Monthly Archives: October 2013

360 Degrees, 365.* days

The moon is waning, looking to the east from the bridge I stand on it is not quite the color of a blood orange. 47 degree crisp air swirls along my naked thighs, the gap between black knee high stockings and purple skirt. There is a gash on my right leg, from which I feel my ability to form blood clots is still at work.

Up the hill walks a man, who passes by me a little close, then perches a reasonable foot to the left of me for conversation. Deep face of umber, bright yellow coveralls & rain jacket, a matching hat with fur that drapes over his neck. He speaks with a deep and dry voice that rasps out his autumn parched throat, “Don’t jump off now, I’d have to go down there and scoop you up.”

And I glance down, past 30 foot saplings, and changing leaves, the abandoned train tracks over the bay that lead to nowhere, and the tidal flats…“Wasn’t about to,” say I, though yes, in idle moments, the idea will cross the mind as an unpleasant, “falling would hurt.”

And he mumbles on about how he does not know what I’m thinking as I gaze off like that, all contemplative like there’s something real heavy on my mind. So I gesture towards the moon, the landscape and it’s ports, stores, and lights unfolding.

“Thinking about being on the moon?”

“Not particularly, more the color of the moon…”

He goes on about how the moon and sun are two stationary stars, and the earth goes orbiting all about in a perfect circle – 365 degrees – no coincidence that our calendar has 365 days, one degree around the sun a day…

I don’t tell him that circles only have 360 degrees, because his world is more remarkable than mine. Besides, what the hell is a degree anyway? I contemplate the idea of telling him that the moon and sun are not stationary…Moon, sun, earth, falling dizzily towards god know what. He’s ranting about selling me air and selling water when a young woman, sheltering a shaggy cat within her coat passes us by.

He turns up to her, “What are you kids doing with that pussy?”

She keeps going, and he turns back to me. “I think she took that the wrong way…This woman once, I said good evening to her, and she looked at me and said ‘You don’t know me.’ I said to her, ‘Do I have to know you?’ and you tell me did I have to know her to say good evening? I know what you are made of. Know you by your bones and veins, know you down to the marrow, know your daddy’s daddy and your mamma’s ma…

He steps back and puts his arms out, spinning in a circle. From his backpack straps swing raccoon tails in fearful symmetry. “Do you know what this is? Do you know me?”

And I say “Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.”

And he goes on, “365 degrees, this is 365 degrees over and over, and if I spin enough you’ll become dizzy.”

And soon, another person passes us as he walks up the hill, and he sidles over to me and says, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go curse this fucker out.” Then, he starts pacing in parallel alongside the young man, and they travel up the hill together.

I take my leave in the opposing direction, and reconsider what knowing another person really might be.

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Strawberries, wild strawberries

A woman is standing at the counter, fully absorbed in trimming her nails, expressing a habit that seems to be some hack to prevent her from chewing them right off – exposing pink flesh and gnawing to the bone. “Why does life have to be so hard?” I had heard her ask her husband. And for some reason, I recognized that question. Needed to respond with something. A few bars in, and we’re waltzing that beautifully awkward dance, where you try not to step on the other person’s toes. No prying into the whats or the whys, this is about the feeling in the skin not a temporal experience, a flash of water rapidly sublimating off a hot surface. “They say, what does not kill you makes stronger,” Says she.

“The thing about stress is it has a way of breaking the body down.” Say I. “It’s important to get a chance to refresh so that really, you can grow stronger-not weaker.”

I set a glass of hot Assam tea to steep for her. A golden-brown liquor which swirls out it’s tannin and dye growing deeper and deeper in complexity as it infuses. Her husband carries it to the back of the shop along with their rations.

“Still hanging in there?” I ask, and in that moment there grows the connection. She looks up from her nails again, and says, “You know when life gives you these things, well, I still want to be able to enjoy the little beauties of the moment. And I nod. “Well, now there is tea, and food…”

Then, she tells me a story – a Buddhist story, she says, because even though she’s not Buddhist, she loves reading Buddhist stories – about a man being chased by a tiger or lion who finds himself at the edge of a cliff, and has nowhere further to go. He is hanging off of no more than a tree trunk at the edge of this cliff, and then, noticing a strawberry bush with the most perfectly ripe red berry, he reaches out and grabs for that berry, pops it into his mouth and allows that sun warmed, sweet berry to absolutely tickle his senses.

