When Destiny Beckons

Once and for all… DOES it, or DOESN’T it take a village to raise a child?  This little girl, (she must be a year old…) keeps folding herself into her mother’s breast, hiding her face from me… and then peeking out with these WIDE, deep, crystalline eyes.  Her lips are pinker than wild watermelons, and wetter too.  She has so many faces.  From the utmost joyous, to a very sobering brand of seriousness, to sheer curiosity.   If it does indeed take a village to raise and tend the seeds of our future, than we should all quit our day jobs and GET TO IT.  Because the future is storming towards now like a pissed off rhinoceros.

At least that’s how it feels to me today.  Most people I talk to are balancing on their tippy toes on the precipice of great change.  Should I be surprised by this???  I mean look at our very own mother, Missus Planet Earth~ she is going hog wild right now, with all of her unabashed self expression.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes.  The thought program that I was born into was that we are separate from the earth and from one another… but the more I live, the more I know that is bull crap.  Our very own bodies are made of this earth and as she moves, grows, changes, expresses, so do we.

Raise your hand if you have felt like your feelings have been blaring through you recently as though they’re being shouted through a megaphone.  It’s not just “me”, is it?  I have cried more tears in this past year, than total in my whole life up till then.  Is this woman for real, you wonder?… Well, I haven’t exactly been collecting my tears in a jar or a swimming pool, so it’s hard to tell for sure, but it certainly seems that way.  Not to mention other “unsavory” though essential emotions such as anger… Melissa wrote a good post on her blog addressing her own experience of anger.  Check it out= Mellifluence= it’s on my blog roll…I agree with her stance, so it will save me having to bang out similar words to the ones she expressed but a few days ago.  The point is I know I am not alone in this.  Our worlds are all being rocked.

What does it mean?  Who knows.  But I have been watching as my egoic, fabricated sense of security and normalcy erodes into the metaphorical sea.  I have zero interest in doing sensual massage anymore and that was my ticket to paying my exorbitant rent.  Mykael might be making some progress on his path toward financial wealth, but the man seems to be jogging through thick mud.  And guess what?  Right now, jogging through the mud ain’t payin’ the bills.  (I’m trying to remain neutral to this, since I in no way portend to know even a fraction as much as our dear mistress, Destiny)

Now for a commercial break.  It’s Friday morning.  Turns out that on Fridays here at Pizziaolo they serve chocolate frosted doughnuts with RAINBOW SPRINKLES on top!  I wouldn’t eat one if you paid me, but I delight in gazing fondly upon them.  Talk about aesthetically pleasing.  They make my heart sing.  They are so home made looking… all erratic and diverse in size and shape.  There is a couple seated at the dark, wooden bar who are each reading a section of the newspaper, and the man has his arm around his lady as they disappear into their own news strewn slab of universe.  Appreciating the simplicity of a moment is my sanity in times when conceptually it seems that my life is falling apart.

Now back to our previously programmed production.  Brad invited me to visit his garden island, Kauai.  At first, I was like, NO WAY… how can I possibly let go of all that I have here in Oakland?  But upon deeper contemplation, I realize that Oakland is actually letting go of its hold on ME.  You don’t believe me?  Believe it. Rivers run dry from time to time.  And what do you do but wander toward the distant roaring sound, in search of water.  Throughout my life, I have had this recurring vision and desire to just lay rest the struggle to survive with the best of us, and wander on an extensive, holy pilgrimage.  There are copious rumors blowing about the invisible realms of our consciousness which attest to this idea that we are always taken care of, loved, guided by invisible hands.  But most of us don’t live like that, do we?  And every time something auspicious happens, testifying to that cosmic proclamation, we act all shocked and dumbstruck.  Well I dream of just leaving my worldly belongings and dancing naked in the light.  Is Life kind?  Are we truly buoyant bubbles in a sea of sublime goodness?  I wonder…

I can find plenty of evidence that would testify yes to that question.  A mere two seconds ago, a woman asked to share my immense table with me.  “Absolutely!” I exclaimed.  And then she offered me some fresh baked scone.  I refused… but I’m just saying that kind people aching to share are everywhere in my world.

Destiny.  What of this hallowed concept that sometimes sweeps through our lives gentle and sensual as a tropical breeze, moving us along the trajectory of our path like a gliding hawk, and other times pulls us apart, rips the stuffing out of us, in the name of self tenderization?  Destiny~ the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.  (Thank you dictionary dot com!)  AM I IN CONTROL?  … Are YOU in control?  I don’t think so.  It’s sure comforting to believe it though, isn’t it?  But honestly, comfort, shmumfort.  Does comfort even dare stand up to Destiny?  Not that Destiny is intrinsically uncomfortable… but I see a new brand of comfort available.  The comfort of resting in the truth that is the light.  Not that chewed up, used up, played out comfort that comes with the illusion provided by zealously playing ones part in the exhausting race among fellow rats.  It ain’t the year of the rat… it’s the year of the TIGER, baby!  And you won’t never see a tiger racing.  They only hunt, play with fire, have sex and lay around in languid delight.

Athena, what are you driving at?  I don’t know.  All I know, is that my fabricated life of would-be normalcy is coming undone (again) and though I feel a low grumble of fear, reminiscent to a tiger’s growl humming from the heavy, dark, thick of the jungle, mostly, I feel relieved and curious.  Why?  Because I am at a place on my spiritual journey where I can’t even pretend that the stuff of this world is the be-all, end-all for me.  True happiness shall NEVER be found in the strivings and achievements of this world.  I only long for the mother of all truth, the Source of all Light, the root of all peace and joy.  And I will not give up until I find it.  (Round about as my path may wind)

So when life asks me to let go, DARE I let go?  Is there ANYTHING worth holding on to?

