greater sense of joy every day if we cultivate and strengthen our community. I believe community includes the people who live next door to me, not just people who look like me, dress like me and/or share my values. I believe the people I have the strongest visceral reactions too (positively or negatively) are most like me and I need to pay attention to both so I can strive to see myself more clearly. I believe that EVERYONE of us believes that we’re good people, motivated by good things, doing the best we can – and given the state of things a good many of us are wrong and we are likely part of that good many errant in our thinking on a spectrum of issues at any given time.

I believe that my government is failing its people. I believe that my president has lied. I believe that many if not most politicians are corrupt. I believe the only way to change the government is by getting involved – somehow. I believe that a small group of people can change the world. I believe a single person can change the world. I believe a poet or a playwright can change the world. I believe an artist can change the world. I hope I believe in the vision of the people with the most youth, energy, wisdom and courage to change the world.

I believe that it doesn’t matter if society accepts me if I can love and accept myself. I have come to discover, over time, that I only care if other’s accepts me until I come to accept myself.

Once someone said, “if you want people to take you seriously, you shouldn’t wear your hair like that, dress like that” etc. I am not a straight white man. On some level it doesn’t really matter how I wear my hair, how I dress, what piercings or tattoos I wear on my face and body – I simply do not conform to what the ruling elite takes seriously – straight white men. We must dig deeper. We must be smart, articulate and strategic. We must speak through the overlay of judgments being meted out and demonstrate that we are a force to be reckoned with. If we dress up in suits and conform we’re becoming part of the problem – because some people don’t have the luxury to hide the colors on their skin in order to taken seriously. And some don’t have the economic means to afford the suits that might engender respect among elite wealthy crowds. We must demand that people listen to what people say and judge us on the merits of our arguments and content of our character – and not the color of our skin, our hair or how we dress. And on the same token, we mustn’t be shocked that some people have a hard time doing this – we must help one another and not judge those who have a difficult time seeing past the superficial trappings of this mortal coil. In the same way we wish not to be judged by the way we look, dress, etc., we mustn’t judge people with a disability to look deeper. (But be aware that sometimes we're not taken seriously because we're not saying anything interesting or valuable and it has nothing to do with how we look!)

I believe in love. I believe that love heals. I believe in intimacy. I believe that trust must simply be given and possibly later lost – that’s it’s an impossible thing to simply have to start out earning.

I believe in the mystical origins of the Church (it is said that the church is the energy created whenever a group of people come together in common worship – that this energy created is greater than the sum of the parts.) I believe that when I am with friends who share common beliefs and we celebrate together, something is created that is greater than each of us – it’s almost tangible. You feel this in the pit at punk shows. It’s the tingling in the back of your neck when you witness the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. On those Friday nights when you’re hanging in the park with friends and you randomly just feel a great sense of kinship, belonging, being part of something – there it is again. Turn a stone, split a log… it is there.

So how do I act in consort with these beliefs? I am an activist and an educator. I sit present and repeat myself to be heard. I keep my eye on the end game – it’s about the goal not always about how we get there. If the devil is in the details then surely it must be true that some kind of salvation or enlightenment rests in them too. I try to gather information and include the concerns of diverse people/communities in my efforts so that others don’t have to come after and fight to change programs so that they better serve their needs. Better that they serve diverse groups of people’s needs from the beginning. I have an open door. I try to cultivate deep, rich and meaningful relationships. I embrace failure. (When I tell myself, or others tell me, “that’s impossible,” my response is, “okay… it’s impossible and I’ll likely fail. Let’s start with that as a given and go ahead and try anyways. Likely the worst we can do is exceed expectations.”) I have sat on the board of a Dance Company. I sit on the board of an international trade/policy organization. I try to buy locally grown organic food. I walk and ride my bike instead of driving, often. I train and walk my dog. I laugh at least once each day.

I strive to see myself objectively.

The most revolutionary, radical and rebellious thing I do is respect and love, to the best of my ability, the people who come into my life – even when I sit in the midst of their judgments.

12 August 2005

Friday Night, Almost

We’ve slept in the new house since Tuesday night (and no the kitchen floors are not done.) I wasn’t accustomed to the new place, the new bed, or my head facing a new direction. Secret was fidgety. I was fidgety. No one slept well. I’d pondered the idea of taking Secret back to the smaller cottage to sleep on the day bed. I stuck it out, however, not without regret. Each night the sleeping has been a little better, a little sounder, a little deeper. We adjust to new awkwardly despite the length of time we’ve waited, wished and craved for it.

Ed woke early, bought the boards for the fence and began nailing. (He’d sunk the posts last weekend.) It had to be done today – and it’s almost done. Everything is in a state of almost being something other than what it is. He left and I began faking my way through it. I did okay (just okay) until I no longer felt I was doing okay. That’s when I stopped. At that point there were only four boards left and we probably need at least ten to finish.

Tonight I lay floating in a kaleidoscope of colors, under the towering redwood trees and a canopy of stars. The neighbors were having a drum circle in their backyard. Normally I would find this somewhat annoying – tonight it was just fine. In fact, it was almost pleasant (there’s that almost again.)

08 August 2005

Ode to Bed

What I’ve been meaning to say was that the beach was beautiful on Friday. The fog burned off about 200 or so yards off shore and while it was sunny, clear and mild on the beach, I spied the fishing boats shroud in a haze of crisp fog further out. Just brilliant.

