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This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good, Good, Good, Good Literations

While at the library yesterday the most normal thing happened.  All prior lists of books to read got lost in my memory and I stood staring at the racks wondering what to do.  Frustration began growing as I desperately searched my mind for titles or authors or even subject keywords to input to the catalog system.  Eventually I gave up that ghost and resorted to seeking out recommendations online from Women and Childrens First staff members and GoodReads.com

Since I have piles of lists, spreadsheets, scraps of paper containing titles floating around me like a messy lily pond of literature, I decided to try to organize them further into the lovely good reads system.  Find me there! Shana Rose.  Here's my first review:

Women Who Run with the Wolves Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs



This is an essential book for any woman seeking insight to her own intuition.  It's a compilation of literary oral tales informing on the growth and development of women over their lives.  It's breathtaking and I consider it to be a guidebook of the best kind, which I will carry with me until old, old age.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dog-gone It

And you wake up again and it's a brand new day. 

I have to make this quick because I'm essentially stealing time on the Comfort Inn and Suites computers in Seattle near the space needle.  I'm here because I just had an interview with a market research group from Portland for a temporary job conducting surveys on the ferry system.  And I'm here, writing, in this stuccoed public cubicle in a hotel full of screaming toddlers because I'm trying to derail an impending meltdown. 

After writing yesterday's post, I continued having a good day until the afternoon came and found me holed up in my dim bedroom still at the computer screen while the sun set and the blue sky darkened to navy.  At that time, cabin fever bit me in the ass and it was time anyway to prepare for a meetup.com group of other "hoodoo gurics" like myself, to learn more about the body's energy fields.  I assured Hadj that I didn't mean what I said the other day about my not being able to meet people unless alone, and yes, surely he was welcome to come with me.  So he took more charge of the directions to get us to Gig Harbor for the meet up and I got dressed after declaring my intent not to shower that day. 

Despite my stinky belly button.

Ew. 

TMI.

We got lost and some where between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm my systems reversed themselves and sent me hurling into near total loss of faith.  In - like - everything.  In the sun and the moon and the stars and the universe I'm always professing total fealty to.  I just lost it.  I became very, on-my-knees-human, and just - I dunno - blew my wad prematurely, I guess.  And the night didn't end there.  Luckily I was wearing both a too-big knit hat and an over-sized turtle neck sweater and was able to creep my way into both so deeply that only my tear stained eyes showed.  Hadj asked if I was having a hard time looking at him, taking his cue, probably, from my fetal position and I said, "No. I'm having a hard time being visible."  And it was the truth.  Sometimes, I become so fearful and distrusting of everything that I seem to split.  I've read it as our spirits going off, until more hospitable conditions exist, perhaps.  My better part goes into hiding, but from there I can see that I'm royally fucking shit up.  And so, while I'm totally spinning into an out of control fear dive, I'm also feeling totally ashamed of my behavior.  And wish I could disappear with not so much as a *poof*  So that was yesterday. 

I managed to pull myself together though, after some bumbling jargon coming through my tears in attempt to explain my possible insanity to my poor partner.  I told him I still planned to do the seventy minutes of yoga promised earlier and was he ready goddamnit?  We did our yoga, in our cramped kitchen, which is the only room in the house with even close to enough space for both of us to be able to swan dive and fold in half.  He did a great job and I didn't even run my mouth about his alignment.  I re-grounded, opened up, felt thankful again, and remembered what grace was.  I capped my night off with the last of the fried xmas leftovers and two episodes of the guilty-pleasure show, Legend of the Seeker on hulu.com.  Good night. 

I dreamt about two folks getting married in the seventies.  One might have been cheating.  The bridesmaid dresses were lavender and taffeta.  I think the groom was trying to sleep with me - the omniscient watcher of the dream.

So why did I mention my freaking out again today?  Well, I got lost.  Not surprising if you know me at all.  I could get lost in a paper bag if you told me it was foreign.  Yes, I got lost on my way to an interview and despite leaving twenty minutes "cushion time" in my commute, I was twenty minutes late.  I tried for a time to use the teeny-tiny maps I have in my car, and thought to be doing ok, but what I didn't count on was this: Seattle is effing crazy.  And the part of Seattle I'm in, where the space needle is, whatever this neighborhood is called, was designed solely for foot traffic (see what I did there?).  Hadj says it's where the prostitutes used to hang out.  

...I am wearing heels...  Maybe I'll go try to get some business.

Anyway, lewd minute fantasies aside, the point is not just that I got lost.  That's no big deal; it's my behavior! Good goodness almighty my behavior is insane sometimes!  I called Hadj when I noticed I had only five minutes to get un-lost, parked, and in to my interview to ask him to give me a number to call and inform my interviewers of my unfortunate delay.  He gave it to me and I quickly hung up to call.  While on the phone, he texted to say he was at the ready with the address and map-quest if I wanted navigational help.  So my navigator in shining-gigabytes to the rescue, we tried to get me where I needed to be.  That's when I found out that Seattle is designed for people in galoshes and on boats or monorails only. And I began screaming about it in Hadj's ear.  I - of course - interspersed my vocal tyranny with apologies and assurances that I was only screaming near him, not at him.  After I finally found the damn Comfort Inn and Suites, where the interview was being held, I continued screaming about what a trash hole everything in the world is and why didn't I ever get that fucking pony I wanted for xmas when I was five. 

Then I couldn't find my way out of the parking garage for a spell, but at least I didn't lock my keys in the car again.  I felt like a true failure of a human being; so derailed and worn down to a nubbin of stress that I wished again for powers of evaporation.  I also worried that I'd get some kind of karmic comeuppance for my impatience and outbursting.

But now I'm done.  I'm trying to put it behind me.  I've stolen twenty thirty minutes of internet from Comfort Inn and Suites (while also plugging their name...Go Suites!) and I'm feeling ok because: mission accomplished.  Now I'm going to not to get lost on my way to a bookstore where I will bury myself so deep in self help books it'll feel like I've died and gone to where Stuart Smalley lives.  And, if I do get lost, at least I'm not late for anything.
Mistakes are a part of being human.  Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.  Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. - Al Franken

Monday, December 28, 2009

"And it's not because of your brains or your personality"

The guided meditation repeats to me that I aught not to be focusing on his words, or on the words in my brain, but only on my breath.  I should be breathing continuously and deeply, so deep that I have only enough space in my brain for the breath.  Apparently, though, meditation is just like everything else and just like work used to be more stiff on Monday than it was on Friday afternoon, I'm rusty.

We have our weekday morning routine down to a smooth science.  After hitting snooze for thirty-or-so minutes Hadj gets up while I resist further the oncoming wakefulness.  He cheerily makes coffee and talks to the animals while I pull on the few remaining strings left behind from the wacky tapestry my dreams weave.  I have had recurring themes of desperate unhappiness or depression lately in my dreams, which has caused me to form some theories about my current artistic discipline.  After waking, drinking our coffees, checking our in-boxes, etc. we dress and take the dogs for a half hour walk around the neighborhood.  Today I admitted that I've ashamedly been wishing for one of the goats down the street to get her head stuck in the fence again so I'd have an excuse to go over and free it.  It was an icy morning which saw us slip sliding around the street in our boots. 

We come home from our walk around 8:30 and immediately put all four pets downstairs.  We shut the door and set up our chairs.  We press play on my i-pod where Jeru Kabbal's Quantam Light Breath meditation is stored.  I then remember to do a series of things which distract me from what I aught to be doing, which is of course, just breathing.  I set the cell phone alarm for thirty minutes if we've not practiced for a few days, like today.  And of course, I'm supposed to spend that time just "breathing in life and releasing what's not needed" as Kabbal puts it.  And of course, sometimes I achieve that goal for only one third of the allotted time, with the rest of the time being spent in my brain remembering this and that or writing this or that.  It being Monday, my thought process resembled a ping-pong ball in motion in a small box.

Beauty was the thing my brain wanted me to write about today.  Beauty and self love and healthy security.  My major malfunction through most of the first quarter of my life was extreme body hate.  As I let go of all those ingrained and detrimental beliefs I see more deep pockets where they're stored.  I realized not long ago that I routinely retreated into myself when a beautiful person entered the room.  I was unable to speak or even look at stunning women (especially), because I would immediately make myself worthless to their attentions.  I had all sorts of degrading mantras that I used to cut myself down as an adolescent and young woman.  My behaviors were in line with my thoughts.  I was not nice to myself.

My first roommate in Chicago did not have the kinds of problems I ever had.  He may have suffered from a bit of the opposite sort of problem, but I don't know if he'd have ever known it.  He saw me one day clearly and said that I was always going to feel like the loathsome, fat twelve year old I'd stored in my brain.  I'm happy to know now that he's wrong.  I may be on the up side of the pendulum swing or maybe this is my happy middle.  The images floating today through my non-meditating mind were ones of eye-catching beauty.  I designed costumes for myself to wear at Burning Man 2010 and imagined myself so radiating beauty that I was noticed among the masses of other pulsing beauties and asked to be photographed.   

