Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve


Hard to believe 2010 is nearly over. Even the weather seems a bit surprised by it as it's going to reach the low fifties today and tomorrow after days of very cold temperatures.

2010 was full of huge changes and events, and 2011 looms large with loads of possibilities and unanswered questions. As it says in the Dharma, "nothing is permanent, so roll with it." OK, I added that last part but I don't think the Buddha would hold it against me. And anyway I always find it easier to accept the first part of that sentence rather than the last.

I don't like New Year's resolutions, in fact I think they are very silly. Any moment is a chance to break a habit or begin something new, so what's the point of waiting for one day?

One of Gurdjieff's teaching methods was to have a student work on breaking a habit, typically something enjoyable and addictive and not one the person put much thought into. By doing this one comes up against oneself, one is more aware of their mechanical ways, and out of the struggle one creates a heightened sense of self.

One of my experiments with this was to stop eating candy at work. Candy is everywhere in the office and in the past couple of years I've developed a fierce sweet tooth. Going without brought a lot of awareness to myself and my habit. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw how much I ate in one day without really thinking about it.
After digging around in this for a while I could see the mechanics behind this addiction, primarily the stress and unhappiness I feel in that job. So then it's on to facing those issues, and then on to something else behind that. It takes a lot of mental effort to stay with it but is worth it in the end.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thirty Weeks

Just got back a little while ago from my weekly appointment at the hospital, only this time I also had to have an hour-long glucose test so all in all we were there for three hours.
The cervical exam was especially painful this week and I'm still experiencing pain from it.

I am having increasingly worse reactions to the weekly progesterone shots, which we discussed with the doctor. Bottom line is, I can stop them if I want but the success rate of preventing early labor is so high, and the reaction I'm having, while miserable, is not so severe that I should continue the shots.
I figured as much but part of me irrationally wished they could be stopped altogether as they are so painful and cause so many issues for me. But you can't argue with statistics...or something like that.
The doctor said I could stop them at 34 weeks but if I did go into labor at that point we would not be able to take the baby home with us as we would at 36 weeks. That's not something I want to happen, so hopefully the side effects won't be so severe at that time that I will continue the shots for two more weeks.

36 weeks is the magical number. Stitches will be removed, shots will end, nearly all restrictions lifted. That's six weeks away. The time seems be moving quickly.

Three people came over last night for a Gurdjieff group meeting. It was so good to have that again and happily, they want to come back again for more meetings.
Funny, I thought that I was not really using all that I've learned so far in my newest life situation, but as we talked I realized I have been, I just haven't been consciously thinking, "OK, I'm implementing what I've learned!"
It was good to see those kind, earnest souls again. I've missed them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Something to Look Forward To

I have been in contact with the woman who organizes the meetings for the Gurdjieff group that I attend and am happy that we will have a meeting in my home, probably this week.
Interestingly, I emailed D about having people at my house now that I'm on modified, and she wrote back that they had been discussing doing the same thing!

I attended one meeting back in September, this after our Summer break, but that's been it for the year. I feel disconnected from the Work, something I have studied on my own and more recently in this particular group, for a few years now. The energy of the people and the meditative quality of the reading groups cannot be explained, other than to say it's a powerful experience every time. The group meetings have propelled me further into the Work and taught me a lot.
I meditate daily but this is something different, and it has become a meaningful part of my life.

The writer John Shirley once wrote to me that followers crossed mountains in order to take part in the Work. This is very true and while I have not had to sacrifice as much for my own pursuits, I am reminded of this whenever members from Cleveland drive 4 -5 hours one way and back in one day, just to work with our group once a month; or even just to have 2-3 people drive nearly an hour in winter to our home to meet with me. It's the same sense of effort and community that has coursed through these groups since the beginning.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

On the rising of the sun,
and the running of the deer,
the playing of the merry organ,
sweet singing in the choir.

The Holly and the Ivy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ghost Baby


She stares out at us in these photos, seeing but not seeing. Once skeletal, now fuller and fleshier. Three pounds! I watch her heart beat and feel the profound connection we share, and her own burgeoning Self. Formidable form of life!
Ghost-like, illuminated, beautiful.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now I Remember

As mentioned in the post below we had a growth ultrasound this afternoon.
The baby weighs 3 pounds which is slightly above average for a 28 week fetus but still well within normal. Her limbs and organs all look good, too. In fact, all results are very good.

We saw her wave her hands around and move quite a bit, then the ultrasound tech moved the wand over Jessie's face and all my depression and discouragement dissipated instantly. There was this precious, beautiful and angelic face that briefly peered out at us. No longer a skeletal face, her cheeks look a bit chubby and her mouth has a rosebud look to it. Just beautiful. I cry every time I look at the photos of her hand and face. She looked so peaceful, too. Could it be she was smiling? Not sure that's possible but she certainly didn't look unhappy.
I was so overwhelmed with love that I feel the most relaxed and happy I've felt in a while. It's really something what happens to someone when all that love overflows!

Tomorrow begins my 29th week. Just 11 more weeks if we make it to the due date and I'm seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

Petulance

"I give up."
I had that thought this morning although that's not what I really felt. I feel discouraged.
I'm tired of pain, progesterone shots, doctor exams and tests, constant nose bleeds, swollen sinuses, worrying about going into labor too early, haggling with the insurance company.
So I guess in a fit of frustration and self pity I thought, "I give up. Maybe I'll go to bed and refuse to get up until I go into labor. No more doctors, no more tests, no more shots, screw the insurance company."
I guess even 41 year olds have times of petulance.
Cloudy days don't help, either. Or the fact that Christmas is three days away yet I feel completely disconnected from it. Or that we wanted to see the red moon and lunar eclipse but couldn't due to snow and clouds.

But ultimately, I am not an "I give up" kind of person. I can be cranky, no doubt about that. And I can get discouraged and frustrated, but never will I give up.

I started a mental list of places to go after the baby is born. India? Mexico? Antarctica? Highly unrealistic at this phase of my life, but what the heck. Hueston Woods, the art museums, even New York City are much more realistic and I look forward to seeing all of them again or for the first time.
I can't wait to take Jessie out for her first hike in the woods. I hope she loves nature as much as we do. I believe she will.

Weekly doctor visit and a growth ultrasound today so I need to work on improving my mood. I don't think the professionals appreciate 41 year old petulance.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Bit of Good News

Had my weekly doctor's appointment yesterday and I'm very happy to report that I am now on modified bed rest. It's a small step but one I'm thrilled to take.
As happy as I am about this, I was dismayed to find out last evening and this morning that moving around more has brought on more nausea and more vomiting. One would think at this stage in the pregnancy I would be well past all that, but no such luck. Not that this will send me back to bed, of course!

I almost hate to admit it but I found one plus to being on bed rest, other than the obvious of saving the pregnancy, of course. We had snow today and in our area that means no matter how small the amount, the roads are in terrible shape and the commute is horrendous. Normally my commute to work is about 45 minutes, but on a day like today I could be facing 2 hours, and typically by car as the bus rarely shows up when the weather is bad. Being stuck in the house, watching the snow fall and not dealing with that feels pretty nice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brrrr

We are in the grips of this bitter cold blast that's covered most of the country. This morning it's in the single digits with wind chills at ten below. The furnace hardly stops running these days. Even so, I can't say I'd rather be warm in bed than out and about.

