The Oracle Speaks

Why on earth has Athena Grace LMNOP been finding marbles on the ground, picking them up and carrying them around in her backpack since she arrived on Kauai???

 

To find out the answer to this and other of Life’s perplexing questions, read on…

 

But first, RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU LOVE ROMANCE!!!  Mine shot up, that’s for sure.  God, I can’t get enough of the stuff… not that I’ve ever tried.  Not that I even have remote plans of such nonsense.  I’m so excited that night is falling from outer space upon me again.  You know what THAT means?  Darkness!  You know what THAT means?  Candle light!  And music that you can SEE and feel and rub up against.  Ahhhh… life is good!  If only I had someone to skin brush me right now.  But I did eat organic bacon for dinner… so all is not lost.

 

Now back to our story.  I don’t even know which one to tell, honestly… It’s been one of those days.  I’ve been getting some pretty strong impulses to let go.  Let go of my need for *rigid* structure, routines, “certainty”.  My sublet is up at the end of the month… and I’m trying to tune in to what to do next.  I am not gonna “muscle” through it from a place of fear and disconnect.  Nope.  God is gonna lead me to the precise place that I need to be in order to best Serve.  But this is a weird concept… even for this crunchy, new-age bitch.  Yes.  I called myself a bitch.  And it felt good.  Really good.  Shrug.  What can I say?

 

Surrender.  Trust.  There comes a time in a crunchy new-age bitch’s life when those words crack their calcified shells of concept and become actual warm, fluffy, sweet-peeping actualities with heart beats of their very own!  I can no longer deny that God has plans for me.  That I am on a dizzy, blindfolded walk along Destiny’s very own smooth, voluptuous body!

 

I was sitting on the veranda of Java Kai with my Personal Wizard this new born afternoon, eating a freshly avocado from the neighboring tree (salted, on the half shell)… when the café owner suddenly pointed to me and said, “I think she’s right here.  You’re the one who offers poems by donation, right?”

 

BLINK.  Blink.  “Yes.”  Blink.

 

She spoke to a man who sat at the adjacent table, in the very seat I had moved out of minutes before.  I let my eyes wander about him.  An older man.  White hair.  Angel soft blue eyes.  Dressed all in black, his t-shirt impressed with a generous helping of sweat.  A half eaten piece of berry pie with a dollop of homemade whipped cream bled seductively on the table before him.  I excused myself from Mister Wizard, curious, and pulled up the chair opposite him at his table.  He told me that he had seen me weeks ago, at the picnic tables on the lawn and been intrigued, but I had been inundated with customers… And he didn’t have the luxury of waiting his turn.  But ever since then, he had been asking around, seeking me out.  Sound familiar?  Think glass slippers and clocks that strike pumpkin.

 

He informed me that he was making a movie about cranio-sacral water massage and he wanted to include some poetry.

 

This is weird.  As I am trying to recall the details of the story, it feels so vague.  Truthfully, he was a pretty vague man.  In a good way.  I am left with a sense that most of our communication happened on a whole other plane anyway.  He spoke slowly and his mind was slippery-slimey like a big, iridescent rainbow fish on qualudes.  But speaking of all things rainbow… Marbles.  He mentioned that he had wandered the streets of Greece, once upon a time, carrying marbles in his pockets to play with the kids.  And that’s when I realized that I had two freshly excavated marbles nesting in the side pouch of my backpack, (happened upon in two unrelated, random moments) which I instantaneously retrieved.  He instructed me to roll them around in my palm.  He said that’s what the contemplative Greeks do.  I informed him my name is Athena.  It was all so weird.

 

Then he started telling me about his qi gong practice and invited me to attend class.  I have known for years, literally, that I am supposed to do qi gong… but I’ve been procrastinating taking the plunge.  He offered me some of his berry pie.  I refused.  He spoke at length of his passion for grappa.  I continued to feel the waves of his being as I followed the languidly meandering loop-dy-loops of his mind, rolling the inexplicable rainbow marbles in my palm all the while.

