action · change · creativity · direction · faith · healing · inspiration · spirituality · trust · work

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

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Call it Spring. Call it some planetary phase. Call it the
fact that I’ve been back at my job for one year in April. But the past few
days, I’ve begun to feel like things are about to shift. Change is afoot.
Could be wrong. Could be indigestion. Could report the same
old, same old here for the next sixty years. But, I don’t think so. I don’t
feel so.
It’s kind of a stupid thing to report, that you feel change is afoot, in a blog that is supposed to be
about updates and reflections and actions. To simply take a moment to let you
know that I feel like things are about to be different seems antithetical and
anticlimactic. But, nonetheless, I tell it as it happens.
There’s some sort of coagulation that has happened, that I’ve begun to recognize. Maybe it was sitting with that woman on Sunday and
reflecting on the change that’s occurred within me and my spending habits.
Maybe it’s noticing that it’s been a year at this job, which has provided a
foundation of stability and structure, and enabled me to heal. It’s also realizing that things are going to change soon at my work, the nature of things are going to be reorganized, and perhaps it’s just a time
to reassess what’s happening and going on.
It feels like a time to pull my head out of the sand a
little more. To reassert what it is that I want out of life, and address those
things that hinder me from heading there, or even dreaming them up. It’s what I
wrote yesterday in my morning pages: It’s time to dream again.
When you’re in a storm, all you have attention for and time to
do is to batten down hatches and lower the mainsail and hope to Jesus and Allah
and George that you get through the rough patch safely.
When the clouds do clear, you spend the time assessing
damage, swabbing the decks of all the debris you took on board during the
crisis, and getting a new roll-call of who’s still with you, who’s got a
broken arm.
Eventually, the water has evened out, the crew is back to
its old galley routines, and it’s time to point the ship toward the horizon
again.
I’ve been very clear this time, as I ask for direction and
guidance, to be open to what’s
said/heard/intimated. How do you want me to earn? How do you want me to live?
How do you want me to share the gifts I have?
I feel I’ve made an awful mess of hampering myself, like an
anchored ship attempting to get anywhere new. And I know that some of the
internal and external work I’m doing is to untether that stagnation,
resistance, and fear.
A friend once told me, years ago, that things wouldn’t work
out for me with theater until I addressed my trauma shit. Another friend told
me while I was battling chemo that I wouldn’t get out of this pattern of
self-immolation until I moved through my father shit.
Despite all the rowing, all the sails pointed in the right
direction, no movement can be made if you’re still anchored to pain. No
sustainable movement, at least.
So, I suppose this feeling, this sense that things are about
to change, is an indication that I’m hoisting anchor.
Where I go from here? I’ve got to take a deep breath of promise and divine creative unrest — and trust my compass.
(Thank you for indulging my ship metaphor! I hope you
enjoyed it as much as I did) 😉

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community · inspiration · love · persistence · service · spirituality · willingness · writing

Did you live happy? Did you live well?

