Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Daily OM

Our emotions color our lives with varying palettes. Sometimes we feel a strong emotion in reaction to something that has happened, but emotions also visit us seemingly out of the blue, flooding us unexpectedly with joy or grief or melancholy. Like the weather, they come and go, influencing our mental state with their particular vibration. Sometimes a difficult emotion hangs around longer than we would like, and we begin to wonder when it will release its hold on us. This is often true of grief stemming from loss, for example, or lingering anger over a past event. 

Usually, if we allow ourselves to feel our emotions fully when they come up, they recede naturally, giving way to another and another. When an emotion haunts us, it is often because we are afraid of really feeling it. Emotions like despair and rage are powerful, and it is natural to want to hold them at bay. Certainly, we don't want to let them take us over so that we say or do things we later regret. When we are facing this kind of situation, it can be helpful to ask the spirit, "How long do I need to sit with these emotions, how long do I need to feel these emotions before they can pass?" If you ask sincerely and wait, an answer will come. Setting a time limit on your engagement with that difficult emotion may be just the technique you need to face it fully. 

When you have a sense of how much time you need to spend, set a timer. Sit down and make yourself available to the emotion that has been nagging you. All you have to do is feel it. Avoid getting attached to it or rejecting it. Simply let it ebb and flow within you. Emotions are by their nature cyclical, so you can trust that just as one reaches its apex it will pass. Each time you sit with its presence without either repressing or acting out, you will find that that difficult emotion was the catalyst for much needed emotional healing.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Today's writing


We introduced ourselves in that awkward way of people who perhaps should know each other’s name but don’t. My hand in his, shaking. There was a fire burning that day, scorching the nearby hilltops of Escondido to the north. It might as well have been in the parking lot of the shelter, that’s how much ash was getting dropped and wind was getting whipped and the air was chokable, practically chewable, but hardly breathable.

“You’re new, huh?”

“To this earth, no. To this place, yes.”

When he laughed, I decided I liked him.


Alameda Library


Thursday, November 8, 2018

A year ago today

The most confusing friendship I have ever had ended. I still miss the jerk. We had a ton of fun even though we also had tons of arguments. Shit.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Posted on Facebook

If you go to Grant Street in Berkeley, the 2200 block between Allston and Bancroft, look for the little blue house at 2214. It's on the west side next to Joan's big brownshingle.
Squint and you'll see the long path to the left of the house. Go down if you like. Go through the gate. Make sure it latches. It never latched right.
The door is open. Come on in.

Goodbye, McGee's Farm


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Broke into the old apartment



I lost the place I've loved most dearly in my life. The sunny, too-often-cluttered cottage where we spent nearly 13 years. My heart aches in a way I've never before known. I'll recover, but I'll never really get over it.

Friday, October 26, 2018

So much loss

I stopped by The Farm to pick up a few things last night. I cried on the way back to the new place. Where is home?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Once again, Daily OM

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. Only when we acknowledge what's happening to us can we truly benefit from life's teachings. 

It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don't, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer. 

We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art, performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we've gone through and what we've learned. No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Also

I was talking to Joseph about addressing what's inside yourself. I'm trying to do that, now and every day. It lightens the load I'm carrying, just as the fact that we took only maybe half (or perhaps a third) of what we own to the new place. Lightening the load. I like it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tackling the revise

In May, Miriam gave me edits on BEARDED LADY. They scared the hell out of me. I decided the book was a memoir, not a Young Adult novel, and basically ran screaming.

Last week I went back to her and asked to have another chance. She said yes.

Here we go.

An incredible read

"Sometimes, though, our struggle is not enough. ALS destroys my body, no matter how many medicines I take or exercises I do. Sometimes, oftentimes, white supremacy, violent misogyny, and rapacious capitalism rip apart our families and destroy lives, regardless of how well we organize. And sometimes, oftentimes, our stories are not powerful enough. Despite our best efforts, Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and will do lasting damage to America and its people.
"Yet it is in these moments of defeat that hopeful, collective struggle retains its greatest power. I can transcend my dying body by hitching my future to yours. We can transcend the darkness of this moment by joining the struggles of past and future freedom fighters. That is how, when we reach the end of our lives and look back on these heady moments, we will find peace in the knowledge that we did our best."

This.

My friend posted this on FB today

Doing my annual university mandated sexual harassment and assault training and it always pains me that we not only need training, but annual training, that if someone is unconscious and therefore can't say no to sex, then you can't have sex with them. Same if you have terrorized them to the point of paralysis. Seriously, we need to be regularly reminded of that. And yet, we as a society still can't seem to remember.