 

Poetry.  He finally circled back and touched down on the original entry point.  He said he wanted an oracle.  Was I familiar with the Greek Oracle?  He wanted me to enter a cave and emerge with subconscious streams of pure, prophetic wisdom.  He told me to google Oracle and see what I found.  “Lorenzo,” he spoke his name to me.

 

These moments we shared, I felt to be riding on the slippery, strong back of an orca through the waters of Destiny.  The thing that trips me out is that I have not been in the mood to lug my typewriter around lately and offer poetry.  And yet… the poetry is stalking ME.

 

Another example~ earlier in the day today, I looked at a room for rent in Hanalei.  When I got there, they informed me it was already rented… but the woman in charge of the lease happened to be a woman I wrote a poem for during the first week I landed here.  The young, soulful rockstar, Rosy.  She was surprised when I appeared in the threshold of her bedroom.  She showed me the poem I wrote for her tacked lovingly on her tasteful, artsy bulletin board.  She said she was ready for another one.  This one will grace the back of her next album cover, over an artistic photo of her.  Neato.

 

And the last weird thing… The guy who I hitched in to Hanalei with this am had given me a ride once before.  A young electrician who was smoking a Marlboro red.  I had squinched my face and almost turned down the ride, due to the cab full of curly, looming tendrils of carcinogen.  But he extinguished it on my behalf and I hopped in after all.  Today I informed him that I was going to look at a room for rent.  He reminded me that that is what I had been doing the last time I climbed into the cold, cancerous cab of his truck!  I searched my files for the affirmative.  Ah-ha!  It is true what the man says.  I have looked at a total of TWO rooms for rent in Hanalei.  He drove me to both of them! What does it mean?!  Nothing.  Shrug.  But it’s cool.

 

I asked this young, freckled, burnt out on bananas, Marlboro smoking, father of a ten year old, electrician for the *filth* rich contingency of Kauai if there was anything I could do to enhance his experience of being alive as we drove.  He wasn’t too thrilled by this offer… but he said sing him a song.  Yikes.  Why IS it that as soon as someone requests a song, my mind severely blanks???  I swear, I forgot every single one of the bajillion songs I had known a mere two seconds before… But I wrassled my demons and forced one out anyway.  Shri Krishna Govinda hare murare.  I give myself a B.  No plus or minus.  And certainly an A for penetrating my fear.  But in retrospect, I wish I had’ve made him a custom song.  I am going to.  And next time he gives me a ride (to look at a home in Hanalei), I will sing it for him.  It will be about smoking Marlboro reds and eating dehydrated banana chips that are mostly crispy, but a little chewy in the middle, and not liking rich people… and cinnamon gum wrappers strewn like Hawaiian snowflakes about the floor of his truck.

 

Life just keeps getting cooler and more amazing.  There’s a rumor going around that there’s even this thing called “tomorrow” that might happen if I go to sleep!  I’m so excited about this!!!

 

Amen.

Stalked by Destiny

Seven thirty seven pm over here on my little sacred would-be NeverNeverLand isle of Kauai.  Just for the record, I’m having that ecstatic feeling, like there’s nothing in the entire multiverse that I’d rather be doing right now than spilling myself out on the page for you!  I even put my hair in pretty little jeweled butterfly clips and splashed my soft, tropical skin with perfume oil.  After some weighty consideration, I chose vanilla coconut scent.  It wafts off of my body heat in sweet waves of tastiness.  I am my own dessert tonight!

 

It’s one of those blogging days when I have a thousand paths extending out from my center and I can’t decide which one to step out onto.  But there comes a time when kiss comes to suck and I must simply choose or get off the pot altogether, which I’ll NEVER do.  Nope.  Me and the pot are in for the long haul!

