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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Feet are on This Earth

I was gonna toot my own horn. I've been looking for this post for a few minutes because I realized this morning the dreams have not changed, the route I am taking to them becomes clearer and clearer. I do a dance of joy at least once a week now.

The dreams have not changed, the process of achieving them is seasoned. I have not been doing nothing. I have been laying a solid foundation that is level and strong.

I will leap with my eyes wide open and land without knowing anything except my feet are on the Earth, this beautiful Earth. -TTW Leap

I'm reading Leap right now and it's resounding inside of me the way our choral voice did inside the anciently perfect church halls in Holland. Echo echo echo and dim. Terry Tempest Williams' writing in this memoir of spirit and art is lyrically prosaic and tends toward streams of consciousness. It is simply astounding. She examines the masterpiece of Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516), called The Garden of Earthly Delights by beginning inside one of the thousands of images presented in the painting, moving out, and then coming back in again: over the horizon in the painting, or from within the woods. She uses the painting to examine the human condition, in general, and herself, through her experiences and imagination. It's an exhilarating piece of work.

click here for an image of the paintings

I was reading more of this book last night when her voice began ringing like those choral sopranos, high and clear, like bells in my head, incessant, and an idea for a book came to me. Wow. I've never had a real book idea before. The idea is reminiscent of what Kaufman did in Adaptation: "Charlie Kaufman writes the way he lives... With Great Difficulty. His Twin Brother Donald Lives the way he writes... with foolish abandon. Susan writes about life... But can't live it. John's life is a book... Waiting to be adapted. One story... Four Lives... A million ways it can end." (imdb) Adaptation vexed me the first time I saw it. I remember complaining that Kaufman willfully broke every rule about writing one can break in that movie. I watched it again and realized I'd missed the joke. I watched it again and became breathless with the brilliance of writing your story from inside the story you already wrote which was inspired by another writing.

It's a complex idea in it's infancy - perhaps like a real fetus. I have no idea if what I'm looking at is a spine or lungs and I'm not even sure it'll live long enough to be born. The idea of committing to actually writing an actual novel is terrifying. Actually no, it's enlivening. Actually, yes, it's exactly both.

Good. Glad I cleared that up.

I'm being totally vague because I'm somewhat aware of a tradition of secrecy which a writer might subscribe to to protect her ideas. Shelter them. Grow them. Anyway - this is a rambling post. I have all kinds of syntheses going around in my brain and of course, I'm at work - the last place one "should" really blog (or write seriously). I almost want to make a list to remind myself with later, but subject you readers to it? Is that subjective? Do you mind or is it interesting? People like picking up random strangers lost notes on the ground, so maybe you all would like reading my random list of thoughts...
I used subjective wrong up there didn't I...?

I got really twisted up over finances again this past weekend. I let it go to the degree I should and laughed at myself last night. I have a mental diagram in my head (and sketchbook) which is in three parts:
1. notice that there is a tornado of thoughts swirling around your head making you dizzy and/or crazed
2. use your hands (metaphorically, energetically, whatever) and get a grasp on the general whirling cloud feeling surrounding your head
3. lift it off and hold it out at a distance. look at it. laugh.

This morning, I compared the stuck thought/obsessive thinking I afflict myself with to a twist in yoga. You twist in yoga to help detox. You twist around and slow or hold up blood flow in the body area you're working on. You twist and hold, creating a bit of a block in your flow, then breathe and release and all the old stagnant stuff gets rushed out and refreshed by new circulation, energy, and breath. You twist, hold, deepen, release, breathe to refresh. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I get held up and blocked. It deepens and I feel I might crack open, maybe I do with some crying. I release, breathe, and remember to laugh. Life doesn't need to be difficult. It just doesn't.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Been a Month Since I Wrote This; It Is As Is

I am excitable and tend to be impatient. That being said, the unofficial news is that I'm moving to the woods surrounding Seattle; to Hadj. I need this to happen by October. How will I make it happen? A whole lot of positive thinking, some worry probably, and searching for ways to make and save more money constantly. That's not the point. The point is I'm Moving Away from Chicago! My goodness gracious.