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I don’t really believe in heaven and hell. I suppose if I
believe in anything, I believe in some kind of version of reincarnation. Not
that my soul gets inserted into some new being on the planet, but that the
anima that makes my heart pump disseminates into other things – surely, the
worms, and dirt, and grass that’ll be fed by me, but also, I feel like there’s
some way our spirit gets to try again.
Maybe not. Maybe we’re all worm food. But I think about the
concept I’ve heard that we choose the life that we’re born into. That
we somehow float cosmically one step outside of this reality, and when it’s
time, we are born into the lock that our life provides the key for – and the
lessons and situations we walk into in life are what turns the key. Toward
what? Who knows. Enlightenment sounds like such a heavy word. I don’t know that
there’s ever any “fixed” or “done” for us. I think that’s part of what our
souls, for lack of a better word, enjoy about the whole thing.
It’s sort of like an infinite book of Choose Your Own
Adventure. We’ve all heard me talk about how the lessons we’re here to learn
aren’t always the ones we want; it’s not like I would have chosen some of the circumstances that have surrounded my life
or the situations that occurred in it. But, on some level, perhaps I have and
did. And perhaps for some benevolence greater than my own. – Or not.
Sometimes I ask my cat what she did in former lives to be a
cat this time. What she was before? And who she bribed to get to be as pretty as
she is?
Sometimes I think about the Indigo Girls’ song Galilleo, and how maybe the being we’re born into next time will
have so much baggage from our fucking things up, or not “evolving” enough, to be
the next great writer and artist, or inventor fixing the world.
Sometimes I sit home sick and watch Saving Grace on Netflix and write a blog about theology. Like
today.
I have heard about the whole Pearly Gates thing, and we (or
Christians, at least) get asked questions. And I wonder if I were asked the
questions in the title of this post, what my reply would be? And if it will
continue to change, as it’s surely changed before.
A friend of mine has a mission statement for herself and her
life, and squares the actions and activities she engages in against it. If it
doesn’t jive, then she finds a way to align her wants with its message: To be
of maximum service to myself and others, for the good of all involved.
The other day, as I was sitting in my car, waiting for
the call with my potential new somatic therapist, I was struck with a phrase for
me and for my life that feels pretty appropriate. It was less a mission
statement at the moment, and more a simple observation of the sum total of my actions & endeavors, at least in
adulthood: To voraciously expand my consciousness of love.
It’s sort of what I have been doing lately, I think. It’s
sort of what I think I want to continue to do. It’s a tall freaking order, for
sure. And it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable and occasionally plain biting, but
at its base, at my base, I think it’s a pretty good mission for my soul to have chosen.
Once, in meditation, I got this edict for my life: To love,
as much as you can. What comes to me from that is that it’s also really as much
as you can on any given day. Do your best on any given day, and that level will
change, and sometimes will be really freaking low. But if I believe, which I
do, that I am here for a purpose, and if I believe today that that purpose is
to voraciously expand my consciousness of love, then it’s sort of like when
they put those bumpers in the gutters of the bowling lane: I’ll never be too far off center. 

inspiration · recovery · writing

Climbing Kilimanjaro (or at least, reading the Guide Book)

