Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Sometimes in life, things appear so convoluted and confusing, so completely alien, that no matter how hard you try, you cannot make sense of it, cannot rotate the rubik cube of it, cannot unmaze the topiary of it. Non sequiturs are one thing, but that thing of which I speak is way beyond the boundaries of normal, random intrusion. When it happens, you are forced to pause in disbelief, pinch yourself awake from a nightmare that you didn't even know you were dreaming, and wonder if perhaps you have stroked out and lost all ability to reason, or comprehend. You become momentarily paralyzed, but eternally impaired. It is only through the reluctant realization that it has actually occurred that you are able to inhale; have an in-with-the-good-air, out-with-the-bad-air resurrection.

These moments can appear in many different forms and have many different causes, but they share certain universal qualities. They definitely take your breath away, like an out-of-nowhere slap in the face, or a who-am-I, what-the-fuck-am-I-doing plummet of the pedestal of self reliance, or a why-is-this-woman-causing-me-to-behave-like-a-complete-moron epiphany.
These moments will also cause you to question the lucidity of of your conscious mindset, the theoretical rationality once held in your core belief system. They question your conviction that you can believe what you see, and that what you see is not altered by your observance. They make you wonder if your optic nerve is just mocking you, but these moments are fleeting, never allowing you a firm grip on your bearings.

But most importantly, these moments always have a purpose, a gift even, but it is shrouded in a secret wound up tighter than the core of a baseball. Somehow, I know that these moments don't exist to reveal their purpose, but to cause us to seek revelation. The ultimate enigma--a shrouded secret, bearing a gift, but resisting discovery, yet setting us on a path toward discovery.

I had such a moment last evening. I was stunned, paralyzed, empty minded. I don't know where it will guide me, and I don't know what I will find, perhaps nothing. But I do know that it has taken up residence in my subconscious, set on a foundation sturdier than Atlas' shoulders. I will share it with you, although I know you can offer no guidance. It was, and is, my moment alone. I am almost certain it occurred, almost positive I saw it, a subtitle, golden yellow, emblazoned across a screen of an unknown Africa, at least unknown to me; a question which, at least for now, offers no hint of an answer, really offers no possibility of solution. But it was asked, clear and bold across the TV screen,

"Mother, will you rub some ochre on the calabash?"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Tiny Red Leaf in a Wet Green Forest

Most often, it's the little things that bring us joy. While sitting on the back porch, I spied a tiny red leaf, all alone in an otherwise verdant landscape. It stood out, not so much because of its brilliance, but, more so, because of its willingness to race ahead of its brethren on its path towards resurrection. I studied it, dead on and from various perspectives, until I was satisfied that it wasn't an errant nest fragment, a piece of cardboard,or a strand of yarn, discarded by a frantic robin with a speed pass to Florida. I needed to know that it was a leaf, just a little red leaf, that had so captured my imagination. And I was grateful to the cigarette, and the cup of tea, that had carried me into my outside world. Without them, I may never have noticed it. I might never have paused to ponder its significance to me. It made me stop, and breathe, gather and collect, and wonder. It also reminded me of the movie The Red Balloon.

I don't really remember the whole movie, but I know it centered around a boy chasing a red balloon all around Paris. It's a real shame that as we grow older, we lose the desire to chase things just for the sake of chasing. I'll admit, it does seem a bit like folly, to chase something without knowing where it will lead you. But in this leaderless world in which we live, it seems like a worthwhile pastime. And let's face facts. If you really take the time to examine your life, you will find that your red balloon has led you to many unexpected places, both good and bad. You would think, that given the lifespan of Joe American, that we could figure out that planning is a futile endeavor. I mean, I can virtually guarantee you that minions of people dropped stone dead of heart attacks while reading of robber barons and bailouts over the past few weeks, and they all planned their lives, didn't they? (There is a distinct possibility of rampant stupidity having a prominent role here as well). I can also guarantee you that most of the robber barons have a couple, or three, extra millions in their soiled pockets.

I'm left to wonder why we leave so little time for being happy. My little red leaf told me the answer today. We have become a species obsessed of two things--wealth and rightness. For most of you, these are the same thing, but they are not; they are connected but not the same. I don't know why, but we have become a species intent on acquiring more than we need. We collectively amass more stuff than we will ever use. I don't begrudge some people having more than others, but I do resent all of you that take more than you need. And when did we collectively decide that "My way, or the highway" is the eleventh commandment? I was happy enough with ten, although that covet thing seems a little over the top.

