Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Call it Afternoon Light Through Branches. See if it answers.

I can tell it's almost Christmas cause I'm sitting in a spacious bodega stuffing mediocre Chinese food down my throat cause I forgot to eat, and the only other person sitting here is a thoughtful homeless man scribbling tiny indecipherable notes on the stacks of newspaper surrounding him. Considering the insane amount of notes I take, already stuffed into coat pockets and overflowing from under the couch in my room, I recognize that homeless man staring contemplatively out the window as a spectre of my potential future. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

I had a Floridian slip and bought a bunch of tiny oranges, desperate for some sunshine downloaded directly into my being. Then I realized they were frozen and tasted weird. It's winter in New York City, what was I thinking?

I decided to give these tiny weird oranges to my future self, sitting in the window oblivious to my attention.

Turns out he wasn't interested. I'm proud of my future self for knowing that we are both better than those sad, out of season oranges. Relieved that he wasn't so desperate that he felt like he had no choice but to accept my offering. Amused at how gracefully he turned me down.

Maybe I had to turn him into a metaphor to receive what he had to offer me: Hope. Faith. The kind of humor that arises out of the bittersweetness of life, as tart and real as lemons grown in the Florida heat.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hearing the Cello

Last night I had a dream I only remember small pieces of. There were grounded stingrays being whipped around by the wind and there wasn't much water for me to submerge them into. According to a stingray represents Fluidity of movement, agility, and the ability to lay low and camouflage oneself (especially emotionally). As I run into rough edges at work, I wonder about how I may be finding myself in situations where there isn't enough water for me to express my fluid potential, I don't even know what kind of environment might make such a choice possible.

we all move and make choices in response to the stimulus of our environments.

Something I have considered one of my greatest strengths is my capacity to orient so deeply around the people who can teach me the most in any situation, that I can anticipate their needs or next moves almost before it escapes their lips. I pay such fierce attention to preferences and body patterns that I can find a rhythm and fast forward my learning, but I have also continued throughout my life to run into a deep confusion of relationships from people I have needed, even momentarily.

I find myself staring that question in the face again, but I can't keep claiming innocence.

It strikes me now that I have very much embraced the role of the needle, or the hands guiding the warp and weft of the projects I have worked on at a massive scale. It is necessarily a tapestry of all of our efforts to manifest it, and the flavor and style of my impact has been relegated to sculpting the experience from above, the only evidence of my work lives in the physical expressions of the crews I run. The shape and structure of the tapestry, of all of the hands who did the manifesting remain, and I am a ghost, too busy piercing the space with other people's threads to have woven in my own. Performing the part of the invisible plane, the axis. Guiding everything through its intimate relationship to myself. I have spent years writing about feeling like a ghost, not tied to history, about seeking proof of my existence through other people's responses to me, and I see that same pattern in the tapestry of the piece I just finished constructing.

My mother and I were one symbiotic organism when I was a child. I was logic and follow through, she was desire and destination maker. Our roles were reversed, I learned there was no truth to hierarchy, no rules actually existed. I have always been the needle. The Compass. Guiding hands. A container, rather than something contained.

But I am starting to suspect that not having a clear through line, a thread of my own selfness is also a choice I am making - to be the teller of the story rather than the character inside of it. To be infinitely responsive/acquiescent to others around me, so I can wear the right mask at the right moments. Shaping the world so I can control how I am shaped by it. My desire to feel myself through contact with others is kind of like a weird nervous tic, betraying something I feel helpless to control, a way of getting close to the feeling of being inside of my own story, so I can feel its heat from a safe distance.

As profound a skill as my awareness often is, I think it is time to consider how those habits might be manifesting a particular kind of reality that automatically keeps other possibilities languishing in the shadows.

"the problem with war is the victor. he has proven that war and violence do pay. Who will then teach him a lesson? And how?"

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Of course, that's what water does.

everything is changing
like, more than usual
I used to prefer it that way
I knew myself in chaos,
because I was a wall
rooted to myself in such a way
that I always knew up from down

but I gave that job away
cause I had other things I wanted to be
and it was getting in my way

I know myself
what I'm worth
what I believe
better than I did
this time last year
maybe up and down
are relative

I realize
this is probably
why people have mothers

in a class last week
I was asked to orient to the ground
as I rolled from my side to my belly
I was so focused on being
a conduit for forces
the idea of holding an intention of movement
at the same time seemed mysterious, foreign,
a revelation

this is how we are meant
to move through life I realized
how exhaustingly huge.

in the shower it struck me, as I recounted my day
that I seem to collect Taurus employers, Captains of Industry
and as bizarrely secretive and possessive as my mother

also a Taurus

forceful, emotionally demanding, tricky with the information they share
molding the people and world around them into a landscape of their liking

to their advantage

also unwilling to ask for a certain kind of help, a safe space to expose
their weaknesses unless it is a ploy, to help protect them in the long run
Scorpio is the Sorcerer, a mover of people and matter

I am an ideal helpmeet

Just like Ariadne, keeper of the keys to the labyrinth
which leads to the bull at its center, waiting for human sacrifices
given as tribute from the surrounding villages

I finally understand who the Minotaur is

who do I give my gift to
this thread to find their way back from my depths
after killing the monster the haunts me?

once, in the throes of puberty
my self disgust manifested
as physical punishment and I knew
I needed something so I stood in front of my mother
paralyzed, voiceless
she put her arms around me and I was stone
in that embrace but before any part of me
had time to melt she pulled away
yelling at me because of some weird insecurity
maybe she felt rejected
I just needed her to hold on long enough that
I could turn from stone to flesh again

I think it was around that time that
I started to shut down
my stepfather's eyes and words were so often on my body
like it was a thing that didn't really belong to me
and I was starting to understand that my mother
wasn't going to protect me from what comes next
he was institutionalized before it got that far
but the next decade or so was a blur
of out of body sexual experiences

A weird disturbance arose today, low in my pelvic bowl
a whisper of what might be considered a period cramp
something I've never dealt with in my entire bloody life
I usually get migraines instead, blinding, nauseous, debilitating
every 28 days or so

sitting on the subway, mulling over this little, pulsing, precursor to pain
I thought about my recent fling with a handsome foreigner
a stunning project we all worked on together, and how utterly female
curvaceous and powerful I felt showing up to work alongside him
a part of myself that I've hidden for as long as I could remember
reveling in my own femininity, tasting another human being
with nothing but pleasure in mind for the first time in my life

were those migraines a manifestation of those things I cut off
since I first began to bud
blinding, nauseous, debilitating
what does this new pulsing sharpness mean?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A sirocco of foam

Stream of consciousness response during Repons, a French orchestral piece @Park Avenue Armory 10/6/17

Watching the lighting designer construct volumes, cages, waterfalls, geometries with light fixtures and haze, my mind is blown that anyone could conceive of containing light this way.

The Audio Engineer moving his hands across the sound board as he listens, I am struck by how clearly he trusts his ability to hear subtleties, to know as sound lands in his body what his hands must do to tune the white noise output. There is no part of me that I trust so much. This is not any different than any other audio engineer, but I am just now able to see the relationship between what needs to be done and its extreme reliance on a sensory function.

