Sunday, September 30, 2007

two bruised knees but BRIGHT eyes

First, thank you to the people who have left comments. Either in this forum or via email or post. I love letters and the sort of exchange that comes with feedback/response makes me feel less like I am being self-indulgent and more like I am simply writing letters to friends I may not yet know. So, thank you!

I do indeed have two bruised knees. It was accidental but I leaped headlong and physically into the 'falll forward' mentality last night... either that, or the street was suddenly transformed into the most slippery ice skating rink and I was 5 years old again... and I can say that I am happy to have gone forward, rather than backwards, I've suffered tailbone injuries aplenty and the donut pillow is not an old friend I would like to spend time with again(!) ... and, you'd never even have known I have the shiners I have from the way I jumped right up again. I was not really embarassed, or unhappy with the falls, they just were, and I got up, and that was that. And I recommend that stance in most 'fall down' scenarios be they physical or emotional...

I saw two amazing shows this weekend. Last night was Bright Eyes with the LA Philharmonic and M. Ward and Yo La Tengo at the Hollywood Bowl. We had a 'terrace box' and a picnic and wine and stars and stars in our eyes and our ears and even stirring in our hearts. To me, Conor Oberst is the most gifted lyricist/musician/singer/handsome chap. I love his voice and I usually feel like I understand exactly what he is saying in the songs. Like I would sing in that tone and those words if my vocalizations came out the way they feel in my head & body...

Also, I went to see Must Don't Whip 'Um at Redcat. It was an extremely awe-inspiring-- brilliant design -- lighting, video, live mixing off all the elements by the performers themselves (who are really more of technical artists-- and thus fabulously unusual to watch perform), INCREDIBLE music by Cynthia Hopkins' band GLORIA DELUXE... it was something else. I used to be very close with the people who made it, in a common creative community in NY, and intertwined socially and whatnot, and it had been about three years since I really saw many of them. It is a real gift to have that time away sometimes-- I saw how amazing the people are like it was my first time.

I got to go to the ocean again, dip in the water, bike up the coast a ways, read more of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (why are those two souls-- Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer getting divorced?? I feel like I know them from their books and I love them both and I think they are so incredibly lucky to have found each other and I just don't understand)

here I am
seeking seeking seeking
and finding

Monday, September 24, 2007

fall forward

this phrase applies to many things. to what you do to the clocks that makes it extra hard to get up 'on time' the following morning
what you should do if you trip and maybe tumble, stairs, curbs, heels, even the rare banana peel... if you are physically falling, you want to fall forward, but ... !! maybe now I am re-thinking this, are you not supposed to fall forward and instead fall on your bum? ... bigger than your tiny fragile wrists I suppose...

So, it is also an expression that is sort of a metaphor... more than the sum of its parts at least. When times are tough, or unsteady, or rocky... seize the opportunity. To move forward ACTIVELY and energetically.
Forward implies motion, momentum, positive, progress, growth, change... all good things, yes? And the 'fall' part is not so bad either-- is it? It is a moment of instability amidst what can sometimes be, well... droll, even BORING... redundancies and routine stagnations. Right?

Yesterday I spent a few hours with a 3 year-old boy who is one of the great loves of my life. He can do no wrong. I spent a good amount of time with him when he was 1 to 2 years old, so there's a real bond, and when he sees me he gives me the best hug and eyes-closed kiss. Last night he followed that up with "Wanna draw with me?" and... "we're going on a date." When I was drawing spiral shapes and suggested they looked like snails he promptly corrected me saying, "no, they aren't. They are escargots." He even speaks French. We blew bubbles outside for awhile, ate dinner, played in the bath, watched some telly, ate toast with jam, read together, danced together, sang some songs together (he corrected my pronunciation of Frere-Jacques too!!) and curled up in bed. GREAT date!! The times when he was acting up even, or acting his age I guess, splashing me or throwing the bath toys outside the tub, he was so cute, and so pure in his actions, I couldn't stop myself from cracking up. Oh, if I could only bring that lightness and quickness to laugh to all my challenging relationships/situations!!
Anyway, it got me thinking. It had been about 6 months since I really saw Finn, maybe even 9 months... and he CHANGED so much. He can make sense when he speaks. He can hold something tightly and not let go. He can communicate in two languages. He can articulate what and when he wants to eat, to pee, to sleep, to hug...

If all of us could grow and change that much in such a short period, we truly would be evolved to a ridiculous degree. . ...Or maybe it is also that I didn't see him for that time, so I could really experience him and the changes distinctly... I know that the physical growing (and later, shrinking) becomes more subtleas you get older, but why do we think we should stop learning and growing inside? SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It is exciting to me to think about.