It seems Christmas is shaping up to be a non-event this year. Q finally brought in my Christmas decorations on Sunday and I put them out, minus the tree. Even so, there's just an air about things that makes it feel very un-Christmasy to me. But I'm ok with that.

My psychic sixth sense/intuition went into overdrive this weekend, bringing with it powerful dreams. But I felt very uneasy, specifically, worried that Q was going to have a car accident. He was out in the snow on Sunday and arrived home safely then yesterday morning his car slid on ice and went into a ditch. Q is fine and so is the car but it had to be towed out of the ditch. I actually felt a bit relieved once it had happened as I figured if that was the worst of it then we were ok. And now Q is working on getting new tires for his car.
It can be difficult to see clearly when I'm dealing with someone I love, as then my feelings and fears obscure the big picture and I tend to think the worst and not focus on a more balanced view.
I can't even imagine what it will be like to be a Mom with these abilities. At the very least, I've grown up around women with similar abilities and have seen through the years how they deal with it. When I was a little girl and I would tell my mother about a premonition or a dream that came to be, she would tell me it was my "Indian blood" because we are part Cherokee, and my full blooded Cherokee great-grandfather, as well as other family members, were healers.

Thursday is the official start of my 28th week. The doctor said my case would be reviewed at this time and I may be put on modified bed rest. Needless to say, I will be bringing this up at my appointment tomorrow. And one of the first things I plan to do is color my hair. I am prematurely gray and am currently sporting an impressive line of white hair which has caused Q to dub me Cruella deVille.
I also hope to make some food for Q's Solstice party on Saturday as well as a few meals for us.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lovely Objects: Menorahs

I've always enjoyed all the many styles of menorahs. Here are a few I found that I like.










Friday, December 10, 2010

Poems

Have to admit, the well has been dry for a while. But as I process all that's happened lately and settle into a reflective quiet, stimulated by my reading, I find the words coming to me again. Below are three I wrote the other night. This is how they have begun but hard to say how they will end up.

Americans


There are billions of people
who lived their wholes lives
never feeling the need to start over new somewhere else.

But that isn't so with us.
We have scarred the land,
burned bridges, dug deep furrows,
all because of this need to begin anew.

Born again, baptized, renamed
we push onward
until there is nothing left.
Our destiny inextricably linked to destruction.


Ancestors

Further back, the cold skin,
the unintelligible tongue.
Blood thirsty progenitors who answered to the sky and sea,
the builders of stone monuments to the moon and stars.

Where did all of that go?
Lost in domestication,
lost in the mists of Imperialism and the American Dream.
Lost.


Family Tree

My family is a mix of
victim and victors.
What does it matter to me,
if they died on the Trail of Tears
or under the boot of the British.
If they owned slaves
or built missiles?

I believed I had sloughed off the remains of these identities
these binary ideas.
Yet I find without even trying that I repeat the mannerisms of my father,
the anger of my mother,
the thoughts of their time and class.
So then, who's to say I am not
part oppressed,
part slave owner,
part bomber of worlds
and even darker things than these, which are rarely spoken of?
Of all the secrets I carry with me,
Maybe I carry these things, too.
At least I know, I cannot be innocent.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have-Tos

Today is a day of "have-tos."
First was a call to the cable company because the Internet connection on my desktop has gone out--again. Nothing like paying $50 a month for terrible service.
Then a call to the local Social Security office. I submitted all the forms for my name change back in September and had yet to receive my new SS card. Turns out, they never received the information. This means my SS information, my birth certificate and our marriage certificate are "out there" somewhere and that makes me nervous.
Then it was filling out more paperwork for my long term disability while on bed rest. A bit anxiety provoking but overall not too bad.

Next up I have to order more clothes! I'm expanding quickly and am running out of things to wear for the colder weather. And did I mention the cold? Brrrr! In the low teens at night and not much warmer during the day. So glad I married a man who is like a furnace and who keeps me warm at night.
Also, buying another birthday gift for Q. That's a have-to I'll enjoy.

Is origami a have-to? Maybe not, but I'm stuck on one particular fold and I am determined to learn it. I also have a first draft of a poem written down that I need to work on.

Last night I watched the documentary Ram Dass: Fierce Grace. Such a deeply moving and profound film/person/experience. I was reminded of where I used to be and what I went through and so I feel today that this is the most important have-to: Ram Dass' life is a valuable reminder to me of the need for balance between the awareness of suffering on one side and love, compassion, joy on the other. This is ongoing work. It's not something one just "gets" and then moves on to other things.
I do work on it. But I seem to still be imbalanced as I am regularly overwhelmed by the suffering of others and can have difficulties pulling myself out of that place. This can often turn to anger and hard-heartedness in order to handle the more tender, difficult feelings. So yes, balance between that openness and that hard place tops the Have-To list.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Different

This week I had my last ultrasound for a while. The baby was face down and curled up so we couldn't see her face. She's been relatively quiet the past few days which means less discomfort for me but a bit more worry as I like being reassured by the strong kicks and turns. It's difficult to be on bed rest and in this condition and not worry about every pain, or lack thereof.

Next week I begin my weekly doctor visits, which I resent. Up 'til now it's been weekly ultrasounds with twice monthly doctor visits.
After successfully avoiding doctors for years it's hard to have to see them so regularly. This isn't to imply that I'm ungrateful as I know very well if it wasn't for one doctor in particular I would have lost the pregnancy. Pretty amazing when I think about it.

Bed rest is wearing me down. This week has seen terrible pain in my lower back and my right leg, particularly my knee. I've also been having trouble with my sinuses and have a bloody nose every day. And sad to say, I've had some panic attacks. Not major ones but they are bad enough. I've found in the past two weeks that being in the doctors' office can be difficult as I've grown used to the near solitude and quiet and I feel a bit overwhelmed and irritated to be around people and noise again. I also find that even talking on the phone wears me out now. I don't view these as good developments but am unsure at this point what to do about it.

My 41st birthday was Wednesday and Q made it a special day for me with generous gifts and Chinese food and just being a good husband.
Today would have been my father's 82nd birthday. I miss him very much and deeply regret that he is not alive to be a grandfather to our child.

Chanukah began on Wednesday, too. Q brought out his Menorah and we light the candles every evening and Q recites the prayers in English and Hebrew. We definitely need to get some latkes in the mix, though!

I realized the other day I couldn't remember my work phone number.
I did so much at work that it's taken a full-time temp and about half the department to do all my tasks, but my memory is growing fuzzy about things. The department I work in is in the process of instituting a whole new way of doing business so when I do return it will be like learning a new job--which could be challenging and interesting.
My Gurdjieff group has combined with another Gurdjieff group and changed meeting time and place, so that will be something else that will be very different when I finally return.
Well, the world goes on. So does my world, just in a very different way than it used to.
I feel in some ways very different than I did before all of this happened. I think it's changed me in a fundamental way.
Maybe when it's time for me to return to my old ways I won't want to and will look for something different.
Then again, I'll be a new Mom and probably too tired to do much of anything!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Miracle

Miracle

Know this-
that every near miss is a miracle.
In the early morning light
I watched the bird fly out of the cat’s mouth
and knew right down to my bones this is true.

Don’t ever think we stand still,
life is a constant
tug-of-war between that which is fluid
and that which is not
and love soldiers on
side by side with loneliness.