The Orchestra breathes together, riding the same roller coaster of feeling and internalized metronome, creating a baseline tension so other sounds can ripple in and out. It is a story. Building and falling, it has an arc, instrumental music may be a more pure, elemental version of a story even. I think as I listen how dance may be an attempt to tell the story of the music through the responses in their bodies, but that seems too simple for the richness of the interactions between instruments taking place.

it feels like a lot of magic and waiting, like waking up and individual moments layered together, with a few places where all of the soloists come to a similar melodic conclusion. Its almost impossible not to attach images in my head to the music - does that distract or enhance my relationship to it?

How do the soloist's voices help tell the story? what are they saying?

This is more dynamic than watching a movie, since we can experience multiple individual stories/reactions unfolding around us all at the same time - true complexity is available here. And suddenly the places where they are tied together melodically become striking, pronounced.

What happens if I let my whole body be available to perceive this experience?
What if I give myself over to the moment, the way I let movies embrace my awareness?
Watching musicians handling their instruments to make the sound caressing my body, at what point is it like there is no air between us, and they are caressing me directly?
Do I hold on to the sounds? Do they accumulate in my body like food or semen?
Do they get metabolized?
Do I bond with or defend against them?
If sound is touch at a distance, how am I allowing myself to be handled?

How is hearing just the beginning of listening? Am I even in the labyrinth, or just lost at the entrance? Maybe, like heisenberg's principle, making a choice about where I am negates the ability to be both places at once.

Fabric of light, fabric of sound waves stitched together. Noticing how it touches me distracts from my ability to discern or make up a story. The light framing the space shifts our sense of where the sounds emanate from and how those sounds respond to the cavernous space around us.

How rare is it that our audiences possess the intimate knowledge of what we are shaping to be able to tell our stories in whatever medium. How does that potentially limit our ability to communicate/be heard/seen/witnessed/understood/validated?

Rhythm of bodies and bows drawn across violins, in tandem, together.

Movies can imply complexity. But they can't give me what I am currently experiencing. Like waves,  currents, creatures moving underwater and rain on the surface, everything shifting and swirling and deeply related - opening myself up to my potential capacity to receive in all directions is to perceive all of the movements of the ocean at once with perfect clarity. To feel its various pulls and pushes as it wraps around and through me, I am a bit of flotsam, feeling a million tiny notes/touches without feeling any particular emotions. Or motivations, rather. No frames telling me what to feel or notice.

A sculpture of sounds
Light woven like actual threads
full of circumstances, interactions

if they were composing a drawing, it sounds like thick and thin lines, like a base wash and erratic scribbles, faint touches, soloists like highlights, a singular shocking color, or a perfect patch of light adding dimension, a subtle difference in shadow shapes that rise up to create depth in a form.

How do symbols on a page get translated into motions by the musician's bodies and manifest as sound and rhythm? How many languages do we all translate constantly, in every single subtle moment? How intimate a relationship they must have with their instruments. What if I knew myself intimately enough to trust my tools to express whatever story I am trying to tell?

Like when I was working with machines in a steel shop - at what point does the artist/musician become servants to the medium? Does a violinist wield her violin, or does the violin use the violinist's skill to be heard?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Integrity: Reflection for week 9

My final reflection before the disintegration of the program, originally sent 7/28/17.

The puzzle of my roommate's different relationship to yoga, and feeling like she wanted me to just be a conscious computer generating shapes led me to a different place as far as my idea of how to teach yoga.

Something about not needing to be profound, but rather having to be a kind of gently engaged presence for her safety and direction gave me a vast ocean to consider what seemed valuable about a yoga flow that I was teaching for HER. And all the pressure I put on myself to preach wisdom and inspire deep thoughts about ourselves in the world blah blah blah... evaporated in the simplicity of her expectations. I did what I said I was going to do. And I did it in such away that resonated with the things I thought were important in the moment. And it was good enough. Another tool has appeared in my toolbox that I'm excited to explore.

My peer was in a weird place, questioning a lot of what is happening w the Yttp yoga core, about what she wants from yoga etc, so I got a lot of kick back during my teaching time, and decided to listen while she wrestled with her experiences, desires and the different approaches and information floating around all of us. I know I am safe, that I will get things I value from this 300 hour experience - but what about others who aren't so safe, and at what point are we just feeding the beast? Why do we put our emotional states and bodies in the hands and ideas of people we don't know? Whether it's a long dead philosopher or a fresh faced nyu grad, how do we know they follow through with what they profess to believe in? It is no less religious to me then what I grew up with, what is it that we are so hungry for that gives others power? How do we change the lens being perceived through, even for a moment?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

time starts taking the back roads, avoiding sunsets & deep conversations

The edge of the deck was just far enough out of alignment
that if we didn't correct the difference now, it would grow

I did what I have always done, sat down and leaned back
drew my knees to my chest to generate as much force in that
short distance between the steel frame of the deck
and my heels

now I know its name
the bone resounding with a dull pain
and I suddenly understand
I ask it to do a job
far beyond its sophisticated relationship
with my body and gravity

how many parts of my body
have been called into battle
asked to be a hammer
rather then articulate

what else could it do but fall apart
because I was too busy

busy doing everything but listening.

At night I go outside so the stars can look at me

One of those mornings
where there is a fight in the dog park
A large, muscular male who felt somehow threatened
by a bouncy, curious female puppy growing quickly
into her long legs
His growls were lost in her cries of pain
ricocheting off the concrete structures around us
I hesitated to respond, both of their owners were
a half step away
much closer than I

the puppy's owner made scared noises, her hands in the air
the male's owner's hands were full of personal items
he pushed uselessly at his dog
I dropped my coffee and ran into the fray

so often when I'm at the park, I watch these people
on their phones or just vastly unaware
of the clear body language, of the shift in sounds
emanating from the creatures they are responsible for
and suddenly I am the one on the ground peeling two animals
helplessly caught in a stress response
away from each other

now I am thinking a lot about the hopeful optimism
that inspires animal adoption
how blinding it can be
ignoring their shadows and potential manifestations
is somehow not accepting the wholeness of the creature
now dependent on us

and how being able to wrestle with the fears and insecurities
that bubble up and play out in mini dramas between
our subtle, emotional/hormonal beasts
is part of the job of accepting ownership

I would rather be bitten
by the blind rage of another animal
than for my dog to learn I wouldn't be there
while she fights for her life
and eventually change her disposition
to account for that potential
to no longer trust me
or anyone

and I wonder how that
has changed me
what I notice
look for
how I engage with the world in response
to what I have witnessed

how do we come back from that place
animals, all of us
how do we change something that used to be true?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Support precedes Movement: Reflection for week 8

My roommate has expressed repeated interest in having me guide her in a yoga practice, and I noticed how clearly she was looking for a kind of work-out activity on this particular morning, rather than the exploratory questioning place I've been moving from these past weeks. So I gave her shapes. For some reason I was called in my body to move with her, and I'm not sure if I was trying to provide support by making it so she wasn't practicing alone, or if I was exploring what I felt I needed to be supported in each of the poses I took us through, to have a clearer sense of what I believed about them. Later when we chatted about it, she mentioned resonating with a moment when I touched her feet and hand as I talked about how they were in supportive communication with the ground - and I continue to notice moments where a certain kind of directed touch that helps them to know something about themselves has been really appreciated by my students. I have an inkling about a vocabulary building, an overlap between the study I've done and the awareness in my fingertips, like a potential divining rod for pathways, currents of force.