Stay tuned…

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Enlightened Babies and a Sea of Meatballs

Light is pouring through the windows at the front of Pizzaiolo, causing everything and everyone in my vision to be darkened silhouettes, a world of shadow play against a modestly blinding backdrop.  I find it strange how taking a different seat can radically alter perception.  I am accustomed to sitting with my back to the light, so that my view is of that which is illuminated.  I want to make some vast, sweeping parallel between this strictly physical observation and the figurative, metaphorical, metaphysical world.  I’m sure I could.  But I won’t… at least not right now…

My dear friend Brad is sitting beside me today.  He is visiting from the island of Kauai.  As we walked the single block from his borrowed pick-up truck to the café, his nervous system bucked and snorted in response to all the chaos and bustle of city livers living city life.  He said he felt like he was steeping in an invisible circus.  I saw the world that is Oakland through new eyes.  Oh yeah… it IS a mecca of psychic static here.  My roots have always twisted downward in urban soil.  It is all I know.  But I do incessantly fantasize about chewing myself free from all this noise and chaos some day, just for the shit-a-licious giggle of it and giving a quieter life a whirl.  Who would I BE without all the continuous human interference?  I’m afraid I’d be bored.  And I simultaneously imagine that I’d be able to think a lot straighter.  But who wants to think straight anyway?  I like thinking crooked and twisted and inside out.  But some day, I dare myself to give it a shot.

Day three here at Pizzaiolo, and I am starting to feel a delicious familiarity with the cast of characters in this scene.  My choir director is here again today.  Melanie.  She’s a large, soulful black woman with long dread locks.  Her presence is wide and inviting.  My Italian boyfriend is here.  Though just for the record, he is not excruciatingly attractive.  (But he’s Italian!!!)  Also this dude Quin is here.  I used to work with Quin ten years ago in the vitamin section of the Real Food Company.  He was the “strong but silent type”.  I love that expression!  The strong but silent type.  Worn out, used up expression though it may be, it still teases my ticklish heart.  I guess I have a specific fondness for men who don’t talk much, yet have an overtly rich inner world.  Come on, don’t they drive you wild?  (I can almost hear you saying NO, they don’t)  But I dig ‘em, because A) I am such a very curious human and I love burning in the wondering at their rich, secret worlds, and B) I can relate.  I, myself have a very rich, secret inner world, which no matter how fervently I attempt to translate it, it is far too vast and mysterious even to me, who perpetually dwells there.  But at least I know I am in good company.  (Just for the record, I love men who talk as well.  But only if they are highly interesting, intelligent, have spectacular senses of humor and refined sensitivity.)

Ahem, back to you, Quin.  Strong, silent Quin. (Time out.  Brad just whispered that we were both talking about the same thing, but from opposite sides of an invisible wall. ???  He’s a wizard.  Mostly I don’t speak Wizard-ese… except a few simple things like hello and goodbye.  But I can’t ask the time, because Wizards don’t quite believe in time.  Nor can I count to ten, since they don’t often ride that linear, numeric merry-go-round, like we garden variety mortals.  Linear, shminear, spit the Wizard folk through rebellious, twisted lips.)  The important thing to tell you about Quin is that I savored days when we worked together.  He often played Erykah Badu in the store.  I fell in love with her through him. “If you want to feel me, better be divine.  Bring me water, water for my mind.”  I let my heart tingle and my mind melt into a pool of dreaminess in his presence.  It was all indulgence and teenage fantasy.  But then one fateful day, he announced his impending departure from the Real Food Company.  He was going to move away and study some kind of herbal medicine.  His exit jumpstarted my courage, and I confessed my infatuation with him.  I was brazen.  We worked together on his last day and I asked him if he’d make out with me in the back room.  To my surprise, he said YES! (at age twenty, I still had yet to fully recognize my powers of seduction)  I was in heaven tasting his lips.  He was so healthy.  He smelled like horse.  I love horses.  My whole body drenched in desire and lust.  Yum.  Quin made my unholy, wet, feverish, girlie dream come true.  And now ten years later, he works on his laptop on the lighter side of this very café, as I type my brains out over here in the shadows.  Should I say hello?  I feel shy.

In other news, I’ve got to tell you that the cooks are already here, prepping for dinner.  It’s eleven oh eight am.  On my way back from the bathroom, I peeked over the high counter that divides the dining room from the cooking area and what did I see, but a sea of uniform yet unique, raw meatballs!!!  They were bigger than golf balls and full of onion and herb chunks.  Meatballs.  You don’t get it, do you?  What words can I spray at you to make you understand the importance of this artistic plethora of meatballs?  I don’t know.  Never mind.  Another noteworthy thing about the kitchen, is that one of the cooks, or maybe he was just an overseer… but he was up in all the kitchen commotion… he was holding an adorable, fat little Asian baby while he worked.  I love that.  I love seeing people include children in the mundane workings of day to day life, rather than leaving them at home to rot in the sequestered world of Sesame Street and mini, plastic, indoor slides.  Plus, this baby was luminous as hell.  She had these deep, brown eyes that gratuitously sloshed joy all over everything.  Oh, and come to think of it, on my first day here, there was a two-ish year old boy running around with no pants on in the back.  I felt simultaneously shocked and tickled and inspired to see this chubby, free little being, fully clothed on top and naked as a buck from the waste down.  Three cheers for living in a world where children are welcomed and free to spread their unhindered magic!

Athena Wonders Aloud

I’m back at Pizziaolo.  As much as I relish discovering a new café that rocks my myopic little world, of course there is a modest back draft of consequence for branching out and trying something new:  the challenge of discovering which drink to order.   In this day in age, one woman’s latte is another woman’s cappuccino.  Every café has a different take on this matter of extreme importance (at least to this privileged American chick with too much life on her hands).  I am very picky when it comes to the ratio of milk to coffee.  Too much and it tastes like a glutinous bathtub full of sweet cow juice, which I find slightly disgusting.  Too little and A) it doesn’t last long enough and B) the drink tastes too bitter for a refined lady such as myself.  And navigating these waters is tenuous because I don’t want to be too annoyingly high maintenance and cause the barista to roll his or her eyes and dissociate every time I come to the café.  No barista bridge burning for Athena.  One of the main reasons that I like to write in cafes is so that I can have my crucial, whopping two minutes of social interaction before I dive into the solitary world that exists in my mind and in the alphabet garlands I string along for your viewing pleasure.

