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Archive for March, 2010

within mine spindly bloom

cotton thistle

crevice and protected cave: womb, bellybutton, orifice, vagina

big belly built to hold all the painful love snaking through miles of intestines

soft and flowering, crab-like lungs

This is a nest. Two cupping palms. Insides resting in support and moving outwards.

who knew it’d be purple?

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“The ground submits to the sky and suffers whatever comes. Tell me, is the Earth worse for giving in like that?”

– Rumi

scraping the bottomest bottom

this shall pass.

to be swallowed up again fondly

by the intricate beauty of it all

[keep on, Virginia. keeponkeeponthiswillpasskeeponyou’reok . . ]

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Cupping Tuna Vapors

I am hopeful that I can dispel these false notions

but I don’t know how long it will take

how many lives I’ll interfere with in the process –

paths to be dismantled with my own personal artillery.

Nothing worse than an idiot with a pocketful if innocent grenades.

The cards tell me something is ending and hint that it’s false clingage

i hope it’s my ignorance

The moon says quit complaining show gratitude and let go of olds

old woundings

scores of eldersores

LET GO. STEP ANEW ALREADY

where’s the puzzle peaces falling into place? I’m looking for that lock-click offering

the pads of my feet on the mat

I’m looking for home.           Settling. Alast, rest. Beauty assuredness of beauty

promising not to fear

or schmear

myself too thin

trying

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I have been meaning to write you and say you’re not crazy. I am really sorry for how I must have treated you last summer. I just re-read the email you sent me last fall and a lot of the things you said rang true. Even my response to that was cold and unfeeling. Since we parted, I met someone last September who basically reaffirmed all of your complaints. He’s used the phrase “hot and cold” to describe how I behave towards him. The hard thing is, I don’t do it on purpose and I’m not even aware when and how I’m doing it. I have begun to conclude that I must be an incredibly selfish person. Essentially, I am incredibly attached to an idea of independence and freedom, and the moment I sense any infringement on that I go haywire. I tend to demonize the thing or person that seems to be impinging and this results in me treating them like an enemy and/or making them feel like they are an inconvenience to me. Making them feel like their needs are wrong or unimportant if they conflict with mine. In sum, my attitudes and false attachments to some arbitrary and probably unattainable notion of independence results in me making people who are close to me feel like shit if their own defenses aren’t strong enough. Even worse, my nature disarms people from their senses first, because I am open and nurturing with the effect that people trust me in response to my seemingly loving, blatant honesty.

It’s a huge contradiction. On the one hand, I crave real human connection, honesty, openness, support, and love. On the other hand, I shut down when people take me up on the offer. I run away. I close off. I make them insecure. Even Shannon has told me the reason she remains my friend is because she “admires my independence” and had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to pick up when she called and I’d get in touch with her when I wanted to.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t want to be a person of empty promises. I have an inkling that my notion of independence is entirely false and I need to eradicate my destructive relationship with that notion. None of us are independent, after all. We are all products of the universe, inherently brothers and sisters with everything from the grass on the ground to the hair on our neighbor’s toes. I must realize that gaining the responsibility of establishing truly loving relationships is not a limitation in any sense. Quite the contrary, it should work to set everyone involved free.

I’m just having trouble with this, though. I feel like I can begin to conceptualize it, but that isn’t enough. How to internalize it. How to live it.

What I’m saying is this: I realize that I hurt you. In doing so, I also imprisoned myself. That explains why I began to feel that I didn’t like who I was around you. I haven’t fully analyzed any of the particularities so unfortunately I can’t articulate them for you. But you are right; I’m liable to end up very lonely if I don’t solve the barriers I face internally which prevent me from letting people love me and vice-versa. Hopefully my life’s nowhere close to ending because I’ve got a long way to go and lots of learning to endure.

Love from a friend who gets down,
who clowns,
who trips and falls,
who’s trying to do some kind of best. And failing a lot. But making some progress, I like to think.

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too many inroads

my brain awash in the dishwater, peanut-butter floaties and no-names leaving skids and skuzz and goop millipeders thick on my hollowed skull basin.

