Tag: meditation

Ballad of the Long Straight Road

I know why people take to the open road.  I know why they grab their keys, their manhood, and schisms to bolt through congested traffic until they hit the long stretch where the cars thin out and the road turns quiet like butter under the wheels.  They do it to create a buffer between themselves and everything static.  They do it to think in the moment where everything is raw but moving with the landscape.

I do it because it’s like flying.  Every summer I take the Vespa out to Bernards Farm.  I pack up  a collection of nasty bags and boxes and anything I can load produce into and it almost doesn’t matter what it is I’m going to pick – I’d go out there to pick the chamomile dotting the tomato fields if there were no tomatoes left just to go.  Just to break loose, to race down Old Sheridan Road with insects hitting me like tiny rockets, the drifts of changing scents; warm wild dusky charlatan blackberries grown over-ripe in the heat of August, hot dry sage browning in the fringe of the scythed fields reminding me of origin – a fine cross between the sweat of summer and the antiseptic that cleans it before fall, barnyard where the cattle come to watch me speeding by, interrupting their milky sweet ruminations.

I am the insect bomb in their quiet and it makes me want to laugh into the wind that sucks up my voice and gives loft to my spirit instead.  I cut the cricket calls in half as I pick up speed on the straight and narrow flat stretches between ripe apples on the air and the pervasive scent of empty hay-fields still reaching for lost seed.  Cut down, they glow sharply all around me, acres of rough gold fringed with the wild grasses of no interest to anyone but me who salutes them with my unpeeled elation.  They respond with prehistoric whispers that just barely brush my wheels.  Slowing down to turn down onto Oldsville road where a body was found in an old oil drum, I smell the rich manure, and it’s as it should be.  As it always is.  Every summer.  Continuity in flight creates a safe canvass for color.

Passing an old apple tree grown rusticated with neglect I can smell the small dropped smashed fruit fermenting in the hot air before I actually see them scattered into the road under my wheels and as I pass the tree I hear it calling out, making wishes on the loose straw carried on my back draft and mourning so much more than I am.  I toss a handful of my own wishes behind me hoping the tree knows what’s in my heart even if it can’t follow.

I could shout now.  I could shout here.  I want to yell into the wind.  Instead I prepare my mind for meditation.  I do this by doing nothing at all.  Nothing.  When I reach Highway 18 I have to stop, shake out my right hand to dispel the numbness which insidiously takes over whenever it is least convenient.  I pull my helmet buckle on tighter because I’m about to go even faster and everything must be battened down for speed.  It’s only a quarter of a mile to the farm from here.  Nothing much.  But the Vespa has a lot to prove among the arrogant vehicles already thrumming with noisy hunger down the highway, eating miles like candy.  It is my secret joy that the Vespa goes as fast as they are allowed to, it pulls out and in seconds it is pulling at the road like a racehorse.

It exhilarates me.  I like speed.  I like the road.  I – who am terrified of cars and could not ride in them at all today if I wasn’t medicated – I love the feel of the asphalt reeling out behind me.  It makes little sense and I don’t bother trying to sort it out because I don’t have time to dig for inconsequential answers like that when there’s this great ride to enjoy.

When I’m on that stretch of highway all thought disappear.  I am aware only of the cars behind me, ahead of me, and to the side of me.  I perceive nothing beyond the impact of back drafts and speed and distance.  My mind completely empties of anything extraneous.  It’s a gorgeous meditation.  All my focus is on the pressing and urgent need to know exactly where I am in the universe right now.  There is no other point in my life that will be this simple.  This is how death is when you strip it of all the things you think you’re supposed to feel and do.  This is how being born is when you strip it of the weight of being, and of the expectations that await you as a human being.  You can’t get simplicity like this with a candle or a mantra or a bottle of beer or a self help book or a life coach or even an epiphany.

It’s so simple there’s nothing outside of it.

It’s so simple.  You’re either alive, or you’re dead.

Sometimes it takes the open road to notice.

There is no choice to make.

You either are, or you aren’t.

Today I’m alive.


Shaolin Wushu Training: Listening to Carl Orff

I believe the only way to listen to Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna is REALLY LOUD.