Is it pleasurable for you to read these words?  Sometimes I trip out on how we humans get off on sniffing about in the lives and minds of our fellow homo sapiens.  I just read this book by Huraki Murakami called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  And I still don’t understand why I dug it so much.  It was a memoir-ish book by a Japanese author, exploring his thoughts about his relationship to long distance running and writing.  His voice was very frank and unadorned.  Reminiscent of overcooked turkey.  No, that doesn’t sound appetizing enough… maybe like a sandwich with no mayonnaise or mustard… But the other stuff in the sandwich is compelling enough to make you keep coming back for more.  I can’t say what else is in your sandwich, of course.  It totally depends on your taste.  But what ever ingredients you dig on, you have to chew this mystery sandwich with extra zeal and commitment to make it moist.  And then it is entirely worth your while.  But listen, I totally dug the book, because I am such a curious human being, and I yearn to understand in the utmost fullness what’s up with this whole human trip.  I was spellbound, reading about his long, arduous runs, his day in and day out devotion to the craft of writing.  And enough other people give a shit apparently, because it is a published book available in the Oakland public library.  My writing on the other hand… hmmmm… it is possible that it is a goop fest with mayonnaise and other miscellaneous condiments splooging out the sides with every bite.  Very frivolous condiments at that… cranberry sauce, wasabi mayonnaise, Sierra Nevada Ale mustard, sun dried tomato tapenade… Shrug.  What can I say, I am a condiment whore.

I have something very exciting to tell you now!!!  You know that “Italian looking man”, whom I exchanged a cold, awkward glance with yesterday?  Well, he’s here again, sitting at the table right next to me.  He just got here, and I noticed that he was stirring a new born cappuccino.  So I leaned over and asked him how the ratio of milk to coffee was.  I realize this is a very subjective topic… but I thought maybe he’d let me behold the color of the drink, once he sipped it down beneath the sensuous shroud of thick foam.  I didn’t come right out and ask that of this handsome stranger, though.  I had to build trust first, get him to nibble out of the palm of my hand and THEN go in for the wildly intimate kill; ask him to sneak a peak at the liquid in his cup.

The first thing he said when I asked him if the cappuccino was good was… that he is from ITALY!  I was right!  And he said it, of course, in a very sexy accent.  He told me that all American cappuccinos taste burnt to him, compared to the sweet, delicate Italian versions.  It’s true.  I have experienced them and they are delicious… but they never get me high enough.  Italian cappuccinos are pussy cappuccinos, you have to drink like four of them to every one American cappuccino.  No offense to pussies.  Pussies are awesome… they just don put hair on your chest.  Figurative hair, duh.  That’s the ONLY kind of hair I invite on my chest.  Anyway, as he was telling me about his relationship to cappuccinos, I was busy falling in love with him, imagining him barbarically throwing me over his shoulder and carrying me back to his impressively rustic, romantic villa in the Italian countryside where he has an olive orchard from which he makes his own olive oil, raises chickens and harvests the freshest eggs and has a mama goat and her fluffy little baby, whom he is so bonded with, he allows them to prance about the house, making cloven hoofed music on the hard wood, and considers them intimate members of his family.  Okay, I didn’t really think it through THAT far… but I was loving the intrinsic sizzle that it is to share very innocent shavings of conversation with a [moderately] hot Italian man.  (Even if he’s just moderately hot, his Italianness automatically grants him the bonus points required to go from mere smoke to fire.  I know, men, it doesn’t seem fair… but what can I say?  Maybe you’ll be Italian in your next life.  But Italian men IN Italy are a different story.  Too doggishly aggressive.  They have to be foreigners.)  (He just sneezed.  I blessed him!)

Another thing that rules about today is that there is a little group speaking in sign language here at Pizzaiolo!  Seeing sign language “spoken” always gets me hot.  It’s so expressive, mystifying, captivating.  I always feel tempted to stare… but I restrict myself to a few brief moments of staring, because of the seventeenth commandment, “thou shalt not get all up in other people’s shit, especially if you don’t know them”.  Mostly, getting all up in other people’s shit is my favorite thing to do… Reading books about their thoughts on running, gazing into their cappuccinos as though they were prophetic wishing wells… speaking of which, I forgot to tell you that my Italian boyfriend DID let me gaze upon his drink.  But there was too much foam on top, and I wanted to see the actual liquid, so I could judge it by color.  I like mine to be smooth caramel.  He hastily spooned some foam off into his mouth for me so I could see below it!  And LO!  His cup was a modest caramel ocean.  At least it was oceanic from the vantage point of someone the size of a human sperm…

Why is it so thrilling for me to spend my days discussing such nonsense?  I don’t know, but it is.  When I am writing, it is a brief respite from the worries and fears and worldly concerns that so naturally flood in to my idle mind.  Is the world as ridiculous and fascinating and tripp-a-delic to you?  I wonder.  And then I wonder some more.  This morning I felt sad.  Lonely.  Lost.  But I knew that as soon as I sat down to spin my aliveness into golden, linguistic relics I would feel priceless, sweet relief.  And I do.  And for that, I give thanks.

I thought I was done with this entry.  I was proof reading it when some hub-bub stirred up at the table on the other side of my Italian man.  A very old man suddenly uh… went on a magical mystery tour of sorts, meaning he checked out of this world for a minute and the young man he was with panicked and made a spontaneous, emergency phone call.  My Italian stood up and put his hands on the old man.  (What a good Samaritan)  I suddenly felt like throwing up as I confronted my own mortality.  Then the old man “came back”.  Everyone in the general area is still trembling with the aftermath of a threat of a visit from the angel of death.  Wow.  Life is so life-like… And I am afraid to die, after all.

Once and for all, IS this Enlightenment?

Eric used to tell me, “this IS enlightenment,” which always made me want to claw his eyes out.  Why?  Because if this is IT, then I have indubitably taken a good few wrong turns along the way.  Which ever “way” that is… If this is it, I want my money back.  This is an attitude I have dragged around with me for as long as I can remember… Though honestly, it blows and I am looking to leave this gnarly attitude at an unsuspecting pawn shop any day now, or better yet, just toss it off in the emotional recycle bin.  Because in this very moment, I am looking around and I can’t find any evidence to negate that this is indeed enlightenment.

