Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Burn That Broken Bed

"I wanna scope you out - I wanna touch your mouth when you're out there.
When are you comin' back? Bird on the branch must come on home to sing."
-Burn That Broken Bed by Calexico and Iron and Wine, from album In the Reins

So many burnt bridges. A few years ago, in the dying throes of our friendship, a friend and I figured out that when you have a close enough relationship with anyone, you basically create a whole other existence out of that relating. You make a child, was our analogy (keep in mind we are both childless), or, more lightly, a bridge. You are, together, not just yourself, not yourself at all, in some ways, rather, a part of that newer entity. When you "break up", there is a presence lost, and it is not just that other person, not just parts of you. It is also the relationship.

My 7 year old nephew, who lives a couple of hours away, and I are getting a lot closer. Tonight, in a friend's borrowed car, we went bowling, then over to the store, because he loves to ring people up, and increasingly, he loves books. He is deeply affectionate, and wirey but inspiring. I had a dream last week that I was pregnant, and it was funny (odd, not ha ha) to be around him today, to feel a connection to such a person, a new generation of our family, of the world - to feel our connection as something outside of us both. His dad is moving to Milwaukee in the next few weeks, and he was really worried about not seeing me, about not seeing his dad as much. He was really excited about being in a car alone with me (I don't own a car, and he and I are rarely without his father) and about being able to hang out with me. It is so amazing how significant and sad it feels to me to be important to someone, to him. This, this season of family and relationships, and he gave me a big fat wet kiss on the lips when we said goodbye and wished me Merry You-Know-What.

In some ways, I have gotten what I wanted: alone-ness. Solitude. Space. Yet, I was feeling suspiciously isolated (over the holiday). My nephew, plus friends visiting from Canada, have helped over the last couple of days (holidays are always hard, as some folks are still around, but we are always holed away in our own homes). I feel in my gut a kind of hollow space, honestly, an aborted space, from which the dead of my family and the living but not a part of my life had been extricated by taking on this year's Christmas as purely my own. It was good to have a taste, a wet, sloppy taste, of my nephew's need for me to stay with him, here. Wherever that here is. Empty spaces included.

This is the worst time of the year for me, by a clear margin. In fact, Christmas isn't the hardest, it is New Year's. I honestly couldn't tell you why. Maybe it is the time after the last months' struggles. Maybe, and this I suspect is the "truest" bit, though it is quite plot-driven, it has to do with the pressure of a "New Year". Performance Anxiety. I always spend New Years Eve day alone, sorting over the last years' letters, calendars, diaries. I spend the day culling wisdom from the last year, making accounts, burning broken beds. This year I have done better maintenance all throughout. Maybe this year I'll spend the eve out in nature. Meditating. Moving ahead. Being in that day, instead of afraid of it, hoarding the seconds before the ball drops and lops off the last year from my life. Maybe this year I'll fall in love a bit, instead. Burn something other than a bed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pins and Needles

Today and yesterday were edgey.

The kind of days where I realize I can't get so tense about job stresses or I won't last the last six months. Then I realize I have to pace myself equally for *life*. Take a deep fucking breath. Of course I only realize that after 48 hours of self torture followed by a hot shower and some mindless television, then crying for a couple of hours over how useless it feels to relax. Funny how the first phase of resistance I ALWAYS go through in relaxing, in starting a weekend, is how useless my life is unless I am doing something. I crave being alone, being silent, having time to fuck off all week, then I get it and I think: "Jesus. I should go out. My friend's having a party. Why aren't I there?" It's true my mindset can change. It's true that what keeps me home most is just inertia. But in the end its rare that I regret harnessing time alone when I can get it.

It's just that I have never really known what I want to choose, under pressure.

One thing about meditation: the second I sit down, and for the first ten minutes thereafter, I am sure I know exactly what I want. Of course, I want to be doing anything other than meditation. ANYTHING. Sometimes, I have to confess, I will use meditation to kind of move around my thoughts a bit - Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche basically condones this in his book Turning the Mind Into an Ally - go with it for 10 minutes, the list making the I wish I were making this instead stuff, but stay close to it. Then, meditate. Pre-cleansing cleansing.

Tonight I feel like I could do anything. I kind of could. I have a friend's car on loan, I could go out to a bar or a party or dance (I don't own a car, so otherwise it would be cold and stuff). But I am here. And I'm happy enough. A flickr buddy has just sent me a mix of his, and I've got his set (entitled "Pins and Needles") to keep me company, instead. Plus any other manner of activity - inside activity. Sometimes the funny thing about having a good-seeming choice, is to not choose it. I could choose to go out, unlike other nights, only I am going to not choose it. Hard to remember that is a choice, sometimes.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kinda I Want To

(from Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails, 1989)

It's been an anniversary year, of sorts. 10 Years Ago This Year, I graduated from high school. Ten Years Ago This Year, I had sex with a guy for the first time, my first serious boyfriend, my high school sweetheart, of sorts. 10 Years Ago, this time exactly, I was on the last leg of a three-month backpack tour of Europe with my eldest brother, David. I haven't checked the dates, but December 10th would have likely put me in Germany, likely a tiny town in the Black Forest called Kirchzarten, spending the last of my vacation with a lover and a friend. Soon thereafter, I took a speedy train to Brussels, a reluctant plane home, all to find the relationship I had secretly hoped still waited for me, didn't.

Hadn't. No one has really been waiting for me any of these ten years, except myself.


"in-'säm-nE-&: prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep".
(Courtesy of the good ole Merriam Webster)

What if you can't sleep enough on a regular basis? What if not sleeping enough is sometimes enough? For a large portion of my adult life I have been convinced that I live on a schedule which is more like a 28-hour cycle. I have read about 28 hour cycles in terms of propaganda to shift us to a less survivalistic cycle:
http://www.dbeat.com/28/ (for a nice newage example) but there isn't much testimony out there about folks who did it because they naturally figured that they actually function on it. I have experimented with it, and sometimes, it has experimented with me, like tonight.


It's four AM. Generally, four AM is a "bad time" to think or write about anything as crucial as sleep. Then again, who would be at the most open position to re-consider its timing than someone immersed in its mis-timing? Four AM though is still probably a bad time to be thinking about how long ten years is in many ways. And how one day can seem to make up for that wait. Seem to.

A lot of things are returning with Saturn. Again, even if just taken analagously, it is seemingly effortless that the things that have worked, like patience are slowly becoming rewarded and the things that don't work, like my belief that I must work jobs which don't support me fully as a being, are falling apart. Of course falling apart is a bit more painful, outrageous even, but I appreciate them even as much as the things that are being rewarded.

Who knows what today means? It was a perfect day in many ways, due to many different factors. I opened a lot of doors I am conscious of opening. Others opened doors for me through which I have yet to walk. I am sure I closed doors.

I used to imagine my life (about ten years ago, in fact) as being a round room, the walls composed solely of doors. I spent all my time opening and closing them, often through force. Now, it is more like I am still, in the center, and they are opening and closing, naturally, as I observe them. When action calls, I commit, and for no longer, when I go back to sit.

Tomorrow, I will take my first Buddhist vow, the refuge vow. I met with a senior teacher earlier this week to confirm my choice. He asked "How do you feel about this vow?". I said "Everything I have read about it feels exactly like how I feel about it, already". He smiled. "Taking a refuge vow is like drawing a line in the sand. However, that is still really open to interpretation. The only thing it should be is effortless. So you are ready".


Yes. Yes I am.

"I've had some time to think about you...on the long ride home..."
Dedicated to Scotch Hall, 1984-2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Glass Museum

(Side note on sources: This title is probably a title even more apt for the last entry's photograph than this week's entry!
: )

I like to take titles from the music I am listening to and adapt my writing for the entry to it. This is the title of a Tortoise track, a sort of electronica/wordless emo band from Chicago. The album is titled Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Just thought credits' sake was due...)

Saw Capote a couple of nights ago - the film based off the book about the book by Truman Capote entitled In Cold Blood (did you follow the meta-authorship on that one?). It was a perfect first-few-days-of-winter movie - a period film, silent fifties, dressed down without cell phones or computers or much by way of televisions and radios. Even the high class cocktail clientele was silent in comparison to the larger parties I now attend. Even Capote's rapacious behavior was silent somehow - well-directed, spaced, spacious. Glass-like, in fact, in it's delicateness, despite his torrid social errors and confused state of being.

I've been experimenting with my own delicate self lately. Wandering over the new ice, not yet grey, and late with new people into the night, feet the first to find some kind of ground under a foot of large-flaked snow. How late can I stay up and still be awake the next day? How far in can I dance with someone and keep my toes when I walk away? I certainly hope to evade any of the tricky moral ground Capote was infamous for not only visiting but inhabiting, and yet, those lines are delicate at best.

A museum of glass. Thousands of rustling stones below the glass floor. Silence, and small cracks. Very winter: active, warm on the inside, exterior cool and blond and collected. Capote and I, both.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Don't deal with yourself harshly

Don't push, don't hassle, don't say "the world is going to end. if you don't perform." Relax.

