Hella Holy Matrimony

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On moonday morning, Giordano, Serena and I drove into the Italian-er-than-Thou little town down the hill from our home, to submit our paperwork, in hopes of being awarded a date for marriage.  Legions of butterflies messed about inside me for myriad reasons. Reading bureaucratically persuaded websites is *not* my forte, so I wondered if we had all the documents required. One thing they HAD clarified at the US Consulate in Rome, when we visited a couple weeks ago (to obtain my sworn statement of single status), was that we must marry before my visa expires.  Which happens at the end of this month. Zoiks!

 

Our pilgrimage to the Wizard of Holy Matrimony required Giordano to miss a morning of work.  These days he is in hot and heavy preparation for a massive olive harvest. His head is nowhere above water in the way of tasks he must accomplish.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered someone with so many dangling, disperate obligations. My mom at the end of her life, perhaps…

 

But the point is, the unwieldy pile of my Husband-To-Be’s searing tasks sure brings out some brassy notes in the man.  He already tends toward the anxious shades of the rainbow. As I drove our little white Fiat, “Penis Ray-Ray” along the twisty, one way streets into the center of the village, he spit aggressive, critical directions at me.   I don’t have much tolerance for this facet of him. As an empath, I too quickly get inflamed and agitated, and perfectly awesome moments are spoiled by excessive heat and unkindness.

 

We parked down a hill from the “Common”, and I held Serena’s hand as she made her way up the steep, cobblestone road.  Apparently we were not fast enough for Giordano and in his broken five year old fashion, he let us know (nagging, crabby mumbling, slicing insults).  In my world, we had plenty of time, as it wasn’t even nine o’clock (when the office opened). I was jazzed that Serena wanted to walk alone, as she often prefers, like a lazy, cumbrous Pygmy Queen, to be carried.

 

I have a lot to say still, so I’m gonna pick up the pace.  But what you must know, is that by the time we arrived in the stale-cigarette-scented foyer outside the matrimonial office, Giordano and I were not on speaking terms.  When the disarmingly kind and casual italian lady opened her pearly gate for us, we were like two repelled magnets. I wouldn’t even look at him.

 

We shelled out our paperwork and I was half surprised, half relieved, half mortified to discover that we had all we needed, and would be able to secure a wedding day.  Whoa. We asked for October 28th. Two days before my visa expires. According to my astrologically savvy friend Anitra, that is the smoothest, most palatable day available to us, given our restricted timeline.  They were reticent to work on a Sunday. But a hundred euros and a relaxed sphincter later, they agreed.

 

We stepped back out onto the street transformed.  

 

That sentence gets to be its own paragraph, because it definitely stands alone.  I am not quite sure of the “behind the scenes” energetics of the matter…. But it was a palpable shift to have a wedding date and time.  Thankfully, we were both softened. We stepped into an adjacent bar, and Giordano ordered us cappuccinos. I can’t get right with the culture of drinking such heavenliness standing up, in less that three seconds.  I savored spoonfuls of thick, decadent foam, while Giordano teased me for taking my time.

 

And for my next splendid, death-defying act, ladies and gentlemen, I shall bare my messy insides for you all to gawk at and secretly relate to.  

 

I never imagined that getting married would be strewn with such a wild swizzle of unruly emotions.  Repulsion, excitement, love, powerlessness, curiosity, fear, turn-on…

 

From my insider’s view, I can clearly see how much collective meaning “We” place on marriage.  It means “forever”. It means “so in love”. “Happily ever after”. “The One”.

 

It means none of that for me.  It’s more like, I am just doing what needs to be done to move forward on my cryptic Path through the billowing fields of Enlightenment.  I have been groping to come to terms with it all.

 

Would I marry Giordano if I was financially free?  Probably not. I am marrying him as a single mom who needs help, and he is the flawed Angel that God sent me.  I feel a primal fear in telling it so straight. But as a writer, slicing straight into unflattering truths is the verdant river valley of good writing.  