I moved here just before my 24th February birthday. I thought that I'd stay for 3-5 years; it'd be my post-college finding my feet time, and I thought the same approximate amount of time allotted would be a nice balance. I seem to have known what I would do even before I knew what I was doing. With my leaving Chicago I will be embarking on the biggest adventure yet. I've never lived that far from home before. I've never lived outside the Midwest or away from the Great Lakes (which, by the way, if the apocalypse looks like it's falling slowly (or catastrophically) on us, I'm going to need to be back by those fresh water havens). Not only am I leaving the prairie, meat, cheese, wheat, HOMES acronym behind me, I'm leaving a life. It's breathtaking.

I realized that I was really going to miss it the other day. It felt scary. It felt exhilarating. It feels right. I don't have a big plan, just "get there" then "figure it out together." Here's what I know:
I won't be working in the office world full time, unless I'm a big proponent of the environment I'm working for and in, for more than 5 more years. I will make my way out of the cubicle because I simply do not thrive in a cubicle and what the hell is the point of life if not to thrive boys and girls?! Again, this is frightening and exciting. My contradictory nature is one containing a need for stability but also a need for frequent, rapid change. Office life has provided something I really needed for awhile. I was making myself sick worrying about money and insurance and careers for quite some time after college. Then I was making myself sick with desire to be in the artistic and natural and freaky worlds that nourish me. I've done a decent job of fostering a nice balance and now, of course, it's time to go.

Does everyone have this experience? Wherein you get to a new place, you get all settled in, things are going great, then just when it seems perfectly balanced you decide it's time to go. Makes sense I guess, get a good base and move from there. Move from there.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Untitled (Absorption and Forgiveness)

In the 11 nights since I wrung my hands,
warmed by neither the coffee mug I'd held nor
your jagging breath cadence and
sat stiffly, examining the tufts
of cat hair on your carpet,

I had not dreamt.
I loved waking
to fold my self, deeply sighing belly,
open window panes to sky omens,
so I could tell you about dream circuses
or space flights - improbable romances.
Until last night, worn from a day of work followed by a night
spent researching yet more - more marriage sites
than I could handle - I slumped off to my
soft, empty bed and wrangled the
spinning thoughts there quiet. I dreamt -

the black hole that had been finally filled
with dark hours' story. I dreamt
of you. The hug you gave me 12 hours earlier still

lingering on my prone body like coffee aftertaste.
I woke, not knowing what I said, but glistening with the shine
of listening to you then.

I wrote the above poem in April and stuck it in a desk drawer so it could be found now. I've been doing a lot of listening to family lately. I'm really glad to discover that I've learned quite a few lessons in the last year or two about listening and talking; about absorption and limits. I don't want to use the word "lately" here, but lately I can see every person's beauty so easily. I'm a walking meditation, able to see a thought, acknowledge it if need be, and move on contentedly. Channeling my own energy has helped in this immensely. I have a more confident sense of what my energy is doing, as well as how it affects me, and I can step outside of an immediate sensation more easily to look at my perceptions and reactions and behave accordingly. I have softened like the smell of roses a week past bloom.

I love forgiveness. It is one of my favorite living traits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And some feeble-minded children in the kitchen have discovered tiny swallows on crutches that could pronounce the word love.

[An] institution can never excommunicate a spirit from its body. Cut the trees down. Believe the green stand is gone. Then walk among the stumps when the wind blows through and feel the phantom limbs bowing to what remains, what can never be destroyed.
We have forgotten the art of a living theology.[...]
We have forgotten that God's declarations are always heard, seen, and delivered through our own creative interpretations. Without language, we could not speak of God. We can never escape our own formulations, conjectures, translations. Religions begin as a salve to mystery, not a manifesto of truth. We too can interpret the truth and make it our own. It is our nature to question. It is our nature to create meaning and make myths out of our lives.
pp. 88 of Terry Tempest Williams's, Leap

I had to stop eating my dinner of avocado, cooked beans and tomatoes, and tortilla chips to get this to you. This. Thank you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"my best Daddy, without whom..."