Obviously I’ve been very busy being crazy writer lady locked in her wild eyrie shouting down the sky and raving in rage over pitches and other fun things.  And that certainly does take up an enormous amount of my energy.  However, less loudly, I have continued to work on my forms.  I can’t afford any more private lessons for them and this, now, becomes a huge incentive to become a more successful writer.  I want to be able to take private lessons all the time.  I’ve been doing my forms in 1/2 hour segments aiming for every other day (I found that every day was too much) but I’m managing to do them more like every two days.  Every single time I practice them I feel more powerful.  No one would ever know it looking at me.  Not yet.  Not now.  But I still have the optimism to believe that if I keep on doing them and keep on working on the things that are holding me back, someday I’m going to look like a person who trains hard at Kung Fu.  If I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t make myself do them at all.  I have to believe it because that’s part of what propels me forward.

My household is not a calm oasis.  It is not a place for quiet lone contemplation.  Not inside.  Not outside.  Not without aid.  I can’t do forms with my mom or Philip or Max talking to me or making noises around me so I’ve taken to listening to music on my headphones.  This works beautifully.  For some people meditation is a question of quiet, no noises, no thoughts in your head.  If you have normal brain wiring you will not understand what it’s like inside my head.  I am incapable of clearing my head of its own noise unless there is something to replace it.  I have come to laugh at those who insist that all I need to do is practice clearing my head and eventually I’ll be successful at it.  Not so.  If that were true I wouldn’t need psyche meds.  If that were true – it doesn’t matter because I know it isn’t true and I have spent many hours of my life working at meditating the usual way.  My parents were Buddhist hippies after all.  What is true is that with white noise is the only road to meditation for me though white noise thought to be soothing such as a babbling brook is distracting rather than soothing to me.  White noise in the form of music that engages my head without giving it the space to form thoughts- that gives me the calm in my mind to really meditate, to be in my body, to concentrate on breathing, and to truly relax.

Watching familiar movies has the same effect on my brain.  It calms, it distracts the part of my brain that NEVER STOPS NEVER SLEEPS NEVER STOPS NEVER STOPS NEVER STOPS.  This is why I love watching television via DVDs.  Watching movies or shows while doing forms would not provide the right frame of mind, however.

My favorite to listen to right now is Carl Orff’s “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana while doing them.  The last time I did forms I practiced doing them fast, fast and powerful.  I chose this song because it’s like a battle ax flying through the air victoriously dripping the blood of your enemy.  (It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, it works for every side).  It made me work harder.  It made me tighten my muscles when I punched and my pace wanted to increase without my even thinking about it.

Tonight I listened first to a version of “Ave Maria” sung by The Vienna Boys Choir.  Then I wanted to feel more power.  I put Carl Orff on and was going fast and really feeling it, but then, then I decided for the last five minutes I needed to practice at tai chi speed.

Imagine that you have a hundred thousand men with brutal looking iron and steel weapons clanking behind you, restless to charge, you can feel the heat of their breath behind you and you feel fire in your veins to charge, to RUN, to raise your own broadsword high and yell like a fiend- and with this fierce energy all around you and in you- you move in slow motion.  You go slower than a Superbowl replay.  You go slow enough to feel your muscles burning and shaking because you’re forcing them to hold hold hold in place and you’re sweating but even your sweat is slow.

It seems like it couldn’t work, like you’d explode or be crushed by the energy charging from behind and charging towards you and charging in your own bones.  It seems like if you don’t move fast you can’t possible harness a speck of power and you’ll be nothing but entrails on a mace.  Instead you have to feel all your power in your center.  You are storing it, using it to maintain stances that will be much more effective if you can hold them still for a long time or move gracefully from one to another.  Listening to a piece of music like Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna puts all this power in your mindset, it makes you feel like a great warrior but then when you make yourself move painfully slowly to it you take all that energy and it goes into your solar plexis rather than outwards.  It goes inward and makes you feel like steel.

Until you feel like putty because your muscles scream with the pain of having to hold such strong poses.

I love doing forms.  I think it’s changing how I feel about my own body.  Even in its current state.  It’s changing what I believe my body is capable of.

I know many people already know what forms are but in case you don’t have a clear idea of what they are I am going to include a youtube link I want you to watch.  I want you to watch it because I think you’ll get something out of this.  I’m going to post my favorite one which is of Kung Fu school doing a demo at Venice Beach California.  Not all of what they’re doing in the video is forms.  The kicking is not.  But a good part of it IS forms.  Then I’ll put a second link below it that’s only forms.  Please watch them because I think you’ll appreciate what I’m writing about more if you do.  I want to share forms with you all.  Please note that I am going to purchase the mp3 of this Chinese rap song because it’s fantastic!