My peer that I practiced with has mentioned to me on multiple occasions being disconnected from her body, or grossly unaware of it. It felt kind of huge and superfluous to talk about shapes, so I went back to a place I know - we sat and I touched, said hello to and named every bone in her body I could remember (on her right side, I told her the other side was up to her), starting from her fingertips inward, down the parts of the vertebrae I could access, and then from her toes up. We wiggled joints and tried to figure out which ways bones spin in their sockets and she talked about what she felt and what she didn't. Afterwards I had her do some familiar movements, take a flow etc. With that information, of what both she and I noticed, we unearthed some interesting connections between unmoving parts and physical hang ups transitioning between certain tricky poses. We talked about how to find the kind of room or time for moments of personal body exploration in an hour class with a bunch of bodies in various states of awareness - and an hour and a half after I started, I finally came to a place where I might be able to transmute what I've been learning the past 2/3 years into something useful, something that can come out of me in a potentially helpful way.

These two experiences really asked things from me that seem like they live on opposite ends of the spectrum, but maybe one is the warp, and the other is the woof, and I need to figure out some other crucial things - the shape of the loom, the colors of the threads, the pattern I'm looking to weave.


Friday, June 30, 2017

The Elephant: Reflection for week 6

It's hard to come in quiet when you're about to do the talking, especially in the beginning when you don't know what's up w the student's body on this particular day, and quite possibly they don't either.

I'm having a hard time with the concept of holding an intention, especially one that may be unrelated to the person in front of me, waiting for guidance about how to be in their body, or where their bodies should be in space. If we are there for different reasons, how do I know where to begin the journey of that class and which arc will provide the questions they want to be asked?

As I come up against places where the student and I veer off in different directions or I'm moving forward and they seem left behind or stuck - I'm finding I need better questions I can ask to figure out what threads got lost and possibly a more accessible way of weaving our experience back together.

I did learn this past week that providing moments of physical resistance, or subtle selective pressure was really helpful to not only guide a student's attention inward when nothing was clear, but also in illuminating the pathways of movement they were taking. It was really interesting to see a kind of crystallization of the idea of agency into something they could feel and clearly delineate in their own bodies.

The shifting of tactics/stories I'm telling are kind of graceless and abrupt at the moment, but I feel like each shift is a broadening of both my awareness and the information I had received in the moments before it, as well as a letting go of preconceived plans to allow the needs of the moment to call the questions and knowledge out of me.

Pathways: Reflection for week 5

I am finding it most difficult to weave together the meditation stuff, movements, and all of the sophisticated awarenesses I've learned in the past 2 years into something truly cohesive, rather than four separate parts with some discussion between each one.

This week I worked with a guy that does the hard labor stuff with me as well as directing modern opera (his masters is in operatic singing) - and was kind of dumbfounded by his lack of movement when I offered it. There is definitely no perfect recipe for dialogue, and like a carpenter, he was much more interested in breaking down movements together, with me along side him, puzzling out how different ideas of yoga speak might be inhibiting the very movements they asked us to exhibit. While he was all about the ideas I was introducing, I was not so happy with how disjointed our practice was, especially as he so sweetly offered himself up to me as a test subject. There was a concreteness he needed to feel safe to explore in front of me, and I suppose having that to offer in my tool kit is something I can't keep avoiding.

For my lack of grace, I am heartened by a text he sent me later about a yoga class he attended later that same day - we had spent a fair amount of time exploring/discussing the upper limbs and scapula, and it felt noticeably different, and he couldn't wait to work with me again.

He mentioned having felt container-less right after our session, and I hear in that, a certain amount of not being held, so I am thinking about different ways to hold people, and different kinds of pathways in.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't empty the ocean, calm the current: Reflection for week 4

It's nice when its more than just one body practicing as I 'teach', since all of us together are less likely to break the spell.

I used the only tool I really know I have - I simply asked questions. One after the other, letting them bubble up from my peripheral awareness, how the sun pressed against the container of my body, the wind gently wrapping around us, the sound of the water and children playing in it, how was it a support, this pull of space, the meaning of texture, the places where it all went in the body, how does our environment land? Am I the container or am I contained? What do I notice, and how many ways can I respond? My students followed my questions like a serious task, but I did not name a shape, I did not take a stance or give direction that wasn't in the form of a question that could swirl around a kinosphere like the rainbow flows on the outside of a soap bubble, noticing or taking in any of those questions, letting them reside inside of that bubble was a choice. The expressions of the two bodies I practiced on in this tiny park were so drastically different, later they both were really appreciative of the 'container' I gave them to explore themselves in relationship to their surroundings, as well as what they were interested in pursuing - and I am not sure what the 'container' was exactly. Was it my voice? Their own sense of their boundaries? Their ability or willingness to listen?

In meditation I am finding that it quickly becomes about how I am everything, expansive, sounds cease to be connected to their meanings, or related to the contexts they arose out of, I bond with all of it. And then I am lost, I am not myself, but a piece of something else - and I wonder if the quiet is so deep that movement has been the only way to feel myself inside of it. Maybe yoga has always been about me trying desperately to feel myself, to find all of the walls and boundaries to know what I am shaped like - and I am really enjoying layering the possibility to move with the kind of attentive patience of meditation, where the thread being followed tastes something like curiosity, in my mouth at least.

I just asked the kinds of questions I wish I could ask into a mirror, and crushed blades of grass between my fingers and smiled at the children who stopped to watch us while their parents pretended not to see us, and took in the sounds and the day shifting towards night and my student's bodies as they let me take them with me along this faint thread, this experience that we were weaving together.

Maybe we're all just spinning a yarn

Years after my father disappeared from my life (aged 5 or 6), post college, he began reading this blog and reached out to me. For a while I waited, to see what his game was, and email after long desperate email came as I considered how I felt about this person I only had the vaguest unpleasant memories about. As Father's Day approaches, I remember these emails, a mishmash of memory and fabrication mixed with what little he could glean from what I was writing about at the time. I am amazed at the deep and incredible strangeness of the individuals who's genetic material I am composed of, and the magical reality they seem to be trapped inside of.