In my dream this morning I was not even being deceitful about my body.  The person I saw being stopped for photo shoots was the person I am exactly today.  Not thirty pounds lighter or hard bodied, but soft, with rolls, and pale skin.  The costumes I hope to make up before the event of course did flatter my shape, but exposed it too.  I wondered in my day-dream what situation would need occur for me to again feel body shame.  It's not too hard to conjure something.  And I don't have total assurance that a beautiful woman won't stop me mush-mouthed and dumb again.  I hope I remember that roommate's philosophy though.  It doesn't hurt anyone to tell someone they're cute beautiful.  I'm getting better at doling out and accepting acknowledgments of beauty.  I'm liking how confidence wears on my attitude and it's the kind of confidence I lacked for so long.  I don't need anyone to tell me I'm beautiful.  I'm believing it all on my own.

As I re-read this post before publishing it, I notice something else worth mentioning.  I must have had some strong threads of dignity and self love in me, because I have been able to attract and entertain many very beautiful people as I grew.  So, I'm thankful for a strong and good inner voice which kept me mostly in charted waters and mostly away from dangerous people full of their own versions of self loathing. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Vow to Keep It Really Real

I am driven toward great heights which will require me to fully understand my own behavior and reactions.  Therefore it has become imperative to me to attune with my cyclical introverted and extroverted phases.  To me, part of this process involves becoming more fully honest in my writing about my behavior.  I am totally honest about my thoughts and emotions, but my behaviors are mysteriously left out unless they seem somehow attractive to me.  What is included is frequently out of context or like a flash flood.

Here's my first admission of behavior: I over state my inabilities when I'm being critiqued for my mistakes.  A simpler way to say that might be: I make excuses. 

For example: I was told not to begin sentences with verbs. 
It sometimes feels like I break this dictum daily.  When I'm called on it, my internal reaction is one of immediate frustration.  Last week I said, "I can't do it! It's impossible! What if there's an emergency? Or if I just have to yell out 'DUCK!'?"

Context: This rule was agreed upon between my partner and I.  The story behind it is that I am trying to break and avoid a habit which I learned at a young age from one of the adults near and dear to me.  Hadj assured me that my progress is apparent and that I obviously can change this habit because I already am.  He called me on my excuse making which revealed the route I take to get around my responsibilities and mistakes.
 
So that example is not so crazy.  Probably a lot of people, especially ones with expectations as high as mine, overstate their own inadequacies when they are frustrated or feeling like a failure.  But, I'm practicing; like when I told you all about my retreats to the closet the other day.  Writing out that behavior simply was not natural to me at first, but it did feel good.  (I'll have to tell the myriad stories in my repertoire about coming out of various closets here sometime.)  I'm just getting used to this sheer veneer.  I don't know if I'll be over sharing, if this practice will accomplish what I hope it will, but I'm dedicated to it.  I'll try to leave the bathroom out of it - which, will honestly be challenging - because I seem endlessly amused and fascinated with potty talk.

Well, this post seems more scientific than I originally intended it to.  I'm going to go write the post I really wanted to write on tumblr - where my more pop/catch phrases/thoughts (pictures, quotes, chats, links) are posted.  It's called 5 year goals.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inclined to Thrive

Writers fight a myriad of internal battles that are difficult to translate to other people. For example, they often have low self-esteem coupled with an odd form of grandiosity (John Barth: “It’s a combination of an almost obscene self-confidence and an ongoing terror.”); they are intelligent but in unmeasurable ways; they are highly skilled yet have difficulty finding congenial work in the world; they are easy-going in their lifestyle yet have unusual and non-negotiable needs; they enjoy people but are fierce about alone time; they are likable but peculiar. 
Gail Sher, One Continuous Mistake
"It's like a game of hot potato up there," I said to Jeff, referring to the exchanges occurring between my man and I that are causing us to have the crazy-eyes.  What I meant was that he and I have not had enough of our own personal space and that we've been making each other bonkers.  "Like rabid dogs" my pal, Amanda Sophie, said. 

The potential for space and growth where I am now is huge.  We're on five wooded acres.  We have a pond with newts and/or salamanders!  We live in the large studio apartment above what is known as "the studio". 

On the phone, Amanda Sophie reminded me of something her Grandma said this summer.  Her grandma said, "A marriage is not staring into each others' eyes; it is standing next to one another, looking out into the world."

Also on the property, sharing the dirt driveway, is what is known as "the house."  "The house" is actually a house, but it was built in the seventies.  While assisting with remaking the bathroom I learned that most "middle-class" things built in the seventies were built shoddily and in the fastest, most plasticked way possible.  That is why the house interior needs a lot of re-doing and TLC before I'll be settled with it.

Many things must be done prior to the imagined end point.  It became apparent to us that we really needed more space a few weeks ago, when I started my typical three-week long PMS cycle.  (It's really too long a time for anyone to have to endure the kind of up-and-down that engenders.)  For three weeks I become progressively more withdrawn into myself and must have my own territory in order to be peaceful and pleasant.  Or I get snappy.  And neurotic. 

Several solutions to the cramped cabin fevers have been discussed.  A temporary fix will involve my retreating to the geo-dome that Hadj built for Burning Man this year.  Other, more temporary and crazy sounding fixes have included my retreating to my car, but not driving anywhere, and my crawling into the furthest-back, darkest corner of the very big closet in order to gain the quiet required to keep me sane and kind.

I had an "A-HA!" moment last night when beginning my yoga routine.  I know Hadj values planning and forethought prior to introducing new ideas so I thought my presentation through while I opened up in yoga.  Since this is my blog though, I don't have to do that for you readers and I'm just going to blurt it out.  After all the discussion and changes in plans I finally found the right answer and it is this: I will have the studio apartment as my own. 

I'm going to have my own apartment again! And it's right on the property and it'll be filled with my special brand of golden light and it'll be all my own and I will make it magic and filled with me.  I'm so excited that now I'm dreaming up and up and up the ways that will be in this apartment when it is mine all mine.  Before this answer, all other answers didn't excite me.  They distracted me, filled me with uncertainty and longing for something, but I didn't know what.

In some way, I don't learn things.  What I mean is that my way of learning seems to really resemble osmosis.  Information settles into me, permeates my understanding of the world.  Often times, I am taught simple enough information, but it doesn't seem to set on me and I have to be retold in various ways, until I find a way to translate the information within myself so that it does finally settle on me.  I don't learn information so much as I intuit information.  My ability to read situations and senses is becoming stronger and stronger.

The new situation will evolve.  First we have to terrace the front yard with a giant bob-cat construction tool.  Hadj and Jeff are particularly excited about this part.  I have always enjoyed watching construction crews at work.  Next we will erect the geo-dome, a semi-permanent outdoor structure.  We will then install a chimney space and the new-to-us wood stove, creating a heat source for the structure.  I will be ready, then, to begin inhabiting the intention of the structure for myself.  Phase two will involve gently evicting (with ample notice) the two residents in the house and possibly at the same time beginning to remodeling much of the house interior with found objects, paint, and wood.  As that happens we will gradually move our home from the studio apartment to the house, and I will move my fairy-grandma craft space out of the geo-dome so Hadj can move into it and make it his art-czar space (my name for it).  I will also be redoing the interior of the studio apartment, so it houses my wills, as I move in to it in a new way.

"We're muddying each other," I said to Hadj last night, "like your paints when they don't have the proper containers.  We need that much space because we will fill it."

Some worry part of me is concerned that I am being greedy or pretentious about this. 

Of course I know that's bullshit. 

What I see coming out of this situation is the butterfly I dreamt up in June 2008. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Admittedly Gooshy) Journal Entry, Tuesday night, 12/15/09

I am committed to getting a decent entry down right now.  The scene is perfect.  It's raining on the roof.  The red velvet curtains are drawn.  I've just finished a challenging yoga practice.  Hadj is next door.  The dogs are downstairs and my chakra music is playing.  Where to begin from there?  I've so much going through my brain and heart these days.  Life with Hadj is so simple, beautiful, and enriching.  I am so optimistic and happy.  We are more settled in.  There's even a routine of sorts involving meals, walks, and meditation.  We get work done and take guilt free leisure time.  We play games, laugh, fart, kiss, hug, and wrestle.

The sex is in a surprising kind of infancy now.  Ever since our stay at my parents there's been a shift that we're trying to understand and go through kindly.  It can be frustrating at times for he and I, but we've vowed not to fret over it.  It seems we are both wonder children.  When we set our minds to something we do it. 

So what else?  We've begun our own holiday tradition, because I was yearning for one.  Since Hadj lacked much of a tradition from his life, ours resembles my family tradition pretty closely.  We lit the menorah today and I sang the song for Hadj to hear.  We have a beautiful and tiny xmas tree with baubles and bells and lights and even presents under it.  Today a package came from my Mommy with treats and goodies in it.

