The Empress’s New Bikini

It’s startlingly quiet here in the walnut orchard.  I mean relative to cafes teeming with urban sounds.  I see a large hawk standing on the ground, stretching his rusty brown wings on the other end of the orchard.  Oh, it just took flight, sailing gracefully low, along the grassy, earthen floor.  No, I’m not being fictional.  I am on a yoga retreat at Full Belly Organic farm in Guinda, California.  And actually, it’s not quiet at all.  The birds are doing some serious vocal celebration.  In stereo.  It’s pretty cliché for writers to seek out quiet places, retreats if you will, to go pound out their latest literary masterpieces… but I find being in this strange, down-tempo quietude a bit daunting.  I am so used to bushwhacking my way through urban chaos to find my voice and my inspiration… When I first sat down in the grass with my back against the sturdy walnut trunk, I felt a wave of panic.  What can I possibly think of to say amidst this pristine, leafy grove of peace?  But now that I have put my fingers to the familiar silver keys of my trusty laptop (whose name, by the way is Hanuman), the spell is broken and I am just as much a writer on Full Belly Farm as I was back at Pizzaiolo in Oakland.  Phew.

And it’s a bloody good thing, because I want to share with you some of the relentlessly spilling beauty that I have been bathing in since I got here yesterday afternoon.  My tiny tent (which collapses on me while I sleep due to a broken, crucial pole) is pitched right on the bank of Cache Creek.  Cache Creek looks much more like a full on river, than a creek to me.  It is so wide and majestic.  Its current is strong, but you wouldn’t know, because it moves almost soundlessly, as though it is stalking something in the distance, taking great care not to be noticed.  When I just sit and watch it, it looks like an ever shifty mirror, reflecting the blue, cloud smeared sky and the distant, rolling golden hills, dappled with gnarled oak trees (which look more like miniature broccoli forests under the optical spell cast by distance).  The creek is a transfixing liquid mirror, more luminous than life its self, whispering subtle prophecies only to those with enough quiet space inside to receive Her covert though incessant whispers.

I’ve always considered myself a wimp when it comes to submerging in cold water.  I think I learned that from my mom.  As a kid, I have a collection of images of my mom in various bathing suits, standing sheepishly at the edges of rivers, lakes, oceans and pools, dipping a toe or three in and shuddering.  As I recall, she was mostly always content to stand at the water’s edge and wet her feet.  Now don’t go making any vaster metaphors about my mom’s character out of that slew of snapshots.  I would not say that that is how she lived her life as a whole… (would you, Mom?)  But I had a breakthrough in this area a few years ago.  I used to always be that girl standing at the edge and WISHING I was the courageous type, who just threw her little some’m to that Greater Some’m and dove on in.  I would see others partaking in such unbounded behavior and feel that part of me aching to be liberated.  So one day upon a time, I had the idea to endow my submersion with inspired meaning.  I made it into a prayer.  Since I am such a spiritually ambitious creature, not to mention competitive, this got me wet real fast.

What did I pray for?  Oh, probably to release soul pain and be a more purified and full expression of my divine self… honestly, what else IS there to pray for?  Global peace and healing?  I would argue that beyond the semantics, it’s really the same thing… What’s inside is outside and what’s outside is inside.

Today after breakfast was my first chance to plunge into the healing current of watery prayer.  I stood naked* on the bank, contemplating what to pray for and feeling much like those childhood images of my mother on the shore.  I stepped in and startling, sensuous shocks raced through the souls of my feet, up my spine.  Eeeek.  I stood, calf-deep in the frigid water, searching my interior for the prayer that would compel me to break through the stifling density of my comfort zone.  It felt elusive and slippery, so I just stood there timidly as the water swept effortlessly around my legs.  Something was crystallizing in the space that is both of my heart and mind.  God… God… God… Serving God.  Serving the Highest. Gahhh-ahhhh-ahhh-d. Something beckoned my gaze, and I looked skyward.  A balled eagle gracefully swept the vast blue.  It must have been pretty high up because it looked tiny, but I could clearly make out its white fan of a tail, its white head and nearly black body.

In the medicine cards, eagle represents spirit.  I had just been extending my mind in the direction of All Pervading Awesomeness, and LO!  Without haste, a messenger hath cometh!!!  Inside, I melted into a puddle of elated revelation and then my prayer became a simple, concise mantra, THY WILL BE DONE.  Thy will be done.  Thy will be done, I chanted inwardly as I unabashedly dove into the subtle, strong current.  And then it was all shooting stars and bucking unicorns inside me!  WOW, was it cold and beautiful!  Everything I am tingled and sang with immediacy!  Thy will be done.

*Then I got out and dried off, and soon all the other retreatees flocked to the shore in bikinis and made their way into the brisk, holy waters.  Bikinis?!?!  Kimber instructed us to bring bathing suits, but come ON… Who wantsta wear a dumb old bathing suit in a cool, sacred creek slicing taoishly through an organic farm?  I didn’t bring one.  But because everyone else did, I began to feel awkward being naked and free.  I hate that.  Maybe I’ll play The Empress’s New Bikini, and pretend that I’m wearing one made of such regal, expensive fabrics that you can’t even see it!  OMG, that old story, The Emperor’s New Clothes is a HOOT!  I mean come ON… imagine if George W. commissioned some really posh tailor to make him a hella fancy suit to wear as he made an important speech to the nation… and he showed up like a naked fool!  We woulda loved that!  At least I would have.  It wouldn’t be quite as amusing if Obama did it… But still worth a chuckle, I guess.