The electric fire at our new place


I've changed so much in the past few months. I feel like a new person, deeper and more cognizant. If 2018 has been a time of loss in certain regards, it has also been a period of recovery and renewal.
Image may contain: fire, night and food

Sunday, October 14, 2018

This, on the last day in our old home

Be Happy Every Single Day

BY MADISYN TAYLOR
Discover something daily that makes you happy and become witness to your life transforming.
Our lives are rich with potential sources of happiness, but sometimes we become victims of negative thinking because we believe that focusing on all that has gone wrong will provide us with the motivation we need to face the challenges of survival. When we choose to focus on what makes us happy, however, a shift occurs in the fabric of our existence. Finding something to be happy about every single day can help this shift take place. The vantage points from which we view the world are brought into balance, and we can see that being alive truly is a gift to be savored. There is always something we can be happy about--it is simply up to us to identify it.

On one day, we may find happiness in a momentous, life-changing event such as a marriage or the birth of a child. On another day, the happiness we experience may be a product of our appreciation of a particularly well-brewed cup of a tea or the way the sun shines on a leaf. If we discover that we literally cannot call to mind a single joyful element of existence, we should examine the cause of the blockage standing between us and experiencing happiness. Keeping a happiness journal is a wonderful way to catalog the happiness unfolding all around us so that joy has myriad opportunities to manifest itself in our lives. Writing about the emotions we experience while contemplating joy may give us insight into the factors compelling us to resist it.

Happiness may not always come easily into your life. You have likely been conditioned to believe that the proper response to unmet expectations is one of sadness, anger, guilt, or fear. To make joy a fixture in your existence, you must first accept that it is within your power to choose happiness over unhappiness every single day. Then, each time you discover some new source of happiness, the notion that the world is a happy place will find its way more deeply into your heart. On this day, find one thing to be happy about and let it fill your heart. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

More from the essay


I want to fast forward because that’s the easy thing to do, but I have to tell you about something that happened in between that evening and the time when the pot kicked in, because it eventually did: I lost my virginity. This time it was my physical innocence, not my psychedelic sense of naivete. That happened later. Not that much later, but later.

It was with a guy named Eric. He was – maybe he still is, I don’t know – a Domino’s pizza deliveryman. I thought he was super old. He was maybe 23.

He was – maybe he still is, I don’t know – a friend of my roommate. Let me stop for a minute and describe Sandy, with whom I shared a home for the better part of my time at UCSB. If the stork and a pear had a baby, that would be my roommate. Sandy was into anime and all things that weren’t her: delicate, flowery, little. Origami, that was Sandy’s sensibility. Concrete in her shoes, that way of thumping through life, that was her reality.


Playing around with the beginning of an essay


The first time I got high was in college. Specifically, the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1995, and even more specifically, in Kim and William’s living room. Kim and William basically spearheaded the Daily Nexus newspaper on which I served as an editor – she as editor in chief and he as editor emeritus and general alcoholic layabout – so it made sense that they had joined forces in the bedroom as well.

Then there was the issue of the Nexus parties. While attendance was not required, it was highly encouraged, kind of like the printed readers we bought at Kinko’s and Isla Vista Bookstore. Miss a party and you were missing the essence of the work that was done at the Nexus: drinking. And, as it turns out, smoking as well.

“Landa,” Nick said, “you’re a virgin.”

How did he know?

The stereo was pumping out Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams”; whether this was irony we might never know.

“We can fix that,” he said, and handed me what I quickly recognized as a joint. I was proud of my own sophistication here. I was also 20 years old and a real dumbass.




Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The latest

Moving never really sucked for me. It was always a step up. But this one is hard. There's the emotional side -- 12 1/2 years of living somewhere, longer than I've lived anywhere in my life. Then there's the side where it's just a fuckload of work -- dusting every book, sifting through to see what to keep and what to sell and what's just too cracked out to do anything but donate.

Baz is doing better, which is important. I'm not sure I am, or that I'm even in touch with myself enough to really care.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

More from THREESOME

Someone seems to have taken a hatchet to the Kittredge’s orange tree and this is just a shame, though not unexpected as this is city life and that’s what happens. Things grow and are hacked down, either to be consumed or tossed into the street to get run over by cars. The latter seems the case here as corpses of peels can be seen up and down the block. It’s not even worth asking who does this. In Berkeley, stupid acts are their own salvation. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Heartbreaking

Baz is having a hard time with the move. He said to me today: "I can't ever go home again." Oh, little buddy. I love you so much.

