Monday, December 8, 2008

Virtual Accomplishments

I'm typing on a bite-sized computer that was bought because my brother took over the family one and my mother let him. I'm sleeping in a bedroom I share with my mom because we don't have enough money to each have our own space. I work at two jobs that demand more from me then they are willing to pay me for. And I am friends with people who don't usually want to hang out with me. So I go to therapy to talk about how small I feel I'm treated. The Teacher says he thinks I feel worthless. I say, not worthless but worth more than anyone can bare to see and confused that they can't see it. Frustrated that they can't even smell it. When I get mad at all these people I think, "they'd only be sad if they were at my funeral with their 'shoulda-woulda-coulda's." Like any good artist.... My artistry - my life... I wonder if it will be worth anything until I loose my mind in sadness, cut off my ear and pass away poor.

Distraction is our greatest aide, whether we realize this or not. In times of trouble, we mentally relocate and throw ourselves into work, meditate to green pastures, take on a hobby or project. Even something as small as walking into the scenary in our book, or loosing ourselves inside a suspensful movie... it's all there to turn our heads.

I suddenly realized that 'gamers' are no different. Eight to seventy-eight, all colors, all sizes flip a switch and the ping ping of a start up screen can flash away frustrations. Recently I connected my Nintendo 64 back up. I had to put it in the living room because the cables on my tv upstairs didn't work. So for many hours the last couple of days, I've been coming home from work and parking right there by the Christmas tree.

When work aggitated me and lectures followed me home about my high expections, my inability to leave room for peoples quirks and never having someone worry about mine, I couldn't help but stress the importance of beating the next level in Zelda64: Ocarina of Time.

I killed Link again and again, watching his body flash red as my fingers kept sliding off the joystick from holding it so tightly and sweating in sheir effort and anticipation. If I couldn't handle my friends right, if I couldn't figure my boss out, if I couldn't overcome my own obsessions and manage my own emotions... well I was dammed if I was going to let some big nosed ghost on a horse throwing fire balls at me, take me down.

The good news is, I beat the temple. I felt a sense of accomplishment I hadn't felt in a while. I tole myself, "wow, I figured that all out without cheating or giving up." I did get stuck on one part to which I ran upstairs and asked the boys what to do. But then again, so it goes for life... sometimes we can't do it ALL alone. And as crazy as my relationships with my friends tend to be... I get by with a little help from them all.

My grandmother was removed from her house 7 months ago. She was brought into my aunt's angry, cold household full of tough love and kids under 12. She lost her car, her house, her independence and her respect. Don't get all teary now, she was no angel ANY of her years of life. But as the Trungpa would remind us, "we all have basic goodness." And it's in that goodness that I see my grandmother hurting for real, feeling trapped and caged. Feeling terrible and unwanted. Her only friend, now too delusional to even hold a spoon to his lips, never mind hear her gripe just one more time... Now that she actually needs it.

I called her after thanksgiving for her 78t birthday and asked her how she was. She talked about alot but it wasn't anything. Food and wallpaper and how she thinks they are stealing her money. The ways she used to tell them how we did that to her... Only this time I think it's true.

You know that question you've all been asked... What would you grab if your house was on fire and family was all safe? Well, in a sense I asked that. In a 5 bedroom house chalk full of tapes and memories and pictures, I asked her if I could grab anything for her. Did she want anything with her that she was really missing. Do you know what she asked for?

She said, "Carolyn, please bring me my Playstation."

We are all the same. Wanting, needing, loving, loosing, growing, falling. From eight to seventy-eight.

She wanted to play Cesar's Palace. I said, "of course."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wear the Hope

I took a design I found on and put Obama's quote on it just for this post. But there are shirts, buttons, stickers and more awesome displays... All should check it out....

For the New Obama Nation; For Us All

Good Morning America.

Welcome to a new day,
a new dawn and a new era. Welcome to the nation so many of us thought we could really be. For every person who believed that America is the land of the free and home of the brave; they could rejoyce together last night, November 4th, 2008 when Sen. Barack Obama was announced the 44th President of the United States of America.

The day after has mixed feelings for those who ran strongly with McCain, but even he, in an admirable stance of class, congratulated Obama instead of demanding a recount. He calmly asked his supporters to put away their anger and come together to help rebuild a nation that is so painfully in shambles. He shushed their 'boo's' and asked them, 'please, my friends' and shook his head like an understanding father. Sarah Palin did not speak, but instead smiled through pressed lips as tears welled in her eyes. Her husband, Todd Palin, held her hand.

McCain acknowledged the racially charged feel of the running and asked that his followers understand what that meant for every Obama supporter, as well as every African American in the nation. He spoke as though he believed none of his supporters were racist, though we all know (and he knows) that much of that is quite the opposite. In a subtle and cautious way, he reminded the people that tollerance, differences and minds make us the desirable nation that we are. It was his way of asking them all, not to hate. Though I think his plea fell on a few deaf ears, we can only hope he did not create such a monster to separate our people. McCain stated, "Barack Obama is now my president as well as yours," humbling himself before the crowd.

Barack Obama walked on stage in Chicago's Grant Park with his wife, Michelle, and their two girls. A bittersweet victory for the 47 year old senator. His personally inspirational grandmother's passing, still fresh in his mind from only a day prior. The day before the election, she passed away before seeing him walk the stage as the elect President... Though we all knew he would.

Midnight marked the beginning of a half hour long speech to his newly awarded public. His family stood in the background beside a row of magestic American flags. He looked as though he would cry when he thanked every volunteer, every $5 donation, every youth who spoke, every supporter who knocked on doors in sweltering heat and blistering cold... For every American who carried his dream with him. The audience watching in silence and in awe as change had finally come to America. Tears streamed down faces of celebrities like Jesse Jackson and citizens such as one young girl who dropped to her knees, holding her head in her hands. A married couple kissed, a gay couple bowed their heads and an entire people felt included; individualized.

"It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in
numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four
hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this
time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor,
Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay,
straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the
world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a
collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America."
~President Barack Obama (Nov 5th,2008 Acceptance Speech. Chicago, IL)

So now I look upon a man who addresses my friends, my superiors, my family and myself. I look at a man who promises to try everything in his power to clean up the mess the Bush administration left for him. Though I cannot imagine where he plans to start, his uphill climb will be heavy and his progress will be slow. But there are fellow American's like Bill Clinton, who continue to work towards change, who will stand and work with him. The F student has finally been removed and the valivictorian can take care of business.

I was never loud about my support for Obama, not because I wasn't proud - I was. But because such a heated battle between parties had not been seen in my lifetime, nor shall it come to pass again anytime soon. I spoke with those who were receptive to his mission or his views because as we should all know, it's near impossible to those who have been set in their ways.

Though we have our Democratic and Repulican parties, I'm proud that the people finally paid attention. Whether Democrats were for McCain or Republican's were for Obama doesn't matter. What matters is that so many of us stepped out of line, didn't follow the lead and made up our minds about what the nation needs instead of who's face would be framed in office.
So 'Good morning America', and welcome to the start of a new era. To every person who felt they had no say, I cry with you. To every person who felt different and discriminated, I rejoyce with you. To everyone who really wants equality... We bow together.

And may God bless America.

Yes... We Can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Great Flood... Of Circumstance

Where there is an ending, a beginning must soon follow. So when part of your world dies, a new world, for you, is reborn. The floods have come into my life, finally filling it to the brim and as I look over the deck of my make-shift ark (no where near as fabulous as Noah's...), I see the waters are receding. My new landscape may be muddy, things in the wrong places, a bit challenging to work with but alas, flushed and anew, none the less.

It's that feeling you get when you've finally paid off your car loan and you have extra money this month to take a friend out for dinner and kick back. It's that feeling that washes over you after being lost for an hour and finally turning the corner to a safe, familiar road and your destination is right in front of you, glowing magestically. Better yet, that feeling of rocks rolling off your shoulders when you break up with that dependent other (whether friend or lover...).

They say you've reached the bottom of your hole when you stop digging. They say it can always get worse... that is, if you keep picking up the shovel. But if everyone could see how fantastic dropping the shovel really feels, I mean really... who worlds would shift.

I have been the caregiver to many people and there have been a share that have been a caregiver to me. When we give and take in our relationships in an equal and positive way, we are able to always climb higher and endure more. When one party starts to slip, it is not in my nature to leave them behind. But if they are careless with their backwards steps, it is our duty to do our best for them and when no progress can be made, we must let them go.