The birds are still chirping away, full throttle.  All the walnut trees are standing so still, windlessly silent and sturdy.  Yesterday during her yoga class (we practiced here in the orchard), Kimber reached up and took a fist full of smooth, bright green, almond shaped leaves in her hand, letting them slide through her fingers so lovingly, as though the tree were her own child.  It was a quick moment that rose and fell in the space of a single exhale… but the deep, rich, love in her heart stained my mind.  She loves this farm so dearly.  She has been coming here for over ten years and yesterday she told us this is her Hawaii.  I liked that… since I want to go to Hawaii.  Little did I know that I was already here.  In Kimber’s Hawaii.

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Let’s Talk About Breasts Baby, Let’s Talk About You and Me

I didn’t know how I was gonna pay my rent this month. But I have been listening to a course in miracles “thirty day miracles” program on financial abundance. (Check it out at http://www.miraclesone.org) It has been invaluable in its capacity to sooth my anxious mind and help me keep an expansive divine perspective. A couple of days ago, I found this picture of the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi. She looked kinda sad and neglected, so I found a regal, silver frame that I happened to have lying around (Sounds silly, but I really did.) I dressed her in it. I surrounded her with a couple of Ben Franklins, an assortment of crystals, some pretty moss, a single candle and a stick of incense… She looked exceedingly pleased in her new queendom. The next two days, I got calls from especially fantastic clients, who both ended up extending their sessions by a half an hour! Wonder Woman! (I was gonna say, “man”, but I thought what does “man” have to do with anything I’m saying? So I substituted “Wonder Woman” instead. It is meant as an enthusiastic exclamation.) I know, it sounds too good to be true, but prayer and magic are real, after all. I’m stoked. Jai Maha Lakshmi!

I’m at Mykael’s café today. This guy is sitting at my favorite table, the window table. He has this big, killer notebook. He writes in it with a simple bic ballpoint pen. He looks really absorbed. He has a nose ring. He just flipped through the pages and I saw all these quickie sketches intermingled with writings. God, I would LOVE to have a browse through the interior of his externalized mind. Not because he’s gut wrenchingly captivating… but because he’s alive and he’s investing himself in exploring the place where his interior and exterior worlds converge in one special notebook, and that’s just fucking interesting, period.

My latte foam was extra profound today! Just a footnote~ if you looked at the pictures on my camera phone, you would see that mostly I only photograph three things. The third most photographed thing is ROSES. The second most? MYKAEL. And the first= the foam on my cappuccinos and lattes. I HAD to photograph my drink today because it was a rabbit, rising up out of a lotus flower with angel wings! I have had this

Errrrrrtttttt. That’s the sound of brakes screeching to a halt, because I just thought of something much more important to say. You’ll have to wait to hear about my latte foam brain child, okay?

I want to talk about breasts. And body image. I have two resplendent friends, Mr. and Mrs. X. Last night, they told the best story I’d ever heard, literally, figuratively and biblically. Fasten your seatbelts, folks. Goes a little some’m like this: Mr. X went to a “snuggle party” (actually I think they said “cuddle party”, but I much prefer the word snuggle to cuddle. Can you dig it?) He asked Mrs. X what her boundaries were in terms of him “playing” with miscellaneous foxy ladies. She said, “If you start to get a hard-on, that means it’s time to redirect yourself.” (Those were my words, BTW, based on their recount) He concurred. Later, he came home and proudly reported that he had sat in the hot tub with a hot woman on his lap and he had blissfully fondled her breasts, all without getting a hard on! (Can’t you just see him… beaming like a little boy who’d just caught his first fish?) Mrs. X was neither amused nor inspired by this news. In fact, she was hurt and pissed off. She felt that he had covertly crossed a boundary.

Just in the mere recounting of the story, Mrs. X’s feelings resurfaced, and since the Xs are incredibly generous, courageous and transparent people, they gave Mykael and I the honor of witnessing them as they revisited this intimate space of ouch and yuck. Mr. X said his “hot tub ho” had “amazing” breasts. This stung Mrs. X, because in her experience, her mister never gushed with that kind of enthusiasm over HER breasts. Uh-oh. Trouble, right?

Breasts. Earlier in the very same day (yesterday), I happened to have been hanging out topless with a different girlfriend and a guy. He complimented her breasts (which are indeed sumptuous jewels) and immediately she responded with, “I’ve always wished they were smaller and that the areolas were darker and smaller.” He said that in his experience, women are never completely satisfied with their breasts. In that moment, I yearned to fully accept mine. Mostly, I dig ‘em. Sometimes I wish they were just a teense bigger. But fuck… what a waste of time. (I’ve also put on a slight coating of squish in the last few months… Nothing profound… just enough. And I actually really love it. I am a woman, for fuck’s sake. Women are supposed to be squishalicious. And I’d way rather focus on feeling strong and healthy and connected with myself from the inside. You know, feel my energetic flow, baby! I still have that insane program subtly running me that women’s bodies are supposed to look like emaciated teenage boys. Crazy. Plus, most of the women that Mykael is attracted to are the bony ones, so I do feel like even if I love my modest, womanly squish, he won’t. Now, intellectually, I know that my body is MINE and nothing is more important than self love and self acceptance… But…

That’s what I was wishing for Mrs. X, too. She was wanting Mr. X to express his appreciation of HER breasts in that oh-so-tense moment… But she was not getting what she wanted, which is no surprise, because generally, throwing around your pain and wrath is not the most prize-winning way to get what you want in life… But she was doing her best, considering that when a
(Ahhhh, I see myself in everyone. No wonder I feel crazy sometimes… that’s a vast notion of self… sheesh.) when a vortex of insecurity and pain (and hormones?) sucks one in… it can be debilitating. Trust me, I’m an expert.