These are the things I will profess to believe
when every day I see the births and deaths of all things-
and by death I mean change-
because everything continues on in one fashion or another
until it is nothing but light
which we consume like starving beggars at the banquet.
It could never be any other way.

Geology

I love to learn how the earth used to be.
What is now a desert was once an ocean,
that which is separated was once whole.
The great beauty that was created and then destroyed
and then created again as the earth followed its own rhythms
that when studied from a distance of six billion years becomes a soft undulating motion like a boat on the ocean.
Still today,
mountains collide and glaciers drift
and the moon continues its ancient conversation
with its own child.
How wonderful it must have been in those early days, alone,
when the planet would release itself of its burdens,
with no one around who would believe these movements to be betrayals,
or who would over thousands of years
do everything in their power to subdue it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lovely Object: Laptop

Q bought me a Toshiba laptop for my birthday. It's quite a gift! I haven't even begun to do all I can with it and I'm looking forward to transferring my writing, music and photography from my old desktop to the new laptop. I'm afraid I've spent a little too much time since Saturday playing on it, but it's been a wonderful distraction.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Isn't every day a day to be thankful?
Isn't gratitude something that should flow easily
from our lips
our open hands
our minds?
Do we not wake up every morning,
put our feet firmly on the floor
and move on towards the future?
This in itself is an act of gratitude.

All the things we surround ourselves with
and label as good
are not worth the effort of saying, "thank you."

We breathe in
we breathe out.
If we are aware,
we are thankful for the in between.

Awareness is gratitude.
To be aware is to be thankful
and no more is needed.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sobering News

Had my weekly ultrasound today and met with the doctor who did my surgery.
As usual, my stitches are holding strong which is always welcome news.

Unfortunately, the news from the doctor wasn't so great. We are now heading into more dangerous times when the risk of early labor is high, and I have to double down on my efforts to remain in bed. My only ray of hope is the doctor said that he understands how difficult this is and I can be driven to a local park and sit in the car and enjoy a change of scene.

The idea of going into labor this early frightens me, and no amount of statistics on survival rates makes me feel any better.
Going forward, I will meet with a doctor every week for at least the next several weeks.
I had naively hoped there might be an easing of restrictions. Why, I don't know, other than I'm going stir crazy. I'm feeling pretty discouraged right now, though.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lovely Objects: Peonies


Here we are heading into a world of floral slumber and I'm thinking about peonies. They have such an audacity about them that I admire; they defy the strength of their own stalk, their giant blooms bending over onto lawns and walkways every Spring.

There are many varieties of peonies, no one's sure of the exact number but it ranges from 25 to 40. The flower is named after Paeon, student of the Greek god Asclepius. When Asclepius became jealous of his student, Zeus transformed Paeon into a flower in order to save him. Given Zeus' track record, I'd say there are worst things to be turned into.

Peonies are also a common motif in Chinese art, and are a symbol of prosperity.
























Here's a work by a Japanese artist.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 8: Milestones

We did it. Reached the first milestone; 24 weeks pregnant without going into labor. The next milestone is...well, I'm a bit confused and can't remember if it's 26 or 28 weeks. But if all goes as it should, by December I won't be having the weekly ultrasounds. By 36 weeks the progesterone shots will end. At 37 weeks the stitches will be removed.

The fear of early labor is always with me. But every week the ultrasound technician tells me the stitches are in fantastic shape, my cervical length has not only held but has actually lengthened a bit on its own since the surgery. And the doctor who did my surgery told me I am extremely lucky to be doing well enough to be at home on bed rest rather than still in the hospital.

A milestone reached is good but I feel I can't get too excited as we just don't know what will happen. Cautiously optimistic.

The baby is strong. She moves all the time and yesterday during the ultrasound we watched as she moved her hand and rested it under her chin. Three weeks ago we laughed as she stuck her tongue out three times. Amazing! She has a tongue and is sassy to boot!

Complications started for me within days of finding out I was pregnant and it's just amazing that through all of this, this embryo, fetus, baby has survived and grown.

This latest adventure had made me forget past experiences but yesterday I was remembering a truly strange and awful experience around 6 or 7 weeks where it seemed by all counts I had miscarried. You name the symptom I had it, including seeing what looked to all the world like an embryo.
The doctor was convinced I'd had a miscarriage and sent me bleeding and exhausted to the ultrasound technician only to hear her say, "There's the heart, beating away." Sure enough.

The past 24 weeks have defied the odds and put Q and I through things we'd never experienced before. It can be tiring to think, "All this and the baby isn't even born yet."

Hang in there, Bean. We'll make it yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lovely Objects: Meditation


OK. I'm playing fast and loose with the concept of an object. But I had to include meditation as it is all about the good stuff in life. Those things that make you feel content and peaceful and that you want to share with others.
Vipassana (wee-pah-sahna) meditation can be a life changing practice. It takes time and practice yet benefits can be experienced the first time one sits, even if it's just for a few minutes.
I could write extensively about this particular practice and how it's changed my life, but I feel the web site I included a link to has a very good description, as well as other informative articles on Buddhism and Mindfulness practice.
Enjoy.

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 7: Holidays

Oh, boy. Here they come.
Kids are still munching on the last of their hoarded Halloween treats and the Christmas advertising blitz has started. In between the two are Thanksgiving, both our
birthdays and the little holiday that could, Hanukkah.
Oy.

Let me just say right off the bat, it can be really hard to let go of those childhood memories that seem to seal forever in a glitter filled capsule how the holidays should be. I've had to remind myself on more than one occasion that what happens now is not the same as what happened in childhood, or even ten years ago.
And there's nothing wrong in wanting to carry those memories with us through life, if we have them to begin with, but like everything else, holidays change and evolve as we age and like fingerprints, they are unique to every person.

So here we are, Q and I, facing our first holiday/birthday season as a married couple and I'm stuck in bed. As mentioned in an earlier post, our Thanksgiving trip to see his family in New England was canceled, something we are both disappointed about.

Q told me the other day that holidays aren't important to him. Hmmmm. He also really dislikes Christmas. Double hmmmm.
Q loves the Winter Solstice. His fondest memories are not of official holidays, but his family's yearly maple syrup making event on their property in New York which were in every sense a family holiday.
I get that. And I feel a lot of the holidays are revenue driven, corporate produced balls of fluff, or religious events I have no interest in taking part in.

But...I love Christmas and I want to show Q that it can be a holiday for anyone who wants it, not just Christians, and it can be how you want it to be.
The day is ingrained too deeply in my psyche, I suppose and goes with me wherever I go in life.
I mean, for Pete's sake, I even love fruitcake. And every year I have to restrain myself to not go into an egg nog induced coma.

I've also taken part in the Jewish traditions and holidays that are part of Q's life and I feel it's only fair that goes both ways. Last year we exchanged gifts and had a Christmas dinner but, well, you can bring a horse to the Christmas tree but you can't make him drink from the tree stand.

This year, I'm already sad at the thought of what will and won't be for the next couple of months.
But I can get help in putting out some Christmas decorations. Gifts can be ordered through the Internet. And Q and I will continue to work on creating our own traditions and our own life together. Nothing bad about that.
Today I did some Internet research on stores that sell pre-made Thanksgiving dinners. They can be expensive and I feel we're taking a risk as they may not taste very good, but I think it's worth a try.

