The way of seeing.

July 31, 2007 at 12:59 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

Maybe you’ll remember something like a year ago when I wrote about how meditation eludes me. And maybe you won’t remember that, because MAYBE NO ONE IS THERE because this space has been stagnant for so long.

Me too.

But many things have moved. My weight, it moved down. It has moved down 40 pounds. My muscles, they’re moving now. A trainer makes me make them move three times a week, which makes me able to keep my large, wild baby boy from throwing himself into the way of traffic or off of high things.

My show, what I wrote about before, it’s moving. It was moving fast for a while there. And now it’s moving slow while I try and catch up with myself. Long ago I was writing about a stupid trip to jail I made. And then, fortuitously, it changed to a story about spirituality: mine, from springboard to mid-air to present location.

I have a present location, because I now am the proud possessor of a nascent spiritual practice.

Look at this website. The Way of Seeing. I don’t remember how I found it. Grace and good fortune, I think. These folks offer free meditation classes. The whole thing appealed to me – I couldn’t find anything to object to, it all seemed so reasonable and humble. So I went, and have kept on going, and I’ve moved from the beginner’s class to the practitioner’s class.

In the morning, I meditate for 25 minutes: a counting meditation. Then I lie back for a few more minutes, attempting to keep a quiet mind. And then, in the ideal world I’m hoping to live in soon, I do 3-5 more small meditations a day, where the object of the meditation is what one is feeling at the moment, experienced as completely and wordlessly as possible.

The theory in this Way of Seeing is that backlogged feelings and needless thoughts create a lot of the stickiness our lives, and if you can turn a flashlight on them, their power over you diminishes and you get to experience your being in a very much more vital way. I think this makes a lot of sense. I also appreciate that there’s no dogma. It’s all just experiential.

Another aspect of this path is silence. You want to create a lot of it, as much as you can for yourself. Build it in all day long. I’m not very far along with this. But there’s an older woman in our class who seems to be very good at this, and whenever she talks I just sit there in wonderment. I find her so gentle and accurate and non-defensive and open and brave. She sits there pulsing somehow with both great feeling and deep calm. I’d like to be like her someday.

On August 19th, I think I’m going to meet the main teacher of this path. (The classes are taught by advanced students, who I find to be excellent advertisements for Ken. They’re so warm and calm and friendly, and they inspire trust.) I’m excited. I will tell you how it all goes.

Bloom Status: Very far upward, now, let’s face it. It’s cumulative. But now that I’ve recorded these changes, the needle is in neutral again. The bloom needle.

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A man in a suit.

January 8, 2007 at 12:14 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

First of all, thank you for your kind responses about my solo show. They were each really helpful and much appreciated. I stayed up late and read out loud the jail story on The Gallivanting Monkey, and realized that I’m not starting from absolute zero. Though many segments of it need to be rewritten for stage-friendliness, there’s a lot there that’s fine as is. But then there are the large matters of Why This Story and What Kind of Show is This that lead me to What Else Do I Need To Write. Also, I need to find a director – someone rigorous and fun who’s a movement ace, since I need a movement ace, as I’m not a movement ace. I’m thinking about asking George Lewis, for all you Seattle theater types who would know who I’m talking about.

noh santa

Also, hilariously, I had a psychic reading with Erin Pavlina (who’s linked on the right over there) and the subject of my show came up. The advice from the spirit world was to skew the show 75% towards material I’m very sure of and 25% towards experimentation. That sounds pretty good. Also, the spirit world suggested I do a lot of different voices, because I’m good at that. I will take that under advisement. But the best part was that Erin said that a man is going to come see the show – this is Destiny – and book it somewhere else, somewhere perhaps fancy. This man is in his 50’s, she said. He’s portly, wears a suit, has a moustache. He’s sort of an abrasive guy, maybe a chauvinist, but I’m not to let that bother me. I’m to overlook that stuff and let him do his thing – and don’t piss him off – because he’ll take me somewhere I really want to go. My word! Heidi put into words well what I was thinking, that this is definitely going to add a sort of Waiting for Guffman dynamic to the show when it’s in performance. If anyone shows up in the audience who answers at all to that description, I’m going to notice and maybe get all weird. After the reading I was like, how do I look into this? Do I google “portly moustachioed theater brokers”? “Rotund besuited chauvinist movers and shakers”? “Fat bastard theater wizards with facial hair”? In any case, this is excellent because it will provide levity before I walk out on stage. Here I come, Guffman. Tonight’s the night. That’s the worst thing that could happen. And, of course, the best thing would be if the big dapper crank were to actually show up and rocket me to the stars.

Finally, in my ongoing Weight Watching, I have lost 27 pounds. This officially escorts me out of the overweight category and deposits me on upper rim of normal healthiness. Huzzah! 13ish pounds to go to reach my goal, which is the absolute middle of the healthy range. Meanwhile, I’d like to give a shout-out to Quaker Oats Weight Control Oatmeal (with a special nod to Cinnamon flavor), Barilla Plus Pasta (whole grain, full of protein, tastes far better than it should), apples, water, Rudi’s Organic Seven Grain & Flax Bread, the Weight Watchers Flex Plan (a system which allows me to eat anything I like as long as I balance things out) and breastfeeding, which burns 500 calories a day. Eat up, buddy.

Bloom Status: Upward

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Drop City 101.