 

So I’ll just start by telling you that today my soul plot just got immensely, rapturously thicker!!!  Mom, don’t be jealous… but I have a soul mom too!  I had an inverse visit from the stork this morning!  And who should spill from this auspicious, heaven sent bundle but our very own beloved Souldipper, my devoted blogging buddy!  You MUST know of her by now… she leaves substantial, thoughtful, insightful comments up the wazoo, and every now and again I mention her in my blog.  I mention her because my heart feels like it’s in the BEST church ever invented when she and I communicate.  My heart feels like an Olympic opera singer when we virtually commune.  It’s been a bit mystifying for me to witness the delicious, transcendent flavor of Love that she evokes in me… but I’m not one to “look a friggin gift horse in the oral cavity”, for God’s sake… so I just bask in the grace and warmth of the love that is stirred in me.  But apparently there is MORE to the story.  Read it here~ http://souldipper.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/solo-soulful-a-blessed-blog-buddy/

 

Next order of stuffy business~ Please don’t take me literally.  This is anything but stuffy.  I just have an aversion to garden variety business… Anyway, I have been slackin’ at my poetry muse duties lately… mostly due to having a full plate (between my two writing projects, my daily devotion to the ocean, yoga, refueling, some requisite social stimulation… it’s a full time job staying in balance leading the life of my dreams…) So lugging around my heavy, archaic, linguistic magic machine is not such a savory option.  Plus, I haven’t found such a terrific place to perch with it here on Kauai… (though my soul sister, Magic Penny who is an EXPERT at making home-hitting, creatively brilliant suggestions as to how her near and dears could live our lives more artfully, soulfully and in radical alignment with our essential selves… told me today on the phone that I “should” rent myself out for weddings, parties, special events as the Poetry Muse.  You know, like charge a flat rate and then let God pour through me for anyone and everyone at the party.  Smart cookie, she IS!  I just might do that…)

 

I have felt a nagging tug at my heart in the absence of this sacred practice structured into my week to week existence.  And the story continues its wily meander~ last week, I wandered barefoot down the road I live on, brushing my teeth with my pink, recycled plastic toothbrush which when retired from the trenches of my warm, smarmy mouth will join forces with its friends and become a beautiful, plastic, marbled rainbow park bench… and I encounter an older gentleman, helmet clad and paused in mid-bike ride.  We strike up a conversation.  He shares that he is a retired chemist from Virginia, here visiting his son who lives just down the road from me.  I tell him I am a writer.  He asks of what.  A blog and sacred poems by donation, I say.  He says that he’d like a poem because his book club will be sharing poetry next time and he’d like to bring his custom poem from one illustrious, living, breathing Muse of Poetry!  Hark!

 

Does that tickle you?  I mean for goddess sake, I’m out wandering aimless and barefoot, scrubbing my teeth and I get called to duty!  I just can’t hide from Destiny for too long, can I?!  So this afternoon, I made my way to their house so that sweet Bill could splash me with his authentic heart and I could then get neatly out of the way and let God go to work on our holy findings.

 

I was coming from a full rock star morning in Hanalei (jogging, swimming, bonding with Jack the Love Wizard and writing) and I was quite hungry.  As Grace would have it, Bill and his wife of fifty-nine years, Mary Jane, offered to share their lunch of tortilla soup with me.  I can be pretty neurotic and finicky about what I ingest into my sacred temple of a body… but in the spirit of communion and adventure, I chose to throw caution to the [currently raging]S mother ocean and accept their hallowed generosity.  I told myself that I would receive whatever they laid down before me in the spirit of Prasad (divine offering), allowing it to enter me as an expression of the highest love.  Good thing.  Because it was mostly from cans. AND THEY HEATED IT IN THE MICROWAVE!  (I hate to say this, because Bill subscribed to my blog and there’s a good chance he’ll read it… But Bill, please understand that I am only divulging my own neurosis.  It is NOT, I repeat NOT personal.  I just have a commitment to transparency here in Athena Graceland… and at the end of the day, this comes before making an effort to rub everyone the right way.  And trust me, the soup certainly tasted like pure love…)  Oh, and let me not leave out the Tostitos brand corn chips, adorably shaped like little tostada bowls, which we crushed up on top.

 

At first, Mary Jane seemed reticent of me.  Guarded.  But soon enough, sitting across the round dining table in their cush little guest house, her eyes melted and within them was plainly revealed a very pure, immediate and enduring shade of love.  They invited ME to say grace!  Whoop-whoop!!!  Naturally I accepted.