Speaking of Virgos [ed. note: obv. I wasn't 'speaking' it on the page. Mom's a Virgo. I follow their horoscopes and events somewhat closely], here comes this.  Devyn sends me text messages still.  He refuses to leave me and be in peace.  My temper really flares at this topic - to be sure.  It angers me.  Then, however, it saddens me that he'd continue to put himself in such a position.  I want it to stop for his sake and my own and any other person in his life.  I want to write an epic letter which casts a spell to ward him off...I just have not committed to doing so yet.  ...I think that's all I'll say about that.

Oh boy. I hope to remember all this goodness.  I know there's so much life to live that it'll be hard to remember it all, but I feel so lovely now.  My life is unerringly simple.  There's hardly any gossip.  All drama is created by and directed at self.  I'm proud, directed, action-full. 

I don't have, or am not doing, everything I want, but I am happy.  At the dollar store today I wanted to buy all sorts of silly plastic crap for Hadj.  Then I started laughing aloud when I remembered him saying the other day that he'd put "Hannah Montana" on the ipod when he meant "Kill Hannah."  He is so sweet, so real, so full and strong.  My heart is glowing warm.

Even the animals seem to be loving more.  And my grandma... cousins... Mom.
Also! I'm learning so much more about how and were I have held fear.  My yoga - though practiced less frequently - is felt more deeply.  My blog contains new networking avenues and I've even put myself on kindle!  I'm stepping into the creative world I've been imagining for so long.  I'm believing ever more.  I'm saying with confidence and pride "I'm creative" to office employers.  Ah...sighs of contentment.  Now I think I'll have some Mommy-shipped cheese and go to Jeff's sister's b-day party.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Connect the Links

If you look to the right of today's post you'll notice a new gidget/gadget/widget/whatsihoosie. This fancy new dohickie will allow you to do two things with your blog-reading efficiency: you can essentially "friend" me and my blog which helps you and I build a networking community across geographical boundaries and your blog (should you write one and write it on blogger) "dashboard" will contain my most recent posts. It's like a G-reader, but right in your blog's dashboard.

I'd like to sound more authoritatively informed on the pros and cons of Friend Connect, but rather than taunt you with long winded bullshit that's hard to decipher, I'll be honest: it's easy and it doesn't hurt. Also, it's FREE! And it looks nice in my blog sidebar that I have friends and might start a domino effect of friendliness. So in the spirit of getting free things that are easy and don't hurt (how often do get that offer?) go ahead and friend me! I'll friend you back if I'm able and we'll all read late into our respective nights, learning, exchanging, growing with each other no matter how far apart.

Friend me. It'll be fun, or at least, it won't not be fun. My aim in adding this additional networking device is to get the healing word and engaging stories out there to people who might not find it elsewhere, and to add to the lives of those who do. I never knew my life mission would become "to help people," but it has, and this is one of the new ways I'm doing it.

How can I help you? Well, how I may help you will vary and depend solely on what kind of help you're looking for. If you want help understanding how to cope with unexpected viral infections, you may find it here. If you happen to be seeking understanding into your girlfriend's thought patterns, you may find an answer here. If you want to know why women go crazy in the dark months, you'll find help to it here. And so on. Friend me, I'm the sweetest, least fattening, cyber friend you'll have.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Down the Road A Ways

It's been a very fine day. Sure, the dampness of cat vomit on my hand woke me at five a.m. and also revealed one of the dogs on the unsanctioned couch cushions, but that was nothing. I remembered to crawl from the monolith of our inappropriately comfortable bed before it sucked me into crankiness spurred by morning lethargy. The scenery around these parts is beginning to construct itself into my senses. The mail comes very early and the garbage is picked up Friday morning. Cooking and showering render all the windows fogged until the condensation begins to thin and run down the windows to the black metal sills. Willow-kitty is becoming more accustomed to his new doggie housemates and Billie-the-cat has become relaxed enough to snuggle again. I've been baking the same batch of ginger-molasses cookies for three days because I can only bake three at a time in the tiny toaster-oven. I'm unpacking in every possible way, alongside my new partner, inside my new home. I begin with these visible accomplishments as a means of moving forward and assessing the developments within and outside myself (even though I could extensively list all the simple things that visibly excite our progress every day).

You could guess that I did not really know what I was getting myself into. I'll give some more concrete proof on why this is true later, but first, take a look at a statement I happened upon when chatting with Hadj yesterday.
It's like I'm afraid to learn the plan I'm about to undertake because I already do not believe that I will succeed.
We were talking about a detox that we're planning to do as soon as possible from the Healing with Foods book. I had realized, while trying to enjoy a cheese sandwich, that the equation "diet = failure" is ingrained in my being (also, the word "diet" should be taken here to mean "eating plan" not "weight loss plan"). I became thoughtful about this understanding of myself and began to explore it aloud for both our benefits. We talked it through to the positive end point, which was that I have succeeded, by making a commitment, before and that I am committed to do so again. The point of my bringing up the statement I made was to illustrate that I hardly knew what I was doing when I packed up my entire being and trucked it over to Belfair, in large part because I was too busy imagining things and not busy enough reading the facts. So, lesson 1:
Don't be afraid to read the facts. Don't be afraid of failure. Do make a strong commitment to succeed.
Since I promised I'd give more concrete proof of my ignorance to the details, let me say that I really didn't know that Belfair has a population of only about 8,000 with the median age being statistically around 40 and the average income per household being about $3,000 less than the average income for a 28 year old administrative assistant in Chicago. Sheesh. However, Hadj is currently putting kindling into our freshly swept wood stove downstairs and the house smells of cookies. You takes your hits and you takes your misses...

Another realization I had came two days ago in the company of my two new friends, Stephanie and Jeff. I had an insta-connection with Stephanie and was able to talk "on the level" with her immediately, knowing she heard me loud and clear. She was talking about her jobs in male dominated industries and how that has affected her. We got going, and I got to gesturing, and became excited to discuss the experiences we've had as women in a world where so many seem to only learn the (s)extremes about life and relationships. Because of a few exchanges between the four of us I realized that I still have a difficult time revealing myself truly to, or in the company of, men. I become embarrassed and distracted because I don't know how I am perceived. I remembered my akashic records reading, from earlier this year, and returned to those notes today. From that re-reading I was given words to understand that
underneath my embarrassment is the fear of making myself vulnerable to men due to a deep mistrust of them.
I'm excited about this. Inside that same section of my reading was the information I really need to focus on, which is that
I am safe, loved, and can be who I am all the way. My fear of being vulnerable does not serve my goals and I can let it go.
Every day has contained numerous opportunities for deepening the connection between Hadj and I. Things are, of course, not as I had imagined them. The space is not big enough and we are very cash poor right now. We spent nearly the first two weeks stuttering and in shock of our new situation and each other. But this does not negatively affect us. It opens our eyes more and more to our own weak points. Where we shine a light on fear we are able to see that the perceived monsters are just a proverbial drafty window or rocking chair with a coat tossed on the back. We shine light into each other and help sweep out the cobwebs, distrust, and old wounds. I know that this is what good relationships are all about; connection, unity, and a foundation built solely on love. We admit our mistakes to each other and our triggers. In him, I find all the challenges I need to bring me into a more harmonious being with myself. Sometimes he opens his mouth, unceremoniously, and and admits an outright fear or mistrust, and I am so moved that the only thought in my conscious mind is of which eye I want to stare into longest. I find myself brushing his third eye off frequently and feel that he pushes warmth into my heart at every pause.

I love to say this:
it's all happening.
A year ago I seemed to set the terribly lost self I was holding down onto firm ground and found a vision forward for myself. I find proof more and more that all I need do to succeed is to commit. Right now, I cannot see my path as I did months ago. To show how I feel these days, let me again revert to story-telling.

I have a pretty terrible sense of direction (in terms of maps and roads). Some consider me directionally deficient, while I see it as an unconscious desire to take the winding road and arrive fashionably late. Suffice it to say, I get lost pretty frequently. Placing yourself in that understanding, now think to a time when you were going somewhere new and all you had to get you there were written directions based on landmarks. You're reading your directions. You just made a left at the red barn with the big "S" on its front and your next instruction is to drive "a ways" until the road forks, then go right. The sunset is long past and it's dark on this road, but you're excited to reach your destination and have been paying extra careful attention to all the possible landmarks coming down from the horizon. You really don't know how far "a ways" is and wish the country folk could use actual miles once in awhile. It seems like everything is "just down the road" to them and you're used to calculating distances in precise numbers of blocks. But you're pretty sure the road has not forked. You're pretty sure that you just haven't gone "a ways" yet and that the fork will come soon. You keep driving. You're pretty sure and you're pretty happy and you're singing along to your favorite Regina Spektor song. You can see the stars in the black night. There is a sliver of a waxing crescent moon setting to your right. You decide to enjoy it and the feeling of being "pretty sure" turns to certain trust that you're not lost. You're on the right path. You just need to keep going.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I have gone underground in myself and have found it difficult to write from there. It is beautiful down here, there is just as much light as there is above ground, somehow. The roots are all those nude baby colors, grappling with the rich earth for the space to become grown things.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Paprika Chicken Macaroni"

Today I took a large chunk out of the unpacking by making sense of the kitchen. Hadj keeps remarking at the sight of the floor and I'm smiling at the rows of grain filled jars. I'm excited and full of ideas. I also keep telling myself that making sense of my home is the first priority. So without further ado or prior segue I present tonight's "what's in the fridge?" recipe

"Paprika Chicken Macaroni"
3 C macaroni - cooked and strained
2 C boiled chicken - shredded and warmed
1 C cheddar cheese - chopped
1/3 C cauliflower - coarsely chopped then steamed to fork tender
5 cloves of garlic - minced
2 TBS paprika
1 1/2 TBS red chili pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large skillet combine ingredients. Stir gently. Cover with a lid to melt cheese.

