Monday, May 29, 2006

And as the world is getting smaller and smaller, we can only be getting closer and closer

-from "Black White" by Asian Dub Foundation (Rafi's Revenge is the album)

"You realize that water always flows down, right?"

My new friend JP said this to me today, as I was squinting at the top of State Street buildings, hoping I could somehow induce the sense of distance, perspective and appreciation travel brings (and will be bringing me in one week for the two months after), even after you return home. I was needing to see a break in thinking, I was needing a jar, a sudden glass shard in my vision, to show me what I could see at any second, what I do perceive at any second: the openess of every moment, represented so strongly through the strangeness of travel, but available to us at every moment. Lots of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's writings on contemplative art get at this concept, and Miksang, through Michael Wood and John McQuade's work, was developed through exercises that "artificially induce" such an opening. For instance, we do an exercise called "Flash of Perception" in which the basic teaching of the openness of our perceptions (as opposed to "just what we see", which tends to include what we perceived (color, light, texture) plus everyting else in our range) in every moment. That's the deep teaching. The basic practice? Set your intention to see, say, color. Close your eyes. Spin around. Open them. Notice color.

Meditation in action.

I felt a tremendous sadness when JP noted the idea about water. He told me that when he was graduating college, he felt a strong need for things that are true, that are without Foucault fault, without Althussian influence. Water is one of them. It is a breaking point, a koan, a dharmic moment. The sadness, it seems, upon description to him, was that there are many moments I don't see that at all. And yet, the sadness was quickly followed by relief. Yes. Water does flow down. Thank fucking god.

It's getting hard. Madison is very, very hot right now. Way unseasonably hot. We cracked out the air conditioners in our abode following our massive 12 hour double birthday party, and we've been stowing away in our rooms, each chilled by the shut windows blowing through plastic and wood to keep us calm. Most of the wonderful folk I managed to spend a sliver of time with today before my big trip told me they can't function much in this weather, and notably slow down. It was a relief to hear - no wonder I feel so overwhelmed, trying to scurry around in this shit, but also because summer is the worst season for me. I'd rather just go off on retreat each summer. I'm not a sun fan, mostly, being fair skinned and hating bright light. The energy, for someone like me who is so driven, and on all the time, is too much to ask, as well. I have trouble pacing myself when winter forces me to slow down, much less when summer's endless possibilities (opened by the weather and my abilities to get around with sufficiently less hassle than winter, living on bike and foot) seem just that, like a filled to ridiculous brim supply of deodorants at Woodman's, or the hair dryers that all seemed oversized when I moved back from France.

In one week, I will be double-checking my passport, charging all my batteries (literal, metaphorical) and paying off the rest of my bills. A week from tomorrow, I will lunch with godmother Sherryl in Chicago, then fly straight to godmother June at Gatwick. I look forward to being nurtured, to having food cooked, to trading striped socks with June and drawing, painting and printing with godfather Bruce. After that, Paris with Viviane and any other continent crew members of the international contingency of Miriam Fan Base who can make it over the week. Then, London, to spend much overdue time with Tobi at Unit Six and cram in Susie's wedding at the end. I anticipate I'll be blogging a fair amount, and emailing, though of course I'll be mostly out of phone contact. Ipod is loaded with hot new tracks from Dan and Sus (Hymie's Basement is hot!) and camera has a new flash card. Sadness and relief are everywhere, not just in the water. Not just in the way the water falls. And not just in me.

For those in Madison - good-bye party for me, welcome party for my replacement and good discounts at Rainbow Bookstore this Friday, 6-9pm!

figuring out the confusion from the mess

Back in this familiar space, after quite a while. This blog feels like a nice personal space, something I quite think of in terms of an alternative web avatar. A rushed and unexpected trip to Chicago and now am back home, waiting for M to join me tomorrow.

Been watching a lot of movies. Been sleeping very bad... But have been drawing and writing fairly regularly, and that has been holding the strands of sanity together for me.

I woke up at 3 p.m. yesterday. Been out photographing late nights for my film, running behind schedule on it.

