Jul 9 2015

Dear Friend III

I’m going to just riff a bit on one line from your letter that stood out to me, “Why do those two things seem to be in opposition?”

I’m going to challenge your assumption that they are in opposition.

All work is real work. I had to get real about that a long time ago. Being a stay-at-home mom forces you to confront that reality. There are ways to contribute beyond financial ones. It’s important not to listen to the programming that was stuffed into our heads that mandates the importance of things based on a perceived value – i.e. “women’s work is not valuable” or “writing is not valuable.” For me the concept that there are “real jobs” out there represents just another long arm of the patriarchy. It’s patriarchal because it creates hierarchies. And unnecessary ones at that.

Whether one’s work is real or not depends on the attention and importance one brings to that job. Who here has worked with software engineers who got paid six figures to basically fart around all day (“Oooo! Oooo! Pick me! Pick me!”)? On the other end of the spectrum, how many times have you sat in a busy coffee shop and watched the waitresses and busboys works their friggin asses off, never stopping once? Your job is real if you decide it’s real. At literally every place I’ve worked, I’ve had side by side comparisons of people who do the exact same job where you could tell who had the ethical backbone to make it a real job and who was just fucking around. At all levels of pay I have seen this. Many people take a so-called “real” job and put no effort into it at all. They basically steal money from the company. So, the concept is utterly a false one.

The idea that there are “real” jobs comes from one of two places: Patriarchy or parents.

Patriarchy operates solely off the structure that there are those who are in power and those who are not. It functions as an oppressive system. By making sure there are only certain, randomly selected real jobs – which bring with them real money – the patriarchy reinforces its own power structure. Only a select few will have power and the “real” jobs and the rest can be oppressed with our food service or pink collar jobs. The money comes with power and stuff which in turn feeds the greed. The powerful then have a false (or sometimes not so false) sense of having a better than average rate of survival. They are patriarchy winners, and the rest of us are oppressed losers.

Our parents reinforce this idea because survival is the very thing that’s at stake for one’s children. No one can help buying into the patriarchy (we’re constantly marinating in it!) including parents. A parent knows what will give a child a better than average chance of survival, and that’s what they wish for their children. It feels like a risk to think otherwise. It’s just unfortunate that some parents push the “you need to go out there and not waste your education and get a real job” sentiment to the point where it just operates as another level of oppression in the patriarchy.

The reality is that humans are scrappy, adaptable and resourceful. We can survive on things other than what the patriarchy tells us we need to survive. What A LOT of people had to figure out the hard way during the economic downturn was that even the education from the “good” school and a resume full of “real” jobs was no guarantee. It takes more than a “real” job to do really, really well in this life. And for some of us, the “real” job actually risks our happiness and fulfillment.

At the end of the day, neither patriarchy or parenting takes into account who we are as individuals and what’s going to work for us in terms of how we are fulfilled and how we survive. Fulfillment turns out to be quite important to our survival because happier people do better than survive – THEY THRIVE!

Even in strict anthropological terms, surviving is good but thriving is better. Survival means you made it through today, but thrive means you stand a good chance of making it through tomorrow too.

Your current job may actually be unfulfilling, and that’s another matter. What feels stuck could come from a lack of fulfillment rather than the lack of realness. I think it would be important to check in with yourself about that. How do you feel at the end of a workshift? Do you feel like that was an utter waste of your precious time here on earth? Or was it kind of fun and interactive? All work is work. It all has things that suck and are boring. But what’s the overall feel?

You may also be framing the job of writing as not one of the “real” jobs. For sure challenge that. Anyone who’s had to put together a writing project of any length knows it’s nothing but blood, sweat and tears. It takes time. It takes angst. It takes sucking up having to make a major edit to something you felt really strongly about. It takes multiple revisions. It takes hussle.

Writing is not for wimps!

And you my dear are no wimp.