From THREESOME

Mom, it says, don’t fuck some other guy. Okay?

No, this is no joke. Billie knows something, or at least thinks she knows something, but if he knows anything, it’s his own daughter. If she thinks she knows something, it’s typically because she does.

His mind feels as though it’s looming on itself, tucking into its own corners. His thoughts are a bedsheet, at once flat and folded, easily smoothed and yet perennially rumpled. He has felt this way ever since he lost his job seven months ago. But never did he think he would lose his wife as well.

Leigh with someone else? It doesn’t compute. That’s because we’re wired not to believe that we could lose someone to another, even as we worry ourselves about the possibility. Deep inside we don’t believe that will ever happen because that other is ours, solely ours, the way anything beloved and familiar belongs totally to us. A house, for example. But when that house sells, and when we move out, those walls are no more ours than anything else in this world. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The art of tsundoku

"Unread books are comforting in a way that read books aren’t. With read books, you know what happens, but unread books suggest infinite possibilities. There’s the anticipation of what they might contain; the excited expectation of worlds and lives yet unexplored. No wonder we love browsing libraries and bookstores, spending time among stacks of books and carefully choosing our next read."

Check it out for yourself

Got our keys!

This is our new place, minus the master bedroom, which I also videoed, but it's not that exciting (it's big though!).

Sunday, September 30, 2018

My three boys


The NYT on blackouts

I read this with great interest. Hepola writes:

I interviewed a blackout expert for my book, and he told me something I’ve never forgotten: “When men are in a blackout, they do things to the world. When women are in a blackout, things are done to them.”

I was talking to Adam about this and he said: "It's the physical strength that guys have over girls." Yes, that. That, and more.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Aw


But what if

How can you be a survivor if you don't know that you survived anything? That you were blackout drunk and your friend turned to you the next morning and said do you remember last night? and you had nothing, nothing whatsoever, and even if you did you wouldn't say anything because after all, you were too ugly to be involved in any of that business, too ugly for anyone to want you in that or any other way?

I told Michael within a half an hour of sitting down with him for the first time. That's the way our conversations went, no bullshit or pretense, just sharing with him what I had shared with so precious few in the past. Nothing happened, I said. But I'll never know for sure.

His eyes said everything.

How can you believe yourself when you have no idea what to believe?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Gift from the bookshelf

Given to me by a friend who said you'd never buy this for yourself. He was right, but the book is amazing. An excerpt: A person who cannot imagine the future is a person who cannot contemplate the results of his actions. Some are thus paralyzed into inaction. 


Packing

My college roommate said home is the five feet around you. I nodded. Bullshit, I thought.

No one would ever take my home again. Not after what happened that summer. What I didn't realize is that she was pretty much right.

The meaning of home

When I was 19, in the summer between freshman and sophomore year, my mother kicked me out of the house in favor of a man named Bill. I was never truly allowed home again.

That's been triggered hardcore during this whole moving process. When our landlord married his wife, all I could think was Bill's back. I knew our time was limited. When I met with a friend and former neighbor yesterday, she told me the wife complained about all the neighbors. I knew that had to include us.

She had all kinds of negative things that she would pass on to our landlord, who used to be a father figure to us. I played my car stereo too loudly when I would leave to go to a cafe early in the morning. We threw our diapers in the trash the wrong way. Hell, they got married in the yard next door and we weren't invited.

I always knew she wanted us gone. I don't trust that they're selling the place. I just think they want to kick us out and jack up the rent.

Fuck the Bills of the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Turnabout is fair play

If our extremely recent experience in the rental market has shown me anything, it's that shit is going down for landlords right now. Rents are dropping hardcore. Things are staying on the market longer. Things are balancing out, and it's about damn time.

I cry no tears for Bay Area landlords. Y'all have taken advantage far too long, guys. And you're still trying. I mean, check out this listing. Twenty-four hundred big ones a month for an apartment where an estimated six hours a day you hear little brats running around upstairs like *as the ad says* elephants, and all day on weekends. Moreover, you can't work away from home if you have a dog, because they want proof that said dog is not left home alone all day, so guess what? You get to deal with the elephants on your head. Again, for $2400 a month.

No wonder we came so close to leaving the Bay Area. But I think -- hope -- things are improving.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Our new place

Here it is: 1529 Harmon, Berkeley, CA 94703.  The place is gorgeous. The neighborhood isn't exactly what I would like. It isn't awful; it's just not as nice as our current 'hood. But it's a two-bedroom with a yard and some really cute architecture, as you can see from the pictures, and just writing about it is making me happier than I've been all day about the whole matter.