I do hope that Q will one day see the pleasures in Christmas. It isn't easy for me to take part in holidays that are primarily done in Hebrew and are based on beliefs I don't agree with, but I still find things to like, and just sharing those times with Q makes me happy.
Funny how the things you think you are unyielding on give way when you love someone.

Next year we will have a baby with us and we will be able to share our memories and traditions with her as she grows up and then she will create her own traditions and memories to share with her loved ones. I want very much for her to be able to decorate a Christmas tree, take part in a Seder, and learn how to tap trees and make syrup, as well as learn the recipe for my world famous stuffing.
Pretty exciting, if you ask me, and one holiday season stuck in bed seems a small price to pay in order for all of that to happen.

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 6: Seeing Benefits in the Idea of a Schedule

There have been times in my life when creating a schedule for myself (much more satisfying than having one made one for me, by the way) has come in handy.
When I got my college diploma in 2003 and then couldn't find a full-time job for over a year, it was sticking to my daily schedule that got me through the worst times, and my dedication finally paid off in finding a stable job.

And now I believe it's time again to create some kind of schedule. Nothing too rigid, and no desire to beat myself up for not keeping to it. But it wouldn't hurt to set aside certain times of the day for certain tasks--my exercises, meditation, my crafts, etc. My hope is this will go a long way to make the days feel more purposeful, which in turn will help to alleviate the depression and stress that go along with this new twist in the road.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lovely Objects: Cruelty Free Bags


Just discovered these and am very excited to find them. Pansy Maiden Bags-- all handmade and vegan, too. Not only is the animal lover in me happy, but the design lover as well because these bags have lovely clean lines and a clutter free look.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 5: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I can't shop for baby items. Or for that matter, items for myself.
Sure, I can buy just about anything I need over the Internet but that's not nearly as enjoyable as picking out clothing and furniture for the baby in a store. And I can't even imagine how hard it will be to order a nursing bra without trying it on first.
I can't color my hair or get it cut until after the baby is born. Now there's a good look.

The work sponsored baby shower is out.
My goal of being in good physical shape for labor by practicing yoga and light gym workouts is long gone.
Holidays? I can't even stand to think of them. Q and I have December birthdays and I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out how I can give Q a special day without fully taking part in it. The Thanksgiving trip to New England we were looking forward to is out, of course. Don't even get me started on Christmas.
Q and I were married in a small ceremony out of state and so we were planning a party for all our local friends, but not anymore.

Food has become a big issue for me. I'm increasingly frustrated that I can't go to the grocery store and make healthy meals. I know I'm not getting enough protein. In fact, as I type this out I am trying to choke down an awful tasting protein drink to supplement my diet.
I'm rarely able to satisfy a pregnancy craving. And anyone who's had one of those knows how intense they can be.

I miss walking in the woods. Practicing yoga. Photography. On the other hand, I don't miss the dull routines of my job and the long bus commute. I don't miss walking from the bus stop to my office through what I call "the gauntlet" of heavy smokers, spitters and harassers that cover the sidewalks of the city where I work.
It's also interesting to learn of what I did before that I don't miss that much after all. Like volunteering for a local hospice, or cycling. Before I became pregnant I was working towards taking part in a bikeathon and had worked up from not riding at all to 30 miles at a time. Yet I look back on that time and think, "How miserable! All that pain and the difficulties with my allergies and breathing and constant bike breakdowns!"
I'm sure I will enjoy more leisurely rides with Q and the baby, but I have no interest in pursuing cycling heroics again.

Some days are really bad. I feel overwhelming depression and my nerves are raw. The fears of going into early labor and losing the baby can be overwhelming and I worry that a wrong move will tear out the stitches.

I get very bored. I get angry and frustrated. Things that normally wouldn't bother me at all, like a dead battery in a remote or a faulty Internet connection now feel huge to me.
Last night I asked my husband to rub my back because I find that all the hours I spend alone wear on me and I need to feel human touch to calm my nerves and ease the depression.
There are good days and bad, that's for sure. And some days it's hard to follow "the guidelines."

I thought the other day how it's counter productive to think of how I wish life could be, because in doing so I am not accepting how it is and therefore make myself more unhappy and am unable to exist in the present moment.
The days come unbidden then leave us, maybe full of our regrets. There's not much I can control other than how I mentally construct these days for myself.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lovely Objects: Polynesian Restaurant?

Well this one may take a bit of imagination on the part of the reader to be considered a lovely object, but for the writer, it's infused with enough nostalgia to be deemed "lovely."

I grew up eating at the Polynesian style Chinese restaurants in the Boston area, but South Pacific was my absolute favorite, and I will even go as far to say that as a little girl I thought it was magical--the seashells! The murals! And those exotic sounding rum drinks I couldn't have! (Still have no idea what a Fogcutter tastes like)
These restaurants were very common back then, probably still are to some extent.
And while they smack of a bygone era, my understanding in reading recent reviews is that the South Pacific is still serving good food.

South Pacific in Newton is a classic, a time capsule that from the looks of these photos taken in 2007 hasn't changed a bit since the late 70s and 80s. The only change I remember seeing was the cool outdoor neon sign was replaced after the original was damaged during 1985's Hurricane Gloria.

So, yes, I'm a vegetarian. Very anti-fast food, blah blah blah. But in the last two months or so of my pregnancy I've been literally drooling over the memories of Pu-Pu Platters with the little flaming kettle in the center of the bowl, the fried rice, the chicken chow mein, even the pineapple served at the end of the meal and the endless pots of tea served in heavy cups with no handles.
Don't hold it against me, but I would abandon all principles to be able to visit this place and eat all of that just one more time.

Thomas Wolfe may have written that one cannot go home again but I would bet a meal at the South Pacific in Newton, MA would get me at least half way there, and that's fine with me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lovely Objects: Origami


This was a gifted artist. I was inspired to take up origami a couple of weeks ago after I read about this artist. Unfortunately, what I read was Eric Joisel's obituary in the New York Times. He died much too early but left a wonderful bit of immortality.

As a coincidence, I was perusing my Netflix queue, which tends to be long, and found a documentary I'd forgotten I'd added, Between the Folds. Yes, it's about origami, and features Eric Joisel. I look forward to seeing it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles 4: Oh, the Trauma!

I remember learning years ago that women who were sexually abused as children can struggle with pregnancy and childbirth as the changes in their bodies cause stress and revive painful memories.

I can't say that's exactly my situation. However, this isn't to say I haven't had problems. Maybe if my pregnancy had no complications I wouldn't be having the struggles I have, but that's not the case. Instead, having issues since roughly my third week has meant being examined by what at times has felt like an assembly line of doctors and other personnel. And each time has been increasingly difficult rather than easier.

Now I think it's safe to say on behalf of all women that a sense of personal dignity goes out the window when one is pregnant. There is a loss of privacy as well as a sneaking suspicion that our bodies are no longer our own. Such is the nature of the process, especially in these days of what strikes me as a hyper awareness of pregnancy and a woman's role as the bearer of children.

But it is different for those who have been abused as a whole host of PTSD related issues can rear their ugly heads, usually at the worst possible time.
There is for me a feeling of vulnerability, fear even, whenever I have to be examined, and I can't seem to get over a slight feeling of violation.
Having my husband with me has helped me a great deal. I find on the rare occasion when Q is not present my level of fear increases dramatically. Unfortunately, my body's way of dealing with all of this is to tense up, which causes more problems. Here then, is where deep breathing exercises can help me a great deal but unfortunately, not always.