Saturday we went to the funeral service, burial and reception for Ed’s second cousin (his mother’s cousin.) His mother was close with this family as they retrieved her from the orphanage after her father was killed in the war and her mother couldn’t manage being a single parent working full time. From what I’ve gathered she spent her weekends with her mother and weekdays with relatives after the stint in the orphanage. Any rate, this man was more like an uncle to Ed given his mother’s relationship. An Irish police officer and later a sheriff, the ceremony was all you’d expect with Irish prayer and proverb scattered in among the traditional Catholic Mass, honor guard, bag pipes at the burial site and a whole lot of libations. (He’d never arrested someone for drinking and driving because he didn’t view it as crime. The closest he came, his brother, who was on a drunk driving task force, told the story, was when a neighbor nearly hit his patrol car whilst careening through a red light at an intersection. His fellow officer drove the neighbor’s car home and they handcuffed him to his bed – releasing him after their shift was over.)

A different era. He was a member of the Elk’s Club. The woman who sat next to me at the reception said, “Oh they threw the best parties, the Elks. Bands inside and outside. Once I smoked a cigar at one of those parties. We were drinking and bands were playing and someone passed around a cigar. When we got home my husband said that the cigar was taking things a little too far.” And she laughed (may he rest in peace.) Somehow a more innocent time. A cigar taking things a little too far. Oh for our vices to be so benign.

On our way home we bought a new bed, again paying more then I’d planned or budgeted. (At some point the spending just has to stop, but it feels like it hasn’t even wholly begun.) I’ve had this old bed for some fifteen plus years and while it served me well as the best bed in the world, now that it sags and we roll into the middle it’s startling to think it once deserved that title.

A different era. The lovers that found grace in those sheets - quiet moments, forgetful moments. Ah. I have no sadness in shaking off the past. Sometimes I wish it would disappear with all its trinkets and baubles. Other times I cling to it like a life raft. What is it about ghosts that sit with us more steadfast then our closest living friends? It’s like once you die or fade into the past you become the house guest that won’t leave. That old bed is too crowded anyways.

05 August 2005

We're Leaving For The Beach In An Hour

Yesterday Ms Cassie and I hiked to the second waterfall at Elliot. It’s an amazing trek with spectacular vistas and I just love coming out of the thick dwarf forest and descending on to the valley with the second waterfall. It’s like a moonscape and there are these little oasis’ of waterholes, tadpoles abound in the stream and little baby frogs, smaller then dimes, are kicking about. The wild tigerlilies have stalks and huge green buds that emerge past their bloom - recovering from bursts into brilliant splays of orange.

Secret loves to swim. We’re going to Bolinas today. It’s supposed to be 105 degrees inland – which either makes the coast a perfect idea or a mad disaster. The microclimates in The City are amazing. The temperature can vary greater than 10 degrees from one neighborhood to the next – less than a ten minute walk. The Avenues are nearly always socked in with fog while if there is going to be sun anywhere in The City on a given day it can be found in the Mission. The Mission was about a ten or fifteen minute walk from where I used to live, on Haight Street, which was invariably a cold windtunnel of fog straight off the ocean. You could turn a corner from a side street on to Haight street and just be slammed with a woosh of cold, wet, damp air. Ah.. summer in San Francisco.

Oh wait, I wasn’t here to tell tales of the weather. We’re going to Bolinas today (I’m not driving.) Perfect idea or mad disaster.. right then. The hotter it is inland, the more likely the coast will be cold and foggy. This is why The City is so cold all summer while the Central Valley swelters. So while it’s all well and fine to escape the heat by going to the coast, it’s common to walk out of 105 degree heat onto a 60 degree beach, socked in with fog and a bitter, fridged cold whipping wind. So we pack up as the heat of the day descends and it’s strange to be bringing extra blankets, sweaters and jackets while the back of your neck is being singed and the sun beats cruel, pitiless and relentless. But then we might strike that balance of heat where the fog is somehow kept back off the coast a bit and burns off every time it tries to get near shore. Or there are those days when it’s a battle.. this moment cold and overcast, the next hot sun beating back the sky. It’s very surreal and beautiful and strange.

And we go to this place well known to be one of the feeding grounds of the great white sharks – cool, murky, seal-laden shore waters of the pacific. It’s where we go to play, in these dangerous places.

After the weeding and the whatnot I showered and readied for an event in The City, a Best of the Bay party, honoring the Bay Guardian’s picks for Best of the Bay and Local Heroes and the whatnot. I went as the guest of a Winner (Are you with a winner? The Bay Guardian staff inquired at the reception sign-in desk. I’m not a winner, but I’m with a winner. Story of my life??) Also, Cassie exgirlfriend was a winner too, for the most tawdry stage act, and she was there with her crew, dressed in festive pink and sparkles and more sparkles and more sparkles – very fun. I said hello but didn’t linger. We didn’t stay long.

Back at home I took the Honey Bee to the park and tossed the ball until night fall. The stars were brilliant. Jugglers juggled, teenagers showed off for one another and giggled and shook their tale feathers, children picnicked with their parents – we shared our blanket with a little girl and her mom. And when the world went to sleep we were snoring softly with her.

And today, today is a new day.. and we’re leaving for the beach in an hour.

