Tag: life stories

Le Pot

Le Pot.  It is practically the anthem of my forebears.  They pretended to meditate at the foot of the cosmic universe and also Buddha but they were all secretly thanking the good earth for le pot.  My home state kicked me the hell out of its borders five and a half years ago and you’d think I’d be bitter.  I’m not.  Well, I was.  But I’m not anymore.  You can’t stay mad at a stoned out state so full of delicious diversity of ethnicity, taste, fortune, color, notes, and spirituality.  It’s the state of every flavor.  New York City thinks it’s running the biggest diversity gig in the states but I say it’s not.  I know it’s not.  It wears too much black and relies heavily on arthritic traditions.  California is reinventing itself every decade.

I love my birth state.  Aside from the climate, I am at home there.  Both in the north and the south though I’ll always be most truly a northern girl.  When I was eight and a half I adopted Oregon as my new state.  I loved it.  I’ve loved it ever since then.  My innocent view of it was, of course, shattered by my return to it five years ago.  I have grown.  I have learned to see it with new eyes and dream my old dreams in the quiet of pre-dawn.  I have never thrashed so much against the grain nor has my tolerance ever been tested so severely for things I assumed I had an endless and benevolent patience.

I am a dual citizen if such can be said about having feet in two states of this country of mine.  I kept trying to choose but choice, it turns out, is not necessary and somewhat futile.  We suck up all the oxygen and take on the flavor of the soils we’re raised in and so, just like our mutt heritage, we become a melange of flavors and terroir.  I can ridicule California as easily as I can ridicule Oregon.  One thing they have in common is their great love for le pot.

I tried to be a good flower child and smoke lots of pot with a lazy lurch towards some kind of cosmic convergence of laid back easy-access back door welcome mat relaxed jean wearing suntanned slot on the spiritual ladder of love but ended up retching violently every time I tried to smoke that shit and eventually accepted my less airy state of being as an anxious denim-hating keyed up pasty-skinned stop on the elevator to hell.  We all have our place.

Visiting California is just as much a home-coming as visiting Oregon has always been when I’ve been in California.  There is no choosing.  I belong in both worlds and neither.  I got too much sun on my trip.  I hate sunscreen and prefer to live in a climate where you don’t need it because you’ll be lucky to get an extra freckle in a whole summer of gardening.*  My skin is much too red now.  I like people to embrace the skin they were born with-all colors.  My skin in its natural form is white like cala lilies.  If I had been born with skin the color of mahogany I would not wish to make it lighter or darker but would want it to shine with its inner light.

It was such a pleasure to walk the beach from the Santa Monica pier to Venice beach at Market Street.  I walked the waves the whole way and wore a ridiculous grin I would have been embarrassed of if I could have given a shit.

I couldn’t give a shit.

The people in bathing suits were funny little humans and the whole way it was me and the birds ever watchful between the humans and the waves.  The seagulls and pelicans and me.  We understood each other and the game of the waves.  The true hunger of the ocean fingering her way up the beach to drag the weak to her bosom.  The birds and I kept perpetual eye on her hands.  I get vertigo when the waves retreat but if I stand still, so does the rest of the world.  I’m the only one who knows it.  I saw every kind of people and it filled me with happiness.  There was fat and thin and in-between.  There was black and white and pink and brown skin.  There were tattoos, hearts, jewels, rags, bikinis and shorts, young and old, every country represented.

The water was disconcertingly warm and reminded me of being a kid boogy-boarding in the Southern California waves.  Back when I wasn’t aware that the water wanted to suck me down and spit me out without my spirit.  I like a bracingly cold beach.  The hem of my skirt dragged as it got wet and wetter.  It’s mostly wood after all.**  Every time the water sucked at my hem I laughed out loud.  I didn’t care who heard me and noticed I was laughing alone.  I am comfortable in my skin and in the world.  I said to the ocean “Try again!  When you get me I will bow to you.  When you shrink wrap my soul in the intestine of an urchin I will give you my heart for free.  But you have to catch me first and I’m a wily substantive lady!”

I watched the birds tease the ocean too.  We played the same game.

I cut all the strings loose.  I untethered myself from obligation and time.  I simply walked and my sad mangled feet were cleansed with salt and sand and the light, though obnoxious, didn’t have the power to anger me.  I was in my other home.  Truth be told, California accepts me with so much generosity as its child that I can’t curse too loudly or too earnestly.  The light hurts my eyes but it embraces me in a way Oregon may never do.