Some of us are bound by depression, money problems or an unfulfilling relationship. Some of us don't like our jobs or our friends don't appreciate us. Some of us are sick, some of us are tired. But as long as we make the promise to ourselves to never give in to those things, even at our lowest hour, even if we are crying our eyes out... we will be okay.

I don't wake up every morning thinking that the world is incredible. I wake everyday with the expection that if I keep working at it, one day - I will wake up and the world will be incredible to me. That is all I can work towards because that is not an unattainable goal. Not for me. Not for anyone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When We Change the Rules

eth·ics - Pronunciation [eth-iks]

2.the rules of conduct recognized in
respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture,
medical ethics; Christian ethics.
4.(usually used with a singular verb)
that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with
respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness
and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

When is it okay to change your moral code? At this point, is it fair to say that everything is negotiable? If your husband beats you but the neighbor treats you sweetly, is it okay to cheat on your husband? If the rules say that a teacher can't let a student in their car, but then the student is stranded at school after practice in the dark, is it okay to bring the student home?

faux pas Spelled Pronunciation [foh pahz; Fr. foh pah]

1. a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct;
an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion.

Ah, social faux pas. Homosexuality is considered a faux pas. Does that make it wrong? Is everyone entitled to their own definition of 'ethics'? The faux pas part is knowing that maybe the majority knows it's a 'no, no'. But isn't it fair to say that if it's not going to hurt anyone or yourself then it can't be all that bad?

I guess I've been in this place enough times to know that there's a time to tell people what you're up to and there's a time to keep it private. If everyone tells you something is wrong but you don't feel like it's wrong, is it wrong? God, I sound like a pediphile.

I dated a guy that was younger than me once, by four years. He was 16 and far more sexually active than I had been. Was it wrong to want to date him because I was not his age? Some people thought so but we were like any other couple.

I dated a guy that was 32 when I was 20. I couldn't even drink at the bar with him. There were many people who thought there was something wrong with him for wanting to date me. Why didn't they think there was something wrong with me for wanted to date him?

So breaching on social philosphies here, who's to say? Of course boundaries are usually set up for protection. Either protection of the people involved or of the people who could potentially be harmed, should the parties step outside of boundary.

I think the decision should be weighed on what it means to your life and the other party. If you are scared to leave your crazy husband and this other man is with you and gives you strength and courage, then your life is in less turmoil. And hopefully the end result is that the healthier party (if that is what this other man represents), will be there to transition you out of your old life and into a better one. That justifies it, doesn't it? What if you just want the best of both worlds? Can you justify that? And why do you have to and who do you have to justify it to? If a kid gets a ride home from a teacher instead of sitting in the dark in a deserted parking lot, doesn't that justify getting in the car? To aide. To help. To guide. To enhance our lives in some way to make them better. As long as no one is getting hurt, dead, bleeding or on fire.

I'm not going to tell you to go sell children for trade to make a buck to make your riches better. No, it's the judgement of weighing the good with the bad and making the executive decision to put people first. People before boundaries, before laws, before rules for the greater good. Maybe theirs and maybe yours.

Does that also mean then, if I break social rules and then, in turn, am harmed by the rules that I ignored, that I should receive no aide? I believe in that instance, then my friend-community would bend their own ethics/morals temporarily because they love me and would help me until the situation were over, then remind me why the boundaries were there in the first place.

It's socially unexceptable to show up to work drunk and yet people do it. Does that mean if your best friend started showing up drunk and lost his job, you would say, "well you knew that was wrong!" You'd probably try and help him, get him into AA or even so much as talk to him when he told you he'd lost everything. Even though you know what he did was wrong, he was still someone you cared about and therefore, you alter a bit to meet in the middle. Is that not also okay?

I guess I've always been the person to bend boundaries and break the rules, usually for my own benefit but also because I believe that people, above all, are everything. People matter. Even though I get so angry at so many of them... When we work together and care for each other, that's how this world heals. Because if you heal one, they will heal the next, who will heal the one after.

I think sometimes, it's okay to break the rules. Even if you can't tell anyone about it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Jedi's Always Win and Never Die

Sitting with the Teacher yesterday, the topic of attachment hit the discussion board. I had read in various places that love, kindness and honor were the vehicles to lead us to ultimate freedom. So we must love the people in our lives and the people of the world. But I began to confuse the lines between attachment and love. Aren't we attached to the ones we love? How can a person not be attached to their loved ones? Doesn't attachment equal love? The Teacher said that we must detach in order to love in the most powerful way. How is 'detaching' a way of getting closer? I didn't understand; I was mixing something up.

So I said, "may I reference Star Wars?" And he, of course, nodded.. knowing most any reference I can dish.

"So Anakin Skywalker is training to become a Jedi and he has fallen in love with Padme. Yoda or Obiwan (I forget), tells him that their union is not allowed. In short, attachment leads to the dark side. He must remain unattached in order to stay connected to the force without interference. Why were the Jedi not allowed to love?"

But the Jedi were allowed to love, it was just how you carried your love that mattered. The Teacher explained to me that what Yoda knew about 'the force' matched up with what Buddhists know about the universe. The reason why the 'bad guys' (Sith) were the bad guys, were because they had too much fear in their hearts. And as we all know, "Fear is the path to the dark side."

The one liner couldn't be more dead on. Fear is the path to the dark side for many reasons. For one, fear creates insecurity and insecurity can go one of two ways. You can either be sad/shy about it or be angry about it. Anger and violence is based largly, (if not solely), on the fears of people.

Speaking in terms of attachment, fear is the star here as well. When we love something we tend to do everything in our power to keep it close, to hold it tight and never let go. The idea that we may loose this, drives the wrong kind of attachment. It boils down to the fear of death or loss.

The Star Wars example fits beautifully here. Anakin had dreams that Padme was going to die and rather than accepting this fate and spending time with her, he used his energy to find a way to go against the chosen path of the universe to 'save' her. His fear of loss over took his senses and in the end, not only did he loose his love but also his dignity, his name, his entire person.

"The reason," the Teacher went on, "that letting go of something brings us closer is because we've come to terms that we are going to loose that object at one point or another. Everyone is going to die. No one knows why humans who are surrounded by death have not come to terms with this but we have to find a way because you're forgetting that you are only loosing the physical." He beat his heart with a clenched fist and shook his head as the thud off his rib cage surprised me.

"Our souls come down from Heaven or whatever people want to call it.... And they manifest into bodies and when the bodies are no more, the energy of the soul goes back into the air, back into the sky and that soul is still thriving and never dies. It's everywhere and it's with you...
Why do you think that when Darth Vadar takes off his helmet he's all gross and decaying? Because he's holding on to the physical and can't let that go! Jedi's never decay, they disappear back into the universe (or the Force) where they can join the energy and move on to the next mission."

Hmm. Well put.

So the point is, when you stop clutching your loved ones, with knuckles white, both of you will be able to breathe. You'll be free from the stress of worrying about loosing them because in reality, you already know that day is going to come. Instead, you spend time appreciating who they are today and you actually love them more by concentrating on the moment. And in this moment, if you are alive and well, you should be laughing together and being... in the moment.

May the Force be with you.
"Do or do not, there is no try."
~Master Yoda

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Cracked Pot

Every day, a farmer carried two pots to the river to fetch water. Each pot hung on the end of a pole across his shoulders. The pot on his right side was new and perfect. The pot on his left side was older and had a crack in its side.

The new pot brought back all the water the farmer put into it. But the cracked pot leaked out water in a little trail. This went on day after day for two years. The little cracked pot felt terrible. "I am so ashamed of my imperfection!" One day, it spoke to the farmer. "I must apologize. I only deliver half of my load because I leak out water all the way back to your house. You should just get rid of me!"

The farmer said, "Do not despair. Look behind you. Do you not see those beautiful flowers along the path? Those are on the left side where I carry you. I knew about your special feature so I planted flower seeds, and you have watered those seeds as I walked home.
Thanks to you, I have fresh flowers for my table. Thank you, little cracked pot. You are very special."

Excerpt from The Treasure in Your Heart Yoga and Stories for Peaceful Children
(The Mythic Yoga Studio, 2008).