No, good readers, in a world where no one is accountable, you can rest easy knowing that this is not your fault either. No, the blame rests solely on the shoulders of the biggest phony of em all--GOD.

If I was God, I never would have revealed myself. It's petty. If you're omnipotent enough to create the universe, you should be confident enough to quietly sit back and enjoy your accomplishments. Clearly, there is a little too much Donald Trump in God. A little too much self-evangelizing. And I surely would have told you what to call me. Instead, he left us stuck with yahweh, buddha, mohammed, jesus (the pretender), rama, mbutu, whatever. God clearly suffers from schizophrenia of the highest order. From here on out, I will only refer to god by his actual name, Lou Smith. So somewhere along the way, we bought into the god thing faster than we realized that Clay Aiken was gay, and then we took that giant leap of faith--that if you know god, the true god, the real god, then you are righter than all the rest. We, as a species, were so afraid of what we didn't know that we latched on to the first creator that told the Jews to head to Canaan, and kill every man, woman and child along the way (In his defence, he did give us his only son, and let us crucify him) (Like god only has one son! If I was god I'd be fucking every babe in paradise). Then, of course, he put the all-seeing eye and 'In god we trust' on the dollar bill, and the rest is history--crusades, banana republics and WMDs.

So I'm looking at the little red leaf today, all the while pondering my purpose in life, and I realized that the only purpose any of us have is to be happy. We are all here to chase red balloons, across Paris, or Boston, or Timbuktu, or Bagdhad. If we only take what we need, then most times, there will be enough for everyone. And plenty of time for the pursuit of happiness. According to legend, god plopped us down in the garden of eden, stark naked, and left us to find our own way. If only we were really brave enough to handle that free will thing. Hurry, somebody, get me some helium. I don't care how much it costs!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Preparing a Meal

When preparing a meal it is essential that all preparation be mindless. I do not mean to imply that the chef shouldn't think about it; only that the preparation should not require constant intervention. The meal should be preparing itself. Less stress!

So, to begin. Unless you are preparing fish, marinating is the way to go. The choices for marinades are endless, but might I suggest that whenever possible, only the freshest herbs and spices should be used. Oils always have there place. Dry rubs are OK when your really pressed for time, but then you're just cooking, not preparing a meal. Generously coat the main course with oil, preferably extra virgin olive, but infused oils are also acceptable. Use your hands and rub the oil all over. This accomplishes two things. First, it softens and allows the absorption of whatever herbs and spices you have chosen. Second, it lets you get good and greasy, and, let's face it, it's always better when you're greasy. Lets you slide and glide all the way to the end.

Before allowing the meal to marinate, it's time to season. Your choice of herbs and spices depends on what you're cooking, but fresh is the way to go. It is critical that fresh herbs and spices be handled gently, retaining their own natural oils and flavors. Garlic, for instance, should never be smashed and minced. No, take each clove between your thumb and forefingers and roll it gently until the peel is removed.

A brief aside is required here in regard to the main course. Butterflying and/or deboning are strictly forbidden. Remember, the meal is gifting itself to you. The flesh should never be cut or pierced. When inserting garlic, say into a rump roast, you should gently explore the roast until you find a seam that will accept the clove in its entirety. This process can be time consuming, but is well worth the effort.

Some people, at this stage will choose to tie the meal, be it meat or poultry, but I assure you, this is strictly a matter of personal preference. Prepare the meal properly and I assure you, be it bound or unbound, it will give itself to you, juicy and yummy.

At this stage, the main course should be allowed to marinate for as long as it wants to. It is perfectly acceptable to reapply and/or massage the spices several additional times. When the time comes, preheat the oven. Some find that initial cooking at higher temperatures, will help retain the natural juices. Again, a matter of choice. Nevertheless, the remainder of the cooking process should be long and slow, a natural approach when trying to maximize texture and flavor.

While the main course is slow roasting, preparation of side dishes should ensue. Mash or au gratin your potatoes. Trim your string beans. But only start cooking them when the main course is nearly ready to come out of the oven, and allow the main course to stand a bit as well.

The last preparation is the gravy. Gravy should be prepared over an intense flame, constantly stirred and whipped until it thickens and realizes its full potential.

Preparing a meal, like all truly enjoyable things, is not a science. This advice is offered only as a guide. You need to adapt it, nurture it, experiment with it and make it your own. The results will be delightful and savory. Bon Appetit! I'll leave dessert up to you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Put your hands on her hips, and let your Backbone slip, or An Open letter to All Men

Early this afternoon, I was subjected to the loudest cacophony of crow caws ever vocalized in a single location. Many of you are aware that I talk to squirrels, but perhaps you are unaware of my kinship with crows. I like them, and I think they deliver the really important mail.