So, one of two things could be making you feel at odds:

1) The old tapes are playing in your head so loudly that only certain jobs are real that you cannot give yourself permission to make your writing important so it automatically falls way down on the hierarchy

2) Your current situation isn’t uncomfortable because you aren’t making enough money but because you’re not doing things you long to do

Best Regards,

Your Comrade In Patriarchy Subversion


Jul 7 2015

Dear Friend II

A letter back to an equally “old” (hah!) and dear friend, and chosen sister.  You always know when I’m hurting and lost, and you’re there.  Thank you.

The learning curve has been especially bewildering lately.  I won’t say painful, because the only pain or loss I’ve really suffered has been a loss of the control I like to have over my life, and sometimes there’s shit that’s just not subject to my control.  I have all the big things – safety, warmth, food, friends, security, love, and freedom.  I don’t have a career job, although I have two others, so again, not unfortunate.

But not having that JOB!  I’m pretty sure I choose the “career” path I did simply because, in addition to needing to support myself, it was the quickest way to still the chatter in my head – and voices from other perhaps less supportive quarters.  Was it a true choice in that I was passionate about the work, fascinated by the profession, inspired by a calling, and felt that it was a true expression of my self and soul?  No.  It was what presented itself and how it unfolded, and while I did okay at it, above average probably, I was always looking for a way to do “what I really wanted to do.”  I may have taken the path of least resistance.  In fact, by not doing the work to figure out exactly what and how to do “what I really wanted to do” (although that’s tied up in a by-now-mostly-understood tangle of emotional and psychological history) I’m pretty sure I did take the path of least resistance and most immediate-likelihood of externally-granted approval.

I’m still interested in the things I thought I wanted to do – environmental/sustainability work and writing – and tried to pursue those two things by taking classes, and even an advanced degree, and now seem to have fallen flat on my face after making a very expensive mistake.  It feels like I’m no closer to “what I really want to do.”

I’m stuck.  Either I’ve avoided getting unstuck (scary – I HATE the idea of self-sabotage) or the actions I’ve taken haven’t yet gotten me unstuck.  I haven’t quit, although I think I need help getting going again.

I’m afraid, but then again who isn’t.  I did some reading, and found that excessive stress (varies by person, of course) can often manifest in fixation on irrational fears.  That helps, because it puts the fear in perspective, which is sorely needed at this time.

I keep thinking of a slogan from an awesome writers’ centre which is,  Find Your Voice; Change Your Story.

So, I need to do the work to find my voice.  I also need to get a “real” job that pays more money.  Why do those two things seem to be in opposition?

1) I agree.  We’re here to learn.  And the hardest part is that you often get the test before you get the lesson.  And I think there’s some truth to the idea that we keep getting the same sorts of experiences and tests until we learn the damn lesson and integrate the answer into our beings.

2) Evil. I’m sure it’s out there, and exists for many reasons.  Most people aren’t evil.  Most people are careless, or unthinking, or don’t know better, or lazy.  True nastiness has a definite pattern in the psyche, and you avoid or defend against it as best you can.  For the most part though, Hanlon’s Razor applies (“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”)  But again, there are people out there who are just mean.  They suck.  On the other hand, if they keep putting nastiness out there as a pattern, guess what they’re going to get back?  There is definitely something to karma or cosmic justice or whatever – I’ve seen it.

3) Crap-purging is good.  Even better is finding the good stuff and making sure you keep it.  Like friends 🙂

4) Can you maybe tell your guide to drop a few hints my way?

5)  Bullshit.  You’ve forgiven me any number of sins, petty carelessnesses, slights, and unthinking words.  But yeah, you’re too hard on yourself (thank you for that, our baby-boomer parents –  not helpful.)  I try to remember that saying that “forgiveness is the letting go of all hope for a different past.”  It’s dropping the excess baggage.  Hard to do though.

Thank you, dear friend, for you.  I love our conversations.

 

 


Jul 6 2015

Dear Friend

A letter to my oldest and dearest friend. Really you’re more of a sister. Many, many years ago, we wrote stories. Stories full of the kinds of dreams that young women of that age might have – mainly involving guys and horses. But also, there was mystery. Problems to solve. Difficulties to overcome. That’s still the story. Except neither of us has a horse.