Forgiveness: Even if, Even if, You Don't Love Me Anymore

I had to quote that song in my title. "Just thinkin' about... FORGIVENESS!" Quite a soulful peice don't you think? Severely appropriate for the matters at hand. True forgiveness can be nothing BUT soulful, right? It takes you down to humility, past grudges, into a tenderness and vulnerability that could reject you but you cannot let that stop you. We're talking about what comes of the ashes of forgiveness and that, my darlings, is your freedom.

On my lunch hour I decided to forget about the car, take my lunch under a tree and read from my Yoga Journal magazine that I picked up Grand Central about a month or two ago. I scanned through some old articles I had already read on the train.

One story (off topic) that was cute and noteworthy was a Hindu tale I will retype in the following post. So look for that! It is entitled, "The Cracked Pot". More lessons, people. Can't stop them!

Today the focus is on forgiveness. With my Teacher's ears and eyes far away this week, I felt the need to produce my own lesson. As he has diligently provided tasks, mantras and questions for me each week, I paniced momentarily wondering where to put my energy in a week with no guidence.

Were he here right now he would roll his eyes, smile and say, "Oh please, you have the tools, you have the power... and you KNOW it." So in efforts to make him look good, (ha ha), I read up on something that could touch anyone. This brought me to the Forgiveness article.

The title, "Forgiveness Heals: When you forgive a long-held grievance, you open the door to true freedom" could do nothing but catch your eye.
First you think, "a way to forgive? Do tell." Because it seems that such a word provokes more obsticles than miracles in most lives. (There's that ego getting in the way of moving forward again.)
Then you think, "heals? I could use some of that." Because who couldn't?

"When your heart forgives, it has stepped beyond the ego to grasp your
innate kinship -- even your identity -- with another person."
(YogaJournal - Kempton 55)

But like all mindful practices, forgiveness is not a one shot deal. The words, "I forgive you" don't escape you and suddenly you are lifted. It's more of a movement inside of you. In many cases of mindful practice, making a consious decision is your core value. This time, it's different. As forgiveness is present in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, your mind is conditioned to handle the harboring of this negative feeling in an entirely different catagory.

Before you begin thinking of how you want to forgive or even why, you want to think of WHO it is you want to forgive. Who is the first crippling enemy that comes to your mind? Was it an abusive father, backstabbing friend or a cheating lover? What about the boy that beat your son to death?

All of these scenarios play out in this article only to draw us back to one thing... basic goodness. To anyone who has read this blog before, or whoever else cares, I've mention Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior by Trungpa. This book and most enlightened teachings go back to basic goodness. In every monster there is a child. In every cold heart, was a person who wanted to be loved and perhaps was forgotten. We must remember, even if their deed was done with ill-intent, there is part of them that has faultered because of human nature.

An old friend that has hurt you, may not have done it purposely. This is the first part of the process. Who do you want to forgive? What did they do? Was it really about you? Was it really about how it would hurt you? We retreat back to asking ourselves questions. ALWAYS ask yourself what's really going on here.

In choosing to open our hearts to forgiveness, yes, we jeopardize a sense of security but at what cost? Perhaps you will be back stabbed again by another, perhaps human nature is unavoidable and you may get hurt again. But in forgiveing the negative parts in others, (some of which we may subconciously see in ourselves), we DO forgive ourselves. It even feels good sometimes to say, "I'm sorry."

Being strong in this world, being aware and living free will not always mean the things you are practicing are comfortable. But in relinquishing our choice for a fluffy cushion, we may gain the power to fly through the clouds.

Like climbing a mountain, scrapped, bleeding and weather worn, look over the edge at the most magnificant view and for a moment pain is suspended and you are devine.

Think hard about who you should forgive today, and do it. Letting go of the anger, releases the tag hanging around your neck that reads, "Victim".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rain Immitates Life

I've had the feeling lately that I'm disconnected with my surroundings, the people and the environments in which I reside. From work, to home, to the streets, I am not fitting the peices together right at all.

I've found myself in the angriest of places on the road, at home and of course, at work. The cycle topples over itself again and again. A displeasure of events and no cure or reason connected to it.

The days have been warm and sunny. I've been sour for not being part of them, stuck behind a desk or in a casino that never made windows. The grass in my back yard has the texture of pure straw and I can't go barefoot because it feels like needles on the soles of my worn out feet.

So as I sit here at my desk, I hear the others buzzing about the rain on it's way and how they can't wait. Before I know it, we're watching lightening strike outside the conference window and we are standing in the dark with our noses to the glass. The rain comes and we are all happy for once.

We retreat to our desks to save all the work that we might loose. The lights flicker and I look out the window to the dark clouds and the rain gets louder and louder with each passing moment. I hear it with ever inch of myself as I wish I could have an outburst of that magnitude.

The earth was completely parched.
I am completely parched.

The rain faught and fussed for days, trying to squeeze out a sprinkle.
I have faught and fussed for days, trying to figure out an answer.

Finally, with a roar and a flash, the rain moved swiftly and forcefully downward bathing the straw-like grass, the grass so starved for water it was on it's last breath, if not dead. Now the grass is swimming, blowing bubbles, rolling and smiling.
I want that too.

20 minutes later, the sky opens back up and the sun rolls lazily back into view. It's as if the earth and sky stretched out their arms and sighed deeply, saying together,
"ahhh, thanks for that."

Relief. Can you tell I need some?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shut Your God-Shaped Hole!!

Due to the shit quality of this Paint Program image I made while at work today, I will retype what is written. It reads:
You have a void in you that you can't explain. Something is
missing, something's not fitting right, something is nagging.
And it's not God.

It's something else. Something bigger and harder to put your
finger on. It's different for everyone. No one's void can match anothers.

They say the power is in the 'doing', not the 'figuring'. The
only way to fill the hole is to fill it with the exact puzzle peice, which is
the shape of YOUR body, (which matches no one elses). Your goal, your
destination, your end point all waits to be taken care of and until it is, it
will follow you as closely as your debt and taxes.
When the void is filled, you can shut that God-Shaped hole and
live gently.

In reference to: The God-shaped Hole: Finding Ourselves to Fill the Emptiness Within
Also refrencing: me being dumb.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What A Day Off Can Do

I work two jobs. During the five day stretch of a business week I am in an accounting office burning my eyes over numbers and paperwork. Usually these hours are long, boring and hard to pass. My energy is easily sucked into the unpleasant ring my telephone makes, or the annoying figetty things my co worker does all day.

In the summer, by Thursday, my 8 hour work day stretches on to 14. After I clock out of the office drained and lifeless, I need to go to my second job where I stand for 5-6 hours, running up and down stairs and handling (more often than not) dissatisfied, unruly patrons.

Monday through Friday quickly turns into Monday through Monday through Monday. Sometimes I will get a Sunday night off... but the last two months has been brutal.

So this past weekend, I didn't sign up to work and I awarded myself a Friday night, Saturday and Sunday all to myself. This worked wonders....

Having a day off, isn't just about not going to work. The scraps of time I've had to myself here and there are spent exhausted on the couch but the benefits of taking time for yourself are incredibly beneficial. So maybe you really need that $50? Think of this... Paying (or giving up your) $50 may turn out to be the best investment of the month. Sometimes going without brings a whole lot in. How many more ways do you think I can say it?


Friday night I went to Foxwood's Bingo with two good friends. It had been a long week so two of us had quit early to go home and watch reruns of "I Love Lucy" together before our trip the next day. John was left with three bingo cards and not enough time to check them all. (Bingo is pretty intense...)

Saturday was spent in the beautiful city I love; New York. The sun was shining, it was hot and we were just happy to be there. Melinda and I stopped for lunch at the American Diner where we ordered what seemed to be lbs of food.

We ventured out to the guggenheim museum to expand our art culture only to find that this museum was a disgrace to all I hold dear in the art world. I apologize to anyone who enjoys art from a kindergarden class room or someone dropping a deuce on a plate but $18 later I was seriously contemplating defacing the building with my sour vanilla milkshake... to say the very least.

Sunday friends from my second job through a large picnic. There are 110 of us but about 60 showed up. Potluck lunch, swimming pool, hot tub, endless beers, bottomless chip bags and watching a line of 50 year olds play flip cup in their milliondollar driveway just topped off the weekend.

While the Guggenheim crapped on my heart and we crapped out on Bingo, it didn't matter. All the little parts of the this weekend that went slightly awry where perfect none the less because of the sheer fact that I did them at my own discretion. I chose when to sit, stand, sleep, drink and did not have to censor myself for bosses, patrons or parents. It may sound silly, but that's worth the money I spent this weekend.