When I became fully aware of the fever pitch the crow symphony had reached, I ran out to the back porch, for fear that they were under attack. I was unable however, to ascertain the root cause of their distress. I did however notice one crow lying on the ground, while his friend watched over him. I don't know if he was injured, but I do know that his friend stood guard until he was awake enough to fly again. Off they went into the trees, but the music didn't stop. It went on for over an hour. Maybe the crows were just feeling noisy.

My whole life, I have been certain that there were only three related birds in the crow family; the crow, the raven, and the mystery bird that I had forgotten. So I googled crows, and found to my astonishment that the corvid family is huge--crows, ravens, rooks, jays, magpies, choughs and jackdaws--but while I was surprised, this is not the pertinent tidbit gained from today's research. No, today I learned that male ravens will fly upside down when trying to secure a lifelong mate. (I also learned that crows only start hiding their storehouses, after they've learned to be thieving pirates themselves, but that's another story, although not unrelated)

This whole episode led me to ponder the trials and tribulations of men, especially, but not exclusively, young men. Men don't get instructions. They start out their 'adult' lives without any idea how to get to where they are going, without even knowing where they are going, although there is an underlying certainty that they are supposed to be going somewhere. This, of course, is why men say and do incredibly stupid things. It is really not that they are stupid. It is more that they are floundering, making up their own rules and guidelines as they go along. And this is why men have no idea what women think or feel. They are too busy figuring out what to do with themselves; no time to unravel the feminine puzzle. If men could fly upside down, they would; but they can't, so instead they get drunk, fight and eat light bulbs in an effort to attract a woman. Once they realize the futility of these endeavors, they are only left with two options--find a career and pretend they're good at it, or think with the penis. That's all there is. Money or cock. And women, poor souls, are left with choosing the lesser of two evils. There is, of course, some ovelap here, which is why you can always find rich, stupid men, and poor hapless men who are good in the sack.

So then, I see this story on current tv, about an egyptian man who decided to become a professional belly dancer in Cairo. He said that he dances like a man; that if danced like a woman, he couldn't do it, although he does admit that he uses some, but not all, of the women's movements. He is very proud of what he does; considers himself an artist, and performs on the world stage, when he isn't dodging bullets from fundamentalists that believe he is Satan. So then, I start wondering why there aren't any male hula dancers, I mean, beside the fact of how ridiculous they would look in grass skirts. Men choose to play the ukuleles, to play the congas, and to twirl their fire batons, because that is what they do well.

And then, it struck me. The fundamental difference between men and women. I don't mean to offend the unshaven feminists, or the pablum-spewing, touchy-feely literati, but the answer is very simple. Men are good with their hands, and women are good with their hips.

Y'all should've realized by now that I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not rich, but I'm not stupid. But there are some things I've managed to decipher. I know who I am, and I know who I am not, and I know that I am still open to all my possibilities. I know I'm not scared anymore. And even though I can't fly, right side up or upside down, I'm still taxiing down my runway, making another approach, and ready for takeoff. I wish you all a safe and happy flight.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Thirty Second Tale of Life and Death

The fact that I am delirious with fever should in no way detract from the value of this short, little tale.

I was sitting on the porch today, trying to cool down. My love tells me that I have incredible peripheral vision. I suppose I do. In any event, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that a small wasp/hornet had landed on my favorite, pinhead-sized, yellow spider's web. I watched as it twitched, spun its belly on an e-string thorax, and I assumed that it was done for. My tiny, yellow spider thought so too, and sprung into wrapping and desiccating action. As you know, all spiders have teeth, and my little yellow friend had hers plunged into the wasp's head. The wasp appeared to go limp, lifeless I thought, when it jabbed my little spider, and the battle renewed, but only briefly. With the new found strength of impending victory, the wasp did her in, freed himself, and carried her off to dine.

As delirious people do, I found myself absorbed, and reminded, of a newly acquired quote, "If you're in a hole, stop digging". I also found myself understanding the song title 'It takes a lot to laugh. It takes a train to cry', but that's for another day.

