Sunday, December 30, 2007

After visiting with my Zen friend.....

One of my favorite things about visiting Great Vow, other than seeing Ryushin of course (see below), is to take a little time to visit the walking paths behind the monestery and say hello to the little Jizos who inhabit the forest.
Great Vow practices with Jizo Bodhisattva, a guardian of women, infants, children and travelers. He represents the energy of compassion for these people as well as those who are on spiritual and physical journeys (in Japan, Jizo figures are placed at crossroads).

Jizo carries a pilgrim's staff with six rings attached. These rings jingle to send warning to animals that may cross the path, so as to warn them and prevent mutual harm. Jizo also carries the "Dharma jewel of light which banishes all fear."
At the monestery, those in practice make little ceramic Jizos. I was able to purchase a very sweet one to take with me. Ryushin then gifted me with a beautiful metal crest small enough to fit wonderfully in my hand, but could also be attached to a staff. The crest had the six rings, which make a beautifully soft, jingly sound. It's such a thoughtful gift, and I will cherish it along the way.

I find these figures so endearing. It feels magical and whole here.
(p.s. if you click on the images, you can see an enlarged picture and really see how sweet they are)

It's always the simple things.....

I took a trip out to Clatskanie today to visit my dear friend Ryushin. He is a Zen Buddhist who took his priest's vows and is living at the Great Vow Monastery.
Ryushin and I arrived at Sisters at about the same time in 2003. He worked with us for about a year as a cook before devoting himself to his studies. I don't see him very often, so it's always a treat when I get to spend time with him.
After the Sunday meditation and talk program we got to sit for an hour or so and catch up. His presence is so calming...which I suppose is one of the benefits of having a practicing Buddhist as a close friend.
We talked a lot about transition and the expectations that arise both inwardly and from others. The earlier meditation and the talk had left me open and tender..I found myself giving in to tears and getting just to sit with that during the morning program. Fear of course. Loss. Sadness. Gratitude. The soup.
Upon greeting me this morning, Ryushin asked if I was excited about my journey.
I hesitated.
"Yes," I said. I told him I had been planning visits soon to friends and family, getting ready to say goodbye.
"Well, yes," he said, "you won't be the same person when you get back."
And that's it in a nutshell. What will that mean?
Many people ask me if I'm coming back to Portland. I honestly don't know. That's the intention...all my stuff will be here. But who knows what will be revealed out there?
When I went to Nepal in 1995 I had every intention of returning to the Bay Area but instead wound up moving to Humboldt with a whole new life path.
I hope to stay open to the innumerable possibilities and listen to what feels like the next right thing. And that can be scary - there is so much here that is good and comforting - it's become such a safe home for me. The safest yet. So I'm split with the discomfort of leaving such a protected hearth, and the excitement of discovering what else there is to explore.
I told Ryushin that recently, in voicing these fears to a friend, she said, "well, you can always just stay here." Which has honestly never felt like an option. I told Ryushin that I feel pulled, almost directed into this.
He smiled and said, "Yes, there is a lesson waiting for can decide not to take it now, but it will continue to follow you."
Friggin' monks.

Quote of the Day

"Hey! You can't be sitting in here reading a magazine and
eating left-handed."

-- Gwen Ivory

at New Seasons where I was enjoying a chicken wok and a Harper's.