What does it mean, to be standing behind the blue curtain in my room, peeping out. All my clothes are in the wash, I am wondering how I can go out?

A torrent of stuff I want to do, and no one to bore with hyper-listen-me-up! Watching TV, TV, TV.

When I am alone, all I try to focus is being at peace with myself, else I go flying - searching for ways to hide, ways to delude myself.

It is very how in Mumbai - touch 35 C now, I think. How do I persuade the heat my mind is on to melt away, vapourize, give way? We need to look for a bigger house, I need to set up a studio space for myself...

Meeting up old friends is much more comfortable! I'd much rather network with people I've already met and connected with than hoard-up on new connections...

If a clock is set back by 5 minutes every 10 minutes, how off would it be at any given moment?

I seldom need an alarm clock to wake up, I can just worry myself awake. I think that I want to wake up 5 a.m. and I wake up at 5, bang.

So all night, I am curled up in an uneasy dream, ready to wake up, and I am ok with that. Why am I ok with that? Shouldn't I need more comfort/ease for myself? I am going down a waterfall in a paper-boat.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

You put your life in the hands of the Urban Planner

-21st Century Pop Song by Hymee's Basement

I had a horrible dream a few nights ago. Both horrible at how obvious it was, and horrible at how true it was. These are the only horrible factors. In the dream, every ex-partner was amalgamed onto my father's face. Their bodies were his body. My father's face appeared again and again, like a flash film, like one pixel somehow was every ex, every Devdutt, every Dayna, every Matt, every Michelle. I don't know how in description it actually occured, but it was heart-wrecking in its accuracy. I somehow knew in five seconds of observation that I had sought, for over 17 years now, love that was not just dead, but not useful when he was even alive. God love you dad, you were emotionally distant and unresponsive for the most part, both alive and dead you continue to be so. And, like my mother, I continued to see you even post-mortem, emotional patterning and all.

Tonight, lots of lovely folk came to my birthday party. I was amazed, though I never should be amazed, at the sort of congregation Erika and I can produce on relatively short notice. Camping friends bedammed, AG showed with her "35 guests", JP showed due to a lack of a monster torrent, the regular PGI crew made a half notice and we had a fire show sponsored and produced by T and friends. Neighbors were happily absent (out Memorial Day camping, I suppose).

I did have crushes present, which felt prescient considering the dream the night before! Usually, I would have bent all to spend time with them, only, well, at this moment they are all taken, and, also, I am wary to repeat anything like what the dream taught me about my tendencies in attraction. It is curious to explore draw. And more: after a year of celibacy, I can recognize that draw and also let it go. Maybe it will have different times, maybe not. I'm learning to make friends with love of all kinds. Certainly not now, not as I am entering 2 months of constant travel, is the time to disrupt much. So I flirted, both with the open and concealed flames, and was able to wrap up the night happy, feeling well-appreciated, and relatively sober.

That's where I am now.

I saw Prayas (co-blogger on this blog, occasionally) on a conference fluke two weeks ago in Chicago, IL, USA. What a thing! To see someone you hadn't thought you'd see on your own continent for a long time, someone you were convinced you wouldn't see for another year entirely! It has this effect, unexpected comfort, of someone you know, you bonded with, you met, and you can just click right in to what you need, as short as it was/is.

I have grown older, and in my growth seen just how significant friends are. I am not as likely to give license to a stranger who likes my face only to show me the emotional distance I radiate for in romance. Friends are more likely to get - and deserve! - my companionship.

"It's the perfect day, Elise" says PJ Harvey, and I am finding it hard to argue, difficult nearly-done job stuff aside, going to bed alone aside (that would have bothered me so much so more two years ago), all the discomforts of dancing with drunks (bruised toes and nose) aside, it is, Elise. Perfect day. Happy birthday (week) to me!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World

Today, I had four fillings replaced to the soundtrack of Johnny Clegg and Savuka's Cruel Crazy Beautiful World album, Capitol records, 1989. When they injected me, despite surface numbing material, the epinephedrine made me shake. I had either never encountered epi before, or, I had but my body is more sensitive now. For 10 minutes, I had some pretty serious convulsions and numbness going on in my legs and arms, hands and feet. It was gross, and scary, and the whole time I just kept breathing and listening to One Human, One Vote, and Jericho.