The concept of "you are my woman" was not something I could grasp in a complex way until recently. I hesitate to set up the coming argument because it is so slippery a concept for me to examine in complete sentences. To diffuse the fear that my argument will seem insincere or unexamined I will start first with the ideas that I fear are traps awaiting me.

What I am about to describe here is a perception of my development as a mature woman. The subject covered has been taken from women of many decades and turned into political arguments because they needed to be. It is interesting: the argument I want to make has been both complicated and made irrelevant by the Woman's Movement (in this country).
I am not a scholar on feminism in anyway. I took no womens' studies classes in college, I have read cursorily the big hitters of some of the waves and delighted in their language. I am a humanist, a lyricist, and an absurdest at times.
I am not usually one to debate in the academic arena. I am fully aware there are other people much more well practiced at debate, much more well read, and with more experience, or a better memory than I.
Wisdom has a quiet mind.
She likes to think about the edges where things spill
into each other and become their opposites.
J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities

I have mentioned before that I have a "Daddy" "thing". It's not that uncommon, but I don't know (though I'd like to) the ways in which Daddy fetishes manifest for other women (and, potentially, all sexes). This "Daddy" "thing" extends beyond kinky sex for me. It must for others as well, right? And if so, how? Are you a "daddy"? What bearings does that give you? A "little" girl or boy - how do you experience your desire to have a daddy?

In order to describe the 24/7, mental desires I have relating to daddies, I do have to start at my own real father, which makes me a bit squeamish because of the level at which I also relate the coming information to my sexual being. It is more important that the role, and the feelings attached to the role my Dad played, be emphasized and less important that my actual, blood relation father, is the person who bears the load of this beginning. The person who fostered the feeling could have been any person: an uncle, a teacher, man, woman or two-spirited person.

So, to again diffuse slippery feelings out of the discourse let me give good ol' Daddy-o a neutral title for this purpose:
"umbrella" is the word I will now use for the person who protected, held, played with, taught, disciplined, told story to, made laugh, and cry when I was developing a history called memory and learning.

I was blessed with a sturdy umbrella. I did not have to switch umbrellas by act of force ever. I chose to walk out from under the umbrella at a certain age so I could understand the world without that all-protective lens. After I learned a bit about the world I desired to return to my umbrella because it was so nice and safe there, but I was awkward and didn't know how to do that while retaining my autonomous needs. After I learned a bit about myself, I understood my umbrella as a being separate from myself, and not existing entirely to protect and give to me, but to exist as a beautiful entity until itself. After these two separate learnings informed one another in synthesis and aged within me, my ability and desire to have an umbrella again became imperative.

The concept of "you are my woman" was not something I could grasp in a complex way until recently.

It is not enough to have someone assert authority over me in the bedroom by calling me unsophisticated names and ordering me around. I had not known how deep the need (another way of talking about a fetish) ran until I spent time with Hadj. I felt the wish for an umbrella surge up in me quickly and the only way to address it quickly was to begin at the more commonly understood sex-oriented Daddy fetish. I had felt this "umbrella wish" in me before, and had hoped to have the wish fulfilled, but the umbrellas had not yet covered me in the way I needed. Despite their usefulness and beauty they just didn't sit right in my palm, or they were too tall awkward, or too or short and small (still speaking metaphorically). One way or another, by nobody's fault, but as a result of intuitive need, the umbrellas either left or were sent away. I was, and told myself I was, fine. It was sunny and when not sunny I had other ways of staying safe, sane, and dry. I missed being held really badly but it was such a subterranean need that I went on and on without addressing it successfully.

I have my umbrella now. He provides the same feelings of being cared for and watched after that my first umbrella did. I do not have to ask him to tutor me; my thirst suits his over-flow. I do not ask him to make me laugh, I am simply tickled. This is one of the ways in which bdsm seems to seep into my everyday life and becomes 24/7.

A few examples: my umbrella is my umbrella not only because he plays with me how I want him to (bdsm), but because he calls me his (bdsm and not). I know it means: to hold me, to love me, to protect and defend me, to care for me, cherish me, and teach me, to always act with my best interest in his heart no matter how difficult that might be in a given situation (bdsm and not).

