Posts Tagged ‘personal history’

the wandering mind

Lately, probably in some high level of procrastinating avoidance, I’ve been In The Kitchen.

I decided, for example, to make the herein previously mentioned lentil/rice crepes, Adai.  Last time I may have omitted mention of the FLOOD that happened during mixing.  You have to grind things together and I thought, heck, food processor here we come.  Except, no, because? Water. Which went everywhere rapidly.  It did produce a rather pleasant cumin scented cleansing for the butcher block, and I went on to use the Nutri-Bullet, with good results.  So this time? There was FIRE.  Yes.  Actual fire.  Oh dear, I said, and managed to put it out with only minimal damage to one dinner plate.  Don’t ask how that happened.

But fire? after a flood? It seemed kind of apocryphal. Or maybe I mean apocalyptic.  Also I neglected the crepe component so they were a bit….thick.  But, live and learn.  Ultimately I decided to view the whole thing as a storyboard of progress, flood, fire, and then? The promised land?

Which turned out to be sourdough english muffins.  Worth the effort but not without incident, at least I can say I get the concept now.  And it also showed an important area needing improvement.

Which is following instructions.  Oh, dear.  I had a lot of things going on so I just read the recipe for the basic dough (baguette) and mixed it accordingly.  Of course when I turned to the actual english muffin recipe, it said, don’t handle the dough much.  Uhm.  So next time, like the Adai, it will be easier I think.  Less work, actually, and paying attention to what one does somewhat carefully does yield positive results.

So, notwithstanding that it was so hot yesterday I lost my brain completely and couldn’t even grasp which pan to use to make chocolate sauce, thus skipping that part of desert, I think this has all shown me at least what the next step is, about which I was wondering.

And that step is Attention.  I realized I’ve lived my life as though chased by werewolves, lending itself to a sense of not having time to…well, pay attention.  Run, run, run.  But as flood, fire, and spongy muffin interiors show, if you don’t pay attention? The wolves are waiting for you when you get there.  Going, haha and oh dear.  Looky here……So actually this has all been rather liberating in the final analysis.  I realized I don’t have to have epic disasters more than 40% of the time, which seems to be their naturally occurring orbit just in the way of things. At least in MY life.  We were watching a sitcom the other night and all kinds of things were happening with the expected ensuing hilarity.  The Partner said, this is so unbelievable! This would never happen in real life! (pause) Except, he said, getting up off the couch and moving away from me, to YOU.

In fact, he is a brave soul, the Partner.  It made me think of a time long ago, when as a student at University, a friend and I were taking the bus back from San Francisco to the East Bay after going to Japan town to get some groceries to make some culinary extravaganza in my studio in the ‘hood.  Exciting enough, really.  This friend had confidence in me since once when we were visiting his cousin in a somewhat questionable area, and wound up having to climb out of a small back window as LAPD broke the front door down, he commended me for my “sang froid”…we WERE in college after all.  So when, in the bus station, he said, you’re always saying weird things happen to you and I’m just going to stand on the other end of the platform to see, I remember gulping a bit.  And when, as usual, a poor disoriented man under the influence of many things both seen and unseen laid eyes on me, raised both arms with index fingers pointed and started stalking over to me, and I, in response, calmly lifted a pickled daikon (shrivelled, atomic yellow, and unpleasantly reminiscent of a certain part of male anatomy), packaged in a totally brain blasting plastic wrapper with exclamation points and Kanji in red outlined in purple, out of my shopping bag? And the poor soul turned white as a sheet and ran shrieking off the platform? My friend came over to me, hugged me and apologized for ever doubting my…er….cred.

This, in short, is what the Partner has taken on, bravely if perhaps ignorantly at first? I don’t know.  He’s probably somewhat relieved that our life precludes a lot of the normal dangers of going outside in a city, and keeps me limited to a small area where he has a hose and shovel and shotgun ready at all times.  He takes heart every day I don’t get bitten by a rattler, for example.  Anyway it gives me hope.  If I pay attention and have someone at my side who Understands that Stuff Happens, anything is possible.  And there really Is a splendid dog picture (success with the 21st century!) coming up in our next installment.  He’s almost not a puppy any more……..

Blessings and thanks!

Into the Breach

So, the effort to separate the real from the unreal continues apace out here in…wherever this is.  We saw President and Mrs. Obama on TV yesterday (yes! downward facing antenna-dog!).  (As always, she rocked it).  The discussion included how people who work hard should be able to succeed in this country, blahblahblah, responsibility, sacrifice, blahblahblah.