Making friends with writers. Internet fighters. Burning through new karma and leaving what? behind

CONcentrate on trying not to hurt yourself.

distract from the urge to maim

your body’s nothing but a speck anyway

what determines its use for any fewl?

What determines your right to look in the mirror, girl, and to judge what you’ve seen there? Mostly it’s this out-of-body understanding that’s not I. pleading eyes

Yet the shirt comes up each time

an examination of how much has accumulated lately

and why my skin’s noticing the mazecage of this belt\noose

Where’s the rubbin spots? What shapes am I making now. How can I blow

or bust through the rocks of this hard earth. Sinking

sinking

drooping to crispen, a christened burning of sallow cremation

nowhere for these ashes spreading.

I feel even my dishonesty must be dishonest.

Too lies make a truth?

which personage belongs here anyhow and why come none are physically recognized.

writing seems to make everything realness, like I need that recordation.

I get it: everything that happens has a consequence. Con. CON CON CON. A negative. A trick.

the other side

I am a living CONsequence, rife in CONtradiction

contra-dancing

I have CONditions. One in a moment, millions at a time. “Condition.” Akin to disease or rather experience? Guidelines? Condition; Softness.

billions of one suggested coughing-blood cottony incident.

It’s like,

you’d ask me who I am

when the answer’s a constant fluid, ripping through a plastic bag into a fireplace.

not to mention blasting past any hands outstretched to catch

lightning in the sand, becoming then an iced sculpture skulking saltward, ebbing out.

Or an answer seems not to make sense

because the opposite seemed also to be true, simultaneously.

How unusual and unlike lifelike (.)

what a damn nuisance it is to be ignorant –

or greater, to have knowing and deal with the ignorant. Tolerate them. Mistakenly love them when their naivety prevents them from weaving a net underneath you in return.

Is that too simple?

what frustration. More, what ache. What selflessness to take the hand of some dirty girl, embittered and caked in the cum of wrong-cousins

spider-eyed with doubt that one can ajar minus defense.

Boy, I don’t know. I just feel tired. And seeing that this love’s developed in me and a crater in you, like I scraped your earth to shape my own thirsty pyramid-

scraping, with a wooden spatula, the man’s tongue clean out at the dance-hint of a threat. Like he was going for an imaginary gun, truly just a statue inside a stranger’s car: a tool for lighthearted relations.

If that is what I have done, (and I have, but perhaps not finitely) I wish you’d pirouette away, wispy-dancing in the clouds like you belong amongst the pink harnessed satins and richness of beyond. A Gate to that place. The OUT sign: exiting a fence into an open field, where cows and folks and caterpillars merge together steaming like the bed of a forest floor

coagulation

congratulations

you’ve BecOME.

I just wanna be a pile of leaves after all. exhaling fermentation

I just wanna crouch down mid-dancing, catch a bloody baby in my arms while crying tears and bouncing

smoothie up the coming placenta

and gullet it one swift popeyeGulp.

I just wanna clean my bowl with soup

and drink my urine on repeat

till I’ve sweated-breathed-hoped it gone.

Then shrivel.

disappearing with a trebling PUH of a leaf letting go; the dried up umbilical cord dropping off and getting snapped up by the next wolf who manages to scrounge by.

I offer this to the hungry ghosts; all centuries of them dwelling inside of me. Those which I transferred to you when we pricked the insides of our elbows and pressed the mothersunspots together

harmonizing

hurting

throbbing and cantankerous sexperiments

Chemistry.

I am sorry we passed more than blood in that bodily exchange.

maybe if we’d known we wouldn’t have opted

to drink all the sins and gas from centuries past.

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Heart Cave

Cross-posted from the tumblrs of my darlings Remi and Vanessa.