Friday, December 28, 2007

pah rum pum pum pum

I believe the first music came from the drum.
Even before we were born, we thrummed along, growing to the beat of our mother's heart; our own little beater keeping time in syncopation to hers.
I've always loved drumming, I've never given myself completely over to it, but the desire has been there with me since I was a little kid.
When I was in the 4th or 5th grade I wanted to get into band, and I wanted to play the drums -- "no dice," said Dad (who can blame him really), and I ended up with the clarinet. Dawn Smith, who lived down the street and who was the older sister of my best friend Anne, had a drum set and I got to play that from time to time..but it was never really the same. I always loved that Brady Bunch episode where Bobby got the drum set and drove everyone crazy with it. My Dad probably saw that episode and wasn't going to have any of that nonsense in his house.
At some point I picked up a pair of drumsticks and would hang out in my room, air-playing along to the radio and learned how to move my right and left hands in time to the high-hat and the snare. But just my hands..I never got the whole kick pedal thing down (still don't!)
In high school, my friend Heidi Stromburg (who I just heard from actually) also played the drums, and I remember trying to play on hers, but by that time I had acquired too much shyness to play in front of people.
Just a few years ago, after about a year of working at Sisters, I decided enough was enough and I bought myself a drum set. A very cool electronic kit that had the look and sound of a regular set, but could be played with headphones and wouldn't drive my apartment neighbors crazy. I loved it. I hooked it up to my CD player and practiced playing along with Spearhead and Nirvana and the Indigo Girls..pure heaven!
And then.. I completely got over myself and this past summer signed up for the Rock and Roll Camp for Women and got to play for the first time, in a band, on a stage and in front of people! It was one of the best experiences of my life -- if you have ever had any desire to rock out, but don't think you could actually do it -- scare the shit out of yourself and prove that negative little self-doubter wrong, wrong, wrong...and go to camp. There were people there that had never picked up an instrument in their lives and after 3 days were onstage at a rock club, playing an original song. Incredible experience. My little band was The Funk-Ups....we were super groovy.
Anyway.....this blog is so not what I was going to talk about tonight. It's a really long lead-in to tell you the story of how I got to play taiko drums for the first time yesterday.
I was cruising around online and there was a woman who was looking for a motorcycle mechanic for her '74 Honda CB 550. I'm not a mechanic but I was like, "hey - I've got a '74 Honda 550!" So I wrote her and told her so and gave her the name of my mechanic. She wrote back and I noticed her email address had the word "taiko" in it. So I said, "hey, do you play taiko drums?" And she said, "yes..wanna play?"
So I went over to her mom's house (a very sweet woman named Bev who wore a pink Christmas sweater and asked us if we would like any dinner) where the drums are currently stored and she taught me some rhythms and we jammed out for about an hour. They are beautiful instruments. When you hit them, the whole room vibrates up and into your body -- you get into this sort of trance while keeping time - it was like yoga in that whole body experience way. Very cool.
I think one of the things I like about getting older..and certainly being in that we find we have the means and the ability to push our own boundaries, step into our fears and do things we never thought we could do. Sometimes they're simple things like buying a drum set..sometimes they're a little more risky, like leaving a safe job for something we really want to do. And sometimes we just get to do things that we've always wanted to do but told ourselves we were too stupid, slow, not-good-enough, blah-di-dee-blah-blah.
Fuck that...march on little chicklets!