Now we have to pack ...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The current Bazzy hit list

Uptown Funk ("Julio, get the stretch!")
Yellow Sudnarine (sic)
Don't Let Me Down (also known as "Don't Let Me Go")
Happy
The Doors
Anything else by The Beatles
Mahna Mahna. Always.

Monday, September 17, 2018

American Beauty

I saw this twice in the theaters, discussed it to death over beer and cider and hand-rolled cigarettes. I'm watching it in bits and parts right now and this is really calling to me in a new way.

Realization before dawn

I am not living up to my potential.

I don't think I ever have and usually that's been okay because at heart I'm kind of -- lazy? Into life-work balance? Whatever it is, I need to kick things into a higher gear.

That could mean leaving the Bay Area.

That could definitely mean incorporating teaching.

That could certainly mean getting BEARDED LADY into print.

I feel on fire.

On the Cusp at Lit Crawl 2018

We're popping our Lit Crawl cherry! Also, please consider donating to the cause. See you on Oct. 20! #litcrawlsf

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mill House Residency

I'm honored to have been selected for the Mill House Residency in Bend, Oregon. It was curated by Pam Houston, which is especially flattering as I love her work. Nice to have some good news!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

5779

The last year according to the Jewish calendar was rough and amazing all at once. I lost two major friendships and ended my relationship with my literary agent. I also marveled at the beauties in my life, not the least of which is the little boy to whom I gave birth.

This year I want to be a better person -- for myself as well as for others. One major way of doing this is to stop promising more than I can deliver. I've become a bit of an unreliable narrator. I don't love that.

Shanah Tovah, everyone. A sweet New Year.

Random

First: I love this story about Obama getting the boot from Disneyland because he was smoking on the gondolas. Love you, Barack.

Also, a pregnant woman with a kid younger than Baz walked into the cafe. Two of them! How do people do it?


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Today's writing


I don’t know whose idea it was to fuck. Fucking as killing time, yes, that’s an idea. How can you relax enough to have sex when your child is missing? But that’s what leads to amazing sex sometimes – the tension that propels people into one another’s arms, the search, the hunt. The same way you turn over your child’s pillow for clues. The way you call their name in the backyard, hoping. The hard, hot tears you shed right before reaching for the only other person who really understands.

We start right there in the kitchen, his hands on me as we sit in our separate stiff seats. Kissing him is different than the typical. His tongue is more snakelike, a serpent looking to strike. His hands hit their targets, investigate. It’s almost like I’m cheating. I keep running my fingers over his wedding ring, dreaming reflexively of a faceless and forbidden other. But it’s not. It’s him, the one I gave myself to years ago, the one I promised, the vows I’ve wished so often to break.

Boys


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Written just now


I should have been nervous the day Mike replaced the windows. That just wasn’t something he did. We’d lived with the same shoddy, cracked glass for years. But replace the windows he did, and not only that, but with swanky double-paned ones that made us grin. This winter our typically outrageous heating bill might prove manageable.

Never did we think we might not see another winter at McGee’s Farm.

I should pause and explain the genesis of our home’s name: It was once a co-operative preschool named – one guess – McGee’s Farm. The door still says that, and I’m looking at it as I type those words. After we’re gone, after they’ve replaced the faulty sink and the bedroom glass slider door that always falls off its hinges and the sink that’s looking like something’s chewed it up, after they’ve staged up the place and it feels like they’ve deep-cleaned the oxygen between viewings, they’re going to paint that door over.

Daily OM is psychic

The word "home" has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day. However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are. 

The process of evolution can require you to undergo transformations that uproot you. Moving from place to place can seem to literally divide you from the foundations you have come to depend on. Since your home is so intimately tied to the memories that define you, you may feel that you are losing a vital part of yourself when you leave behind your previous house, city, state, or country. And as it may take some time before you fashion new memories, you may feel homeless even after settling into your new abode. To carry your home with you, you need only become your own foundation. Doing so is merely a matter of staying grounded and centered, and recognizing that the pleasures you enjoyed in one place will still touch your heart in another if you allow them. 

Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

After nearly 12 years

Our landlord is selling the property and we need to be out by Dec. 1. No relocation, no debate. All the lovely rent-control laws that apply to Berkeley do not apply to us as we live on a Golden Duplex property and that's an exception.