How does one do that, and not feel strangely, obtusely that one is going to be left behind? I have been very laidback lately. I have kind of changed my priorities, from being motivated and charged and hyper to being slow, lost and unsure. Confused. Because that is the way I am. I can behave in different ways - social pressure, social ambition pushing me - but I can't be that.

So this past month, I have done nothing on time. I have not ticked much off my task-list, I have forgotten and forgiven, not bothered to get angry.

I have enjoyed drawing again, have drawn a lot. And I have watched myself. I will not do things which take me away from being peaceful. At any cost.

Living in Mumbai can be a hassle. So little space, such long distances, high-pressure work. Can I survive? Maybe. I don't want to do too much. Just as much as I can. Get rid of my debt, learn about things I pretend to know a lot about... be lax and easy with myself. Be good in my relationships...

Mumbai is in a way - fun to drift through. Fun to move around, not pretending to be in a rush, and not bent on getting something done.

I will be staying as a paying guest near my office. I have my own house in Ahmedabad. Does it puzzle me - why am I here? what am I doing? Sometimes. Otherwise its clear. I am here to practise, doing things, being things, seeing things. Practise meeting people, bonding with people in a different way. In a way, which feels honest, personal.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

First in Flight

(The picture is from Erika's opening reception at Barriques. It isn't of her work - this is the selection of empty wine glasses at the end of the night. Right after I took it, a friend said he was glad I took it, since he didn't have his camera and had been staring at it for awhile, appreciating the light and wishing he had brought his camera. It was, fittingly, the last photo. Closing time!)

Last night a friend and I began an 8 week course with local Professor Richard Davis on Racial Healing. The man is chock full of boundless, loving energy, and is definitely another teacher I was asking for without even knowing it consciously. We started the course, which is mindfully based in meditation and listening silently and respectfully to each others' understandings of and experiences with racism, with a video called Color of Fear. Veterans of the course - or rather, I should say - die-hard come again fans, call the experience "story hour with Richard Davis". I have been craving more and more places where people come to listen to one another. I certainly strive to create it in my classes, and I think I succeed well. I always love to see it manifested again in other ways, especially around something as explicitly important to address as racism.

Mindfulness. Someone recently described to me that trying to understand animals is like trying to understand God, which I took in the most general sense - trying to describe mindfulness is similar. The irony of using language for it can feel nearly sacreligious. Yet, it is done, again and again, mostly through stories. The group Blackalicious has a song - First in Flight - in which they describe everyone's knowledge as being just that - the first time ever, beginner's mind. First ever, every time. I have known for years I was coming back to this, to the beginning, to the emptiness I have run from, struggled to get away from, for so long. I can sit with it now, sometimes, or look at it from across the room. The big, pink, empty elephant. Each time is the first time, it feels like.

Tonight a new friend who attended my writing class asked how I deal with pedagogy versus experience in class. I told him about one experience, from tonight, after class, in which a woman had described an experience of hers for which I knew the exact Buddhist description. But it wasn't the right moment to share that. I just felt that. Ironically, the decision to let experience speak for someone, or to someone, is intuitive, and itself based in experience. This is for sure the beginning of a long journey for me, and I am so far loving it. There's nothing like that thrill in the beginning, when you first take off, your face empty and open, wings spread, launching up and out and over.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


So the bookstore has my news. I announced I will be leaving by June 1 to them last week, and then I went off to a mostly fun conference in order to get some space from the store. Everyone is generally supportive of the "Miriam-goes-to-grad-school-and-teaches-too" idea, though my plans aren't exactly "hardcore activist". Dealing with me leaving, logistically, and in terms of community, will be more complex, but we have a few months to do it. I am confident I can transfer most of what I know in a transparent way (which is needed, anyway) to the system here so as not to leave the rest of staff and volunteer collective in lurch.

And I feel relieved to have made official announcement. It's been quite the process. Honestly, I felt pretty shitty the couple of days after announcing: very doubtful of self and path, etc, then I went to teach, and, big surprise, I felt much better. Sticking to the moment.

And here is the plan: I am applying to Naropa's Contemplative Education Master's Program. I am required as an applicant to have an active teaching practice. I was nervous to ask them if me teaching independently "counted" and they replied that yes, oh yes, it sounds just right. (I am, after all, teaching contemplative writing, so private or not, it makes sense it would count). Applications are due end of January. Then, I sit around and wait, prep to leave my job, teach a bunch more, as much as I can. If Naropa takes me, I will plan to travel before going to Boulder for a month in the summer (I am due there for one month out of each summer, but otherwise the course is a long-distance one), then for a month in the fall. I want to go to India and see Prayas (with a sojourn to Tibet), as well as Australia to see good friends in Perth. On a likely separate journey, Tobias has just fixed up a new warehouse flat in East End, London, and so I think I am due to go back that way over the pond in order to check up on the Euro contingency and allies. So that will be another trip sometime this next year. If Naropa doesn't take me, same idea, only I might make all the travel at once, over summer, when teaching is in a lull, and come back and teach and do whatever else I can. Honestly, I am quite confident about Naropa. I think it is a good match. But one must always have contingency plans...

I am in the water between islands. This last weekend I was at a cooperative business conference, and I flailed in my attachment to responsiblity, anger, aggression about control. I took stuff out on myself and other people. It is interesting to watch the release when I let go and swim free. When my mother died, 9 years ago this January, I couldn't stand to swim free. Now, I practice each week, with some conflict or other, letting go and giving in. Then, when the big stuff happens, swimming doesn't feel like drowning, except for those first few minutes; arms in the air, legs rigid from expectation, breath tight and hard. Then I breathe, take some water in and kick it back out, move my arms and swim. Water. I'm an earth sign. This is a new thing, to chose to drop the islands and float on the sea. But it feels natural. After all, I am 90% water, right?
: )

Thursday, November 03, 2005


(Photo from Castro in San Francisco)

There is a characteristic of the Midwest, which before dealing with recent difficulties, had always disturbed me. The fields. The open-ness. The lack of mountains or even high hills. Sometimes I felt comforted that I could see so many miles ahead and back, sometimes that felt like the wrong kind of distraction. Yet it is true. Mountains intimidate me.

But today, I appreciate the spaciousness in the Midwest. The lack of head clogging, visually. The ability for hard things to face to float for a bit before me, not be crammed in by strangers or even by skyscrapers. When I was in the Bay Area recently, I took a lot of photos of space (not surprisingly, a major element in Miksang conceptual work), and really appreciated what space I could find there. Here, it is everywhere. And for now, it is a strange comfort - being that space, with all of it's motility, is not comfortable at all in some ways, it is a sailboat on the sea, always in motion. Yet, once one rests into movement, there is a comfort. Not comfort in the sense of lulling. Just, spaciousness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I love to bike, drunk.

I love biking anyway, and was slightly disappointed in my recent trip out to the Bay Area not to do it more. I had a spectacular visit, mind you. But I do read Chris Carlsson's blog on LiP Magazine's site
(www.lipmagazine.org/ccarlsson) involving, amongst other things like good radical books, about biking in the Bay, and I lust. Nothing beats biking.

Tonight, I spent the evening digesting my trip out to the Bay Area with a coworker, Moises. We caught up on store gossip and issues (this following a Board of Directors meeting) and personal bruhaha that had developed in each others' lives after the last couple of weeks' absence, over a few drinks at a local haunt. I implored him to visit La Mision ASAP, as Madison is not the source of solidarity he may be seeking 24/7. He said back in Oaxaca he heard constant rumor of this Mecca, this Sugar Skull Day of Dead Rivera Quality Murals Mecca, before he ever even came to the States and had a wife and two babies and a life in Madison. So we'll find a way, but he says *I* have to get to Oaxaca, first. I'm up for stats like that!


Missing Scotch, the cat, has gotten harder. I have sent out invitations for a Cat Wake/ Day of the Dead/ Naked Ladies party for November 4th. It has been a long time since Erika and I have thrown a party, and the last Naked Ladies party (despite me taking a roll of pictures without flash, none of which turned out) was a total ball.
However, it is when I am in the middle of a day, no thoughts for her at all, that my periphery catches her, out of twenty years' worth of habit, and I cry out, suddenly, and feel stark.


I find I need my need for people more without Scotch around. I am much more atune to it. I also need my need for things like, as silly and adolescent as they are, biking drunk, middle of the night, down the middle of the street, laughing with Moy over the trifles of aggression, the moon peering down over the cold fall Wisconsin air, laughing back at us, more.

How could losing a cat do that? I spent a lot of today, ostensibly my day "off", looking at photos of her. New photos, the last roll I took, the day before I knew I would be putting her to sleep, and classic oldies I have seen countless times over the 20 years I had her. Drawings from my "zine" about recent events in my life. I sensed just how deep all of this is. And also, finally, today, something clicked: that she is still here, that I miss her body, not her spirit. I stopped worrying that she couldn't find me, which I didn't realize was a concern until I stopped having the concern (so many things are like this!).