I tried a new café (!!!!!!) today.  And I glory to god, did I score!  It’s actually the best café ever!  It’s Pizziolo, the restaurant owned by the same rockstar folks who own my beloved Boot and Shoe service.  Here at Pizziolo, they offer the simplest breakfast of toast, homemade doughnuts and blue bottle coffee drinks.  I am having a latte.  The organic clover milk tastes so sweet, and the blue bottle ristoretto shots are smooth, deep and nutty.  Not to mention, the place is packed.  Every single table in the whole place is occupied.  I am sharing with two randoms.  One of whom, I realized was my choir director when I was like fourteen… I didn’t realize this until I sat down next to her and she looked up to see who was gonna be gettin’ all up in her aura.  “Small world”, as we say in my country.  Incase you forgot, I am an ambiance junkie.  And I am in heaven here.  It’s the best of Italy and California rolled up into one phat smokable moment in the life of Athena Grace.  (Though the barista called me Nina… I guess he couldn’t hear me over the swanky crooning of Nina Simone.  Oh, that’s it!  He was inspired by the music… Oh wait, she didn’t start singing until I had already placed my order, it must have been prophetic!)

God, I just got up to go to the bathroom (Which is also very aesthetically pleasing, elegant.  Man, am I a sucker for a pretty bathroom!) and I thought how ridiculous it is that I’m a writer.  What I mean is, that I am here, marinating in this stellar ambiance, basking in it, drinking it through every pore, even the pores in my mind, and I feverishly yearn to be able to translate my feelings of appreciation and inspiration.  I want to take you here with me to this room saturated with slow crooned jazz, hissing, burbling milk, muted voices exchanging their frivolous though seemingly crucial mind contents.  You should see all these faces!  So many races and ages.  It’s hard for me to believe that the whole world isn’t as racially integrated.  Oakland is awesome.  Over half the people in here are on laptops.  A bunch more are absorbed in books.  I love seeing people absorbed in books… it turns me on.  Writing in journals does too.  I always feel tempted to peek at the exorbitantly private scrawlings, discover the secrets of one single serving universe.   The walls in here are “shabby chic”. Some parts are exposed brick.  The art is eclectic and makes me want to go home and paint.  That’s my criteria for what constitutes “good art”.  To me, “good art” is art that causes my own creative urges to rise and surge through me.

Language.  Only one petty letter at a time.  Words politely forming single file lines to march quietly from inside me, to your mind… make you see, feel, wonder, understand, discover uncharted parts of you…me… the world.  Do these words take you deeper inside, or outside and beyond?  Where do you want to go?  Where do I want you to go?  I want you to taste the sweetness… of… enlightenment.  The kind of enlightenment that happens when you allow yourself to sink into a single slice of now, forgetting for a brief little heap of relieving moments, all those ideas of “yourself” that extend backwards and forwards, binding, containing and constraining you.  This is enlightenment.  When I suffer and fight, it is because I am living in the tangle of past and future, which mostly strangle my sense of awe and freedom, right here, right now.

This is on my mind because twice in the past couple days, Mykael told me that he thinks I work too hard at my spirituality.  He said he wishes for me the ability to just pause and rest in the sweet fruits of all that I have cultivated thus far.  Hearing this, I somehow felt attacked.  I have such a staunch belief that this is NOT it.  “This”… You know, this world full of daily grinds and shifty eyes (As I was gathering my thoughts, I met eyes with this handsome Italian looking man, lost in his own glowing screen.  We had an awkward, guarded moment of connection, before pulling away and diving back down into our respective, private cyber worlds.  The exchange left me feeling cold and fidgety.)  I got pretty seduced by tantric philosophy once upon a time and according to that wild bunch known as the Kashmir Shavites, this IS it!  God is Everything you perceive in this world, in this moment.  I can not deny that this is it.  I can not deny that all is a grandiose, optical illusion cast as an ecstatic play of light… But… I also have a lot of undoing to be done (that was supposed to be funny) before I can just let it be.  No sleep till I’m spilling with sweet peace.

I cried when Mykael told me that I work too hard.  He hit a nerve. Often, my whole existence feels like one exhausting effort to justify being here, to merely survive and hold up the world, which might otherwise collapse on my like a windless parachute.  By afternoon, I can barely keep my eyes open.  But I don’t know any other way.  Eric used to see me in a similar light as Mykael does.  This spiritually ambitious woman who might be missing the boat altogether, because she is too busy TRYING to chew her leg free from an accidental trap called “life”.  But I don’t know any other way.  My sun, moon, rising sign and my mercury are all in Capricorn* (*according to western astrology), which basically means that I have been smitten with the double edged blessed curse, cursed blessing of being way too ambitious.  I wonder what I’d do with myself if I stopped trying so hard…???  Would I be here writing right now?  Or just petting puppies with one hand and holding my sumptuously melting ice cream in the other?… I can’t say, because as far as I can tell, I’m me, and this is what I do.  Maybe life experience will tenderize me and some day, I’ll be blessed with the remembrance that there honestly ISN’T anywhere to get to.  But for now… something in me feels that I MUST write… and STRIVE.  (As the old adage goes, “I’ll go to the movies when I’m dead”.)  I must drown myself in spiritual ideas until I can no longer breathe life into this false self I seem to be dragging around everywhere I go.

One breath at a time, Athena.  One patient word, and then another and another.  What if I just widen my gaze and drink in everything at once, and then let it sing and tingle out my very fingertips?  I want to share this privileged, electric bouquet of externality with you.  I want to steep myself in this infatuating ambiance and perfection and then spit it out as a wish, as a gift, as an artifact of a strange world that I think I might be dreaming… or is it dreaming me?