I was on the phone this morning with my friend on the East
coast. She recently returned from her frankly stellar honeymoon cruise around
the Mediterranean, and after regaling me with her now-insider-tourist viewpoint
(Istanbul Markets = Yes; Parthenon = overcrowded; Sistine Chapel = Who are we
kidding, Yes.), she asked me what I was up to.
I told her that I’m recently reading memoirs on marriage. I
said, even though it’s not something that’s currently on the radar, one day it probably will be, and like someone who’s gonna climb Kilimanjaro, I ought to read the
guide book.
So, I now have on my coffee table, Vow: A Memoir of Marriage
and Other Affairs
, one woman’s story of how
infidelity on both sides corroded her marriage, and
No Cheating, No
Dying: I had a good marriage, then I tried to make it better
. Also, out of a rubber-necker’s curiosity, a while ago I’d read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed to see if her second book would be as good as the first (and, well,
sort of).
To me, reading these marriage memoirs is like getting the read-out from a fallen plane’s
black-box: What went wrong? What went right? What are the junction places and
fuses that tend to blink out first? What can you do, if anything, to reinforce them before they do?
I’ve had a thirst for this kind of reading over the last
several years. I was a Fiction Fiction Fiction only reader for many years,
Stephen King, Ray Bradbury,…JK Rowling, because real life was *so boring,* and allegory could be so much more useful… But, lately, I find myself almost
exclusively prowling the non-fiction, first-persons; most specifically,
picking those that have something to do with where I want to be.
Last Spring, it was the memoirs of Tina Fey (comic, leader,
success), Betty White (comic, still-kicking), Nora Ephron’s I Remember
Nothing: And Other Reflections
(writer,
comic, realist) and
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest
Trail
by Cheryl Strayed which actually
inspired me to research the best hiking boots for someone with flat feet (not purchased).
I read the following to balance out the light, or rather I
read the above to balance out the dark I was reading at the time: Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When
You Could Be Normal
and Augusten Burrough’s
Running with Scissors.
I wanted to know many things from reading these books: I
wanted to know how to be a successful woman in tough businesses, I wanted to
know how to be an artist, writer, performer and make it stick, and mostly I wanted to know how
you keep moving forward in a hard world, and keep your sense of humor.
During the time I was sick, you couldn’t peel me from a
cancer memoir. It was all I read. Except for that one on divorce (Stacy
Morrison’s Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the
Hell of Divorce
), since it seemed equally catastrophic, and I like the
word
optimist in a title.
When my friend first leant me the Lance Armstrong book, It’s Not About the Bike, last
October, I said thanks with a pressed I’m-never-gonna-read-that-Nobody-else-knows-what-it’s-like-to-have-cancer
smile. But, still, I brought it back to the hospital with me for my second
round of chemo, and eventually hardly put it down between temperature- and
blood-pressure monitorings.
People asked what I thought about all the controversy that
was coming out about him then, and I said I didn’t give a shit – He survived cancer, and lived to write a book about it. That’s all I needed to know. 
Honestly, I can’t remember the other ones I read – chemo
brain, perhaps – but that’s what I read these books for: How in the hell did you
do that? How can I?
This summer’s reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A
Year of Food Life
resulted in home-made
tomato sauce (and a half a plat of rotting tomatoes), an awkward okra experiment, and many afternoon delights with a basket of fresh figs.
And now, now, it’s marriage. It’s also, Going Gray: What
I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything
Else that Really Matters
, Anne Kreamer’s
exploration of what it means to grow older in American culture, one strand at a
time.
This is probably the book that sparked my whole memoir
thing, long before I actually read one. I’d still been living in San Francisco,
Borders was still in business, and I was at the Stonestown Mall. Somehow,
perhaps while looking for some “recovery” related book which are often in the
“self-help” section, I saw her book, and remember picking it up, reading the
back copy and noting that it was an interesting idea.
This week, I saw Kreamer’s book on the memoir shelf of my now-housed-in-a-trailer-behind-a-school
public library branch. I picked it up. And devoured it.
So, what about all this? What does it “mean” or matter?
Well, one thing, I suppose, is that reading these books enables me to see that
I’m not alone in my struggles–I’m not alone in living in the world with real
people and real tragedies and real humor, and most importantly, real chutzpah.
Also, aside from Lance Armstrong and the Burroughs one
(which frankly left me more disturbed than helped), all the books I’ve been reading are by women.
Women, claiming their right to share their inane
(Betty White), heartbreaking (Winterson), path-back-toward-the-light
(Morrison) stories. Women using their voice to say, Here, here is where I’ve been frayed and flayed and fraught and
fought, and I’m still here to tell you about it.
These women are my heroes. And so I will continue to head
straight for that shelf in the library/trailer, because I want to climb Kilimanjaro,
too. 

courage · creativity · faith · fortitude · inspiration · responsibility · vulnerability · willingness