But strange that I had two breast inadequacy incidences in one day, right? All I can think of is that God wanted me to blog about it. God wants me to reveal to you, the only REAL commandment She intended to decree~ Thou shalt love thine breasts exactly as they are and aren’t.

I didn’t say anything as Mr. and Mrs. X frolicked hand in hand through their personal field of emotional landmines. But inside, I just kept wishing that Mrs. X would love and accept her body completely without needing validation from her man. I wish that for all women. In fact, I think if a genie exploded out of a bottle right now, and granted me a wish, that’s what it would be. Another facet of my experience during the “uncomfortable breast incident”, was that I was feeling really grateful that I didn’t have “mainstream stereotypically amazing breasts”, because if I did, I would have felt guilty and ashamed of them in the face of my friends’ uncomfortable exchange. I guess I have felt guilty and uncomfortable about having a sweet body before… when I’m in the company of a friend who is overweight.

It’s tricky… as a woman… Women who let their light shine blindingly, the way it was meant to… must have to face the uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and comparison that their success and radiance must often solicit in women who don’t feel as amazing about themselves. I guess it could be like that for men, too… but I am addressing the wounded feminine right now. Also, the feminine is so empathic… so what a full time occupation it must be, to feel other women’s inadequacy and illusory brokenness and continue to stand tall and shine, and see that same empowered reflection in her sisters, even when they are not feeling it. God, I’m excited for our collective healing to carry us ALL to an empowered, self loving place! From now on, I’m gonna throw caution to the angel’s breath and dinosaur bones and love my breasts and my body just as they are! After all, at the end of the day, they are JUST BREASTS. And at the end of some day in the future, they will just be worm food and stardust again.

Is This What They Mean By “Writer’s Block”?

Here I am again. And there you are… Unfortunately I do not feel as radiant as I did yesterday. I feel out of step. I feel like an awkward dork. As I settled into my hard wooden bench nest at Pizzaiolo, I wondered what in Holiness’s name I’d even talk about today… Everything feels so… parched. In my sleep, somehow the ground opened out beneath me and I fell through the sky and landed with a dusty plop on the unapologetically cracky desert floor. Whoops. So now I am reporting live from a parched internal desert. Thankfully though I bothered to chase a flirtatious mirage and it turned out to be honest to god water. Sonic water. My favorite DJ, Iax released a new podcast (finally!) today. So far so good. I hope it will flow my juices. Juice my flow.

My mom recently gave me this book about following divine guidance. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time… of course. The author talks about all the various ways that divine guidance can manifest. You know, visions, gut feelings, hearing a song with lyrics that speak precisely to your inquiry or situation, a timely run-in with a friend who speaks custom blended words just for you… et cetera. Well I have been wondering my ass off about what to do next. Hawaii? In my courageous moments, I feel pretty rested into the vision of leaping across the Pacific Ocean, Hanuman (our favorite monkey god) style and taking a tropical chill pill, vision quest, writer’s retreat. And then comes a decent sized wave of fear and doubt and knocks me back to Compton. So you can see why I am beseeching All Pervading Off Tha Hookness for the kinds of signs fashioned for over stimulated, city-dwelling dummies such as myself.

This morning in the locker room after my swim, I saw a woman with a cardinal tattooed on her neck. Cardinals are one of my favorite birds. Though they do not call Oakland home, Hawaii is teeming with them. When I see them, I always think of Hawaii. Then the woman with the tattoo mentioned that she was training for a triathlon, which takes place in Maui in a couple of weeks. (she also effervescently confessed that she loves to get drunk and take drugs…) Hmmm… could this be a sign? I hope so. I don’t want to be scared. I don’t like this present moment. I think I’ll just go lose myself in the folds of facebook for an hour or two. I think I’ll just go order a donut or two to mindlessly stuff in my face while I gaze vacuously at photos of all my friend’s babies whom I’ve never even met.

Come on, Athena, pull yourself together. I dunno, maybe it’s good that I’m not such a blabber mouth this morning. Maybe it just means that I’m peaceful. Maybe my mind is the open desert sky. Well… I am actually finding it amusing to keep returning to the page and being transparent in my lack of inspiration. I noticed that I have this desire to impress you and always sound so talented and brilliant. But… sometime I am just a big, hairy gorilla. But my blog is like a live show. Sometimes live action footage is lame. Ha! Fooled you, I’m only human after all.