That was almost a decade ago. I finally told him to stop, and that is the only exchange I have had with that man since I was a small child. Here are pieces of those emails:

ive been reading your blog for a few months are an amazing young woman abbigale ruth walsh. (i named you, both) . i read your most recent post told me it was time......damn.....i feel like i suffer from ptsd... i cant remember without reliving.

this is not an attack of your mother..... its a discription of my relationship with her. i hope other people had it differently with her than i did.

because i've read your stuff and i know you are a mature woman, im going to be honest and blunt... as much because its my way.... as because, you deserve the unvarnished truth from my you will know why i made the choices i did.

i felt you would be safe with the hillbillies, at the very least. they loved you guys so much. ....i know there is no excuse. i was wrong.

first i want to say.... MY RELATIONSHIP WITH LYNNE IN NO WAY HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH TAD AND YOU. my nightmare relationship with her just made it so i had to wait till you were adults, and away from her to contact you. i never want to see her face or hear her her voice again. ever. you can tell her whatever you feel is important from this...if you never mentioned to anyone but your brother, id be ok with that, too.... but please... dont give her my email address.

you and your brother were the loves of my life. there have been two holes in my soul for 18 years..... but, i have accepted that it was necessary for me to be with lynne, because you and tad had to be born. and i thank the fictitious deity for your births. i hope it wasnt to bad for you guys leaving you with the hillbillies....i was afraid you would be "uninformed" at worst..... but that we could take care of that after you were adults.....i see you have taken care of that all by yourself abby....... mom would be so pleased with you.... .
i wanted to be with you all more than anything... i followed her around the state... drove hundreds of miles each weekend back and forth for years.....i tried to make it.......but, i had to life collapsed so completely and the wound i had from my time with her made it so necessary. im so sorry.

im not a vendictive or hostile man. im a cancer with libra rising and pisces moon for gods sake......... i wasnt prepared for your mother... and then the death of my mother... then the loss of you guys and everything i had....... it was all waaay too much for me and i kind of snapped.

i was going to have her killed abby.....and then take you guys......i had the hitperson.. i had the alibi...i would have been 200 miles away........ i guess you can see that, obviously, at the end of it all... i wasnt mentally healthy.... she destroyed me and my life. my support structure lay in ruins.... she even took my best friend and pseudo business partner away... did she ever tell you the saga of "bruce"?.... my life was broken. when i met her i was an associate producer of news for a tv station with prospects to move up had a mercedes bens and a good life........ by the end of the "sentence".... i was homeless and broken with nothing left of my former life...except my mother's astrology books....YOURS. EVERYTHING ELSE OF MY FORMER LIFE... GONE....separated from my family and friends i ended up homeless living in a tree in island park in sarasota for a week.......

i didnt really come back from the whole experience of being with your mom and that time in my life until about 6 years ago, emotionally..... still not financially...... i was totally beaten down after 8 years in lynne's concentration camp.... she won... her anger, hostility and darkness were all much bigger and stronger than my light... which is considerable... but i was heaped upon with too many calamties at once....

i didnt disappear, abbigale.....i had to save my life. you and tad were safe..... i made a conscious decision...i escaped for what was only supposed to be a short time, to heal myself....I LIVED FOR YOU GUYS....i was in love with you guys.... you and tad were the only good things in my life... mom was recently dead.. my mother was the only OTHER thing in my life that was ever good. i agonized about it for matter what kind of cunt lynne had been to me....she was a responsible and good mother to you and tad....she had an extended family and a support structure.... her parents were good grandparents... no matter what kind of hillbillies they were or how much the old man hated me and everything i stood for.........they loved you and tad...i would have destroyed that and the opportunites that came with it.. had i stayed in your lives. just my presence there would have taken you away from that possible normal future. i decided that to keep interjecting myself in your lives would probably be selfish on my part.... which... now... after reading your writing.. im seeing, may not have been THAT normal... eh?

as a person, im sure your mother is good...i have personally seen her be very good.... but...not to me... your mother and i were always at the point of losing it with one far as she was concerned, i never did anything right...(no one did)...(her dad used to call her the incredible hulk because she got so angry and hostile)..she had a quick, nasty temper and would say horrible cutting things....which shocked the hell out of me, because....when we first met, she was the sweetest kindest most loving giving girl i had known for a long time... till the day AFTER we got married....the day after we got married i brought the wrong shape of bottle of diet pepsi out of a 7-11 for her and it was "goddamn you you son of a bitch"... im not kidding..... i was in shock....right from day one. people who were supposed to love one another didnt talk to each other like that......more on that later..........i think she was always secretly pissed that "keith" didnt come talk her out of marrying me....... after living with lynne for only a short time i felt like a victim of shock took me a YEAR and the loss of my career in broadcasting to tell her... "kiss my ass"..... she threw an overnight bag at me..... (one time after bringing you and tad home to lynes house after a weekend together.... joe said to me with a terrified tortured look on his face, talking about some unpleasantness they had just had.... he said........"kevin... you know what she's like"....and... yes i did...i felt sorry for joe that night) after you all moved to gainesville... and i couldnt afford to follow...every weekend that i could ... faithfully,...i drove from tampa.... religiously every weekend that i could, i would drive hours to gainesville to get you and tad....then hours back to where i lived... florida is a long be nearer to you two, i finally moved to gainesville and i lived in a shack... LITERALLY... a shack in gainesville @75$ a week, for 6 months and got you every weekend... but i couldnt live on 4.50 an hour so i had to move to a city where i could make enough money to pay your mother CASH.....(which i did for 4 years till she told me "kevin.. dont you tell the state you have been giving me cash all this time.. because i have been collecting from the state too... if you tell the state you've been giving me cash, then....the people who are looking for you for your failed video business will find out where you are")..... the bitch threatened me.... for no reason, just turned around on me and threatened me... right on the steps of the courthouse in gainesville in 91 when our divorce was finally final. anyway... i moved to orlando.... and every weekend that i could.... i drove from orlando to get you guys....hours and hours on the road coming to get you .... going back to my house.....then a day and a half later... making the same 8 hour trip........ it took its toll on you guys... on me and the string of cars i went through.... i came.... and every time i dealt with lynne she was a cunt to me...the last time i came to her house to bring you home....unbenounced to me...lynne, i guess, had cleared out a storage locker in gainesville that i had rented and i couldnt pay for anymore...i had decided to let the stuff go.. (i let a lot of stuff go during my life with lynne).... but i guess when i defaulted, they called her and she went and paid the back owed money to the storage place... i knew nothing about this... when i got to lynne and joes, bringing you home....while you and tad were getting ready for bed....... i noticed "the spaceman".... then i noticed another thing or two from the storage locker...... stuff i had gotten when mom died..... and i wondered how they got to lynne's house...... and your mother, seeing my noticing the things... got this, cruella deville, face of victory and dispicable joy at my loss and this attitude of delight and satisfaction at my failure .. it was an evil glee at my situation....personally, i was happy you and tad had those things.... they were yours after all...( i have your astrology books when ever you are ready to claim them, a little more time worn... all with notations from your grandmother.).....anyway, lynne got this nasty and vile evil look on her face and things and started being a cunt to me... and things began to get ugly... so i left....that was the last time i could go there.