 

Over our sacred soup, we spoke of peace, god, family, adventure and death.  I yearned to see only the faces of the Beloved as I beheld them.  But I found myself forgivably tangled in fears of being misunderstood by these two others who had so many years on me.  (He was 83, she was 80!)  You know… just because they’re from a way more… uhhh… conservative generation.  I cringed, imagining Bill reading all my blogs about my sexuality and unconventional freedom and wild self expression.  So I allowed myself squirm in the resulting discomfort, breathing through it, and reminding myself of the truth, that they are but Love manifest… and on a more practical level, Bill HAD read my blogs and yet still invited me into his world, prepared to open himself to me in the name of becoming humbly poeticized.  Inhale.  Exxxxxhale…

 

It was a first for me to write one poem for TWO people.  Bill and Mary Jane both opened themselves to me, and after spending fifty-nine years, thirteen children, twenty seven grand children and one great grandchild on the way (!!!!) they were beautifully and hopelessly entwined in resplendent double helix of communion.

 

I left with a belly full of soup, a heart full of gratitude and a mind full of all sorts of potential material for the poem.  I promised to deliver it later in the evening while they were out for their finale dinner.  Like I often do, I doubted myself and my capacity to spin anything intelligent (emotionally, spiritually, creatively) out of what I had absorbed.  And like always, I was humbled and wonder struck by what came through.  God?  Thank you for speaking through me even in the face of my doubt.  Thank you for the Grace that it is to be able to serve You in this playful, creative and sincere way!

 

Just before I started blogging tonight, I wandered through the darkness toward their son’s house, lit only by generous moonbeams, sacred poem in hand, seduced by my own sleek, sexy shadow as she slunk through the night, feeling so clear and strong and holy.  The scent of rotting fruit dripped from the warm night air.  Every single tree and plant spoke to me silently as I wandered lucidly past, toward Bill and Mary Jane’s door where I lovingly nestled the poem, feeling like a well meaning tropical elf.  I gazed one final time upon this sweet, heartfelt relic born from the heart and mind of one divine Athena Grace, and felt truly blessed to BE, then turned away, filled and fulfilled, into the dark sea of moonbeams, and nocturnality.

 

Amen.

Relentless Magic As Told By A Drunken Muse

The only time the magic seems to give me a rest here on Kauai is when I cloister in my bedroom (which I’ve been known to do).  I can’t seem to leave the house without stirring up major synchronicities and miracles… sheesh.  I am a firm believer in the divine power of speech… and lately I have all too often been hearing myself utter words such as “I can’t believe this!” and “this is too good to be true.”  Except the thing is… I CAN believe it.  And I aspire to live in a world where NOTHING is too good to be true, because it is God’s world and the power of Love is limitless by nature.  So when I catch myself uttering those archaic, learned phrases, I am making a practice of rerouting my mind and saying things like “I am so delighted by this!” “Life is AMAZING!”  “Thank you God, I accept this blessing!”

 

Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty stunned at how great life can be.  Especially after wanting OFF this human ride all the way from my early teens to my late twenties.  Holy Popcorn, have I paid my stinkin’ dues.  And here, now… I am ready as an adrenalized, champion racehorse at the starting gate to have a great life.  I am ready to officiate the holy matrimony of my passions and my service to this world.  For so long, I thought service was something that I “should” do.  That it would make me a “good”person.  And too, I believed that passions were frivolous and masturbatory.  But… the good news IS, You Holy Team Mates, the good news IS… That our passions ARE our service to the world AFTER ALL!!!  At least mine are.  HA!  That cracked me up!  I’m finding my sense of humor again!  FINALLY!  I LOVE LAUGHING.  Ahem… and what I meant when I said “at least mine are” is that it is all a matter of belief (as all of reality is)… And there is a whole mutantly oversized cornucopia of belief systems that do not play host to the radically liberated viewpoint that says that passion and service are in fact two sides to the same shiny golden coin which pours from the Lakshmi’s own sacred palm.  But I invite you to try it on…

 