We alternate between feeling powerful and desolate. We've talked about leaving the Bay Area, but not because someone else threw us out on the horrid rental market. Yesterday I met some wonderful landlords who were very dog-friendly, and that gave me hope. I need to hang on to that.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Counting Crows, "When I Dream of Michaelangelo"

You know I don't like you
But you want to be my friend
There are bodies on the ceiling
And they are fluttering their wings
It's OK, I'm angry
But you'll never understand
You dream of Michelangelo
They hang above your hands
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again
And I can't see why
You want to talk to me
When your vision of America
Is crystal and clean
I wanna white bread life
Just something ignorant in the rain
But from the walls of Michelangelo
I'm dangling again.
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again
Saturn on a line
The sun afire of strings and wires
Spin above my head and make it right
Anytime you'd like, you can catch a sight
Of angel eyes on emptiness and infinite
And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
I see God upon the ceiling
I see angels overhead
And he seems so close
As he reaches out his hand
We are never quite as close
As we are led to understand
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes walking walking walking
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again and again
On my mind
Oh Lord no
Yes she's walking on my skin again and again

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

After-school date at French Hotel


From THREESOME


And here’s Evan, stuffing his face like he has a right to the food, to the control, to me. I still love this man, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes the resentments that simmer beneath the surface pop up and create one hell of a rolling boil.

“I don’t see why not,” I say.

“What am I going to do?”

“Whack off,” I say. “Otherwise, your ass can just wait for me to return.”


Till There Was You

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Two things

One: I'm treading into crazy territory on THREESOME while I wait for things to come together with BEARDED LADY. Crazy.

Two: We're talking about moving to Denmark.

"Live the hell out of this day"

We've all heard it before, but how many of us listen? My friend Rebecca posted this today and I thought it worth a repost.

Monday, August 27, 2018

More


Jeremy and I never went exclusive. Not technically, at any rate. I don’t think he ever stopped seeing other people. Me, I was never interested in multiples. Not multiple pets, multiple clients, or multiple boyfriends. One of everything has always been enough for me.

There were times I would try to pull together enough courage to ask: are you? With who? That came to a head the night he wanted to go without a rubber. I’m sorry, but homey don’t play that.

I asked the question.

He slid on the rubber.

I got my answer.

You’d think I would have either slapped him or cried my ass off, but instead I just came like a steam engine, harder than ever before with him or anyone else. Afterward we lay together, not talking, just breathing.

“You don’t mind?”

“That you’re seeing other people?”

“Yeah.”

A long time lapsed – 30 seconds, maybe more, and that’s a lot in conversation – before I could bring myself to answer. When I did I wasn’t looking at him, only at the depth of the dark.

“Yes,” I said. “I do.”

Another Noir snippet


Spange – now that’s language of the street. Spare-changing, for the uninitiated. If you haven’t heard of it, you haven’t lived in Berkeley, or perhaps in most of the urban Bay Area. It’s just a fact of life here, more so than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

“I did.”

“I figured you’d just pass me right up.”

“I was going to.”

“So what happened?”

How can I tell him that what I saw in his eyes scared the hell out of me? Chilled me down to whatever core I still have?

“I guess,” I say, “I just decided to be kind to the unfortunate.”

Somehow we both laugh.

We’re sitting in the back garden. It’s what Jupiter is known for, the reason that people come here, though the Cassiopeia pizza, with its thin-sliced potatoes and bacon bits, isn’t far behind.
Berkeley does its backyard gardens right. This one – fire pit, multiple levels, stage in back – is a bit legendary. God knows how many hookups, doctoral dissertations, and hangovers first took shape here.

“No,” I say. “That’s not it.”

Then I feel my phone vibrate in my purse. Jeremy. It’s got to be. I don’t get a lot of texts. His was the one I’ve been waiting for. I want to look at it. I do … but I don’t. Something whispers in my face, showering me with its hot breath, telling me that it’s nothing I need to read. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thoughts on the writing process and art

Being inebriated really helps with this, by the by.

Right now I'm reading The Nix, which is gloriously flawed. I just dragged through a bit of dialogue that had me turning pages to get through it.

But I'm loving the book. I love flaws. My own writing is beyond flawed, but I also believe it adds something -- an accessibility, a depth of character, perhaps. I have no interest in chasing perfection, which is a good thing because I will never catch it.

We Can Work it Out

Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Think of what you're saying.
You can get it wrong and still you think that it's alright.
Think of what I'm saying,
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.

- The Beatles

Rocking the table while he's operating

Up and writing in the middle of the night with Eminem as the soundtrack. A little more of the Noir piece:


“Hey,” he says again, and this time there is the slightest quaver of expectation in his voice. “How’s it going, beautiful? Got a minute?”