And then she stared into space for three of the longest minutes in recorded history. What should I talk about? I just went to the bathroom and had a private, wild dance. I thought that would help, but it didn’t. So then I switched seats. Nope. Still nothing. Then I called Mykael so he could save me. Honestly, he came as close as anybody could. He told me that I am a good enough writer that (oooh, the woman next to me just cut the highly crusty corner of her turn-over with a fork. What a sound. It made me think of lions stalking their pray in dry savanna grasses. Dry like deserts. Dry dessert. It may be dry on the outside, but on the inside, remember, it is sloppy wet. I think there is a lesson to be learned here. But I don’t care, I don’t want to learn it. I want to tell you that Mykael validated my desire to show up exactly as I am. He said I am a good enough writer that I can afford a day to play the linguistic fool. So here I am. As I am. Let this be a lesson to ya! Oooh, she just cut the other dry corner of her POPOVER. Doesn’t “popover” sound better than “turn-over”? It sounds so much more dynamic and dangerous. It makes me wonder, did it pop over of its own accord? Or did someone pop it over? I imagine that it popped over all by its self… which makes it a pretty magical, mythological pastry…

After I got off the phone with my personal pan savior, I saw that a woman had made herself at home at MY table, so I decided to sit at the bar. Now I can watch my crushy-crush bleed and toil in the name of caffeinating the universe. He’s wearing a grey t-shirt with black silhouetted airplanes all over the front. They are bigger at the top and they get progressively smaller as they move downward. Talk about profound. Some firemen just came in. What IS it about firemen? They always command my attention. I guess because they drive fire trucks. Big. Shiny. Red. Ever since I took care of Nathan and Max (from the time they were 17 months to three years old)… they were unabashedly passionate about fire trucks, and I became accustomed to making fire truck sightings the center of the universe as a result. Though it’s been like a year and a half since I’ve kicked it with Nathan and Max, I still let my bells be tinkled by the mere sight of a fire truck, and struck with even more force and fever when the big, gruff, strong men wave at little wooing me.

A woman sitting at the other end of the counter just ordered some toast, and she was being all anal about how she wanted it. My dream boat would-be boyfriend was giving her some playful grief about this. I watched him slice the impressively large loaf of acme bread as though it was the most amazing feat ever performed. Man, can he wield a serrated knife! Look out boogie gentlemen and ladies. Damon knows how to slice. Oh NO! The lady’s toast is smoking in the toaster!!! I was so invested in the situation. I told Damon that if I was ordering toast, I’d ask for it double toasted too. Because I’ve seen the toast on most people’s plates and it looks wicky-weak. Hardly toasted at all. I said it gotsta be golden and CRISPY. What’s the point of toast that doesn’t go CRUNCH? What’s the point of anything that doesn’t go crunch, honestly…

When I used to live in the mission in SF, that was one of my favorite past times… stomping on crusty bread and flocks of corn chips abandoned to the gutters and dirty sidewalks. It was one of the modest highlights of my twenties. All else mostly felt hopeless and in shambles, but as long as there was crispy food littering the streets for me to stomp on, I retained enough hope to safe port me to age thirty. I love feeling the crunch resonate in my feet and then reverberate through my entire body as it sings an orchestral song of benign destruction. Cheetos were always a major score! Seriously, they ain’t called “the cheese that goes crunch” for nuttin. But most of the Cheetos spraying the gutters of the mission were the red, fire flavored ones. I guess mission folks have a particular fondness for spice…

I was walking down Piedmont Avenue with a friend last week, and HARK! A generous spread of corn chips! Coincidentally, I was having an existentially busted day… the kind of day ripe for some down home, crunchy food stompin. I descimated every single one of them. And then, miraculously I was free. Talk about medicine for the wrenched soul. Ye-ah!

Well, I survived this blogging session, and I must report that I feel all the better for it. I hope you do too.

Father Might Actually Know Best… After All

I am radiant today.  Don’t ask me what the recipe is… if I knew, I’d whip it up and serve it every day.  All I know is that I feel energetic and flirtatious and generous and as a result, I see the world around me ignite in smiles and kindness with a gluttonous side of sass.  One good thing about not being engaged or married= when I flirt, people take me much more seriously.  I like that.  I was so excited to come see Damon at Pizzaiolo today, since I didn’t make it yesterday.  I even put on seductive eye make up just so I could bat my eyelashes with extra feist.  In my mind, all this seemed perfectly natural… but as I confess it on the page, I imagine (Woops, Damon just came and collected my empty little fancy cup and saucer… I hope he didn’t read over my shoulder…Or maybe I hope he did… but a tremor of mortification just rattled my figurative windows.)  Ahem… I suddenly felt immature and afraid you were judging me, thinking, “Crushes are so grade school.  Don’t you have better things to do than seduce?”  But, no… Not really.  Not in this moment.

It felt good to recognize the luminous side of having a ringless left ring finger.  I am on another marriage kick… but… in this moment, I am perfectly content to appear so…uhhh… flirt-with-able.  I just discoverd that Damon knows sign language, which is HOT.  I wrote about sign language in one of my recentish blogs… Watching people communicate through their bodies like that really rings my bells.  It’s better than good poetry to me.  Poetry.  You’d think that I’d be really into poetry, considering I am a poet… but I’m not.  Often, poetry bores me.  I hate having to work so hard to glean any shred of understanding.  Pbbthhht. (You’ll LOVE this~ I learned that last word from Calvin and Hobbes.  Hobbes stuck his tongue out at Calvin and made that sound and spit flew everywhere!  Cool, huh?!)  I like sufi poetry.  Especially Hafiz, because he just comes right out and SAYS it… with the most potent, devotional, beautiful, god drenched words possible… without beating heavily around the over grown weed patches.  But all this erudite, esoteric code that people call poetry?  Save it for the self important academics who need to puff themselves up by sounding smarter than they really are.  No offense if you like that junk… to each her own, right?