I found myself experiencing a certain amount of discombobulation, as is usual when I hear things like this.  I mean, I prefer hearing THIS to hearing the drums beating for “job creators”  and “exceptionalism”, and “restoring the future” (how can you restore something that hasn’t happened yet?) and all the rest of the whole cloth of untruth and deceit that gets unfurled constantly these days.  Because there really is something else, some indefinable something, that must enter into what comprises success in this country.  Hard work and responsibility and sacrifice alone don’t quite do it.

What I ended up thinking at the end of another long, challenging day was what I usually wind up thinking now.  There are worlds within world, throngs within throngs, and somehow the lines between them all are both transparent and impenetrable.  You have to define success in terms of the big picture, the long term, and somehow in terms of your own coherence.  Not in terms of what you own or how you look or even what kind of “professional” you are.  Needless to say if the brass ring hasn’t installed itself in your living room there can be some tooth gnashing- at a minimum.

Part of what I’ve come to understand I’ m writing about (because seriously? it seems to just have a mind of its own) is this whole journey we make through life, how it gets set up and oriented, what we learn about ourselves and how we have to undo the damaging parts of that learning.  I realized I’m much younger now than I was as a kid, for example.  As a child there were responsibilities and situations to be dealt with that were, to say the least,far above my pay grade.   Ultimately that left a dent in other developmental areas, left a mark which everyone else saw and understood.  Not me!  No sir.  Took quite some time for that.  Now there are the constant ups and downs of things and the tremendous anxiety of blazing a new path with no map except a vague sense of magnetism, and of course the never ending dance with money.  But it seems to me that the big task IS individuation, opening one’s heart and mind, even though as Chogyam Trungpa remarked, we’re up against tremendous resistance.  Once you do that, however, everything changes.  It starts to be a little vertiginous, perhaps scary, to venture forth into world where nothing is as you previously thought it to be.

It’s probably part of why people don’t always want to do things that will help them “get well”- once you shift, for example, and see that the stress of your job is going to kill you even though of course you are So Grateful To Even Have One, what do you do then? The choices are not really there when you’re between a rock and a hard spot.   Once you orient yourself using the stars, your deep inner heart’s voice, though, instead of a shopping mall or exercise of power, the field of being shifts and the whole world does, too.  Somehow then you really just can’t keep going on in the same old way, try as you might it just won’t work.  And even though, as Marshall McLuhan wrote, “the integral being cannot be…tolerated in a fragmented or specialist society…” you find you just have to step out into that void, where you finally may learn to fly.  At the very least, you start presenting a moving target.  How that works out with your old friends, your family, your career- all unknown and often not terribly warm and fuzzy.  This larger view creates the beginning of difference, big differences perhaps.  But it is where many of us, I believe, find ourselves.  Now we must begin to find each other out there, and make a better world with what we’ve learned.  Because differences mean that we have things to share with each other, in the final analysis.  Not that we’re wrong or bad.  Just that we have different knowledge or experience- and the road to sanity does pass extensively through the Land of Learning That Differences Aren’t What Make Things Go Sideways.  I find my prayer mostly these days is that everyone on earth can find a moment of peace inside themselves and remember that we are all one.  Those who hurt us as well as those who love us.


woman meets dog

I really can’t begin, Gentle Reader, to describe the multiplicity of snafus and fubars that have kept me from this little blog of late.  At one point the Partner, ashen faced, sat down at the table, looked at me and said, I have to rethink this whole thing.  YOU HAVE THE WORST LUCK IN THE WORLD.  After I stopped panicking and thinking this meant We Were Through, I was able to review things quickly and realize that, quite possibly, I do.  Have the worst luck in the world.  Or at least, it’s right up there.  Friends who have known me for a long time will, musingly or cheerfully, tell tales of people they’ve met who “have worse luck than you do! It’s INCREDIBLE!”.  These stories usually involve at a minimum, exploding fireplaces, incineration of importance, major nerve damage or disfigurement, or, my current favorite.  This involves someone who got shot in the back of the head having the bullet come out through the mouth with all associated teeth exiting as well, in front of a hotel waiting for an appointment to show up.  The appointment showed up, fainted, and things carried on with excruciating trauma, permanent damage, the whole nine yards.  Life continued on because this individual, (like those of us, so I’m told: oh, but they’re like you! so calm! they just keep going! who routinely have above standardly weird shit happen), was plucky and resourceful.  So that when a bus came out of nowhere and ran this person over a few years later, it should come as no surprise that the permanent and difficult damage rendered in the original brouhaha was remedied because the hospital happened to have a specialist who dealt in just that awful sort of thing.  I guess getting run over by a bus was worth it in the end.    Then I thought about my first car.  It was parked, I was in it.  It got partially crushed by a (really) Winebago Renegade whose elderly driver was cleaning his glasses instead of steering.  He had them clean enough to leave the scene, however, and the policeman who arrived  for my report was not, let’s just say, sympathetic to my story.  So fastforward  to the repair shop mandated by my insurance company.  It was a Samoan operation out in East Oakland.  I was thus infuriated but not surprised to learn that the loaner car they gave me to use while my poor car went under the bondo was stolen.  How did I find this out?  BECAUSE A HIGHWAY PATROLMAN TRIED TO ARREST ME ON THE VALLEJO BRIDGE, THAT’S HOW.  This being just one story among many, what could I say to the Partner except to snuffle agreement?