 

And honestly, no matter how flawed my Angel is, my bottom line is that he supports me in showing up on the page and singing out the unfiltered mess of my Existence.  Which is what I live for. And I guess that’s the heart of the matter for me. My soon-to-be-Husband understands and supports my dharma. Even if it means that he occasionally gets chewed up and spit out on the page.  He may act like a wounded little boy too often. But holding space for me to be my fullest expression as a writer, even at his occasional “expense”, is a powerful stand to take.

 

The density of my Life Material these days often feels unbearable.  Okaaay, that was dramatic. I have it great, in so many ways. But as a woman who aspires to sovereignty and full-throttle empowerment, this is a very confronting life to be living.  I struggle to find a powerful place to stand. I feel small in so many ways these days. Living in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language… Having few friends to commune with.  Marrying a man who I am constantly having to teach and train and tolerate.

 

I can never say that last bit without following it up by how loving he is.  Giordano is so genuinely invested in my (and Serena’s) happiness, delight and wellbeing.  For example, he went way the fuck out of his way yesterday to ask his Baby Mama if we could stay in her rental apartment in Assisi next weekend, so that I could partake in a yoga festival happening right across the street.  While he sweats and bleeds and cries, picking thousands of olives to press into oil…

 

I guess the moral of this story is that on the INside, it occurs like all I can do is surrender to my Path.  I have written recently about my perceived lack of choice in the matter of my life. Like I’m just stepping into what splays open before me, with as much dignity, joy and willingness as I can muster.  Squeeze as much Trust out of my nearly-empty toothpaste tube as humanly possible.

 

Trusting that all this is right.  Trusting that this is all Grace. Trusting that this is exactly what I need to evolve.  Trusting that these are the perfect conditions for me to blossom open AS LOVE and embody the Master that I AM.  Living in said trust is a tall order, as my life is NOT unfolding as I imagined it would. Not that I ever fully imagined my unfolding… But life as I know it has bled way outside the lines of Collective Conditioning.  It’s not the stuff that “Happily Ever After” is made of.

 

Thankfully, I AM the stuff that Happily Ever After is made of… If only I allow myself to relax into this unassailable ISness.  I suppose this is the hidden cheese, wrapped in the bitter pill of my life. Haha!

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This must be Italy….

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Yesterday was day 8 here in Italy, and it finally sunk in that we are here.  Before that, it was more like being at “Giordano’s house”… where the “extras” just happened to speak in mostly indecipherable, robust, ticklingly rhythmic tongues.  As soon as we dressed and ate breakfast, we piled into our little Fiat for an extended pilgrimage through the countryside, in pursuit of fresh, raw milk and cheese. While he was at work yesterday  his mamma blew up his phone (five times, to be precise), to report a source of organic raw milk at the farm just below her home, in the hills above Assisi.

 

My moon blood had just begun to flow- a sacred day I designate for rest and introspection (if such a thing is possible with a two and a half year old…).  I was not expecting the exxxtended amusement park ride along narrow, rutted gravel roads overlooking stunning, steep green and golden hillsides rolling across all space.  Turns out, he didn’t really know “the way”. All he knew is that the farm was “below the house of his mother”. My breath became involuntarily shallow, my body tense, after the gazillionth dramatic twist about the infinite span of ruined road.  I tried to let go and surrender to Giordano’s questionable leadership. But at some point, I lost it, and venomously begged to turn the fuck around and forget it. Nope. Driven by raw instinct (as he mostly is), he kept driving. Within a minute we pulled into the driveway of a massive stone house.  The kind you see in movies- sturdy rectangular boxes, with small, precise windows framed by wooden shutters. The surrounding land, lush, green and laden with friendly trees, spilling offerings of fruit and shade. Three happy country dogs greeted us, and called to their Master.