LA Shaolin Kung Fu Demo

And then this one which is just the cutest Asian chick you don’t want to mess with doing forms:

Shaolin Taizu Chang Quan

One more.  Please, watch.  These are Shaolin monks and this looks more like battle training which is what forms is:

Shaolin Wushu Training and Demonstration

Love the music in that one and also- those are some kids that will NEVER be bullied. Time for me to wind down for bed.  Whatever way you choose to meditate and strengthen yourself, to work towards becoming a stronger better version of yourself, it doesn’t matter.  Everyone needs to find their own way.  My sister Tara goes on meditation retreats when she can and has been doing yoga for years.  My friend Ann also does yoga.  Many of my friends go to the gym or run.  Whatever way you choose, I just hope it makes you feel as empowered as forms makes me feel.


Lost Shots and Hammer Punch

(There are two things I never want to live without: coffee and cameras.  These are two things I’ve made my fictional characters live without.  They say you have to make your characters suffer.  I think I could almost get away with not having them get shot at and tortured after forcing them to drink only herb and root teas and depriving them of the pleasures of I-phones.)

I can’t believe how important cameras have become to me.  I say that and immediately remember hours spent lugging my barbie dolls around Lithia park to find great spots to set them up for photo shoots with my barely more than a paper box Vivitar camera.  I think I won the camera in a drawing or something.  It was cheap and crappy and I loved it.  Then I upgraded at some point to a slightly sturdier version (maybe a Pentax or something?) and took photo shoots of myself and my friends dressing up.  I still have, and get pleasure from, all these early photographic efforts.  Then in high school my dad gave me his Canon camera, the one he lugged with him to Thailand and India when he was 18 years old.  The kind you need a light meter to use well.  I never did use it very well.  I took a photography class with that one and did lots of dark room time.

(I just deleted a huge chunk of distressingly boring text all about the agonizing two days I’ve spent trying to decide which point and shoot to buy to replace my beloved SD850.  If you want all those details, please tell me, I’ll write up a separate post just for you and we can discuss it!)

Learning to use a new camera is like starting a new love affair.

I just bought the S95 camera and immediately spent 24 hours freaking out because I thought I might have made a terrible mistake.  (I haven’t).  I am amazed, even after years of informative personal experience that ought to have crushed such amazement, at the level of obsessiveness my mind can reach over the smallest things in life like the question of exactly what I need from my cameras, the perfect number of cameras to have (two), and how I can (without cessation) read the technical specs of almost every single camera on the market just to make sure I have the best option.

I’m all worn out from the mental efforts.  I didn’t even start my shift last night until 6pm.  All because I couldn’t think about anything else until I was sure I didn’t need to return the S95 (I don’t).  My child never got out of his clothes.  I think it’s safe to say that the writing was on the wall back when I dressed brunette Darci up in her negligee and posed her against the fancy dry concrete fountain with sad Ken and conducted a very serious photo shoot without caring about the baldly staring passersby.  I remember feeling brilliant when I moved the shoot to the little waterfall near the stairs that lead up to the Shakespearean theatre.  There were swans.  There was the verdant spread of cool green.  There was the pounding summer sun reaching into the shadows.  My bicycle must have been tossed to the side nearby.  Unless I walked with my plastic entourage through the streets of softened asphalt to do my shoot.

I took some great photographs yesterday and something malfunctioned in the transfer from the camera to the computer.  I erased them from the camera immediately, because although I’m a slob in my housekeeping, I’m tidy in my digital life.  I can’t get those pictures back.  I can try to recreate them.  Lost pictures are like lost words, it’s best to let them go and do something fresh and new.  You can never completely recreate that great poem you thought of while waiting in line at Winco witnessing the circus life there.  You can never go back and shouldn’t spend much time mourning.

My obsessive nature is almost as uncomfortable for me as it is for my family.  Yesterday was pissy.  My head wouldn’t let go of the digital bone it was shaking around and by the end I was ready to tear heads off of bodies, throw things through windows, and other dramatic expressions of a head too full and a life spinning away from my control.

Single parenting for a week exacerbates any extant rage or frustrations.  Once again, may I salute all you phenomenal single parents out there?  I am a spectacular parenting wimp.