03 August 2005


Speaking of driving… Did someone mention driving? Well, I just got home from another trek to Elliot – a brilliant morning sojourn to the waterfall. I stole a rock from the riverbed to replace the one Ed stubbed his toe on last night and catapulted into the neighbor’s yard. He was kind of being a dickhead. Sometimes he just doesn’t get it. The riverbed is not filing charges for the theft – the neighbor’s may, however.

I rode the mountain bike up the back side, from Phoenix Lake to Five Corners last night. It’s the first time I’ve made that hill without dismounting and pushing for the last leg or two or three. If I do it a few more times, I’m going to try going up the steep way – though it’s a brutal cruel climb.

30 July 2005

Today, the Deep End!

I have news AS exciting, as big as 2003 UB313! Hey, is that 2003 UB313 in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Okay, okay. I DID IT!!! I DID IT!! I DID IT!! I DID IT! I drove to Bolinas yesterday with the Honey Bee. ME. I DID IT. From here to eternity. I DROVE to Bolinas. I drove to Bolinas!!!

For the average onlooker this is no feat. Anyone who understands my paralyzing fear of driving will recognize the magnitude of this endeavor and sit in awe and wonder (and a bit of relief that you either weren’t on the road yesterday or weren’t aware of the monster threat on the road that was me. What you don’t know can indeed hurt you total your Mercedes McLaren.)

Me. I did it. Me!

23 July 2005

Vanilla Honey Lavender

I met Illeni yesterday morning and we went for a hike on the mountain. She’s one of Baby A’s moms and it seems we have a hoard of mutual friends from another life. We bump into each other on occasion when she’s out with Baby A and I’m out with the Honey Bee and as occasion put us together we plotted to be more deliberate and intentional – so we planned a hike. It’s strange making new friends, having to draw maps and diagrams for one another of who we are and how we think. It was nice-strange, however – it was nice to start a new relationship in this town.

I’d had such a long tenure in The City, along my usual routes of transport I knew cads of people, at least casually. And in my neighborhood I mightn’t have known my neighbors but I did know, at least superficially, the packs that ran there – and found my points of intersection.

Here it’s so different. I know all my neighbors, at least superficially. And what I call superficial, in The City would have been called a long-term relationship of the kind you might conjure in the Barbary Coast in some Tale of The City. Here we chat over fences. The young man who would have been a rock star wanders by the house to talk about the flowers he’s just planted and chat about irrigation systems and watering schedules. The Englishman who runs the mountain trails with his little dogs is putting in a native garden and we call our greetings as he waters his poppies. Secret Agent Dog literally squeals in delight when she sees the twins’ mom stop the SUV in front of the house to say hello. Hearing the kid’s voices she tries to jump the fence to be nearer to them. She just loves those kids. We went to their third birthday party weekend before last.

When I relax, I relax into myself and it’s a good place to be. When given the time to be myself, cultivate the life and relationships that I naturally cultivate, I love life, where I am, who I am, what I am. Everything isn’t perfect - but that’s not the point. I like who I am. I like that I’m able to be part of and inspire some sense of community here. I like cozy conversations over fences, coffee and wildflowers. I like that the local ice cream shop has four standard flavors of organic ice cream – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla-honey-lavender.

20 July 2005

Blasted Crows

The thing is, we all believe we’re good people. We all believe that we’re doing right, good, well-intended things. For the world to be in the shape it’s in, however, a good many of us must be wrong about that. So that tells me a great many of us aren’t terribly objective about what we’re doing, who we are – and frankly, it’s likely all of us to varying degrees, aren’t very objective. Maybe, really, ultimately, at the time, in different ways, I was no better than Wiley. Maybe if I can see that, I’ll not only be able to forgive, I’ll also be able to grow – shuffle off this mortal coil ick.

I keep trying to do this, to write this out, and every time I go to describe things I feel an intense need to make qualifications. I was such-and-such a way, or I did so-and-so, but here are the reasons why, this is what was happening to justify my frailties. I’m trying hard to leave the justifications on the doorstep and just take ownership of the frailties with abandon.

I was not as kind, caring or loving with people as I should have been. (I was about to say could have been, but indeed, the sad reality is that I was as kind as I could be, but I must hold that I acted within the limits of my capabilities.) This included not being emotionally responsible and at times being emotionally manipulative. I was sexually reckless. I used drugs and alcohol as a palliative remedy for honesty, maturity and responsibility. I walked away from people who needed me too often. I didn’t walk away from people who were abusive and dishonest as often as I should have. I was as schizophrenic in my actions and inactions as the rest of the world – but was able to talk a good talk to put myself in the altruistic box as it served me. I was not as judgmental or discerning as I should have been.

Again, I’m want to say, hey, but I did some cool shit too… I was a good person too! I’m slapping that down a little right now. Whatever. Wiley is/was a good person too. Sure, okay.. that’s a given. Like I say, whatever. It’s pretty easy to take ownership over the actions that we feel good about, isn’t it? It’s easy to be responsible for the who we-have-been and the who we-ares that we feel proud of, eh? Those things don’t somehow erase those other parts.

I find it pretty easy to make these sweeping confessions it large generalities. Getting specific feels a good deal more difficult, however. I need to think on that – think on where to go with that.