 

He emerged from the fairytale house, unkempt brown hair and overgrown beard flying everywhichway.  He was slender, with a hint of pot belly and posture that whispered the tale of a life of hard-assed, though gratifying labor.  Giordano got out of the car and greeted him. I could pick out a few Italian words… I think he said that he was the son of Raphaella, and she had told him they had raw milk for sale?  Eventually, he gestured for me to get out of the car. I unbuckled Serena from her carseat, and greeted the warm-hearted farmer. A voluptuous woman with pale, maudlin blue eyes, wide awake baby on her hip emerged from the house.

 

Together we ascended the stone stairs and crossed the threshold into a darkish, cozy kitchen.  It felt intimate and brimming with life. Serena immediately spotted the baby’s bouncy seat, and brazenly demanded to climb in and press all the musical buttons.  Into the kitchen wandered a little boy, not too much bigger than Serena, wearing only a t-shirt. Rippling streams of Italian conversation filled the small kitchen as I stood receptive and shy.

 

They gave us tiny cups of their homemade yogurt to sample.  Then the man and his pants-less boy escorted us through the charming, wild garden to a dark barn, guarded by a silver horse.  Giordano fed the majestic guardian one of the fallen apples he had foraged for the cows on our walk through the garden. In the barn, five cows eagerly licked the remnants of their breakfast from the feeding trough.  Giordano offered them the remaining apples, which they gladly devoured. Their udders were small and freshly emptied. I petted each of their wide, soft faces, marveled at their massive strong bodies and wondered how I can eat beef and live with myself.  

 

We left the barn and meandered around the back side of the house, into a basement room, where giant slabs of dead pig hung from the ceiling.  Our kind host showed us a hutch filled with rounds of homemade cheese. But not enough to sell, they said.

 

Back in the house, our host offered us coffee, “strong enough for Mexicans”.  As I was neither Mexican, nor in need of excessive jacking up, I declined. Giordano accepted.  The ample, lactating queen of the castle brought us a large plastic water bottle filled with that morning’s milk, which they insisted was a “gift”.  We schmoozed a bit more before exchanging friendly goodbyes. “Ciaos”, actually.

 

The drive back to the main road didn’t seem nearly as long and daunting.  

 

Not too far down the main road, we arrived at a (relatively) more commercial  farm, where Giordano bought some fresh mozzarella and ricotta. Serena was thrilled to see long lines of holstein cows fiercely committed to munching massive piles of hay.  The smell of cow shit filled the warm, humid air.

 

We hopped back in our little Fiat (who runs on propane) and traversed more windy roads, in pursuit of MORE CHEESE.  Haha. This time it was another family home. A friendly man with a full, grey beard, shining eyes and strikingly short denim shorts greeted us, along with two small, eager dogs.   He and Giordano exchanged some friendly words and then the man led us into his kitchen, which was flooded with sweet, buttery aroma. A woman with short, grey hair, joyful eyes and a german accent greeted us.  Monica. Though she wasn’t “fat”, her “extra” suggested her love of baking and partaking. She was rolling out greasy cookie dough. Her teenage daughter, exuding a modest presence, sat at the far corner of the table, spreading some kind of chocolate goo on toast, making intermittent crunching music.  

 

Serena was dying for a cookie.  To my relief, they weren’t ready yet.  Poor thing. I wish I’d never let her eat a cookie… or even watch a show in which they ate cookies.  Because Pandora’s box is officially OPEN.

 

I felt my aura tucked close to my body as I spoke with effulgent Monica (in english) about simple things like her love of baking, her grandchildren in Germany, her daughter’s longing to get a nose piercing.  She pulled a small, homemade calendar from the wall and beamed as she showed us photos of her children and grandchildren. She promised Serena a raincheck on cookies, which she even threatened to deliver to our doorstep on her way to town one day.  

 

We eventually left with a huge round of sharply scented sheep cheese.  

 

The heat of the day was now upon us.  Our meandering morning outside of time suddenly came to a jarring halt.  We still had an errand to run in the town of Assisi. I felt hungry and aware  that Serena’s nap time was approaching faster than was convenient.