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Disturbing the Piggery

Virginia is bigger than her skin
when she dances in swift turns
she speaks from a grander place
than her size should permit
Virginia whose deftness of thought and feeling means
she seems to understand me whether I speak clearly or not
whether I speak English or not
whether I speak or not

(…)

– Owen J. Harris

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I woke up this morning all out of sorts. An hour shy of noon. I’d been awash in a dreammare all about this distant man I seem to share some portion of soul with. I was hanging on the edge of my seat, voluntarily oversleeping to see its unfolding, the conclusion. He’d come here to visit. To see me. And as I was showing him my life, all that now surrounds me, he was excluded by circumstance. The people I now knew were ignoring him, pressing him to the outer boundaries. I couldn’t understand it. It then passed beyond exclusion and he was blamed for misdeeds. Hunted. I was losing him.

he was going

going.

he got lost

I woke in the clutches of sorrow, approaching a day laced with hanging fog and the threat of uncontrollable weather. Another cyclic sore reminder that Life Is Suffering. Time and time again, like anything, as steady as breath or the rise and fall of light in the heavens – joy will always, incontrovertibly, turn to sorrow. Elation to depression. Pleasure into pain. I entered the world today in a haze of energy depletion despite what should have been a completely restful night of sleep. Lord, am I tired. My senses dulled. Awareness limited and difficult to tap. Today is a day of suffering.

But my use of language is troubling here. The first Noble Truth of Buddhism does state that life is suffering – but to me, that is half the story. One eliminates much to reduce life to Suffering in some kind of ultimate (and impossibly terse) rule. The deeper meaning is meant to be implied, but for those needing more guidance within the words, how could we instead incorporate that life is not just suffering but that life is cyclic, repeating phenomenon that range from highs to lows? That life is not merely suffering, but it is also happiness? After all, death produces life! Pleasure could not exist without pain! In a brief moment of clarity last night, I realized that pain and confusion should be relished. For they are no different from exaltation! They are merely experience, after all.

Mourning over pain is akin to mourning over exhalation. We inhale, we exhale. Without exhaling, we couldn’t inhale, we couldn’t exhale, life would not be sustained. Would anyone think to mourn over releasing their breath? No. Why, then, should pain and suffering depress us? It follows that it should not.

Easier said. For whatever reason, after this long of a period on earth (within the present lifetime), the nature of pain and how to deal with it continue to elude me. Personally, I engage in a few bad habits which encourage, ignite, and prolong my own suffering. I will speak about these habits candidly in an effort to encourage the sharing of truth between individuals. The most pressing habit for me is disordered eating, which began for me over four years ago at the end of 2005.

At that time and at a normal weight, I decided to become vegan. I made this decision because 1) I’d become interested in sustainability and eco-friendly living. As a result I learned about the vast, appalling waste of land and nonrenewable resources due to our meat-loving lifestyles. 2) I had a mild dairy allergy and asthma and wanted to explore alternative health via diet change. 3) Victoria’s Secret catalogs would show up at my house occasionally, and I dreamed of dropping a quick five pounds so i could look as flawless as the oiled-up near-nudes on the runway. Before becoming vegan, I generally had great self-esteem. I was a normal weight and fit the conventional standards of beauty. My body had begun to change shape in its shift to womanhood and I wasn’t comfortable with it. At that point in my life and with the social education I’d endured, “curves” was nothing but a cheap and fancy word for “fat” to make overweight women feel better about themselves. I didn’t have curves. I didn’t need them. I’d never have them.

I went straight from being a lifelong omnivore to being vegan overnight, and my type-A personality led me towards avid perfectionism on that path. At first, I toyed with cookbook recipes and learned about new grains, vegetables, and legumes I’d never worked with before. I baked vegan desserts and casseroles. I was excited about all the opportunities that lay before me within the constraints of my new diet! But very quickly, I realized that vegan food was in short supply in rural/suburban America where I lived at the time. And between school and work and life in general, I was rarely home. My diet dwindled to oatmeal with soymilk, salads without dressing, tofu sandwiches, granola bars, and frozen mixed vegetables. I became obsessed with “health” and began going to the gym for three hours every morning. I memorized the calorie count of every food I would eat within the vegan window. My mental energy was completely consumed with counting and re-counting the calories I’d already consumed that day and how many I had left. My limit was 1,000, and I was rarely tempted to exceed it.