So back to the magic.  This morning I hitched a ride up to Hanalei to jog the bay, which allegedly is four miles long, but it sure doesn’t feel like jogging four miles… maybe because I’m barefoot and bikini clad, breathing purified ocean air, mesmerized by the play of light on the water and the happy smash of waves splaying frothily onto thirsty sand… and that just seems… “too good to be true”… see!!!!!! There it IS!  Citizens arrest!  And then Athena Grace LMNOP pulled out her figurative, linguistic handcuffs and proceeded to put this ragged, worn-out phrase behind bars to be occasionally butt fucked and fed tasteless gruel for the rest of Eternity.  LEWD!  Athena!!!  You should not be having this much fun… I am here in my bedroom cracking up!!!  You would not believe the wellspring of inappropriateness that gurgles and squirts from inside of me!  Oh Lord…  Have mercy on… THEM!  Teee-heee.

 

Oh, this is quite a mood!  Um… So I hitched a ride.  I considered texting the guy who got me connected on the radio to see if he would be passing through, since he commutes this way to work every day… Did I tell you that I got on the radio as a result of hitching with a soulful man named Steven, who also has a show on Kauai Community Radio and suggested that I connect with this specific host who loves to read Rumi and Hafiz poems and he’d probably be stoked to put me on?  Well that’s how it happened.  And Steven also told me it’s pretty easy for one to get their own slot… It just requires a few volunteer hours and some light training.  So I’ve been mulling this over~ what would Athena Grace’s show be about?  And is she indeed called to this specific date with Destiny?  Well…

 

I didn’t end up texting or calling Steven… but guess who picked me up?!?!?!  Yes.  Steven. (who confessed that he was running unusually late this morning) And no, I suppose that is NOT too good to be true, either.  But in a former life, it would have been.  In my new fangled, hopelessly Grace stained existence, it is JUST GOOD ENOUGH to be true. Just God enough to be true!  And I’m pretty sure this MEANS (all hail MEANING!) that Destiny wants me to have a show.  And YOU ALL can listen to it, because it streams online!  Probably it will be on Sunday… because that’s when all the spiritual shows are on.  I have been lamenting the weak-assed church scene on this island.  But like the prophets oft say, “If it ain’t at the party, BRING it, Bitch!”  Yeah!  I’ll be a minister when I grow up in about fifteen minutes or three weeks!  Is this the holiest news or WHAT?

 

Do YOU have any suggestions about what you’d like to hear on my show?  After all, it is for YOU that I will be broadcasting.  I want to make your life more celebratory and fun and creative and lucid and illuminated and inspired.  Passion and Service, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!  First comes love then comes marriage, then comes Athena Grace’s Radio Show in the baby carriage!

 

Life is so beautiful.  I accept.  I accept that I am God.  I accept that You are God.  I accept that I am enveloped by so much Love, it could make and break worlds with the single wink of the [All Pervading] Eye that Truly Sees.  Wash us clean, Beloved!  Oh wash us clean, now and forever more, that we may recognize the magnificent, effulgence from which we are continuously sculpting this miraculous dream of the Infinite.   Sweet dreams, oh Sisters and Brothers of the Infinite.  Please let your dreams be sweet this day! (Or else… You’ll be the next one I citizens arrest!!!! ;-O)

 

InLOVE and Amenning all the way,

Athena Grace LMNOP

Leaping Typewriters on Speeding Buses (part II)

Would you believe that I’m sitting here in Pizzaiolo drinking PEPERMINT TEA?  At ten oh one in the morning!!!  What this means is that I have ditched caffeine.  This is very weird for me, since caffeine has been my biggest addiction since high school!  But allofasudden I am more interested in being as vibrant and divinely sensitive as humanly possible than clinging to a stagnant comfort zone.  So peppermint tea is the only thing on the menu that I can sip.  Can you tell that I’m proud of myself?  I am SO ridiculously proud of myself!

Anyway, I have a story to tell, so nestle your butt into your chair and listen up!  This is part two of the greyhound bus saga.