 

Hence we embarked on another epic leg of our day’s journey, which included driving through the stunning center of Assisi (OMG, I can’t believe I live a stone’s throw from such an ancient, mythic “destination”), spending “hours” in a massive store, in (fruitless) search of a mosquito net to protect us as we sleep (Serena is getting devoured every night and my heart aches each time I look at her sweet face, dappled with inflamed, red bumps.)  Exiting the belly of said store, ravenous. Resigning to eating lunch out, even though money is feeling uncomfortably scarce. Climbing to the highest hill in Assisi, to a restaurant overlooking the Whole World, owned by two brothers who press Giordano’s olive oil. Everything in their restaurant is organic, and mostly grown and made by them. Even the flower in the hearty, country bread and pungent, buttery blue cheese.

 

I could write a whole story about lunch.  But I don’t feel like it. My body craves yoga.  And the moral of this story, is that in Italy, “going to get milk and cheese” is not a minimal, colorless endeavor.   It is a weighty, relational Happening, which requires half a day and fully awakened senses.

Let it be noted.

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Living A Riveting Opera

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On this virginal, dawning day, it is not the first words that I commit to the empty page that matter the most, it is the deeep, slow breath which precedes them.  Said breath was essential, because the World inside me is so thick with vines, intricate root systems and underbrush…. My breath is my machete. Slicing to the heart of the jungle within.

 

Life never ceases to blow my mind… with its genius capacity to direct, orchestrate, inspire.  Doors swinging open and slamming shut.

 

Ten days ago,  I wrote you a love letter from  hell…. Since then, I have been desperately groping at the cryptic, mystic contours of infinite space, where inner and outer environment swirl, bleed, blur… endeavoring to make “sense” of it…. find Due North… Discover a secret moonlit path that sings against my bare, sentient feet.  

 

I have scattered fist-fulls of seeds into the wind… eager to discover which ones will, by God’s Grace-laden intelligence, nestle their way into fertile earth, and sprout into a new and clear direction.  I made a profile on a dog walking/sitting website. Refreshed my profile on urbansitter (the local nanny-placement site). Offered my services of copy writing to heart-centered women entrepreneurs.

 

Almost nothing has come back to me.  Except for a full time nanny gig next week, which pays less than I vowed I would give my time for.  But I took it, because at this point, earning any money trumps making none. Look out ten hour days with Serena AND an energetic two and a half year old boy…. Here come the Graces!… God help us.

 

Something I need you to understand about me…. Is that this is how I grew up.  At Serena’s age, my mom was “doing it alone” amidst the unsaybly expensive Bay Area hustle.   For way too long, I hated her for making that choice. I thought it was totally dumb for her to choose the most expensive spot in California to settle and struggle daily to survive with a young child.  This often involved leaving me in sketchy daycares and with babysitters who frightened me…. And sometimes leaving me alone too. Yes, even at age three, or maybe even two. (I forgive you Mom.)

 

Now Life has guided me back here to soften me with compassion and a deeper cut of insight regarding her choices.  There is no place like the Bay Area. Marin in particular. So much creativity, consciousness, stunning natural beauty.  My friend Samantha took us to the San Francisco zoo on thursday, and my soul *exploded* as we crossed the mythic Golden Gate Bridge, and then traversed the breath-giving coastline that led us to the literal edge of the World.  Endless, white-waving ocean. Unlimited cool, vivifying air to drink deep of and seduce titillated skin. I could lose myself in descriptions of the specialness of this place that I was blessed to spend the weighty majority of my thirty eight years on planet earth.  But I have too much more to say. Guess you’ll have to wait for the ebook. Haha.

 

My  naive surface mind imagined that I was coming back to The Bay to step into deeper relationship/family with Ed.   And that gave me enough solace and courage to leap as my Inner Being directed. But upon landing, I quickly (crushingly) realized this was not the case.  Ed is still fiercely committed to his Other Life. We have only seen him twice in three weeks. I’m sure he would wish that I offered you his extremely valid justifications for this.  But since Athena Graceland is MY domain, I shant. Instead, I will testify that I am delighted to be free this time, for what deeply feels to be “for realz”.

