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.