I was the perfect vegan anorexic. And completely unaware that what I was doing was abnormal. I didn’t even notice I’d lost any weight at all until my skirt slipped completely off my hipbones as I walked to work. At first, my skin was flawless. Girls at my dance studio praised my weight loss. After being sick and bedridden during detox the first few weeks of my diet change, my energy soared. I felt immense comfort in my routine around sleeping, eating, working, and time with my boyfriend. But as time progressed, I was using my break between work shifts to pass out from exhaustion in a nearby park. I was irritable and picking fights with everyone I loved. I was freezing cold all the time. My ass bruised every time I sat down and mysterious wounds began to appear on my body, refusing to heal. The hair on my head lost its luster, fell out, and turned from deep brown to wispy blonde. The hair on my body became fine, thin, and plentiful. I was growing fur. And the skin on my arms became scaly. I developed edema – retention of fluids – which swelled my body from my stomach to my ankles, restricted circulation, and itched like crazy. When I saw a holistic nutritionist to correct this, she congratulated me on my perfect diet, saying only that “maybe I should increase portion sizes” and told me to buy a bunch of expensive “green food” pills to help restore balance to my body.

Inexplicably, people began to dislike me or worship me (I realize now that this depended on their own opinions of themselves). Either they praised me in admiration of my self-discipline or they loathed it. Strangers would spit hateful comments my way, especially at the restaurant at which I served tables. Telling me to eat became a great insult and a personal affront. It held countless implications. My mental and emotional relationship with food changed forever. My feelings toward others changed, too. If they left me alone or praised my “progress,” I loved them. If they said any word against my “healthy lifestyle” they were instantly my nemesis. I hated them and their deep ignorance about what w as obviously (my personal) truth.

Long story shortened somewhat, after six or seven months, my body reacted to starvation by causing me the irresistible urge to binge eat. This terrified me and I confided to my mother that I might have binge-eating disorder. I never thought I was anorexic. Hospitalization revealed a resting heartrate so low it might have been lethal and diagnosed me with physical-but-not-mental anorexia nervosa, sometimes called an EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). I was apparently starved but because I had a pretty good body image that translated to an absence of body dysmorphia I wasn’t typically anorexic, from what I could understand. Because of unusual circumstances I won’t go into, I was instructed to re-feed at 3,500 calories per day. For someone who had been eating between 500 and 1,000 calories for many months, this was incredibly painful physically and emotionally, as well as confusing. Despite popular belief, it was not a joy to eat icecream or pizza again after such prolonged and stringent choices.

When the prescribed refeeding period was over, I wasn’t cured. I was no longer anorexic, but I had now become a compulsive overeater. Thoughts about food still colonized my mind for the better part of each day. More than three years after “recovering from anorexia,” I still struggle with food.

I have been blessed enough to experience times when food is not an issue for me. When this happens, it feels incredible. I am free! I am free to enjoy food and feel nourished and blessed by it and revel in the beauty of the universe as it pertains to glorious food. I am free to live and let my mind grace what it will without constant interruption. And I even start to love my body, weight aside.

But ultimately, in my venture towards veganism four+ years ago, I upset some equilibrium. Now I consciously use food to distract myself from life. I now make the choice to overeat when I am feeling bad both to distract myself from the suffering and prolong it. What is that about? Do others experience this phenomenon? Not with food directly, but when you are feeling shitty, do you experience the want to wallow in it? I struggle with that, and it begins to come clear to me that sometimes I make the conscious choice to suffer and to participate in actions that will prolong initial feelings of shittiness. Is this what Buddhism means by training the mind? It certainly is not a philosophy of repression. Suffering is rather embraced. But Buddhism teaches to move away from self-indulgence and towards productivity, which I see can easily be applied to the self-indulgent state of wanting to remain miserable for the rest of the day, and thus avoiding actions one consciously knows will help them to feel better. Misery doesn’t love company. Misery loves misery.