Regina Brooks - Ass Kicker Extrordinaire

This picture cracks me up -- I look scared! And for good reason..
So, this is the woman I've told many of you about. This is Regina, the woman who has been beating my flabby self into shape since mid-October and who continues to do so twice a week.
I love her.
She has been an amazing motivator for me, an incredible trainer. Most times when I tell people for the first time that I've got a personal trainer they are a tad surprised -- I guess 'cause the whole personal trainer/gym thing doesn't quite gel with most folk's image of me; but I'll tell you what, this little trek I'm about to undertake is going to be quite physically demanding and when it comes right down to it, I'm a pretty practical person. Stubborn, but practical.
A lot of you have asked how I'm training for my walk and Regina has been the prime source for getting me into shape. We work out (well, I do all the sweating, she barks orders and stares me down when I say I can't do "just five more") for 30 minutes twice a week. We do mostly resistance training, using my own body instead of weights. Lots of lunges, horrible crunches, pull-ups, push-ups, friggin' crazy ab-work. She strapped me into a vest one day that was attached to a bungie cord, which she then held on to and had me run up and down this long-ass hallway, feeling like I was dragging a freight train behind me. She nearly killed me that day.
She laughed and laughed.
I do a lot of swearing during these sessions. I used to be a little tamer about my protesting. I'm not tame at all anymore. She showed me some moves she wanted me to do today and I just said, "You suck." And she said, "Yeah, I suck..let's go."
And I go, 'cause she knows what the fuck she's doing and I can tell because I have definitely gotten stronger over the last several weeks, dropped weight and inches and feel pretty darn good overall although I have been sore pretty much everyday for the past two and a half months. In between seeing Regina I work out in the gym, doing cardio and the excercises she's taught me. I also spend several days a week walking around the city for miles at a time. At this writing I can do 15 miles at a stretch.
I learned something about Regina recently which made me hold her in even higher esteem than I already did. See that cut body of hers? Wasn't always that way. About 14 years ago she was 75 pounds overweight. She showed me the picture and I was like, "no way!" It took her about eight months of solid work to get the weight off and she's been able to keep it off and just get stronger. She's something man, if any of you guys are looking to work with someone -- let me know, I'll hook you up. She's awesome and funny and I have yet to hurt myself during any of these sessions - she'll totally push me past what I think I can do without going overboard.
Laughing at me all the way...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It was a glorious morning up on the mountain for baby jesus' b-day. Monica, Debbie, Kaia and myself cruised up to Enid Lake for a little cross-country skiing. Well, Monica mostly skied, Debbie did pretty well, Kaia walked beside us with her sweet dog Basket and I kind of shuffled along, bringing up the rear.

I am not very coordinated, self-deprecating as I am, I'm actually a little loathe to admit. Even though I don't hold myself in the most pristine of esteem..there are a few things I think I do okay, and athleticism is one of them. Despite all the years of smoking and tipping the bottle (one vice shelved anyway) I think I can still do okay out there in the sporting world. I'm finding though, that balance-wise activities are just not my scene. Don't know if that's age or part of the price of pickling myself, but there you have it.

Anyway, loved being out in the snow -- it was stunningly beautiful up there and we all had a lovely time.

Later that day I went to Gwen's where we watched a little XWP, she made (once again) a fabulous meal (she's an amazing cook) and then took in one of the darkest movies of the year, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." It made Goodfellas look like a romp I'll tell ya.

All in all a lovely holiday -- a few more days and we can all settle the hell down, huh? Hope you're day was peaceful and full of love.

Monday, December 24, 2007

one of these things is not like the other.....

Circa 1978.

There's really nothing else to say about this.

I'll let you go ahead and draw your own conclusions.

Write your own punchline.


Consider it a little something for your xmas stocking.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

quick trip -- back home

hello all -- I just got back from a two day trip to Seattle to visit my Aunt Rebecca. I purchased a new digital camera while I was up there so I could start putting some pictures on here for y'all. Rebecca and I had the good intention of getting a photo of us -- but it didn't happen. I don't know who these people are, but they sure look like they are having a good time in Seattle!

It was, expectedly (is that a word?) the exact same cold, wet weather in Seattle as it has been here in Portland, so we didn't do a whole lot of outdoor activities though I think my Aunt would have enjoyed doing more xmasy things like looking at "displays," -- she had even talked me into going to look at a "scene," but really...the weather is just prohibitive for this sort of activity, which for me is strained at best.

We did take in a couple of movies: I Am Legend (which was scarier than I was prepared for) and the Golden Compass, which I liked..I like fantasy stuff. We had good movie audiences in both absolute rarity for the two of us. Both Rebecca and I are plagued by the same affliction. We have noise issues, big time. I get really annoyed at the slightest little thing, especially in movie theatres. Crinkling wrappers, GUM CHEWING, sighing...what have you -- I realize people are just making people noises and cannot be faulted in the slightest...but sometimes they can. So, movie going can be a lesson in patience for me.

Once; Rebecca and I went to a packed theatre to see The Producers..I think this was just last year, maybe it was two years ago. Anyway, a man sat directly in back of us with, and I'm not kidding, an oxygen machine. I mean, I know, I know..the oxygen-challenged (and I'll probably be one someday) should get to enjoy an afternoon at the movies as much as the next person..but...!! Rebecca asked him if it could be quieted down in anyway (she really did), "Well, can't you put a coat on it or something?" Pssstthp....Pssstthp...Pssstthp.