And thanks to some time off, my work day may just turn out to be productive today. :)

Ladies and Gentlemen: Please Take Time for Fun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On Fearlessness and ADD

Imagine, you're walking along just fine and then suddenly, PLOP! Right down a manhole. If you can imagine that picture, it represents how each one of my thoughts have been lately. I get on a topic in my head, get half way to a question to present to The Teacher and PLOP... it's gone. My train of thought, my question... gone. What's going on?

When you ask American's what their problem with attention is, they'll be quick to tell you they have ADD. "Everyone has it," they'll say. But maybe we don't. Maybe what we have is plain old fashioned laziness.

The book I'm reading right now, Shambhala: the Sacred Path of the Warrior by Trungpa explores everyday life and how the mundane things don't have to excite us necessarily, but at least interest us.

Washing dishes doesn't make me want to break dance but I haven't taken the time to put a little pride into doing it. Being mindful means watching the soap bubble, the dishrag swirl and feel the cold water rinse my warm hands when I'm done and being good with that. This book also explores just your living space. It talks of even throwing your clothes on the floor is a great dishonor... to yourself.

I think about my own wandering mind and relate it back to the questions that start to form and then fade before my eyes. I spend the rest of the time trying to rediscover just what it is I'm looking to ask about. I find myself saying, "what was I just saying? where did that thought go?!"

In all the studies I've done lately, the deeper I get into enlightened living... I'm learning about things just on the cusp of my conceptual grasp and it's both incredibly intriguing and also terribly frustrating. It's like I can smell it, almost taste it and I'm just about to touch it but then it's gone and I don't even know how to tell you what it is that I saw. And no matter how hard I try to hold the concept, it drops and I fall from the ladder. Flat on my back again!

So ADD may not be everyone's problem and most likely it's not mine either, but we'll tack that word on it for now since nothing else suites my discomfort when trying to focus on an actual task. I'm too busy thinking about the teachings that I'm reading about but find myself falling short of practicing... Especially in the car. My road rage is outlandish.

The book continues on to say that as humans with an enlightened understanding, we must entreat our time here with nothing but tenderness to others and to approach, speak and carry ourselves with gentleness. This creates fearlessness and connects us to others on a deeper and more meaningful level.

But just as I'm also on the edge of grasping, in my tattered hands, what a second of tenderness may be, it is pulled out of reach and I digress. I loose direction, focus and drive.

Today I got sick.

I get sick and my body hurts and I'm propelled backwards, head first into fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of physical pain and fear that I will never be free from it's unrelenting clutches. So teach me how to not be afraid. Teach me to forget all that I know today!

It's like when Romeo pouts to Benvolio saying, "O, teach me how I should forget to think!"

He answers, "By giving liberty unto thine eyes; Examine other beauties."

And Romeo rambles on and in conclusion before he departs says to his friend, "Farewell: thou canst not teach me to forget."

But Benvolio knows better and replies, "I'll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt."

And the end result is that Benvolio holds the truth and doesn't seem bothered by it's presence. He knows Romeo can retrain his mind and he doesn't kill himself to prove it to his friend, he simply smiles knowingly and shakes his head, muttering a quiet opposition and certainty.

In by giving liberty to our eyes we can examine options, beauty, truth and if we are lucky, find something that means everything to us; a something so strong you feel as though you could die for it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Beautiful Night in the Neighborhood

The fourth of July came and went, I missed out on a good fireworks show. I had a beer and Evan called from a rooftop in NYC to tell me it was kind of raining, he was kind of drunk and illegal fireworks from his neighbors were flying past his head. He completely cheered me up.

While Evan described the fireworks and the city, both of which I was missing, better things were brewing in my brain. Billy Joel sang his tenth concert the next night and I didn't think I'd make it to work but I did. And today I rode my bike into town with my mom, came home to play badmitton with the 11 year old neighbor. And when the sun went down, 6 of us residents from the condos walked down to the beach to let off some stop and shop fireworks.

The kids laughed and the adults kept looking around for cops to show up. I lit the wicks and ran away. The air and the water were warm and even though they weren't the big fireworks in the sky, it was okay.

These are the times where you are supposed to look not at what you're missing but what is in front of you. Simple things like air temperature, that your neighbors like you, that two kids are smiling and that a walk in the night with some new friends is worth a lot.

It was a good day because instead of reading the rest of my book, I went outside and entertained some bored kids. I thought about ways to change my money situation. I recharged my energy by not only using it to exercise but to also lay on the couch. I found another way to get over another obstacle by changing my thinking.

"The old way wasn't workin' so it's on us, to do what we gotta do, to survive."

More money=NYC.
Happy Neighbors=Happy environment
Challenging your current situation=Change for the better.

So get better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Max Shares the Meaning of Life

After reading this article, I had a few questions about it's philosophy. The article is about being present, (oviously - as the entire blog is). It instructs us to stop living in the past and not to worry so much about the future. We have today.

I discussed this at dinner with a friend and we both came up with the same question, "why shouldn't we worry about the future?" and "how can we not?" I didn't feel so dumb wondering this, since she wasn't sure of the answer too.

I had commented on the article that afternoon with my question and after dinner, I came home to the answer. Upon finishing the last sentence of the response, my brother Max walked in the door.

I turned to him and said, "I'm reading this stuff and everytime I bring up the subject, it's something you either already do or have an opinion about. So tell me this... do you live in the moment? Like, do you just do what you have to do today and then the future works out for you?"

He dropped on his bed opposite the computer and said, "like, the past is history, the future is a mystery kind of thing?"

"Yeah, what do you think of it?" I asked.

"Well the past is done so that's that and you can't predict the future so you just do what you gotta do today," he answered. He sat up and looked at me, "life is about purpose. If you have a purpose, then you get it done. Everyone has a personal purpose that they make for themselves."

"Okay," I said. "What about that kid that killed himself that you knew?"

"He was a waste of life," he answered. "But! He achieved his purpose. That kid came into the world and his goal was to be miserable and to die. He dropped the ball and boom - when it hit the ground his personal purpose was fullfilled and his life was finished because he fullfilled it."

His point wasn't really negative or possitive, just facts of how he saw it. He explained that this life is about survival of the fittest. If you couldn't contribute to society or have quality of life then you were wasting your time on this planet. The scary part of this was that his reasoning made sense to me.

Yes, I realize my brother is incedibly pessimistic but his views are based on how he functions in society. He may be a jerk at times but he is a prime example of purpose and living in the day. He goes to work and goes to school. He'll graduate and become an electrician. But he's not thinking about his apprenticeship today. Today he's on vacation for a week and going to work - that's it. He knows he will finish and he'll be in the flow.

"Athiests will tell you we are just on earth to procreate to keep the human species alive," he said, hanging off the bed with his face to the floor.

"What's the point of living then if it's just to make babies and die?" I asked.

"Well, I didn't say I agreed with them. There is no answer to why we are here but since we are, the best bet is because we were given the most advanced brains so that we can give ourselves purpose. It's all subjective vs. objective reality Carolyn," he said nodding to himself, proud that he had the answer to that. I just looked at him.

He may be an ass, but he's not a dumb one.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Singing Subway

I don't know why I hear it or if I'm just loosing my mind but sometimes... I can hear public transportation making music.

When I stepped out of my car this afternoon, I focused on the hum of the 18 wheelers behind me. The highway wails at me even through my window as I sit at this desk. Yesterday the subway rails sounded like a woman singing a sad note. These things catch my attention and stick out.

Remember in the Broadway play Wicked when Elphaba, (the wicked witch of the west) realizes she can make the broom fly? The broom didn't sing of course but the ladies sang and Galinda sings, "you're having delusions of grandiure".

But Elphaba wasn't. She rode away on her broom and the music got louder.

The Perils of Change

I wanted to sit down today and write something meaningful and insightful but today is a blah day; a perfect Friday. Everyone's excuse is the name of the day and not much work gets done. Naps seem like a great idea and writing emails takes president over getting that batch done for accounting.

Billy Joel's 6th concert was last night and everytime I hear "New York State Of Mind", I get a little sadder. I can't figure out if I'm terrified to go, or if I'm afraid it will loose it's magic if I live there or even if I'll just run out of money and be lost. Still, I must've been a New Yorker in a past life. Ho hum.

I guess today's post can be about change and what it means to us as people. God, do we hate it. I wonder if it's because we are such 'creatures of habit', consistant beings that disrupting the flow, disrupts us. Whatever the reason, they hate it. Even within a familiar environment, like my job for example. Even a change in procedure on how things get to my desk, can have everyone up in arms.