A brief list of the recents, just to get up to speed:

A) The yurt is now officially hosting squads of scorpions.

B) The State has disappeared my income tax refund, and says helpful things like I need to give them the phone number of a specific person in my bank for them to talk to.  Yup.  The bank, of course, says it’s the State’s fault, and they only have an 800 number.   The State seems to take the position that I am enjoying WASTING HOURS OF MY TIME trying to fraudulently get a SECOND TAX REFUND.  I give up, I think.

C) Really the most fun, almost.  We, up to now, have done a Summer Art Fair every year.  Not without its’ challenges, it still supplies that ever so desperately needed thing: money.  So after days of preparation, we wend our way to this thing- which now takes us twice as long to get to although it isn’t physically as far away from us as it was when we lived in the Bay Area- and it is as though we entered into a parallel dimension.  We pull up, the guy at the entrance squints at me when I tell him I’m a vendor and need to sign in.  Do you have your packet? he barked.  We finally get that horsed around and I go to the redoubt where the Vendor sign in has been secreted.  They at last give me my wristbands and welcome letter!, then the guy there says, frowning in a patronizing sort of way: Are you going to drive your car in there? (Meaning into the state park where the fair is held)  At this point it’s been a long lifetime already, and I’m just wondering what to say.  Well, I said.  I AM a vendor here, let’s see.  So that means I have stuff to sell.  That means I have stuff.  In my car.  To unload.  So, unless you have some pack animals here, YES I DO HAVE TO DRIVE IN THERE FOR A MINUTE TO UNLOAD.  OK, he says, I’ll have to give you a parking permit.   They’ve never done this before, since usually they have staff managing the loading stuff and nobody parks until later, because it’s just not workable.  You get a parking permit if you’ve paid for parking.  So, fine, I say.  Then he says, but I need a phone number.  I felt a tear leaking out of my eye then.  My cel phone doesn’t work at this park, of course.  I don’t have a phone here, I said.  Well then I can’t give you the parking permit, he said.  Feeling that I might turn into a multi-headed Hydra at any minute, I just made up a goddamned phone number, and he was happy.  So, on to our spot, which we couldn’t even get to because?  There were vehicles parked bumper to bumper along the whole grassy area where the vendors were supposedly to ply their wares. No parking permits to be seen.  The people next to us, whom I remembered from the prior year for their…ongoing high level of adjusted attitude let’s just say, had sprawled all their multitude of metal bars and bamboo fence and piles of frames and all kinds of stuff, all over OUR space and all behind it.  They seemed to think it was rude when, after they told me they’d dumped all that stuff there until “THESE people show up”,  I said, well WE are THESE people.  Long story short, we finally got our canopy up, after what verged on armed struggle.  That thing did not want to be there, which it demonstrated by immediately going ass over teakettle and blowing about 40 feet across the grass.  You might guess if you were paying attention that it was only windy right at our spot and everyone else? Who had the exact same canopy? was just fine.

D) Are we at D already?  We came home, another four hours, it was 85 degrees at midnight but we were home! The parrots were fine and our garden was ok too.  So I pulled self together, got the attitude adjusted, and then? Yesterday.  There was supposed to be a chance of a tenth of an inch of rainfall.  What there was, was high winds, an astounding thunder and lightening storm that went on for over two hours, drenching downpour and large marble sized hail.  The entire area around the yurt was like a pond.  Then, the power went out.  Cross words ensued between Partner and Self, and it was my job to sally forth.  He wanted me to go to the neighbors’ but, their power being out also, what was the point? I had to get to someplace where my cel phone would work so I could call PG&E and impersonate my landlady in order to find out if we were going to be without power for long- since with no power, we have no water or phone or ANYTHING.  So, a gallon of gas later I found I was the first person to report the power outage which had everybody out here in the dark for a minute.  It was on the way that I met the dog.  A man was walking down the middle of our road as I was endeavoring to find cel phone reception.  This is pretty odd in itself- you don’t see strollers around here.  I stopped and immediately realized that he was either completely stoned out of his mind or suffering from dementia. Given the neighborhood, I reckoned number One was the answer.  While I was wondering how to get on my way since there was nothing I could do for him it seemed, he grinned unpleasantly and said, Have you met my dog?