I am far from done with grief, but in a process like this, it is a relief to find a step to check off the list, for now.


Alongside personal changes, I continue to be concerned for Prayas and his part of this world, and the Earthquake live-out after-flash nastiness. It is true: Katrina brought it home to me. How long has it been, as an adult, paying awareness to these things, that I had so carefully noted the outcomes of serious lack of preparation (read: unnatural disaster) for "natural disasters", intellectually, without really *feeling* it? Today they are still reporting negotiations that will last likely til the end of the month between Pakistan- and India-controlled Kashmir: who will take the dead? Fine. Hard enough.
Try who will take the living.

Meanwhile, there is little to nothing out there about Guatemala's recent hurricane.

Times like these I regret having learned French over Spanish, though honestly studying post-colonialism in former French colonies has proved far more progressive and intriguing than what I can get from former Spanish colonies.

To be up on disaster. On crisis. As if knowing who is dead, as if knowing who is killing who or which bureaucratic windfall caused the demise of this village or that township, will fix it in retrospect. I am not insinuating that it doesn't offer insight or prevention. Rather, that disaster, crisis, has so much more to teach us about ourselves, what we see and do not see, what we refuse and accept, about daily life, about cycles, than what we see in that moment; BBC's special report, man jumping from Twin Towers, Tsunami, Tsunami, Tsunami. It is certainly not intended to be all about us. And yet, how can we ignore that what we see in the report, what our media REPORTS - is all about what we don't see in daily life? Would we really be that shocked if we opened our eyes more often? Would I?


It is still true, though. My favorite former secret. I *do* love to bike. Drunk.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Links to More Miri!


First will eventually be an art blog- contemplative writing class stuff, etc.
Second is my new flickr site - only 6 pix up so far, but getting there! It will be a LOT more populated in weeks to come, especially with Miksang stuff...

Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book

- from the Dead Can Dance song which will appear on Scotchsongs - the Scotch mix cd.

I am in Oakland, California. The sun is out but I am in - hungover on conversation, teachings, transmissions and tea. B., (a newish close friend, and one of my two hosts) and I swear tomorrow will be an all outside day. It's been easy to stay in - inside the offices of the magazine I edit book review stuff for (plural: we are moving them this week! Woo hoo!), to stay inside our minds, turning over the wonder of connecting again and again and again. This morning, after I had a good grief cry (mostly released by the wonder hands and mind of a friend of Birdfarms', who began my vacation yesterday auspiciously with a massage), B. announced "Let's only talk about inspiring and joyful things today. Even if the pretense seems fake." And it's worked well. We are slowly creeping out into the world. Today we meandered Valencia , and everytime death or illness or defiant desires seemed to turn our eyes down and in, we would laugh at a graffiti or good pair of fishnets and remember to be grateful (easily said and done in one of America's most vibrant quarters!). So today I post, for tomorrow we are going to go out and tourist a bit: B. has been here a couple of years, and is moving on soon to his next nomadic hemi-home, and it's been ten years since I have been here. This has been a needed vacation for both of us, and we need to get out.

I keep "my political life" so separate from "my Buddhist life", in conversation. Yet today, at Dog Eared books, an omen hit me so hard I had to use the borrowed digital camera I brought for my workshop to document it: the "political" magazine we work on, on the shelf, right next to Shambhala Sun. What a gap that made, a broken place inside my own assumptions, widened by shock from both L. ( new good friend, and other host/ess) and B., who edit substantial political magazines, that I should even worry about keeping them apart, in conversation. From the moment I arrived here they have been nothing but curious about the contemplative teaching I am doing and the Buddhist "path" I am more seriously pursuing daily. To the point where last night, B. told me (at 2am and after three bottles of wine) that he understands the heart of Buddhism, that he respects it, but he's just not sure he can go to it like I can. And that was fine. We sat with that and the full moon and the mission spread out before us in a lucious baudy midnight visual feast, and smiled, the conversation exhausted but complete.

I had wanted a "teacher" for so long. My few days in Sonoma before coming here were a very, very deep immersion directly into that world. Three days of direct transmission, meditation through film and viewfinder, review, reshoot, review reshoot. "See. Then shoot what you see. Nothing more". To visit a single point repeatedly, and watch it change content each time, was a deeper lesson than I could ever hope, always the physical learner, to get by sitting. Miksang is very, very deep for me now. I fear it - haven't looked at all I shot, haven't taken many photographs here yet, save the seemingly ironic magazine rack concurrence, something is very sacred about what is being passed on to me, and I can see it in my mind's eye.

I *love* new friendships. I really appreciate the openness with one another, the dire desperation to repeat stories until the plotline is clear for both sides. The lack of a need to judge. The openness. I especially appreciate such strong, new connections with B. and L. because of all the work I have done on maintaining my older, deeper, longer term friendships in the last couple of years. A couple of years ago I got scared that I couldn't let people in past a certain point. Or even that I let strangers into my inside space faster than friends, somehow. Always a new me for someone to discover, to cover the old. But now that I am working a lot of that out, I can bring the challenge-feeling of older friendships to newer ones, so excitement is mixed with vigor. And certainly these two in particular, for each their own separate reasons, are prime candidates for appreciating that kind of joy and struggle.

I am shooting what I see. Something in what was transmitted to me is keeping me very clear. I feel very sun-like, solid behind clouds, still made of gas, but knowing I stand for something in this world. I am shooting what I see: no more, no less. Birds on a wire. A shadow anchor in the sun. Red pointing us to blue, then letting us run. New friends, old friends, dead friends. Anchors that uplift, release.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Looking at the window from inside

Rachel and Manju are getting along really well together. M got R to paint the windows of our house from within so we wouldn't need curtains anymore. She's painted them really beautifully. Looking at windows from within, to look at them not through them. Because now they are not windows from which people outside our ground-floor flat stare at us, spy at us - they are transluscent pans of colour, which distill all the stories which light brings for us.

Miri, lat time you said that you are breaking tradition by posting twice in a row. I am doing that this time, because I am feeling calm - as a flow of breath, as a walk on a warm sunny day. Maybe tradition is meant to be a sensation only - meant only to be sensed not to be adhered to.

I haven't been alone and peaceful for some time, first M wasn't well, then her mother was over and now R is here! And frankly I don't miss being alone anymore - it is getting a bit dreary and repititive, my routine with myself. Talking to myself about the same things. Scribbling notes to myself to remember and value. All I have is notebooks - half-full and empty.

Birdfarm commented of not wondering about the "something which is wrong" - I read something beautiful the other day... I read it in Osho Times, the magazine published by the Osho Commune in Pune. He says our inhibitions, doubts, confusions are usually the parental voice inside us. Preaching. Teaching us to be more like what it thinks is good for us. Switch the voice off. I try to remind myself of this. The parental voice - I feel - has nothing to do with one's parents. Just the echo of their voice in our heads.

I am getting fidgety again - want to travel. Somewhere. Alone. Residency? Applications!!

I have some assignments and am not so insceure now. Once I get my loan worked off, I will feel better. That is the lie I keep repeating to myself. Doing things to feel better makes me forget how to... Makes me feel I have no time to waste, and that I am wasting time... sleeping the afternoon off. Why can't I sleep in the afternoon? What if there is something I need to dream... really bad?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Rough notes

Besides noticing patterns, I am deciding to allow events to pass, things to happen - without reacting.

What happens when I react, I look away from the window I have been staring at. Why do I stare at windows? I try to deduce the difference between "seeing through" and "looking at"...

Resolutions are futile, I realize that I will take the direction I need to take most - talking sense is useless! Starting work again tomorrow, daring to be drawn back to feelings of complacency. From feeling left-out to having nothing to say, being dumbed down by seniority.

I am breathing deep now. Very deep. I came home exhausted, the sun had set too soon? Felt like going to a temple, what is happening to my unrelenting drive?

Moving about unresolved through the day, moss grows in my eyes. I am playing with the potency of my imagination, how many roads more to go, before I can write my name on a plain piece of paper; and know it as such.

Slow sleep, slowly waking up to the same to-do list, the same confusion. when will I get to go away again?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Breaking tradition

I am going to jump tradition here and make a second entry before Prayas comes back into the mono/dialogue. It is a week - a year - a month for breaking traditions. Every moment is.

Tomorrow, at 6pm CST, I am putting my nearly 21-year old cat to sleep. Her name is Scotch. I love her very, very much. She is in my lap as I am writing, barely able to keep on my lap. She has suffered nobly through many weird illnesses - jaundice four years ago, asthma, kidney disease, and now a bad liver, to keep by my side. I have had this cat longer than I had a mother. She is, in a lot of ways, a core portion of my life. I rotate how I travel around her, and she certainly has always had a lot to say about my latest flings or long-term lovers. In a lot of ways, I sensed I would have to let her go as part of "this", whatever "this" is, this Saturn Return, this Turning of the Clock in my life which is happening so fast and far and clear. I never realized I would have to be the one to decide. I kept hoping she would decide somehow. But it is up to me.