So I'm 24 next month and while change should still be part of the woodwork of my life; it isn't. I need a new location, new job and new ways of thinking. But the reality for most, like myself, are the practical and vital things that are pulling fear into us. Like medical insurance for example. How terrifying to move to a city with no job and then no medical insurance for 3 months. Just this morning, without warning, I had my head between my legs in pain.

We're not just talking about being uncomfortable with a new setting and the people in it. We are talking about how danger can play a role in making decisions about change. Now, of course, with medical insurance or without, it doesn't matter. A hospital will treat you. But what about the damage afterwards when the bill arrives?? In a failing economy where everyday living is becoming more and more of a struggle, where does a $2,000 bill fit in to ever be paid off?

I've never been a person to put much emphasis on money until I ran out of it. But looking at my bank statement the other day and seeing $300 in gas in one month made me wonder where on earth rent money will ever come from.

I think money, or lack there of, is the main ingredient when people make changes like location or career. This isn't high school anymore folks, it's the real world and the real world is brutal. To every person who just graduated high school, they'll get a little taste of it. To those who've left college, get a friend and hold their hand... it's going to be ugly.

I can't tell you what I would give to be able to roll over and ignore the alarm clock. To not have to call my boss in the morning when I'm sick and tell them I'm sick. Oh and to have extra credit to make up for slacking... Yes, those were the days. But, BOOM! Real life is here and there ain't going back.

I worry that the new responsibilities of living in the real world is what's keeping me from stepping forward. I'm so worried about my insurance, my bills, my paycheck, my... security, that instead of taking that jump to something that might be amazing, I'd rather stay stuck and 'secure'.

Michael would probably tell me I'm completely predictable, one of the millions, a textbook version of human behavior. I'm certain it's true but... it still sucks.

So I'd pose the question, how does one get out? Of course the answer is to "decide to get out". Why is it that these decisions of happiness, awareness and movement turn out to be so hard to, well, decide? And what makes it easier?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

You vs The World

Giving advice is something I've done for years upon years. Of course, I am young, but you still can't laugh at my 'years'. The amount of time, energy and personal study of people that I have dedicated myself to, truly speaks for itself. I spend a great deal of energy in finding out people's histories, their woes, their hardships and the joy that came out of them all.

Because I had great story tellers in my high school years, the men and women who told me about their lives helped to shape my own. For each person who spent a great deal of after school hours with me, I kept a book. They were teachers, they were people and later became friends. I would write about what they were telling me about life so that I would have something were I to go through a similar hardship.

Maryann would say, "it took me twenty years to figure that out."

I would think to myself, "now I have twenty years to figure something else out because I have the answer to this."

When I wanted to know about people and they were distant or quiet, I began to study body language. This was incredibly fun because human behavior is so predictable. I realized more and more the importance of really paying attention to what people did with their bodies, not only in silence but even in discussion.

My study evolved through others, to bodies and then to myself. Self help books littered my shelves and I read them but they all felt like dead ends. I know now that you're not really going to help anything with those books, unless you're helping your simple mind.

Home remedies for happiness and relaxation are equilvelant to take out instead of a home cooked meal. Nothing tastes better than something you cooked with your own two hands. That's where real happiness happens; in your hands. Not in a bottle, not in a pill and no, not in a joint. Happiness is the hard work and tears you put into your weeks to gather months of smiling. It has to be rich; cultivated from your feet, all the way up.

Studying people plays an important role but studying myself in this recently new format... is blowing my mind.

Studying your own habits makes everyone else's habits kind of make sense and in that I'm furthering all areas of study, seamlessly. The rule of loving yourself first may sound corny, but it's the most beneficial road to take, in order to discover the rest of the world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Can I Be Still?

In "Meditation isn't for sissies", we are reminded that we're not going to a happy place when we close our eyes, we're not going any place at all.

In all the creative outlets I have available to me, none have proven to be as comforting and easy to run into as "my happy place", as Adam Sandler would say. I can draw a picture if the mood strikes me, I can create an illustration as close to my thought as possible (though they are rarely the same). I can write a good story and describe everything in detail. But even if I sat here and wrote about how fat, loud and strong the rain was, I am the only one getting hit in the face with it, inside the screen. I could tell you about the cool air, the thunder and the flashes of lightning but I'm the only one who can smell the grass and feel the hair on my arm stand.

But imagination is increasingly powerful with practice and when my hands were too tired to draw and my eyes were too tired to read, I could always close my lids and simply imagine.

Sitting in the dentist chair I've concentrated on the same boat picture since 3rd grade. While drills roll inside my head and metal scrapes, I am fishing. I am on the dock having pizza or I am breezing through the ocean in the background.

When I was mad at home, at school or at work, I simply switched off from reality and willed myself into another existence. I wanted something to distract me. I guess most people refer to it as day dreaming. I thought of it as displacement. As I sit here, the thunder cracks and the neighbor roots for the sound. The rain is ruthless against my deck but I am in the jungle somewhere sitting in a tree hut and the darkness of my back yard is really cloaking miles of thick rainforest. When I sit in the shower in my bathroom, it is the same feeling.

I've often wondered if what I were doing all these years was some kind of cliff note to what a sip of meditation would be. These past few weeks I've come to see the difference is ruthlessly far apart. Michael only puts in words what I couldn't when he says this practice is, indeed, the hardest.

The sliding door of this bedroom is open a crack so I can hear the rolling and screaming of the sky. That is the reality of this night and instead of disappearing to another country, I should be taking joy that the beauty is litterally in my back yard.

My mother comes to the door and tells me to switch off the computer. Lightning travelling through the computer is reality too. It happened to us once.

So the moral is that while far off places seem beautiful and peoples faces seem more intricate in other lands, it is a simple case of "the grass is greener on the other side". It is with intent open eyes that we should stop looking past the back yard and appreciate the very wood of the deck we are standing on.

Until I can see the deck as a deck and not a tree house, I'm not sure if I am ready to sit on the deck and just let it be nothing... not even a deck. If I've been substituting things like the deck for tree houses, I must first work backwards and go back to seeing them and appreciating what they are, no matter how simple.

Once the deck is a deck, then I can go a step further and forget the deck exists altogether. Is that when I can be still?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grocery Shopping Monks

"Joey, Bag of Donuts" or "Joey Bags", as we called him, was the first man I saw everyday for a year. He worked in the back of the market with me in the warehouse. His name wasn't Joey at all, it was Richard. He was 5 foot even, fat, New York native, Italian mess who never took his baseball cap off because he was bald.

One morning, after stealing us breakfast, Joey came running into the back room. With a hot croissant hanging out of his mouth, his raspy voice sputtered, "you'll neva believe this honey, two dudes with dresses in the milk isle!"

"Dresses Joey?" I asked following him out to the store.

"You know those meditating people," he threw his hands up.

I watched from a short distance as the two men in question, headed towards Joey and his stained apron. They were draped in red cloth over one shoulder and wore brown sandals. Each of them carried a wooden bowl.

"Can you help us shop, Sir?" The taller, and obviously American, of the two spoke to Joey softly. He explained that he was from our town but went over seas to become a monk. He went on to tell Joey that he could not touch the food they wanted to purchase, or the money to buy it with. They needed Joey to walk the store with them.

Joey, being the curious thing that he was, thought this was hilarious and volunteered to help them with a smile. He started asking questions right away.

His first question was if they had any underwear on. The American monk laughed and said they had shorts on. Joey went on to ask what they did all day? Weren't they bored? No tv? No SEX? He was the most mortified that they couldn't even touch themselves!

As you could've guessed, Joey was NOT a shy man, nor did he leave out details of a hot date to anyone, or even how he handled his morning wood. The monks came back every day for one week and always asked for him.

They were interesting and I looked for them every morning. They were quiet but they stood out. The older man with his beautiful skin color and their wine colored robes. Someone the American knew would leave money at the booth and they would use that to pay. When they bought fruits or vegetables that had seeds in them, they had US pray for them because they would be eating them later and depriving the seeds of thriving.

They had told us that one morning they had forgotten to pray for their oranges and went to the neighbors to ask if they would pray over their fruit and the neighbors weren't very kind to them about it. I wonder why people freak over differences.