What saved me from bursting into flames yesterday was taking another private Kung Fu forms lesson.  When I sell my novel and it’s made into a movie and the royalties start paying off I will spend my wild riches on private lessons every week.  I know three full forms now: Wushu basic stance, 8 chain punch, and The Hammer.  I just started learning Yet Yi which requires me to do a power yell.  Yell hell.  I’m not comfortable yelling out loud.  Once you start yelling like that, what’s to say I’ll ever be able to stop?*

I hope my knees don’t fall off my legs before I finish learning Yet Yi.

(I just deleted self deprecatory comment because it has no place in my forms journey.)

On my way to the Kung Fu school I was over-full of stress.  My head was in a severe mess.  Then for one hour I didn’t think about my life for a single second.  I didn’t think about what I can’t do, what I can’t be, what I don’t know, or what I’m afraid to know.  For one hour my Sifu said “do this” and I did what he told me to do.  I did a power yell.  I did the fancy-ass jump/slide thing that seems an improbable move for a fat 41 year old to do- I did it.  For one hour I tried to remember to breath.  For one hour I imagined how The Hammer form could be used in real combat.  Everything else slipped away.

That’s meditation.  I find it very hard to achieve that here at home.  Which is why if I can ever afford it that will be my big extravagance.  It’s worth it.  That’s the kind of meditation you can’t achieve with writing or photography or medication or therapy or cake.  I have some serious ground to cover to reach some personal goals I won’t let go of in spite of how impossible they are appearing at the moment.  I don’t truly believe in impossibilities.  I have some serious personal problems to overcome.  I’m getting at it in my own way, my own time.  So I keep asking myself to be patient and every day try again.  Try again.  And practice forms.  Dig holes in the garden.  Talk fierce walks.  Ride my bicycle.  No efforts we make for our own well being and the well being of others is ever wasted.

When I came home from the forms lesson I was much more relaxed.  Walked right into chaos and the need to clean the kitchen and cook some food and feed my kid and start my entire work shift and put the camera question to rest.  Life doesn’t change because you meditate.  Life doesn’t stop being challenging or getting in your face and up in your rage.

But let me tell you something, if you can do 8 chain punch for an hour, you can handle anything.


*Just saw a Simpson episode in which Homer starts yelling and can’t stop, so obviously this fear is completely rational.

Everything but Pi

On my evening walk tonight I thought a lot about rhythm.  When I allow my mind to exist in its natural state it erupts into a chaos of thought that might seem, at first, to be completely without sense or order.  It repeats old thoughts, things I’ve said repeatedly like a sacred litany, things that I may have long since come to know to be untrue but the echo of the old conversations and thoughts still exist and my mind spits them forward and if I let it, it develops themes from them.  It then picks threads of evidence, pieces of inspiration, information, images, colors, memories, and it sorts through them, deciding which are relevant, which are not.  It evaluates the old thoughts and throws them against a wall of new thoughts, like wild paint.

Tonight my head threw out my ten year old voice saying “I don’t have any rhythm”,  maybe because I made my summer camp tap instructor cry from the useless efforts she exerted to drum a sense of rhythm into my putty feet.   Not considering the fact that unlike the rest of the girls (and boy) who had real tap shoes, ones that fit them, mine were unearthed in the Goodwill bins and weren’t the right size.  They weren’t even real tap shoes, they were some flattened patent leather shoe with an awkwardly low square heel made for prim spinsters to pull out during egregiously creaky weddings and funerals that took place in the uncool sector of 1969.  Or maybe I made this statement long ago because my piano teacher, who could see I had the passion, could also hear that I couldn’t consistently keep 3/4 time even if she tattooed it on my forehead.  Or maybe it’s because I couldn’t ever manage the square dance steps we were forced to count out in the dreary gym with reluctant boys.  Boys who were reluctant with me but who would have happily counted out stones in hell with Erin Fry.

It doesn’t matter what the origin of that old voiced comment is and in some ways it doesn’t even matter if it’s true.  (It’s true).  My mind threw it out while I walked two dogs against the sultry evening air tonight, catching errant thin wisps of cooler air slipping through me like weak thread.  I was listening to Pavarotti sing “Panis Angelicus” with Sting which was the perfect music, the perfect serenade to the setting light; the yellow rimmed orchestral clouds.  I heard that old voice, that old thought.