Both my parents are dead. All my grandparents are dead. I have gone through godparents, friends. This has been my plot for years. I am ready to change the tape. Tonight, talking to my housemate and good friend Erika, I realized why it had not heretofore crossed my mind to ever put her to sleep, even though she has been quite sick: why would I CHOOSE death when it has chosen my family, my life, so often.

But it is time. I am ready to choose, and so is Scotch. I have lined up good friends who know her and love her - some for more than 5 years, to be here when we put her to sleep. Her vet, from the venerable Cat Care Clinic (so much thanks to Page for sending me there when she moved to Toronto), who's name is Mandy, will be here to do it at home. And Mandy is bringing a cd. She says that over a week ago, she started thinking about Scotch a LOT and had no idea why. Then, a coworker brought in a cd, and she swears track 11 makes her think of Scotch everytime. So she is bringing me a copy. When I spoke with the vet on the phone from her home tonight, she cried and told me I was making the right choice. It will be hard but I will be in good company.

It seems almost absurd. Honestly. Katrina. Tsunami. Floods. Mass death everywhere. But I figure to honor such a small, sentient life is not to dishonor starving children even right here in the United States. It is to honor Life as a specific concept. And Death.

So blessings to Scotch on this transition. She has gone off to bed and I will join her now. Not sure how much we will sleep but tomorrow will be a new day. And I look forward, with shaky eyes, to whatever or whoever it is that will come into my life as part of letting her go.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Teaching to Transgress

Have been reading a lot lately in Dharma Art by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the man who started Shambhala International (www.shambhala.org) in North America. He says, again and again, that there is no way to teach people contemplative arts. Just to provide ground on which the arts can grow, disappear, and come again. I have known throughout this whole process that I am not really "teaching" - I call it "facilitating" but its not even that. More like holding the space.

I went on a 24 hour retreat this last weekend, and was stunned, especially in the face of some pretty traumatic conversations recently with one of my brothers, to witness myself being so clear. Clear after a ton of sitting in which I thought I was being the farthest thing from clear, in my mind. Clear about what others were saying, what I was saying, about the nature of saying anything. I have now committed to move forward on a Shambhala Warrior Training course - five levels, five weekends over a few months, as to dedicate myself to this path. Also, in a couple of weeks I go out to the San Francisco area to convene with LiP members and to get trained in contemplative photography teaching (www.miksang.org for teacher's website). It is clear I am making choices in a specific direction. No pressure. I will keep going forward. It feels good to be on a path, very natural. Finally. Scary but clear.

In the end, I want a teacher. I thought I wanted to go back to grad school, but now I am pretty sure My Goal is to become an indy instructor, and find time in that schedule (much easier than the retail one) to study with a) Natalie Goldberg and b) a Shambhala "teacher" - my OWN teacher, too. I am not sure yet whom. I crave having the guidance of a "teacher". The intimacy. Yet outside of a "school-like" situation.

So moving forward. Clear. Lots of crying lately. Lots of laughter. Lots of rain.

I love fall. I really do. Reminds me that despite being a homebody, I really do love change. I am terrified by it, but I have a serious affection for it. Almost a clinging to it. Hang on!

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Friday Which Could Have Been a Sunday

All day, it has been raining. The rain blurs out my mind as if it were a non-entity.

I lost my job. And I did now even understand when. Actually, I am not supposed to know what happened. This sort of thing always makes me feel bad. I was doing good work for the organization, I had good plans for them, I wasn't charging them too much. I was offered a part-time job after three months of consulting. And then nothing. Nothing. Shhh. I feel lost (for a week at least) after something like this happens. I allow myself.

Today that week is over.

My BA (correspondence) has finally begun! If all goes well, in three years I get a degree. Then I plan for my masters more realistically.

All of today was spent researching on "social software". A small group of people is trying very hard to get more and more in touch with each other. Eventually everyone will feel so hassled there will be a deluge - mass introversion?

Am working on three things in the next three months. Start my services company (to be called "qualiflower"), to initiate a self-help group for artists in ahmedabad (to be called "greenroots") and to move ahead with my film.

A week's break - with manju and rachel - will be good. Getting out of Ahmedabad just to relax - a real vacation! - will be fun.

Missing therapy. Got a mail from one of my old therapists! He is in London, studying further. Can't seem to find someone anymore. Am totally isolated - friends just call up to take numbers of other friends. No one has anything to talk to me. Do I frighten people?

Missing good weather, missing being oblivious to the future, to a formula. Missing being immersed in beauty, having no words to say.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Had a very good and very thorough conversation with another bisexual at work yesterday, following on the tails of a few conversations with many collective members about whether or not our store is a "true" collective.

I realized "the other" in a way I feel my anthropology courses in college both attempted to realize to me and also shielded in some way (after all, the "other" is a major component of anthropological study, so it is a threat to think of eliminating it).

I realized, when asked about why I "still" sleep with men, that I need to gender division - and addition - in my life to keep my own sense of self challenged.

I cannot just be with women. Of course this is a preference which goes far deeper and wider than my intellectual musings, but the musings do reflect something for me about my actions: why this "lifestyle" continues despite a great deal of difficulty in explaining it to most people - especially other folk in my ostensibly "inclusive" Lesbian Gay Bi Trans community, which I now basically avoid.

And I have, strangely enough, taken on a similar isolation at work, surrounded by folk I suspect will not actually come through with promises of community, and instead I am terrified of asking of them what I want from them.

It should come as no surprise that I did not find that kind of support in my family, nor have I learned to foster it yet with my family members who remain.

And finally, the great adder/divider. The coin of both sides: rage. The way I am joined to myself through some anger that makes the "me" who's body is not even the same after 28 years seem the same. The way I join moment to moment. And yet, the way I divide myself from each moment as it happens, making of a memory every minute passing. Obviously, it is a divider between myself and others, too.

Saddened by all of this distance from others and intimacy with my own crap, I went to meditation. I sat and saw it all come and go and come and go and, there is some relief. Came home to This American Life with stories straight out of New Orleans and couldn't even cry about that. But there again was some modicum of bizarre relief. Bit by bit I am cracking the code or the hard case that I have kept between myself and others for years. My stomach yearns for a breakout, for a bridge, for me to let down my guns. My body sneaks free when it can.

And when it does my heart can usually follow, in addition.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Loving the Same Face

Across twenty years. Loving the same smell. What are the roots.

Face after face after face, and year after year, role after role - the same face reflects across photographs. Affection isn't multiplied, it is fragmented, confused, lost.

Does liking something reflect on a quality inherent in it, or on the nature of the need present in me? Is it necessarily frightening to love someone because she resembles someone I used to love years back?

Reflecting on these things, today sitting alone in Delhi. When I feel like talking all my phone numbers seem to be wrong, false.

Being sad isn't easier than being easy. Pure sadness is as rare as pure joy. As enriching. Can I take it?

Delhi at pre-dawn, Delhi at mid-night, from here to Nagpur, from there to Ahmedabad. Each going-back-home feels like something to look forward to.

Making more proposals, completing my script (still!!!).

Looking forward to taking a short break in October, when Rachel comes over. Feeling clever and looking at my history as a strange story - how will I live completely, amnesia is a state of mind.

Monday, August 22, 2005


To Push Down. To Keep Under.

There is Nothing Wrong with You, I Keep Telling Myself.

It gets harder the more meta my mind gets. I am squirrelly - meditation is getting harder, and my relationships seem to be declining. I am seeing the results of long-term overwork and under play. I feel, when I feel at all, sadness and disconnection, from my body and heart. Today I realized part of it is hormonal cycle, and there was a tremendous relief - I could remove from list of things potentially Really Wrong With Me the idea that I am now totally nuts. Instead I can just be pretty sad, partially angry but also premenstrual.

Been back to reading Buddhist books on depression, which mostly help. Again and Again, I face my Attachment to sadness, my need to stay on the back of myself for the long rides that justify my feelings, so often deprived from me in childhood, and now mine to revisit again and again. Only the sorts of things that appear on videotape - repeats - are what push everything else down. In favor of reliving old trauma, I overlook new chances in every moment, mostly, most importantly, curiousity. Watch what this person does. Don't expect you know. Because
you don't. Especially if it is me I am watching.

Writing about it helps. So long as I stay out of nitty details which turn into lists and further justification. Certainly exercise helps. Ironically, so does lots of sleep. A very dear and old friend is suffering currently from some really seriously relived trauma, much more acute than my current experience, and a doctor told her something she had never heard: "Maybe you *need* to be sleeping 12 hours a day. You are wearing yourself out. You are tired.".
There are limits, of course, but sometimes we just need rest.

So hard to stay in the unsettled. I am apt to guess and pretend curiousity when instead I am persecuting myself rabidly. Every possible thing I could be compassionate about becomes either a cure, a cause or a disposable emotional refuse. Slowing down helps, of course. I feel as if I am underwater, watching everyone and myself. Luckily I was cried out by the time I had to go to work this morning.