Sometimes I feel like all I have is time. Telling him this may be a bad idea.

“Sure,” I say.

Freeze this picture: two people standing on the street in the middle of downtown Berkeley, California. If you’ve been here, I hardly need to describe it to you. For the uninitiated, you need a little bit of context. Usually downtowns are the spines of a society. In the case of Berkeley, however, it’s more like the funny bone.

Ratty. Tatty. Bohemian, if you’re trying to sell something. I like to be a little direct: shithole. If I don’t have to come here, I don’t. Fact is, though, I have to a whole lot. That’s what happens when you live in central Berkeley and work in San Francisco. Eventually you wind up climbing on BART with the rest of the people trying to ignore what goes on around here.

“I got a story to tell you,” he says. They all have stories. It’s the currency of the street.

I’m not down to listen. I didn’t sleep last night. First off, Jeremy and his great disappearing act. Scares the hell out of me, if you want the God’s honest. Pushing 45 and still no real romantic commitments, just a series of stupid hookups that sometimes verge on more serious but never get all the way there. Then there’s Romeo. Cat makes it to nearly 22 years old and you know you’re going to find yourself stuffing pills down his gullet every day whether he likes it or not, but to consider the alternative is nothing I can make myself do.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Beginning of Berkeley Noir piece


Downtown Berkeley does not lend itself well to noir. It doesn’t understand subtlety. It doesn’t know nuance. It wears itself on its incense-singed sleeve, letting it all hang out the way that this city does both so well and so terribly. I should know. I’ve been here more than two decades, and either this place has gotten more extreme or I’ve become less so, and in either case I’ve been wondering if a split-up is imminent.

“Hey,” some dude says, and I cringe out of reflex. I’ve already been having a tough day. Jeremy hasn’t been returning my texts and I know damn well he’s been reading them. I mean, it says it right there on the phone. READ 1:46 p.m. READ 2 p.m. Technology is the worst tattletale out there. You can’t hide anything anymore because we’ve made it impossible.

The guy is relatively clean-cut for someone sitting on the sidewalk, and I have to wonder if he is even a part of the typical path of human debris that lines Shattuck Avenue on a more-than-regular basis. Maybe he’s just a student trying to experience Real Life by immersing himself in urine-scented concrete. Maybe he’s a tourist checking his iPhone for a likely Airbnb. Maybe he’s just an observer, and God knows there’s plenty of those here. Maybe, but as it turns out, he’s exactly what I thought he might be.

Berkeley, will you please surprise me from time to time?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Holy shit, The Paris Review

I am reading this astonishingly beautiful and prescient essay with my mouth hanging open. You will too.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Today's writing


I pop a Klonopin.

“They don’t even work for you,” he says. We’re both still naked, but it feels like such a long time ago since we were having sex. The stitch is fading slowly, leaving remnants of pain like a vapor trail along my torso.

“You heard of a placebo?”

Sixteen years together and I sometimes still can’t tell whether we’re bantering or bickering, or if there’s even a difference. Marriage is a dance of pushing the envelope back and forth between one another. Sometimes I just think we should tear the damn thing to pieces and get it over with.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

This nails it

This was the relationship.

I haven't even finished reading it and I don't know if I can at the moment. But so much resonates. Particularly this passage:

Every plan on having a conversation with a narcissist is useless, because the narcissist, while very charismatic, is a very manipulative person too, and will try to blame the empath for his and their pain as well. It will make the empath feel responsible for all the problems in the relationship.

I didn't dodge a bullet. I ducked the fuck down and then ran as fast as I could.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Davis

Smoky as it is right now from the fires, this place clears my head. I needed the hourlong drive up I-80. I needed to look out at the yellow fields, the place where I used to work, the exits you usually only hear about on the traffic report.

I needed to be here.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

More from Frank Ostaseski

"We took an intimate dive into the challenging waters of forgiveness tonight.
Forgiveness goes to the heart of the matter. Our capacity to extend and receive forgiveness is integral to all healing.
The transformative power of forgiveness is that it heals what divides us. It releases the ties that bind the heart. It is the melting of the armor of fear and resentment around the heart that keeps us separate us from others, from ourselves, from life itself. It is a relative practice that brings us to an ultimate truth. It heals us by allowing us to set down old pain, and it helps open us to love.
While a whole lifetime of pain can be released in a moment for most of us forgiveness is a process. It cannot be rushed or manipulated. When there have been deep wounds it may take some time, but time alone is not a healer, this is a misconception. The healing comes from honestly and actively engaging our suffering.
Forgiveness is not a Hallmark Card. Forgiveness is a fierce practice. It takes real strength, a willingness to be with what is difficult. It asks us to face our demons. It requires absolute honesty. We must be willing to see things as they are, bearing witness to painful acts that happened to us or the harm we may have done to others or ourselves. Sometimes we need to rage. Sometimes we need to grapple with our guilt. Sometimes we need to fall into a deep sorrow. Forgiveness isn’t about squelching any of these emotions. It is about facing them with kindness, paying close attention to what is getting in the way of our letting go.
We explore with awareness and gentleness that which has been closed, by touching with kindness and mercy that until now has only been met with fear. In this way, all forgiveness is about self-forgiveness."