Shots are the thing that usually freak me out the most. I got one tattoo when I was 18, and I got high off it. When I got my nose pierced at 22, I felt a little more queasy about it, but that's understandable, I thought. But by my second tattoo at 26, I realized, maybe I'm not so good with adrenaline. My housemate loves to joke that I am the anti-coke, that I love to spend hours sitting and staring at walls for fun (thanks also to J for noting that one, and respecting it). So in a weird way, though I am sure it's not the cause, it doesn't surprise me that epi freaked me out. But it sure was scary. The dentist, Dr Golden Vu (yes, beautiful name, isn't it?) was super wonderful, and so was his assistant. But hey, it's a suck ass experience, regardless.

It *is* a Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World. When I was in Guyana a few years back, my friend Mark noted how much his small village, Canal #1, was just like his rural hometown in a lot of ways, back in the States. "Only here," he extrapolated, "there's no room for disgusting things to hide. Death, illness, the whole range, is all out here, splayed under and next to hibiscus and love." Best dentist ever, worst experience ever. All the while, up at the capitol, a rally was raging, the best rallies of my generation (and we've had some doozies what with the WTO and such) happening, the most inspiring work being manifested, about the most dire human rights issue in America (yes, the Americas) today: direct exploitation without compensation by the most powerful country in the world on its own turf. Joy, sorrow.

It seems such a trope. I know. But just in case it wasn't hammered in (oh yes, hammered in - they had to get that tooth-colored stuff deep into my new de-cavitized molars), goddess-sent Birdfarm and wife brought me for a co-op take-out buffet, and while I moped about numb and slightly sore, still whimpering over my speed overload, I felt loved. We watched Saving Face, a surprisingly subtle and quite charming lesbian film, and munched (well, I mostly sucked and mooshed). I know that trauma makes great openings. It is tempting, and frequent as human behavior goes, to fill it right back up. But sometimes, taking the risk to stay open, despite numbness, despite fear, is the right risk.

It helps that I feel optimistic in general about my life, my career right now. I am starting new classes tomorrow and I am excited. Another new friend and I met this week and he was clear about how much he believes in what I am doing. All of my long-standing friends are taking the transition without a blink, the store included. Yes, there's some painful shifting. Opening of wounds. Numbness. But they are the Right Risks. In fact, on the bus on the way home from chiro today, dreading my big dentist appointment, even wondering for sure, one last time, just one more time, if this decision for my job is the right *financial decision* (always good for a crisis, since who would argue about worrying about money?!), the woman sitting next to me closed her book and I looked, of course I looked, I am a bookseller.

It was this book:
I shit you not.
The description:
The Right Risk.
Teamwork and leadership consultant Treasurer-formerly known as the fire-diving stuntman Captain Inferno-here encourages readers to take risks calculated to catapult them out of the lukewarm safety of mediocrity and into "an intimate encounter with the magnificence of their own souls." Treasurer chooses intriguing anecdotes, often from his seven years as a member of the U.S. High Diving Team (which is where he first leapt from a diving board, engulfed in flames, and plunged into a pool 100 feet below) to illustrate how to take good risks. "When we don't take risks," Treasurer says, "we get stuck in a rut of safety. Over time, we become trapped inside our own life, like a pearl confined to its shell." He offers 10 principles to encourage such healthy risks, from "finding your golden silence" (becoming attuned to your needs and identifing intelligent risks) to "exposing yourself" emotionally (embracing honesty and avoiding the build-up of resentments). His clear, colloquial chapters encourage readers to overcome inertia, write "risk scripts" and turn fear into a positive force. Admonitions to go ahead and be imperfect and embrace the possibilities inherent in risks-whether they're professional or personal-should spark many readers to vow to live more deliberately, energetically and authentically, and the questions Treasurer poses to readers at each chapter's conclusion are helpful tools for self-guidance.

I won't read it. I already know how to do it. But what a crazy beautiful validation?