My Updated Thoughts on Marriage Circa 2010

Marriage.  I just read an essay that I wrote almost exactly four years ago, back in 2006, the year of our lord, on the topic of marriage.  Here is what I learned~ I can be very convincing when I want something.  I’m gonna publish it on my blog, so you can see what a simultaneously naïve and wise twenty six year old I was.  I think it can be problematic when we try to convince ourselves of the illusory permanence of life.  This just in~ Life is everything BUT permanent.  Everything.  But.  Permanent.  I gushed on about this fantastical phenomenon called forever with a man named Eric who is now but a wistful wake of light in my grasping mind and my nostalgic heart.

Marriage.  It’s on my mind because of the book I’m reading, Commitment, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Not because I care heavily one way or the other about marriage right now.  I suppose I do… but not with any immediacy.  My life is too tremulous and delicate right now to indulge in such binding future concepts as marriage.  With any seriousness, I mean… I am allowed to talk about it and turn it over and over and over in my mind, as I fancy to do…  But urgency and desire are not burning a hole in my female self, as they once did in the name of this glistening mirage of a topic.

I have an embarrassing confession to make.  (What is it about embarrassing confessions that I simultaneously relish and detest?)  Last august, that naïve little would be Disney princess in me was expelling her requisite song and dance about “when are you gonna ask me to marry you?!!???”… to my new (and improved?) partner.  She started up her relentless din not too long after we got together, and after we completed the first year together, she felt justified to let her voice out at full volume.  Yes, “she” is me… but also she is not me.  This is why I refer to her in the third person.  Because as I sit here on a Monday morning in Gaylord’s Café on Piedmont Avenue, rocking out to Michael Jackson, Thriller, and expunging the bottomless recesses of my brilliant, churning, ever-hungry mind, this fantasy worshipping little girl must be off playing Barbies in the sandbox, because she is certainly not driving this conversation.

But anyway, back to my confession.  Last august, I was harassing Mykael for not having proposed to me yet… My favorite thing to say was, “If ya like it then ya shoulda puta ring on it”… you know, the Beyonce song.  Damn, I got a lot of mileage out of that stupid song… which is ironic, because I can’t even listen to the actual song all the way through, I find it so abrasive.  During one of these high pressure sales moments, I managed to get Mykael to commit to proposing to me within six months.  That meant by the end of February, 2010!  I was thrilled, although six months felt like eternity manifest.  Within those six months, our lives really came undone, and I schizophrenically bounced all around in my desires and life vision.  (Saturn will do that to ya…)  One night, I even begged him NOT to ask me to marry him, because I was feeling so cynical of the institution.  But nonetheless (my favorite word!) when February rolled around, I couldn’t help but let myself be swept away by another current of fantasy and romance.  He had given his word, after all.  And in the face of all the chaos we were wading through together, what BETTER to divert and distract and make right than the epically romantic act of engagement.

On February twenty sixth, I began to flood with doubt, disappointment and even panic.  Have you ever noticed that when the hour glass is nearly empty, the sand begins to move at warp speed?  What a magnificent excuse to feel one of my all time favorite emotions, devastation!   I pouted a bunch before confronting him with a tremulous voice and an even more tremulous bottom lip.  All hands on deck!  Storm the gates!  This calls for broken heart inspired attack on the man called Mykael!  He was confused.  “Just last month, you were begging me not to ask you…”  He could not keep up with my female brain, my nomadic tidal waves of desire.  Jerk.  (Just kidding… although I’m sure I called him worse in the hot moments of confrontation.)  Turns out he wasn’t feeling nearly solid enough as a man to even consider proposing to me.  I hated to hear this, to feel this.  I fell into a pitch black pit of disappointment over this for about a week.  After that, the disappointment lightened and sobered up slowly, over time.  Since then, I have pilgrimaged all over the blessed map, from a staunch conviction to exit the relationship, to moments of eternal, gushing devotion and back again.  But today, and most days recently, there is something very sober who is driving the vision of my life.

It’s about time, sheesh!  Thank God.  Do I want to get married?  Sort of… Maybe.  Sometimes.  I do want a child.  Does that mean we should get married?  Shrug.  On one hand marriage seems like binding yourself to this appendage, and then having to exert a lot of extra energy dragging it around for the rest of your life, despite the fact that your growth patterns will inevitably not always match.  But on the flip side, since evidence sings that in essence, all men are retarded assholes, there’s really no point in wasting my life trying to find a “better” one.  So it could be a profound experience to commit to digging the worlds deepest well with another human being.  Think of how well you could get to know someone, sharing the same little jail cell with them for your entire life.  Just kidding.  Life is not a jail cell.  It just feels like it to me sometimes.   What I am coming to realize after thirty trips around the sun, is that you just never know about life.  It is such a long, mercurial, mysterious journey.  Only God knows who I will be at forty, fifty, ninety years old.  The only thing that doesn’t change is the essence of the essence of the essence of the essence of it all, which I fancy calling “God”… but please, by all means, call it Spirit, Creator, Jah, All Pervading Light, the Mystery, Love… Call it what you like, but it still don’t change.

Will marriage bring me closer to God?  I wish I could just slap a quick yes on that question, toss it on the shelf to pickle and get on with my affairs… but that would be lazy and wishful at best.  What is this part of me that won’t let go of the shimmering concept of marriage?  Maybe I just want to be like every-fuckin-body else… Can’t I just lead a “normal” life and be done with it?  But fortunately, the immediate answer is NO.

An Essay on Marriage I Wrote Four Years Ago…

It’s another rainy Sunday night, I am just beginning to bleed, and I certainly don’t feel like writing about my dad anymore today… though I’m far from finished.  So much history, so many undigested emotions…no, I have barely scratched the surface of the lake of uncried tears and liquid misgivings over that man.  (also, I just took a bite of apple just now, and in mid chew, I remembered to appreciate and REALLY experience it.  I’ll tell you, it became so sweet and alive, slightly mealy.  Little fire crackers of flavor and sensation in my mouth.  Yummmm.)

So instead, I reach into my grab bag of a heart and pull out the topic of—MARRIAGE!!!  Listen, if you’re thinking about trying it yourself, it’s a worthwhile one to nibble on, chew, and even rip to shreds.  Trust me.  And even if you’ve already taken the plunge, (more than once?) still, the subject is abounding with juice.