Speaking of poetry and clichés, I met this bitchin’ guy named Jamie the other night, and he and Mykael and I were having a hella intellectual conversation about Shakespeare, and Jamie informed us that Shakespeare invented a ton of words and now “cliché” phrases that are common place today.  In fact, I bet a good few of them have rolled off your tongue in the last hour!  (examples~ “good as gold”, “for goodness sake”, “be all, end all”, “blushing”, “aroused”, “dawn”, “champion”… ETC.)  Sounds far fetched?… Look it up, I dare you.  It’s validating to me to know that Shakespeare took such bold liberties.  I invent words all the time, but I have this voice in the back of my head, my dad’s voice… telling me that I can’t just pull words out of my ass like that… My dad… I remember him as a walking, talking, [golfing] dictionary.  He used to correct my usage of the English language all the time.  I remember once asking him, “Do you understand???”  And he said, “No, but I GET it… Understanding implies…” blah blah blah… “But to GET someone…” blah blah blah.  All his academic rigidity just made me roll my eyes. (now I think it’s charming though)

And it seared him when I’d invent words.  But come on, how do you think language came to be in the first place?  It didn’t just fall from the sky in a big alphabetic lump… Language is an ever evolving, moving, breathing entity, just like you and me and our mother earth.  It evolves as innovative, awake people (such as yours truly) stand at the edge of the abyss and yearn to give voice to our experience of being.  Duh.

Speaking of my dad, I just need to express my gratitude for the healing that has occurred in our relationship!  Sometimes I hate Wednesdays… at least when I am not feeling at my strongest… because Mykael works and then goes to his men’s circle, and I am “alone” all day… not that when he’s around we kick it, incessant old skool… but just having nearness is soothing to this little holy hermit.  So yesterday came, another Wednesday [closer to death]… and I was feeling tender hearted in the morning… but what can I say, the beat goes on… At noon, I called my dad, since we usually talk on Wednesdays.  He is such a character, believe me.  A craps dealing (croupier) triple leo with a sociology degree.  Yeah, he’s a weirdo… an adorable weirdo.  I cried on the phone with him, because of the change sweeping through my life… I told him I want to make a sweet living as a writer.  Daddy doesn’t like his little girl to cry.  He searched his mind and heart for words of comfort.  I could feel his desire to soothe me.  And I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that I should do what I love… and trust that my passion will always guide me. (!?!?!?!?!)

I have been carrying around a WAY less empowering story about my dad, and relishing telling it over and over and over again (beating it to a bloody pulp, in other words).  It goes like this~ When I was three years old, I fell into ecstatic, awe-struck love with the trapeze artists at Circus Circus (the casino in Reno), and I was sure that I would be a trapeze artist when I grew up.  To me they were sexy angel goddesses, and to a three year old girl, there is nothing more compelling than that spicy cocktail of femininity.  When I gushed my fresh aspiration to daddy, I remember him telling me that that was NOT practical.  You can’t make a living as a trapeze artist… Discouraged, I trudged my deflated three year old self back to the drawing board and within a couple of years, I settled on veterinarian.  Shrug.  Not a bad choice…

But I’ve blamed my dad for murdering my helpless, innocent dream(s) ever since.  Harsh of me, I suppose.  But at least I got to be SO FUCKING RIGHT.  (On the phone yesterday, my dad also told me not to use the word “fuck” in my writing, because there are a thousand million more innovative ways to say fuck, than stiff, exhausted old F-U-C-K… I argued for the poesis of the f word.  I told him I am a “both and” type chick.  Sometimes, I just wanna come in for the clean-up round and I know that a good old fashioned fuck will be a solid, reliable base hit.  Like anything, when over used, fuck becomes as weak and boring as watery gruel served for every meal at Oliver Twist’s orphanage… but… It also has a powerful resonance as words go… and should be milked every once in a while, if you ask ME… but you didn’t…)

So once upon a time, my dad squished his pooooor little baby’s heaven sent dreams.  And for that she has bled and condemned for decades.  Until yesterday… When he reached through the phone to dry my sugary, cup cake, strawberry short cake tears and told me to keep following my heart.  The moral of the story?  Obvious~ don’t condemn anybody for a single, frozen moment in time.  People are harbors of consciousness.  It flows into us, and it sucks back out into the greater sea.  We are dynamic and evolving.  Even the most primitive boneheads among us are tomorrow’s prophets and saints.  Trust me, I have living proof.

PS~ There is a guy sharing the table with me.  He is munching toast as he spends “quality time” absorbed in his Iphone.  I just got present to the fantastic musical orchestra of mouth sounds he is producing… The initial brazen crunch of the toast, followed my more mushy, wet, smacking of his doughy mouthfuls.  It is my new favorite song!

Backstroking Through Vivid Forgiveness

Before I got in the pool this morning, I was ridden with anxiety and fear.  But I knew that even just seeing my life guard James’s kind, smiling face would put my quivering heart at ease.  James.  He is such a good person.  So is Jason, the other half of the dynamic life guard duo.  Even just writing about them right now makes my heart want to explode like the mother of all fireworks.  Because come on… life guards do NOT get paid that much.  It’s not a high profile, glamour job.  I used to consider being a life guard from time to time when I felt desperate and confused about my path… All of the other life guards that work at my pool are way less generous of heart.  They are generally younger and look like they are bored out of their minds and actually resent me for the fact that they are “forced” to be sitting there climbing their own hidden walls for ten dollars an hour.  But not James and Jason.  It’s obvious that they give a flying fuck, a fuck that flies courtesy of a pair of over the top, gossamer wings~ if you saw them you’d wonder if someone slipped some acid in your cappuccino when you had your back turned… I love those kind of winged fucks!