Movie Magic

In an effort to vary what’s become to me a rather one-note
blog lately, I’ve decided to lie.
I recently earned a decent wage from my spirituality &
creativity workshops, and am supplementing my income with sales of my art work.
Further, I am feeling so rejuvenated and supported by these avenues of income
and service, that I have enough energy and creativity left over to practice
with my new band – We play our first show this weekend.
There … did that work?
Well, in some circles, one might call that a “vision,” or
dream. A goal, per se. And in those circles, Visions are highly regarded as
lighthouses for us in the dark nights of the soul. So, I’ll take what I can
get. It may feel like pretend, like fantasy, as I cannot see how to get from A
to Z, but I don’t have to. Those are places that resonate with me to my core.
If we add in that I’m a member of a local theater company, and we just ended
our sold-out run, I think I’d hit nirvana.
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this here, though I’ve used
this metaphor before.
It’s like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yep. That’s right. I’m going there.
When Indy, as we affectionately call him, is on his way through the cave to get to the Holy Grail, he comes to a ravine. There is no way
to cross this. As it appears, Indy stands on one side, clinging to a statue of
a Lion, and about 15 or 20 feet away, is the other side of the ravine, and the
path to the Grail.
There is no way. He cannot “jump” it, it’s egregiously deep
and sharp and craggy. And so, he recites the clue, as if the words somehow will
give him wings.
“A leap of faith from the lion’s mouth.” A leap of faith. This
is nuts
. A leap of faith. But
there’s nothing down there
. A leap of
faith.
Fuck It.
He takes one step forward from the safety of the rock… and is held,
solid and firm. The camera pans out from his angle, and we see that hidden,
blended into the ravine walls, is a firm, stone bridge. Had he not stepped out
from where he was, he wouldn’t have the vision to see that he was firmly taken
care of the whole time. That there wasn’t a moment at which he was unsafe. He
just needed to take that first step out from perceived safety to perceived risk.
Metaphors like this keep me going.
I’m a visual person, and a child of the 80s, so throw in a “Goonies never say die,” and I’m ready to pack my rucksack, hitch up my courage, and step forward.
Despite my crawing about it here, it’s been suggested that I
let other people know about the state of my affairs, if only to take my
isolation out of it. Funnily, a woman whom I’m not fond of yesterday instructed
me to “Figure It Out.” I could have slapped her. (Funnier still, it’s already been strongly suggested that I choose another woman for these monthly meetings I have with my financial folks – which I haven’t done yet… point taken?)
But, it all reminds me of another phrase, “You can’t save
your face and your ass at the same time.”
I suppose belly-aching is different than sharing. Different
from being open. I’d like to submit that I’ve done a little of both, and what I
recognize is that I do have some blinders on. I do stand like Indy with a
limited view of things.
And if sharing with other folks my honest truth, without
being maudlin or Debbie Downer, can help me to take the next leap into the
unknown, then alright.
Camera Pans Right.
Lights up on microphone. 

action · art · creativity · fortitude · gratitude · inspiration · progress · school · trying

Through the Tunnel

Well, I suppose I’m better than yesterday. A number of
contributing factors. Met up with friends in the morning, got asked to go see a
play this Sunday, got asked to go to that Dharma Punx meditation group tonight,
made plans with a friend for tomorrow afternoon, made plans with a friend for
Sunday afternoon, got my thesis paperwork signed by the folks I needed and it was
confirmed that the last signature I need can
be gotten on Monday without penalty, was congratulated (even without the
uploading) that I will now have an MFA degree and that that’s an accomplishment
even if I don’t feel it right now, ran into my professor who’s helping me with
next Saturday’s workshop and got some details worked out, got my locker
combination from the sports center and put on the sneakers I’d hidden in there
almost 8 months ago, took a REALLY long walk through the awesome grounds at
school, had a lovely little conversation with a lizard, walked through the
school’s herb and healing plant tour, got some good rehearsal in for acting
class, had some good convo’s with student friends of mine, came home and wrote
the performance piece for May 1st and really like how it turned out,
and then had a long convo with a great friend of mine.
So…. yes, things pass. I needed ALL of that to get through
the funk, and there’s still the lingering notes of Beethoven’s funeral march
playing in the back of my head, but I don’t feel quite nearly as pissy or whiny
as yesterday. This is good.
Plus, I’ll babysit for nearly all of today, and kids, even
though I’m always nervous to babysit for that long of periods (how the f can I
entertain kids that long!), they’ll help me get back into the more playful,
much less self-serious frame of mind.
There was an enormo orange cat perched on the garage
overhang as I was writing my morning pages this morning. I always try to get my
cat to notice these things, and tap vigorously out the window, but she rarely
seems to get it and thinks I’m just playing. D’ah, well.
Luckily, it feels, there’s really nothing more to report.
Getting through my emotional tornado was enough news for me. Oh, I also got a
few new books from the library before my scheduled phone call with this woman
who used to work at galleries, and now works for a law firm or something for
art and artists – i forget exactly what she does, but I wrote it down. I wrote a lot down.
We’ve been trying to schedule this call for nearly a year. I let the thread drop sometime in October, and finally picked it back up
this month. And we finally got to speak. She was really helpful and informative,
as I gather information about what jobs there are in the fine art world. She
asked why I was more interested in the art world than the writing world, and I
said, I guess I just feel so surrounded by writers, that I like the avenue of something
else. Plus, I told her that personally, I love painting because it gives my
brain an alternate route to process and develop things – she said to definitely
use that sentiment in interviews.
Plus, she gave me info on the other worlds of fine art. The
trifecta, apparently, is galleries, museums, and auction houses. She said that
my writing background shouldn’t deter me (as in my lack of fine art/art history
background), that as long as I “present well,” and do good work, there’s no
reason that this world should be prohibited from me. Which is great news.
So, now I have more info on jobs in that field, a website
for fine art jobs to check out, and a contact to run things by. She’s actually
a friend of my ex, and he’d put us in touch a million years ago, so, shout out
to him. I toyed with texting him my thanks, but figured the best thanks is to
just go forward with this work. He doesn’t really need to know. … As my ability
to let go of all outcome or response from him is limited, and it’s better that
I just leave it be. But I am hugely grateful.
A lot got done yesterday. My eyeballs are quite red and dry
from all the computer hours logged, so I’ll be glad to focus on kids today, the
most anti-computer screen-like things of all.
It’s just sloughing off the old, I suppose. Fear is normal,
but really, it’s just boogymen, and I have a massive flashlight powered by all
y’all. So, thanks. 