after the last time i went to take you and tad back to gainesville......the exchange she and i had, where she drew such delight from my loss and failure, that finally pushed me over the edge. and i was going to have her killed and take you away from her family for ever...much like her sisters husband did with THEIR kids.... did you ever meet lisa's kids? ....after a week or so, i called the hit off....i got hold of my senses and realized that would be WRONG, no matter how much she sucked.....i couldnt do that.... and i should just let it go. i realized... and was deeply saddened to know that as long as i was going to have to deal with her, to see you and your brother that it would be hell and i would want to kill her again... and probably do it...and how selfish i was being......and how it would negatively affect you guys. i realized that you would always be in OUR pitched battle....i came from a very unstable family situation..... it wasnt good........ i wanted different things for the two of you... so, i thought that with joe, lynne and her family to help, they could provide you a much more stable life.....and that i would always be a a very unstable element to interject into your little lives..... i decided.... that it would be best for you and tad if i allowed you to have a family, without the distraction of my crazy family...or my family history.... or lifestyle... i wanted you to have normalcy. and i would just wait till you were both adults and we would find each other...... after being with lynne for 8 life was destroyed, my career was gone and so was my self worth.....after i left wink tv.. i couldnt keep a job.. i hated working in pizza kitchens....but that was pretty much the only avenue left for me to survive.....(in 89,.in sarasota, i was struggling to give her CASH for you guys and i lost my job.....then i lost my weekly rented room...i was homeless and she wouldnt even let me sleep on her couch for a weekend.) for me, lynne was a nightmare....after 5 years with lynne.... she had me convinced it was ME who was fucked up. so.... back to the orlando story...there i was and i had decided that while you were young, having me in your lives would be a drawback of massive proportion......... well... after a few weeks...and an inability to find more substantial employment than "pizza guy"... i decided.... "screw this... im gonna sell pot, acid and ecstacy till i save up enough money to get a lawyer and get my kids.... (not one of my best plans, but by then... my life and video production profession and family were gone and i was at the bottom... im sure i wasnt thinking rationally).......... 6 months after i brought you and tad back to lynne's house for the last time.... on 2/22/92... a guy i knew, who had been arrested, agreed to wear a wire in my house and it got raided....full MBI gear and masks... guns drawn...30 cops kicked in my door.... when i was arrested, i had a pound of pot and 3500$ cash... (i had been saving up for you and tad... i still have the xmas presents from that xmas for you guys)..... i was only in jail for 4 hours... but i was on probation for 2 years....and, at the same time... i had to keep selling to pay back the "people i worked for". after a while and my screwed attempt to wrangle up quick cash.... i had lost all hope.... everything i did pushed me further and further away from being able to get back to you guys..... i took to self medication...(also runs in our family).....i was eating my profits... because i was medicating at my pain of being pushed even further from you got worse for a while.... my situation never got back to the place where i could offer you and your brother anything positive...... so i decided to fix my life and wait till you were grown up.. and could make your own decisions. i hoped you and your brother would be curious enough to come find me. to yell at me... to tell me to go fuck myself. to meet me.... maybe to get to know me and to hang out some. just maybe to find out why you are so unique... (sorry.. thats from me... from my mom...quite the bohemian she was and she passed a healthy dose to me.. and it would the first 5 years of your life... to you too.... is your brother a freak too?? hehehehehe... sorry.. kidding.... we arent freaks. im just so happy you arent like THEM)

about your "spirituality"...i have a hunch about that.... if it is your wish that we continue communicating, ill tell you later.... i always hoped you and your brother would be curious enough about me or wonder why you all are different than the hillbillies enough to come find me and ask why....."why kevin, are we so different?" you and your brother called me by my first name and only dad occasionally. most people thought it was strange.....I kinda liked it. you both were whole people right out of the womb.

im so amazed at your are so fucking talented abby... and im so sorry for your deep deep deep emotional feelings and responses. you are a scorp with leo rising and moon within a degree of the ascendant. thats like being a scorp with a cancer moon and cancer rising.... thats how strong that is for emotionality........ you, my love, ARE your emotions. or at least thats how it feels. and will be jerked around by them until you can step back and look at your life as "karmic assignments".... you've got stuff to do abby. maybe with more than 3 people.... things will end... new things will begin. you have much to do. acceptance is peace.

your mother spins a yarn. your grandmother didnt have 7 husbands. but she did have an adventure of a life..... and she was a great, loving mother and astrologer and re-incarnation regressionist... and you were born 9 months, almost to the day after she died. and, about the worlock thing....dont let your imagination run wild.... lynne and i used to JOKE about the worlock thing...there was never any thougt of magic spells or magic books or anything like that...not like harry potter....there is no such thing as magic.....but there is power and energy and sometimes it sure feels like magic, doesnt it?..... we used the term "worlock" (or at least i did) as a term to describe a male with lots of water in his chart who knows about the occult and has the ability to perceive other people and what was going on around him and to influence people without much effort....someone who had the ability to reach out and grab you with their energy and make you want to know them....and then...changing people through the force of your persona......
its strong in my mother... strong in me... and it was strong in my children......for me, its sun on my midheaven. for mom it was sun on ascendant... for you its moon on ascendant.... etc.... i bet you know ALL about it..... leo rising girl...i bet you hold people in your sunny intense magnanimous gaze with great skill... i bet you influence people, simply by being you..... you have a gift far beyond illustration. the gift of your mind and soul can move people.
when you both were very young, you and your brother could mentally reach out and grab people from across restaurants....or rooms or wherever... tad would pick someone and "charm" them from across the room, months before he could speak. it was a great thing to watch. i hadnt ever seen anyone do it like he did before..... i knew when he was about to start... he would scan the room and search them out like a hypnotist looking for subjects..... and he would captivate someone... and own them....he would reduce them to squishy puddles of goo who had to meet him..... you had sunshine in your heart...and you both came with it built in. and the dog thing with you. you both have a thing. with a thing.... comes a purpose. karmic assignments. have you ever felt as if you may not be here this time for "yourself"?

when i was 10, mom showed me how to do charts........... the math, how to research in the text books.....etc.... mom made me her apprentice. she knew early on that i had a great aptitude for astrology and the occult with my grand trine in water and fire..... with uranus and merc conj in leo in 10th... she always said i was born to be an astrologer.......... she was my mentor..... my BUDDY.....and my mother....... i miss her very time your mom said... all snotty with me during one argument... "and you all write in your books... who writes in their books???" and i said.... "lynne... they are RESEARCH BOOKS"... not coffee table decorations..........

both you and your brother have the "astrologer/occult thing" too

so she says...."mom" taught her everything she knows eh?......... ok..........

one time..... young lynne... shortly after she and i had been "dating"....she went with me to meet my mom.. for the first time... and mom.... in one of her favorite flowery housedresses... (satin mumu)... sitting on her bed.......greeted us cheerfully as i brought lynne into the bedroom where mom was situated that day..... we sat and talked.... mom rolled a joint... and we all got stoned... and mom began telling lynne about karma and reincarnation and how the universe was the place that the religious folks told her it was.... and your mother was very stoned.... had never been in this situation before... and had never heard anyone speak like mom did before........i think for a second... she felt herself jerked away from the reality she had been raised with and she got this startled look on her face...... suddenly, she stood up and said...... "YOU GUYS ARE A CULT.....THIS IS A CULT....YOU ARE TRYING TO ...OH GOD....... IVE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" i looked at mom like ... whuuuuuuuuttt?????????? and your mother........... walked QUICKLY around the bed and pushed past me at the door AND RAN OUT OF MOM'S HOUSE........... HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEH .... poor little farm girl from labelle............... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA................... still fucking cracks me up.... YOU GUYS ARE A CULT................................ HEHEHEHEHEHEHHEHEHEH. (maybe if she hadnt been so stoned)

anyway................ i followed her out to her little ugly chevette.... i really felt sorry for her... i tried to calm her...... i said... "lynne.... no hon... we arent a cult.."....."we arent trying to recruit you"............... she said..............."I HAVE TO GO.... REALLY."................. and she drove away....... i thought id never see her again...... but..... you and tad HAD to be born... so.....