What IS this thing that women grasp at, yearn for, dream of, and fear we may never “get”?  I remember asking my first “boyfriend”, Joey Seffelieu on a daily basis “Joey, will you marry me?”  Once I asked him over and over again until he burst with annoyance, “YES!!”, the blatant subtext being, “Now shut the fuck up.”  I was three years old, at that stage in the game, and already, the orchestra of social conditioning had struck up inside me with a vengeance.  Walt Disney’s bitches, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty were my first mentors (besides of course, my own mother) on the topic of marriage.  They taught me that “someday my prince will come”…and naturally we’d live happily ever after.

Well, gosh, I’d love to say it’s all a big hoax.  “It’s all a BIG hoax!”…there, I said it.  But on the other hand, my prince DID come.  And sorry, we ARE living happily ever after in my opinion.  And yet it’s NOT a fucking fairy tale.  Certainly cultivating the sweetness of our communion is more akin to tending a garden, with all the weeding, composting, watering, planting, harvesting, etc. than to riding into the sunset on horseback toward the teensy castle on the colorful horizon.  (though sometimes our relationship DOES feel that way.)

Guess what?  The three year old me who only ate strawberry ice cream for the sole reason that it was pink, loved nothing more in the entire world than stuffed animals (oh, except REAL ones), gaily watched the Smurfs on Saturday morning, and spent too much time in day cares, the little cosmic fairy child who diurnally begged Joey to tie the knot…SHE IS STILL FULLY ALIVE AND KICKIN’ inside me.  And yes indeedy, she asks Eric to marry her (me), mostly any time I well up with immense feelings of love and appreciation.  Now, honestly, should one get married because their inner three year old feels to on a semi-regular basis?  WHY should TWO get married?

Marriage is an ancient institution, which means it can potentially carry with it many cobwebs and skeletons and a general sleepiness.  It is something so many people “DO” just because it’s something everybody does.  Most of our parents did it.  (Given the angle from which I am portraying marriage, you sure wouldn’t know that I whole heartedly ache to dive into its boundless, life long depths.  But by succumbing to my cynicism, hopefully I’ll continue to sink below it, into a self-created realm of my own heart where marriage has the meaning that I, Dawn Athena Grace Kourage and my beloved partner, Eric Neil Friedman imbue it with)  Is it for the purpose of having children?  To seal off that good ole’ back door?  To instill some intrinsic value in the relationship (not to mention the persons) partaking?  For tax purposes?  So that women can flaunt their diamonds?

I want to get married with Eric because our life together is far richer, more fun, well balanced, and just generally BETTER than our lives individually.  I want to marry Eric because I love him to bits and pieces, because through our relationship, I continue to unveil and truly love and honor my divine Self.  I practice being Love.  Oh, all that deep and poetic and “spiritual” stuff is certainly true, but mostly, we are just long lost playmates, and I want to stand before this world and declare our enlightened silliness to the world!  I want to ignite the world in laughter and nonsense.  I want to build a spaceship with him (actually we already have, and it’s called “the New Born Monkey…) and fly to the inevitable lands of unconditional love, self realization and Lila (divine play).  Our fuel is laughter and tears, truths spoken, time shared in silence, passionate love making, dreams fulfilled, unknown paths traversed for the sake of adventure and curiosity, comfort, safety, HOME.  We are each other’s home.  I want to fart in stereo for the rest of our lives.

Years ago when I read the book, Conversations With God, there was a passage about relationships that really spoke to me.  So much that I transcribed it into my journal.  It is as follows:  “If you agree at a conscious level that the purpose of your relationship is to create an opportunity, not an obligation—an opportunity for growth, for full self expression, for lifting your lives to the highest potential, for healing every false thought or small idea you ever had about you, and for the ultimate reunion with God through the communion of your two souls—if you take those vows instead of the vows you’ve been taking, your relationship has begun on a very good note.”  For a soul like me who above all else, yearns for self realization, awakened communion with the divine, declaring marriage as a spiritual path has a paradoxically sexy and practical allure.  Spiritual paths can sometimes be so esoteric.  Marriage, on the other hand is so grounded, attainable.  It excites me to create my spirituality as something so accessible, of this world.  Gone are the days when we humans could get away with believing that to find God, we must renounce our precious bodies and the obscure mystery that is life on earth.  Standing before friends, family and Spirit and declaring our relationship to be a sacred path toward, within, through the land of AWAKENING…now that gets my juices flowin’!

But what if we “grow apart”?  Does that mean we’ll never get to make love with anyone else, EVER again?  (sounds severe to me…)  What if we become like our parents, if not divorced, then—complacent, resigned, dull, a-sexual, and unexpressed?  (Sheesh, Dawn, I hope you’re exaggerating…)  Those are just a few of the questions that haunt me.  A round of applause for me for not rushing toward the quick and easy answers.  But gawd, any of us could die tomorrow, struck by a cursed lightening bolt or a deadly disease.  Until then, we are the creators of our experience, like it or not.  At every moment, we can choose to receive the miraculous mess we are standing in as exactly that.  As a magnificent gift from the Old Lady Upstairs.

Speaking of being the creators…what is that unconscious part of me that clenches when I find out any number of my friends and acquaintances is engaged.  It’d sure be “nice” for me to flush with the sweet sentiments of merriment and celebration…nope.  I feel stabbed by the sharp edged absence of my own engagement ring and the all access pass to the title “fiancé”.  (I don’t want a diamond though, now that I know how much human suffering lies beneath the unearthly perfection of their sparkle.)  “Hey, WE’VE been together for over TWO years,” pipes in my logical mind, “and ‘so and so’ have just been together for barely a year…it should be our turn first!  What the fuck is Eric waiting for???”  Of course that kind of thinking gets my heart all aggravated and wound up.