I’d like to think that food has become such a vice for me because I taught myself to think about it. But it isn’t as simple as that, because food is not merely food, and I encourage people to think about it. Food is politics. Economics. Health. Privilege. Food is a drug. It is relationships. Food is products, commercialized. The way I use food is a statement on what I believe, as well as strides made toward a certain lifestyle and/or self-healing or harming. I still believe that a vegan diet is morally and ethically proper. I am against factory farming and industrial agriculture and I believe that the world consumes far too much meat for its physical and karmic health. I try to monitor my feelings of well-being as they are related to food. I avoid caffeine and notice that sugar sends my system haywire. I have a feeling grains are overused and it’s ultimately beneficial to avoid dairy and eat an abundance of raw fruits and vegetables grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides.

But despite all of my beliefs about food and the fact that I’ve got a pretty clear picture of the perfect diet, I cannot seem to destroy my overly-dependent and addictive relationship with it. Sometimes I am able to eat this perfect diet without becoming restricted and I feel amazing. I feel healthy and radiant and my self-confidence abounds. But soon enough life’s weekly downswing will hit and I find myself binging. Or eating mindlessly. Or being unable to read my hunger signals. And it’s not about how much yoga I do or writing anything down or feelings of deprivation or any of that. My problems with food, just like bad habits of picking my face and scratching my head, is obviously a symptom rather than the problem itself.

A symptom of what? The suffering I inflict upon myself with misuse of food is an indication that something deeper is going on to cause me disharmony. Is it simply that suffering is an inherent part of life and these bad habits are just an exhibition of that? I have found, though, that these symptoms and bad habits can dissipate and disappear. This happens when I feel extremely connected with myself and through that, I feel connected with everything. Mindfulness, it’s been called. Thus, the way to eliminate these symptoms of suffering must be to deepen that connection and to uphold that as top priority. For what does this call?

Do more yoga, I would have said a few months ago. And certainly, it helps incredibly. But doing yoga does not automatically liberate me from suffering. It helps to connect me with my body and consciousness, but that no longer curbs my appetite for abusing food. Perhaps I have normalized the mindfulness I get through yoga now? Become used to it so that it no longer serves me? And when I am in the midst of suffering I am self-indulgent, as previously mentioned, and thus less inclined towards mindfulness practices. This is the conundrum. And monastic Buddhism’s response is simple: buck up and use self-discipline, you weakling. Study the principles of life for hours every day! Do yoga even when you don’t feel like it! Meditate for hours every day according to a routined schedule. Overcome your suffering by constant mindfulness cultivation by taking spiritual refuge.

I mean no disrespect and I speak only in personal terms, but monastic Buddhism seems like either a wasted life or a cop-out to me. Is suffering truly to be relieved by removing yourself from the goings-on of the world? What of all the employees in this monastery who cook and clean while these monks are busy enlightening themselves? Where is the recognition that this is a hierarchy, and that entering monastic life is a type of privilege in this sense? Buddhism would say that, depending on past life experiences, some humans are automatically disposed to becoming monastic while others are disposed to being servants to monastics. While this has some grounds to stand on, it also seems to breeze over the stark reality of oppression and result in inaction in terms of dealing with that in this lifetime.  Monastic Buddhism seems almost like the easy way out: follow some principles already outlined for you and you can achieve the great goal of enlightenment! I can see the flashy ads right now, reading “8 step plan guaranteed to free you from the cycle of suffering!” I always felt that organized religion was bogus because it seemed so much more valuable and valid to discover your own beliefs rather than adopt those prescribed systematically by others