I have gotten through this before. I will do it this time. That is the only part of the video worth watching again - the success story bit. No pressure, of course, lest I get stuck here longer competing with myself over the last time I got myself out. Just a quiet, silent viewing when I need a little booster.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pin-hole Camera

Look at everything through a pin-hole camera and suddenly things will make sense. Colours will merge into one another, sound will dim out.

I was talking to ma yesterday, on the phone and something I said made her cry. She felt I was misunderstanding her. She said she is not as strong as she was, once.

Who all have done things, which have weakened her? Who all have betrayed her trust, shattered her dreams?

I usually go on long walks with her a few times a week, there has been a dryness between us for the last few years. Once, I feared she would never relate to me again - when I had run away, and then come back sat across her on the sofa. But she did, giving me bits of love again - filtered through her shattered heart. All of wondered why her health has detoirated. I always blamed my father. Never gave her time, never understood her, other things always being more important. But I feel all of us - who broke her heart, are equally responsible.

What does one do with remorse?

Allow it to make you soft and dejected, blunt, directionless? Allow it to dull the electricity of your eyes?

Remorse seems to inspire a feeling of completeness, lets you accet yourself more completely.

Today morning I dreamt tht Manju and I had finally gone to Meerut, our home-town in UttarPradesh.

My maternal uncles stay there. They have called us so many times, when their daughters married... and now they don't call us anymore.

We were sitting in their house and they weren't very excited that we were there. Thing seemed to be very much past-the-moment. I do believe, somethings need to be dne on time - bonding, befriending. We were sitting in their house and everything was dry, slow, strange. Not warm.

What in me renders relationships dry within 2-3 years? There must be somthing. That will be another interrogation.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I went to your site!

I am sad you are feeling glum lately, or were a week ago, but you are making some amazing stuff! I love the collaborations between pictures and poetry.

Yay for you!


I am preparing for my second "class". All I want to be is a facilitator, present only in that I provide a safe environment for everyone. Last week, it was fascinating to sit back and watch as people interconnected their work without even trying. For one, we discovered that the way folk remember childhood is through color. Really early childhood. Now I am not going to go out and read a bunch of early childhood blah blah about this. I am just amazed to see that, given the assignment "Tell us about your earliest memory ever" that folks responded with floods of color.
And, there was overlap. Of course parents overlapped. And holidays. But specific colors, too. And it gave so much to the exercise, to the writings. I can still recall phrases now.

Off to finish some photocopies. "Preparing" is a funny word. More just making accessible that which I may or may not want to share. Should it be this "easy"? I want to meet with my old mentor and see how it was for her. But I actually suspect it should be. Natural. Easy.

Imagine that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I "taught" my first class this last week. I have given guest talks before (starting in college, when I would visit local high schools and report on the middle ages, because I had just travelled in Europe for three months and was really into a group called the SCA - Society for Creative Anachronism - which dresses folk up in "garb" of the middle (european) ages and parades peops around in weird personality configurations while people battle it out in "period" form) but never "taught". I had wanted to do a contemplative writing class since I started studying writing that way with my mentor, Paula Novotnak, over three years ago. But finally, it is together.

I was shocked at how natural it was. How, unlike my retail job, I didn't have a headache, or have to search myself to be straightforward with folk. It isn't always like that at the bookstore, but it sure can be. Three hours is no test - I will be "teaching" every Thursday this month as a pilot, then see if I can develop a regular course. But I sure did like it. Everyone had fun. People wrote amazingly astute things.

I introduced myself. Everyone else introduced themselves. I introduced the practice and the idea behind the class. Then, we meditated in silence for 10 minutes, and I guided them through a body relaxation meditation for five minutes. At the end of the five, I "gave them an exercise". I asked them to share their very first memory. I asked for a lot of details. People wrote furiously, and quite a few shared. I even wrote something pretty amazing.

It is very hot here, for here. Even now, after the sun has set, humidity skims my cheeks and shins. And I have yet to do what I sat down to do here over two hours ago: work on my own poetry. So I will go do that now. But more soon. From a new "teacher"...

Monday, August 01, 2005


You had talked yesterday about how you can deal tangibly with your ideas now. You don't rush at them, allow them to unfold gradually, take it on step by step.

I have slowly seen how I am slowing down. I work less, seek more re-assurance. The process of making this film, "Something to say" is going to be a test. Perfect the script, show it around, get the money, get the team, get the cast, direct it, edit it, try to distribute, send to festivals, do PR, think about next film...

That is the only way to do it.

I am very much off the internet's promise of immediate, quick and easy solutions. I have wasted a lot of time chasing those. I have a horde of domain names registered which I never developed in to online presences... waste, waste, waste.

More about the bookshop, Corner Book Shop is an effort to set up a network of neighbourhood bookshops. Each bookshop with a collection, which is customized to the local interests and needs. Intresting collection, a good representation of the small press too.

Am trying to mould some regular habits now - write regularly, read regularly, submit regularly. I have been haphazard for too long. Every day a different moralism dawns on me, I try to justify different things. Had a talk with my father yesterday after a long time, didn't feel too bad. I tried not to develop automatic arguments in my head for everything he said.

Have started a new series of photo-poems (I completed the one I was doing on the hoardings in Ahmedabad) will post you a link soon.

There are constant demands on my time and attention. This is the opposite of loneliness. This is overpopulation, attempt to develop a democracy in the flow of my energies? She will after the guests have gone away turn towards me and shower accusations. I question, Am I your mouthpiece? She says I do not understand broken families, I say she doesn't understand unbroken ones. And then a song develops out of the din and we have to open the doors and the windows. Let fresh air flow again. Why am I bringing this in in this space? Have no other space to take it to. I need to vent it out.

Today was a Monday, but I still have nowhere to go. My two-month assignment with Chetna is nearly over - I have completed two out of three tasks and am confused about the third. Maybe, will let it pass. Then again, search for work, search for work, search for work - work on my script...

Why do I think so far ahead. The far ahead gives meaning to the emptiness of today. Ideas are like balloons, selling cheap and waiting to be burst open, poof.

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Have been alone all weekend - manju's been off to a meditation course. What have I done?

I remember once I had gone to meet one of my father's friend. He worked in a funding agency in Delhi. I was talking excitedly about a project. He heard me out and then said, "Everyone is getting too productive. Productivity cannot be the only criterea."

Everytime I read about poeple meditating, I feel left out. I have to hold myself down and let myself meditate. I always fear the world will pass me by. I know, now - it will never happen. I should go back to Vipassana? Sit silent, seven stanzas and not budge.

What happens when someone calls me on the phone and reminds me, I am late? I rush. I wear my slippers, grab my keys - eye the door.

Will I be able to secure enough funds for my film? I jump out of the window. Sent out three applications today...

Saturn review

From the "New Age Directory", online version, entry for "Saturn Return":
Astrologers call the period between ages twenty-eight and thirty "Saturn Return." That's because it's the first time the planet Saturn completes its cycle through your birth chart and returns to the spot it occupied when you were born. Internationally respected astrologer Rob Hand calls Saturn Return "one of the most important times in your life. . . a time of endings and new beginnings."

For most of us, ending a phase of life that is familiar and embarking on one that is new and untried is unsettling, even painful. Few people describe Saturn Return as a pleasant period. While undergoing your Saturn Return you may find yourself turning inward and reflecting on your individual destiny. You examine your true needs and desires and the role you want to play on the world's stage. You may feel lonely and alienated from those around you, while family and friends think you are shutting them out. But this is a necessary period of consolidation, when you must retreat from the distractions of the outer world and focus on yourself at your most fundamental level. The Saturn Return is every individual's search for the Holy Grail.

The first Saturn Return marks the end of youth and the beginning of the productive adult years. It is now that you truly become an adult--not at eighteen or twenty-one. You realize your need to define yourself as an individual within society and to demonstrate what you've learned. Newswoman Jane Pauley described turning thirty as having grown into womanhood. German film director Werner Herzog compared this period in his life with a maiden's loss of virginity, a line drawn across his path marking the end of his youth.
I turned 28 in May. I have avoided looking closely at how all of this is flowing for the last few months. So much has changed. Vermont was a jumping board, a leaping point. I work in silence most of the time now, when I used to love music, noise, action. I have refocused many friendships. I told off a bad date right away over a month ago. Brave, strong, singular actions I was completely unused to in the past are now flowing out of me without question.

I have been sitting meditation for a year now, all in preparation, I am quite sure. Being this vulnerable and actualized really takes a lot of fucking patience. I am weepy a lot of the time, but it has a sense of relief I have never had before in my life. And despite the feeling I have always had of compulsiveness - wanting to do something a.s.a.p. before I lose the opportunity, I also have a wisdom which came from - inside myself? - that the ONLY way for me to proceed is one step at a time. Everytime I get myself in a tizzy - figure out where you are going next, grad school or not, move or not, leave the bookstore or not - I get all wrapped up and then all of a sudden there is this calm, this --- inside space --- where I feel like I realize that I already know what to do. I am, quite beside myself, laying out each step so carefully as if it *is* fate, as if I know exactly what I need, not only next, but for the rest of my life. Of course this is wishful thinking. I know plenty of folk who have survived their return only to turn around and say, uh, so where did *this* land me? A thirty-nine year old friend scoffed at my optimism that the Saturn Return will clarify things yesterday - "Girlfriend, mine still hasn't ENDED."