Upon entering the surgery room before my cerclage, in addition to my fears about having surgery, I suddenly became so frightened of being alone in a room full of strangers and facing a surgery that would render me completely vulnerable and my body completely exposed, that I had to be given something to relax me as my attempts at deep breathing and relaxation exercises failed miserably. For those of us who deal with PTSD, the "fight or flight" syndrome is a familiar experience, and when there is no way to engage in flight then fright can easily take over.

The night after I returned from the hospital after my surgery, Q had to rush me back to the maternity triage because we feared a miscarriage. I was taken into the exam room while Q was told to stay in the waiting room. Not a good idea. Already overwrought by the experiences of the past four days and the fears of losing the baby, I nearly went into hysterics when the nurse attempted to insert a catheter in me to get a clean urine sample. I made her stop, going so far as to sit up and push her hands away.
Fortunately, we do live in a more understanding age and the nurse immediately stopped, and was kind to me in the process. Yet I knew I still had to face the cervical exam!
It was this evening that for the first time I admitted out loud that I have abuse issues. Despite having already been to two hospitals and seeing a whole host of doctors, midwives, nurses and technicians, I had not ever allowed myself to say those words. I had certainly thought them, though.
Saying it out loud helped. Duly noted in my record, the young nurse was professional and kind, helping me feel that I did the right thing. I managed to "talk myself down off the edge" and got through the rest of the exam.

This was the same night that upon learning I had not miscarried, the "fetus" became the "baby." Up to this point I had done what I could to remain emotionally removed from the life growing in me in order to protect myself. I worried that being too attached and then losing the pregnancy would be too painful to overcome. But that night, when I heard the heart and saw the baby on the ultrasound, I sobbed in relief and knew I was in 100% no matter what would happen.

However, nothing is that simple for me. I do still feel a bit removed, at times as if it's all unreal. I understand it can be normal for any pregnant woman to feel like there's really not a baby growing inside of her, but I wonder how much of it stems from my abuse issues, as removal from self is the ultimate safety of the abused.
It bothers me to write this. I worry it makes me a bad person, a failed mother before even starting, but I also know that this is part of the impermanence of my feelings and nothing to be attached to. Just like those hormonal bursts that make me horrible to be around, or the cravings, or depression over being on bed rest, it is fleeting, like clouds passing a mountain, and it cannot touch the love I already feel for this jumping, bumping little girl growing inside of me.

In a sense, what I experience now is nothing compared to what I went through as a young woman. It's a long, painful road back to one's self after one has been abused, and it never leaves one entirely. I find it makes things a bit easier by accepting that it will always be with me in some way. This is not giving up or giving in, rather it's a letting go.
Of course, if it was up to me I'd have no more exams, but it's not about me. And I also believe there is a line between taking care of oneself and hemming oneself into a restricted life by making all kinds of rules and accommodations to the past. I've seen more than one woman ruined by doing this and I won't be one of them, at least not any more.

It can be discouraging after all this time to be in a situation that brings up so much pain, but unlike when I was younger, I know now I can deal with it. Even when I'm not at my best I am still "dealing with it." And the love I now have in my life, something I lacked for many years, is an unexpected gift that helps in profound ways.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lovely Objects: Tea



Q brought home this tea the other night and I love it. I mix it with honey and milk and it's like chai.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lovely Objects: Thai Spirit Houses


I have one made by this man in my living room and my enjoyment of it never ends. The artist lives in California and has taken part in several exhibits and won awards for his beautiful work.
He is a Buddhist who spends a great deal of time in Thailand and loves the culture, something that definitely comes through in his work.

Check them out here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 3: The Guidelines

1. Get clean and dressed every day. Brush hair and teeth; wear comfortable clothes but never wear pajamas and robe all day.

2. Don't give in to despair or worries. While it's not possible to remain positive and "up" all of the time, dwelling too long on the negatives does no one any good.

3. Time goes by quickly, even while lying in bed. Maintain some kind of schedule in order to keep a focused and sharp mind.

4. Television is not the best form of entertainment.

5. Think every day of good things, things to be thankful for, no matter how hard the task may seem. In fact, the times when it seems most difficult is when I need to think of what I am thankful for.

6. Be happy for the people who offer friendship and a helping hand. But don't be surprised or disappointed by the friends who offer nothing.

7. Laugh. Every day.

8. Now is not the time to think too much about the past, or even look too far ahead to the future. Now is the time to use all I've learned about living in the moment.

9. Love unconditionally, unreservedly, the life growing within me.

10. Acceptance.

11. Patience.

12. Be kind to myself. I am now my own best company, do I really want to bring myself down all time?

13. Per the above; ok...pregnant and 41 is not that pretty a picture, especially after lying in bed for weeks. Just remember the body always changes no matter what the situation, and think of what I am gaining. Remember I am not just my body.

14. Meditate every day. Tap into the universal light and energy and love that exists for all of us.

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 2: Husband

An old Chinese parable:

There was a country farmer working in his field and his horse ran away. His neighbors sympathized over his bad luck. "Who's to say what is good and what is bad?" He said.
A few weeks later, his horse returned along with a herd of wild horses. His neighbors congratulated him on his good fortune. "Who's to say what is good and what is bad?" He said.
While taming one of the wild horses, the farmer's son was thrown and broke his arm. This seemed like a bad turn of events to his neighbors but the farmer gave the same response.
A week later the army came through the province and conscripted every able bodied man, but not the farmer's son with his broken arm. "Who's to say what is good and what is bad?"

I've thought of this story a lot lately as it seems to sum up things rather well these days.
I am for all intents and purposes an invalid doing all I can to prevent the loss of our baby.
Yet every day that passes, no matter how difficult, is full of gratitude and love. Rarely a day goes by that my husband of just two months doesn't do something or say something that shows his love and care for me.
Whether it's sleeping on the hospital floor without complaint or bringing home little treats from wherever he's been that day, I can tell I am not far from his thoughts, as he is not far from mine.

Is it all a bed of roses (no pun intended)? No. Navigating a new marriage, especially at our ages, along with this stressful situation is not easy, and a great deal has fallen on Q's shoulders. But love and humor go a long way and smooth many rough patches, and in some ways our transition from independent minded singles to married couple has gone surprisingly smooth. This I owe to our love for one another and the hard work we are willing to put into our adventure called marriage.

Many of our evenings are spent together in bed. We've watched baseball games, television shows on Q's Netbook, talked, joked, even argued. Q is a person always on the go, I know it's not easy for him to stay immobile for very long, but he does this because he understands I/we need it.
There is such a sweetness to these times that makes it all bearable. Often during my daily meditation my thoughts are pulled in his direction and then a memory will flood my heart with such intense love that I feel overwhelmed by it. Good medicine, indeed.
I know there is a lot we are missing out on, and we certainly have our valid worries and fears to contend with, but I wouldn't trade our time together for anything, and I know that what happens now is the foundation for our life together.

Below is the contemporary version of the Seven Jewish Wedding Blessings which Q's mother recited at our wedding.


May your marriage enrich your lives.

May you work together to build a relationship of substance and quality.

May the honesty of your communication build a foundation of understanding, connection, and trust.