December 5, 2006 at 4:24 pm (Bloom Status: Upward, Uncategorized)

Post NaNoWriMo, I’m all aflame about writing. And I have, by picking up this novel, inadvertenly enrolled in writing school. Oh, mama! MaMA.

drop city

Holy hell, T.C. Boyle! Man, god damn it. I have a vague recollection of his visiting my college when I was a junior, and I was like, huh? T. Corraghessan Who? Does he teach here? Wha? Never mind. I’ve just lost my virginity. Can’t be bothered.

Son of a bitch, man. I wish I could have flashed 18 years into the future and understood how much I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that. I wish I could barrel back in time and demand I yank my head out of my ass and head on over to Olin Hall or wherever he was talking and go there and listen like a wizard. Soak it all up into all me molecules.

Well, all right. It’s all right. He’s in my living room right now in book form. I’ve never read any of his stuff before, and now I’m reading Drop City. I picked it up after traveling back through old archived NY Times 10 Best Books of the Year lists. Man. Every sentence is a master freaking class! The writing is so physical. Everything is floating and washed and slick and jagged and silken. And the story goes along all languid and luxurious and then suddenly before you know it you’ve taken a sidewinder to your temple and you’re wide awake and muttering, what the fuck? What just happened? These bracing, icy, cruel turns of event slide into place as subtle as can be. It’s amazing.

I want to study every sentence. I am. I’m studying this bastard. It’s inspiring. I want to take my little fetal novelina and grow it with as much integrity as I can. Every sentence of this guy’s is some kind of nascent writer’s prenatal vitamin. I haven’t studied writing with any formality – I mean, I’ve taken wonderful writing classes for many years from a dear friend, Writing as a Therapeutic and Spiritual Practice. And that’ s been glorious, but that’s not about writing as a craft. I mean, it’s a wonderland in there, totally free of criticism. Dreamy. That’s about dipping a cup into the river of your _______* and seeing what you pull up. And I’ve learned about letting whatever floats up live to be considered before the bloodthirsty editor kills it on the spot. So, that is just great. Thank you, Vicky! Invaluable. But I want to learn now about crafting stories that are sound to the core, big ones, stories that ring and wake you up and delight you and rattle your mind, and I want to learn about how to build them, the carpentry of them, and I want to learn how to finish them with sentences that arrive in all new shapes so you’re awake to read the thing, sentences that are as unexpected as a close-up of curly elf shoes on Donald Trump’s feet under the board room table**. And I have to learn how to be cold-blooded with myself, how to look at the lumps of raw material and assess what is worth keeping alive and what doe-eyed, sweetly blinking hunk of beloved text must be killed. (Like this one, Fruity McFloridson.) I feel ambitious!

*Soul? Heart? Unconscious? Body? Past? Intuition? Whatever and however many you like.

**God help me.
Yeah, this is all very embarrassing, but it’s sincere. I’m going to be like this now for a while. Avid and studenty. Thank you for your patience.

Bloom Status: Learning is good, even if you come across like an ass while you’re doing it. Upward. *

*I wonder what it’s gonna take out of me to give myself a Downward. Rose-colored glasses are the main kind of glasses I own. But, you know, meanwhile….whoo! Movin’ on up.

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Oh, I saw it through, all right.

November 28, 2006 at 7:23 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

see-through

Splrrsshh! I resurface!

Oh my God, you guys. (We had a stage manager briefly back with the old sketch comedy group I used to work with who began practically every sentence with “Oh my God, you guys”. Only really fast. “Ohmygodyouguys.” Everything on God’s green earth warranted this opener for him. “Oh-my-god-you-guys-I’m-eating-a-pancake.”)

But really, for real, OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. I have done it. I wrote that novel. Or I wrote most of a first draft of a novel. Or, who knows, maybe it’s HALF of a first draft of a novel! But I made it to 50,044 words and the framework is all there. It’s just plugging in holes and then rewriting the shit out of it.

It’s got a working title. See-Through. It’s about a woman who lives through a very scary earthquake, suffers some serious losses and then travels around trying out various m.o.’s for handling the aftermath – hedonism and spiritual seeking, mostly. And I like it! Not the writing itself so much, though I do in lots of places. I mean, it’s some hasty, whizzy, craphappy writing for the most part. But I like the idea, I like the main character, and I’ve been enjoying living vicariously through her. It’s fun, writing a novel! It’s like watching a movie reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly. A movie that needs a serious editor. Thelma Schoonmaker, I’m looking at you, sister*.

*She is the only film editor I’ve ever heard of. Other editors may be like, that hack!

People, thank you for your encouraging words. It’s been most appreciated! I’ll tell you more about what it was like later. Now I’m going to go watch some stupid television and maybe – if Finn permits – get a good night’s sleep!

P.S. I’ve lost 18 pounds, too! Whatthe-! Woo! That unwritten novel weighed a lot!

nano winner

Bloom Status: UPWARD. Freakin’ VERTICAL.

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There shall be pork in the treetops at dawn!

October 20, 2006 at 10:20 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

book & candle

One thing that I’ve always said that I will never be able to do is write a novel. It’s beyond me. Well, it’s so far beyond me that it’s apparently right behind me. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and son of a bitch if I’m not going to participate this year.

What?! What am I doing?! Don’t I have a small baby? Don’t I have a solo show to finish writing? Don’t I have a business that I want to get off the ground? Aren’t I in the middle of trying to lose almost a third of my body weight?