Four timeless days marinating in spiritual ashramish sauces and I was ready to be sent back into the urban madness I call “home”.  (But I’m not so sure I want to call it home for much longer…)  After one more sumptuous, essential, healing, purifying, ecstatic, mystical dip in the Yuba River, my mom and her sweet, punchy ashram mate dumped me off at the convenience store in Colfax that happens to double as a greyhound bus stop.  When the bus pulled in to my stop (an hour late) I was delighted to see that it was the same poetic driver who had commanded my chariot to the land of breath and blessings.  Somehow this made my heart purr.  We were family now.  We had history.  And he had shared an intimate slice of his soul with me.  Though when I poured loving acknowledgement in his direction amidst the rows of candy and packages of salty junk food, it seemed to ricochet off an impermeable love-bullet proof vest and bounce frivolously hollow onto the dirty well tread convenience store floor.  Oh well, it’ll sink in later when he’s alone and safe in the comfort of his own dark corner.  I’m sure of it.

Then I looked up and who should appear as if she crawled from the folds of a very auspicious dream, but the English falling typewriter victim, Zoe!  I did a double take!  I had the uprooted, dizzy feeling of being but a cracked dream, leaking a cast of characters and scenes from my very own secret, central somewhere.  We exchanged a glistening mutual hello.  I felt a sharp pang of desire to sit with her and connect the way I had regretted that we didn’t on the way up, but I felt shy to ask to sit next to her.  I didn’t want to be rejected by someone that I thought was so beautiful and intriguing.  Thankfully, the only open double seat was right behind her.  And thankfully squared, a man appeared out of nowhere and asserted that I had taken his seat.  I just shrugged coolly and sat down next to the illustrious world traveler.  We dove in to the refreshing pool of conversation and splashed about.  We splashed and frolicked and frolicked and splashed.  The next thing I knew the bus had stopped at the station in Sacramento.  She was telling me about how she wanted to think deeper thoughts.  I had noticed that she had a tattoo on her wrist (which she informed me was henna) that said “pienso”, which means “think” in Spanish.  I was surprised to hear that her mind easily got swept along into the eddies of mundane, day to day existence and had to break a sweat in order to think deep thoughts. (She sure picked the right woman to sit next to if she wanted to think more deep thoughts!!!)

As she was sharing this with me, the bus driver made an announcement on the intercom.  I was more interested in what she was saying until I heard him say something about a poet on the bus and thank you for… but my brain had trouble latching on to his words in mid stream.  I got off the bus to stretch my legs and asked my beloved, blue-eyed driver what he had said on the intercom.  He told me he had expressed gratitude for me for helping him bust loose from his mundane, default reality and look inside, feel inspired and alive in a different way… or something to that effect.  I flushed with shy ecstasy and then exclaimed that that’s exactly what Zoe and I had been discussing when he made his announcement.  Weird.  Beautiful.  Can you believe that he had made an unabashed announcement on the intercom to the entire bus?!  This must be a dream.  It just must.  It must be God’s dream.  It must be good.  It must be only blessed.

Zoe and I nattered all the rest of the way to Oakland.  (It turns out she had had the same feeling of regret that we did not connect more on the way up!)  I asked her where she was going to stay.  She said a youth hostel in Union Square.  Thumbs down, I thought to myself.  I invited her to stay at my house.  I told her I had plenty of space for her.  She graciously accepted.

This is where the story really gets wild!  Well, not in the biblical sense.  Only in that I had the profuse blessing of experiencing with everything I am the absolute equality of giving and receiving.  I wanted to give her everything I possibly could.  I fed her and took her to my beloved east bay church of religious science.  I showed her my favorite farmer’s market and bought her a Blue Bottle Cappuccino (my favorite coffee).  Every time she accepted my generosity, I felt more… myself.  Vaster, richer and more profoundly connected to all life and wide awake in Love.  Maybe y’all already knew that giving is receiving.  Yeah, I’m probably the late bloomer at the back of the bus.  But I’ve grown up with such a deep imprint of scarcity.  I mean, in some way or another we all did.  That is the nature of a world of separation and division and finite supply.  But the only thing that is really REAL is the Infinite, which as it turns out, is infinite!  Zoe taught me this… all by saying yes and opening to receive that which I yearned to give.  And in the giving, I found my Self.