In the meantime, I painted the shelves for Hell’s Kitchen and left them to dry in the driveway, as there really isn’t room elsewhere. The crows shit all over them. Blasted crows. At least I’m better than the crows. I can say with confidence that I’ve never shit on someone’s newly painted kitchen shelves – or shelves for any room for that matter. See, for everything unforgivable about me, there’s redeeming bits too! To the extent that I wouldn’t shit on newly painted shelves in your closets and cupboards, I’d make an excellent house guest!

18 July 2005


Just like millions of others, our new Harry Potter arrived in the post on Saturday morning. The day was spent lounging on the lawn while Ed read aloud. On Sunday I remembered I was capable of multitasking and while we plowed through another few hundred pages I weeded, pruned, preened and otherwise beautified my sorely neglected garden. It looks so content and cared for right now – it’s just magnificent. With all the bother over Hell’s Kitchen, my lovely yard and garden has taken a back seat. It took Harry Potter in the side yard to provide a window for this clever endeavor. Not only did I not mind doing chores while I listened, it was immensely gratifying to take a project from start to finish and see relatively immediate results. Quite happy making indeed!

It’s taken two weeks for me to sink into a routine of nothingness – of waking, of puttering, of dabbling, of drinking coffee and surfing about on the internet, checking in to read my favorite this-and-thats. This is the week I’ll begin adventures and the whatnots - you just wait and see!

08 July 2005

Blame Canada

The first few days of taking this time off were rough. I felt angst-ridden, uncomfortable, self effacing – just plain not great, frankly. As I noted previously, I had one of the least enjoyable hikes on the mountain and none of the things that normally fill me with glee were working. Yesterday, however, I started falling into my skin. On the mountain my mind began racing – in a good way – lost in ideas, the moment, the smell of dust.

I ordered a debris box and put off the Honey Bee’s morning walk until it’s delivered. I was just chuckling to myself how I’m still in my sweat pants and it’s 11 am, when I looked out the window and realized that there’s a debris box in the drive. When the hell did that get there? Now I’ve no excuse to be in these sweat pants… damn.

I spent eight hours yesterday listening to Leonard Cohen. Can we say, swooooon! I wasn’t just listening to Leonard Cohen, I was, of course, predictably, painting Hell’s Kitchen at the same time. So while I was putting on the second coat of Glass Slipper, listening to Leonard Cohen and swoooooning, I thought I should pay a tribute to things from the 49th parallel that I adore. And it got me thinking of the Canadian arm of the American space shuttle, Bruce Cockburn, William Shatner, Peter Jennings, Ad Busters… And then I thought about something I overheard some Canadian’s saying about Pamela Sue Anderson – how her talent came from Canada but her implants came from America (and there, I thought her implants were her talent… silly me)… And I thought Leonard Cohen’s inspiration came from America no matter which two ways you look at it. And everything I thought after that would likely just piss Canadians off and the intended tribute just fell right in the crapper. And the difference is… if someone pointed out a handful of ways that the US sucks, I’d likely just nod and agree. I mean, 40 some million of these fuckers voted for Bush – they’re proud to have a man who can’t pronounce three syllable words representing them in the world market. And that’s not the half of it – even without Bush (hey, now there’s a thought) there remain troubles, errant ways, missteps from our founder’s visions. Those were largely good visions conceived of thoughtful statesmen – not perfect, but a great first start. Be that as it may… like I said… in the crapper.

There is a crack in everything… it’s how the light gets in. - L. Cohen

02 July 2005

It's a (bad) Dog's Life

I’m agro today. Can you believe it? I’m launched into day two of a sixty day respite from work and I’m agro. What the fuck is up with that? I should be dancing in the street, flitting about, happy as a clam, without a care and fancy free.

Instead I nearly had a melt down in Trader Joes whilst in search of Scharfenberger chocolate. An elderly woman in white Capri pants kept moving her cart in front of me, blocking the flow of all traffic and wandering away. Every time I turned around this woman was pushing her skinny ass in front of me. I wanted to pop her one.

A gaggle of friends met for the noonish showing of War of The Worlds. Tom Cruise is not my favorite. Or rather, he was just stellar in Magnolia. That was the right role for him. I’m not saying this wasn’t a fun movie. To the contrary it had the suspense thing happening, was true to the story, fun special effects and a great little alien. Of course it’s Marin and a woman in the bathroom insists that since the environment killed the aliens there was indeed a message for humans in that – you know, about our toxic environment. Big eye roll…. It’s about evolution and adaptation… duh.

I bought four bars of chocolate and sweltered in the heat, despite the air conditioning in the car, all the way home to greet the Honey Bee. You know.. the Honey Bee who ate an ENTIRE frillin’ chicken carcass out of the trash while we were gone. I called the emergency vet and they say to just watch her. I ask, “well isn’t the issue here that the bones are brittle and can slice her insides?” They assure me I’m on target about the concern and well, damage done, nothing can stop it if it’s going to happen. I guess in most cases nothing happens but we’re to bring her in if she starts protecting her stomach, vomiting or having G.I. symptoms. I think, why bring her in, to watch her die?