I know! I don’t know! I do! Yes! Yes, I do! I am!

So, the thing with NaNoWriMo – if you’re not familiar with it – is this: you start writing a novel on November 1st. You can’t start early, although you can start late. You write a 50,000 word novel. It doesn’t have to be a good novel. It just has to have 50,000 words in it. You have to finish it by midnight on November 30th. And the payoff is…you can say that you did.

I’m gonna do this thing. You know why? Because I think that writing a novel really fast will work in a weirdly great symbiotic way with the other things I’m working on. I imagine it like this:

If I can write a 50,000 word novel, I can lose fifty pounds!

If I can write a 50,000 word novel, I can write a little solo show!

If I can write a 50,000 word novel in a month, I can write some marriage ceremonies and get a website and business up and running!

I think all these things can work symbiotically together. If I can lose fifty pounds, I can do a solo show. If I can do a solo show, I can lose fifty pounds. If I can do a solo show, write a novel and lose fifty pounds, I can start a business. If I can do a solo show, write a novel, lose fifty pounds and start a business, I may get the idea that there are a lot of things I can do.

It’s funny. I have this strange sense that I’m on the verge of some kind of personal renaissance. For most of my adult life, the number 40 – referring to the age – has hung boldfaced in my mind. Like it’s my target age. I’ve just had this subtle sense that I was going to sort of kick ass at 40. Now, I’m not 40 yet. I’m 37. But I have nearly three years in between now and 40 and a lot can happen in three years. And I can feel myself loosening my grip on some old ideas about myself.

One old self-image snapshot floating around in the billfold of my mind is of a young woman, maybe in her 20’s. She’s thin from lots of smoking, but not fit – a weakling. Her hands shake. She’s unassertive, doesn’t finish things because she doubts she was good enough ever to start them. She’s kind of incompetent, maybe. Or she believes so much in her incompetence that she’s frozen, and then she’s got a self-fulfilling prophecy on her hands. She’s soft, in a sad way.

Another more recent snapshot, though becoming outdated, is of a slightly older woman, in her early/mid-thirties. She’s plump, grounded, has sort of a mask of contentment on. She doesn’t start things, because she knows she won’t finish them, so then she is spared the disappointment. This passes for wisdom! She feels wise. Don’t try. Give up first! Then you can’t fail! Safe as houses. No smoky, no shaky. Solid as a rock. She’s more responsible than she was in her 20’s, doesn’t let other people down like she did back then. Except for herself, but who asked about that? Her extra fifty pounds is her route to personal power. If you take up physical space, then you don’t have to take up space in other ways. Let others shine! They deserve it! Me, I’m just a fat and happy housecat. I’m not interested in all that shining. This woman is soft in an increasingly unsad way, last point aside.

A novel has always been such an impossibility in my mind. I’ve always thought that novelists are honest-to-god magicians. I know how to tell my own stories, but the creation of character and plot and massive amounts of detail from thin air is jaw-dropping to me. I’ve said it over and over again that I could never do it, that I don’t have the gene. If I can blast through that, then I’m banking on the idea that my psyche will question the other things I may secretly have pegged as impossibilities.

This is the snapshot I want in my wallet:

I’m forty. I’m slender and energetic. I haven’t abandoned my hold on contentment, but I’m not so exclusive with it anymore. I like a little creative discontent, a little fire under my ass. If there’s something I want to try, I try it. If there’s something I want to say, I say it. If I do or say it badly, well, whoops. I’m surrounded by responsibility to family, babies, husband, friends. I’m anchored by responsibility to my own talent and dreams. Fufilling one helps me fulfill the other. I’m kind to my hopes so I have no reason to be unkind to others. This is a fine kind of softness.

I have an actual idea for this NaNoWriMo project. I have a concept. I have the two main characters. I have a situation. You’re allowed to outline your story beforehand, you just can’t write any actual text before November 1st. I’m kind of thrilled about getting started here. I’m champing at the bit a little.

So I’m going to write this novella and think of it as a spark near the dry kindling lying around my psyche. Come on, little fire. Let’s spread and get big.

Bloom Status: Upward, upward! Like flying pigs!

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I know how to spend a million dollars.

October 13, 2006 at 12:19 am (Bloom Status: Upward)

Sometimes I do this really fun thing, and I’m going to do it here in front of you now. What I do is give myself a nice big fake amount of money, and then go on the internet and pick how I’d spend it. The first time I did it I gave myself ten thousand dollars, which ended up not being enough for the fun I had begun concocting so I spotted myself an extra fake ten thousand dollars. The next time I gave myself thirty thousand dollars, and then forty thousand dollars. This time I shall give myself fifty thousand dollars. And next time I’ll maybe bust out of this ten-thousand-dollar-increment thing and give myself a huge ton of money.

dream money

I don’t know why I’m working with Antarctica dollars here. But I am.

I’d like to note that the charitable urge hasn’t kicked in yet, with these fake dollars. Mostly I’ve been doing things like flying first class to London for the weekend to see Madonna in concert, staying at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, buying lots of pairs of $300 shoes here, ten pairs of the same corduroy pants in different colors there. Taking classes. Getting massages. And I think this is unlikely to change for this go-round. I don’t want to be all, I’m giving all of this to orphanages, naturally just because I’m doing this in public this time. I think once I get into big enough sums of money, I’ll run out of selfish things to spend it on, and then the orphanages and the environment can start seeing a little love from me. But right now, I have a feeling that the main recipient of all this fake money love is going to be moi, moiself if I may get all Miss Piggy on you.