At the end of the week, Joey and a few others had helped the monks with their shopping. Joey had asked them all the questions he could think of, even tried to persuade the American to come back to our culture, telling him he was missing great movies and good sex. The young man laughed and left Joey with a book that I wish I had taken from him. And Joey had sent them off with smiles and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos before I could stop him.

"They'll like those Doritos," he had said to me, proud he could give them a treat.

"Joey, they can't HAVE Doritos, it's unnatural!" I told him.

"Whatever! They have to now because then it'd be wasting!" He laughed, cramming stolen Lays into his mouth, peices falling on his belly. The only monk-like thing about Joey was that you could compare his belly to the fat Buddha. He's make an atrociously ugly Buddha with absolutely no moral fiber in his body. But the thought still makes me laugh.

The moral is, with talking about religion and spirituality, that rituals separate belief. If I can remember all the things Michael said today, which was ALOT, then I'll be able to keep perspective on not getting lost in the rules but instead get lost in the feeling.

For those two men, devine devotion to their craft... to their journey, is what they chose. For me, my path is what happens. I will eat Doritos and seeds, if it doesn't kill me. They say you're not supposed to seek out drugs to bring you to different experiences but I like doing that too. I feel like my own rules will be okay with this new thinking because this thinking is about me; about what I want. And as the guru always says, "if no one is dead, bleeding or on fire... it's okay."

(And yes, that is our Blue Buddha from our garden that my mother has had her whole life. The irony.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feel Yourself At Summer

It's a time where shoes are not required. Where kids grow restless, knowing that school's almost out and dogs are rolling around in the grass out in the back yard.

When it was time to start shopping for a new place to live, although everything was dead and it was cold outside, each house I stepped into I transported myself to summer. While my mom was bundled up with her flashlight, looking at pipes with the salesmen, I was looking at the back yard and imaging friends and cookouts and gardens. What would this house look like on a summer night? That was how I gaged each place. Would it be nice to walk through in the summer and lounge?

Summer is my season for all the right reasons. No shoes, I hate them. I love bare feet burning on hot tar. Bathing suits pass for attire and even though I'm a lot skinnier than I would like to be, I'm still comfortable enough to enjoy walking around half naked; go me!

I hate being cold. I must have lived another life in the south, in Australia or Africa. I was never made for the cold and I'm only now rolling up my electric blanket and putting it away. Cold is the worst feeling. So warm is the absolute best.

I don't mind the sweating, unless you are in work clothes, but other than that... freedom! Summer is full of warm nights in car rides, people on the beach and life HAPPENING. I'm excited to be back in my element as I am a child of Cancer being born July 18th.

It's good to be home. House and Earth.

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike

They say you're supposed to move when you are restless... So I did.

I went to a baby shower on Sunday for my friend Leena. She's due in August and it was nice to see her and laugh with her again. I looked at her big belly, as I do with all women in her condition. It's the only time I really feel a twinge of jealousy. I'm not even sure if it's what I would want right this minute but when I see pregnant bellies, I swoon. Maybe it's a girl thing.

After the shower, it was warm but after being part of big pink decorations for hours I came home and decided to go on a bike ride. I took Max's iPod with no destination and found myself heading down the same road I always take now.

I start along the edge of the water in our neighborhood. It's a long road, with marsh like shores with private docks that have signs that read "keep out". It was only five and I had air and water and... restlessness. So I rode my bike up the hills into the neighborhood. I zig-zaged up and down every road through out that area until I had seen every beautiful house at least twice or maybe three times. They were all cute and sweet. So many of them had bright flowers out front and cookouts in the back. Front porches with old people and wicker. Some people smiled when I drove by because I was smiling.

When I had seen all I could and coasted down all the hills without holding the handle bars, the rushes here were getting old and the music was still playing so I thought I would go back the way I came, past my house and continue on downtown.

I pushed hard up the hills telling myself it's what I should do. I shouldn't give up. I should just go and go and go, even if I was tired... Even if I was ready to fall over. So I kept going.

Ani DiFranco sang in my ears and I weaved through people on the sidewalks even though some didn't move when I was coming. I scooted behind restaurants and crossed streets on green lights and sang with no restriction. I rode past people and smiled at them. They ate at Dad's Restaurant and the Fish Market. Men pulled at ropes and sprayed down boats at the marina and I kept going. Over the bridge I could see the people dining below at Sunset Ribs.

I don't know why it's always so amazing when I ride my bike but it IS. It's like I see the world through rose colored glasses and my bicycle transports me to this place where I'm never tired, never hungry. I watch people living. It's my favorite.

I remember passing a man and his daughter once on one of my rides. They were partially hidden by bushes in the front yard but they sat on their front steps. I heard him say, "sometimes that's what friends are supposed to do..."
I loved that moment because I was passing life lessons happening.

My bicycle is the most powerful object I own besides myself. It's my vehicle and makes me feel free in ways nothing else can. I was gone 3 hours that night and I felt incredible. I felt incredible for days afterwards. I smiled brighter and my mood was stronger, my heart was happier and I felt like I was part of society again.

When I was in Willimantic there were days where I would stay up all night and when the sun would come up I would ride through the streets and watch people start their day. Men opening up shops and unloading trucks, children racing each other to the bus stop and I was a kid sitting on the steps of a church with her bike in her lap... Watching.

As pessimistic as I can be, I will always be the person who sits still and just watches, who listens to her car rattle and her brain run in the morning. Who loves good smells like perfumes and rain on asphalt. I am the person who sweats and is smiling because she appreciates the heat. I am the person who pays attention and chews her food so slow, she's always the last one at the table.

They say that movement is a one of the first key ingredients in calming yourself and I think I understand part of that. I've tried going on long walks and while they are good for talking with friends, they aren't good for opening up yourself. It's my bicycle that moves me... In more ways than one. I have to have my music though too. It's my potion of devotion and I loveee it.

I was proud of myself. What can I say? I just smiled for days.

M O V E YO U R B O D Y T O D A Y .

Saturday, June 7, 2008

They Won't Let Us Die, They Won't Let Us Eat

Today's article was
"The Dilemma of Genetic Engineering and Landmines".
A completely random yet ethically challenging question about GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and how they can help us. Normally it would be a question of GMO's having pesticides built into their genes or changing them to be riper, bigger and more fruitful. Today another spin has been put on, proving that once again GMO's can come to the rescue... if only we'd let them...

America... She wouldn't know a good thing if it kicked her in the teeth. Oh America... Such a young nation still picking up the pieces of a fucked up past only to be in the process of making new wounds.

In environmental studies (one of my most beneficial classes at my no name university) I learned about the Asian over-population. We learned about how wildly out of control it was and the system that was created to bring it back down. The ways the communities were set up to have older women check on the younger ones to make sure they weren't thinking about having more than one child. The health care system that was set up for free, for LIFE, for the single child family. Could America do that? Not in a million years. Why? Cause they don't wanna. That's why.
I have to laugh at all you fools with Hummer's today as you cry at every gas pump you pull up to. A very perfect representation of America. They just want what they don't need and then when it bites them in the ass, they don't understand why.

We JUST started the "Go Green" movement. Where has the rest of the world been all this time? While I was getting picked on by my roommates at school for taking home our papers and recycling every week, no body thought that maybe it would be a good idea to follow my lead. But that's America... Lazy.

So can you tell I'm a little bitter at how badly our country treats itself? Of course it's a beautiful nation, chalk full of opportunities for almost anyone but like any young lady, America has a lot of growing up to do.

So what of this article? GMO's... a touchy subject. Why? It reminds me of when I sat in my class room and the professor showed us a picture of clean energy windmills.
She said they wanted to put these out in an ocean, where the mills could spin constantly and supply us with clean energy. I thought it was amazing and fascinating at some of the things we've made to harvest the elements to use for power. But then she said that a petition was signed in an area they wanted to build. The people who lived on the water said they bought their houses for the view they had and they didn't want some man-made feature out in the water. Even though the structures would only appear an inch in height from the shore. The amount of clean energy we through away the day they said no, makes my head spin. Because of the view.

Sticking with the theme, let's hop back to the genetically modified good stuff. Both sides of this GMO argument come with heavy opinions. Personally I love things that are natural. It would be lovely to say they could stay that way but science is moving too fast to stop it now. The thought that we may be able to specially order what kind of baby comes out is just plain scary. But we don't live in the natural world anymore.