Spicy delicious cheesy nom nom cooked in a kitchen sans range or oven. I feel bad ass. And sleepy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Young Hearts Run Free

The post I'm about to write has been marinating inside me for weeks and I can't think of any other way to start it than to say, I've never made things easy for myself. In school I was a procrastinator extraordinaire and a bare-minimum study. Prior to doing the only detox diet I've ever done I ate junk food like it was going out of style for days. I use contractions sparingly. I never clip coupons. With this understanding, it's not terribly out of character that I have recently relocated myself to a Seattle-area town to live with someone I've known somewhere between two months, six months, or two years. I am unemployed. I have never lived with a partner before. I can make a meticulously annoying roommate. I fall in love easily. Most of the conventional wisdom does not seem to support what I have done. Luckily, I have come to see more and more that "convention" often means "easy" and that's just not how I roll, even if I sometimes wish I did. A bit more on convention from Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics:
The conventional wisdom is often wrong. Crime didn't keep soaring in the 1990s, money alone doesn't win elections, and--surprise--drinking eight glasses of water a day has never actually been shown to do a thing for your health. Conventional wisdom is often shoddily formed and devilishly difficult to see through, but it can be done.
I know some Chicagoans may have a hard time with his point about money and elections, but that's beside the point. Just like in the story books, or from my mother's mouth, when I met the man I would be with, I knew him at first sight.

I had known Hadj "virtually," online and on the phone, since October 2007, but didn't get to meet him in person until Memorial Day weekend of this year. He was at the beginning of his "Free Now" retirement tour. His twenty years as submariner behind him, he is now learning how to be a civilian adult while I learn how to civilly share a bathroom. His stop in Chicago was one in a string of visits across the country to see friends and family. It lasted twice as long as he had originally intended.

The truth is that Hadj and I have similar behavior patterns. Neither of us seem to allow things to be to easy. People have called both of us "intense" more than a few times. We wear stripes with dots and our hair asymmetrically. We acknowledge the knit brows of our friends and families, who worry about the strength of our hearts, and move on into our horizons anyway. We fall in love like comets, long strings of star dust trailing in the wake of our blaze. The echo, of "burning out," on the collective consciousness's tongue is that only; vapors of fears we do not hold. We cannot tell the future, but we can plant seeds for love.

Within two weeks we had agreed on the mutual desire and need to be together, not across the nation. Eventually we opted for his city, Seattle. It is one of our dreams that we'll have a place in the city and country some day, but for now beautiful little Belfair, with its trees and salt marshes, will most certainly suffice.

I think part of why I frequently wind up on the winding path, instead of the direct one, is that I am an idealist to the nth degree. Ideas take up more of my time that I care to count, and one of my long-standing ideas was of renovating the house I grew up in. Years of watching "This Old House" and HGTV had wormed in to my being. By the time I graduated from college I was itching to do something with the potential locked in that 1920s Masons' cabin on the Fox River. When, on the phone, I mentioned my dreams for the house to Hadj, he was in a jam over something. He was trying to figure out how to satisfy his need to have his dogs accompany him when he came to Chicago for the requisite "meet the parents and family" event. He had had a summer on the run, using his home as a crash pad between epic art works and traveling all over the west in his car. His ten day stay in Black Rock City for Burning Man proved nine point five days too many away from his beloved "doglies" and he couldn't stomach the idea of taking off without them again. He heard my sweeping dreams for my parents' house and took a look around. He could do the things I talked about! He could do them all while meeting my parents, donating his skills, keeping his dogs close, and visiting his family near by! He was practically packing his truck with all the tools he could while I called my mom in a frenzy to pitch the idea to her. She was surprised.

The idea I pitched was this: Hadj and I would live...somewhere while Hadj renovated...whatever needs the most attention and I would do...something... I have not recently asked my mom for her verbatim thoughts on my proposal, but I imagine they were something along the lines of "Who? What? When? Where? How?" My mom though, is nothing if not a good sport. She said, "no," then thought about it, made up her mind, thought about it again, got opinions, made up her mind, got more opinions, asked me what the hell I was talking about once more, thought about it, and eventually said "yes" - we could do something for them, despite her probably more sane inclinations. She wanted the only full bathroom in the house redone, if Hadj was sure he could do it. We didn't have any clear plans, we just knew something would happen and we would do our best.

Hadj arrived in Chicago late the night before a party my mom was throwing. It was originally going to be my "going-away" party, but then--when Hadj couldn't leave his dogs and I couldn't keep my pipe-dreams to myself--it became a "come meet Shana's new man slash belated surprise 50th birthday to you Aunty" party. See what I mean about Mom being a good sport? I still had two weeks left in my apartment in the city and a week left to work at my job. I thought about staying at my job, because that would be the sane, and possibly responsible, thing to do, but I couldn't. I had to get ready for my leap into the unknown. No! I had to leap already! I had to be free! I had to have time!

Really what I had to do was find a way not to collapse into insanity when I looked and realized I had just willingly moved into the craziest situation imaginable to me. My mom and dad. My brand-new boyfriend. My first time living with any partner. My cats. His dogs. A three bedroom house that was described as being a "good starter home" in 1986. No working shower for four weeks and hollow core wooden doors that act as sound enhancers for all the bedrooms, I swear. My sport of a mom rubbed her magic off on all of us though by repeating the phrase "relaxed and easy going" half a dozen times a day. Hadj and I also picked up her habit of covering conversational silences by saying, in the most enthusiastic of tones, "isn't it a beautiful day?"

We did it. My parents now have a bathroom so sleek it could be at luxury hotel. We did it and hit the road stat. We moved on for the eminently more spatial location of Hadj's sister's house where we would prep for our cross country drive.We left on Friday the 13th. It was agreed that Friday the 13th is a good luck day for those of us that were standing in the kitchen that morning. We had been concerned about the weather at first. Then we grew concerned with the vitality of Hadj's truck which was 30%, he estimated, over-loaded with the u-haul trailer tagging behind and all his tools packed in the back.

Over all the eccentricities we've encountered in our baby-aged relationship, we've decided not to fear. We laughingly repeat JFK's famous words and stare whatever is rushing at us with wide open optimism. I knew it would be a beautiful ride. Friday brought little action. Highway 80 in Iowa boasted the World's Largest Truck stop, whereas Nebraska's excitement was found only in the Ho-Ho packages and Doritos I was munching. We found our Best Western for the night, ordered Pizza Hut, and crashed out while the animals snorfled whatever creepy scents that could be found in the motel carpeting.

Day two took us into North Central Colorado. Once my i-pod battery died I was following NPR all the way. I was utterly shocked at how engaging it was, hour after hour on the road. I look back now and guess that the familiar voices helped keep me center as I drove further and further into the unknown. My radio karma was good too. This American Life did a show on New Beginnings and A Prairie Home Companion saved me from too much Garrison by putting on a pre-Thanksgiving medley show. Family and friends had been fretting for us over the weather for weeks and I'm still happy to report that the only weather we saw was in our last hour of driving in Colorado that Saturday night. The snow was doing its special hypnotic vortex thing and I was glad again to have lived and driven through five winters in the U.P.

Days three through six on the road were spent doing some marathon visiting with Hadj's family. Hadj's family seems fantastic to me. I think I really enjoy getting to see new versions of the precious family quirks that each of us holds. We heard stories late into each night and slept surrounded by the scent of his Mom n' Pop's leather shop. The drive through the mountains, days seven, eight, and nine were exhilaration lived. I will happily travel overland, back to Colorado whenever the opportunity comes again. With the exception of an emergency trailer-hitch welding job somewhere in Utah, the drive was perfectly uneventful. Truth be told, my butt is still tingling from all the time in the seat. I'm bringing a donut next time, and not the edible kind.