I have found that the times I feel most free are when I am not confined to some arbitrary structure – work, school, meal times, timelines, et cetera. I am rid of the habits I’ve mentioned when I rely on my own internal intuition devices to guide my actions. There is a prominent misconception that if you aren’t “doing school” or working some prescribed job, you aren’t doing anything of worth. We forget that worth has been ascribed to activities arbitrarily and purposefully to support structures that keep certain people in power and others in submission. Think of the work performed on a farm versus that carried out in the office of a CEO. Generally, most people desire the job of the CEO and associate a certain prestige with it, while farmers are considered lowly. Manual labor has been demoted to “idiots work” and has become valued much less that white collar work. This value is monetary – office employees generally rake in higher incomes than construction workers – but it’s also societal and political. Politics protect the interest of the economic elite. Society warns against ‘getting stuck’ in a blue collar job, operating under the assumption that work obtained with a college degree is not only more valuable but also better for someone’s life. It is assumed that white collar work not only generates more income which leads to a better life, but it is less likely that those in white collar work will get bored with the job itself or suffer in it. In my experience, however, a white collar worker suffers just as much as a blue collar worker. They simply suffer in different ways. Whereas a farmer may develop physical ailments from manual work, an office worker suffers psychological abuse from a manipulative boss, or is prescribed antidepressants or sleeping aids to help with symptoms that result from the oppression of working within the confines of a human system that is counter to natural initiative and impulse.

It frightens me when I hear people say after a vacation that they were excited to get back to work because they didn’t know what to do with themselves. Suffering, it is clear, is very much infused within the human-created structure of life! You suffer while you work, dreaming of vacation. You suffer while you vacation, dreaming of returning to work! In my experience, the solution to my own symptoms is to be myself as much as possible. Using mindfulness to follow the inner guide that naturally exists.

A question becomes: can this inner guide be found within structure? Or must we disregard structure in order to gain better and continuous access to our inner guide? And here is the difference between monasticism and tantra.

I have laid out my argument against monasticism, suggesting that personally, it is better for me to relinquish control and duck boundaries in order to feel free. But there is a major problem with this: how does someone like me survive in a world which operates solely on timelines, guidelines, structure when those things apparently harm me and make it difficult for me to live? Not only does this world (specifically in North America) leave little room for someone like me, it works to punish people like me. If I shape my life around my inclination towards tantra in order to heal myself of disorders and bad habits, I will be forced to deal with poverty. Lack of healthcare and access to general methods of remaining physically healthy, like maintaining proper diet and exercise. Discrimination. The loss of my friends and family. Social isolation. My ability to access certain information and opportunities will be limited. Where’s the happy medium? Will all of this loss simply lead to more gain?

This brings me to the question on the forefront of my experience now and for a while still: how shall I live?

I know my values. I know my sufferings and that I’d like to be rid of them. I know the importance of helping others to live lives free of suffering or at least not to contribute to it. I know my aversion to “the system” and deep desire to rid myself of it. I do not want to live a life chosen for me or defined by an economy. I want control over my personal wellbeing to the extent that I can have it. I don’t want my basic means to survival to be defined by some human circumstances having little to do with me, like economic climate. I yearn for self-sufficiency. Does this mean I grow my own food? It’s something I’m passionate about learning to do, but I fear it goes against my transient nature. Growing your food requires an amount of stillness and commitment that I’m not sure I’m comfortable with. I noticed that my greatest and most long-lived hobbies (writing, dancing, singing, yoga, drawing) coincidentally are incredibly portable. “I’m not a one-place person.” Should I farm-hop? Working to grow and enjoying the fruits of my labor without the commitment of maintaining a garden over time? I have a great love of nature and a great love of people. I am drawn to the possibility of living somehow separate from the order of things. Making my own everything. Living in a community of folks who live simply and work to sustain life for one another there. Is this isolationism?

Thoughts on this are ongoing and this I’ll return to this later…

*I am speaking particularly of Mahayana Buddhism, for it is the only type I have studied in great detail. Please correct me if any of the claims or assumptions I have made in this writing are incorrect. I am still learning! And I appreciate respectful disagreements/corrections.

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Can’t figure (won’t?).

The other night by candlelight

i pulled these cards

[again].

8 of water: “To choose this card is a recognition that something is finishing. Something greater is awaiting you, new dimensions to be discovered.”

4 of rainbows: “This card challenges us to look at what we are clinging to, and what we feel we possess that is so valuable it needs to be protected by a fortress… it could be something as simple as taking the risk of expressing our love…”

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Le Balafon

Spiders would crawl into the holes in the gourds, creating a vibrating sound attributed to the voices of the Gods.

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