We are excessive people. We want everyone to live longer, bigger, stronger lives. Medicine's keep us alive, computers run our schedules and cars bring us to work. There's nothing natural about that, but it's the life we chose. And if our nation chose to bury weapons, well, it's only their responsibility to make it right. If GMO's can save lives, whether by keeping you from blowing up or by feeding you... How is that different from cutting down miles of natural rainforest to make paper, houses, or the deck you fry your burgers on?

If we don't want people to ever die, which is how medicine and the ethics connected with the sick tends to lead us to believe... Then we need to have a back up plan. Statistics show that more people are living longer. Quality of life is questionable but the point is, there are more mouths to feed and more going hungry everyday. Some people don't have the luxury to say, let nature do it's thing. Man has already gone against the natural flow by cheating death and harnessing "natural" things to make them unnatural. I don't believe it's fair to say we can pick and choose. We'd all be hypocrites, wouldn't we? Unless we live in teepee's in the woods and live off the land.

When you look at us as animals who are surviving - nature is our resource, so let it be that, in whatever form it can be.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Practicing Enlightenment

I want to close my eyes and see (or not see) a teddy bear but instead I see all the thoughts hanging over my head. This article makes me question my insecurites in that department for the first time. When this concept was first presented to me, it was more than satisfying to know that I wasn't crazy, I was just misinformed from my brain.

I accepted that it was a good answer to a bad problem. I always thought people were mad at me for one reason or another, even when I couldn't figure out what the reason was! But this week has been rough and we've been so distant. The article says that emotional distance is normal and that I should relax and let things happen as they do. I find this an incredibly trying practice. But I'm the one that wants to practice. So I need to keep on.

I read a blog on and I believe it was about forming habits. I could be completely off on where I got this but since I'm on that site all day, it must've come from there.... This one man talked about his love/hate relationship with the road as he became a runner. It pulled him out of bed early and he was tired and it made his bones ache. But everyday he got up and he ran. It was warm, it was cold, it was raining or it was just plain early. But he ran.

Eventually it got to the point where he and the road had an intimate relationship. He found rhythm and stride. Suddenly he didn't notice his bones aching or the watch on his wrist. It was about watching the world wake up and experiencing personal growth and stability through practice. That is what I must do.

In these low points of confusion and wonder, I have no choice but to lay down my vulnerability to this exercise and pray that it is the right one and I will not loose people on the way. I love each of them differently and uniquely as they are all different and unique to me.

They call it the "path to enlightenment". Have I put a name to the airy feeling I'm becoming aware of? I wondered if this new 'thinking' was the way of Buddha. I looked it up here. I found that the simple principles of taking care of yourself and each other had already been such a big part of my life, it wasn't entirely foreign to me. I often thought I was the last person on earth who believed we should have faith that people can change and that we should take care of each other. So why weren't we? But, it was the way in which I let it sit backwards. I worked for others before I worked for myself and when you put all your eggs in one basket, well, there's nothing left for you and you're starved.

I've let other people's reactions control me for so long and now that I've finally seen that there's a way out of it... It's terrifying and depressing in one of the best ways possible. I think of all the anger I've carried and how I wasted so many people and events and emotions on things that only existed in my mind because I was scared to alone. When in actuality, I've been alone all along. The good part? There's an actual method to my madness and it's actually not madness at all!

This is the point where I turn to accept my solitude and work whole-heartedly towards a study that could easily change my entire life; just by having new eyes. Like that quote from the movie, Loving Anabelle.

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in
having new eyes.
~Marcel Proust

That's really all it is and all it can ever be. My lanscape, (people), will never change. It is only in having new eyes to view them will I be able to truely appreciate and adore them, the way I long to do, from the safest point available. People as a whole are a messy, crazy, happy, sad mix. I love them so I need to learn to love all parts them... Even the messy, crazy, sad part.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Piano Man

((**This entry was written on scrap paper at Mohegan Sun**))

Jamie loved Billy Joel.
I remember burning the cd at his Applewood house when he moved his room upstairs into Kathryn's old one. That was six years ago when we had just finished high school and I was wondering if I still loved him, or if I could love the new person that he had become.

Today... Right now, the Billy Joel is 20 feet away from me singing "we didn't start the fire". I can see Jamie's fat head in my mind, bobbing along to the tune, singing every word. He loved Billy Joel.

Now I work as an accountant during the day and by night I am an usher for an arena that has housed dozens of celebrities a year. Some celebrities and their music do nothing to me, some of them move me for their musical talent and every once in a while i will get an artist who kicks up emotional dust. Each one that brings me to tears is over a person that is no longer part of my life.
Part of them is resurrected in the notes and words that fill the air. I'm suddenly transported to another time and place and it's like I'm there all over again and i can smell the leather seats in Jamie's car or the perfume in the hall from Jolene.

Today, May 31st, the "Italian restaurant" plays and Jamie's face haunts me. These people who I loved with parts of me I didn't think I could, will never be gone from me. I'll store them away when I can but the Billy Joel's, Rod Stewart's (yes, I know.. I'm old) and the Josh Groban's will bring them all back out up to the surface and I'll end up face to face with them again.

So much of me wants them in my life but more of me knows that they only come with chaos and are gone for legit reasons.
I'm not asking for easy love and easy relationships. Just a certain amount of forgiveness and more acceptance than people want to pass out.

We lost each other for a reason. For too much pain back then and the amount that still remains. My heart aches when the piano plays and I want to laugh, dance and fall down crying all at once.

Maybe I appreciate music; maybe I appreciate people, words and the like more than the average person. Or maybe I'm just like everybody else.

Maybe it's just an intricate case of missing people and an ultimate test of will to stay away from them. I don't know, even for myself. Now I have new faces and new loves, fresther scares and cleaner breaks.

But the piano man sings now, his own song, "Piano Man". The crowd screams and everyone is sill when the harmonica sounds.

"He says, bill, I believe this is killing me.
As the smile ran away from his face
Well Im sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"
-Billy Joel

The stage lights are blue and the drunken crowd (on both excitement and booze) is swaying in all opposite directions, making an arena of 9300 appear to be a human ocean and I'm happily drowning in, out of tune, voices. You get lost in their emotion sometimes. As though I could swim through their sound and movement. The arena brings out the strangest feelings in me sometimes.

The song ends. It was the final encore, so Billy stands and says:
Don't take any shit from anybody,

and he left the stage.

The Warmth

Don't let the world bring you down
Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold
Remember why you came
and while you're alive
experience the warmth
before you grow old

The Warmth ~ Incubus

The sunlight stretches across my computer screen and Incubus is in my ears. It's Sunday evening and my body is warm from walking in the sun all day. I'm not sure what's happening in the air but there's a change there I can't put my finger on. As though it's something I've never even fathomed but suddenly my mind is forced to look it in the face. Like stumbling across an alien spaceship in the woods. Wrap your mind around that. Right now, it's the only way I can describe it. Like my eyes are only half open and I'm starting to notice things that no one else ever will.

I watch the way people interact with each other as though I were standing at the zoo on the other side of the glass, studying a new species. People look so much like animals to me sometimes; especially when I see small children walking hand in hand with their parents.

I'm calmer for longer periods of time. I get upset but I don't get out of control. I get annoyed and keep it to myself until it's safe to talk about. I am forgiving of her again and again. She's a true test of patience and I don't need to put my pencil down yet.

I'm on my day off and it's been blissful. I read what I can to open my mind, watch some mindless internet videos and lay down on my brother's king size bed to watch Jeopardy. Isn't it funny how far away I feel from these people and I spend all my free time around them and they don't always know me and they don't always like me and here I am... relaxing in his room on his bed.

He'd kill me if he knew.

I think it feels like an apartment and it's different scenery to me, so I feel right at home. And by home I mean, some place I haven't even been before existing somewhere waiting for me to rent.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rewriting Summer

Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
-Oscar Wilde

Okay so the sun has been shining, the earth is warm, the air is humid and we should all be smiling. So... are you?

Last summer I had a blast with new friends I had made at Mohegan Sun. While things got a little hairy with my one friend (let's call her Eve), we still managed to go dancing all the time, party and have a great time.

However, when August rolled around, getting closer to September, there was trouble in paradise. The friends I had made started to hit a rough patch and through that time, it had devistated me. We were all fighting and clawing at each other's throats. How did things get so out of hand? Some of them went back to school and some of them came home on the weekends to work. Things mellowed out for a while, but it didn't really last.