So that's it! That's the kit and caboodle, up 'til now, story of how the hell I came to be suddenly living in Seattle with a man named Hadj. Simply put, I was ready and so I was provided for. We have determination and patience on our sides. When the conventional wisdom creeps up on me I keep still. Only time will prove our affair long or short, and for now, we're all doing our best with our hearts put forward brightly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Started Dancing

My mom plays "Mr. Jones" in the background. While Amy Winehouse croons and curses the dogs wrestle loudly, the cats new collar bells jingle, and Hadj drinks black coffee. We are a family on its way. I will move out of my parents house for the third time today. This time, once the station wagon, pick up, and 5 x 8 u-haul trailer are loaded, I'll be living on the road for a couple weeks. My excitement has me wound such that my urge is to use that energy to push myself to "live better" generally, but I know better right now. I'm excited. All I can do is my best each moment, and so my best is what I am doing right now.

My mom keeps having the family gather to say goodbye to me. On Sunday we had some family over to the house for delivery Chinese. Hadj and I garnered three fortunes from the cookies included. I am unusually enamored with the fortunes we received. Love is all around me and I am home in my body again. Wherever I go from here - I am home - and know that contentedness is mine to have if I ask for it. It's good to remember these things. A couple weeks ago I felt so lost and confused that, to use a euphemism Hadj likes, I didn't know whether to take a shit or wind my watch. And I don't even wear a watch.

Hadj's fortune was this: It doesn't take much to be a success. It takes everything. I heard this fortune and the "do your best" mantra rang in my head. Like some bad tv montage, pages from "The Prophet" and "The Four Agreements" turned in my mind's eye when he read it to me. I guess when you've asked the universe to provide certainty to you, you can find its gifts everywhere. He and I need this reminder when times get dark. We push ourselves too often to give more than we have, which only causes us to misstep and have to start all over again. We can only do our best, whatever that may be at a given moment. Sometimes, my sincere best is to sit down and eat ice cream until I feel better in a given situation. Sometimes, my capacity is monumental. I trust it is the same for all of us.

My cookie-fortune was eye opening in a way that I want to describe as "pixie-ish." Devyn dubbed me "pixie" a couple years ago and I have taken to the idea over time. When I feel most pixie-like is when I am feeling playfully mischievous. Whenever the mischievous feeling turns into action, I am at my most confident. I light upon people's shoulders, engage and charm them, tease them, and flit off. I guess I hope that their eyes, or they - themselves, might follow and play with me, but if not it is all fitting. As a pixie, I don't need a following only my wings and the glint in my eyes.
When I read my fortune to myself, Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this planet, I thought of the work I'd just completed in the bathroom rebuild project, and of my desire to give. My aunt then read it and added the requisite "in bed" suffix. My eyes widened and I began giggling almost uncontrollably. Hadj shared a glance with me and seemed to play the strait-man to my comic. "I agree with that statement completely," he said. Someday I'll write the feelings that live in my pixie-playful space to their full degree, and it won't be in this blog. I do like when the universe tells jokes though...the dirtier the better.

Cyndie Lauper plays on the stereo now, to keep our moving energy up, and she sings of choosing happiness. Just as the broken hearted only notice the sad love songs, I am blessed and notice the blessings available everywhere.

There was an occurrence about two weeks ago. I didn't write about it here then, and it so shook me up, that I spent two days in a trance about it. I received a message from an energy worker I know, who uses spirit guides in her offerings. She sent me an e-mail and told me she'd received a message for me. She wrote that I was seen dancing, and that I had stopped mid-dance because I didn't know what to do next. The message for me was keep trusting, keep loving, keep dancing. In her work, the message doesn't come from her, it comes through her. I hadn't talked to this woman since late winter.
More and more I begin to wonder what my future self is going to look like. I wonder what the people that surround me will be like. We surround ourselves with those who reflect us in some way. As I move toward the light, toward the magic, toward love, I wonder what magnificent creators I will find along my way. Who and what will find me?

Hadj and I shared the last cookie-fortune last night. Spirit guides accompany you.
They're with all of us. Some of us choose to know that and some deny it.

Knowing I am held. Knowing I am alive. Knowing I could be any, infinite, other ways, but I am this one, fills me today. Today, my best is bright. Today, I shine because I am dancing again. I did get scared, I did sit down and hide my face. Fear makes life so dramatic, but love, love seems to make life hilarious.

Ok, Ok. I'm really going on here. There is a lot of energy today, as I mentioned. My mom is now pulling boxes outside for me and I want to get moving myself. One last little anecdote since I'm on a roll though. Hadj and I were driving a few weeks ago and saw a billboard for "God" that said, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" I thought for a while and said that I would ask God to tell me a joke.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Character Study: Jade

At the time, I was convinced it was easy for Jade to tell me I was beautiful because her mom had always told her that. And because she was beautiful herself. And because she was trying to make me feel better. Those things are all true, perhaps. I didn't consider that she might also be speaking truth until much later.

Jade ran cross country in high school and said she didn't care if she finished last. She wore chic dresses to the three proms she attended. She always had a boyfriend. She wanted to sing in a band. Jade took drawing classes and became friendly with the instructors. She brought classmates to our room to get high. She listened to Joni Mitchell and spoke of Janis Joplin with reverence. She did impressions, danced, kissed, had intense, all-night conversations with boys she met at parties. I used to study her. I loved her like she were a favorite doll I carried around for comfort.

Jade drew my portrait for her classes many times. She would ask me to sit for her. We laughed about her always saying "just twenty minutes." When I began to complain of wanting to get up we'd take a break, smoke pot, and she'd begin drawing again. I sat in the green camp chair with the cup holder arm rests and she'd sit at her desk with the lamp on. Old rock played in the background. Her picture of Tori Amos in concert was taped up near her bent head. Jade would show me the drawings as they progressed. Sometimes the portraits were for practice only and sometimes they were for assignments. One of them received high praise from her instructor. I admired her drawings and wondered if I really looked like the girl she drew.

Jade had a group of friends back home that she talked about. The were dramatic, they liked to drink, they slept together and traveled together. They had nick-names and alliances. Jade said they called her car the vagina-mobile because she took all her friends to planned parenthood for their birth control. She took me there too. She held her cigarettes in the center of her full lips. She wore Nivea lotion after a shower. She had the perfect body. She never came back to live in the apartment off campus sophomore year, like we talked about. She told me she was moving to San Diego with her boyfriend two weeks before the next year started. I almost didn't go back either.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winter 2001

College was the magical place where I'd finally get to be the person I wanted to be. By all counts of my opinion, I wasn't making very fast progress by the time I met Jade. I was sick of my roommate who took all early classes and was majoring in business, and of Fred, who seemed to have a crush on my roommate, but was just fucked up enough to attract my attention. Fred was from Menominee. I can't remember how I wound up spending a weekend there with him, but I do remember how dejected I felt when a guy I didn't like very much wouldn't have sex with me. I thought he was an oaf. I think I was sleeping in the top bunk of his nephew's bedroom that weekend.

Near the end of our first month in school I met Jade. As I remember it, I bumped into her in the hallway outside our rooms. She shared the room next to mine with a lithe, thick-blonde haired, dancer named Nikki. Nikki was one of those girls I envied immediately and to such a degree that I couldn't look at her. Around Nikki, I felt like an oaf. The events of the day on which I met Jade, and the week that followed, run together like a dream. Within the week we had convinced our roommates to live with each other. On moving day we got so high, and I laughed so hard, that I said I couldn't move my arms. We sat on her twin bed eating crackers and peanut-butter, our strewn furniture turning our 12 x 12 cinderblock room into an unwinnable maze.

Jade broke up with her boyfriend of two years in the spring. He lived in the dorm across the lawn from us, next to Matt. It seemed like she was immediately hooked up with the lead singer of a popular band in town. When she came home in the morning she told me about their sex, his giant cock, and his soft lips. She stood in front of the crowd at the bar we'd snuck into singing all the words to "Whipping Post" and dancing in her way. He'd lean down to her from stage. I was frozen somewhere, watching. I was trying to pretend I was the only one in the room when I danced. I was trying to look like I was having the time of my life.

My only sex freshman year were the two failed attempts with Matt, and the last fuck with my ex-boyfriend from highschool, at the beginning of Christmas break. After I sent him off that December, I imagined I saw him sitting in his car at the end of my driveway. I imagined he was crying. I called Paul and told him what a bitch or slut I was and told him to come over so we could get high and meet up with the rest of the guys.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remembering the Ghosts

I'm writing memories from freshman year. I am trying to write them well. I am trying to do myself a service by writing them, but not remembering them. I have heard that your brain does not differentiate memories from the present. When you remember something you may feel the emotions you felt then, unless you decide not to. Freshman year was a gateway. I saw my behaviors without the veil of routine for the first time. I didn't know how much I hated myself until that year. I didn't stop hating myself that year, but at least I saw I needed to. I'm writing these things because I have been inspired to, because I like exploring my behaviors, triggers, and rationale.

What I don't want to do is color the memories with the present, nor do I want to color the present with memories. They are me, and they are not.

I had fun my freshman year, but I was not myself. I would not begin to know myself for at least another year. It was not easy, but distracting myself from the challenge was enjoyable.