Ahem.  Flying fucks.  James and Jason are some kind of saints or angels in disguise as highly normal men.  But I feel so loved and loving every time I take a morning swim.  Jason and I have this secret hello we exchange, usually as I make my goose bumpy mad dash, fresh and wet from the shower, out into the frigid morning air (that’s right, who’s alive?!?!) in my little two piece athletic swimmy (term of endearment for “swim suit”) and flail into the not quite warm water.  We exchange a modest “wave”, involving the repeated bending and straightening of our right index fingers.  (Goodbye is the pinky).  James is an older black man.  He wears clean, crisp, brand name athletic jumpsuits.  I think he’s missing a tooth or two, and the ones still hanging on to their gums look like they could use some TLC from a dentist.  His finger nails are usually extra long and dirty.  His laugh is deep and resonant.  Rich, slow and gurgling with authentic joy.  It reminds me of a negro spiritual… Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, or Wade in the Water.  Jason… I’m pretty sure he’s hot for me.  For being a pretty average guy, he makes fantastic eye contact.  I know my lifeguards got my back.  And I don’t take it lightly… usually.  God, please give back to Jason and James a thousand fold of what they give to us devoted swimmers…

James greeted me this morning and I tasted that delicious, hoped for hope.  The water felt extra warm, which was so soothing to me.  It felt sensuous, tropical and womb-esque.  I swam with the intention of being at peace.  I thought of Amma.  She will be here next week.  Thank GOD.  I am so ready to fold into the safety and divine comfort that waft from her like an inherent fragrance.  Many times I begin to cry, inexplicably, from the depths of my being when she enters the temple.  I love watching her sit in meditation.  Her obvious absorption in the folds of holy peace is so soothing and inspiring to me.  So I swam through tropical waters, fixing my mind on this embodiment of unconditional love.  This mother of the universe.  Except my mind kept slipping back into its well-worn groove of fear.

I realized that I am like an infant on my path to God.  Except way more self loathing than your garden variety infant.  It would serve me to be more infantish… in the way of innocence, presence, forgiveness.  How many times does an infant fall down when they are learning to walk?  A gazillion.  They may or may not cry… but they certainly don’t beat themselves up.  And here I am… learning to live in deep trust and alliance with the All Pervading Love of the universe and beyond… but forgetting so often that I am not alone, that I am loved and held and deeply precious.  And every time I wake up and remember that I have forgotten~ A-GAIN, I feel disappointed in myself.  I feel hopeless and frustrated.  I just want to wake up already.  I want to perceive the light inside, already…  I want to feel a love that has no reason, no beginning and certainly no end.  I guess an apropos word for my experience is impatience.  As I moved through the warm, buoyant, aqua heaven, I thought I’d like to be more like an infant.  When I fall from remembrance, I will simply forgive the fall, the hard ground, my lack of coordination and just pick myself up and merge right back into my natural state of presence induced wonder.  If I’m not as perfected yet as I wish I was, the next best thing to be is humble and patient, I suppose.

What IS this world?  I want to look upon the multiplicity of forms with such unapologetic severity that I penetrate the illusion and see the underlying something that lives in everything.  Today I want not just to see, but to SEE.  Do you know what I mean?  I mean that I want to dive beneath the waves of my ever fluctuating mind and experience a quiet presence.  Right here.  Right now.  I want to be deafened by the roaring sound of OM, that singings everything into holy existence.  This lonely, single syllable.  I want to merge with this lonely, single syllable, so that I am proactively singing as the entire choir of creation.

That reminds me… I keep having dreams about playing my harmonium.  I yearned to have one… so that I could paint invisible, inner space with “sonic lotuses”… So my very divine, very biological mother gave me one for my birthday last year… And like many of my heart’s dreams and desires, it sits, neglected, collecting tragic dust as I procrastinate and flounder in fear of the arduously slow unfolding of the lotus otherwise known as my Destiny.  But it has been calling to me so loud and clear from the nocturnal folds of my psyche.  I must play my harmonium.  I don’t know how.  But who cares!  I know I could just BE with it, and it would tell me a lot about who it is and who I am, and how we can form a divinely inspired alliance and create sonic lotuses to grace to this world, who perpetually thirsts for offerings of sacred beauty.

I forgive.  I forgive.  I forgive.  I forgive.  I forgive.  I forgive.

Amen.

Dabbling in the Deep End

If you had to have one word tattooed on your body, what would it be, and where would you tattoo it?  I am looking at a woman with the word “steel” tattooed on the back of her neck.  At first I thought it said “feel”, and I got excited because I took it as a divine message to drop into feeling.  Then I started contemplating the cornucopia of evocative, opulent words I could adorn myself with… And then I thought what a great way to get to know someone… like at a party or other social extravaganza.  (If you already have a word, or more than one word (Dan), you can still play the game… Wipe the slate clean and feel into ONE single word that would be most apropos to express you in this very moment)

Today I have my permission to be a total spazzy, off the wall nut.  I have to.  Can you dig it?  I HAVE TO.  Life can be way too serious.  Last night I was just going about my modest business and the simplest thing suddenly tripped a landmine in my heart.  Suddenly I was projectile sobbing.  But not for too long.  Soon I was faced with the inward invitation to forgive this whole sloppy dream and get on with things.  I think that’s the key for me.  I can express whatever wants to move through, but then let it go.  No need to wallow or hold on.  So I feel pain… fear… and then what?  Then I do a little dance.  Bake a loaf of braided challah.