All. Movie. Long.

My favorite 'Rebecca at the movies' story goes like this:

Matinee. Right about the time the movie is starting there is no one in the theatre but her. Nobody. Empty. A woman comes in right as the lights are dimming and she goes and sits right next to my aunt. Right next to her.

"Excuse me," Rebecca says gesturing to the 50 other vacant seats, "could ya choose another seat?"

"No," the woman says, "this is my favorite seat, I'm not moving."

You know, honestly I never remember how that story ends because I am usually laughing so hard that Rebecca starts laughing and then we never really get to the end. Rebecca can be very I can't imagine the other woman actually winning that particular power play. to ya later. Hey, did ya see I finally got my little profile pic up? Thankfully, blogger made some changes to make it much easier for us computer-challenged nimrods.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"there's a boat on the reef with a broken back...."

I've been reading a wonderful autobiography by the writer Eudora Welty (One Writer's Life). In one passage she is describing how childhood tantrums didn't erupt in her hitting other people, but hitting other objects or putting herself in perilous situations, usually hurting herself in the process. She then wrote one of the best sentences I've seen in a long time, stating simply,
'I was responsible for scenes.'

I'm feeling a little of that these days in my own head and heart. Emotions around a leaving of this nature has welled up aged stuff of panoramic proportions. Its kind of like being in an IMAX movie where I'm unable to avert my eyes or ears from the conjured images that I alone am responsible for..and therefore am responsible for quelling. It's exhausting.

The irony is that the emotion I most attach to here is abandonment -- even though it's me that's leaving. Tricky sediment.....deep, deep layers that forge our never really know when the cracks will surface, you just know that they're there. Where's that cement trowel when you need it?

I emailed a friend and said I wish I could just leave now...this sort of limbo is becoming frustrating I think mainly in the talking about it. I'm trying not to bring it up anymore with anyone new..but I know a lot of fucking people..and if people don't know that I'm doing this walk through me or someone else, than they know I've left Sisters and are curious as to what I'm up to. I try minimalist responses at this point..sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't 'cause I'm not much of a liar or a hedger. Someone yesterday asked me if I was travelling with my time off. "Yes." Which inevitably leads to "where to," and I can't seem to just say, "oh, you and there." I's a perfectly appropriate response. Think I'll try that next time. It's nothing they're doing, folks are curious, I would be too..and it's my own damn fault for talking about it so much initially.

It's becoming hard to talk I think because I just don't have a bead on an answer at all anymore. It changes on a minute by minute basis. It actually feels a lot like early recovery, I'm that emotionally scattered. I got into Joan's truck today and just ranted from one side of Portland to the other. Thanks Joan - love ya.

So...I don't know people. It's all so's scary and exciting and every one's responses have been so encouraging and sweet and loving..some bordering on envy for me getting to do this. We all are just doing our own thing..there's a lot you guys are doing that I would give all of this up for in a heartbeat.

I think I've always just been searching for something. This is not the first time I've left home to seek some sort of solace in the unknown. Not even the second or third.

At some point I just want to nestle into it and be home.
Yeah, that's it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

at least I got that going for me...

Today has been kind of a banner day. I got to go to the dentist and the DEQ back to back. In the end, it turned out just cavities to speak of and my 21 year old truck (which Gwen so eloquently calls, 'a piece of shit'), passed inspection with flying colors (ha! so there!). little white pick-up (Oscar) will live to see the farm after all. He's going to be hanging out down on 6 acres in Humboldt and be a run-around farm truck while I'm gone. Very deserving, this city driving can be tough on old boys, especially under my rough hands.