My umbrella gives me tasks, instructions, restrictions, requirements. Always brush your teeth before bed. Put the clamps on your nipples. Research Scott Mutter for me. Make sure you see your family regularly. Go get your biggest toy and use it the way I tell you to. Practice makes perfect.

When I was young I absorbed a lot of the feminist language being thrown around my college campus. I was too young, too lacking in the self possession I now have, to understand the subtleties, but more importantly - to understand that that was politics and that politics do not inform my everyday life. I am deviant as all get out and cannot be confined to theory (being slutty, bisexual, and poly has taught me). If, while dating a man, I was given anything that appeared to me to be an order I immediately became resistant simply because I had absorbed the rhetoric of militant feminists without ever having absorbed the lives that led them to their militancy.

I know am complete without an umbrella's provisions. Maybe some day I would have been fulfilled without all those things. We grow and change and live and die and wake and sleep differently every day, but I don't really believe I would have given those needs up. They are part of my make up. Something about being blessed with such a great umbrella from the beginning has wired me to always want one, I think. I will stay young because I am held. I will stay bright, innocent, naive, sweet, playful, curious, hungry and feral because I am protected, cared for, and seen. I want his direction, his ideas, his orders even, because I trust, I know, that they are for me and my further growth into the best version of myself I can be. Neither of us act in a vacuum, neither of us has a shred of disrespect for ourselves or each other. He could not order me if he thought I was mush-minded, it wouldn't be in my best interest, nor would I understand his intentions. Keep in mind, being ordered about is one sliver of a very thinly cut but delectable pie.

I don't know if I never let anyone see this in me before, or if it's just that no-one could, or if it's timing. He sees me the way I want to be seen: full of this desire for the words "you are my woman" and not caring how that sounds against the reading I did when I was younger. At a young age, to allow myself to think "I am his woman" would have meant that I was somehow less my own woman or that I was somehow weaker, because I was somehow kept.

The difference must lay entirely in how the keeping is being done and if the kept want to be so. Does that make sense?

Playlist Story Telling

Click HERE to listen to my first publicly shared playlist. It's mixtape time!

1. Archipelago, Mirah
2. Rope of Weeds, Elysian Fields
3. Free at Last, Antony and the Johnsons
4. Hope There's Someone, Antony and the Johnsons
5. Ah Pook The Destroyer / Brian Gysin's All Purpose Bedtime Story, William S. Burroughs
6. Lover's Day, TV On The Radio
7. Don't Get Lost In Heaven, Gorillaz
8. Ostriches & Chirping, Elliott Smith
9. Twilight, Elliott Smith
10. This Must Be the Place, Talking Heads
11. Life During Wartime, Talking Heads
12. Anyone Else But You
13. Rainbowarriors, CocoRosie
14. Japan, CocoRosie
15. Beautiful Boyz, CocoRosie

I make a lot of playlists and I tend to make them on the fly. I'll want to dance my way home on a springy April evening. On my train ride I'll quickly mix a "Disco is For April" playlist beginning with Abba and ending with Zap Mama. The playlist creation rises and falls with newness and change: love, lessons, endings.

The playlist detailed above was created at the end of May. I don't usually include the same artist twice, let alone do so several times in a mix. I remember wanting to get something good for background music to an evening and making it quickly during my commute; now just over a month ago.

Playlists often follow logic only I can hear. The story entwined in them are for my savoring alone much of the time. Despite that I am about to try to nail some of that down in this entry. I hope that, at least, listeners enjoy the flow of music. I'd like it if they asked for more too.

Mirah's light voice seemed to ease me into the playlist. The energy of three strong lovers (myself included) was whirling with me around as I made this list. Her lyrics are simple and carried on easy melodies that do not invite reverie. In addition to Mirah's lightness, her song "Archipelago" was about the sea, ships, love and loss; I was falling deeply in love with a navy man - the fact of which I have always been interested and amused.

