Thursday, December 6, 2012

said the needle

"Sorry I interrupted your quest for hay."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

little lives 3

About a week ago some men came and chopped off all the beautiful limbs of the maple tree in my front yard just before its five-fingered leaves would have turned red, then gold and carpeted our walkway. I complained. When another set of men showed up the very next day and spread manure around I was equally unhappy. The odor was nothing short of an olfactory assault and lasted for days. This was insult to injury. The cold-wets moved in shortly after, infecting the house with a chill, with general sogginess and misery.

Returning home last night I was stopped in my tracks by the sudden appearance of grass in the once-bare dirt patch beneath our stubby tree. Seeds had sprouted there as if by magic, coming up in tender shoots, every spear it's own small miracle. Some impulses you just have to give yourself to, accept the invitation as if it were a blessing. I got down on my haunches and, like a child, ran my palm across the top of this glistening, virgin carpet. It became clear then how short-sighted I've been, I am, but the moment was too precious to lose to regret. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

tenderness comes

An inchworm
on your windshield
rescued by your palm
crawled the length
of your finger
before set free
on the lawn.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

gig harbor

Walking back from the dock with my guitar
fingers numb from practice
in the cold, wet Washington fall
I almost stepped on you, slug.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My heart,
once so easily defeated
by loneliness,
could be the heart
of a lioness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Santa Monica Farmer's Market

A strawberry vendor offered me one of his wares. It left a quarter-sized hickey of red juice on my blouse. I didn't mind. This particular berry elicited a squeal of delight when I bit into it. Tongues alive! Surely that's worth a little stain-remover. 

Farther down a few potatoes. Ted said he thought they were better than Yukon Gold, but threw in a bunch of green onions anyway to sweeten the deal. Shiny purple eggplants added weight to my bag. Fresh thyme. A trio of onions still caked with dirt. A stop at the dried fruit stall. Shall I taste the cherries? Do I like sweet or tarte things? A handfull of currants. A sliver of mango. My day completes with a dozen fresh brown eggs and small jar of honey. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

risky business

I find that the April 14th weekend seminar on the G.I. Gurdieff and J.G. Bennett Fourth Way teachings presented by Ben, Cindy, George and Ana Bennett - who, along with planning it from a distance, so generously flew out here all the way from Massachusetts - has left me with much to write. Where to begin?

One thing it made me reflect on is risk. The potential latent in risk, as well as hazard. I never personally met Mr. Bennett but imagine if I were him the temptation to rest on my laurels, with so many students looking on, would be high. But he never stopped pushing forward. He never stopped learning regardless of what he already knew or what status he had attained. This alone garners the greatest respect from me. It speaks of his commitment to life and all that is alive, to his humility and his humanity. That, though he may have had something to say about it, he never shunned even the weakest of us and never seemed to forget himself or his origins.

Accepting risk into one's life is accepting the challenge of the outside world and circumstances against your beliefs - also accepting that, as a consequence, you might have to revise them. The moment you drift away from this willingness to be challenged and be changed, to be found out, to be found wrong, you die. It may happen in increments as the decisions you make to avoid risk multiply, but it's death just the same. And it is observable. It is as instantaneous as it is slow because when it happens our world contracts. We are sometimes, as a result, made more comfortable for it. But this is akin to the blessing of a person who dies quietly in their sleep. If I am to die, I want to go kicking and screaming. It's not the death of the physical body I am referring to. That is quite apart.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I've been working on the Prelude to the Third Suite for Solo Cello on guitar in my "play" time. With Bach there are so many damn sixteenth notes. It's easy to want to jump over or hurry through those that are difficult or whose phrasing isn't your favorite.

A few nights ago my approach changed. Looking at the music the notes began to remind me of people. A crowd of little heads on sticks. What if they were people, embodying the same complex relationships to each other, the same depth and range of experience, of characteristics? What would I want to bring to them? How would I want this to go?

It sounds cheesy to write but, at that moment, I decided what I wanted most was to love each one individually, to give it it's due, to listen to what each had to tell me, rather than imposing my will on it or rushing through to the parts I find interesting or which express more closely what I want to say. Keeping this in mind, I began. The difference was immediate. A transformation had begun beneath my fingers. Rather than simply pecking out on the instrument what my eyes read from the page, they responded more and more to what was heard. 

There is an ocean between playing notes and playing music I am not sure it is possible for us to cross. At least, not without help. We endeavor to play music, but perhaps it is music that plays us. I was amazed to find that each note really did have a life of its own, a rich life at that - independent of any meaning I could give it. How many more dimensions this piece took on when approached, sincerely, in this way. It was the best kind of magic. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

collateral damage

That's what I am every time I'm caught standing next to a person the moment they decide to self-destruct. 

rolling with the punches

"Fig. to absorb the force of a blow"

March is almost over. Given the last three months I'd say 2012 is shaping up to be a year fraught with personal difficulty. I'm certainly not shaking my fist at the sky, taunting God to bring it on, but perhaps I can accept this as a challenge all the same. Can I hold the center? Find my place within the flux of everything changing. Do I have any stability with me? Can I feel loss, can I suffer and yet hold fast to the knowledge that these are impersonal - these are natural, they are bodily, they pass. 