“I’m trying to be more like that,” she says. Her face shifts from a night time Nor’easter to the sunshine that unfolds silk white blossoms of the Frageria flower so that it’s petals may shift in the breeze for just one moment. And it is for this, I have allowed myself to have slowed down long enough to enjoy her presence amongst all the must hustles of the flailing mind.

Rabble Rabble Rejecting

For this blog, I must primarily speak in platitudes. For this action, I ask that you forgive me. I prefer to write about how when I was driving today, and the sun was reaching my skin through the dash-side window of my car I had such a strong urge to skip out of work and get to Nisqually where I could be miles down a boardwalk, past the mudflats of blue herons and eagles, and just surrounded by undulations of water currents watching the mountains, looking out at Rainier and the clouds that surly would be piling upwards as if they were great mountains as well…but I could not just go because I have a bit of a future journey to fund, and the weight of responsibility towards a small business that I love.

When I sit down to write about anything much, my experiences from ~2007 – 2010 have begun to fall like pears fall – ripe with intrigue, damaged from impact and a little bit too much time in the sun. I feel that not particularly having confronted these times in writing has prevented me from working on the other voluminous stories which are rumbling with urgency. That date frame was a fairly transient time which included acquiring a small set of wilderness survival skills, and more than a full circuit drive around the country. And I look back at that time and see all the things I still “hate” about myself, in addition to the life of mine that is bold, beautiful, idiosyncratic, and imaginative. I look back and recognize much of the self destruction which I participated in then as much as I continue to now-which I much more often attempt to ameliorate at this point in my life.

Back then, self destruction was not broken down to it’s components in a matter that I could keep track of…It was impossible for me to see myself as doing anything that could be construed as depriving my own body of nutrients. My parents always said that I was “such a good eater,” if any of their daughters ever developed an eating disorder, it would not be me.

Self destruction back then was a conscious recognition of the state my homeless compatriots were in by necessity, paired with something else. I was spoiled, and I was rejecting as much of the privilege as I possibly could because without the loving support of my family I would be exactly where my friends were. And, I was there weather I realized or not…And still, all I felt was some intense spiritual cloud that clawed inwards at me, not something that rose from me. It was something I felt in my body – a spinning, overwhelming sorrow, and clouding of reason that I could not source. It was something I know just a little better now as hunger.

And oddly, I will turn to an excerpt from Siddhartha because of the manner in which Hesse captures the ascetic experience:

“Instructed by the oldest of the Samanas, Siddhartha practised self-denial, practised meditation, according to a new Samana rules. A heron flew over the bamboo forest—and Siddhartha accepted the heron into his soul, flew over forest and mountains, was a heron, ate fish, felt the pangs of a heron’s hunger, spoke the heron’s croak, died a heron’s death. A dead jackal was lying on the sandy bank, and Siddhartha’s soul slipped inside the body, was the dead jackal, lay on the banks, got bloated, stank, decayed, was dismembered by hyaenas, was skinned by vultures, turned into a skeleton, turned to dust, was blown across the fields. And Siddhartha’s soul returned, had died, had decayed, was scattered as dust, had tasted the gloomy intoxication of the cycle, awaited in new thirst like a hunter in the gap, where he could escape from the cycle, where the end of the causes, where an eternity without suffering began. He killed his senses, he killed his memory, he slipped out of his self into thousands of other forms, was an animal, was carrion, was stone, was wood, was water, and awoke every time to find his old self again, sun shone or moon, was his self again, turned round in the cycle, felt thirst, overcame the thirst, felt new thirst.”

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

Those were times that were incredibly trying emotionally and physically. I’m not saying that the years that have come after did not have their tribulations, because there were many still. I’m still riding the repercussions of the views that I developed during that time. Still looking for a way to reconcile. Still wondering how to even gather energy to volunteer my time and energy towards the social causes that might make the difference.

And – And

I still catch myself starving – for the ability to feed myself properly, and to find that which is just the right amount of stimulation and challenge so that I may further evolve my views of this world.

My friends, it is an elephantine undertaking.

Perhaps, this was not as much platitude.