Today we talked about your story, and it was interesting timing. I spent most of yesterday purging a bunch of keepsakes. In the big ol’ pile of birthday cards and mementos, I came across so many letters and cards you had written. I also had saved a couple of articles you had written for the college paper. You’ve written so much! You’ve gone well beyond the horse stories. Even your letters were so full of detail and humor. I still had the letter you wrote about your adventures in [unnamed Pacific Island]. The canned letter you wrote for everyone was brilliant. I also got the special addendum where you detailed some of your more X rated adventures. Again, mystery, guys and no horses. It was a fun read! When you can write a good letter, you can write anything.

So, I write to you in the hopes that you will write back. Here are some things that I’ve been thinking about lately that may give you a jumping off place to come up with another of your briliantly written letters:

1) We are on this earth to learn

2) How does one deal with evil. Some people are just plain evil I think. Lost souls. Or really souless. I’m not sure what function evil has in the world, but there it is

3) I want to purge all my crap because most of it is meaningless to anyone but me. If I die, I don’t want anyone to have to go through all this stuff. Right now I’m too embarassed to die

4) Every once in a while, I go through times where I feel guided by something. I feel guided right now.

5) It has recently dawned on me that I’m not a very forgiving person. I least of all forgive myself. I’m also not convinced that forgiveness is important. I’m on the fence about forgiveness.

That’ll do for now. Thank you, dear friend, for reading. Hope to hear from you soon.

Yours truly,

Your Friend


Jul 18 2013

Filoli

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Jul 8 2013

Loreto, BCS – In Black and White

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Feb 17 2013

Key West

 

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Feb 11 2013

Nick’s Poetry

1000 Clowns Still

1000 Clowns Still

 

The Self In Itself

I thought of my idea of you

And your idea of me

And her idea of him

And his idea of she

But all of these ideas

Swirl around as in slow motion

The true self I know it lies

deep beneath an ocean

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amor Fati

I came upon this heart of diamond

cut to ribbons as common glass

from this tree let no dragon flower

leave this silence to my eyes deserted

and let this torment be no different

in the golden gloom of dusk that brings

tawny hues and somber tones

let this exile not be mine alone

to the west my sun is sinking

to the east the tightrope stretches on

to grassy earth I pressed my ear and heard

fevered voices fallen silent

whithered branches snapped by cold

bring on the rain, then, bring it on…

And from this blessed rain that falls

let no single dragon flower

eyes half shut I turn my gaze to see

ten thousand trees encased in marble

wrapped in vines and superstition

the mute embrace of lotus petals

unto each his warm illusion

unto each his idol made of straw

and in the funeral pyre’s glow

in the face of abject terror

I turned my gaze and say the Fool

convulsed in avaricious laughter

all perfumed hair and muddy boots

were you not there in the place of dark temptation

in the pile of kindling to this flame

where we watched without pity the quenching fire

that burned and consumed our every garden

as hillsmen on the plains?

I remember it well…

As these roots that spread at journey’s end

As this compassion’s ring that never tightens

My sun is sinking, leave the empty to my thoughts

And there were three pieces of silver there

For each of those ten more of gold

A woman clad in muslin white;

sapphires draped from every curve

But as the tiger raised by sheep

Now awakened to its essence

As if through Arctic air

overtaken by some wolfen call

Do not bring your pastures here;

not this gilded detumescence

We stood there on a clear night

Watching figs fall from rain-battered rooftops

My sun has sunk, leave me to this desert

and for simple things and broken wings

once more with hungry tongues to lick

the lightning and the frenzy

And as it was before

Shoot me bloody through and through

My bones lay bleached by bright indifference

Lead me to the source

There is solace in the desert

Lead me to the Source…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jamias Vu:

noun

the experience of being unfamiliar with a person or situation that is actually very familiar.

I awaken to a void

Enveloped by a question mark

The machine’s red light is blinking

A fan spins from the ceiling

How long have I been here?