I have no rhythm.

Riches of thought about it flooded my mind.  This may sound unrestful, and to people who have a baseline for restful that verges on meditational I think my mind would create a maelstrom of instinctual fear and panic.  For me, this flooding of thought, of thoughts that aren’t more than texture, taste, and everything in the past week that caught my eye, my ear, and my mind, everything in my memory that resonates with this theme my mind has, for mysterious reasons of its own, settled on, are sorted and re-tasted, and it’s restful.

What emerged tonight is that there are so many different ways to think about rhythm.  It’s so easy to think of it as an ability to tap your foot in a particular pattern of intervals.  It’s easy to think of it as an innate ability to move your body to the influence of external notes in a way that others recognize as symmetrical or even purposely (and artistically) asymmetrical.  To be able to sustain a pattern.  When I peel away my conventional ideas about what constitutes rhythm something much more complex emerges.  I am able to hear irregular rhythms and still feel where the repeat is.

I was feeling elated.  Outside-myself-elated.  I often feel this way at twilight.  I often feel this way when I walk super fast with music in my ears and my eyes alive to everything around me.  I imagined coming home and writing about how amazing I felt, hoping I could share it eloquently enough that you’d feel it too, if you don’t already feel it on your own account.  Immediately I reminded myself that I often sound like a madwoman when I start spewing about my shimmering moments and how I inevitably crash soon after feeling that good.  My immediate thought was: I wish I wasn’t the way I am.  I wish being as happy as I am tonight didn’t mean that I will almost certainly feel equally low within a day or two.

But then I saw it as my natural rhythm.  Yes, it is tangled up in my mental illness and if I wasn’t mentally ill my moods would be less dramatic and experiencing elation wouldn’t automatically predict a corresponding crash in mood.  I admit I felt shame for a minute.  “I must not share this crazy happy moment of my life because it isn’t real.  It’s a fabrication of my mood disorder and when I wake up and read what I’ve shared I’ll want to die because I’ll know it was nothing more than this imbalance of mine.”  While those things are true, that when I experience elation it’s often much more dramatic than others experience it, what I saw tonight is that it’s a part of my own rhythm.  Perhaps those who aren’t like me might dismiss my highs and if they dismiss my highs they will almost certainly dismiss my lows as well.  I am a person of extremes.  Of strong contrast.  Of immediate contradictions.

But if my shining moments aren’t worth sharing, then no one’s are.  Just because there is greater disparity between my happiness and my despair doesn’t make it less real.

Whatever else I am, I am not artificial.  My moods are genuine.  They might seem sudden and unpredictable to some but if I’m listening I can hear the tune clearly, I can predict the next fall, the next rise.  Life influences the rhythm just the way an instrument and a conductor may both wield a strong influence on a musician’s rhythm.  Although I dislike Stravinsky I think my rhythm is wild in the same way his is.  Discordant and jarring, but fresh and unfettered.  It gave me pleasure to think on this.  To accept that I will plummet as surely as I will rise.  Everyone does.  I just do it more loudly.

I think the world is stinking rich with unique and uncharted rhythms that people orchestrate, that nature itself writes all around us, that we don’t recognize as rhythm because we don’t take the time to hear the patterns repeat.  The only thing humans know for sure that doesn’t repeat is Pi.  I think even Pi must have some kind of rhythm.  I think we just haven’t found it yet.

Friday Night Wushu Forms

Doing forms is quiet at first.  You move through your counts carefully, ticking off each part as you do it, counting them down, moving yourself through them.  It’s casual at first.  Like you could do this in a field full of butterflies and California poppies spreading open sleepily and your muscles are relaxed and maybe a little arrogant, as though you’ve just asked them to do nothing more strenuous than a breezy morning stretch.

Then it deepens and grows weighty.  Your muscles aren’t laughing anymore because while they were making fun of your light demands they are caught off guard by how deeply you’re sinking into each move, your knees bending more, your back getting straighter, and to keep doing the moves your head must now focus on what it’s asking your muscles to do.  They must coordinate, something they do all day every day but now it’s different.  It’s different because you’re asking your body to become equine in strength.

It isn’t enough to coordinate your mind to your muscles and bring your focus into your core, you have to breathe.  Something you do every single day all day long without cessation and you might think you’re pretty good at it.  But you’re not.  So you have to focus on your breathing being even and deep and in a rhythm with your movements which are beginning to make you sweat and you will find you need more oxygen than you thought.