(One of my favorite books when I was ten or eleven was Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life. So I just googled it. And you can apparently buy it used on Amazon for ONE PENNY. Splurge, dudes. Spring for it. She has much to teach us, like how to make a beautifying face mask out of chocolate pudding.)

All right. Enough mucking around! This fake money is burning a hole in the fake pocket of my fake pants!

Wait. Slightly more mucking around. I forgot to say why I do this, other than the fun of it. I’m trying to show the universe that I have specific plans for all the money I know it’s going to give me one fine day. I feel like specificity is a boon in asking the powers that be to grant you your wishes. If you say to the universe, GIVE ME SOMETHING AWESOME! without getting more specific, the universe might be like, COOL! Here is a lifetime pass to see SIXTY FOUR FUNNY CARS drag racing at this AWESOME TUKWILA ARENA*. The universe and you might have different taste. Kids aren’t ever like, Oh, Santa, just bring me some toys you think I’d like.

*That actually sounds better than I thought it would, so substitute something crappier and less accidentally good.

All right, now I mean it. Now I’m serious. Now I’m ready.

Fifty thousand faux-smackers, kiss my fancy imaginary purse goodbye!

**********

I always start at Anthropologie. I can knock out many of these funds quickly there. Don’t worry, you won’t have to read about fifty thousand dollars spent a few hundred at a time. There will be some big ticket items.

That said, I give you:

Figgy Pudding boots, $388.00. Look at ’em, fer chrissakes. Frivolity incarnate.

boots

Dearborn boots, $498.00. A boot theme emerges.

boots

Brushwood boots, $528.00. Let me eat boots!

boots

 

Goody two-shoes boots, $448.00. I will cease and desist with this pair and move on. For now. For you. But I’ll be back, boots.

boots

I’ve spent $1862.00 on boots. Excellent. On to something large and juicy, now. Travel, I think. Yes. Let’s see….Japan, here I come!

kyoto

 

Dave and Finn and I will go on a fancy, eight-day Tokyo/Kyoto tour. We’ll stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the hotel from Lost in Translation. A description from the tour company:

Park Hyatt Tokyo
This hotel is located atop one of Tokyo’s tallest skyscrapers. On a clear day, the hotel provides a rare view of Mt. Fuji from Tokyo. Guest rooms are some of the largest in Tokyo, with slick modernist decor, spacious bathrooms, and added luxuries such as an English-Japanese dictionary, a collection of cds and works of literature, and tasteful Japanese crafts specially-commissioned for the hotel that are available for purchase. The Park Hyatt is home to two of Tokyo’s most popular restaurants: the New York Grill & Bar and Kozue. The luxurious fitness club and spa is in a glass atrium with spectacular views of the city. This is truly one of the world’s most elegant urban retreats.

park hyatt

 

And then in Kyoto, we’ll stay here:

Westin Miyako
With a lush green garden and inviting teahouse, the soothing Westin Miyako Kyoto may well change your expectations for urban accommodation. The hotel has recently been revamped, and guests will find serenely beautiful rooms that celebrate simplicity without sacrificing luxury or style. After a day exploring Kyoto’s elegant temples and gardens, the pristine Westin Miyako Kyoto offers a perfect refuge for thoughtful reflection on your recent adventures in Japan. Guests will also enjoy the many restaurants and lounges on site, each with a distinct atmosphere. After a restorative cocktail in the Moonlight Lounge, step outside to admire the sweeping views of the city below and let any accumulated travel fatigue gently melt away in the quiet calm.

miyako

The cost per person for this tour is $6700.00. So, three of us, $20,100.00. Plus my boots brings me to $21,962.00 so far, leaving me $28, 038.00. You gotta figure some mad money to spend in Japan. So, let’s say a thousand bucks a day. Now I’ve got $20,038.00. I’ll spend that $38 at the airport on magazines for me and Dave and coloring stuff for Finn. A nice twenty thousand even remains.

I hear that hypoallergenic cats are pricey. Let’s get a hypoallergenic kitten. Sounds good.

cat

 

That’ll run me $3,950.00. Kittens are cute! Look at him. Let’s call him Mr. No-Itchy. Hello, Mr. No-Itchy.

I got $16, 050.00 left. Hmmm. Let’s get Mr. No-Itchy two fancy houses from the loco Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue. These ones are $5000 and $7000 apiece. Kick that little white screwball dog out of there and make way for my spoiled, hypoallergenic kitten.

house

Now I have $4050.00 left. Mmmm…some clothes to go to Japan in. Mayhaps this Marc Jacobs turtleneck and wrap skirt:

outfit

$1650.00, leaving me $2400.00. Something less schoolmarmy now.

polka dot

A little Dolce and Gabbana polka-dot number. A little out of my price range, with the outfit running $3000.00 total. But look what I just found in my imaginary purse? Six hundred extra dollars.

PHEW. DONE AND DONE.

Tell me some outlandish things that you would spend your fake cabbage on!

Bloom status: Well, you know, upward, because of fun and because of specificity and because I say so.

miss piggy

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My baby buys me ten points.