This all follows her fabulous skunking of night before last. “Did you remember to shut the front door?” I ask Ed as he sleepily stumbles to bed after staying up to the wee hours watching some DVD or another. “Oh yes,” he assures. And at 3 a.m. I hear a scuffle on the deck outside our bedroom window and then that sickly creosote smell of fresh skunk oil wafting into the bedroom and sticking.. well.. pretty much on everything. And then the proud instigator comes loping in, hops on the bed and finds her spot on the pillow by my head. She’s foaming at the mouth where she seemed to catch the lion’s share of the spray. A few hours with the de-skunking enzymes… which work for shit… and we’re ready to settle in for two friggin’ hours of sleep before my last day of work.

But here we are… and I should be chipper as a June Bug (why are June bugs chipper?) but I’m irritable and agro and my massage therapist can’t see me until tomorrow and while we had a fun time at War of the Worlds we’ve made no headway on Hell’s Kitchen and I’m just… very… bothered by everything right now.

20 June 2005

Out Of Reach

It’s strange. When I leave home, almost instantly, I become inspired. It’s as though the spectrum of pain and discomfort it takes for the artist within to be stirred is as benign as walking the jet way. It’s always been this way. Leaving home, familiar things, removing the distraction (and comfort) of most days moves something. I wax poetic and the world expands - ideas, dreams, sounds and images flood in a montage of mixed media. Of course it’s easy, a cop out of sorts, like being brave in a bubble. Somehow, returning home, all those ideas become like a dream I vaguely remember, spend all day trying to recall, and yet it never surfaces – a profound truth, the answer, the meaning of everything, allusively out of reach.

At home, perhaps, it’s this blinding love of things that gets in the way. Love, this ravenous monster – passion devouring passion. It’s a good time to reflect on these things, with greater time to further reflect and indulge around the corner.

17 June 2005

Bad Hair Day

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott

To every heart love must come, but like a refugee. - L. Cohen

Puck is going to slap my hands. If you feel you can’t resist cutting your own hair, he’s said, time and again, just call me. I didn’t call him. It was in my eyes. It was just bothering me. In Berlin, one year, I took out a pen knife and sawed off my bangs. It was a tragedy – it looked absolutely terrible. Yesterday I was more careful. I used a scissors and a razorblade to soften the blunt edges. Jeez. He’s gonna be mad. But he’s only working Sundays and Mondays now and I leave for DC on Sunday morning, early and don’t return until late Tuesday night. I surely would have done something more drastic if left to my own devices in DC with hairs dangling in my eyes while I’m trying to focus and take notes at the meeting. I have to look at it like damage control. If he gives me that sideways look and sighs heavily, I’ll pretend I don’t know what he’s talking about. No, I didn’t cut my hair. You’ve always told me to call first. I wouldn’t do that.

Today is the day – or at least one of the days. It’s the staff meeting where preliminary proposals will be debuted and discussed for their feasibility and viability - proposals for staff reductions and down sizing.

It would indeed by a tragedy if the history of the human race proved to be nothing more noble than the story of an ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump. - David Ormsby-Gore

I already know what the proposals are. As I alluded to yesterday, they’re not enough to convince me. I’ve been told more surgical tactics are yet to be employed – and those are the ones I’m raising my eyebrow skeptically and waiting for. We shall see. We shall see.

Secret is particularly needy today. While the entire house and yard are at her disposal, all fifty pounds of her has climbed up on my study chair, shoved herself behind me, curled into a bean shape and her sleepy head is draped over the arm rest. She’s so adorable when she makes herself bean-shaped, despite the inconvenience I can’t bring myself to disturb her. Besides, she’ll spent the lion’s share of the day alone.

And if I merely make room, rightly, love will come.. albeit like a refugee. I need to muster being through this day rightly and make room for the unknown, infinite possibilities and the future. It’s not really about who is right it’s just about the way it’s gonna be. Bad hair day or not…

16 June 2005

A Happy Cell

It’s raining. It’s June and it’s raining. How weird is that!? The first two years here the rains stopped in May and we didn’t see a drop again until November. Last year there were sprinkles one day in July. But today, well, this is a real rain and it’s supposed to continue for the next day or two. It feels like one of those surrealistic moments when someone says, oh yeah, when pigs fly! and you find yourself ducking as hoofs nearly scrape the top of your head in a rush of wind. There was a tsunami warning yesterday. Okay.. so rain in June is just plain weird – but a tsunami warning!?! Like I say, watch your head.

A week off of work and while there has been progress made on the kitchen, it’s slow going. I’m in the throws of the first phase of spackling and then the sanding will recommence. We’re going on six months now and I have been determined that we’ll begin moving in this month. It’s been the plan all along that once the kitchen is done we’ll move in. The work in the bathroom is a longer-term effort and the mudroom can be done once we’re in. So it’s like we’re running and the camera is moving away, ahead of us, making it look like we’re staying in one place. (And suddenly I’m standing in the balcony at the back of the church, in front of a row of glass windows, and I stretch out my arms like a crucifix and begin rattling my fists against the glass in the middle of the ceremony. “Elaine!” I yell in anguish. “Elaine! Elaine!”)

01 June 2005

Hell's Kitchen

Where are we going and what am I doing in this hand basket?

I have commenced into the kitchen, the final room before the move (okay, I might do the mud room before the move too, but compared to everything that has come before that feels like a menial task, a throw away, a wink and a nod…) It’s my third day in the kitchen. I’m a bit stunned at how hard the work is and how slow going. My body aches and I’ve paint dust in every orifice and pore, between each strand of hair, in my ears and even in my dreams. The random orbital sander rocks, but I’m convinced it’s not paint but some kind of cement on the walls. Three days and I’m not even half way done with the sanding… and it’s not a big kitchen.