I have heard from many many people that if you have set up your life well, things will really blossom in the Saturn Return. Equally, whatever is a shortfall will fail (I just read this is the most common period in adult life in America to get a divorce!). This is so clear it is absurb. I had a crying fest with a good friend this morning - for years we have tried to help each other the way we want to be helped, only to hurt one another, as we both need support but in opposite ways. Ridiculously obvious adjustments - or they seem that way now, anyway - are slipping into gear, quite without my attention - perhaps *because* I am not paying attention, not controlling, letting go.

It won't fix everything. But this feeling is amazing. If I can keep this feeling throughout all this and after, I have really gained something stronger than the right to vote or drink. I hate to overromanticize it, but this feels like true empowerment.

And a bit like procrastination. I need to go write the rest of my first book review for LiP...
; )

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Photograph of flowers someone gave us for our first marriage anniversery four years ago. Sitting with used vessels, next to the sink. Reasting inside a tea-cup.

Want to photo-blog sometimes?

Photo + a short note...

This kitchen was in NID (National Institute of Design) - small and pretty - though very impersonal, very officious.


This morning's flavour is decidedly sour. With traces of burnt-grass fumes coming in through the window, today seems to be a morning of the old order - sad and unaccomplished.

The falvour of my eyes would be something between half-moon and dry-alchohol. The dance is obsessive. There is no music.

I have completed updating my script, now manju will look at it again and then I will update it again and then I send it our to friends for comments! The script has changed too. Somewhere in the story, things happen.

Want to start working on some stories now, have been carrying them in my head for a long time. The next-draft of what I wrote in Vermont is ready - the work seems to be nearing submission.

Have short-listed the universities where I would like to apply for MFA... submitted a proposal for a documentary film - "Leaving no trace - cyclists in the city."

This was a log of what I have been doing. Why? My mind is so full of "doing" that it can't snap out of it. Manju has gone off to another meditation camp - I am staring at a wall. No action, no action, no action today. Just relax, write, read, watch TV.

That American law-firm I had talked about seems to have decided on me, but I am not so sure anymore. It will mean a committment of 6 hrs a day - it will mean I won't be able to travel so much. But it will mean constancy in my nature of activity - day by day. I am tired of jumping horses every five minutes.

On a different note, there is a dengue near-epidemic in Ahmedabad. Hope I don't become a part of it. On still another note - calcutta has not been very good for me, it has fizzled out my nerve-ends with mosquito-bites and sweets, my wall with a million post-its seems to be a pile of pollution.

The garden in front of our flats is looking beautiful - overcast sky, soft light. My dog won't want to go for a walk again today - wet as a dungeon, she prefers a dry grass to a wet carpet.


looking for the plot. testing out new ways to write. the neighbor kid, maybe both my nephews' age, got out on their roof today. i remember that phase. wanting to get out, but still be connected. who am i kidding? i am still in that phase. let me wander but tie me down. keep me close but let me rebel. only now without parents around. plot is taught to me in buddhism to be useless, a contrived chunk of attachment used as motivation by the ego. yes. just that passive. and yet it is so attractive. so sharp. like a photograph of snow. or the edge of the roof. tantalizing in its edginess. even as i still cling to the house. after all it is not as dramatic as all that. i would sneak out of my window and onto the same dreamy ledge as a teen and that is where i plotted to go to europe when the bay area was vetoed by the empress in current rule. now, i can climb out anytime i want. and so can he.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Been reading to review lately. I don't usually read this way, taking notes, actually following up on questions about material folk refer to. Honestly I probably haven't been this critical, aware, in my reading since college. That's a bit frightening considering that I sell and buy books for a living. However, certainly that has contributed, too.

Rainbow Bookstore (www.rainbowbookstore.org), my place of employ, is both not enough and too much, in terms of words spoken and written and read. I could both consume each of the books entirely or ditch it all. In fact I have started to suspect that my life of words outside work is being worm-drained by my life of words at work. I am reticent to let power be beholden by abstract forces as of late, and yet, it must be said, there is little room for space if one is moving all about in it constantly. I realized today that most keenly, forcing my self, eyes, body, mind, to squat for a second at the doorstoop of space and consider how eagerly and mindlessly I was filling my one true resource - my own space - with crap.

Storms have finally come here. We are obviously on opposite "seasons"! It wasn't supposed to be dry spring/first half of summer (March - July) - but this was the fourth driest summer ever in the history of Wisconsin (and that is just saying so far). My first tomatoes had blight, grass stopped growing entirely (in fact I hear no matter how much you water it to grow it won't be mowable past 90 degrees farenheit anyway, which is what it was doing), and being outside midday became such an absurdly horrific experience that most Madisonians appeared to embrace it full on. For two weekends in a row, I gasped my way through outdoor events, working all weekend at the service of the dehydrated of Wisconsin. It was, again, so over-the-top that I didn't even mind. But I did have a series of seriously sad and overwhelmed days last week - now I see just before the storms came, emblematic, of course - which culminated in forcing myself to take a couple of days off. And then, the storms began. Big thunderclaps jolting you awake at four am, heart beating faster than in any horror film with a real threat lurking. Beautiful lightning. For the most part, fresh cool air puffs and promise of a few days of cooling down. If not, the storm the next night will just be bigger and cuddlier and freakier all at once.

I have to say that I love it. That in fact, each year I review Wisconsin and it's fucked up weather and each year I realize more and more that I love all of it. In fact, that Wisconsin has such diverse weather as to keep me perenially amused. I say this even though I froze at work all afternoon, a nice but awkward juxtaposition to the last two weekends, broiling outside. I was soaked on the way in, on my bike, and air conditioning was forced as humidity was far too high to have the doors open, lest the covers of our books visibly curl!

I have settled down a bit from the last weeks' high. Sure enough such electricity caused some downed trees on the mental plain. Attachment. Strong and urgent. Even as it passes now I can feel myself cling to a life without such suffering. But everything gets blown around soon enough, and whether or not I can let go is as dependable as...for now...the weather.

Lessons of Wisconsin life, not just weather: cycles, velocity, space and water.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The rice-pot is on the fire. The rice slowly softening, becoming edible. Meanwhile, what do we do?

The world today seems to be in another stage of rapid self-re-organization. Concepts are dissolving into worthless words and definitions are changing. Does that sound like the BBC World Broadcast?

Rendered powerless by choices which cannot be taken because my eyes are still clouded by confusion. I have been gradually drifting. I have been noticing that if only a few of my needs are taken care of, I become relaxed and easygoing and wavering. Total deprivation seems to work. Seems to get things done.

Have been working more on my script the past fortnight. The script is called, "Something to Say" and is slowly growing into a feature-length-film. I have been reading a lot. Read two books by Rohinton Mistry - A fine balance and Such a long journey.

What can I cay about the books? Ummm.... I find the author's voice so courageous, so strong, that I do not feel cheated. I do not feel like I have returned from a tourist visit to a fictious land... as I keep the books down beside me. I feel like I know one more way to look at the world now. I know of one more way to be.

Calcutta was sweet. It was yet another "Nonprofit week", eating, drinking, dancing with social-workers! But somehow in India, there is a growing number of people are growing to respect such organizations. Which are based on grants, sure. But are going about there work in a very honest and transparent manner. How would one raise resources from the community one wants to work with - if the general level of apathy, poverty and dissatisfaction are so high, that no co-operation, no partnership exists. To the discussants arguing for a newer way to work for social justice, I would like to insist that the situations they envison be global. The situations be in India, Africa, Latin America... Else we will have one more approach which gains momentum and currency and is pushed onto us... to replicate and mimic. Let the argument be accomodative at this stage itself... [The Revolution Will Not Be Funded]

Another issue at Crimson feet is now pending. Am reading a lot of poetry.

The monsoon is over, its hot again. But the temperature is slowly declining. We are inching towards near-winter!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Coddle, Crush, Art

Friends have given us a sling for my twenty year old cat, who is still quite able to bound three stories in one swoop, but who becomes a bit of a dangerous menace for all involved when allowed to walk when we are also on our feet. She seems both half into and half not into the idea (figuratively and literally) - both wanting to be held like a baby and close to my heart, and also tremendously stifled by the cotton overload. Worth a try. We will keep at it. Keeps her off the keyboard, at least.