Naturally, there was a falling out. To make a long story short, girls fight dirty. Why? Jealous, competition and greed get in the way really fast and I'm not that kind of a person who gets into it, I just get stuck in it. So the winter was rough without being friends with Eve because I missed her. That slowly shifted and we apologized to each other and moved on. Then it was my other friend I had to get rid of because she was getting so full of herself I thought her head may explode and we'd all die from the nuclear explosion. She had to go.

Now it's the cusp of summer where warm days are a lot closer together and hopefully the sun is warming up the ocean so we can go swimming. People are getting sunburned and didn't know they could and the drama... Yes, the drama has started back up again.

Eve graduated school and celebrated her 22nd birthday with a sour puss on her face. I had offered to help her by even telling her I'd take time off of work to spend the day with her. I was willing to help her with her problems. But she was distant and I before I knew it, the whistle had blown and the games had begun.

Here's where the lesson comes in. I didn't stay on the field. I realized where I was standing, said a few words to her to let her know I didn't want to play and I left.

Last year this would have been impossible! I cried about Eve and the mess that was around us all. Everything was foggy and I couldn't see who was throwing the ball around. But I can clearly see today that it is her. I tried to reason with her but her outrageous claims only hightened so I told her that I tried and that now I had to go.

Naturally she is furious and believes that I'm a terrible, fair-weather friend, who never cared but of course we all know different. If anyone cared, it was me. But I smiled to myself, not because she was miserable but, because I knew I found the hole in the boat and patched it before we all sunk. I can't help it if she jumped out. She refuses to be rescued, therefore, she's not my problem anymore and I feel pretty good about it.

I'm proud that I can remove myself from people when I have to but still be emotionally available to them if they need it. I think that's where this article taught me to put that all to rest.

The reason I stand by these articles is because without awareness of what's around you, how can you make educated decisions? I would've fallen back into that cycle of "don't be mad at me" and cried about it. Why should I let someone else make me cry and ruin my summer if they don't even care about me? I shouldn't.

So the moral of this story is, if someone is playing games with you, drop the ball and forfiet. There is no shame in dropping your weapon because an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Are your eyes open?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why We Shouldn't Care, In Order to Care

"To change the world
Start with one step
However small
The first step is hardest of all

If you close your eyes
'Cause the house is on fire
And think you couldn't move,
Until the fire dies
The things you never did
Oh, cause you might die trying
You'd be as good as dead.

If you give, you begin to live
You begin, you get the world."
~dave matthews band

In reference to my last post, I was quite upset with the actions, reactions and lack of actions (for that matter) by my mother and brother. This family unit proves to be my greatest obstacle. When I presented this idea to The Teacher, Michael, he asked me why I cared.

Why did I care that my brother wants nothing to do with me and my mother thinks I'm a bad person? Hmm. I argued that they were my family and the rules are different. But are they? While those two do bring out an inner nastiness and a primitive anger in me, was I really this terrible person they seemed to believe I was?

I didn't think so. So really the rules are not different for them. Every person on this planet has an opinion of another so just because we were born together doesn't mean their opinions are right. Look at my grandmother, her views are terribly skewed.

When I use my time to sort out my social life, I never think to sort out my mother and brother. My reason for this is because I don't believe they will ever change. But that's just it, for the most part, people don't change! My mother and brother behaved exactly as I thought they would, so why was I shocked? Consistancy. People are creatures of habit.

But what does this have to do with my family thinking I royally suck at life? Well, everything. No matter what I do today, they will remember all the yesterday's and live in the cycle that I'm trying to break away from.

The difference is, when you start to become aware of your surroundings and the people in it, you fall out that consistancy. As a human being, I will fall back into some kind of consistant pattern but for right now, I feel like I'm in a state of transition. I'm in a limbo of sorts, teetering on the line of concious and unconcious awareness. Most of the actions of my friends are 90% dismissable today whereas all the yesterday's turned into a big deal. It was very hard to let things slide and I felt like everything had to be brought to their attention because they 'hurt my feelings carelessly'. This doesn't mean that I won't still bring matters to the surface but I will be able to present them in a less harmful way for both parties.

So as I'm learning this forgiveness, acceptence and pattern of human nature, I hadn't applied it to the people I actually LIVE with. Why not? These two people are just as faulted, (if not more), than the people I choose to have in my life (my friends). Their opinion on me should not matter because if it does not match the opinion I have of myself, then what good is it to me?

Do I think I am a good person? Do I know that I'm trying to change my views? My way of living? My approach to people? Yes, I know what goes through my head every day. I know how people outside my house react to me. Of course we have our differences but more often than not, these people are warm and kind to me. I have heard many things from people only proving the theory I have about myself.

I rock.

Unfortunately the goal is to not to ignore negative feedback about ourselves but instead, look it over and decide if it has standing or not. If you're being called a careless slob, don't just say "I am not!" Review the information (sometimes in the form of an insult). Are you a slob because you are careless? Or do you work two jobs, sometimes running double shifts with no dinner and come home exhausted? I think being a little messy is justified. If you're home all day and simply can't be bothered well then, think about that.

The bottom line is that even the good comments from people can be misleading. What you always need to look at is how you view yourself. If you have a bad view of yourself, why is that? Is it because someone else has a bad view of you? Do you think they have any argument to accuse you of whatever travesty?

Self improvement seems to just learning to ask before reacting. When something happens you are asking yourself why it happened and then why you feel you do, THEN you're supposed to react accordingly. Life is a series of questions to yourself. Are you asking enough questions? Are you asking the right ones?

I was in a bad situation the other day. Was I at fault? Partly, yes. I didn't ask myself to stop anticipating the destruction that hadn't even happened yet. Did I deserve the reaction I got from all the rest of the parties involved? Not really but it probably could have been avoided.

So no matter who is judging you today, they always say, "consider the source". Such easy words, such trying practice. So practice.

Because in dismissing the negative things people have to say about us (if we don't care what they say), in turn, we learn to care about the most important thing... ourselves.

And when we care about ourselves, we can care for the whole world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

At the End of Violence

I feel as though I am yelling to the world and my voice is echoing off every wall, every tree and passing object, bouncing back in my face and deafening only myself. I'm telling them all I want peace! Begging for it over the loud roar of emotional gunfire. I'm in the middle of the war with a flower in my hand and no shoes. I'm fucked.

When my brothers big hands grabbed the fabric of my clothes and I felt myself tumble towards the desk in my dining room, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. When I felt my body propel backwards and found myself face to face with the floor, the only thing keeping me from hitting it - Max's bicep around my neck, I felt a real fear.

As if it were poison, my own brother's rage seaped through his skin and stained my neck. He screamed at me and it was loud but all I remember now is a lull of confusion and the bewilderment in his eyes. Who was that person? What had finally become of him?

His veins were screaming beneath the surface and his nose flarred like a dog. He told me never to touch him again. He came at me as though I had put cigarettes out on his arms for years. Whose glasses was he wearing? What was he looking at when he told me never to hit him again? I'm so little next to him. I'm harmless.

Even his arms were red with anger.

I didn't understand any of it in that moment and I don't understand it a day later either. I became hysterical once he left. I had never seen that look on his face or that anger towards me and it scared me more than I ever thought my brother could or ever would.

My mother seemed furious at first, remembering her husbands face inside her own son, getting sick at the thought but was she scared of him to? I'm not sure of anything. When we talked the inncident out when we got home she seemed angry at me still. Because I am with her most, we fight a lot. I say and do a lot of things that remind her of her mother and it makes her resent me. Did she somehow feel I got what I deserved?

She made him come home from work at 9pm and talk about it. He entered with a annoyed look on his face, he laughed at me for being upset and at the end of a 40 minute circle argument, I stood at the doorway and my mother was mad... at me.

"Where are you going?" she wanted to know. "You're making this worse by stressing me out because you're leaving!"

I just looked at her angry face then I looked at him, smiling. Disgusting, the both of them. Their lives wildly out of control and me, just trying to pass through the cracks of their anger and getting wedged between them. I walked out.

I mourned my loss last night. I mourned the little scraps of faith I thought I had left for my mother and the traces of friendship I thought my brother had for me. He never had respect because he doesn't understand what respect is. And what was I expecting from them?

How long will I be punished for a past I'm trying to patch? How long will it be thrown in my face to remind me just how poorly I did things? Will I ever learn to be deaf to them?

Was it beyond reaching to hope they could just accept me? Even just my mother?

Heather said it was a test. But how can you go into battle, when you've only learned what kind of gun you're holding?

I wasn't ready.