In the rooms we’ve painted, despite getting top of the line Benjamin Moore paint (despite paying an arm and a leg and a kidney and a portion of my liver for the paint), it chips off. It’s been infuriating. In the kitchen, however, a jackhammer wouldn’t take that old paint off. I hit a cupboard with a hammer and it dented the wood, not the paint. What the hell is in that stuff?

It was so hot and dusty and dirty. I sat in the shower for a half hour drinking a Corona with lime when I was done for the day. Then off to the waterfall at Elliot with the Honey Bee. She’s getting more dog-like and I fear it’s a result of neglect. Oh yes, she has her walk in the morning and we still do a monster hike every evening – but near every other moment I’m working in the front cottage while she’s making due on her lonesome. I miss her and she’s becoming a real dog when I’m not looking.

The town gardener and other keepers are readying the town for the annual parade and festival this weekend. They’re prettying up the paint on the streets, a brand-spanking new 15 MPH in the alley, and setting up a stage in the park in the middle of town for this or that feature of the festivities. Everyone’s buzzing with excitement and anticipation, myself included, for the fun to begin. We have our habit, our perch, where we’ll nestle with Ms. Secret and friends and take pictures and chat with neighbors and watch the parade. And then, well, back to the kitchen.

25 May 2005


”If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito” – Betty Reese

I’m hopeful and hoping that I’ll be moving into the new place sometime in June. Two steps forward, one step back. When we pulled the tape from the crown molding and baseboards in the living room, it pulled the new flat paint and sheet rock paper right off the wall. Huge rips now, spanning the clean lines of classic light buff But, well, the crown molding is painted. Some previous occupant had painted latex over oil-based paint and it’s impossible to prep the baseboards for painting. So we ripped them off the wall and will replace them.. hopefully this weekend.

I have been trying, throughout the week, to steal lunch hours, breaks and time after work to make bits of progress in the place. If I commence on the kitchen, the last room to be reckoned with before moving in, by this weekend, I feel like I’ll be achieving some kind of meaningful momentum on the project. We’ve decided that we’ll continue to use the bathroom in the back cottage, even after we move in, and not begin the remodel work on that bathroom until after we’re settled in. Maybe that’s foolish – but at least I’m deciding what kind of fool I’ll be.

I look forward to a weekend when all there is to do is a speck of gardening and an adventure with Secret Agent Dog to the beach at Bolinas. We haven’t been yet at all this year and I’m in withdrawal. I miss the ablutions of summer. And I decided, by the way, that yesterday was officially the first day of summer. Not the day I spied the young rattlesnake, but yesterday. It was hot. It was really hot. It was windless and oppressively hot and the trees were still moist and neon green of spring and it was hot. I ate popsicles and didn’t cook dinner.

This weekend we’re supposedly invited to the annual Memorial Day pool party at the friend-of-a-friends house in Terra Linda. The wealthy women who had their lap pool airlifted (okay, they used a crane) into the back yard. I tried to wrangle an invitation to use the pool for months afterwards last year and then surrendered defeat. This year the friends invited us and then said, oh, we have to check to see if it’s okay that we bring you. Which makes the invitation seem like less than an invitation. I feel like I’m waiting to be picked by a team for a dodge ball game and I don’t even like dodge ball.

On Friday the big meeting begins at work – to decide organizational fate. I guess all the negativism I feel in my words (and bones) stem from a sense of doom and dread about these conversations, this process and the decision(s). People will be laid off as a result of decisions – the trajectory of people’s lives will take some dramatic twists and turns. While at some level I’m at peace with the whole thing – I’m just not ready to launch. I hate the waiting but I hate the beginning too. Hate is a strong word and it doesn’t serve.

20 May 2005


True myths may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blond Hero – really look – and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you. The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. ‘You must change your life,’ he said. When the true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message: ‘you must change your life.’” - Ursula K. Le Guin

I had troubling dreams last night. I was on a boat with my mother and others, in the Bayou, it seemed or someplace else mysterious. Something fell in the water, or someone, something that needed saving. My mother, who is historically hysterically fearful of water jumped in to save it. The boat kept going – leaving her behind.

I began screaming that we had to go back. We had to fetch her. How they didn’t understand such a bold move from my mother, who’s fear and panic in the water is inimitable. To risk what she risked by jumping in was more then it perhaps appeared on the surface. The boatman yelled that he couldn’t go back just yet. That he would, but right now it was impossible. I kept looking backward, stretching to see – but we were only moving further away and clarity was lessening by the moment.

Eventually the boat did turn around and fetched her from a medical unit. She looked pale and ashen, deathly really, and had a wound that had been tended, in the shape of an oval, between her ribs on her right side. It was though she had been speared with a sword and this is the mark left behind – neat, oval, and now sewn up. I asked her what happened, pointing to the wound.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I jumped in the water and that skin just fell off. I’m really not sure.” Somewhere along the line she had fainted, perhaps, blacked out and her memory of things were murky. “What was really disturbing,” she went on, “is that when I woke up I was on a cold gurney. There were dead bodies to the right and left. I was in a morgue. They thought I was dead.”