Late Autumn 2000 and Early Winter 2001

Nine years ago I was a cat for Halloween. That was my freshman year of college. I had waited too long to pull any of my dozens of costume ideas together so I wound up throwing on some of my clothes, doctoring it with make-up, and calling it good. I tried to fake it 'til I made it and tried not to stare too longingly at Jade while we dressed. She got someone from our dorm to take pictures of us before we went out. We planned to party-hop. We'd drunk something mixed and picked up weirdo Tim, who was dressed like a white-trash ax murderer, on our way out.

Getting dressed to go out was a trying affair most times that year. Jade would spend some energy telling me I was beautiful, to stop belittling myself, to get dressed already. Then we'd smoke and turn up the music. I would spend time doing my best to hike my tits up and hide my "spare-tire." Again I forced a smile and kept up. Halloween wasn't particularly eventful. There was a packed frat house basement where I tried not to feel invisible. There was the walk back to campus drinking as quickly as possible, hoping to loosen up. We found Tim being apprehended by campus security for drawing swastikas in the frost on parked cars. I couldn't wait to go to my room, get high, and watch television.

For Christmas I received some new clothing. I'd lost 15 pounds. In January and February I pursued Matt while he pursued grain alcohol. There are pictures of us. One that I remember shows his red face with its mouth open in a stretched oval. His forty rests in his lap while his hands gesture. My eyes are lined with purple make-up and on him. My shirt is low cut and my smile cool. After a house party one night I kissed him in his truck. We were parked in front of the dormitories. I was in the driver's seat because he was too drunk to drive us there. We never did have sex. The first time ended before it began when he fell off of me, and the bed, on to the floor. He said he thought he heard his roommate coming in. The second time he stopped me after I had taken him deep in my mouth a few times. Told me "he couldn't." He got up from the futon in my dorm and went to get some beer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ffiery Mmaple

The feldspar windchime tinkled itself and Rain slanted toward muddy green Grass. River swam in the background.
I was trying to describe, "--it's my mind/body disconnect. I don't imagine blood and bones, sinew and guts, inside. I imagine a cave..."
Wind sang a song then and made Sun-yellow Maple Leaves sway while wide hanging Blue Spruce bounced. Not a forest, I decided, then continued thinking outloud,

"...on a black background -- and -- just a cartoon, 'u' shaped, opening where, inside, my little girl waits. By a fire."
Made with three logs, I imagine, red, orange, and yellow colored pencil --

"She's not scared. She just asks, 'why go out there and get criticized?' You know? So she just sits..."
and I stop to feel, thinking, maybe she's down near my upper intestine, or is she to the left in my spleen? My last three spoken words ring down: she just sits, she just sits, she just sits and I know she is not bitter, mad, hurt, or angry. Maple lights fires in my eyes and Blue Spruce dances gaily with Wind.

"What a beautiful day" I say then, seeing that she looks like Shiva, sitting, -- Eyes closed, Hands folded, Third Eye. I am hiding most of my internal updraft then, but inside the black background is lightening. She is coming out of her cave with her benevolent smile. My only gift is a soft laugh at the inside joke, "I'm gonna go inside and get to work."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Need to Express to Communicate

Around ten p.m. last night I entered the kitchen and saw mister eating a spoonful of roasted garlic cloves and a raw hot dog. Such is life in the suburban wiles of NW IL. Five hours earlier he had convinced me to pull myself and my costume together in time to sport ourselves to dinner with Mom, Dad, Aunty, and Uncle. They're our posse now.
Around three that day I had found a large piece of packing styrofoam, some cardboard, netting, duct tape, and the cans of white and metallic gold spray paint I've been waiting to need for over two years, and made myself a the crown for a sun costume. Then I took a nap.
I was crestfallen because my dreams from a few hours earlier seemed much less spectacular once I was off the back of my Dad's motorcycle and back on the couch in the living room. After my nap in the sun I loafed around and became cranky about getting myself together. I said it was because "couldn't figure out what to put on my ass." I realized that I wasn't as comfortable wearing panties over tights as part of a costume in front of my family I as would have been in front of an entire house full of strangers. Go figure. Hadj cajoled me and reminded me of how excited I'd been to be a radiant, happy, joyful sun for halloween. I wanted to do myself a service by overcoming the sloth that beguiles me in this place and be my best self again. I found a skirt to cover my ass and called it a little cloud.
Our posse eats at the early bird hour. In the month we've been living here I've adapted to a high sugar, high meat, high carb diet stretched over at least four meals a day and not supplemented with yoga. The extra meal developed as a result of the early bird special. Second dinner comes about three hours after first. Lyrics to "La Vie Boheme" from "Rent" keep popping into my head.

"...Why Dorothy and Toto when over the rainbow to blow off Auntie Em..."
What I think about when I'm pondering hasn't changed much in my time here. I'm grateful for that because everything around me is foreign yet familiar, an unsettling combination of emotions. My thoughts on food, yoga, energy flow, moods, moons, sex, gratitude, and attitude remain powerful. Despite that I can't seem to compose many sentences about what goes on external to my mental workings in a day or week here. I have felt, several times recently, that I'm being tested - the way devout religious say they're being tested by God (or whomever). The lessons I have learned inside, regarding grounding, health, contentedness, and so on have been put to stress in the last four weeks. I come out feeling proud of myself every time, but sometimes it takes days to get there.

In addition to staying on the "love" side of life's "love/fear" divide I have also memorized about 70% of the dialogue in "Finding Nemo." I am impressed with my ability to watch that movie so many times. I guess the traits possessed by most two to six year olds have never really stopped impressing me. I can still hold my own in an intermediate yoga class after two or three weeks without practice. I now know how to tile like a mofo. I know what bag balm is good for. I know what whole cloves of raw garlic are good for (killing bacteria!). I'm pretty sure I know when my usually irregular period is going to come. I finished knitting my first pair of socks and I went out for Halloween dressed up by choice as The Sun in devices culled from what's been in my suitcase for the last month.

I found one last way to rearrange the furniture in my childhood bedroom. I thought I'd discovered them all by 1998. However, it turns out that putting my double bed against the east facing wall not only creates a bit of a barrier between the two dog beds and the cat food, but also makes a spot just big enough for one person to do yoga in. I did yoga this morning. I get up by 7 a.m. daily without an alarm.

It only took three or four tries for Hadj and I to get good at walking up the stairs with my feet on top of his boots, a la the two year old behavior again. The dogs listen to my commands. It's a wild world.

The root of my feeling is that it's been a really fucking weird four weeks. I miss Chicago and can't wait to get to Belfair. I've lived in this house for most of my life but feel like a stranger in it. I can be in the same room as Hadj and not feel connected to him at all sometimes. All these things...there are so many things going on and they're subterranean, subtle, psychic workings that I love to analyze, but hesitate to write about here.

Let's just say it's been good, over all, post some pictures, and call it a day.














p.s. I also got my fourth tattoo:




Friday, October 30, 2009

Matters of the Heart

It's a rainy and windy morning which has followed a night that knocked all the remaining fall leaves down. In such newness, and where I don't cull the time to write daily in my journal about the goings on, I am having a hard time remembering what has happened that made me last think, "I want to write that." Hence, the present tense.

"I'm gonna fucking walk around naked too," Hadj says from the other room as a way of finishing his thought. His bathrobe is taking on the scent of white vinegar which keeps bacteria away from skin that's lacking a shower and, he swears, smells like salad.


I feel I can't. I can't write. I can't let go. Bitterness is biting at my heels. I've had enough. I don't want to be here. What is all this? What does it mean? What can I even do to help myself though this? Fear is bearing down on me. I want love to fill my heart. What I hear is a siren.

I remember my dream from last night:

I live alone in a basement apartment. I am home putzing around. I grab my purse and keys and go out. I unlock the passenger side of my car and get in. I am intending to scoot over to the driver's seat. Before I can do this a man gets in the car and starts driving. He is silent. I don't even see his face. Fear begins flooding me. The man is driving toward a highway entrance. I don't know what he wants with me or where he is going. He enters the ramp to the highway. I open my door and fall out onto the road, hoping to land on my ass. I land, feeling only adrenaline. I stand as quickly as I can. Two cars pass me on the road. It feels like they are inches from hitting me. I feel invisible and panicked. I am wondering where help is. I jump up and down screaming for help. Cars drive pass seeming not to notice.

I have walked back home carrying nothing. My purse is in my car, which the man drove off in. My cell phone and wallet are there too. I pick up my home phone and call my partner. My mouth feels dry and swollen and I can make no sensible words. I feel hysterical. He cannot understand what I am trying to say. He is in Washington whereas I am in Chicago. I realize I need to call the police. I hang up and dial 9-1-1. When the line is answered I can hear only broken background noise. There is no one to talk to. I try dialing 9-1-1 twice more and everytime there is only empty
background noise with no help forthcoming. I hang up, feeling lost and desperate. I want to call my partner back, but realize I can't. Having relied on my cell phone memory, I don't have his number in my head. I can't push redial and get him. My desperation and dry mouthed silence seem to increase.