September 27, 2006 at 1:03 am (Bloom Status: Upward)

Saints preserve me. I’ve just suddenly joined Weight Watchers! My word, my word. I just went to my first meeting tonight. It’s weird! I feel like I’m on some gritted-down episode of Sex and the City! It feels like an anthropological experiment!

pellegrino

I could call what I got baby weight, and a little of it is, but what I really got is I-quit-smoking-seven-years-ago weight. I used to smoke like a forest fire. My old email address was Nicotina@aol.com. I was the patron saint of the smokers, the first smoker who came to mind if you were mentally scanning your smoking acquaintances. And eating for me was like, have I eaten enough of this meal that I can quit and begin smoking now? The answer was yes, I have eaten enough. The fork was loaded up a time or two, headed in, came out empty, meal over. Smoked ’em ’cause I had ’em.

I am not ready to publicly tell the tale of how I quit smoking. Another time, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll tell it someday when I feel like I have too much dignity. Suffice it to say that in the spring of 1999, I was forced by circumstance to quit smoking suddenly. When that happened, I happened to be living with my dear friend Elizabeth. Have I mentioned ever that Elizabeth is a great cook? She is a great cook. A GREAT cook. I am not blaming Elizabeth for my weight gain, let me say outright. I blame my own interaction with her blackberry cobbler. After I quit smoking, I was instantly like, why didn’t anybody tell me how great dessert is? Dessert is what dinner is for. And over the course of the next year I gained, oh, 40 pounds. And I’m a five-foot-tall person upon whom 40 pounds is truly not fucking around.

For a long time, I was horrified about my new weight but also I sort of liked it. The new pounds dovetailed with a sort of personal groundedness and relaxedness and confidence that was just then showing up in my being. I was a bit of a nervous nellie during most of my smoking years. My hands trembled and I hated confrontation. I was a shaky little people-pleasing bird, at least inside my brain. And then after the weight went on I began holding my own, somehow. I sort of got here. In the last couple of years, though, some personal stress and my dear wee baby have added fifteen more pounds to the forty-pound-pile, so I’m here, already. I’m here enough. That’ll do, pig.

I’m not saying I’m a pig, by the way. Just referencing Babe there. I think I have…what would be the reverse of body dysmorphia? I don’t look at my body and think it looks worse than it does. I harbor the impression that I’m on the svelte and adorable end of curvy – even though I have thirty pounds to lose to be on the top end of the ideal weight scale for me. I have…body eumorphia. I seriously think I look pretty cute. Cuter than I really look.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, my husband and I would like to have another child. I want to launch the next pregnancy from an actually svelte position. Also, I’m in the process of making a one-person show for myself, and I think it would be groovy to look a little truly cuter while I do it. I would also like to try on pants and be like, hey ya, booty! Shake it, sugar! I would like to look at photographs of myself without thinking there has been some grave mistake somewhere. I pose for photos all hello there! and every time I think that’s going to be a corker and then I see the photo and I’m like, no. Nope. Mm-mm. That isn’t me. Something happened. I think that’s my stand-in.

Weight Watchers is going to be really weird and interesting and good, I think. It’s not my crowd in there. I haven’t met thirty-five of my new best friends. One of the ladies who ran tonight’s meeting…she and I will never be close. Also, the Duchess of York does not go to my meeting, I noticed. It would be excellent if she did. I am going to hope each week that she will be there. I don’t know if I can put into words why I think this is going to work for me. I think it’s just that the program is super-crazy-well-designed. It feels sound, tough, sea-worthy. There are all these mental exercises you do to augment the actual process of eating particular things in particular amounts. I like mental exercises. I am glad to put on my little mental jogging shoes. You can eat a lot of cous-cous. I like cous-cous. Since I’m nursing Finn, I get to eat more stuff every day, so I’m kind of grandfathered in to an abundant version of this whole thing.

What’s weird is that I’m afraid of getting cheekbonier. I’m afraid my personality will get cheekbonier, too. Please just know what I mean about cheekbone-y as a personality trait. Or, dag nab it, I’ll help you. Cheekbone-y = snooty, WASPy, chilly, self-satisfied, smug. I know many people with elegant cheekbones who are not like this at all, but it’s in there, this idea. And I’m afraid that if I lose the weight, I’ll be a nervous nellie again. Or just not me. Not this nice jolly earth mother I’ve sort of become. I like feeling solid and jolly.

Well, I’m just going to have to figure out a way to remain solid and jolly while being simultaneously svelte and dressing-room-y. Leotard-y. Leotardo di Caprio. Leotardo da Vinci. This is all a part of my dream of greatness, so onward about it.

Today: Joined mofoing Weight Watchers, mofos.

Ergo, bloom status: Upward.

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Plants, heaven, eggs, cake.

September 15, 2006 at 12:23 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

I have this endeavor that I want to undertake. It’s new, and I can’t decide if I want to talk about it overtly here or not, but I know for sure that I want to talk about the process of nurturing a new shoot.

Yeah, I don’t think I can talk about it in a non-canned way if I don’t just tell you about it.

So, this new thing = I have just been seriously inspired to set up shop as a wedding celebrant.