another thing that just cracked me up about your mom...... we were watching something on tv about the second world war.... i was always fascinated with it.....and hitler......... and your mom told me....................... "you know kevin.. i always thought they were saying HI HITLER..... i didnt KNOW it was HEIL HITLER"........ every time i think about that it cracks me up...........

after spending WAAAAAYYYYY too much time with your grandfather..jerry bussell....".more than i ever wanted to"..... . i realized why lynne freaked out so much when she met mom .....

HI HITLER!.........

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

you’re not asking about a property of space, but rather a property of yourself

Ideas as Artifacts
Motion and Gesture
a part of our language
an embodied form
of discourse

Immune System
as an act
rather than
an organ

creative drive
sex drive
death drive
thumb drive
disc drive

what is our human boundary
when we modify ourselves (as a human race)?
race against what?
techno hack vs body hack
genetic modification vs microbiome
integrity of the body (modesty)
replacement organs
anxiety as an artifact

How do you heal the landscape
without erasing its history?

The difference between Sacred and Rigid:
Holding Space vs Space being Held

Community holding something is different
Than a Structure holding something

Am I the Container
or am I contained?

is a person a thing a process?


is the meaning in the words
or the person who hears them?

a transition that feels
like there was no

A pearl: the oyster's autobiography

When I first moved to NYC, I had responded to a craigslist post looking for 'promotional models', for a roofing/epoxy treatment company. It involved dressing up and wandering around city blocks flirting with the security and supers around freight entrances, trying to get the contact info of each building's Engineer.

Once, a very talkative Building Engineer told me and my accomplice about a repeated compromise of the seal around the basement of his midtown building - apparently the underground rivers of Manhattan are alive and well, constantly trying to reassert themselves through these ancient pathways, in an endless battle between nature and its colonizers.

I remembered that story while walking through the park today when we encountered a place where a few of the honeycomb sidewalk tiles had collapsed and pure clean water sprang up from it like an urban spring, like the water in the creek next to my house growing up in Florida - a place where veins of water filtered up through the aquifer, since we lived at or just below sea level.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Untelling a story: Reflection for week 3

As far as I deviate from familiar landscapes and their respective maps when guiding another's body in and out of form and space, I'm finding their ideas and relationships to certain shapes are tied inextricably close together. It's not that I'm surprised by these tangled balls of yarn, but that I feel very much like I'm furtively tugging at strings in the practice/person unfolding on the mat in front of me. I'm not quite sure what I'm looking for.

My use of inhales to notice/exhales to move has shifted towards exhales to respond, since even the lack is a response in its own way. As the student listens inward, I've talked about the possibility of trying something else if it didn't feel quite right the first time they responded. I think starting class with a conscious internal conversation, a simple game of choose-your-own-adventure might help students start to develop a vocabulary of their own deeply individual sensations that no words may exist for - something that may be really important (I suspect) for students to eventually perceive the amount of agency available to them inside of more traditional asana.

At various moments during my student's practice, when they chose the path of familiar shapes, I asked what story they were telling at that particular moment. And I asked again in other places, along the way - much the same way yoga teachers often have to remind some of their students to breathe, both are such important things to notice, to fill our bodies with, no matter what the shape we've poured it into. That was remarked on, how interesting it was to have their awareness called to their idea of something rather than a body part, how all of it gets lost just like the breath sometimes when focusing on what their body looks like from the outside. How strange it was to notice in themselves how present the stories were, guiding the choices they made inside of their practice. Sometimes they realized they had no idea where the story they were inside of, in the moment I asked them to notice, even came from in the first place.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

what to change in order to become yourself

As I relaxed into the embrace of the floor, I could feel myself there, the honey and tawny strands of the floorboards spreading out from underneath me, the sun spilling down on us through the windows. But I could also feel the past bubbling up to the surface, I considered the particles of memory floating like dust motes in my field of vision between me and the floor receiving the forces pouring through me. A shitty little house in Nowhere, Florida with almost no furniture and an empty fridge. The places where my brother and I slept were two couch cushions on the floor, shoved in opposite corners of the room, my body still small enough that I could curl myself onto it, as I watched the roaches skitter around in the dark. That house where my brother and I were mostly alone, I was too small to reach the sink in the bathroom or the countertops in the kitchen as we tried to feed ourselves, if I needed water, to clean myself. Once I reached up to the top of the electric stove in curiosity while my brother's back was turned, and seared a perfect spiral onto the flesh of my tiny hand, radiating out from the center all the way to the fingertips. I think he was just tall enough to boil some hotdogs for lunch. That was when my father still claimed joint custody of us, and those weekends still pop up in my emotional radar sometimes, collateral damage while my parents used us as pawns in a game I was helpless inside of.

The floor. Like reflections on a soap bubble, the past swirled around me as I watched. And it was the past, so I let it fall away to feel the coolness underneath my body that balanced out the heat on my skin from the window.

As I moved, considering the instructions from the teacher of what and how to explore, I found a familiar wall of panic when I reach a place where it feels like I am incapable of doing what I was being asked to do. Getting as still as possible and trying to slow my breathing, I knew I needed to stop moving before I triggered a full blown panic, but I could feel the painful contractions starting around where I imagine my vocal chords to be and instinctively pulled myself inwards, like a reverse unfurling of a fern. Like a switch was flipped, I was free, I could move past the paralysis at the beginning of a meltdown.

Once when I used to babysit the neighbor's triplet toddlers, I was around for a birthday party. The father was a problem, and not much long afterwards they went their separate ways (he took the older son, she took the triplet girls), and I don't remember what he said or did, but one of the girls started crying from a startle. I was in high school, just helping in every way I could because I saw the mom needed help, and I heard something I recognized in that little girl's cry - after the third one that sounded exactly the same, like a computer, a record caught on a loop, I knew I had to disrupt the repeating pattern and I gathered her in to me. While her parents snapped at each other in whispers, her cries multiplied and then subsided after a fractal shift. My mother has mentioned a few times her early experiences of being potty trained - my grandfather punished their accidents by making them wear their soiled panties on their heads, overlapping their face, their breathing pathways. Recently I've started to wonder about how being shamed about something you have no control over affects us as adults, maybe the thread of chronic constipation she has suffered her whole life is a story I am telling about her relationship to shame and her need to be in control even at the cost of our relationship. Her inappropriate sharing with me of her sexual escapades as I moved from prepubescence into sexual maturation also gives me the perspective of how her bowels turn to liquid when she is emotionally or sexually attuned to a man, and in her lack of control, we were often forgotten in her blind hunger for something only her interactions with these men could potentially fill. I wonder if her inability to let stuff out is intimately related to my inability to receive.