My front door suddenly bursts open and people I know are love are streaming
in. First I see my mom and dad who are followed by friends and then media people. I try telling my story, but my panic is so great and my mouth so dry that no discernable words come out. I collapse into hugging my father.

As I am waking I realize that I am still panicked, but that I can now choose not to be. I am safe. I am surrounded by help. I will be ok. When I wake I have to choose if I had a bad dream or a good one. It felt like a nightmare, but I realized I was safe and loved.

I woke by hugging my partner tight and telling him I had a bad dream.

All around me the universe has been reminding me of love. I received a letter from an energy working peer. She told me she received a message for me in her meditations. The message she relayed was this:

I saw that you had begun a dance, and in the process of the dance you had stopped because you could not remember the next movement.

The message is feel the current of love surround you, within that current is the power of my love. As your hands move throughout that current they gain the power of my love - they can only move the way they should move. Continue as your heart leads you because that is the only way you can go, when it is the right course there is no resistance.

Another example of the help that is beckoning me back to the golden light of love are the last few lines from my favorite astrologer for this week:

[F]ollow your heart when it tells you to be bigger, bolder, and brasher than ever before. Right now, shiny intensity is your sacred duty!
Intellectually I know what to do. To succeed I have to listen to my heart. My heart and my intellect do not always coincide. From a "Rent" song that spoke to me early this week:

Listen, I find some of what you teach suspect, because I'm used to relying on intellect, but I try to open up to what I don't know.

I am a quite person in the middle of a loud surround. I crave a mixture of peace and ecstasy; simplicity and challenge. Today, instead of writing here about my riding crop bruises which helped me blow off steam, my mom's daily funny comments, or the bathroom my partner and I are 70% done rebuilding, I will be working in my parents' basement in happy solitude. I will listen to music, open up my heart, and dance like no one's watching.

Another one of my favored contradictions: I prefer to dance like no one is watching, but I kind-of hope someone is.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gray Matters

My last defense / is the present tense. -Gwendolyn Brooks

Inspiration is always waiting just on the other side of some door. There seem to be few tricks to inviting inspiration in; you have to know there are options available to you, you have to be willing to ask for help, you have to be able to accept what comes, you have to open up. I am constantly fascinated by the following idea:

[T]hink about the edges where things spill into each other and become their opposites. -J. Ruth Gendler

"Start here," is the advice I've gave myself last night. The immediately preceeding thought was, "I want to write this all down." I have thought that thought many times a week in the last month. I'm living in a gray area where everything blends. Dichotomies swing back and forth, from dramatic to mundane, from interesting to dull.

Speaking of the present tense: I just stuck my hands in my cat's mouth. Her teeth look kinda brown in spots. The vet told me over a year ago that kitty needed to have dental work. I did not get the work done, because I did not have the money to do so. I know cats' teeth are a common source of problems which can become serious, but it was a choice I had to make. I try to check lil' kitty's teeth from time to time. I try to make sure there's nothing horrible going on in there. She hates when I do that. She squirms, pushes my hands away with her paws, and makes pathetic little squeaking noises. All this she did just now. What she did not do was jump off my lap and trot off looking indignant. She laid back down and resumed her buttery purring. My little calico has offered another view of inspiration. I thanked her for knowing I wasn't trying to hurt her, and for remaining so gentle and sweet.

Sometimes the present tense gets buried under memories. I am reading The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book right now. Prefacing the writing on the four essential agreements, how to make them, and how they work, is writing about the "domestication of humans". The author writes his views on how humans are acculturated from infancy by accepting, or making agreements to, the teachings of their elders.

It may be hopeful thinking, but I do think many parents try to balance teaching their children what is "good" and what is "bad". Despite that, it is reasonable to assume, that most children are given a heft of negative input as part of their training into society. The children that "learn best" are the children that take this information and agree to it quickly. Children that don't make the agreements their elders give them, children who behave dissonantly, are reprimanded until they conform. I have been thinking about the agreements I have made. I have been assessing the usefulness of my agreements. I have been trying to let go of agreements made that do not serve a positive purpose in me any more.

I stood outside yesterday aftrenoon trembling with emotion and telling myself what was my fault. My partner and I had been having and argument and memories of the far and wide past was clouding my senses. The day before yesterday I made an agreement with myself about what I was responsible for in the melee of tender feelings. I had shared them with my partner. I spoke up about the certain things which were "not my fault". The things that were "not my fault" I would not take responsibilty for.

I think that deep down we all want to be our best. Some of us have best selves that are buried in obscurity, underneath trauma, memories, and betrayal. Some of us don't believe they know what love feels like. Some of us are more comfortable being afraid. We have all heard that relationships take work. We have all heard that courage is not easy. We have all heard the world is going to end in fire.

Who among us have accepted the phoenix? Who among us have stood through storm? Who has accepted that crouching in a storm feels safest?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bath and Beyond

"[Y]ou got to begin where you are because before you take off on any wild-ass wishing you got to ground yourself, firm, in the dynamics of your situation[...] But we're alive, alright. I mean I'm the one here who's dreaming this dream. So, if I'm me then you must still be you."
"I think maybe I'm you," I said.
"No, I'm me," he said. "That's a basic dynamic of this situation and we got to keep that straight."

Grounding myself in the dynamics of a situation is a constant source of work when things are unusual. The dynamics of this particular situation are some how both obvious and mysterious to me. Literally, I am living at my parents' house while my boyfriend and I remodel a bathroom, paint the walls, and clean out the basement. Literally we get up at 6 everyday to spend a few hours waking. We stretch, give love to our animals, eat breakfast and so on. Literally, I saw the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen last night as we drove through suburbs on the way, again, to Home Depot. The rays of the sun were brightly defined orange stripes between blue sky. The horizon was shades of fuchsia.

I guess what I am learning is that making what your life what you want is a journey. What I am "used to" is getting what I think I should get: a job, a degree, a sensible suit for interviews. What I actually want is much more ephemeral and undeveloped: time to write, a nourishing routine, travel... transcendence. I have to make the existence I am looking for, I cannot apply for it. That thought, as I write it now, actually makes me nauseous. From where I stand today, looking at the path of my future is like look down a path leading into thick brush on a mountain trail. I have literally no clue what's over the next hill, it could be a flat, grassy meadow plateau or a 55% incline to a peak. The path could split. There could be a mountain lion or crystalline spring. There could be more path, the hospitality of which, is not discernible.

Reconciling the activity in my mind with the dynamics of the real situation has been difficult at times. Remaking this bathroom has a lot of new energy stirred up in a place that has had only potential for decades. I feel I've entered a room, in my mind, that has been hidden for just as long and is filled with things that are somehow familiar and alien at the same time.

Committing to writing about these emotions in tandem with the events surrounding them is difficult as well. It takes time, and it is hard for me to concentrate: to take the time needed to do that writing work when I hear my man, in the bathroom of my parents' house hollering about a shitty welding job some schmuck did in the 70s. Sometimes I may not commit and I just may get up to go demolish sheet rock. At least I have options. I also have pictures of this demolition/remodeling project as well, but we have not yet located the illusive USB cord.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Morning Routine

The alarm goes off at 6 and it takes several hits of the snooze button before we can lift our work stiff limbs from the bed. Hadj pulls on his bathrobe, the two dogs, Bella and Gabbie, dance around us in the excitement of a new day. The two cats, Willow and Billie, sit with their tails wrapped around their paws, waiting for the bedroom door to open. I suit up for the morning routine and we all head downstairs.

Civil twilight began at 6:27 today, the moon is just beginning to wane from full. We were up before sunrise, but as Hadj said, "I think I wanted to be out there when that happened." The sun rose into a slice of sky which rested below a stripe of softly brushed clouds. The clouds were golden and pink; the dramatic effects of night becoming day made us talk softly. I stood on the east facing wood deck, watching the sky between trees and single family homes. I imagined my view from the studio back in the city. "I was imagining the sky line" I told him, "it would be in this same direction."
"That is the sky line," he teased pointedly.

Today we "pull" the toilet and tub. Yesterday we ripped out the cabinetry, the gray stained wood panelling, and bid farewell to 30 years of bathroom memories. This is the third day of the routine we've shaped for our separate, but combined sanities. We "go around the block" - a two mile walk up and down hills - passing subdivisions built when I was in high school and college, passing street signs that lead to neighborhoods where I played with friends from grammar school. I write daily. Hadj throws the frisbee for the dogs. Just like being a warrior in the city and knowing how many stairs I climbed or blocks I crossed, I must watch this landscape and ground myself in the present. "I like the suburbs" Hadj admits as I make a face. I know what he means. The lot my parents have is a good one compared to the pre-planned communities that house other homes. There is space and beauty here, the houses have more character. I remind him that it is not necessarily this place that can make me buckle, but the weight of the memories of who I have been in it.