Have successfully moved a bunch of piles right on out the door (see earlier post); and so am left with just the stuff I'll be putting into storage. I think I did good -- a huge bag of clothes along with 4 boxes of random crap went to donation sites. Probably the most exciting thing I got rid of was a collection of broken CD players (I actually had a Walkman in that pile) and other assorted broken little appliances that I was holding on to for god knows why. Those all got properly recycled. And, I was able to recycle a bunch of little camping fuel canisters that have been rolling around my closet for awhile. Happy about all that.

I've been checking out the Longest Walk website and getting filled in a little. It seems we'll be sleeping mostly in community centers, firehouses, gyms, random spots like that (or we can camp on the surrounding lands). They've been running this particular route (Sacred Run) for a few years now, so they've been setting up contacts along the way -- so that's good to know. Also, apparently the registration for walkers is full - I don't know what that means as far as how many people 'full' is..but the organizers are saying they are pretty overwhelmed with the response. Exciting.

Oh, and one more thing..

So, I'm laying back in the dentist chair this morning, getting poked and probed -- and there is a young woman sitting next to me...she's a student and she's observing the hygienist doing her thing to me...and while I'm being rinsed out, she kind of leans over and says, "you know, you have beautiful eyelashes."

It's something I suppose.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

moving piles

One of my many fears is that I'm going to end up a hoarder. Not of cats or rabbits (goddess forbid), but of stuff. You know those people that show up in the weird news once a year or so, who have to be rescued from like a second story window because you can't use the front door anymore for all the boxes and crates blocking the way.

I am such a pack rat. I've gotten much better at getting rid of stuff over the last couple of years, but still. I actually had to call Samantha this morning and ask her what I should do with this pile of ripped up cargo pants and jeans I had been moving around all morning. You would think I was living in the Depression. I think...'I'll use the remaining good fabric for patches!' Except, I can't sew. In fact, I am not creatively crafty in any way, shape or form...I can barely wield a glue it makes the idea of 'hey I can use this for...' all the more ridiculous. I probably did live during the Depression, but died because I couldn't make do with a pound of flour, some baling wire and, I don't know, a yardstick.

But you know, I'll probably survive the apocalypse in this life, but no one will be able to find me because I'll be buried under boxes of broken lamps, walkmans and assorted shattered crockery.

Sam told me to throw away the clothes. They're sitting on the top of the stairs right now in a sad little pile of wanton disregard. Forgive me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

okay, okay

Gwen suggested that I write something new as it's been awhile since I've posted. Tis true. I've been a little uninspired. It's this weather. It's cold. And other than being sick last week there hasn't been too much going on. Regina, who works with me at the gym took pity on me last week...but today she kicked my ass from here to Sunday. I'm sore already, which doesn't bode well for tomorrow.

Well, okay, here's a little story. Let's call it:

"What not to do when you are looking to rent a room from total strangers."

One of our housemates is leaving (she was never really here, but that's another thing altogether) so the search is on to rent out her room. We didn't get much response from craiglist - although this one guy seemed like a good fit, so Henry invited him over.

First off..there is a 4 year old here, Hank, and it's kind of imperative when moving in with a child that you at least acknowledge said child upon checking out the space you're thinking about renting. This guy was seemingly (I wasn't here) so disinterested in Hank that he pretty much ignored him.
This did not go over well with his parents.

Now, I don't know...when you are presenting yourself to possible landlords/roommates; it would seem necessary or at least prudent to show your very best behaviour. Smile, be polite, don't pick your nose or roll your eyes...and really, if you can at all help it, don't get ready to hock a loogi, hold it and then excuse yourself to spit off the front porch. And if you've already made that social faux pas to people you DON'T KNOW .. don't completely label yourself a social nimrod by doing that same thing, except this time...spitting into the kitchen sink..and then not bothering to even run the fucking faucet!

The amusing thing about this little tale..which is a frightening but true that Henry immediately got an email from the guy saying he felt they were a great match. Aside from the horrific spitting incident, the guy never asked to see the house really, not even his room and was pretty much not interested in anything about the house. Except the sink. He was into that.

In the end, a very nice young woman named Kit moved in. She's a naturopathic student and has no proclivity towards spitting that I can tell.