Then you become a body of water held together tenuously by your skin and the water is rushing and fighting to break the tension that holds it in.  Maybe it’s because you start to feel your own blood pumping through your body, like a roar in your ears, and you push it and push it and push it some more.  You have to keep it as directed as possible while pushing it.  It feels like you have become a mad river heading for your origin.  The burning you feel as your muscles try to follow the water is like light.  Everything is connected.  Everything is fluid.

That’s when you stop fighting.  You become bones, blood, oxygen, and muscle moving together in a shared language.  It’s power choreographed to look like water.

The Passion of Soundlessness

Do you ever get in a peevish mood for no apparent reason?  Where it feels like an ill wind blowing hard but the air is as stagnant as a hot airless summer day?  I feel like that right now.  I can number my complaints, I’m sure.  They are many and all ridiculous.  Let’s take a look:

The inconsequential nothings making Angelina as bitchy as a crow with bent feathers:

  • Philip saying I obviously don’t have a very strong sense of taste because he can very distinctly taste the nettles in the pasta I made to very carefully mask the taste of nettles which I don’t like.  Shot me down like a German jet.  What’s stupid about me being annoyed is that the bottom line is that dinner was so fucking good it’s taken every ounce of will power not to have seconds.
  • The noise level in the house which only just diminished as Max and friend were sent to bed.  I could not think a single thought without some intrusive SHOUTING crashing through them.  Makes me want to punch walls.
  • I’m annoyed that I can’t decide what the hell I want to do so that the whole evening is trickling away with this uncharacteristic indecision.  So I’m writing this post about how annoyed I am with myself.
  • Finding out that Max’s psychologist is twenty years older than me but looks my age was a major irritant.  It is demoralizing and comes, I’m sure, from him having a balanced mind and a Quaalude-calm personality.  Max was as astonished as I was and said “But you are completely wrinkle-free!”  I crawl in my ditch of limp-hipped drag-bagged self and cry.
  • My mom telling me I have every reason to freak out about something just when I’ve calmed myself down to a place of rational and philosophical evaluation of the thing that freaked me out.  Thanks mom.
  • People existing in huge numbers all around me.
  • Philip coming home announcing that he made blue belt tonight in Kung Fu.  I am proud of him but also jealous.   I am disappointed in myself that I don’t feel I can be in public classes right now and have that sinking feeling of having failed.  Max is pissed too.  It’s at moments like this when I hate my mental illness and the side effects of it in my life.  Obviously has nothing at all to do with Philip.
  • I want to cry which always makes me want to hurt myself because I hate crying more than most things.  I probably don’t hate crying as much as I hate Hitler, who would most certainly have made me cry, but I’d rather not, all the same.  Ever again.
  • There was no Daily Show this week.  This has made a huge impact on my peace of mind and my sanity, as well as my ability to look any Republicans in the eye.
  • There was no episode of Castle this week.  I live for such small crumbs of enjoyment.
  • It is a mild irritation that Beckett has long dowdy hair.  I am remembering this all the way from last week.  Long hair is great if it’s great on you.  She looks much better with shorter hair.
  • Max and Philip have lost my mp3 player.  I will never let them borrow it again.  If I ever find it.  They both deny being the last to have it but Max has been taking it with him for the car ride to school (there’s now a twenty minute commute to Max’s school) and I, being the benevolent mother I am, let him take it.  Now they both deny ever seeing it ever at all and meantime I haven’t had any nice energizing walks with the dog and my music.
  • I’m irritated that I’m peevish.
  • Philip keeps encroaching on my pillow.  I don’t share my pillow.  Because I’m crazy and other people’s heads have other people smells and if I smell other people on my pillow I can’t sleep.  There’s a lot of pillow encroaching around here.  Philip has a different perspective on this, naturally.
  • Forget cryogenics, save me a padded cell for chrissakes!

That’s a whole lotta irritation.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that things keep changing on this template.  That’s because I like to play with templates and headers.  I just learned to play with vectors in Photoshop so I want to see what I can do.  I can’t stand the spacing issues in my last template and the opposite spacing issue in this one- it’s a style-sheet thing and I don’t mess with style sheets.  However, I like the layout of this template.  I’ll probably try all kinds of stupid things.  I really want to make the colors of the template monochromatic.  They’re too cheerful and bright for my daily journal of grouchy outpourings.

