Q: What Did The Chickpea Say To the Pacific Ocean?

A: Warning. This is a test. This is ONLY a test. If this were a real blog… ummm… I wouldn’t tell you it was only a test. But otherwise it would be about the same. Rest assured, though, it is just a test. My bedroom is sweltering and stuffy. I feel like I’m swimming in a big pot of Boeuf Bourguignon*. (I just watched the movie “Julia and Julie” about the woman who cooks every single recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook in the span of a year and blogs about it! I loved it! I’d even go so far as to say I was swept off my feet, the way I have been yearning for Hollywood to sweep me recently! Thank GOD!) The Now feels thick, sticky and… stick-to-your-ribs-y. It was a scorcher today. (At least for us pansy-assed Bay Areans. For you who live in “normal” summer conditions, (as opposed to existing in a sea of fog that might burn of for a few hours in the afternoon and give way to a half-assed afternoon of sixty-something degree sunshine before it rolls back in to haunt the evening once again) you’d probably look at me cross-eyed as you languidly popped the top of your Mexican Coke and swigged it hard, fast and unappologetic. Well I’m hot. And sunburned. And freshly bleeding. And feeling pretty depressed as I watch my life as I knew it disintegrate before my innocent, blinking peepers. Yesir, every day more stuff disappears from the brown shingle structure formerly known as my “home”. I came “home” from Stinson Beach (!!!!!!!) this afternoon to discover all of Mykael’s kitchen stuff~ mugs, plates, bowls, etc. had migrated from their roosts in the cupboard to litter the counter top. My heart sunk. Again. Lately practically every moment seems to be laden with a fresh opportunity to choose happiness or despair. Sure, you could argue that that is no different than every single moment of life. But trust me, it is different. It’s like getting naked and laying on a glacier and saying to your self, “I can either choose to suffer or just merely experience these extreme sensations.” I keep finding myself sad, lonely, afraid, overwhelmed… and then just trying to remember to pray. To feel the sensations in my body. To lift my mind up in gratitude (thank you Souldipper!!!! Your reminder is worth its exponential weight in Love!). To see this friendly mayhem as an expression of the Great Love. Trust me, this is a new way for me and I feel clumsy. See, this is why I didn’t want to write. I was feeling blah… but the more I write, the more tears are welling and spilling, welling and spilling, welling and spilling. Time out. I’m gonna go take a cold shower. We’ll see if that will snap me out of this despair. Time in. Shazam! That was… er… bracing. Cold shower, then a generous full body slathering of coconut oil. Then I burned some cedar. That sloughed off the top layer of despair. But there’s still more layers underneath. Though fresh, newborn despair is far superior to that scaly, worn-out stuff. It’s right up there with sacrificial virgins, waking up to a shimmering coat of new-fallen snow, the sweet, human scent of baby head, a steaming, buttered slice of fresh baked bread. Despair. Actually I read an excerpt of a Rumi poem in the forward of the book I just started (Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martin Prechtel) about a chickpea crying out from the stew, “Why are you doing this to me?” and Rumi’s reply is: Don’t you try to jump out. You think I’m torturing you I’m giving you flavor, So you can mix with spices and rice And be the lovely vitality of a human being. If that is the context for the discomfort that I feel as I shed, shape shift, transform and become, then BRING IT ON, GOD!!! Open the sky inside me and let it RIP! I want to be flavorful! And more so, do I yearn to be the lovely vitality of Humanity. But wait… I already have been the lovely vitality of so many others in so many dissolved Now Moments of the past… but have I let these simple, fleeting moments, these sincere offerings of Love slide right through the imaginary cracks in me, so that I have remained empty, because I have imagined there to be more to life than the simplicity of kindness, generosity and connection. “So it goes”, as Kurt Vonegut would say… Ambition. First I must become a famous writer. First I must make a steady income and act like all the proper adults [covertly flailing in confusion] all around me. First I must get married. First I must have a baby. FIRST I MUST FIRST I MUST FIRST I MUST. And then this distinguished graduate of the School of Mostly Soft Knocks took a greedy swig of water. Then a greedy swig of air. Here I am… again. All striving aside… here I am. It’s a hot night in the end of august. My skin is pouring off radiant heat. I recall laying on the beach all afternoon, cooking under a relentless, beaming sun. Then striding right into the glittering, icy surf, reaching deep inside me for a prayer that would arouse the sleeping courage in me to wake and upon finding it, letting the endlessly vast body of the Pacific Ocean devour my flesh and bones and of course my inconspicuous *guts* so that for a single ecstatic moment of union I was One. Tingling, vibrant, elated, satiated ONE. Prayerfully dipping in frigid ocean… Is that what it will be like when God finally comes to pick me up from my long, hard, seemingly endless day at the School of Mostly Soft Knocks, once and for all? God will say, “How was school, Athena?” And all breath, ecstasy and gratitude, I will exclaim, “Amazing!” Amen.

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Pacific Ocean and The Only Prayer That Matters

My crush on the barista here at Pizzaiolo has dwindled ever since I divulged it in this blog.  Or maybe it’s just because I don’t have the energy for crushes these days… because glancing over at him now, he looks perfectly crushable.  Mouth closed, he masticates as he  moves in fourth gear, handling last minute shit before Pizzaiolo closes in a mere fifteen minutes.  He is so animated and zealous as he works, engaging with his world in an entirely soulful fashion.  Anyway, when he asked me how I was this morning, I told him I felt like I was aboard a pirate ship, in the midst of a violent storm on the high seas.  He was amused and dug for details.  Was I on deck?  Yes indeed, I was, I told him, and the rain was DRIVING.  I was being tossed about relentlessly.  Was I the captain?   If so, I shouldn’t be on deck… unless a rope came untied, and I needed to go re-secure it.  Hmmm, I mused… was I the captain?  No.  In fact, as it turns out, I don’t even know how I had found myself on this immense relic of a ship on a storming sea in the FIRST PLACE.  I told him I had just awoken into a dream and found myself there.  Quite a dream to wake up to, he remarked.  Yeah, I agreed, and just then, lightening struck, taking with it one of the main sails of the ship!