May you respect each other’s individual personality and philosophy, and give each other room to grow and fulfill each other’s dreams.

May your sense of humor and playful spirit continue to enliven your relationship.

May you understand that neither of you is perfect: you are both subject to human frailties: and may your love strengthen when you fall short of each other’s
expectations.

May you be “best friends," better together than either of you are apart.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 1: Background

I knew from a fairly young age that having children would be difficult for me, but never wanting children this was something I just accepted about myself and didn't explore too deeply.
It has only been in the past two years or so that I've had a strong desire to have a baby and my now-husband Q and I started very early in our relationship to get pregnant as we are both well aware of our advanced ages for this kind of project. In fact, when we married two months ago today, I was already in the throes of first trimester miseries.

Knowing and understanding are two different things. What I knew was I was at a high risk for miscarriages and stillbirths, but the risks had never been spelled out to me in any different terms. And there is of course that handy trick humans have of thinking bad things happen only to other people and "I'll be just fine." This can often work in our favor, but not always.

After nearly three weeks on bed rest I can say that things are not fine, but on the other hand they are. As always, the glass is half full and half empty.

What happened to me, what is called an incompetent cervix, was never anything that entered my realm of experience or knowledge, despite it being a not-too-uncommon occurrence. It was briefly touched upon last year by one obstetrician who, when I asked her about the risks involved with my DES exposure, very casually said, "Oh, we can stitch you up." The words "incompetent cervix," "cerclage" or really anything else, were not mentioned and I had no idea what she meant by "stitching me up" other than it sounded like a rather unpleasant proposition that would turn my womb into some kind of a purse. Not the least bit impressed with this doctor I never went back to her.

Today I am 20 weeks pregnant. Every week now is a milestone. Three weeks ago, my husband and I went in for my amniocentesis, a common procedure for women like me who are older. During the preparatory ultrasound the doctor discovered that my cervix was nearly gone, my uterus had formed a funnel shape and the cervix was also slightly dilated. Had it not been discovered I would have gone into labor within days and lost the pregnancy.

Q and I were sent to the hospital that afternoon. What had started out as a routine procedure with certain risks was now a very scary ride into the unknown. Considered an emergency situation, the original plan had been to perform surgery on me that night. However, another doctor refused to do the surgery until she knew for sure there was no infection in the womb. Once it had been determined this was not the case, I had a cervical cerclage the following morning and had my uterus pushed back into shape and was given more cervical length.

Now at twenty weeks the baby is fine. I am fine. But I am on bed rest for an indeterminate time to prevent early labor. Once a week I will be driven to the doctor's for exams and a progesterone shot. My one opportunity to leave the house.

Maybe it is egotistical to believe this but I see a series of small miracles that say to me our baby is meant to be. It's nothing short of a miracle to me that our amniocentesis was done by a doctor who specializes in this very thing, and who was the one that performed the surgery at a hospital which has a reputation for being the best when it comes to treating high risk pregnancies.
Also, at the time this was discovered I was sick with a virus and had been out of work for two days, resting in bed and on the couch.
Maybe, had that not been the case, I would have lost the pregnancy before even making it to the amnio appointment.
Now I am in very good and competent hands in a practice that specializes in high risk pregnancies, of which the above mentioned doctor is part of. Just the fact that we decided to go ahead with the amnio and caught this in time seems miraculous to me as without going into too many details it was obvious my previous ob/gyn practice was negligent and Q and I had talked at length on the amnio issue and had a couple of times considered canceling the appointment.

So this is the background information. I feel the need to write about all of this as a healthy outlet and as a way to process all that's happened and will happen.
I've found this to be a time of review and even renewal. A time that can be incredibly difficult and depressing yet one that is full of miracles and a great deal of love.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Digital Age

There is no need to talk anymore
click "like"
no one really cares what you think, anyway
emoticon
nothing but the creak of your desk chair
maybe iTunes in the background
maybe you think everything in your head is
a treasure
a pearl
a world all its own
that needn't be explored beyond a sense of smug self satisfaction
No need to talk anymore

Into the Unknown

Pregnant thirteen weeks. Married two weeks.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Body

I sometimes feel like my body betrays me.
It bleeds at the wrong time and I'm left wondering
if something died or something lives.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Biking

When I am riding my bike and really struggling to breathe, I think of Che Guevera and how he fought a revolution in the mountains of Bolivia even though he had asthma. I conveniently leave out the part about getting captured and shot, that sort of ruins the mood I'm going for.

Hungry Ghost

You left,
and I am sent back out into the world reeling, unmoored, bereft.

I have a right to be heard.
Women who remain silent are full of poison
and I have for years fumbled through the darkness of my own ignorance.

You left me,
and I will always hunger in this winter pantry of regret
where evocation is entrapment.

When will I once again breathe fully, be holy, be full of light?
What else is there to take from this moment?
And so, I enter the desert.

Poinsettias

The poinsettias have been gone for days.
About a hundred plants set among the tropical year round display that is also mercilessly culled nearly every week.
The poinsettias are dumped into cheap plastic bags and tossed out, their dark reds, pinks, whites, even purples diluted by the semi-transparency of the bags.

At the local Goodwill store, the shelves are full of useless, ugly things. Broken appliances, ornate beer steins, cheap furniture, and shelf after shelf of Christmas decorations.
I sometimes think America is nothing but a country full of cheap, ugly things no one wants because we throw away the wrong things.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No Man's Land

We visited places bordered on wilderness,
containing under its summer canopy of trees a potent energy
that sometimes spoke to us in a nineteenth century vernacular.
The log cabins, the one room church with the strange light
and the small cemetery hemmed in by forest
were familiar to us
and we never felt the need to question why this was so.
We read gravestones worn down by time and nature
and talked of John Brown and blizzards that would sweep across the Plains
like a religious revival or Manifest Destiny
and for a moment I felt safe
against the whims of weather and madness
while my fingers felt the grit on the stones
and I inhaled the smell of heat and pine trees.

I’ve yet to return there
for fear of seeing you in the trees, the water, the dirt,
and once again taste in my mouth
the stale breath
of your kisses that reminded me of death,
looming,
and feel again my cowardice in the face of your anger
that made me wonder why it is some of us never go easy
but seem to fight against all that we can’t fix-
even ourselves-
and won’t allow a moment’s kindness to penetrate.

Throughout the strange, still winter that followed,
I wondered when I could release myself from this affliction of sorrow and fear
and take back the forests that I love so much,
to once again
wander through them like a solitary witch
gathering light and casting magical spells on myself.

Totem 1

In the garden, I thin the young kale and beets,
laying the greens on the back steps next to the blood stains.
The half paralyzed rabbit lies nearby in the grass, still as the summer sun
if not for its rapidly beating heart,
homeless and motherless,
even more defenseless than it was in its nest.
Yet am I not supposed to let nature take its course?
When the cat jumped onto the porch the night before,
animal hanging from its mouth,
my first instinct was to run.
But I scared the cat away and watched
as the rabbit went into what I thought were its death throes.
Then I wrapped it in a towel and held it,
measuring its slow breaths.
Like when I counted my father’s breaths as they grew fewer and further apart
until there was one. And then none.
How quickly his body became a waxy effigy.
When I heard the screams of another rabbit I didn’t move. I didn’t look.
A wall went up between me and the porch, all of outdoors.
I tried to pretend there is no suffering.
Which is more worthless?
A paralyzed rabbit or my misplaced compassion?