I am suffering insomnia. Summer nights, when the weather is both just as bad as the day and yet finally something approaching liveable. Also, excitement keeps me awake. The list of contributors for LiP (the magazine I now edit poetry for: www.lipmagazine.org) has been sent to me and I am now on the inside circuit. A long conversation with the head editor yesterday still has me reeling a bit - to go from reading and respecting to being totally engaged at an intimate level with a project is really really fast, much faster than I am used to moving. (Talk about slowness!) Then, this weekend was the "big art weekend" in Madison - the Blindspot project went off gloriously, with tons of interactions we never could have expected and very few hitches. I opened one group show and sat through a craft fair and sold just one piece for 10$ the whole weekend. But I also swam and had beers, and talked about sex education and art with a woman who just now has come back from her own month in Vermont. Three totally thrilling conversations in one weekend, and then some. I cannot even digest. My head feels like a stomach full of sugar; excited, wanting more, needing to stop for just a moment and breath.

I had to turn down an offer to go to Carol Queen's (www.carolqueen.com) 48th birthday party in San Fran in a week, which also would have meant going to see the LiP folk (which would have been a fun surprise for us all, especially because I am still tremendously crushed out on the whole project and the people!) because of the closing reception for my solo show and showing of my stuff on slides at a club in town this next weekend. Amazing how when faced with a new era of my life in Madison - one filled with funky art people and conversations and action, part of what I want to do is go away for a bit. Typical me. Damn moment. Always asking me to come back and enjoy it. : )

I have a crush on life right now and can't sleep. I will feel horrible tomorrow, indubitably, but for now I am awake and enjoying the run of ideas in my head. No meditation could put me calmly into this moment. For I am in this moment, and there is simply no calm to make or find.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Slowness takes on a new meaning - if you think of me. It doesn't speak about velocity. It speaks of perspective. Imagine an ant trying to climb up three trees at once. One after the other. She will virtualy always be at station zero.

SO I repeat to myself, "Reduce the circles of your awareness." And there is no response. I cannot dress up to please nobody!

I will gradually get tired and then start lagging on some fronts. Then I will have less things to worry. Those who can't make decisions - break bones into steel containers. They learn to learn from failiure.

Succinctly put - trying to gauge, damage, measure one self too much can be damaging.

Letting the reigns loose - trying to keep my hair placid in the wind. The rain is seeping in through the walls. My paintings are puffing up with the moisture.

Slowness takes on a new meaning, when you think of calculation and fantasy in the same breath. Things seem to be so much off-center.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Vision. I spent four hours tonight building viewing booths for vision-testing machines that friends of mine have rigged with new images - juxtapositions of horses and the sea, red dots, blue dots, perception questions about poverty and priviledge both addressed obliquely through secret voices in your ears while viewing, then, as you move from machine to machine, textually appearing on the screens. My back is sore but it is worth it, to build something, even if so temporary, which will have some kind of direct affect on the thousand or so folk who will experience it. We will act as clinicians, guiding our "patients" into a booth, setting them up with the audio and visual, and be there to witness who-knows-what as they face an expected machine with unexpected contents. It's like the stick-your-hand-in-the-box-and-answer
-what-sort-of-animal-it-is game they offer as education married to fun at science centers.
Something which would both delight and annoy me if I weren't a "spectician", as those in lab coats have come to be called on this project. It will launch on the biggest art event day of the year in Madison, which is now reduced to thousand dollar booths selling wooden hearts made by people from far away states. So much for supporting local art. We'll show them...

And I feel I can talk about it here, this bizarre public/private space.

I worked on a film in college called Blindspot. I am obsessed with concepts of vision. Of what we see and don't see. Had a note on my hand all day to call my brother and I never did it. Finally at midnight, alone and quiet in my head, I called. Too late, of course, but I tried once I could really see it. All the things we don't see that affect us still. Endless to list. Fire trucks wisping after someone else's burns. The wind. Contents of books of which we only see the spines. All that we will never read in all languages but our own. Big, big pink elephant blindspots.

Worth a sliver or two and some Gorilla glue on the hands to confront just a few of them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The fresh laughter behind the cloud. Like a sea which is mourning, this week there are too many people offering me binoculars. The monsoon is finally here, the roads are flooded with water. Soft fingers in mine, experimenting with time, can we ever let the curtain rise? Those memories are blocked. Remembering has set them in the mould of a story. Stories have actors and plots and characters. Characters can only be vaguely related to you, share a street address. They can never share the fragility of reality.

So then these stories have become my only connection to you. And you refuse to re-connect.

Is soulful seeking the only way? Why am I obsessed with history? There is so much more. We need to value something which is not. To feel incomplete, to dream that tomorrow might be strange, irregular, surprising. But nothing is surprising.

Each moment has its own theory. Each theory its own rationale. Its own gunshot. Point Black.

"Each day, remember what you have given." I gave away my isolation today. I gave away my need to be angry. I, sit alone, obese and hungerless feeling more comfortable than I should, oblivious to my workload.

I will be writing articles for an American law website. Good fun, might be good money.

Between paying bills and flushing the toilet, I drive cautiously in the rain, trying to avoid all ditches, all rough-spots.

When people seem to be so kind, I allow myself to be a child - playing with my hair as if they were strands of wool, idle and warm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why so Tight?

Admired magazine today decided to collaborate with me and make me their poetry editor. A very big move. Amazing how I could feel everything open and close so fast, like breathing itself in a moment, the in-out-in-out of every single speck of karma that has and will transpire between me and other writers. I get to get credit, to read and read poetry, to write on others' work, and most esteemedly, to sollicit from some pretty high up names. This excites me beyond belief. Yet I got home tonight and I felt closed. Something can be so tight about home for me, away from the w i d e o p e n world. Preservation of my own time and space when others are around and so close. I lived alone for four years, and although I wouldn't wish to go back to that, it is hard to run full speed with a household sometimes. Or I make it hard, maybe. I think usually I just need silence (my personal favorite "space"), but when the cat goes crazy and the roommates are rushing out the door with updates, that doesn't usually come with much grace.

And yet it is all grace. Written word. Incontinence. What would make it *not* graceful?
My tightness, for one. Piles of to do and nothing loved for ten minutes can make me tired. Why do anything other than what I love, constantly? Consistently.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


My dog wants to elope with the monkeys. Jump over the roofs in the afternoon and get away.

I am not very clear, why. But this tendency is infectious. When the monkeys come to our colony all the dogs exhibit enthusiasm and lust - whch is unmistakably earnest.

Wonder, what the monkeys will think?

Letting this Sunday show me different moods than the romantic high-stay in which everything is exclamation. I allowed myself to feel things day before and I was feeling slow, something near to a car stuck in a quagmire. I didn't shove everything under the carpet, I slept early, I allowed my shoulders to feel the exhaustion.


Feeling conscious of metaphor in a heightened way. Have resumed attempting normal something with a significant person in my life, the kind of situation I would have heretofore divorced long ago. I thought I had, in fact, internally, but you can't leave family like that. I still
can't tell, our insides torn to the same cut and jagged edges, and yet we don't fit together. I guess
it is a little like a bike wheel with treads and a sidewalk with grit - they can run on one another even without a smooth fit. I am hesistent to use the idea of slavery anywhere, but there's nothing like family to raise awareness to the way you use your feelings, and the way they use you. Beyond such situations of choice (which relationships frequently are, and this one certainly is), therein lies true slavery. Have been reading a lot lately about it - and the very light estimates of 25 million in the world who truly have no control over their circumstance. One girl, a domestic slave from 5-22, who has never even recognized seasons, days, in particular really has touched me. The ability of the human mind to take out any extra information, in favor of relief, in spite of survival.

So no. It's not slavery. The deeper I study my own ego, the more playful the games get. The more I find I can loosen exactly where I often tighten. The irony of freedom and what I have done with it for the last 28 years. Mockery of slavery inside my own head. My own ego confinements so craved, while a good portion of the world waits for us to notice them being held up.

This weeks reading: Disposable People by Kevin Bales

Thursday, June 16, 2005

For You, A Dream

Earnestly, not allowing the sun to come into my eyes, I try to transfix my eyes onto a brilliant dream for you. I have have often dreamed on your behalf - when you are busy thinking of nitty-gritty-slow-dance-steps. When you are thinking of getting away.

First, I want to set the stage in your mind. Your mind has fluoroscence, it has mint, it has honey colouring your grey cells into something brown. Your need to talk to me about everything you saw in the day - my need to be able to create, make my windows seem clean as studio walls - softlight waking me up every morning.

So we never sit with each other - entirely giving ourselves away. Everything is in a hurry, everything is before something else. Except when you are silent into another register, and I am silent after a good session of playing with lego, playing with lego, made of alphabets, joined into words.

Into your mind I would now plant a seed - the seed as sharp and as dazzling as a new born - as clam as a filament stuttering light away. Into your palm I would give the key to the other room. Into your eyes I would let this cool jet flow - take away all the dead cells. Into your feet I would allow music and rhythm - I would ask the wind to blow into your belly and let you be as strong as a stone wall protecting a temple inside.