Then I snuggle up with my sick boyfriend and watch some bitchin comedy.  Have you heard of Zach Galifianakis: Live?  See it. (We watched it on Netflix watch instantly)  He is a brutally honest, perfectly screwed up, entirely lovable comedian.  I discovered him on the Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job.  (I put the link to their website on my blogroll.  Check them out if you need some seriously irreverent medicine. (that would be most of us…)  As I see it, Tim and Eric are two liberated Buddhas, who say a boisterous and irreverent YES to life, to their messy, wretched, tangled, human state of bliss, and in doing so, invite us all to exercise the same playful freedom of self.  They exhibit my favorite kind of intelligence.  The kind that is off the charts, yet sneaks in through the back door, so that you might miss it if you are attached to a more classical, erudite, academic template of intelligence manifest.  In which case, I say, you need to loosen your necktie, let your hair down and play the fool way more often.  And now, please take a moment of silence in honor of these two exceptional men.                            Thank you.)

Zach Galifiankis.  He’s just as funny as Tim and Eric.  Watching his (Whoa, I just got distracted, because this woman just came through the door (Pizzaiolo’s door, that is) wearing DEEP, red lipstick.  Her hair natural, mousy auburn, cropped in a modest though sassy bob.  Her lips are sheer seduction!  Otherwise, she looks pretty plain. But her lips scream whisperish songs of lust.  Yum.)  Watching Zach’s comedy validated my intention for this blog.  He was unabashedly transparent in his expression of his particular, insane strain of humanity.  But through his brutal honesty, light was made out of what would certainly otherwise drive him entirely nuts and honestly, I imagine he would have killed himself a long time ago… he has that much inside him.  Since we are all more or less the same, with varying degrees of ability to contain ourselves and lead “normal” lives, it is healing to witness others giving voice to the facets of ourselves that we have become habituated to manraging and hiding out of homage to our heroic slave drivers named Shame and Appropriteness.

I often doubt myself… I can’t stop blogging.  But I wonder if it is it a sheerly masterbatory, frivolous waste of my time.  It can’t be, because it makes me feel more joy and fulfillment than anything (except good sex and church… and good coffee and satisfying, deep connections with friends, swimming, rock climbing, hip hop dancing, listening to the birds, sipping red wine while I cook nourishing meals alone in my kitchen… Athena, slow down, you’re knocking the wind out of the point you were just driving at.  Honestly, this blog is one of the MOST important facets of my existence right now.)  But is it in vain, I sometimes wonder?… And when I witness other humans, like Zach G. bearing the unsightly [metaphorical] lumps and rolls and pussy infections of their humanity, I remember the value of courageously sharing the less flattering angles of my cumbersome human existence.  Zach is so easy to LOVE in all his mess.  Which of course makes me that much easier for me to love AS I AM.  And you too are as lovable as all of your wacky, flawed and deliciously alive reflections in this mystic hall of fun house mirrors otherwise known as Life.

Tim, Eric and Zach would all fall on the below average end of the studly spectrum.  They are all overweight… Not obese or anything… they just look like bachelors who eat at In and Out Burgers too often, drink too much beer and haven’t exercised a day in their lives.  I bet they even get winded boning their bitches after like two minutes… but you know what?  I am so attracted to Eric and Zach, because they are so FUNNY, SMART, COURAGEOUS and ALIVE.  (Tim is all that too, but I find him less hot for some reason)  My point?  Don’t discount the potency of SOUL.

But then there’s my barista.  He is hot AND soulful.  He told me his name today, Damon.  He said it’s Greek, too.  I said maybe we’re related.  He said HE’S not Greek.  I smiled and said neither am I.  Meow!!!  I just felt my face as I was writing this paragraph.  I can only imagine what it must look like… I have this strange, soft smile, distant, dreamish eyes probing the billowing fabrics of far off, sensual universes, cocked head…  I love having crushes.

Oh, BTW, I coined a new term for my relationship status!  “Monogamous Polyamorist”.  What in Jehovah’s name does this mean?  Duh, it means that Mykael and I are in agreement that we both want our relationship to be a source and expression of our freedom, truth and wholeness as people, and if that means that we want to share intimacy with another, that is perfectly acceptable… at least in theory… (When Mykael found a dame he wanted to play with (he’s so finicky), I freaked out… but that’s another story) Ahem… theory… I find it very relaxing that I am not bound by Mykael’s fears and insecurities, nor is he bound by mine.  Honestly, I’m not interested in having sex with anyone else right now (Mykael is MORE than enough man for me)… but there is something deeply relaxing about knowing that that door is not bolted and nailed shut forever.   Monogamous Polyamory… It’s the way of the rock star future!

The last thing I’ll say, is a public service announcement:  Body language!  Have fun with it.  More movement, less needless blabbering.  I just switched seats because two chatterboxy women parked next to me and I couldn’t think straight over their birdish banter.  So I wandered over to this massive table and asked the white haired hipster with thick, black nerd glasses if I could park across from him.  Except he has his headphones on, so I simply did a modest little interpretive dance indicating, “may I sit here”… He danced back an unabashed, inviting “YES!”  FUN.

Letting Go and Letting Go Some Mo’

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been feeling the wellspring of my love for Mykael gurgling freely these days. (Hallelujah!) Not because our relationship has been an idyllic tunnel of love or anything… Just because it sucks so hard to disapprove of him every other second of my life, and to constantly be indulging in question marks the size of whales. Not just beluga whales… No, more like blue whales… Talk about exhausting! The other night, I had this realization~

(Time out, because I just listened to a FOUR minute voice mail from my mom! I couldn’t help it… I love hearing her singing, liberated stream of thoughts in stereo in my ears. I listen to her messages and realize that the expression “the fruit never falls far from the tree” was not just random smoke blown from an ass of the past. My mom rambles on with such mental freedom. Very much like my blog. She gifts me with spoken word blogs on a regular basis and I love them. They drip with frivolous, interesting details and unabashed non sequiturs. I rarely play voicemails more than once… except my moms.)