Now digging in the dirt I find a colony of ants and their larvae.
I scoop up the tiny white sacs along with the dirt and drop them in the trashcan.
I can understand why some of us believe in angels
when all that continues to exist does so at the whim of another.
I choose instead to have an uneasy alliance with everything.

I feed the rabbit milk from an eye dropper;
it hungrily sucks at the tip but struggles to keep it down.
When I check on it a couple hours later, it’s dead.
I think of when it was in my hands
and how it turned its head this way and that until it had my face in its gaze.
It was aware.
It survived the night.
Who was I to oppose that?

Life

Can anyone fully live within their life; be aware of themselves and embrace all of it at once and sustain that awareness? I plan on finding out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

When it All Fell Apart

I woke up

and understood

it’s all bullshit.

Relationships

Yesterday I spent time feeding breakfast to one of the patients. He is elderly, in good mental condition, but his hands shake very badly and he is unable to walk.

He told me his girlfriend was coming to visit. "I think I'll marry her," he said to me. They've been together 19 years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Time

Time goes by so quickly. It frightens me a bit sometimes to see it pass by. One month and one day ago Kenyon died, and I still cry. Tomorrow will be seven years since my father died, and I still sometimes cry about that, too. I just realized that I will be volunteering at the hospice tomorrow. That seems fitting.

Overheard someone yesterday saying how throughout one's life, one wishes they were doing something else, and then they reach that goal only to wish they were somewhere else different, and then life is over. It shouldn't be that way! No energy should be wasted on wishing for what should be--but that's life.
I read once that when Henry Ford made his first billion a reporter asked if he was satisfied. He answered that he wanted "Just a little more."

How precious it is, the time we spend in the moment. I decided a while ago I wanted to Be rather than Do but that's not always easy when living in a society that demands such high financial dues with little return.
The world has always been uncertain. As Gurdjieff wrote, "The key is to remain apart."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Synchronicity

Dreamed of strange looking planes that took off and set of sonic booms. At first, I covered my head and cowered in fear at first at noise.
Today, a co-worker asked if I'd heard about the huge meteor seen over parts of the Midwest. Lots of calls to 911 due to bright flash of light and sonic boom.

I love when these things happen, I feel so plugged in to the universe.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sanskara

Spring, and the leaves on trees are reborn.

There will be a day, soon,
an inferno of a day,
when the wind will blow
and the leaves will twist to their sides, now paler, wilted,
only to change colors
and dry out, pungent with death,
before the bare branches slumber.

Monday, April 5, 2010

stream

The place where everything went wrong,

where all the layers of madness heretofore resided within,

No Man’s Land as palimpsest.

And now, hermeneutics,

and maybe a delicate surgical procedure will be implemented,

in order to understand

this life

this pain

this healing

this awakening-

metanoia.

The raving man on the street said to only me,

“Once you’re pure, you never want to go back to the gutter.”

He understands the gutter is everywhere and all around.

One false move, one sticky trick of the mind

and it’s right back where you started, bud.

Even if you’ve been stripped bare by that pure fire,

even if you no longer fear death.

O Chiron, guard my gate!

With flaming sword and blaring iPod!

I can only be open to so much pain

and I no longer want to feel the fear of

abu Ghraib.

Where’s the switch to turn this off?

Cue the elegy!

If only we still had ticker tape

to throw out windows and watch as it twirls and swirls

to the ground.

Thirty-two dead in Virginia and the stock market hit 13,000.

Doesn’t this deserve a parade?


Intermission


We are such busy little bees.

We name our buildings,

categorize, label,

divide and divide again.

Otherwise,

we’d collapse under the weight of history.

Otherwise,

we’d come face to face with the fact

we are inconsequential.

My books are alphabetized,

my closet is in order,

it’s my thoughts that worry me,

they refuse to be filed under anything.

There are so many people,

and hardly any of them speak English.

One day we may run out of things for us to do,

except we just keep creating problems,

and problems need solutions.

So many people and not all of us made for greatness.

You either go to the world or the world comes to you,

and there will always be those who live off the crumbs of others.

Just keep on smiling,

no one likes a sour puss.


And what am I to make of the fact

that the productivity of this nation

lies by the side of a highway exit ramp in the weeds?

Maybe this, “Prosperity ripened the principal of decay.”

A gob of spit on the side of the road has as much life in it as you do-

it’s all allegory.

No land will save you.

No highway will save you.

No computer will save you.

No stock market will save you.

Fight for your life

as if your life depended on it,

because it does.

The American Dream is a myth.

Prosperity is a myth.

Decay is a myth-

we’re nothing but stories.

Manifest Destiny is a story

God is a story

electricity

television

wagon wheels and Hitler

Rauschenberg erases a de Kooning

Ronald Reagan ends Communism, single handed.

All stories.


Oh, but the stories I could tell you!

They must come out my mouth faster than my breath

in order to survive

this loneliness.

Years ago, someone told me,

“You weren’t born so much as your father spit you from his mouth.”

So I am my father’s story, too.

And his story lives on because I’m not dead yet, not really.


But the story is only as good as the teller.

So please, little bees,

gather ‘round my knees

and pay attention.

In my stories you will see yourselves,

the mirror cracked,

stigmata or stigma is for you to decide.

But I feel it’s important to warn you,

my love won’t save anyone

and my compassion will only make you fat and lazy.

And keep moving along

all you slack jawed, glassy eyed folk,

this story isn’t for your kind.


My kind.

My kind understands the needle

and the antichrist.

We understand the pills,

the ringing in the ears,

the knife,

the shadows and the voices that lead us to all of the above.

Our stories are better than yours, slack jaws,

but who the hell listens anyway?

You can forget about your A-rabs and their Allah,

the real war is against my kind and we don’t carry enough credit to win it.

We’re turned into ghosts who haunt the outer fringes,

our lips krazy glued together to stop

the outpouring of “how things really happened.”

But remember, the written word mimics speech.


My kind,

we’re not angry nearly enough.

Anger is good as long as you believe no one owes you anything

and righteous anger is power-

it turns those stories right on their ear and makes those myths stand to attention!

Tell the world to fuck off in the most obscene way possible,

there will be others around to love the children

and pick daisies.


You can spend your whole lives tackling the same problem from different angles

and never reach

apotheosis.

So quit acting like a martyr,

the fey little St. Sebastian tied to a tree,

penis limp;

that won’t get you anywhere.

Choose instead St. Theresa,

the Bernini version;

sexual ecstasy through enlightenment.

Arrows pierce her skin with excruciating metaphysical pleasure.

Just looking at her makes my nerves stand on end.

Can you feel it?

No?

You’re not trying hard enough!

Maybe she didn’t see God so much as the power of her own pussy but

Jesus was right; the Kingdom of Heaven truly is within us.

He knew, when the world’s too ugly to bear

look inward, inward, always inward.

Your skin will sag and rot off your bones

long before your mind catches up to all it knows.

Even the enlightened don’t know the full story.


The full story is nothing.


Creation and destruction, they have their dance to do,

we’re just along for the ride.

The trick is to gather as much light as you can along the way;

feast on light until you see the beginnings and ends of all things.

Until you talk in puzzles and dream the future.