And we sat in silence pondering this as the boat swiftly carried us forward.

It’s unclear that she accomplished her mission. Unclear that she saved anything.. only risked.

And this morning I have this strange sensation of riding in a bright colored car – clear blue sky, soft warm wind, windows open, breeze in my hair, and I’m waving… waving while on my way. It’s all very… sunny.

19 May 2005

Tick Tock

To always be intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it – this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed.” - Sir Walter Scott

I found a big monster tick - swollen, engorged on a feast of blood – dead on the living room floor this morning. It had to be attached to one of us. I’m certain it didn’t just wander in like that and die.

It’s important that I remind myself, more than once it seems, that living life differently isn’t pinned to decisions about work. Decisions like this just don’t wander in like that – they’re rather attached and sucking the life out of you before they fall off and happen. They’re greedy.

18 May 2005

Look Here

I have died so little today, friend, forgive me.” - Thomas Lux

I reach out and up - hand extended into all this space. It’s as though I’m volunteering. It’s as though I’m trying to touch someone. It’s as if I’m reaching for something to grasp, hang on to, cling to – if I found it, touched it, I’d be chosen. Saved.

I can’t hear your voice in this room. Were you speaking to me? With such profound patience and silence I sit waiting for your single sibilant yes.

It’s raining here, above the 37th parallel. The towering spikes of campanula lay prostrate across the garden, heavy with sky and wind. Handfuls of purple flowers kiss the earth. In my white terrycloth robe and red plastic gardening shoes I trekked about the garden this morning, tying things up.

I would make a wonderful corpse – the way I love the smell of dirt. Ah, but I’d miss the taste and smell of coffee like I already miss tobacco. I imagine there would be plenty of things to miss.

And here I sit amidst all this life, squandering weeks, days, minutes, seconds as though I’m a rich man as opposed to the free raggedy popper that I am. Aren’t I pathetic – like a skid row bum drunk on sweet basil and Gerber daisies -content to wallow in the filth, blind by addiction to pastel columbine petals blowing across cut grass and bleeding hearts twining with digitalis in the shade of the faux orange tree. Just who do I think I am? Fancying myself a princess of sorts – ruling over the lilacs and rosemary. A grand ruse.

How do I find the words to apologize for all the lies I have told myself? I learned them from you, my friend. I learned them from you. You with your lives and all their invented meanings. Look here.

16 May 2005

The Way I See It

On my doorstep, in my kitchen, adversity melts like ice in a highball glass. That’s the way I see it sometimes. Inverted reflections, changing shape as the minutes dissolve into dark spirits.

28 April 2005

Water Lilies

The head cold, sore throat, achy, fever, chills thing persists. My throat feels like a gravel road or rather perhaps more like stippled, bulbous, fleshy alien pods. Hmmm.. pretty. Perhaps these bulbous throat pods are indeed the seed casings for Monet’s water lilies. Stranger things have happened. It could be, you know. It could happen. It could. Oh shut up.

22 April 2005

ThePerfect Spot

I feel chilled and achy and my head is foggy. It’s the beginnings of something. Isn’t that the way things go with beginnings – so clear something is coming and yet an absolute mystery as to what and how far things will go? Where this starts and stops will soon be revealed, in its own time, not to be rushed, it’s inevitable. So here I sit in the inevitability of life – wondering why it’s so painful and uncomfortable.

I’m off work again this week, or rather, I was off work except for Wednesday and as it turns out a bit of Thursday and Friday as well. I’m feeling bitter. Maybe it has to do with the chilled-achy-foggy-head feeling and less to do with work. It’s all quite a bit like Monet’s water lilies - from close up I can’t really tell what it is and at varying distances it’s a blur but there’s a perfect spot where I’ll see it clearly and beautifully. I just haven’t found the perfect spot yet. I’m looking for the perfect spot.

Okay. Breathe. Maybe I’m realizing the perfect spot. Okay. Maybe a little pain and discomfort has got to be part of the perfection sometimes. Perhaps it’s a catalyst or maybe the supernatant. Whatever the case it’s somehow part of it - not to be run away from, shuffled off, healed, overcome or escaped. Okay.

27 March 2005

Postcards From The Cornfield

I was flying back from Los Angeles Friday before last I think it was. I’d taken a brief stroll on Rodeo Drive before an early afternoon lunch meeting nearby. That was a reminder to me of just how uncool I am. It crossed my mind that if things had worked out with the lover-who-shall-not-be-named that that place would be the context of my life. I would hate myself and feel out of place – I’d likely never really know that it was the place and not me that I loathed. It’s so difficult to make distinctions sometimes.

Flying back from Minneapolis a few days ago now. Things that must have once seemed commonplace strike me as odd. And the mere realization, the third-person-looking-in moment of awareness, colors events with an invented and surreal quality. I watch. Very through the looking glass darkly or maybe brightly. Serves to show me how much I’ve changed (and perhaps how much I haven’t).

I’m not saying good or bad. I’m just saying different. Leave the judgments to those who thrive on them. I’ll leave it to the you and the other to name which is which, what is what, who is who. All I know is that at once I felt like two ends of a magnet, both repelled and attracted. It was all laid out like an unmovable feast before me with a sign that says, look, but don’t touch.