She stayed for two nights.  Now she is on to the next blessed chapter of her travels and I am here, the universe pouring through me like a thunderous waterfall.  This is indeed a strange dream.  I just keep offering myself to the Light.  Resting back into Grace’s Loving arms.  Blessed Be!

Amen.

Leaping Typewriters on Speeding Buses (part I)



I forgot to mention to you that I brought my illustrious typewriter* with me on my recent pilgrimage to the Ananda (my mom’s ashram).  I just figured hey, you never know when you’ll encounter a soul thirsting madly for a poetic blessing… well actually, I think most of us are parched in the way of poetry and intentional blessings.  So I carted the heavy beast along on the greyhound bus, often being mistaken for an anvil saleswoman… just like the one from The Music Man (wasn’t his name “Charlie”?)

*A brief and reverent word on my typewriter:  It belonged to Mykael’s grandmother, who was a minister of the church of religious science!  (Which happens to be my church of choice these days!)  She was head of the ministry of prayer and she used the typewriter mostly to conduct related correspondence, such as replying to letters for prayer requests.  The moral of this ridiculously short tale?  The typewriter was BORN to serve the All Pervading Love Hemorrhage!

As I was boarding the bus in Oakland, the driver noticed the sign on the outside of my typewriter that said “poems for sale”.  He was clearly titillated.  He confessed that HE used to write many poems back in another [prehistoric] incarnation of himself.  His blue eyes twinkled and danced.  Then I boarded the bus and made my way to the only remaining vacant row, toward the back.  As I was trying to clumsily shove the mythological alphabet stamping beast in the overhead rack, the hard-cover case came sprawling open and the heavy machine plummeted down on an innocently by-sitting woman.  I was mortified.  Blank sheets of paper flailed about.  I asked the woman if she was okay and she said she was fine.  That was hard for me to believe, since the thing weighs at least as much as a baby unicorn.  I must have asked her eight times… and apologized twenty one… But alas, there was no blood or broken bones.  And not even any hard feelings, aside from mine.

Amidst the melee, I had a chance to scope out this fellow citizen of the human race.  I was surprised by her youth, her luminosity and her fabulous, decadent tan.  She had icy blue eyes that spoke much in our nativer than thou tongue, the language of light!  She was young and vibrant and struck up an orchestra of curiosity in me.  I offered her a poem for her passive troubles.  She immediately accepted. I asked her what was in her heart… and after digging for a few moments, discovered that she had been traveling in Mexico and Central America for the last five months… and was soon going back to her motherland, England.  She said she was tangled in uncertainty about landing back home again, wondering where she would work and that sort of mentally pestering nut and bolty stuff.  I gathered myself in my sphere of chaos and made my way to my seat behind her, my mind already busy stretching into the heavens in search of images and metaphors and other essential celestial freebies.

I parked the typewriter in my lap and slowly plunked out a poem for her as the bus bounced me like a baby on its soothing, automotive knee.  I wondered if it was okay to produce that kind of erratic, sonic rhythm in a confined public arena.  No one said anything… until I was two lines from the end.  At that point I was approached by a real character.  A middle aged woman with a passively clownish countanence~ thick foundation make-up, eyebrows entirely fashioned from thin brown pencil lines, frizzy, stressed out hair orange as a bleeding sunset sky.  She informed me that my typing was offensive to a flock of people behind me and would I mind stopping.  Fair enough… But I asked her if she’d mind if I finished up the last two lines and she acquiesced, god bless’er!  I read over the poem and was more than satisfied.  But the beautiful English wanderer was sleeping, so I lay the poem to rest, packed up the typewriter (which sorely needs a name, don’t you think?) and got to my previously scheduled business of doing a whole lot of indulgent nothing.

It wasn’t until Sacramento, when the woman, whose name I discovered was Zoe, was about to flee the enchanted bus and remerge into the folds of the mystery that I bestowed the poem upon her.  She turned around and said, “Goodbye.”  Ahhhhh!  Wait… what about your poem???  I read it to her through the crack in the seats and then passed it through the narrow slit into her open hands.  I felt the warmth of her gratitude and she said that she hoped more typewriters fell on her.  I laughed and said “Be careful what you wish for…”  Then she was gone.  I glowed inside, savoring the strange fortune of my typewriter leaping onto her, and the blessing that generated.  Though I wished that I had been able to learn more about this kindred mystery woman.  Shrug.  I guess that’s not what life had in store.