California pushed me out of its border and I was deeply hurt and broken but I see now that it was to force me to evolve into who I’m meant to become.  I could never have grown as much in California as I have in the north of Oregon.  My wild tough surrogate mother state.  It has not been kind or easy or smooth here but it has given me the isolation and loneliness and desperation to find fiction.  The climate is kinder to me.  The snow, when it comes, gives my spirit buoyancy.  Being le poisson out of stream has forced my scales to become more vibrant and resistant to rot.

The blackberries growing in the Oregon summer are a prayer I’m never tired of reading and speaking out loud to my spirit.

Still, I’m proud of my hippie parents.  All three of them.  I’m proud to have mushroomed up out of a pot haze.  I’m proud to be the offspring of a couple of crazy young drug-happy adults willing to question everything and seek love and harmony even though hindsight makes a strong case for how ridiculous a mission they gave themselves.  I’m happy to have been taken on by a Jewish step-dad who traveled to Tibet with an idea of becoming a Tibetan monk.  I’m proud of all three of my parents who are, all of them, completely mad and messed up and brilliant and creative and strong-willed and-

thank god I have a will as strong as any of theirs or I might have been subsumed by them all like proteins absorbed in skin.  All of them are scattered now.  Disparate and individual and yet I see how connected they will always be through me.  I am the convergence of all this pot, philosophy, culture, and sand.

It’s possible that I might never have been born if it wasn’t for Le Pot.  While there was a long period of time during which I most sincerely wished I hadn’t been born, in the end I came round to this whole concept of hope and love and Frank Sinatra.  When I saw this wee spent doobie on the sand I saluted it for the anthem of my life it is.  I may be allergic to it but there is no questioning that my life has been paved with pot smoke.

Amen to the ganja.

Amen to the hippies.


*This is actually untrue.  In spite of so much less sun in northern Oregon than California there are a lot of UV rays crashing through the clouds and the sun sneaks in on you unexpectedly ALL THE TIME.  I gain just as many freckles every year in Oregon as I did in California.

**Rayon is made from tree fiber.


Not dead yet.

Seeing in violent color.

Because my lungs hurt and contract into themselves with force when I try to breath.

My mother told me “The State Within” was excellent.  I asked her if the main character was good looking.  Jesus.  As though I need a beefcake to enjoy myself.  My rules for attraction are not Fabio-centric.  No, and they don’t tend towards six packs and lush lips.  Uh uh.  I don’t care for long haired men with pecks as inflated as stiff breasts.  No tans necessary.  Straight teeth are not a requirement.  I can’t say what it is.

Which is fine, really, because obviously the main point is that I’m shallow.

My shallowness is at least not sexist.  I want my lead lady to be good looking too.  Which means not looking like Angelina Jolie with those popping veins, pillow lips, and sinewy hard limbs.  Uh uh.  Blond is only acceptable if not insipid.  Snub noses need not apply.  Pale.  Pale.  I like pale people.

Unless they are naturally dark.  Dark skin is beautiful when it’s what a person is born with.  Dark to the point of black, dusky, cocoa, olive – anything but artificially or sun tanned.


I hated them when I was a kid.  Because I had them, lots of them, not just a sweet sun-sprinkle of them across my nose.  All over my face and shoulders.  People made fun of me.  But something happened when I got older.  Not only did I accept them but my vision cleared so that I found them beautiful on other people.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I guess I always found them attractive on others, just not on myself.  From third grade to sixth grade I was as near as in love with a boy as a girl that age can be with a red-headed boy covered in freckles.  Plus, he was short.

I think freckles are attractive enough that I made Cricket covered in them.  Not just a sunny sprinkle across a pert Southern Californian nose.  She’s really freckled.  I love that about her.  You may not, and I accept that we all have different tastes, but isn’t it about time that freckles were raised up as a possible point of beauty in a heroine who also happens to punch men like a demon and has the most beautiful hands on earth?

I didn’t mean to write a treatise about my shallow need to see people eye-candy.  C’est la vie.  I go with the moment.  It’s been a long sick day.  I am only up at the crack of dawn because I needed to watch the whole “The State Within” series.  I had to know what happened.

I am sicker today than I was yesterday or the day before.  My mother made me sage tea this morning and it was just like when I was a little girl.  Except better because I hated being a little girl.

I started reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and suddenly hated myself as a writer.  I am in a serious crisis now.  It will pass.  I’m sure.  But reading good literature right now might not be the most genius prescription for my predicament.

(Which is: oh my god I’m a crap writer what the hell am I doing and who the hell will want to read my stories when they aren’t charming and warm but are dark and unevenly irreverent and hell hath no fury like a crap writer…etc)

It’s a very good book.  Pisses me off how good it is.  I am all at sea.