No today I am absorbed with struggles, and I'm trying to figure out if we (jews included) really do have crosses to bear. I think the answer is not so simple, but I am starting to believe that the super glue we crave is made from sugar and sympathy. We have such an obsession with self labeling; we want to self label to join similarly self labeled humans in sugar and sympathy labeled groups. I will not single out any group in particular, but know that it does include all religions, political dogmas, income levels, survivors and victims alike. It has something to do with shared experiences, but this alone makes it appear silly to me. I mean, don't we all share the same experience. There is certainly variance in experiences, but the variations do not separate people from the overall experience. No, belonging to churches, or political parties, or support groups only offers the chance to live in a hole with other people, and to dig until the water's over your heads.

There are, of course, other kinds of holes. Somewhere, I'm not sure where, but it's either in a land where they mutilate vaginas and sew them shut or, in a land where young boys are the primary saleable commodity, people insert larger and larger metal rings in their earlobes until their earlobes hang at roughly the same latitude as their navels. At some point today, I was amused by the possibility that these enlarged earlobes enabled people to hear what the dormant parts of their brains were trying to tell them, but instead, I was led to ponder the brass ring, longneck ladies of southeast asia. I discovered that this was done originally so that tigers would have greater difficulty snapping their necks, but I was left with the conclusion that it has more to do with sexual allure. In any event, it is a more concrete example of how we support our heads at the top of deeper holes we create. This, in turn, led me to ponder another old expression, "one man's penis is another man's doorknob".

In any event, we dig holes for lots of different reasons. Sometimes to find stuff that we perceive as valuable, sometimes to hide; sometimes we dig holes for other people, even nations; sometimes we dig them to steal; sometimes to bond. Go ahead and make up your own reasons, but I am left with only one conclusion.

Holes are empty places, not so much on their own, but more the result of our actions. They are no so much the creation of nothing as much as they are the absence of something. We dig holes, most often, because we believe something has been taken from us, or lost. But all holes are like black holes. They may suck in what we seek, but they leave it just out of reach, just beyond the event horizon.

There is hope however. Eventually, we will have dug so many holes, that they will join together, coagulate into a single giant hole, and we will be left to evolve out of it. But we are going to have to survive slightly longer than my little spider friend.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Don't Believe What You Think or, An Open Post to my Six or Seven Readers

There have been many events this past week that have led me to ponder the synchronicities of the life force. We all make choices, and despite the teachings of my sister-in-law, they have nothing to do with Lesser or Glasser (or whoever he is); nothing to do with love, power, fun and freedom. (My apologies to Gail, as I know I'm treading on thin ice, and I'm not wanting to single her out).

But it has become clear to me that choices are part of a much bigger picture; they are not strictly about each of us as individuals. Choice is a collective-an interconnectivity of humanity that eludes conscious thought, or even unconscious thought.

Choice, real choice, requires truth, and truth is universal. Our inability to comprehend the universal holds us back from seeing the truth. We view everything in a very individual, narrow bandwidth. We require of ourselves the creation of a palpable frame of reference. And that space is altered by that which we carry, and that which we allow in. Just think about this often uttered phrase: "I've made it part of my truth".

Fact is, truth is not something that we can own. Truth is the single most untenable reality. Truth exists in the chaos, in pure form, but is only observable through our altering frames of reference.
My truth is not your truth, so it is by definition, not truth at all. It is the single hardest thing for us to accept-that the 'what I know' reality is internal to each of us. Truth is external, and can only be shared by the collective without our consent. We share our 'truths' with each other, but we innately carry the realization that for everyone else, our 'truths' are false.

I am not going to get on my soapbox, and pretend that I know what truth is. I don't. So, I am left, by choice, to offer up my little blurbs without rules. They are only food for thought. There is no pain in this choice. The space of this choice is filled with fun. I only offer the choice for you to love yourself through my eyes. And as for power, I only offer you the choice to seek your own powerful falsehoods, and the power to let it flow toward the universal truth. And I offer the freedom to accept or deny.

I do not mean to imply that our choices do not carry truth, but it is undetectable and unalterable, beyond our comprehension. Our first choice is to emerge, followed closely by the choice to breathe in the weakened aftermath of emergence. Our final choice is to exit, and that may come at any time. In between, I don't know. We each play the game by our own rules.

I do know one thing. That the truth that is carried in our individual choices binds us in a single unity. Each choice we make binds us together as a single entity, and resistance is futile. We choose, through our make-believe little truths, to accept the conjugation of a single human spirit. What we choose affects everyone else, and no matter how dimly we see that, we all know it.

Several people have told me that my words are powerful, and that I should use them carefully. Pshaw! It is not the words that are powerful, it is the choice to utter them, and they will affect those that read them, and those that do not, through my choice, not through their definition. We do matter in the grand scheme of things, because the choices we each make individually, bind us together in a human singularity, held together by the truth we do not comprehend, yet always seek.