inspiration · joy · love · writing

And so, she falls.

I am in LOVE. This is no mere crush.
The feeling that the very molecules of your DNA have
rearranged themselves, and that the world has possibilities where there were
only plain corners. That by standing on the back of this wave of pure
inspiration, I too can achieve great things and greet the world with an
untrained eye, a new eye, an unfettered, welcoming, curious, open eye.
Yes. I am in love. With Jeanette Winterson and her
writing.
She was only just introduced to me by a friend who happened
to be reading Jeanette’s latest memoir. My friend said she had a quote about
poetry to send me, I said great, not really thinking much of it. And then I
read my email.
The quote was like walking into the room and locking eyes
with the person you will later have a torrid, fiery affair with. I was lit by
it. And so I followed it, her trail, to her website. And began to read the
excerpt from the book, the first chapter. I was mesmerized.
Like listening to someone on a first date describe what they
do and are interested in, but you actually care. You’re actually hanging onto every word as if it were laden with the
truth of the Universe and a single dropped syllable will leave you dangling off the cliff of sanity.
I read the chapter like my life depended on it – like the
meaning of my life depended on it. And I followed her to Amazon. And to the public
library.
And yesterday, I captured her. I caught up with her in the
school library, in the stacks, far in the back, while students ticked away on
papers and palms jutted into their weary faces.
There she was, nestled among others I had no eyes for at
all. Glittering gold and the miasma of the universe could have split open
around me, and I’d see nothing but Jeanette. I grabbed her. I went to the
other section where she was, and I stock piled her. I pulled her out and on top
of me. I melted under her weight and was levitated by it.
I radiated purpose and joy. The sense of purpose only pure
love can bring. The moment of Ah Hah, the moment of clarity. The moment of
infinite future, and complete finite utterly lostness of the present. Just
here. In the musky scent of pages and binding. I gathered her up.
I absconded with her, like a Sabine woman, this taut,
witty, tawdry, brutal, reluctantly tender woman. I ran with her out into the fading
light of dusk, and I opened her up to me.
I ployed with her skin, brain cells fainted in her wake
overcome by the fullness of witnessing her. And by witnessing her, I
witnessed myself. I witnessed the magnitude of the human experience. I watched her
dissect the grand Truths of the World into aching wisps of language that got tangled in my hair and singed my eyelashes.
I ingested her the way only lovers can do, wholly, boundlessly, allowed her to come inside and rearrange my organs to her pleasure.
To kick my heart out of my lung and into my throat, to choke on her
brilliance. I lay submissive to her steer-branding of every blood cell, let myself be mottled by her, cleaved apart by her, and culled back together with the
mortar of her.
Yes, I am in love. And I am different for it.