Yeah, wait. Here’s the thing that’ll make it so I can talk about it. None of you were going to do this anyway, but listen: if you read this, and you’re like, “That’s dumb. Don’t be a wedding celebrant. That field’s all full. What do you know about it anyway?”, don’t say anything. Keep it mum. The dream is new and I’m trying to keep it alive. I’m aware that you weren’t going to say that, though. You’re probably more like, what is such a big deal about becoming a professional wedding celebrant that you’re like I CAN’T EVEN SAY IT??

baby chick

Well, did you ever have the thing in health class where you were given an egg and charged to carry it around for a set amount of time and not break it? The egg was standing in for a baby, but now my metaphorical egg is this wedding celebrant deal-y. I feel like both the egg and the caretaker right now, sort of fragile and vigilant. But also, I feel very excited.

This idea came to me a couple of days ago, in the wake of a fight I had with my mom. Not going to go into it, but it was one of those spirallers – down, down, down… – and afterwards I was sort of praying for some sort of way out of this mess. I had the feeling that I wasn’t properly planted in the universe. Like I was this plant* and my roots were cut off from the original source, and I didn’t know if I was a viable being. So I was praying to be well planted, so I could have some faith in myself, so that I could feel like I could sort of live off the fat of the land, as it were. Live off the fat of the land with just me, the earth and my skills.

*This just in! A friend of the family who’s a retired philosophy professor stopped by, and she happened to drop into the conversation a quote of Plato’s: Man is a plant whose roots are up in heaven. That’s it! That’s what I was getting at, Plato. My root problems.

I was talking to my husband after the fight, and trying to claw my way to some sort of positivity, and the conversation went towards musing about different careers I might be suited for. He reminded me that after I’d performed a wedding for some dear friends of mine in New York, the idea had come up for me to hang up a shingle doing just that. And something about it took root, or the idea of doing that grabbed my roots and planted them back in the source, and I felt very….sparkly. I felt drenched in inspiration – like some celestial gardener was watering me with a big, energetic spout. Ideas were rushing in – I would write people’s ceremonies, and offer guided writing sessions for their vows, and I could also offer myself as a makeup artist, and I could be a person that people could brainstorm wedding ideas with – not a wedding planner, but a wedding muse! – and I could draw pictures for wedding invitations – I’ve done that before, for my own wedding and other’s weddings – and I’d been planning on taking this 12-week course in sacred psychology/hypnotherapy, so I could offer pre-wedding counseling, even hypnotherapy for nervous brides….barrels of ideas were dumping themselves into my consciousness.

And the more I talked about it, the more I wore the idea, the more powerful and happy and confident I felt. I felt like myself, only sharper and clearer and more together. Like some realized version of myself. Good grief! I stayed up until three in the morning, brainstorming and designing an image for my website and my business card.

I want to work on this all the time. I have this beautiful idea for my website, which I don’t want to talk about yet lest there be wedding website idea pirates lurking about in the nearby seas! But this work is so attractive, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s got so much in it that I adore: writing, speaking in front of people, aesthetics, time spent in the contemplation and invocation and atmosphere of love. I think that a wedding done really well sprinkles powerful mojo on everyone present.

Plus I love cake! I may not always be invited to stick around and eat cake, but sometimes I might! I sort of live for cake. A line of work that has a chance of cake, come on.

So now, the question is how do I hold this egg while it’s turning into a chicken? Am I like, hey, everybody, look at my egg!, like I am with you guys here on this blog where I hang it all out there…? Or am I like, don’t look at me. Don’t look at my egg. Look over there. Leave me ‘lone….? I don’t know which is kinder and more empowering for this fledgling plan. I will play that by ear, I think. And if things go awry – say I mention it, and the response isn’t like, “Holy shit! What a brilliant idea! Oh my God! You’ll change the world one wedding at a time!” – say the response is more like “That’s nice” or “Oh” – I will just have to guard against being like, that’s it! Here’s my towel! Screw it! I’m out! It was doomed to fail! For I have a tendency to do that.

But this is good, though. If I keep pulling out my inner compass, I’ll be all right, I think.

Today: Well, I wrote this post, so far. But in the intervening days, I’ve fleshed out a load of ideas, designed an image to take to a graphic designer, come up with a name for the business, and begun writing text for the website.

Ergo, bloom status: Upward, baby. Onward AND.

cake slice

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The lament and the antidote

September 3, 2006 at 7:39 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

I just read this piece in the New York Times Magazine, about an actress called Vera Farmiga. I can barely write about this, my chest is all squeezed up. The piece called up all sorts of feelings that I’m very handy at suppressing, but I guess it doesn’t do me any good to have an all-suppression policy. So, out with it. Get the shovel in there, stomp on it and unearth this churning thing.

eleanora duse

(The above isn’t Vera Farmiga. It’s Eleanora Duse. So there’s no confusion.)

Bear with me, this won’t be fluid. I don’t know how to begin. So I’m going to come at it all sideways and erratically, lunge from here and there. Vera Farmiga is an actress whose work I’ve never seen, but she’s likened to Meryl Streep in terms of her talent. She’s very ambitious, but not for fame itself. She’s artistically ambitious. She says:

“I really don’t feel a need to be famous, but I do feel a need to make a difference, to shed light on human emotion through acting. It sounds strange, but I don’t recognize myself in the women in most films. And I should be up there somewhere. We all should.”

When she auditions for films, she takes it upon herself to make a video of herself as the character in the most fully realized way possible, with costuming and thorough, detailed characterization. She apparently has a pile of videos that she’s sent out, some of which have won her parts with directors like Martin Scorsese, and she pops in a few for the interviewer. There are Romanian prostitutes, drug-addled young mothers, all kinds of creations.