My realization was that choosing Mykael is just that~ a choice. I don’t have to torture myself by seeking fresh evidence in every single waking, breathing moment as to why he IS or ISN’T the “right” man for me. Suddenly, I’d had my fill of that exhausting game. I mean, I’m clear that he is flawed as anything and has a PHD in pushing my buttons… but… I also know that he is loyal, committed, deep, spiritual, hecka smart, hot and most importantly~ very skilled at loving me. Oh wait, I just said I was renouncing all the REASONS and simply choosing. Woops. Did you ever do the landmark forum? I did it ten years ago, and they tried to teach me the distinction of CHOOSING. (Chocolate or vanilla, choose!) But I guess it took ten years to sink in. That’s what I get for wanting to do everything MY way…

Anyway, I thought I’d represent the light side of my relationship here in my blog, rather than just the skuzzy muck side of the rainbow. It’s kinda like how people sometimes just pray to God when shit hits the fan. When life sucks. But when it whizzes by like a fresh, tropical breeze, the same person might say, “God who?” Don’t get me wrong, our relationship has been no cake walk… I’m just over playing “twenty-four seven judge”…(which coincidentally makes more space for the good to shine on us)

Remember yesterday I was all fired up after church, inspired to rigorously focus my will, my intention, my attention in the unabashed direction of my dreams? Well… it wasn’t too long before external circumstances wanted to pick a fight my new stance and take them DOWN. No… actually it wasn’t “external circumstances”. It was my habitual relationship to external circumstances. Mykael was all blissfully absorbed in carving (surprise) and I felt neglected as usual. I am so fucking sick of that. (but when he’s not on purpose and is way more available, I get repulsed by his flimsy manhood in a rapid snap… I think you have a term for this ironic condition~ Double Edged Catch Twenty Two Cent Coin…) I just need to get a life of my own, don’t I? Get some hobbies, girl. Have you considered making other friends? It’s not rocket science… but I guess I must have a secret addiction to aching and feeling unfulfilled. What do I get out of that? Bitter sweet heart ache! Holy Closure! Evidence of the truth and validity of my past suffering. What good is all that? Do I have to figure it out before I can let it go?

I think an impressive clump of my past wounding is really trying to fall off these days and make room for a new born, more true incarnation of me. Hence, the pain has been right up in my face way too often. I can no longer sweep it under the rug of my soul and keep limping along under its crushing, dead weight. No, these days, if I want to carry my pain, I’ve gotta do it out in the open as a liberated, adult choice. But… why would I keep choosing it? Because it is safe and comfortable. It’s falling off… I hope. Suddenly my eyes flood with tears as I let myself feel the pain of carrying around this open wound, this gaping, insatiable need to continuously be the center of Mykael’s attention. (BTW, I feel embarrassed to admit this, since it doesn’t represent my picture perfect image of enlightenment… but brutal honesty is the next best thing, in my opinion. And a much more attainable stance to take in life than some sort of conceptual, angelic perfection.) God, I could be making beautiful art or helping little old ladies across the street, but instead I have been continuously crumpling in the face of Mykael’s beautiful, feverish thirst to pour himself into his art. Sheesh.

Anyway, I brought up the subject of my wounding because I realize that cultivating my mind as the epicenter of empowerment, fertilization and commitment to living my dreams and flourishing in prosperity on every level takes a staunch, continuous willingness to disengage from old habits of mind and emotion. When my devastation and neediness drop in for a spontaneous visit, I must be poised to simply say a quick, compassionate hello to it and then choose something else. Feelings. They feel so important, real and permanent. Shoot. What’s a girl to do? Love herself and then call up a girlfriend. Take more nature walks and frivolous photos. Meditate for Goddess sake. I don’t want my happiness to be contingent upon another anymore. But that’s such a familiar and seductive place for me to dwell. (In the mainstream culture of perpetual diagnosis, I believe they call that “co-dependence”)

I also have this habit of looking to the outside to validate my inner world, rather than vice versa. So when Mykael’s mood crashed yesterday afternoon, I felt this panic, like how in the world am I supposed to stay positive, whole and grounded in my strength and vision? How on earth is it possible that we are each a luminous Christ, perpetually hovering on the threshold of incessant miracles??!! It is such a natural thing for me to respond to my surroundings and resonate with the energies of others. Maybe while I’m nurturing the teensy seedlings of my divine realization and my dreams, strengthening my mind, creating new grooves aligned with the Highest, I should only surround myself with very powerful, awake, successful, prosperous rock star people. And then, when my seedlings are hearty teenagers, with bitchin root systems and thickening trunks, then I can transplant myself back into the world of normal, flailing humans…??? Not very practical, Athena. But smart… “You are the company you keep, so keep good company.” As the tantric philosopher, Douglas Brooks has told us on many an auspicious occasion.

But I started this whole conversation to celebrate the good though sober place that Mykael and I are in right now. I’m not gonna be one of those fair weather praying types. No, I can celebrate with equality both the light and the shadow, while always keeping my eyes on the prize of moment to moment peace and divine communion. Amen.

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