At the same time, I was talking to a friend and he raised a very interesting point about how so many of the examples of relationships we see in pop culture, in movies, in books, on tv, etc. involve people who are perfect for each other and
when they finally get together it is as if they are perfect for each other forever. Because the story is finite, and we do not often see how the characters change, and grow, and how sometimes that growth might mean the two people are no longer perfect for each other. His example was Lloyd Dobbs in Say Anything, and when the movie ends and they are on the plane you get a great, happy feeling because you feel that they are 'perfect' together. But what is going to happen in Europe? How is Lloyd going to change? How is Diane? The movie ends and we never know but in real life, the 'movie' keeps going. So often we miss the many, often great ways the people we love are changing, because it doesn't fit into who they are to us, or our 'concept'/construct of them...

I know with family, and really special old friends, there is that unconditional love that keeps going no matter what. And I think in romantic love, I hope anyway, that at some point the two people know themselves and each other well enough, and make an active choice and commitment to foster and nurture the growth of themselves and each other together... but I know that takes some tools and some self-knowledge and strength that take time to come by...

I have a lot of friends who are going through break-ups right now, mostly with their significant others, but in some cases with their careers, figuring out what they really want, what kind of life they want to lead, if they like the process as much as the supposed 'product' ... and it is a time of transition. I just want to shout to everyone, or whisper gently in their ear-- THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY!! TAKE IT!! Sure, sometimes it is just plain hard, the re-negotioating your life without someone, creating new mythologies of your life... but like Voltaire said in Candide, "All is for the best in the world."

I also went to the beach yesterday and that is one place that changes my life every time I go. It was beautiful and clear and the water was just nippy enough that it was pretty empty and we had a picnic and nothing tastes better than salty sandwiches and chips. Good day. One at a time...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


yesterday I read a NYTimes article about lucid dreaming and tricks to making it happen. I guess Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth's brother) has made a movie dealing with the subject. So, I have tried some of the tricks the article suggested.

Waking up, staying awake for about thirty minutes, then going back to sleep, ... trying to engage in the course of the dream with any light switches I come across, flipping them on and off (light in dreams is usually not subtle) -- to send a message to the brain that the body IS dreaming, which then allows you to pursue the directionality of the dream more actively, and experience it more fully. I think the article was in this past Sunday's paper. I wish I had it in front of me so I could reference it more accurately but perhaps I am embracing the sort-of softened dream quality state and thus I am actually okay with not getting the precise particulars... ;-)
Also, the school I have been teaching at this week has a little room with a very comfy couch and I saw a woman teacher sleeping there during lunch and so now on my conference period I have taken to laying down there for twenty minutes and reading and/or sleeping. it is quite lovely and has been producing spectacular and vivid dreams.

Also, for the past couple of weeks I have woken up every morning around 5:30, completely confused about where I am, why I am alone, and what I was just dreaming about. Sometimes I get back to sleep after this, and sometimes, I do not. This morning's dream was especially rich though. I remember a boy standing on a street corner in a pre-dawn light (so much for the lack of light subtlety in dreams!), as if waiting for a bus, only I knew he was waiting for a certain person. He had a very long string at the end of which was a red balloon filled with heium. He looked sad and then, when I went to him, he was gone, and only the balloon was still there. But it was in the same place, as if someone was still holding on to it. Then I remember thinking that I was the boy. Very odd.

** Also, I went in the steam room again yesterday, a few hours later than I had gone the day previous, and The Laugher was in there again. It got me thinking-- does she live in there or something? Is it that prolonged exposure that is tickling her funny?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Yesterday I was in the steam room at the fancy gym I have a guest membership to
and as soon as the steam shut off, I heard a small whimpering sound. I looked behind me towards the source of the sound, trying to be discreet given the obvious nudity factor; plus the added unique pressure imposed by the confidentiality agreement I signed... (the place is filled with actors and celebrities and the paparazzi tries to sneak in frequently I was told)

I feared seeing a naked woman crying. That would have been quite unusual. I suppose I have heard people say working out strenously can release emotions, etc... but it was much worse.

She was laughing. Uncontrollably. Non-stop. For the entire ten minutes I lay in there. At first I laughed a little myself. Then I kept checking her again and again for some sign of what she may have been laughing at. No sign. It was like she was on laughing gas. Or it reminded me of stories of odd behaviors recorded in the 1960s and 1970s during government psychedelic drug trials. Then I couldnt relax because all of a sudden I felt like I was not relaxed enough, not having enough FUN in there!

Oh well. Small wonder. Maybe working out can release really incredible laughter too. I bet that lady loves working out!

Monday, September 17, 2007

2 kinds of love, 2 kinds of goodbyes

Sometimes you say goodbye in a very full and elaborate way:
* extended dinners full of laughter and toasts
* intense and frequent hugging leading up to the imminent parting
* inordinate amounts of picture- and video-documentation of all the final 'good times'
* late-nite walks scaling favorite adventure terrain old and new
* packing and re-packing and the giving of gifts the you may actually want the other person to have or that maybe don't fit in your suitcase or the life you picture for yourself sans that person
* shared silences staring at stick-on star constellations or out car windows
* delightful compliments sent and recieved (i.e. "The path of your face on the way to your smile is like drinking perfect, cold, apple juice.)