When Scorsese wanted her for his film “The Departed”, she had to go to the studio and do a ‘pretty pitch’ wearing a skirt and makeup, so they could see she was attractive enough to play the role. Anytime I read about a successful actress, I get a little twinge-y, because I love acting dearly but I certainly haven’t grabbed the brass ring about it. But the twinge really kicked in at the mention of the pretty pitch. Also, a point was made in the article that it’s more often the foreign actresses who are artistically ambitious, although Farmiga is American. And the twinge was turned up a notch higher.

I haven’t pursued acting with the vigor I could have, for various reasons. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being scrutinized, which is certainly a handicap. But one of the biggest reasons I haven’t pursued it with Vera Farmiga’s kind of verve is that it seems to me that I’m not pretty enough. And I’m a perfectly decent-looking woman. I’m not remotely glamourous, but neither am I particularly haglike. But the consciousness is drummed so deeply in me that my efforts would likely be in vain because I’m not anywhere close to the neighborhood of bombshell territory. That part about American actresses not being as artistically ambitious makes me cringe – I imagine that there are hordes of gifted actresses out there who either aren’t given the chance, or, like myself, pre-emptively don’t give themselves the chance to go out there and make themselves known for quality work, all because they’re not physically stunning enough. And actresses, with few exceptions, aren’t required to be pretty. They’re required to be off-the-charts, pants-poppingly gorgeous.

This really makes me ill when I allow it to. There’s room for the John C. Reillys, the Philip Seymour and Dustin Hoffmans, but there just isn’t the female equivalent. This isn’t groundbreaking news, here, but it shocks me freshly every time I consider it. And this isn’t just the case in the Hollywood. A version of the same thrives here in little old Seattle as well.

Vera Farmiga’s quote up there about shedding light on human emotion through acting – I feel the same way, very deeply. I’ve noticed that nearly every night when I go to sleep, I spend my dream time acting and learning about acting. And I could really cry when I think that I’ve let such a deep part of me wither a little because I’ve internalized some hostility towards my looks, towards my gender.

I’m jealous of Vera Farmiga, and proud of her. Anyone who owns their place as an actor both pisses me off and has high respect from me, because that’s something I’d like to do and haven’t. I love her selectivity, and I’m impressed by the lengths she’ll go to in order to let people know what she can do. I’m boggled by her self-confidence.

Some of my happiest times being alive have been on stage, involved in productions that tap into something deep. I love the feeling of being asked to go to daring emotional places, being asked to project myself into some human being’s life-shaker of a moment. I’ve had times on stage where I felt like I was swimming in this effortless way – like I described in my dream of greatness posts. Acting is for me what sports must be for sporty folk: the rush of adrenaline, the feeling of being forced into the present moment. I know that I’m an actor in some fundamental way, and I kick myself for all the times I’ve disbelieved it.

I’m all over the map, here, I think*. Sorry.

This is all a classic actor’s bitch, that external and internal forces are working against us, and what are we to do?? It’s a favorite pastime of a lot of actors, I think*, this lament. But it’s tiresome, isn’t it? It’s good to diagnose the problem, it’s good to get mad, but then you’ve got to do something else or really shut up about it, I think*. It’s easy to get mired in negativity, which is a totally uncreative state.

*Somebody likes to say “I think”.

What I want to do is find the antidote. I want to get that part of myself up and running. I want to own the talent I have, and get busy using it, no matter whether I’ve got the backing of some amorphous establishment or not. I want to approach all of this positively. I don’t want to read articles like that and get all tense and weepy. If there’s something I want to share with the world, I need to just plant it and grow it and set up my own roadside stand. Making my own show is going to be one part of that, so that’s good.

Hey, I started with soil and digging, and I’ve ended up with a planting metaphor. Well, all right.

I think I want to start a thing here in Seattle, a little play-reading series that would take place in my living room or somewhere private like that, where actors get to cast themselves in whatever roles they’d like, and they cast the rest of the play in a way that makes them happy, and have the joy of hearing the play out loud that way. It’s one actor’s night to go nuts. Maybe do this once a month or so. Make an evening of it. Make an occasion of it. Everybody gets dressed up. We make a good ambience. We have refreshments. Maybe it’s just the actors, or maybe each actor could invite one audience member. We build a little satisfaction just for ourselves, give the art in us a little pot to bloom in. I feel like that could be the first domino to fall in a long row of dominos that leads I don’t know where, but somewhere good.

I love this idea. I’m going to do it. Ha ha! I’m happy again, suckers.
peter brook's hamlet

Bloom status: Upward! Ba-boom!

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Meditation, quit eluding me! Me, quit eluding meditation!

August 23, 2006 at 11:44 am (Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

Oh, my god. I know. I know! I know I’m supposed to be doing it. I want to be doing it. I mean, if there’s one thing in the world to be doing, that’s it. What is it, what’s the quote, something about the world rolling at your feet….?……ah, well. Can’t find the quote. But I know that meditation is the ultimate enchanted magic chip that we all have in our pocket, and I can’t get myself to cash it in.

fear not buddha

I’m afraid of it! I’m afraid of meditation! Hello, up there, Buddha in the Fear Not position. So, listen. I’m going to grab a flashlight and march into the cave where my fear is, and I’m going to examine it. I’m going to chronicle the shit out of it. I hope to suck all the power out of it, and leave it sitting there blinking lamely in its chair.