Until you understand all is love

and you are all.

There may be a time when you, too

will explode out into the universe,

your self transformed,

and you, too

will have to forge ahead alone

into this new world of light and truth,

trying to find words for the wordless.


No Man’s Land as palimpsest;

awakenings upon awakenings.

More than in the Burned Over District,

when so many gave in to their longings for release

and labeled the feeling “God.”

Don’t you know, in God we read the opaques?

Oh! I’m burned over!

Lord, I am weary let me rest.

There’s nothing that can save me now because

there’s nothing to be saved from.

There never was, apparently.

So why now do I long for something better when I know better?

I have no illusions about changing the world,

I just don’t want to be another Emily Dickinson-

a weird lesbian who stuffed her drawers with poetry.

Then again, I know there are worse ways to be.


Creation and destruction,

the inner is outer and back again

and everything is Mind

and my mind is free.

Send smoke signals,

Morse code, semaphore,

telegram and telephone,

everyone needs to know

we are free.

Oh my god we are free.


Intermission


A muddle of words on the tongue-

tai chi instead of Chai tea.

Something that simple can remind me of the vastness of difference.

A muddle of thoughts,

and I believe that everything I’ve thought, seen, believed

about my life is wrong,

and in a moment,

the potential makes me want to crawl out of my skin,

in a moment,

I will see myself in my life as I really was.

I begin to free fall.

Then, thought shifts again and everything is exactly as it’s always been.

Would it be so bad to lose this last bit of myself when so much has fallen away?

And so I continue to remember.


Fifteen years as a hausfrau without a haus of my own;

the years now lined up like empty Mason jars on a cellar shelf.

The cupboards were always full,

the beds were made,

the only place dust gathered was in my womb.

I was a widowed wife of nothing,

always with the undercurrent of not wanting to be tied down to anything.

I learned that a sense of duty is a prison;

that you can’t help anyone who won’t help themselves

and love is wasted on those who don’t understand what love is.

It’s no wonder the only thing that makes me happy now

is potential.

Like echoes heard in the marble hall of a museum,

telling me what I want is “over there, you’re so close.”


Further back,

I remember all the summer evenings

alone at my bedroom window where the smell of cut grass and old wood mingled,

sometimes with rain.

The strange habit of giving people too much power over me

began at this window, or thereabouts.

Outside, the neighborhood a lazy swirl of activity in the dying light of the day

while downstairs,

the clinking of dishes, canned laughter from the TV

and voices muffled by heavy walls and floors-

I was not allowed to be a part of any of it.

All of this – nothing but a way to be made separate

without ever asked permission to do so,

and so I lacked an understanding of my relation to the world around me

and I observed everything through the lens of fear.

And how could I not fear, when the shocks of violence

burst out like scattershot through those early years?


Moving inward, deeper still, to places of my own devising.

In closets, under stairs and beds,

tiny places ruled by my imagination called “My Own.”

Is there fear here, too?

My feet must firmly touch the ground eventually,

to a place where I’m no longer betrayed by even my own mind,

or the cruelties of others.

Why did it take so long to land here?

Am I only deceiving myself in thinking the ground beneath me will hold firm?

I sometimes think I am ruined for life.


A more recent time;

it’s dark on the edges of morning

and I wake, cold.

Maybe my body has confused sleep with death

and I long to return

rather than put my feet to the floor and move forward

through inevitability.

Some of us are addicted to wanting to die and don’t realize this is living, too.

I haven’t yet learned I have to run,

hurtling through space straight towards the truth,

right on into it,

until I feel it dissipate around me.

So what remains to grasp onto?

To grasp at anything

is to misunderstand everything.


And now I remember

the two Indian brothers who shared a hospital room across from mine

after my first suicide attempt.

They couldn't speak English

and when the nurse took their blood
it ran down their stick arms
bright red and thin as water.

Oh, how they cried,
so small and so afraid,
the pain of the world in their contorted faces.

I went home the next morning and nothing changed,
just one cold, rainy March day after another.
It’s only now, all these years later

that I can allow my heart to break wide open.


But this must be about joy-

suffering we know.

We must find joy

which languishes in the corners

while misery grows exponentially.

We must accept life as it really is,

and sit in all this muck

this fear this anxiety this despair

this meaninglessness this craziness

and still feel so joyful that we wish our hearts

would burst.

Is it possible?

There must be a naming, a possessing of this joy,

we must stake our claim and not let go.

This is our true destiny made manifest.


Now,

I want to tell you about my kind.

The women separated

from themselves and the world around them

by the violence of men-

they are my kind.

The ones who are working

their way back to themselves

and the ones who made it back,

they are my kind.

Those, whose love is never returned,

who go for months without the touch of another.

The light catcher,

the artist,

the awakened

are all my kind.

The ones who struggle inside for something better,

the self aware

the clairvoyant

the diviners.

The bulimic but not the anorexic,

the prostitute but not the whore.

The talkers

Scheherazade

the ones in silence

the deaf, blind, dumb.

The ones who know it’s all meaningless but try anyway.

Marsyas

Artemis

Cassandra.

The fighter but not the soldier

the truthful and the trickster.

The birds

trees

rocks

ocean,

my kind.


Intermission


Long ago, gods and goddesses were buried alive at Delphi

when the irrepressible wave

of piety and repression loomed on the horizon.

Their stories past usefulness,

they were shunted, if not out of memory then out of sight.

It’s a generational leitmotif,

these cruel attempts to wipe out what we see in others

and refuse to accept in ourselves

because we never understand we can all be holy.

Yet every day, I hear church bells play this song,

“‘Tis a gift to be simple

‘tis a gift to be free,

‘tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.

And when we find ourselves in the place just right

‘twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained

to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed

to turn, turn will be our delight

‘til by turning, turning we come out right.”


So I know I’m not alone

in this universe that began as a tiny point of purity

with no conceptions or assumptions.

This is where we must return,

but we are here in our present time

called the Quaternary Age,

and we’re divided into

earth

water

fire

air-

inner harmony is now more imperative than ever

and harmony is another word for understanding.

Some say it’s the Fourth Turning, a time of chaos.

Yet as long as we have existed, there has never been a time

when there wasn’t chaos;

to believe otherwise is to believe more myths.


Maybe we don’t remember the other times,

we’ve repressed our Devonian DNA in the interest of progress,

traded in our instinctual memories for air conditioning and processed meats.

Or maybe this really is our first time around

and maybe we don’t pay attention to history.

Hold on tight anyway,

we’re in for a very bumpy ride

and you need to keep your third eye open at all times.


Presence.

Practice.

Love.

You will always find the infinite within the finite.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In Process, No Title

Black boot on snow crunches
and the beaver, just a few feet away,
so slick and narrow of body,
dives into the water and disappears.
His brown fur gleamed in the sunlight.

Not like the two deer that one time years ago,
whose coats were a dull, soft brown and covered in ticks.
The male was skittish and moved further away
but the female, she stayed still, watching
as I inched closer until I could touch her flank
while our eyes locked and we created a moment
of acknowledgement. A moment of accord.

“But did you touch it?” My friend asked.
She still mourned her nephew, dead in the first days
of Afghanistan, 2001,
and who once touched a deer in the wild.
“No, I didn’t touch it.”
Her face relaxed, then smiled with satisfaction.

Her last words to him, “Don’t go.”