It’s not like the idea of Eric and I getting married is coming from the black depths of left field…  We certainly talk about it plenty.  “At our wedding we’ll have three legged races,” we muse.  Or, “We can take a trip around the world for our honey moon.”  We even talk about “our kids”, for Christ sake!  So then when I bring up the topic of marriage in a practical context, (saturated with my sense of underlying urgency and desperation), Eric closes up like a clam.  Domino effect—I react to his closure by becoming more adamant and attached, which he reacts to by launching completely out of his body and the moment.  I feel abandoned and alienated.  We enter a downward spiral built for two, sail away to the land of passive-aggressive hell.  Usually in the end my heart is like an engorged tick, full of negative emotion.  I feel wounded, isolated and trapped in the confines of my obviously fractured psyche.  Eric is utterly baffled and helpless.  I am about five years old, and he’s maybe seven.

The more times we visit that signature version of hell built for two, the easier it gets to navigate.  One quality in myself that I frequently give a standing ovation to, is the ability to be in the middle of a deluge of my shit, and still be able to clearly recognize what is occurring.  (Can you do that?  I feel like it’s my super hero power.   Some people can turn invisible, or levitate or breathe fire and ice.  I can unhinge from my identity.)  Now, it still takes strength beyond Wonder Woman’s, to be able to surrender my fervent compulsion to punishing Eric, doing my best to make him hurt the way I do.  THAT is where the real practice lies for me.  If we’re in bed, I usually want to give him the “roll over”, curl up into a tight fist of a fetal position, completely shutting him out.  But though the temptation to close and punish is always alluring, the more times we find ourselves in a nocturnal dispute over marriage or other misc. loaded topics, it does get easier for me to see through Pink Buddha’s eyes of wisdom and generosity.  I know what the results are if I insist on allowing my pain to run the show—it just creates more pain, more separation…and that’s about it. (Oh, sometimes I can terrify him enough to get my way, but that’s lame…) What happens if I remember that Eric is a fellow feeling, breathing soul, with his own tender heart, and not just an empty shell, a sharp rock in my shoe, a secret agent of the devil sent to make me bleed?  That is when our relationship can truly become a source of healing, releasing the past and opening to unconditional love.  (Not to say that it isn’t all that when were doing mundane things like farting in stereo or making heart shaped “secret ingredient” pancakes.)

I do believe that we will surely revisit those realms of closure, punishment and alienation…hopefully “till death do us part”, because it is such a source of growth and realization of our truest hearts…but around the subject of marriage, something has shifted for us.  It happened over time, like an erosion of ego.  As I tapped into the dynamic duo of humility and patience, Eric melted into the experience of feeling honored, heard and powerful as opposed to attacked, squished and pressured.  I knew Eric’s relationship to the idea of marriage had moved from some external construct imposed on him by society, to something that HE truly felt and owned within his heart, because that’s when I got scarred and wanted to burry MY head in the sand for a while!  Oh shit, marriage is a LIFE LONG commitment.  That is nothing to take lightly or rush in to, is it?

These days, it sure seems like we’ve forgotten that.  In a society where divorce is as common place as going on a business trip or taking a bath, the weighty commitment of marriage has been washed down the drain.  My mom’s been divorced twice.  My dad’s still married to his third wife. (His first wife died in a car crash…but they were “separated” at the time.)   Subconsciously, I was not relating to marriage as a till death do us part phenomenon, but more of a till we don’t wanna anymore typa deal.  When Eric had his fundamental shift, something clicked in me, and I felt the finality and the immense commitment that marriage really is.  Ahhhhhhh.  That’s HUGE.  Really feeling the magnitude of the commitment before diving in is crucial.  It’s not something to do just because all your girlfriends are doing it, honestly…

When the big shifting of the tectonic plates of our relationship occurred, I feared too, that my latest state of fear and closure was a permanent, solid state.  It felt so much greater than little “flash in the pan of eternity” me.  Golly, did I feel like a fraud for being the catalyst for Eric to step into his power and certainty and then becoming a big fat coward, myself.  Yikes.  Instead of meddling too much in what felt like a new tangle, I just shifted my focus for a while…and after a time, VOILA!  I re-remembered that spending the rest of my life co-piloting the New Born Monkey with Eric was exactly what I wanted, in the heart of my heart, beneath all the fluctuations of insanity born from my monkey mind.

Part of my freak out came from the idea that I might never get to experience making love or any other type of deep intimate connection with another man.  I don’t know if that’s okay with me.  The idea that marriage means putting limits on who and how we love, seems fear based and not something that I created, but rather and old construct I have slept walked into.  I also acknowledge that it takes a very high level of honesty and integrity to navigate in the realm of polyamory in a way that truly honors the partnership that marriage is.  When I am wanting to put all my attention and lust on another man, it is usually because some operating system of the New Born Monkey is on the fritz, and instead of facing head on, in partnership with Eric, it is more fun to flirt and get attention from sexier and less complicated sources.  Is that who I really want to be in relationship?  Is that behavior a catalyst for the spiritual growth that I have declared my relationship a clearing for?  Uh-uh.  No way, jose.  The path I am choosing involves turning to face what ever is causing the aversion, the irritation, and use it as fuel for the fire of that hottest burning of Divine Loves.

But what about the possibility of just being able to deeply connect with another man I love and who loves me in that deep, transincarnational way?  Will that connection source deeper intimacy and connection with Eric and I?  Will it unmask and celebrate the true nature of love?  This is a realm I do not feel adept in at all.  Mostly because it is not widely accepted as “okay”, and therefore very unnavigated in general.  I aspire to fumble around with only my heart for a compass, to trail blaze the path for all of us who ache to love freely and without limits.  I feel no urgency, only genuine curiosity and a willingness to make mistakes, tell the truth, and continue to open my heart beyond what feels safe and comfortable. (easier said than done, eh?…but quite possible…)  Baby steps.

As it stands inside me now, I am certain that Eric will propose to me…relatively soon…and I am patient.  (I reserve the right to turn on a dime.)  I know that when we stand before our community, family and friends, and declare our love and partnerShip (the New Born Monkey) as a life-long spiritual journey, we will do it in the full Technicolor glory of our zany, wild selves!  I see our wedding breaking rules and traditions while simultaneously being contained by them.  It will be an epic excuse for all who attend to PLAY!  To share and fully be themselves.  To be seen, fall in love and celebrate this crazy, blessed life!