Before I sign off for the night I’d like to counter the irritation with a couple of things I’m very pleased with.  There are only a couple, but I think it’s worth doing this exercise.

Where the satisfaction lies:

  • I realized today that at this moment in time I have a truly solid and tight relationship with my son.  This could dissipate at any time as we both evolve, I don’t take this moment for granted, but right now my son trusts me absolutely, he believes that I can always come up with solutions (however small) to what ails him.  He loves me, he feels safe with me, and he brings his heart to me every day for proper care and feeding.  That’s no small accomplishment and no matter how much of a mess I am, I am (at this moment) succeeding in giving him everything he needs.
  • Today I addressed the big bag of nettles Philip foraged for me this last weekend (while I was busy writing my head into a tiny crevice til 4am) and we had a non-verbal communication that was satisfying and pretty, me and the stinging nettles.  As always, when I prepare food, or plants, I find myself in complete harmony with, well, with whatever it is we must attune ourselves to in order to feel grounded and satisfied.  Obviously it didn’t last, what with this great peevish tirade I’ve treated us all to this evening, but while I snipped the large stems off and placed the prickly leaves into the dehydrator and set aside a few cups of them for dinner, I felt really honest.  Truly in my own skin.  I am happy in such busy meditative states.
  • I was remembering the psychologist who diagnosed me, Jay Judine, who is now dead.  I was remembering how solid and pragmatic his advice and thoughts on managing mental health were.  He had a profound influence on how I look at my own mental illness and how I manage it.  This week I was able to share some of his advice and my own experiences with another mother who has a kid a lot like Max.  She found my advice helpful and I have to attribute it to Jay.  How I am raising my kid to view his own mental health is very much influenced by my one and only experience of getting therapy.  I am so sad he died so young, but I’m truly happy that I got to benefit from his life’s calling before he bid adieu to us all.  In having placed my mental health in his hands I did myself a great favor as he did me a great service and I never felt like a broken creepy person in his presence.  I felt like I was merely different and that those differences have their own value.

What if I just kept writing down this page, and never stopped?  how long could it become?  No one could follow that long, but what if this single page could grow long enough to reach the center of the earth?  How many words would that be?  Could all this technology holding up my words support such a journey of endless type?  As is so often the case, the act of writing, putting words down, spilling the old idea-box of all its tricks is soothing.  Like smoothing clay across poison oak.  It quenches the existential itch.  It fills all the leaks and relieves pressure.  There have been many times in my life when the simple act of writing characters on paper with specific pens for hours non-stop was the difference between life and death.

It isn’t always what needs saying.  Sometimes it isn’t about saying anything at all.  It’s about the shape of letters, the feel of paper underneath fingers, the feel of letters scratching onto paper with pleasing pen-tips.  I remember one afternoon when I had escaped all my roommates and noise to lose myself in my favorite place in the world, Chinatown in San Francisco, I found myself in this small park behind a bunch of buildings.  Not the kind of place tourists go.  The kind of place working people go to eat a quick lunch.  There was an ignominious statue, possibly of Mao, that I was fascinated with for the great quantities of pigeon droppings caked on his shoulders.  I sat myself down for hours in this anonymous little park and I wrote.  Not to say anything.  I wrote for the pure pleasure of making letters across paper.  I sat designing new ways to write my alphabet, what I know now as “fonts”.  I also practiced writing with a strong slant to the left.  It was the formation of the letters of the alphabet with my pen, whichever was my trusty favorite at that moment, it was a sensual art; it was a sacred and meditative activity to form letters, groups of letters, saying inane thoughtless things but looking so gorgeous on the page.

This was, and remains, my element.  To sit in anonymous places with pen and paper and no known voices speaking into my ear; breathing the colorful scent of otherness and transcribing the minutes as they come without regard for time, for propriety, for grand purpose, or for posterity.  There is a sound that even the smoothest pen on the silkiest paper makes: it’s like a rush of wings, sweating feathers, rushing air; it’s like a piteousness of doves startled from rest to sweep with wild whispering into an overcast sky that absorbs the cries and hushes inquiry.

I’ll bet if I strung all the words I’ve ever written together on a string they’d reach earth’s core where they’d burn and disperse as ash.

Thinking about the passion of soundlessness.