(Yes. It’s in a cave sitting in a chair. Or it’s in a cave stalking around near a chair.)

(Hey! What if that were a past life memory?! What if I were afraid of meditation because in a past life I was doing it in a cave and some tiger came in there and stalked around and ate me?! Huh?!?! No wonder I’m afraid of it. I was eaten by a tiger. And then he didn’t sit down.)

Anyway. So, here in this life in Seattle, meditation freaks me out. I know I’m not alone in this. I sit down, and immediately I feel vulnerable. If my eyes are closed, I feel like someone’s going to sneak up behind me and stab me in the back. So I open them a little, and focus on one point like a candle or a pebble or a spot on the floor. Okay. I’m all right. Maybe I’m saying my mantra. (I got a mantra from Ammachi a few years ago. In another post I’ll talk about Ammachi and tell you all about my relationship with her.) After a while, I’ll start feeling some sensations. Like some energy around my head, or, I don’t know, just some different sensations. (Wow, Tina. What a pointillist picture you’re painting for us here. The specificity is dizzying.)

The sensations! That’s one thing. They make me jumpy. I’m afraid I’m going to start flying around the room or something. Or that I’ll disappear or….die or something. (Read this blog long enough and you will know that you are keeping company with quite the chickenshit.) Also, my grandmother was a famous clairvoyant, and I get tweaked out that the sensations are the embryonic herald of some abilities that I’m not sure if I want. I used to go to sleep at night when I was a young girl, and say out to the ether, “I don’t want to see anything….please don’t let me see anything…I would appreciate it if I could just go to sleep without seeing anything, thank you….” And I didn’t, so that worked!

Okay, so there are the immediate fears about any given meditation session: that I’m going to fly around the room and die, get stabbed in the back or see freaky, needy monster beings with my third eye.

But then there are the long term fears about meditation. These are maybe the most potent ones. Fears of actualization. Brrrrr! So, this is what my fear imagines. I’m a regular meditator, I’ve been doing it for years. I fly around the room meditating, eluding death, seeing weird monsters and not minding. And I get really powerful! I’m powerfully calm in the face of the most egregious crisis. I could be walking through a 9.7 magnitude earthquake and simultaneously getting mugged at knifepoint, and I’m like, eh. No biggie. I got this one. So then these egregious crises start getting all cocky and testing me all the time! I attract them! I go from flood to serial killer to crumbling building to hostage situation, because the universe is trying to top itself! I’m like one of those guards at Buckingham Palace that nobody can make laugh, only it’s not tourists, it’s the universe, and it’s not trying to make me laugh, it’s trying to scare the shit out of me.

Okay. So that’s one thing. That’s one problem.

And then, there’s my insides. I’m so kind! I’m so kindhearted and loving and compassionate that I can’t contain myself! I’m wide and diffuse and dense (yes, both) with overwhelming kindness. I’m a giant eye roaming the earth, welling up. I am unable to turn away from anyone’s pain or anyone’s beauty. But instead of breaking down, I just get bigger all the time to contain it. So I’m too huge! I get vertigo just opening my eyes!

So, as you can see, my fears are extremely realistic. Is that all of them? Um, let’s see. Well, there’s some vague stuff about what if I meditate so much that all the above things come true and I totally finish the curriculum of the Earth? Then I’ll have to switch schools. Switching schools is scary! I don’t even know what high school I’ll be sent to. Oh, man, I’m going to have to compliment myself on that analogy. For if this Earth is not a giant junior high, I don’t know what is.

So, I think what I need to do is maybe underestimate the power of meditation. I need to perhaps get the thought in my head that meditation will make me a touch calmer, a drop wiser, a skosh braver. (My fear is yelling already at that, TIP OF THE ICEBERG, TINA!)

Okay, JESUS, so, what, then? What then, fear?

Fear: Ha ha! Don’t meditate! Renew your subscription to Us Weekly!

That’s the question, now. How do you work with fear? What’s the way to do it? Maybe I can enlist fear to think about what could happen to me if I don’t meditate. Maybe I can make a freaky picture there. Give fear something new to avoid.

Maybe if I don’t meditate, I will live more and more in a world where George W. Bush is the president, and I will become more and more the sort of person who would vote for him. Maybe if I made the commitment to not meditating, my world would grow increasingly plastic and violent and deadened and meaningless. Maybe my eyes would get dim and I would start befriending people with dim eyes and bad senses of humor and vicious mean streaks. Maybe I’d get lost in a stinky, jingling, polluted video game maze where everyone’s eyes are on the opposite of the prize.

All righty. There’s that.

And then there’s the best way to attract myself to something, which is to disguise anything as a spa visit. I love nothing more than a spa. If I can convince myself that meditation is more of a spa treatment than slow-acting spiritual TNT, I might be able to get into that. Not that I’m opposed to spiritual TNT. In theory, I love the concept. But I’m working with a big old chickenshit, here, so I need to get realistic and sneaky. I’m like a giant child whose vegetables need to be hidden in a large pile of macaroni and cheese or cut into nonthreatening shapes like bunnies and daffodils. If I can successfully equate meditation with hot stone massage, I might be golden.

baby meditating

Well, at least I’m thinking about it. At least I’m talking about it. I’ll let you know if I ever actually do it.

Today: Wrote about meditation, examined fears.

Ergo, bloom status: Sidewaysupwards. Sidewupwards. Diagonal.

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