Not One of “Those” Church-Goers

Wow, I am sitting here at Hudson Bay Café waiting for the words to rain down from the invisible puffy clouds of alphabet soup just north of the sky.  And Athena said, “Let there be words!” and there were words.  And Athena said “Let these words be inspired by Love!”  And guess what”!#$%^&*@  Today’s words have been brought to you by the letters L, O, V and E and the number ONE.  At least I hope so.  I certainly want all the words that pour forth from me to be a celebration of love.  Is that possible, even when I’m expressing my kinks, tangles, fears, grievances?  Yes.  I’m gonna say yes.  Because if I waited till I was flawless and pure to write, it would be a little while yet… Maybe five minutes, five years, five lifetimes…

But I’m too excited about expressing myself to sit around and wait for perfection to stain my mind and my finger tips and besides, by then, I probably won’t have anything to say.

In church this morning, I was thinking along these lines.  Thinking that I love church so much… but I don’t want to be carelessly cast into that straighter than straight laced, smaller than small, duller than dull little box that “religious” people get smashed into by the gazillions.  Just because church makes me cream my panties, does NOT make me “one of those”.  I don’t even think I have to expound on the “one of those” concept.  Everybody knows what stereotypical churchgoers are like.  But not me!  I take drugs every now and again, [just to keep things in perspective] I have liberated views on sexuality and I use the F word with relish whenever I fancy.  But not as a default.  Just as one of many revered words that packs a wicked punch.  I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want to be written off as one of those pious-er than thou types who are as bland as a bowl of plain white rice.

That’s silly.  Nobody’s really that bland. And there’s probably a ton of people who would totally dig on a bowl of white rice.  Nope, I will NOT pass the soy sauce.  Or the butter… or even a sprinkle of salt.  That’s against the rules in the land of bland. If you are gonna take a bold stand for while rice, then make your bed and nestle on in, friend!  Am I just revealing my own judgments right now?   Maybe you don’t share my prejudices about church-goers.  Good for you.

God, can you tell from reading all that I’ve written so far how arduous it was to squeeze out?  Man.  It just about killed me.  I am feeling frustrated like maybe I don’t have anything to say today.  But I will not accept that.  I am gonna pound out some thoughts even if they are all manky and burnt around the edges, or worse yet, bland as stereotypical church goers.  Why?  Because this is what I do.

I know what I want to say!  I am reading the new book by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.  It’s called “Committed” and it’s about the author’s journey to “get right with marriage”.  At the end of Eat, Pray, Love, she falls in love with this guy she meets in Indonesia (a fellow bitter divorce), and they vow to one another that they will NEVER get tangled in the institution of marriage together, despite the mushy, inspired heart bursting new love chemicals coursing through their blood and driving them to storm the gates of eternity hand in hand.  But then they are forced to tie the knot so that Mister Right (a citizen of Brazil and Australia) can stay in the U.S.  So while they are in foreign lands, impatiently awaiting the single serving packet of eternity for all the paperwork and red tape to give them the matrimonial go ahead, the author attempts to allay her terror by researching the topic of marriage according to various cultures, individuals and historical vantage points.  I felt so jealous when I discovered that SHE had written that book.  I have been bush wacking through the thick tangle that is modern day marriage for quite some time now, searching for my own bearings.

It seems to be something everybody just does.  And then they mostly get divorced.  I witness this and I think to myself, “Holy, Virginal Mother Mary, why would I bother with THAT dead end street?”  Why indeed… I want to find at least seven good reasons to marry.  Really, I do.  I want to get married.  But not just because everyone else is doing it.  Generally, keeping up with the Joneses is NOT the compass of choice to navigate the treacherous though ever compelling waters of the self with.

Wow, this topic contains enough charge in me to power a mid-sized, psychedelic themed amusement park. (It would have a day glow tunnel of love that winds lazily amorous all about the property on a sweet river made of alpine snow melt.  The chariots would be real, live, enormous swans.  Black ones and white ones and maybe even electric pink swans, too.  Maybe that’s what LIFE is… a psychedelic, never-ending tunnel of love.  How romantic!?!  I’m going to imagine that from now on.  And of course my swan is hottie pink.)  Ahem.  What I really wanted to say is that in this book I am reading, the author just visited a Hmong village in the mountains of Vietnam.  The Hmong people live ultra simply, close to the earth.  Entire extended families share a home consisting of one single room with a dirt floor.  The author asked the grandmother of the group all these questions that Americans would find perfectly normal, but the Hmong people could not get their heads around them.  Questions such as, when was the moment that you realized that your husband was the man for you?  And “is your man a good husband?”  We think our concepts exist beyond our rigorously polished, collective, western consciouness.  Wrong.  Other collectives have other ways and language that serves as a reflection of those ways.

The grandmother’s answer to the question of is her man a good husband is simple, “All men and all women are mostly the same.  Everybody knows that.”  HA!  That is such a radically different idea than we live into over here in complicated land… and yet, I can’t deny that it’s not true on some level.  It’s like I said the other day~ All men are retarded assholes and all women are crazy bitches.  Sure, there is a vast assortment of retarded assholes to choose from.  It’s analogous to ice cream flavors.  These days, there are a butt load of flavors to choose from… and god knows we all have our favorites.  But at the end of the day, its all just glorified cream and sugar.

I’ve been learning a lot through these recent inner trials and tribulations I’ve been thrashing about in, in the realm of relationship.  I am seeing myself more clearly than ever before, which is a huge blessing.  In the reflective surface called “my relationship”, I see how critical and perpetually unsatisfied I can be.  And how much suffering that has caused me.  Recently, I have become exhausted in my suffering.  In this state of holy exhaustion, I think I am being beaten into a serene submission.  I know that I will NEVER find “the perfect man”.  So why not just love the pants off the one I’m with… and continuously aspire to be “the perfect woman”, moment to moment, to moment.  This idea relaxes me.  No more exhausting myself with the impossible task of chasing external perfection.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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