"Rope of Weeds" and Elysian Fields were given to me during Hadj's stay here. The story the lyrics tell is reminiscent of the Skeleton Woman story and Jennifer Charles's vocals are delicious and haunting atop the maritime shanty rock. I gave him back a song her gave warmly to me. I enjoyed the two song sea theme.

The next two Antony and the Johnsons songs were included because the mood fit and because I talk about them a lot. "Free at Last" features one of Antony Hegarty's heroes and was included for it's uniqueness and auditory textures. "Hope There's Someone" breaks my heart wide open.

"Ah Pook the Destroyer..." was included for pretty shallow reasons, I barely listened to it before putting it in there, but turned out to be one of my favorite transitions on the mix. It's settled right between two really beautiful love songs by two of my current favorite bands. Hadj also gave this music to me, and I wanted to have something playing that night that contained music familiar to his ears too.

He and I talked about TV On the Radio a day or two before the mix was made. "Lover's Day" talks about family, fucking, making love and it felt right. Upon subsequent listens I find that it still pulls all the right strings.

I think we'd also mentioned the Gorillaz in the time around making the mix. I didn't think about this when making the mix (mostly likely chose the song for it's flow from the last and due to our shared appreciation for the band) but I really like that a song about keeping your feet on the ground. "Lover's Day" is very appropriate for the love-conquers-all feeling that New Relationship Energy can have and I like how the message in "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" tempers it. After all, we're not here to conquer...exactly

"Ostriches & Chirping" and "Twilight" were included mostly to add body to the mix, as my creation period (on the bus to/from work) was coming to a close. Hadj gave me the disc these are from as well. The first track was included because of my adoration for birds and the second track seems to have just followed. Sometimes I get prickly at Elliott Smith's gall to come in all pining, wrought, and sad in my NRE mix. Isn't that silly? That's why he's still in there.

"This Must Be The Place" is a good example of the kind of sweet I am when I get all romantic and "Life During Wartime" is perfectly contradictory. It's also just a really great song with really great lyrics.

"Anyone Else But You" was probably added because I passed it on my way to something else for the mix. Its supreme cheesy love-dorkness snuck it into the spot. It's also really fun to sing along to.

The three ending CocoRosie tracks are there because they're good and I wanted to introduce them. (Also! Note Antony Hegarty singing in the last track.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Unimaginable Richness of their Relation

I'm going to spend the afternoon with a group of friends I don't normally see. It is common for people to know I've changed and grown since they've last seen me. Some friends of mine actually expect that to be the case. I am known for my stories of development; and that is a great thing! That is where my interest and writing intersect.

I'm looking forward to seeing how I react to and with a group of people who live out their values very differently from me. I'm hoping I will find that there are some secret pools they haven't shared with me: clean, cool, and clear; where they hold they're piles of "Yes" to the universe and aren't discouraged or disheartened, trampled or afraid. I also hope to talk sex. I love the tension that arises in young adults around the subject. You immediately know who's not getting enough and who is getting plenty, who's tickled and who really wants to change the subject.

Listening has always been my weaker point than speaking. I intend and hope to tonight engage in some meaningful conversations and learn more about these proximate friends' mechanics. I hope to write them into my own theory of beauty (acquaintances).

Theory of Beauty (Greenwich Avenue)

Thirty-seven clocks in five tiers.

Mantel, cuckoo,
rusticated, ormolu, glass-domed, moving brass balls and chimes,
porcelain, bronze-figured French:
thirty-seven, ranged in the shop window,
not especially attractive,

none fine, none precious,
even to my taste individually desirable.
But studying them, then turning away

into the end of a mild afternoon
the hand of winter's never quite let go of,

warmly tinted but almost heatless sunlight,
buildings ahead in silhouette, and then
the urge to turn back to the stepped rows

and suddenly the preeminently important thing
is their fulfillment of the category clock,

the divergence of means
of occupying that name, honoring the terms
and intent of it but nonetheless

presenting a various set of faces
to the avenue, in the warm light
of the shop. Then I or you, whoever's

doing the looking, understands
that this is the city's particular signature,

the range of possibilities within any single set,
and what is pleasing is not the individual clock

(goofy or kitsch, in their frostings and columns,
scrollworks and gildings) but the degree

to which it belongs and at the same time
pushes toward the edges of difference--

so the window's
thirty-seven branching aspects

of a single notion,
almost absurd in their essentially useless variety.
And when you turn away again,

there on the sidewalk
is a perfect instance of the category sink,

in this case kitchen,
singular instance of all its category
in the five boroughs,

a double stainless model
battered around the drain, humbled at its edges,

rim a little crumpled, but the interior
shining from a lifetime of scouring,

and beauty resides not within
individual objects but in the nearly
unimaginable richness of their relation.