Manifesting is both a concrete and completely unpredictable thing. I wonder if noticing any of those potential connections might be a way for my mother to knit back together some damage, to be able to tell new stories about how she relates to others. I wonder why I have the distinct habit of relating everything I experience to a few early similar experiences, instead of being able to fully be inside of something new. My mother and I, why must we always be in control over everything? I can't even bring myself to what seems like a childish place of hoping for a return of adoration in a sexual partner, to let myself be so lost in something as unpredictable and defenseless and dangerous as being 'in love' whatever that silly fabricated idea arises out of.

This is not my father's floor and I am not that child on a couch cushion. How can i wade through these stories, untangle these threads enough to make a different choice and not succumb to the emotional bubbles trapped inside of them? Maybe I am exactly where I need to be, learning how to love the floor, how to receive its support, how to give it the fullness of my weight. To know it can't be taken from me, the it won't turn me down, that when I lay in its embrace, it is impossible to fall.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Experience vs Story: Reflection for week 2

I didn't make a plan to do anything different - I just listened. To myself, to the 'students', to our ideas of shape and space and roles and expectations. To the places where those things grated on each other, and where they seemed aligned. Where they needed the story I was unwilling to tell. Where I told stories because they made sense on someone's body once, somewhere in the past, but maybe had no place when I tried using them again.

Some things that I heard/noticed - There is an underlying support that I need to be able to offer, even when re-calibrating my expectations and shifting directions, how being caught up in the motions of telling a previous story can leave the 'student' feeling lost or unsupported. Even though I have a fear of naming a familiar shape because of how present our preconceived ideas/patterns of relating to it often are, I can't just remove all of the rules, not everyone is so ready to give those up. What are the structures that support that kind of chaos, that inspires curiosity, the ability to play? Sometimes stories are a really important way in, a thread to follow when it feels like all that is available is darkness, that stories can be a map for an experience someone may never have had so that they may be able to consider and eventually find it on their own. The more I can listen, the more responsive I can be to the complex set of questions being asked at any moment in time by the individual I am relating to in this particular dynamic.

I learned that we are co creating a new story about a million different things between us, my clearest job/question I have found this week is about how to Be With - both myself and the student. How can I be fluid while being a support for self and other? How does my witnessing and supportive presence help give others a platform to feel comfortable enough to engage with their own stories and to possibly let some go, to make the space to tell new ones?

And how am I changed in the process?

What am I Becoming-With?

Breath as a Medium: Reflection for week 1

This one struck me because I have found breath-as-respite a confusing concept - evidence of a transition between states of emotional coherence/control, an often annoying mechanical function I'm usually pretty happy to ignore since my body can do it without my direct involvement, and the idea of anything as a potential form of expression is a line of inquiry I want to lather myself in, (like a baby with a jar of peanut butter) to unearth how it can be harnessed to help a voice be heard.

Before I took the time to consider my relationship to breath this past week, I had no awareness of the disconnect I was feeling when instructed to go back to the breath, to use the breath, to notice it at all. A piece of my childhood keeps coming up, especially as I followed this question - My stepfather used to shut me in the bathroom when I got upset because I often lost control of my ability to form words through the heaving, hiccuping, strangled breathing, like I was drowning on dry land. He wouldn't release his hand from the doorknob outside until I could breath normally, which sometimes took a very long time. In retrospect, I suspect it was a kind of anxiety attack I was having, and that loss of control and inability to speak up for myself, these shadows of helplessness and shame are the last places I would probably want to go looking for an anchor or sense of connection. As I consider how many times in a yoga class I've instructed about returning to the breath, of finding it, filling a shape with it etc, all respectable statements in light of its lineage - it seems a really clear example of a place where I've repeated motions rather than speaking from or even considering my own experience or relationship to what I am asking a body of individuals to partake in. At work, I make a real conscious effort to never ask one of my crew guys to do something I myself am not capable of doing, so this bit really shook me.

I feel like there is a strong correlation between drawing and practicing asana, layers of focus and awareness, and by flipping one for the other I get to take away the groove a student (of either discipline) might comfortably lean into. For Sunday's teaching game, I played into the idea of the Perceptual Cycle and the limited resource of our Attention, as well as Sam's meditation that involved shifting our states of awareness - I really liked how those shifts were so distinct in the back to back contrast. So I asked my partner to use his inhales to take in what he was looking at, and let his exhales become a gestural release/exploration of the information received via a pen in his hand to the sketchbook in his lap (I blocked his ability to see the paper, an attempt to remove the focus on judging its product, which alters the ability to engage fully in the noticing).

How does what comes in (via environment, senses, interactions) become an expression of its affect on us? How does an inhale transform into an exhale, how does a breath become a movement?

Both of the individuals I taught this week talked about regular difficulty and lack of connection to their breath, when we talked about it afterwards. I had continued the inhale to notice, exhale to move, and they both experienced the drawing mediation described above prior to taking it into the rest of the body. My non yogi friend felt that the literalness, 'concrete' in her words, of pen to paper drew a distinct connection between a familiar action and the presence of breath - and that bridge helped her feel agency, ease, and purpose in the breath focused movements we explored. I wonder if that is one of those things so fundamental it gets forgotten, not just our awareness of it, but our RELATIONSHIP with breathing. How can I take a step even farther back and help build something to anchor to? How can I weave the sensations of breathing and movement together in my language and my daily life? How many ways can I find to bridge between the taking in and the letting go, to maybe see how our individual expressions arise out of the conversation between them? How can I create a dialogue not based on the assumption that the foundation is already there, when I may be trying to build something on top of uneven ground? I may not be the only one who sometimes feels like I'm drowning on dry land. What is the pathway in? Can my words and the space I shape be a kind of divining rod?

I'm also starting to get a clear sense that it is a collaboration, that there is something between the teacher and student being woven, crafted, made real, but I can't quite see the nature of the artwork that we are working on together, whether I am the student or the teacher. At least not yet.

Monday, May 29, 2017

in my metaphor, he wants to learn quantum mechanics instead of architecture


Does the mind have states
the way matter has states?

Can I pour myself into stillness,
into the container of my body

My mom called me a ray of refracted light
but I didn't respond, she has me all wrong

I want to be the Prism
that light passes through

We automatically assume aliens arrive
with their own foreign wisdom

Why don't we assume the same
about children?