The mirror gives no clues

I know one day I was born

And one day I shall die

Something’s not quite right

Last night I dreamt

I was whipping a horse to death

And no one in the crowd

Tried to stop me

Someone must know my name

From place to place I go

By a split hair’s breadth I miss them

The well-worn streets are empty

Their breakfasts are still warm

And I’m sure that I’m still dreaming

Which world is the real one?

And which one is fantasy?

I could swear I saw the brightest light

In-between the maple trees

A massive shadow is looming

And I know it’s coming for me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At This Place

Paperboys on winged feet

From a watered down Olympus

The urgent gossip writ large

Loved and forgotten in an ephemeral fog

The daily charade, a ballet underwater

A symphony muffled by sycophant chatter

Time in slow motion, eternity hidden

Behind a veil of pure reason

And commonsense notions

A crumbling castle on putrefied water

A countryside raised as pestilence fodder

From where I now stand I could say yes to it all

I could embrace this eclipse; I could reconcile

There were picnics in winter and sleigh rides in fall

I remember moist summer grass;

The sun was so bright that day…

You and I will meet the day after the slaughter

And walk avenues from which God has withdrawn

Towards a transluscent light in a pall of blue smoke

And when I turn to you, you’ll say, “We should have known

It would end this way. There was someone who warned us,

I can’t remember his name,”

and again that hangdog pacifist look

Because it was and always has been like this

For we will meet here again, my monsoon friend

And just as now I’ll look to you and say

At this place we will meet again

At this place

At this place where the clock-tower stands frozen in silence

At this place in the shadow of madness and violence

At this place we will meet again

At this place

The old man was around a long time

He dipped his cigars in Victory Gin

And proposed a toast to Vera Lynn

We were three of a kind, tubthumping to beer-soaked confusion

We beat the king’s hand when it came up aces and eights

He gave tickets for Cornwall to grimy-faced children

And like us he worked hard and never was late

To catch the runaway freight train of logic

Into a snowbank of white noise narcotic

We dozed off to a fanfare for sanctified murder

‘We interrupt this broadcast with late-breaking news

Diana is dead and the cow jumped over the moon’

The bread was stale and the circus was tired

They told us to wade in a sea of minutiae

They told us we would be as gods

They sent the genius to college

To learn to make a better bomb

When the golden bough breaks the old guard must fall

The rebirth of the cycle in perpetual fire

The hourglass is turned over and we are its grains

You and me here, it’s always the same

The sign always reads “For Madmen Only”

Never far from the spot where the pendulum swung back

And so the piper is paid and we break free of our leash

To the Darwinian nightmare of clever apes

You stood there as you stand at this very moment

With a downcast face and a tattered old briefcase

Still Life With Lamp Post and Men of Dead Letters

Could I be the only one who remembers?

At this place we will meet again

At this place

At this place where our footsteps echo in darkness

At this place in the ruins of smoking apartments

At this place amid the unvoiced regrets of the dead

Where everything is known when nothing is said

At this place we will meet again

At this place

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bushido

If we have to fight

We’ve already lost the day

Spurred by impatience

We ride by ghostly pale light

And soak the grass with fools’ blood

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Satori

A master’s disgrace

I take my sword to the hills

Give me the sweetness

Of mountain cherries in spring

And solitude’s purity

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seppuku

Cold steel on soft flesh

Must fulfill the way of death

Prepared all my life

Like stepping in a warm bath

Honor’s light shines eternal

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Black on Blue:

I look skyward

From deep under water

From every direction the nothingness envelops me

like the icy hands of a winter fog

I am alone

They stare

With guilty eyes they stare

They eye me like some star-crossed jungle cat

and maybe I am something rare and beautiful

Trampling the urban savannah where I stalk

Hooded like a cobra

Hunting in the guise of some lost child of the universe

I am alone

Now I lay me down to sleep

Bare feet pad the thick carpet of some forgotten hotel room

Paint me blue

and black for the night

Look up at the stars and you’re gone

I am alone


Dec 14 2012

The Getty