You would have a pinpoint of awarness in your forehead, letting altitude crash into latitude and offer you a holiday of peace, loose change to spend and a slowly simmering bend of light to play with.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Frame. Brother.
How we shape one another.
Planning for my second solo show, Miksang photos (www.miksang.org for genre/philosophy information) of road construction, while in the midst of attempted reconstruction, half-hearted at best so far, of some relationship with blood. Blood thick water thick, but is what is between me and my friends as thin as politics? As thin as a nod at the War Room table, banter that covers deeper inclinations, declarations, and decisions? Surely the blood we make out of wine, out on the porch late at night, Latin American politics and persual of the right for free speech moment by moment, is as much a miracle as the accident of family birth. Or adoption, for instance. Certainly there is a thickness there that the old adage does not address.

A good french friend once advised to change frames if the view loses its sepia lustre. Switching photos from shadow boxes to gold to black, I have had more than enough time to consider context, and watch myself pinhole even the best-intended love into severed connections. I cannot help, so much time spent on my personal arts, considering how this much be the larger frame politicians face the world with. Witnessing a lecture by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche last night, the former founder/leader of Shambhala International (www.shambhala.org), he spoke so much of fear. This was the base. This is the reason why most think Buddhists are dark in the USA. And yet there was such joy, just think, if at the base of all of our interactions, there is choice. Choice to nurture the wolf in sheeps' clothing, or to let it go. This is so far off the dynamic of the US' current politics that I can't even compare it. I certainly couldn't hope for *this* frame to change, to think that my "solution" is so simple. And yet, how could our leaders not see complexity as more engaging? Perhaps, after all, wrapped up in their own engagements, they like their frames just fine. As image-nation-less the ideals they frame are...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Babies Who Disappear Into Wall-paint

Little honey-coloured baby, his mother was unmarried. She takes him to Matruchayya in Nadiad. Matruchayya is an orphanage by a lake, operated by the church. All the orderlies are corrupt; everything costs money.

On Sunday when we believe we can't go to meet the baby, something changes. The baby's eyes open and see the stories written on the walls. Or, basically a logic is formed up in the clouds somewhere - to allow things to happen, against the best interests of the baby.

Theologize, romantisize a storm. An abandonment. That baby doesn't look at us anymore, she doesn't sleep peacefully in our arms anymore. We complained, she doesn't cry enough, she doesn't hold on to my finger, she doesn't shit enough. Happiness needs to have a perfect plan. We follow not our hearts but the reasonable approximations of the astrologers. No one would have advised me to marry beyond a difference of 14 years. The baby is sleeping, noisily condemning us - you search for playful children? she asks... and laughs.

All her photographs fall and break, all her cribs, cradles, lanterns, clothes fall out of the window. She retains a high pose of not speaking of remaining lost - someone had warned against introspection.

Our hands scarred everywhere we touched her, as if a gentle story is being criticized for its sound, non-synchronous music.

She is underweight, light as the breeze. Maybe she is susceptible to many more problems than we can hope to resolve. But for two weeks we thought of her, gave her a name. Then she has disappeared into the wall-paint.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Domestic global

The balance of Malleable/Stubborn. Anecdotes which are a portion of the larger picture, then taken as end result in themselves. We try to understand the world through a tiny portion but instead wind up tiling our entire mentality with that one image, repeat, repeat. A woman asked me today at work about my father. In fact we were discussing America's Father's Day, and it had not even crossed my mind to think about my own father, over 15 years dead now. This was uncommon. Then she asked a question I usually see coming: Are You Close To Your Father? And it was so funny to me how I used to be so offended that everyone's world was tiled with living parents, just as much as the socially aware parts of me hated assumptions about paternalism being safe. But now it is a point of rediscovery each time. Yes, I Was Close To My Father. He Is Dead Now. And yet it wasn't a repeat tile. Her reactions were standard. Mine weren't.

In the absence of a tradition of healthy relationships, we need to build newer, better ones, or we will still walk around with the spite in our blood. I have had an exceedingly difficult time doing this with family, but I am increasingly better doing this with friends. A real house helps.

A friend noted today that I am developing a Cohabited Mental Terrain with my housemate, filled with Exquisite Details of Domesticity. If only I could see such - have such, excitement, curiousity about politics. How is it even my place to have that about politics. Leaders are the ones who need it. Space. Laughter. Right when you are the closest to it, right when it is as personal as a dead father, to step away from the coffin and breathe. Because 15 years later can always be a Never Again if you want it to be. How we dis-count time. How it is working for us all the time, Even As We Sleep. How many times we wake up still hating, still angry, for what leaders have done or not done, for the neighbor who always mows 15 minutes before your alarm goes off, angry for a father who abandoned me. These are repeat videos we play again for their strength, for their solidarity. They isolate us from each other. Yet they are hit sellers.

Domestic. Global.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chemical Inaction

The chemicals do not act, my mind remains inactive. I border on the hysterical. My wide cleaned up my room today - we were expecting visitors. There are traces of formality in here now.

With this heat, we are wandering around all afternoon in the outdoors, frustrated. My cap made of rayon definitely adds to a few drops of sweat. I have a two-month engagement now. Will be designing some communications for a group here. I had forgotten to wear my belt today - was pulling up my trousers in the middle of each sentence.

Selecting photos, explaining my objectives on long-distance. Near the bridge which takes me from East to West Ahmedabad, from being rooted in meaning to being uprooted from tradition, from a city to an enchroachment on farm-land, from concern to devious carelessness.

The rain is slated to start pouring on 20th. The government MSW (Master in Social Work) who is to inspect our house before the adoption goes through, is asking for Rs. 1,000 as a fee. Is it bribe ? How do we find out ?

Early morning - all morning I was excited about starting a new group blog, to trigger off a campaign for arts-policy-reform in India. And now its evening, all day dragging my ashes from thought to deed - searching for jokes in casual conversations, scratching the arms of hysteria, I am almost ready to break a few ceramic plates, just to hear something meaningless.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


editing work is lacking in some serious satisfaction. i always want the trick treat, the sudden deja vu of returning a re-envisioned revision. as if the perfect poem were written already but i just need dig back around the roots to give it back its life. no such luck. putting pressure on self doesn't help. not to be self-absorbed, but i can't help but think how universal this is. politics, in particular, the lack of space for one-to-one work, where we meet one another face-to-face, dream-to-dream and speak and listen. space. at an organizing conference this weekend past, i heard so many people say things that were intended to be said just to be said, not even heard. how does that work? can we even be responsible for that? where is room for that in communication? i don't condemn it, i am curious about it. at lunch at an indian buffet, a friend writing his thesis asked how the poetry career develops. he is a sociologist, and he mentioned that in order to edit his work with a clear and non-dreading mind, his partner suggested that he think of a canvas. of painting! it was a great analogy, very additive (instead of the subtractive we tend to accuse editing of being) and yet it made me laugh - to use another art outside his art in order to understand his art. we do it all the time.
i am doing it
right now
in fact.

tricky to be responsible for that. responsible art. responsible parents, partners, houses.

I can hijack !

Went for a short walk in the garden. The grass is nice - at night, a little moist. I did a few brisk rounds. Feel a bit less guilty that I am doing nothing about my gaining weight...

From where we walkin the garden, our flat is fully in view. Our worn-out curtains, my taped-out window... inside spaces. My mind is like a raw field - cracking up in longing and expectation. Displaced satisfaction, no ammount of blogging is going to make me feel good about the other work piling up. I have to understand that. Maybe. Maybe it is just fine - being ambigious and brutal.

The political scene in India is in another queer phase of confusion. Lal Krishna Advani is in trouble and controversy, because he chose to praise Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, who is a popular villian in India.

How can anyone vouch for anyone in history ? I am quite sure, heroes and villians in history could interchange spaces without much difference.

I am trying to view things without the hysterical mercury rising in my veins - letting drab traffic make rolly-polly pudding out of my mind. With a drab mind, memories seem to be tragic!

Nothing like spending a whole day sitting cross-legged reading a book about what babies aged 1-3 months like to do; to make you feel that nothing much can be said. Because small babies like to play and they like to play and they like to play.

hallway, childhood

since i bought my own house a year ago, i have flashed frequently and vividly on my own parents' house, now long repaired and sold since their deaths. last night, while meditating, i flashed on a section i had somehow heretofore missed: the hallway where our coats hung and the salt bucket stood defying all seasons. it was a wisconsin hall(way) - a slogged over winter mess, a muddy summer nightmare, worn old lino with a fake wood effect. i discovered, and quickly was shot down over, a love for tapdance on that hall floor, and when my brother stripped the old lino out and found beautiful wood underneath, the green walls simply had to go. orange highway slickers from cook county construction teams. slowly gathering plastic bag remains. coats from when i was a child: my mother's memory actively hung like a quilt not yet assembled in the form of my father's hat eight years after death, and my blue and purple favorite winter baby overdress in the middle of a sixteen-year-old summer. there were two doors - one at each end - never closed unless she was out of town and i surreptiously cleaned and scrubbed the worn floor and walls. a curtain we thought was natural til she died and it washed out to be white. orange trim. no light.