It will pass.

Given time.

I meant to nap and read most of the day away but ended up spending most of it cooking.

I wonder why so often when I see really tall men I superimpose myself in their bones.

In spite of this, I am all woman.

I really miss Kung Fu.  I can’t breath well enough to do it.  Can’t go to class and can’t practice at home.  Because I’m so tired.  I’ve been so tired for over a week.  I know staying up this late doesn’t help.  I’m not sleepy.  Just tired.  My body feels leaden and a little disconnected.

While taking a little forced break from Cricket and Grey (the third draft), due to writing crisis, I suddenly find myself fixating on how I can make Jane Doe a real novel.  The plot difficulties are so clear now and I find myself buzzing with ideas.  Where my first draft went wrong is obvious.  But again, I see that my writing style is full of contradictions and I’m not sure how that will work.

Oh my god, Jane Doe is so heavy I am breathless thinking about it.  Yet, it is not without light.  Vibrant light.

This reminds me of my boyfriend Tristan telling me that I was so “heavy”.

Which reminds me of the surreal night of fighting we had at O’Leary’s pub where it started out about how his idea of monogamy was quite different than mine and how angry I was because I would have willingly dated him with no strings attached but he insisted we be exclusive.  Which left me hurting hurting hurting because his idea of exclusive included giving all attractive females back rubs and some attractive females a great big snog.  Right in the middle of our heated and somewhat agitated discussion I saw him.  I really saw him.

Suddenly I didn’t exist.  Not in an important way.  I simply saw him.  I saw how he was wasting himself.  How his needs didn’t match mine but how his passions and needs were important and valid and that he needed to be true to himself and if it meant sleeping with every goddamn girl he met it really wasn’t for me to stop him or concern myself with it.  I needed to fade into the ether, leave him so he could be who he was meant to become.  I was like a corridor to himself.  A beacon light.

I was very much in love with him.

Sitting there across from him in the smarmy pub lighting I saw him as he really was.  I saw inside him and I knew I didn’t fit there.  I wasn’t appropriate for him.  Me with my Gothic notions of faithfulness and attachment.  The hairs on my arms rose and then I could no longer feel my body, I simply saw his spirit and what it needed and what it could become.  I saw his whole potential in front of me and it was beautiful and I wasn’t the person who could nurture it.  I told him he needed to fly.  He needed to photograph naked women, he needed to photograph whatever interested him because he had amazing talent with a camera, he needed to spread his wings and just fucking do what he was driven to do and I wasn’t part of it.  I knew it.  I told him.  It was so strange to see him hurt at being told he should fly.

I see into people often, but rarely do I see them so clearly that I become disembodied completely.  I couldn’t feel my flesh any more.  Who I was didn’t matter, my claims on this man didn’t matter, all that mattered was to guide this spirit forward.  To step aside and let him shine.  He was incandescent, but not for me.  I was nothing but a medium.  I was an interim for him.  I was nothing more than an interlude, a moment, a second, and I’d be shocked to know if he even remembered me at all.

I am heavy because I suck up everyone’s light and save it for them.

I am heavy because I carry all the sorrow of mankind in my chest.

Which makes bronchitis a specious bitch.

I trusted myself that night at the pub.  I have felt similar charges in spirit since then, but never with such sacrifice as knowing that I had to let a person go for their own good.  Walk away.  Evaporate.

The question came up the other night “Have you ever broken anyone’s heart?” and I’m not sure how that came up but Philip can definitely say yes, but me?  Someone told me I broke Tristan’s heart but when I think about who he really was I am sure that I didn’t have that power.  When I think of all the people I’ve gone out with I don’t think I’ve ever broken a single one of their hearts.

I’d like to believe I had.  Just one.  Somehow it seems cold and hard to have never dented another person enough to have broken their heart.  What kind of icicle does that make me?

Then Philip reminded me of a penpal I had for a while who seemed to have developed a tendre for me even though he knew I was married.  I had completely forgotten.  Maybe because that correspondence occurred at the same time that my biological father was writing things to me  like how I am related to a celebrated Norwegian poet.  How I’m actually a quarter Polish, which I hadn’t previously known.  The penpal paled.

I don’t think I broke his heart either.

Every person has some kind of power.

That’s not one of mine.

I must go to bed now.  I’m still not tired.  I’m not tired.  How can I be so un-tired?  I can sleep in.  That won’t solve my writing crisis.  Only soldiering on can do that.

I part with this caution: wash your hands often, take your vitamins, get exercise (but don’t pull a goddamned muscle), eat well, drink a shitload of beer, and get some sleep.