-Mark Doty, from Fire to Fire

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You Do Something Every Day

Ever since my boss went on her month long leave, I've reverted to my sneaky selfish old ways as the employed. Sorry world, it's too hard to conform. Besides: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." -Rita Mae Brown

In that vein I want to quickly get somethings down.
I have realized that my driving interest is depth. I am interested, almost solely, in the fullness of experience. I cannot befriend people who do not live deeply because I get too bored, tense, or impatient.
It is I that you have to persuade if you want to captivate, experience, capture my very person. What I offer is far too precious to be passed out like circulars for Walgreens. Treasures are not to be had for the asking alone. You must love the journey, thrill of adventure, create the story that ends in bliss.
The above is from a user on fetlife. It is still hard for me to embody her first two sentences but I am coming to live this understanding more and more everyday. I threw myself into these teeming city ponds when I was young. I was strong and fierce but clueless. The clues are becoming more and more congruent, I am valuable to an epic degree. So are we all.

Delving more deeply into the BDSM world reveals to me that these threads do not weave a sexual tapestry alone. This information, what I am learning and discovering, often has more to do with who I am as a person and what values I hold closely. The line between kinky sex and everyday life become less and less important, how you live is how you live no matter what you're doing. ((It's vague here...I have a date to get to...this is a later edit.))

I am still doing splendidly. All this work (my god I did so much behind the scenes planting since 2004) is finally bearing edible fruit. I am finding myself going more habitually to the ways I want for myself and old habits are losing strength. I am recognizing patterns in myself, ways that I behave, and correcting them quickly, gently, and soundly.
Here's a typical night at home after work: I get home, my cats are all over me. The first thing I do is take off all or most of my clothing (doesn't everyone do this?). Then I turn on music. I don't get much time at home, to myself, so I have mental lists miles long of things I want to finish, begin, or work on. It takes me quite some time to channel the 'work for other people' energy out of me and I'm impatient. I'm particularly impatient with myself (or at least I used to be...).
To modify my thinking, being, breathing, perception, I turn to a commonly known weed for advice. The weed tends to make the options spin faster in the air around my head for a time. I become physically tense and uncomfortable, my breathing seems to shallow, my mind seems to freeze before all these rotating options and then I spiral downward into an anxious inertia full of self directed frustration and criticism.

This pattern happens almost every time I get a night at home. I try to make more space for nights at home so it doesn't seem that my to do lists get attention starved and snarled, but that rarely pans out.
I've wondered over and over about my "reliance" on this commonly known and easy to grow plant. I always come back to the simple desire as being a thing to be respected in itself and try not to ruin yet another good thing with anxious over-analyzing.

It happened last night. I could feel myself getting breathless and tense and knew I had to act fast before the maw of undone options ate me alive and left me a knotted up mess of darkness. I got on my bike and rode as hard as I could for 25 minutes. I came home and did a rejuvenating and relaxing 40 minutes of strenuous yoga. Afterward I lay on my bed smiling for a time until it became clear to me how much time I had and what things I needed or wanted to accomplish. I set to work, no knots, no doubts, no anxiety. I realized what I'd just done.

These successes are invisible to the outsider. No one will congratulate me for paying my bills, picking up my strewn about clothes and scooping the cat box...except me (unless I proudly catalog these everyday successes to someone else, which I do). I will definitely congratulate myself for that and more. I am learning my lessons. I am holding my ground. I am a peaceful warrior: ready to act when necessary and stable enough to stand contentedly until action is needed.