 

Back in January, I made a super-duper-neo-feminist birthday wish- to rise phoenix-goddess-style- in my own Dreams and Life- in abundance and success- and NEVER NEED/WANT A MAN TO SAVE ME AGAIN.

 

But now here I am flailing in the crushingly expensive and perversely indifferent currents of Bay Area economy… Desperately sewing seeds in the way of survival… and unflattering truth be told…. I could REALLY go for a Savior right about now.

 

Giordano.

 

I was sure that we were finished.

 

But HE wasn’t.

 

He has been unrelenting in his communication with me.  Unwavering in his love and desire to be a family with me and Serena.  And little by little, my defenses have eroded. Truth is, I mostly, I kept them intact for Ed.  But the days of “for Ed” are dead.

 

On thursday, Giordano told me he was concerned for me.  My flippant reply was “Haha you wanna save me?”….

 

“Sure.  I will.”

 

At first, I only snickered.  

 

But he was evocatively sincere.  

 

So I put the option of taking Serena and flying to his pristine, sprawling, olive tree laden land in the hills above Assisi into the hopper and let it simmer with the rest of my sacred, illuminated mess.  

 

My body still reverberates with sparkling desire when I think of him.  As flawed as he is, his love and desire to be with me and Serena has NEVER wavered since we met in September of last year.   Even after I locked him out of my house and left him high and not-so-dry in driving spring rain… Coldly endured the heart-bludgeoning music of him crying outside my door.

 

My Ma loved to imagine my life as an Opera.  No, not a cheap-assed Soap Opera! A genuine, bonafide OPERA.  And the artistic, elegant, heart-wrenching musical saga weaves ON.  

 

I fear that Ed might throw daggers for me choosing to fly to Italy in August…. But… Fuck him.  If he doesn’t want to create safety and sanctuary for “the love of his life” and his own daughter… Onwards and upwards.

 

I thought I was coming to the Bay Area to follow my dreams.  To grow a business and BE SOMEBODY. But upon cruel meeting of rubber and road… suddenly it looks way more alluring to be held and supported as I care for my daughter with presenc and devotion.  To ditch the concrete and wifi and chemically treated water and return to the pristine vibrance and bounty of Mother Earth. Night sky pulsing with unbounded spray of stars.

 

To go where Orgasmic Meditation and deep sex flow like wine and rivers.

 

And perhaps fulfill my dream of raising a bilingual child.  

 

We’ll see.  I’m getting us one way tickets.  I could be back faster than a blink… or perhaps I’ll never leave.  Life is a Goddamn Mystery, people!!!!

 

I find it utterly hilarious that I’m opting to be saved… after my bold birthday wish….

 

But #1~ Single parenting in this broken world is crushing.  Plain and simple.

 

And #2~ Nothing is black and white.  I will continue to walk my Path no matter what I choose.  Continue to drench you with my heart-stained words… and offer my light and love to this world.  But my daughter comes first.

 

Oh, and #3~ Giordano keeps invoking his dream of co-creating magic.  Working together to build something of value for others in the way of Light.  

 

It’s definitely worth a shot!

 

With ever-scorching honesty and huge LOVE from Graceland,

Athena LMONP

Small Things in a Great Way

Five thirty am.  The birds are starting to get drunk on light.  I know because the ecstasy in their voices is rising like an omen.  Don’t ask why I am awake at this entirely godly hour, or why I have already been awake for an hour.  Sometimes four thirty am beckons me from sleep like an impatient prophet.  S’okay… I love the soft potency of early morning.  And while we’re at it, don’t ask how I made it to age thirty without ever reporting for jury duty…