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Walnut Creek


Daily OM does it again

While awareness of the pain of others in the world can be a valuable way to keep our own struggles in perspective, it is not a legitimate reason to disregard our own pain. Disparaging your feelings as being less important than other people's emotions leads to denial and repression. Over time, an unwillingness to experience your own feelings leads to numbness. It is as if our internal systems become clogged with our unexpressed emotions. This in no way helps other people who are suffering in the world. In fact, it may do just the opposite because when we devalue our own sorrow, we become impervious to the sorrow in others. 

Fully experiencing our own hurt is the gateway to compassion toward other human beings. Feelings of loss, abandonment, loneliness, and fear are universal, and, in that sense, all feelings are created equal. Regardless of what leads us to feel the way we do, our comprehension of what it means to be human is deepened by our own experiences. Our personal lives provide us with the material we need to become fully conscious. If we reject our emotions because we think our experiences are not dramatic or important enough, we are missing out on our own humanity. We honor and value the human condition when we fully inhabit our bodies so we can experience and feel life fully. Accepting our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel them connects us to all human beings. Then, when we hear the stories of other people's suffering, our hearts can resonate with understanding and compassion--for all of us. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I believe it, too

I just posted this on Facebook: Someone else's drama shouldn't eclipse your sunshine. 

I've spent too long playing therapist to other people and I've finally started to get a handle on it. It feels good. Going into details would compromise someone else's privacy and I'm not interested in doing that, but I'm just talking about myself here. Too long I've spent with the whole how may I be of service? mentality just to keep people by my side.

Fuck 'em.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Auburn

Baz and I are up here for the night. It's 82 degrees right now -- at nearl midnight -- and this trip has been one of the hardest things I've ever done with him. He's a real toddler now. It's hellish and sweet at the same time.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Frank Ostaseski

Heart Practice

The thread of heart runs through everything. For me, a path with no heart is not a path for human beings. That seems to be an important part of spiritual practice to recognize and appreciate the heart of Being. It is also what helps us deal with conflict and difficult emotions.

Have you ever noticed what happens when your partner gives you that disapproving look?  Or maybe she/he uses that tone of voice, (Isn't it interesting how in our mind she/he is the only one in the world that uses that certain tone of voice?)

The trigger happens and out of nowhere, there’s this whole felt sense of dread or anger, refusal or deep sadness.

Usually, we are not even aware of what is happening. Te nervous system is just firing away in response to a collection of object relations. Before I know it I'm reacting and defending in the way I did as a teenager! I realize—at a cellular level—that my entire personality was designed to never go toward this particular feeling of being helpless, unloveable, inadequate or vulnerable.

Before I know it, we get sidetracked with our words, with thoughts about our emotions with all our strategies, which are always designed to move away from the felt experience. And the inevitable result is that the emotions escalate.

I’m sure this only happens to me….probably not any of you!

Meditation can help interrupt this pattern. We can develop the capacity to allow us to feel strong emotions, live them, taste them, gain insight into them.

Suppose we didn’t battle with our experience. Allowed it to change, stay the same or go away. That is really is not your business. Our work is to hold it with loving awareness.

One way that works for me is to allow the emotion in all its glory and then to ask. "Is there any part of me that can be with this experience?"

Just that question inclines me toward discovering the deeper resources of my nature. The thread of heart.

Frequently it helps to unhook me from the habitual pattern which includes the way I attach stories to my emotions which escalates them and causes me to swept away, losing all perspective.

When I ask, "Is there any part of me that can be with this experience?"  I find much-needed perspective an often something more essential like compassion emerges. Then I allow the two to meet allowing the destructive out of control emotion and its physical manifestations like my clenched jaw, my tight chest to mingle with the compassion or other wholesome qualities that have been evoked by the question.

I’ve found relief from my suffering not by turning away but by turning toward what is most difficult with heart. This helps me to regulate…and gradually I see and feel something that is more substantive and more true that my emotional reactivity.