My own 'truth' is no bigger or better than yours, but there are parts of it that I need to share today. Some of you may choose to depart after you read them. I don't know. But thanks for visiting.

I, like you, have constructed my own frame of reference. It's foundation is constructed of fun, and holds no space for the burden of pain. It's walls are made of paper, thin and delicate, and easily torn. It's windows however, are built with my eyes, and the light that enters and exits through them, is filled with clarity and doubt, joy and despair, love and hate, acceptance and rejection, even honesty and falsehood. Many of you accept what you see without reservation; accept others' statements at face value. I have far more filters. I look at light from many different angles, fragment my light through many different prisms, and much of what has transpired here lately shines false.

I cannot fully believe in the jenna saga. The compassionate prism is allowing her light in because her story evokes in me a shared sadness. The sympathetic prism is allowing others to buy into it, to support her and console her. But there is a certain polish and wisdom in her light that cannot pass through my other prisms. I do not believe that she is only sixteen. I entertain the possibility that this is just a game she is playing in the internet ether. I have also mulled the possibility that she is just out of her fucking mind And I have considered deeply, that she is sharing her 'truth', and allowed her light to pass through my sadness prism. But this 'big, old fart' needs a lot more of the 'skinny'.

The truth shall indeed set you free, but it will not let go easily. Until we accept, and revel in, the space given by the collective human spirit, the connectivity of all, it will be very hard to grab a hold of it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cottage Cheese and Cheetos

Today's post could just as easily been titled 'Random Thoughts of a Very Full Week', but I just liked the one I chose more. And that is, after all, what choices are all about. Our individual journeys are all about the choices we adopt. Most times, we make a choice; other times, choices are made for us, or at least offered to us. In either situation, we each, individually, agree to the choice we make and make it our own, stand in it. And sometimes, our choices involve things that just don't seem to fit together. So here goes, fasten your seatbelts.

Life is full of choices. Mine are found in a myriad of places. An empty pyrat rum bottle full of scrolls. A future fish bowl filled with shared desires. An empty water jug filled with sand, pebbles and seashells. A bulletin board full of dreams, past, present and future. A house that no longer holds space for me. A computer filled with unwritten pages. My list is endless, has no inside or outside, and is filled with urgency and patience. Our choices are all we are given. They come without directions, and their consequences are unforeseeable, like spiders and geometry. Our webs may realize as boxes or orbs, circles or pyramids; even in moebius strips and torus, but where those webs will extend to is unknown. They are full of gifts and punishments, beginnings and ends, and possibility-filled journeys. They are held together with only spit and time; tenuous, and vulnerable to the winds of change. Oh sure, there are signposts along the way, rites of passage, but they only serve to show us where we are at the moment; never how to get to the next one. We try to make sense of the unpredictability of life, but that is an impossible task, harder than pissing in the wind on a moving freight train. And, I believe, that the frustration resultant from our inability to go with the flow, is our single greatest source of despair.

Over the last few weeks, choices were made everywhere, and in completely illogical, non-linear ways, affected my life irrevocably. A young man, who I didn't know, chose to end his own life. I don't know why, never will. But I do know it was his choice. A meteorologist chose to name a tropical storm Gustav, and set it careening toward the gulf coast. The most beautiful woman in the world chose to paint sticks. My brother and sister-in-law chose to say their final goodbye to their dog. And I. I chose the name, Morveren, for a landlocked mermaid. There is great sadness, and great joy in all of these choices, and their consequences will unfold for years to come. Initially, there was grief and rage and confusion, solace and quietude and clarity. I do not possess enough wisdom to tell you where it will all lead. I can only chronicle the things I have chosen to hold onto.

The woman saw her son become a man right before her eyes. Painted sticks became a bouquet of cherished memories. Tears were kissed away lovingly. The young man was dead, but gifts, great gifts that he chose, for all I know, were given everywhere. Cats and mermaids can now call each other by name, and sleep together in the sun. And I think the Mississippi veered slightly to the west.

My love and I chose a play day of cottage cheese and cheetos. We played with witches and pirates, walked in the oceans waters, and honored a friend by eating fried clams and scallops at Kelly's in Revere. All the other good things are hers and mine. No one else's. But there is a lesson here. Be sure to eat your cottage cheese early, and hold on tight to that bag of cheetos, or the seagulls might pirate the whole bag.

Who am I kidding? Lesson, schmesson. Do whatever you want. It's your choice. But, thanks in advance for all the good things that might come my way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.