I turned to my left (He was undulating on the driver’s side of the car) which of course was just Right There, and the window was partly open and what should my wondering eyes behold but the head of a gigantic black mastiff sticking itself right in there, albeit partially. Very big teeth but fortunately, no bad breath to go along with the drool.

So there I was between Mr. Crazypants and His Giant Dog.  In a river of mud under roiling dark clouds and thunder so loud you couldn’t hardly hear yourself think.   TO BE CONTINUED.

Not really, I’ve just always wanted to do that.  Surprised by my suavity I somehow extracted myself from that Moment of Hideousness with only minor claw marks on the door (don’t be mad at me, the guy was bellowing, how could I be? I said, you are just a DOLL!), the power did come back on, other upsetting things happened, and here we are.  I did finally understand something about life, however, which WILL have to wait for the next episode.  Just inch back into your chair, it won’t be too long.

Forest? Trees? Gratitude

It seems I’ve decided to save the world in my nightgown today since I’m still padding around in it.  Yesterday’s swirl of thoughts and synchronicity has left me temporarily beached; and there is still the day’s work to do around the yurt.

I thought about so much stuff yesterday I gave myself a headache.  In a good way for a change- just too much information blitzing through the synapses.  (We also discovered the hard way that neither the Partner nor I can stand anchovies, in the radical spirit of experimentation yesterday had.  For the first time ever I made something for dinner, containing the aforementioned ingredient, and neither one of us could eat it.  Live and learn, Gentle Reader.  Live and learn. )  We’re meanwhile working on some new offerings for the website, which are going to need some cogent explanation,  and in the process of thinking about how to do that, and about modern physics, and about how really overall a spirit of neutrality or non-attachment to outcome is crucial to developing understanding of almost anything- apparently the small but active mind of this bear got whipped into a froth which precipitated an unpleasantness that resolved into some important understanding.

I woke up from a dream this morning in full possession of a massive headache and an anxiety attack.  The dream, you may infer, was quite frightening but once I got over the physical reaction to it, pain and nausea, it led me to quite a fantastic revelation.  Seeing in the mind’s eye a string of events that seemed unrelated to the dream material I understood at last how it all fit together- the events in the dream and the real events the memory put forth to go along with it.  It made me think about the fear people live with, how it is fomented culturally to a large extent, and how one can rise above it instead of being crippled.  We have our histories with us like a gigantic set of luggage.  It can be hard to piece things together from this Historical Set of Things, especially when we have a theory or position we’re attempting to maintain.  Sometimes a suitcase pops open and stuff empties out seemingly willy-nilly, and we wonder why in the heck we brought THAT with us.  Then, perhaps THAT shifts into something else and we may wonder about that thing too.   Memory and reflection can haunt us or help us with this sorting task, getting rid of stuff that really belongs to someone else, for example.  Naturally we often don’t know we’re lugging someone else’s baggage around with us, but when we do realize that?  The liberation that comes of it is like being covered in light.   A completely different feeling than that of being covered in suffocating yuck that can accompany such suitcase-openings when all we actually do is attempt to cram everything back in and shut it away.  We might ask ourselves why we end up carrying all this crap around and really there may be no answer except that we put it down when it is time.  In my case, and in this dream, it was being able to finally recognize the seed of the negative that was planted so long ago, and which I internalized (as humans do! such fun we have!) as something that had actually to do with ME and was a tangible part thereof.  When in fact it was really about the person who planted it- and however damaging this seed was to me over time, they were only doing what their own luggage was prompting them to do.  Not to excuse bad behavior, but until we understand things they have often got more control over us than they should. Anyway, today things lined up in the sky and I saw my world in a new light.  It also made me think about a friend who has a Situation with which she deals in total brave honesty, and truly not in fear.  If she can do that, I thought, I can also put this….this suitcase I never bought….down.  It was peculiarly like a rebirth, because it also had to do with facing death in all its many guises.

These rebirths, if we may call them so, are what happen each time we can release our attachment to how we think things are and see them as they actually are.  It’s the process of becoming alive, being human, being ourselves.  They can be small or large, fun or earthshaking.  We always have what we need- we’re just not always able to recognize that because of fear and resistance.  It really is, though, a constant process of motion, and light, and change.  So even if a bit flattened, today I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful.  Maybe I’ll even get dressed!  Or not.  But one thing is for sure:  there will be no anchovies in this picture!