But this morning, as I stumbled slumberly into the kitchen, I was lovingly greeted by a jury summons letter.  And please DO ask me how I felt about this.  Innitially, my heart sunk like a rebellious teenager with bloody hands standing in a blinding floodlight.  But then… that habitual reaction washed away and into the bay of my consciousness flooded a fresh surge of curiosity.  Come on, Athena Grace, this infinitely curious human gets to go on an enlightening field trip to the court house and represent the All Pervading Non-Judgmental Judge!  I remembered that everywhere I go I have the right, privilege and cosmic duty of bringing my heart and soul!  Everywhere I go is a chance to beam love.  (Is there ANYone out there who used to watch the Care Bears?  They used to do this thing called the “Care Bear Stare”.  They would all stand in a straight line and aim their bellies at the “bad guy”…the antagonist in the story… and say, “Care Bears STARE!!!”  Then each one of their bellies would emanate a strong beam of light that would extend to the negative force before them.  This Care Bear brand luminosity would disable the bad guy and usually turn him/her toward the Light… Sometimes I like to raise my voice on high and call out, “Care Bear Stare!!!” as I imagine a similar beam of light shooting from my heart.  Man (Wonder Woman) I’m gonna stare down that court room!!!  …Or at least have some fun drinking in all the characters and fictionally strange human behaviors.)

I’m not political in the least.  I don’t even know ANY of the details of this recent oil spill, to tell the embarrassingish truth.  I rarely partake in news.  Some people think I’m a poor citizen…  Maybe… but I also believe that the most sincere offering I can make is to refine myself spiritually.  Find the light inside.  Make frequent Love with the Infinite.  Be a kind, generous neighbor, friend, fellow human being.  Listen to and encourage children.  Fall in Love on a daily basis.  Remember to breathe.  Sing from my heart.  Create beauty.  Honor, revere and adore the checkers at the grocery store, the attendants at the gas station, the toll takers on the bridge (my favorite!), waiters and waitresses, etc.

Speaking of waiters and waitresses, that reminds me of a very luminous man named Rajen, who owns the Taste of the Himalayas Restaurant in North Berkeley.  He is truly a mahatma (great soul) (You know what I just realized classifies someone in the rank of “God or Goddess”…is simply one who is able to recognize God in All.)  Every time I go to eat there, he is a fountain of wisdom, kindness and the inarticulatory light of the One.  “Small things in a great way,” he often reminds us.  Not only through his words does he remind, but also through his actions and being.  He and his family all run the restaurant.  They are Nepalese.  He started a school in Nepal for children in the lower caste, who would otherwise not get education.  He uses a percentage of profits (I almost wrote “prophets”) to fund the school, and augments that with fundraisers.  His heart truly contains all of humanity.  On the front of the menu, there is a short blurb declaring the philosophy of the restaurant which is that they see everyone they serve as God.   It shows.  I am always greeted with a warm “namaste”, by a server with their hands joined in front of their heart.  They serve the BEST palak paneer (saag paneer, spinach with cheese cubes… my F-ing favorite EVER!) in the universe.  No, make that the MULTIverse.  The artwork is of Tibetan deities, the music is soft and the ambiance exudes peace.  When Rajen is in, he makes his rounds to the divine diners and spreads the Love.  The other servers too, though not as gregarious and outgoing are clearly standing in selfless, loving service.  Go there.

Small things in a great way.  That is how I will step into jury duty.  With a surprising and generous amount of love and compassion in my heart.  And of course fascination.  Being a writer makes ANY and EVERY life situation worthwhile.  Stepping into life as a writer is my saving grace.  When I am afraid, when I am hesitant… I remind myself that I can write about it later and suddenly my life is resurrected.  Restored from a blasé tread mill to a technicolor free-for-all-consciousness spill.  THAT’S IT!!!  Sometimes I lament this world.  Like of ALL the divine possibilities, how did we end up in this haphazard mess?  I think it’s analogous to an oil spill.  We were given a gift of incarnation by All Pervading Ahhhhh (soft A), and we misused it and fashioned a collective dream tapestry woven with too much selfishness, greed, separation and fear… and now we are reaping the sew of this, as the oil of our diseased minds leaks carelessly about and boy-girl-boy do we have our work cut out for us now!

Just remember, breathe… and do Small Things in a Great Way.  Amen.