Telling this mythological, metaphorical parable of my current experience of being me was very healing, because suddenly I became amused.  Lightened by humor and story rather than the alternative experience of significance, seriousness and suffering.  (The three Ss, designed to decimate the human spirit.)  I am so grateful for his receptive listening and my innovative, creative, dramatic share.

All this to say, that sitting here at Pizzaolo, I am reunited with the perfection of my path, which is a welcome change from yesterday’s sweltering internal climate, which involved feverishly beseeching it all and lamenting that I did not have the good fortune of finding myself all laced up and ready to strut in Shelly’s trendy little moccasins.  Well, thankfully, today Life is a testament to the perpetual spewing of strictly perfection that is my path.

Yesterday Mykael took me to Stinson Beach, God bless’im!  (In the biblical sense, naturally.) (Incase you haven’t noticed, I love that phrase, “in the biblical sense”… honestly, I have no idea what it means.  I only know that my experience of it is narrowing, covertly condemning and generally unsexy.  I don’t like this, so I use it playfully in order to resurrect it.  I like to resurrect, reinvent and nurse back to health the English language.  Given the copious history of condemnation, persecution and division of our people (the people of the world, that is) we could use a good dose of linguistic resurrection.)  Oh GOLLY!  I just googled “in the biblical sense” and according to wikipedia, it refers to having sex with someone!  Well… yes… sure, why not, BLESS MYKAEL IN THE BIBLICAL SENSE.  And then Athena cast her eyes to the floor, her cheeks burning with a fresh flush of bloody color.

It was the perfect day at Stinson.  Beaches are extraordinary because they seduce such a vast spectrum of humanity to their shores.  EVERYONE loves the beach.  Mostly.  We laid down our blanket and I tingled with thrill as I scanned our “neighborhood” and drank in the adorably testosteroneous frat boys nursing beers.  Never before had I been so tickled by the sight of shirtless boy-men sipping cheep beer from cans.  Don’t ask why… But if I had to tell you why, I’d say, because it was the BEACH, and no hot day at a pristine beach is complete without beer swilling boy-men.  I overheard one of them say to the other, “Dude, is that a comforter?!” referring to one of his bro’s choice of beach blankets.  I could FEEL his chest puff up as he poked fun at his buddy.  Now he was officially on top!  I cracked up.

Neither could the beach be complete with the teenage girls in microscopic bikinis partying with their Chinese take-out and a sloppy side of girlie gossip, or the pretty woman camped alone on her slice of real estate, blissfully absorbed in her People Magazine.  And best of all, the large posse of young Mexicans, divided by gender; the women looking sultry and languid as their warm, brown skin happily lapped the sun’s sumptuous rays and they thumbed through Spanish versions of gossipy woman magazines, while the young men joyously burried one of their hombres in the sand.  (No beach pilgrimage is complete without seeing someone get buried in soft, warm sand.)  Watching them popped the lid right off my heart, because they were fully absorbed and drunk with joy (as opposed to cheep beer).  After they had their friend fully cloaked in sand, they began to do the juicy detail work.  They laughed hysterically as they sculpted him a pair of firm, ripe breasts.  I laughed with them.  Next they gave him a round belly.  I reckon he became about six months pregnant.  Talk about presence.  They were fully absorbed in their jubilant play!

I forced myself to get in the frigid water.  I have transformed my relationship to painfully cold water such that has gone from a liquid torture chamber, to a potent opportunity to immerse myself in a fluid body of prayer.  I needed it too, since the previous three days I had spent crying my heart out and wishing that I did not have to walk the path I have found myself on.  (The path that this morning was analogous to waking up on the deck of a pirate ship in treacherous, storming waters!)  Walking out into the gently waving (liquid ice) surf, I felt to be wading into the belly of my personal destiny.  What I mean is it felt like a crucial and loaded moment.  Like I was exactly where I needed to be times a thousand and magnified under the universe’s most powerful microscope.  I felt powerfully alone and yet witnessed by… something.  (And I have reason to believe that that something was incredibly good)  Ask me how long I stood knee deep in the Pacific Ocean in my worn-out blue bikini waiting for the “right moment” to consummate my prayer…

I waited until the pain in my legs began to wane.  I waited until the surface of the water had winked a million sparkles of refracting sunshine at me.  I waited… until the prayer in my heart was ripe.  What did I pray for?  Well, I always seem to think I have a choice in this “important” matter… but when it comes down to it, there is only ONE thing to pray for, always… God PLEASE may I awaken AS LOVE!  Sure, semantically speaking, there are an impressive infinitude of ways to linguistically wrap this essential plea… but honestly, nothing else matters.  EVERYTHING else SEEMS to matter, but that’s different.  That doesn’t count when the final scores are being taken in the Heaven that we have never really left in the first place, though for some ludicrous reason, we seem to get a BIG BANG and a half out of perpetually pretending so…

(Speaking of the “Big Bang”, I have taken to calling it “Love’s Epic Sneeze”.)

Anyway I don’t think there is a word for the full body flush of sensations that accompanied my Maha prayer.  ALIVE!!!!!!!! Is as close as I can come… or HOLY!!!!!  Or KRISHNA’S MOM GIVING BIRTH TO HIM!!!!  And then I was new.  And then I was new!  Now I am new.  Pure.  Clear as a night sky DRIPPING with starlight and celestial wonder.  And I lived happily ever after.  Amen.