Prevention is a pretty word. It's a word you seldom hear in Western medicine. Over here you don't worry about a thing until it hurts. This is not how we treat our hearts though. I can't make time for my yearly physical, but I'll make damn sure no one has an opportunity to break my heart again. You lose something or someone and it becomes easy to wall up, to begin viewing your attachments with suspicion. Which one of you will leave me next? We demand an answer and when one doesn't come sometimes we make one come. 

In my experience, energy spent obsessing over prevention and protection is energy wasted or worse. Pain and loss and suffering happen and will always happen. They are part of the deal. If we try too hard to protect ourselves from these inevitabilities we run the risk of shutting not only the bad, but also the good out of our lives. And, though it may make us feel a little safer or a little more in control how effective is it, really?

the golden rule

It is impossible to violate another person without also violating yourself.


How could you know you'd remind me of my godless days? Those days when I'd stopped singing. His hands around my throat. His fist in my mouth. My happiness choked completely out. I was the farthest from myself I've ever been. This is not a metaphor. It happened. First I was a lover, then an object to him. Objects don't suffer, they don't hurt. You take what you want and discard them. No part of me left untouched, unmolested. No part of me too sacred. By the end his reach had gone so deeply in, I never thought I could feel safe from it again. And yet, here I am. Here I am. Here I am.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

what I know

I know the jasmine bushes on May St. are in bloom but, there's nothing quite like catching their scent from the back of a motorcycle after an evening of darts and drinking at the King's Head Saloon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

lost and found

I went to the Long Beach aquarium Friday afternoon. I wanted it to touch my bad mood and it did, but not before I made a comment. There is such effort and artistry put into keeping those ecosystems alive. So much work required to maintain it. Why bother when everything will die? "Everything will die." Vocalizing this felt darkly childish, but I still expected it to ring true. It didn't. I've been thinking about why not and have come to this conclusion (a notion I have been introduced to before but which hits home ever so often in new ways): life never dies, it only goes in and out of experiencing itself (as a sea urchin, anemone, jellyfish or me, for instance).

Looking in the tanks you see that they are teeming with life - from very low to sophisticated levels of intelligence - but life just the same. How could life die? Only things die. Our different faces give the illusion of separateness. Faces whose expressions, nonetheless, endlessly reflect the same thing. Whole and inseparable. Even though we are given names and tend to eat each other. What a brat I was to have said something like that, even for effect. I suppose I'm afraid of death, of loss.

J.G. Bennett writes that it is "a risk to go forward in spiritual life, because all progress in the spiritual life must come from dying in order to be born again. Every step is a death, and everything that one finds is a new birth." I can't argue. This bad mood I've been in really had me by the balls for a few extraordinarily long and messy days. I was it's bitch. But I still did my sitting and practiced my guitar. It was in doing these that I found the strength and the wherewithal to ask for help. And there was no mistaking when it arrived. 

I've said before that I am like a dead thing all the moments between noticing. This was no less like being raised from the dead. I was struck from out of nowhere with a sense of renewed compassion for my self. I suddenly, lovingly, occupied my own body again and breath flowed in. This experience of relief had no clear connection to anything in my head or amongst my surroundings. A weight had literally been lifted from my shoulders. A weight I had already tried, and failed, to lift myself.

It was a good lesson for me. We prepare the soil. We lay the ground with our work. We strive to survive and to find balance, to become the architects of our own internal and external environment, but it's not enough. There is something we simply cannot plant in our own hearts but must be placed there for us. If it weren't for life continuously and uncontrollably flowing in and out, with its own will and its own purpose, we would still be lump of some mythological clay waiting for God's breath to invigorate us. We would get lost, as we all must do, but never be found.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

I know we're not meant to live forever but after losing Nana, an important figure in my life and also my maternal Grandmother, all I want to do is hold even more tightly to my own Mom.

I also thought about my Dad tonight. Sometimes when I read bedtime stories to the twins I hear his voice in mine - the one on the tape he sent Melissa and I because he couldn't be there himself (it was a white cassette tape with rainbow stickers on it). I liked the one about the birds who couldn't get along. Those fables might have actually been my first indirect introduction to Sufism. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

I tend to lose dart games to men who sexually harass me. Though I am reputed to be a dart-playing-hard-ass who doesn't take any shit, I know it's because I'm afraid of them. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Some guys in Los Angles tell me I think too much. This is usually one of three types of men; 1) those who are surprised, then intimidated that I think at all; 2) those who do not want me to think because it interferes with their plans; and 3) those who wish I were more agreeable (like women are supposed to be) and less questioning because they are not so interested in being understood as they are absorbing some female's time and attention. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Most of what I don't see I don't see because I don't want to.