So, the balance doesn’t come through control or denial. There is no value in denial. There is no freedom in those strategies.
Freedom comes from seeing more of the truth and feeling the thread of heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Albert Einstein on problem-solving


No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.

Monday, July 16, 2018

My junior conductor


This, after I deactivated Facebook

Granted, editing your real life isn't always as easy as erasing a line of text. If you've carried emotional baggage or held on to an unhealthy relationship for a long time, these may be difficult to edit out. But when you do cut out what isn't working from your life, you'll feel lighter and more alive. Editing out activities that you find stressful, disassociating yourself from people that drain your energy, and letting go of your emotional baggage are all beneficial cuts you can make. In the empty spaces that are left behind, you can add in anything you like. Just as you have the power to edit out negative situations or beliefs that you no longer wish to have as part of your life, you can now include the kinds of positive experiences, people, and beliefs that you would like to fill your life with. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Take it from Aesop

105. THE WOLF AND THE HOUSE DOG
There was once a Wolf who got very little to eat because the Dogs of the village were so wide awake and watchful. He was really nothing but skin and bones, and it made him very downhearted to think of it.
One night this Wolf happened to fall in with a fine fat House Dog who had wandered a little too far from home. The Wolf would gladly have eaten him then and there, but the House Dog looked strong enough to leave his marks should he try it. So the Wolf spoke very humbly to the Dog, complimenting him on his fine appearance.

"You can be as well-fed as I am if you want to," replied the Dog. "Leave the woods; there you live miserably. Why, you have to fight hard for every bite you get. Follow my example and you will get along beautifully."

"What must I do?" asked the Wolf.

"Hardly anything," answered the House Dog. "Chase people who carry canes, bark at beggars, and fawn on the people of the house. In return you will get tidbits of every kind, chicken bones, choice bits of meat, sugar, cake, and much more beside, not to speak of kind words and caresses."

The Wolf had such a beautiful vision of his coming happiness that he almost wept. But just then he noticed that the hair on the Dog's neck was worn and the skin was chafed.

"What is that on your neck?"

"Nothing at all," replied the Dog.

"What! nothing!"

"Oh, just a trifle!"

"But please tell me."

"Perhaps you see the mark of the collar to which my chain is fastened."

"What! A chain!" cried the Wolf. "Don't you go wherever you please?"

"Not always! But what's the difference?" replied the Dog.

"All the difference in the world! I don't care a rap for your feasts and I wouldn't take all the tender young lambs in the world at that price." And away ran the Wolf to the woods.

There is nothing worth so much as liberty.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

As seen on Facebook

Every time I write to a former friend, I'm sorry I did it.
Every time I post something that I consider something significant on Facebook, I'm disappointed in the lack of response.
Every time I eat an entire bag of peanut-butter cups from Trader Joe's, I have regrets.
Somehow these things all seem connected.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Gilman and San Pablo

I used to hit this intersection every day on my way to work. Half the time my car's engine would flood and it would die. One day my naive ass ran over to the guy lying on the bench. "Sorry, honey," he said when I asked for help. "I've been pushing bottles all night."

Oh, I thought. Poor man. He works in a bottle factory. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Today's Daily OM

And life is more of an improvisation than it is like a play whose lines have already been written, whose end is already known. Like an improviser, we have choices to make and the more we embrace the illusionary quality of the performance, the lighter we can be on the planet, on others, and on ourselves. We can truly play with the shadows cast by the light of the projector, fully engaging without getting bogged down.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beginning of an essay

Life, Abridged


You would be pressing up against 13 now. Could be we wouldn’t get along at all. You’re not guaranteed a friend when you have a child. You’re not even guaranteed that child will be born healthy or be born at all.

Daily OM nails me

Drama, however disastrous, can be exciting and stimulating. But the thrill of pandemonium eventually begins to frustrate the soul and drain the energy of all who embrace it. To halt this process, we must understand the root of our drama addiction, be aware of our reactions, and be willing to accept that a serene, joyful life need not be a boring one. 

Many people, so used to living in the dramatic world they create, feel uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of a lifetime of peace and contentment. The drama in their lives serves multiple purposes. Upset causes excitement, prompting the body to manufacture adrenaline, which produces a pleasurable surge of energy. 


...

When you confront your emotional response to drama and the purpose it serves in your life, you can reject it. Each time you consciously choose not to take part in dramatic situations or associate with dramatic people, you create space in your inner being that is filled with a calm and tranquil stillness and becomes an asset in your quest to lead a more centered life.