Sometimes you say goodbye even though you know that person is going to be a part of your life forever.

Q: Why?
A: Your life, and your love, will never be exactly like that again. Maybe it is the time itself that you are saying goodbye to. The version of yourself that you were with that person.

It is harder to say goodbye when you are not sure if the person you are saying goodbye to IS going to be a part of your life forever.

[too hard to really hug even?]

Sometimes you don't get to say goodbye at all. That must be the strangest stuck feeling in the world.

On a lighter note:
I went to see the best show on friday night. It is called "Worst Laid Plans: True Stories of Terrible Sex" and it was performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, in LA. It is a bunch of lovely ladies telling their own hilarious and sordid true stories with only the sparest of accoutrement. Their black t-shirts bear a number representing their 'number' ... and each taps a hanging triangle after announcing the title of their respective monologue. The titles ranged from: "The Farting Rapist" to "How I slept My Way to the Lower Middle," and a token boy sings a song at the end. So much fun. So good to laugh.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

six years later

People have said so many many many things about that day.
a few ideas that mean something to me and have resonated over the years are:
that was the end of our innocence, a shift that came so violently there was an emtional disconnect similar to what happens when people experience a psychological break-- the difference between the world, our world, my world anyway, at 8:44 am Sept. 11, 2001, and 8:45 am, ... ALL was altered tremendously. In a moment. Without time or warning or the tools to adjust or cope or even begin to understand. A flash, and it was gone. And yet, a city, a country even, experienced the shock and awe (the REAL shock and awe, as opposed to the flashy docu-war on Fox News later... I still can't believe that is what the Bush administration named their first steps in Iraq in Feb 2003) and TRAGEDY together. we held each other up, smiled through tears to comfort strangers, spent hours looking at the faces of strangers and came to KNOW and CARE for them... vigils, more candles than I have ever seen in my life, hugs, music, poems read aloud, the idea that going out to dinner was a step in renewing the spirit and social contract of the city... the putting one foot in front of the other day after day even if the masses pedalling through train stations, down sidewalks, and into and out of buildings was BARELY holding on...

we have come a long way. together?

Six years later...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

a moment of truth

top 10 things a person can do to mend a broken heart

10. ride the trains, like a hobo or a lady of leisure... towards foreign and exotic locales (i.e. the 'SURFliner')
9. Pretend you are far far far far away from home/source of heartache and do whatever necessary to promulgate this illusion/fantasy further (to reference a quote from my mother: "Feelings are really really hard. That's why people become drug addicts and alcoholics and have eating disorders...")
8. Make friends with strangers (especially groups of traveling musicians) in hotel lobbies, go to their rooms with them, play music and jump on the bed until 5 in the morning.
7. Take a dip in a pool or the ocean (Horse Shoe beach in La Jolla is dreamy and a hidden, and therefore, underpopulated GEM).
6. Go on a road trip with 1 to 4 friends of the same gender, laughing and singing all the way.
5. Go to Swallows Inn Bar in San Juan Capistrano, CA. It's an ACTUAL old saloon and there are real cowboys on the rodeo circuit in there and a great band and dance contests every Saturday night and the locals are just CRAZY there.
4. Drink a bottle of wine and then go skinny dipping with you aunt, or another same-sex family member.
3. Eat gelato while watching the seals slumber at sunset while connecting with yet another stranger. [Perhaps, a bench-sharing tourist from Lousiana with the deepest N'Orleans twang who lost EVERYTHING in Katrina but has a tremendous joie de vivre nevertheless. ...Now, that puts things in perspective.]
2. Exercise. Run. Swim. Walk. Work. Play. A Game. A sleepover. Diversions.
1. Be in the feeling when it passes over you like a tsunami wave that kicks up the ocean surface of every memory you ever shared. And churns it through your entire body. ... Be in it. Feel it. Let it wash over you and let it pass.

The good times were real. They were shared. And even if your life may be different than you had imagined it, imagined it maybe without even realizing that indeed you had VIVIDLY IMAGINED it... things will work out. You will be good. A door closes and suddenly you are moving and you are seeking and engaged with yourself more fully... and other doors open.

(the sound of many doors opening. windows too. ... BREEZE ... fresh ... light)

Monday, September 3, 2007

we comprehend by awe

The moon is gone
And the Pleiads set,
Midnight is nigh;
Time passes on
And passes; yet
Alone I lie.

(Sappho, 7th century BC)

it is a poem about stars. and it was the favorite poem of Ms. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin -- the woman who figured out what the universe is made of. it is made of hydrogen. we, and all things, all matter, are made of the same thing: hydrogen. or, you could call it... stardust.