The coffee is ready. My eyes are light the way they are when the work I am doing satisfies me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Work Estimates

This is all a process. I pull back the canvas curtain to watch the leaves play and dance with their shadows. I write down the bits of beauty and connection found and try not to catalog discomforts. Here in my mother's house I am given the privelege of re-trial while running obstacle courses that are rutted with abuse. "I don't understand your trauma," Hadj tells me. We are snuggling in my old bed in my old bedroom. What I hear coming from his mouth sounds like some innocent wisdom. I too hardly understand my reactions.

We are at my parents' house in the northwest suburbs of Chicago now. We are here to work for a time, before we finish our drive west to Belfair, before snow locks us in. This house is nearly one-hundred years old. It has had three sets of owners, my parents being the third. They bought this house in 1988, after my father sold his Harley to his best friend make the down-payment. It was a fixer upper then and is something more full of potential for complete re-creation now. My parents do not have much interest or energy for material things. They crave memories, action, and events. They live for the road beneath their two wheels. They hate winters.

"Let's go embarass you," Hadj says to me. He is continually making me smile and reasurring me that we are actually having fun. It is up to me to make new the old patterns that are haunting this house in my mind. Like everything else, Hadj is here to help. We went through a small portion of the huge, unfinished basement of my parents' house last night. The area is composed of all things elementally "basement": musty smell, seeping water, decrepit cardboard boxes, antique spider webs, and 21 years of familial refuse and remains. We descend the wooden stairs and clear a space where we will empty boxes marked things like "Shana knick-knacks 2001" and "Shana's Stuff Do Not Toss."

September 30th was the last day in my golden studio apartment on Chicago's NW side. By the time we left the inviting light had been washed over with a dusty color my ex-landlord prescribed. We wondered how a studio apartment could seem smaller without furniture. The job I held, which helped me get and keep the apartment I loved, is a wisp of time gone now. Late in the night of the last day of September we pulled up to the garage at my parents' house and turned off our cars. The night air was damp and chilling. I had to jump around to keep from catching trembling shivvers.

We unpacked only what was needed for a night's sleep and carried it, quietly - not to wake my sleeping mother and father, up to my old bedroom. Once the bed was set down and covered, and once we had unwound enough to lay there, I became overwhelmed by my own ghosts and became terrified and wept. I experienced terror, that I would somehow become trapped and miserable the way I had been trapped and miserable in this place so many times before. It is not this house. It is not my parents or anything they did or did not do. What terrified me were the memories of depressions past and what I defended myself against was the untruth of history.

As I unearthed the first photographs I ever took (family vacation, 1991), eighth grade class photos, and junior-prom photos Hadj helped me look at myself. I began to look without judgement or recall. The shame left in pockets all over my body began their dissolution. He saw me in eigth grade and said, "you're a different person twice over now, aren't you?" I feared not changing when I was young. When I was beginning a descent to find and unearth myself I grew proud of how much I had changed. I was smug when I saw others who seemed to look the same as they had when we were young.

Rummaging around in old photographs, keep-sakes, and tzchockies is just a way of spending our time at present. We are here to make love real by working. There are still supplies to be purchased, preparations to be made, budgets to be worked out. This is the meanwhile.

I have always wanted to restore or reshape my parents' house for them. It is a beautiful old house and anyone with an interest can't not see the potential oozing out of the pine wood trim, brick fireplace, or small bathrooms. I am here to do pennance in a way. I will do the work to clear myself out, and to give some TLC to the bones of an aching old house. Hadj and I both love story and history. We marvel when our deja vu mingles and when our enigmatic patterns meet. We laugh at the coincidences of his constant bathroom rennovations and my recurrent sneaking misbehavior and assume we must be on the right path if we've dreamt all this before.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deep in the Throat

I'm looking for my voice. I'm standing still, still as a deer listening for predators, but I am listening for grace. The dark lush path I once navigated has passed its time. I seek a return to light. The color, sound, feel, voice of my light is mostly unknown to me. I write, have written, for ages but the voice I write in was born not in my throat or heart, she was born lower, somewhere more primal.

My ego has many parts. The predominant part of my ego for the last twenty years has been a mothering one, but not a nourishing mother. My ego, which shrinks slowly as it loses control of my mind, was composed first of a desire to please and later of the worries of those who I sought to please. I took everyone on. I did a good job, because my goal was to do so. None for me though. Sneaking moments of rebellion was where I lived. It began with my desire to try alcohol - which burned and at first, didn't get me drunk but made me stupidly pretend to be. It moved to drugs. I lied through later years in high school and early years in college about having done more than I had. I smoked cigarettes because girls growing up, finding their way, being reborn into adulthood romantically in movies did. I never liked cigarettes when I was young. Later the grief I had borne for others seeped in, it was my own now, and cigarettes fit well with those anxieties. I became addicted.

One of my most vivid early adolescent memories is of a thing I said to my mother one morning. I had been getting torn up inside. I was thirteen. I walked into the bathroom where my mother stood, curling her hair while wrapped in a towel, and announced my rebellion to her. "Mom," I said "I don't have to be good, you know. I can be bad too." She had no idea what to say to that. I think she mumbled some confused agreement with me. I began smoking less than a month later.

It's been over a week since I've had a cigarette now. But this post is not about cigarettes, it's about my throat and the voice that doesn't know how to come out of there.

I cry easily. It used to embarrass the hell out of me. I am finding ways to accept it, and even feel good about it. I guess, if there are tears to cry, I should cry them. There is no shame in that. In the last three years, as I have pushed, and pushed, and tried to see the value in not pushing, and so relaxed, and learned about my struggles with attachments and outcomes, I have talked to quite a few people about my path. I always know when I'm about to cry because my throat constricts almost entirely. My throat knows before I do most of the time. It starts hurting, getting tight, before I even broach the subject that will make me cry. Usually, lately, the subject is my throat itself.

I saw an energy worker on Monday for a Healing Touch session. For some reason I made it seem more important to me that she work with me on releasing any lasting trauma to the area around my liver, damaged in last year's bike crash. I guess I thought that was the most important. Again, the mind is the last to know. I had been feeling some blocks in my breathing when doing deep breathing in yoga and meditation. The session did do quite a lot for me, I can see days later, but I need to work on my throat. There are layers there, woven, into bad patterns of behavior. It is really hard for me to listen to my own voice. It is hard for me to let my throat be a conduit of energy between my heart and my head.

I'll keep working on it, and I'll keep writing. There's no pretty summary paragraph for this post.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kaleo: the Core Cosmic Dharma of Venus

What I think is more interesting is that the focus of men's desires and responses were identified as being so narrow. I don't hold it as a virtue that men succeed at knowing what turns them on, within a very narrow range; it could be that both their minds and their bodies are shut down to the rest of reality that they don't think interests them, but which might, were they more open. Evolutionary roles differ as well: when you hunt an animal, you must be aware of the environment to the extent that you listen to the birds and don't fall off a cliff, but that's all designed to help you focus on one goal. This includes the goal of pursuing a woman, often described by both men and women as a kind of hunt.

Planet Waves: Kaleo: Venus Unbound by Eric Francis
Finally! Someone else backing Dr. E's serotonin/hunter/gatherer theory!


In the above quote, Eric Francis is writing a response to the NY Times report, called "What Do Women Want?" that generated a bunch of attention early this year. The report focused on a study that was looking at a "new generation of female sex researchers who are studying the mysteries of female desire, or trying to" according to Francis. Francis in turn, in his weekly "Astrology News" article on his site Planet Waves, responds with a breadth of information that makes my head light up like any good biophilic woman. (Biophilia is coined by Francis to mean "being turned on by life itself" which the study negates and which Francis disputes.)

He closes his response to the article, and to the current state of affairs at large with this encouraging observation:
Shutting down will not work, is not working. We need more sensitivity, not less. We need to focus on goals, but not at the expense of reality. And we need to consciously embrace the chaos that is gradually enveloping us. How do we call to the chaos with love, and not try to delete it, filter it out or stick it in a folder? How do we engage the chaos -- perhaps as a creative source?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Parts I Like Best

An Incomplete List of Thing/Ideas I Like Best Made Specially to Attract Those Things Now
in no specific order
  • Kitties purring
  • Driving open roads
  • Alpaca wool
  • Joy
  • Laughter
  • Surprises
  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Grass
  • Hand picked fruits and vegetables
  • Money for traveling, clothes, gifts, shoes, stationary, food, drink, toys
  • Taking photos
  • Orgasms
  • Cooking for friends
  • Remembering my dreams in the morning
  • Singing
  • Skipping
  • Headstands
  • Pigeon pose
  • Dresses and skirts
  • Having my hair brushed
  • Having my back rubbed
  • Having my anything rubbed
  • Rainy days at home
  • Fleeting spooky fear from games and movies
  • Story time
  • Poems
  • Gifts
  • Avante Garde
  • Oil paintings
  • Talking
  • Answering questions
  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Crying from happiness
  • Dinners outside in the setting sun
  • The ocean air
  • Feeling my heart burst to brim with goodness
  • Dancing til I'm sweaty
  • Watching bugs
  • Reading books
  • The northern lights
  • Starlight
  • Moon light
  • Sunshine
I've decided that I'm gonna feel good now.