For every hollowness
there is a voluminous - ness

In every curve there is the experience
of concavity and convexity

Straightness has nothing to do
with goodness

damage can trigger
a cell to choose
a different career

express a different
part of its identity

Maybe the Eyes see for the Hand
Maybe the Hand expresses the desires
of the Ribcage, to taste, to be connected
Maybe the Mouth forms words
to sing the Siren's song of the Heart

Somewhere there is a confusion
between the desire for connection
and owning it - a colonizing
of the web that cuts off the ability
to notice the forces moving through it,

through us.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

the light brightens almost imperceptibly

states of being
charging forward
cacophony of people
history, words, voices
boundaries, limitations
doorways, windows

Stories swirling around me
mom constantly rewrites hers to keep herself safe
I was programmed to be an object
I'm falling apart
A hand on my ribs telling me to soften
Where is the maze? Am I in it?
To rewrite my script, I have to seek out
the source, the code, the core
I have to walk right in to what I've been containing,

There is almost nothing more delicious in my mind
than a warm night wrapping itself around you

When I lived in Richmond, I loved the heat with all of my body
wandering past lush gardens in the dark, on the phone,
or alone
I spent a whole year there, in the Fan district
near Museum Row
walking past the statue of Robert E. Lee
on my way down Monument Avenue to the laundromat

The most amazing coffee I've ever tasted
roasted in a nearly invisible space
across the street from the 7-Eleven

my roommate
was the mother of the person I was dating
She apologized frequently for how her daughter treated me
and I kept her company while this person we both were trying to love
traveled for work, too busy to care about either of us.

There was almost never a need to turn on the lights,
the sunshine poured itself through the ancient scum on the windows
wrapped itself around the moldings,
the towers of stuff owned by this woman
dusty, useless

As time rolled on, I caught the mice and released them back
into a neighbor's garden
and convinced the roaches to be a little less brazen
I unearthed her kitchen sink
and then, eventually
her stove

We began a game of filling up trash bags to take to goodwill
Slowly, we could see the walls again
so we bought paint to put on them

In the slow release, the floor became available for sweeping
and the decades seemed to have piled up in the corners of every room
In my confusion, I sorted through the quarter sized flakes everywhere
trying to figure out where they might be coming from

I realized they were the evidence of the psoriasis that consumed her whole body
Years and puddles of dead skin
shed but not gone

I can't help but suspect, in my secret heart
that they are a clue about feelings,
about her children, her life
a previous husband
the damage he caused
even though he looked the part

eating her up from the inside.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tabula Rasa

While binge-watching a tv show about the history of a particular Viking hero, and researching the exploits and overlaps referenced in this semi-historical narrative, there came one of those moments - a life changing realization through the eyes of a mostly fictitious character arc. A child is introduced to him, with the clear blue eyes of a person that meant a great deal to him and was killed in a jealous rage by one of his other companions. In the blank, innocent look of this child-of-his-lost-companion, this great Viking warrior paused and gently touched his fingertips to the boy's face. I felt, with the sharpness of a cut, the history of those two figures, made manifest in the presence of his descendant... and I understood for probably the first time the intensity of looking into the face of one's child or grandchild, or that of a close friend. How in the eyes of those-that-came-before-us, we are also a culmination of so many preexisting circumstances, a physical manifestation of a million little moments and rainy days and hard choices and secret shared smiles and successes and failures and how-are-we-going-to-survive-this; we are all creatures born in the crest of a wave, in the dynamic tensions of a butterfly that flapped its wings on the other side of the world, like the stars and Aphrodite, merely an expression of the teeming currents moving invisibly in the darkness underneath and before what we can actually see.

John Locke had it all wrong, maybe what the bible was trying to say was actually a poorly worded version of something more true. Less 'The sins of the fathers being visited upon the children', more how so many of our actions and gestures we perform every day, and the threads we may confuse as our own may be habits and patterns that are discernable across many generations, part of the primordial stuff that we come into being inside of, for better or worse, whether we like it or not.

Just as we often envision ourselves as truly individual beings, I think it is hard to have a really clear sense of our parents and their parents in a context before we transformed them into something else, an identity that they can never discard. What dies to make room for this magical induction, this double baptism, for this new name they will take with them to the grave? And what of those parts of myself that are so like my primary caregivers that I am so angry at and ashamed of? I am not so interested in the person my mother is currently trying to convince everyone that she is, since it is an elaborate defense against choices made when we were both young, and no one is around to hold her accountable. I do however wish I could dig into some of her earlier feelings and experiences, separate from her intensely obsessive and controlling reaction to me as her offspring/pawn/property, and her insistence that I'm just acting like an angry, adolescent brat, rather than a human being who deserves to be listened to, considered, who may be emotionally intelligent or possessing a valid argument about how her choices have realtime and lasting impacts on the children who were left in her care and won't go away until she is willing to be in the pain of addressing them with us. How do I learn about this person and the ways we are similar, without triggering her many layered defenses? Her father used to call her 'the Hulk', her rage was so uncontrollable when she was younger. I suspect my Grandmother fiscally supports my mother because she feels so deeply guilty for what she stood by and allowed to happen in the household my mother grew up in, and I've heard from my sister that Grama told her just how much like her father my mother is. While I may have found a container for rage that has been incredibly fortuitous for me professionally, I know, sometimes more than others, how that taking over/taking control/unable to turn it off mechanism is a direct channeling of the woman who raised me.

'Hollow' is the word my little brother used, describing to me what trying to talk to her is like. It is deeply unsettling to me, this person who calls herself a mother, but has never once asked any of her children how they feel about anything, or why. That someone in her place could be so uncurious about our hopes and fears and choices. But maybe that is what was modeled to her, maybe there is an unheard, neglected child buried deep within her being that is so hungry it makes her blind to us. Is it possible to go unarmed after all this time and anger in search for my mother's soul, locked so deep in the fortress of her stories, and not get lost?

I don't know that I'm quite brave or strong enough to fumble around in her darkness to untangle our shared threads, but I can feel the places in my body where I've ignored pain have created weaknesses in other compensatory places, and I've begun to chase those uncomfortable places to look for what lives on the other side. As strong as I may become though, only she can choose to wade through her scar tissue and liberate those pathways between herself and the rest of the world.

Between herself and her children, who have been waiting our whole lives for her to make that choice.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Whatever gets you through the rituals

City of barnacles
passing a half burnt house
falling apart, fleas
inside the crumbling building
doors lead to musty rooms
with collapsed ceilings
crumbling paint on old opera sets
containing the history of my craft
mastery in every whorl and cloud 
and shadowed transition
coming apart in my hands
flakes of vibrant colors
becoming grey dust
like Dorothy returning
to her washed out, thirsty home
after the technicolor of Oz.

tasting things activates the process
of taking things in
maybe hearing is just the beginning
of listening

My little brother
taller than all of us now
affectionately mentioned
during a holiday
the house full
of our family's particular
dominating cackle
a joyful witch's laughter
that we are all known by
but becomes a devastating
force when we all
come together.

Shame keeps them shuttered inside of themselves, unknowable
like a clam bed in muddy low lying water
they propagate a denial that removes them from their own history
ready to slice open the feet of any of us that try to escape
from the bog of my clan

'Disarming' he called me
when I asked for an evaluation
what a strange word

'half cocked' my mother
always said I was
like a gun
An old boss friend referred to me
as a 'tank' on numerous occasions
expressed disbelief
when I mentioned crying
and even before that
a 'caged tiger'
from the lips of an earlier employer
as she mimicked the pent up rage
that moved my body as we spoke


I can't stop thinking about that word.