I’m left with old familiar feelings. My heart and eyes too wide open - when to hold it in my vision I must put my heart and mind in separate rooms until it’s safe to come out. I tell Ed that I feel sad and wished-away. (What part of our history is reinvented and under rug swept?) He wishes me back.

16 March 2005

Smoke Break

I leave for Minneapolis in the morning. I’m tired of airplanes - tired of traversing the planet in the sky. In my best of all possible worlds, perhaps, I’d roll on my belly in the dirt – slither across the continent and feel not merely see the distance as it neared, I wallow in it and then crawl away.

I want a cigarette – such a little flush of plant, soaked in lethal chemicals and wrapped up in a bit a scrap paper can have the most seductive allure. I imagine myself sitting on a hillside with a perfect cup of coffee, dog by my side, and in the strike of a flint a year of resistance down the drain. But can’t you just smell the sickly sweet and stale smell of burning tobacco wrecking the crisp spring air? And the coffee - steamy and sticky and sweet? Sigh. It’s pretty to think so. And just as quickly I’m forced to flush those thoughts from my mind and stay the course.

Amidst Ed’s laundry I found a mostly empty pack, with a sole lonely cigarette inside. I wasn’t looking, mind you. I was sorting laundry – that’s all. And I pulled the pack out of the inside shirt pocket, took out the cigarette and rolled it between my fingers, held it in my hand and smelled it. I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror while I mock smoked it… just for a second before tossing it in the toilet and flushing it along with those thoughts.

Over a year since I set aside that seductress and still the sirens sometimes woo me with melodious enchantments - (empty) promises of a lush life. But when she turns round toward me in the pale light of morning, she’s old, weathered and wrinkled – not with those beautiful lines of character and a life well lived, but more like a hunger folding in on itself over and over again – (can you imagine all that greed and avarice coming down on that child’s lips?) If it wasn’t such a lie or at least if I could believe it…

15 March 2005

Must Give Us Pause

My grandmother had a stroke on Sunday night. My mother flew to Minneapolis to be near her, to be with her, on Monday. She died this morning. Firstly, do not apologize. Secondly, don’t offer condolences. To do either of these things would denigrate her life.

My grandmother is a wonderful woman. The mother of my mother, she gave me the most precious gift. She is perhaps with me today in far keener state of mind than she has been for years. She is laughing and growing more youthful and vivacious as the seconds draw on and my grandfather’s arm wrap warmly around her, free of the burdens of flesh – as she grows more accustomed to this business of being dead and gets on with it.

As Rilke wrote:

And being dead is hard work
and full of retrieval before one can gradually feel
a trace of eternity. - Though the living are wrong to believe
in the too-sharp distinctions which they themselves have created.
Angels (they say) don’t know whether it is the living
they are moving among, or the dead.

In other words, she doesn’t recognize me as alive and I refuse to lament these distinctions. To lament her death is to lament her life. What is death but a pause, a form of punctuation, in our lives? Death is the final proof that we have capacity to continue to grow and change. Death maybe isn’t our final act, but it’s often an awkward chrysalis for the living to behold. Don’t count me among them - those that view the becoming as awkward or untoward, that is. Do count me as among the living, however.

I am clear that my grandmother’s death is not about me. And I won’t try to step in and steal her center stage through some erroneous display of grief. This was her gesture - the last attached to this flesh that I’ll have the luxury of savoring. I am grateful and humbled and honored in the face of that.

07 March 2005

Again and Again

I arrived in Boston the day before yesterday - on the 20th (February). I clarify that because I think about writing here often, put thoughts on the page, and then think the better of posting, or maybe I don’t think at all and I just don’t post. I walked through Boston Commons yesterday, the 21st, during a brilliant snow storm. Nearly six inches. It was crisp and cold and clean snow blanketed the park as I walked the mile and a half in less than sensible shoes.


I walked on the mountain with Secret today – on the 28th (February), back in the Bay Area. Cassie contends that it’s not spring yet – she says, ”the trees don’t lie.” But the Madrone’s are flowering, wild irises are beginning to pepper the hillsides, Indian Paintbrushes flaunt their blooms and the buckeyes bear leaves cupped in the shape of small hands the ways hands would be shaped if they were displaying Easter eggs on their fingertips. Ha. It’s true, the trees don’t lie. It was only a matter of time. There was a mild breeze, high cottony clouds in a field of bird’s-egg-blue sky and sun shining through like grace – like grace on a divine day. It was perfect.

Later still…

I finished McGuire’s Mirror, Mirror on the airplane. I read through the notes provided for discussion groups. I used to be such a deep reader. I don’t know who the fairest one of all is – which leaves me feeling like a dork.


It’s March-something and I’ve never seen the desert in such spectacular bloom. I say this and still the ocotillos and beavertail cactus, except in the lower and warmest desert, have barely just begun to unfurl their buds – just the tiniest splashes of red and pink in seas of verbena, desert sunflowers, poppies, and dandelions, lupine, Canterbury bells and the bouquet of more goes on and on.

We drove to the base of Edom Hill to wallow in a landscape of delicate desert sunflowers wafting in the breeze – while ATVs corrupted the serenity. Joshua Tree was awesome. Although even the hills that abut downtown Palm Springs, running parallel to Palm Canyon Drive, are covered with such green it’s downright trickery – lush and tropical – not resembling a desert at all.

Home again, home again…