When I got off the bus at my destination in beautiful Colfax, California, I asked the blue eyed, bus driving, closet poet if he fancied a poem.  His energy was all liquid yeses, but his mind had to navigate its own modest obstacle course before he caught up with himself.  I asked him what was in his heart.  Work and family.  A man of few words.  I had to roll up my sleeves and dig to find the plethora of gold nuggets laced in this obviously wakeful though mildly frozen in past pain soul.  But when push came to shove, he was willing.  I learned that he had a twenty four year old son who was tangled in discord with his mother.  Mister bus driver was playing the exhausting roll of mediating peace maker, holding a hundred times his own weight in responsibility within his own overtly tender heart.  He told me it was both comforting and taxing to head out on the open road in his bus… On one hand, he had respite from the familial tension… and on the other hand, his absence put strain on the family unit.  I nodded in recognition.  He WAS the perfect poem.  So wrought with internal struggle, dynamic tension, a divine play of light and shadow.

I only had ten minutes before the bus was to depart, so I got busy.  The poem was born in the nick of time and I ripped it from the auspicious machine and read it to him.  (I was not so enamored with this one… and actually gave myself a hard time for like half an hour… my ego screaming in my ear, WHO did I think I was offering ragged, limping poems to strangers?  I had to be vigilant in releasing that obnoxious voice.  Actually, I ended up giving myself a sober pep-talk-coaching-session out loud.  “Athena, your job is to be courageous and do your best.  To keep releasing yourself into God and saying YES.  That’s it.  Keep going.  Naturally, you will like some poems better than others, but who cares.” Etc.  Sheesh, where did I learn to be so mean???)

I read him the poem.  He lit up.  Then he recited from memory the first poem he had ever written, when he was a teenager, waiting for the greyhound bus(!!!!!).  It was very introspective, melancholy and soulfully universal.  Yup, he’s a seasoned citizen of the universe.  The he turned away, boarded the bus and drove into the sunsetless horizon.

Amen.

To be continued…

Is it okay to bring up the topic of alcohlism?

Dare I bring up the taboo topic of alcoholism?  I think this topic is one of the leading reasons that people carrying heavy bags stuffed with past pain opt not to write.  If you have an alcoholic in the family, then you know that generally, the A word is not to be uttered aloud (except behind locked doors).  At least that’s my experience.  Denial and alcoholism seem to go together like bread and butter, which I am wildly fond of.  Not that I eat it very often… but when I do, usually at the occasional fancy-ish restaurant, it is an instant bell ringin’ party in my mouth. Drenches me in pleasure every time… Hey, come to think of it, my alcoholic step dad loves bread and butter too!  I’ve only written just over a hundred words and already I have come full circle!  Phew, I can call it a day… no need to waste any more time exposing family secrets.  See ya later…

I’m not really here to expose family secrets.  But there comes a time in a woman’s life when she is finally sick of playing along with the denial game.  My step dad is an alcoholic.  I always felt somehow exempt from the impact, since he was not my real father… Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet vantage point for me, as a scrupulous student of the human condition.  I sure got to peer into an interesting slice of life from age six all the way up to the present (though I don’t choose to see him very often these days… go figure).  Very interesting indeed.

Speaking of slices of life, let me back up a few steps, to the generous, steaming slice of life God served me last night.  A client invited me to a shmancy food and wine dinner at the Claremont Hotel.  Naturally, I accepted with zeal.  One winery, Frog’s Leap, teamed up with an almost too cool for school chef to co-create a food and wine adventure for [privileged] people who dig on eating and drinking and spending money.  I was particularly thrilled since though I enjoy wine and food, I do not have much experience intentionally pairing them and diving into the myopic world of nuance implied when the two converge.  So I went as a student and an explorer.  I felt shy about stepping into such an unknown world… But I told myself that I was on duty as a writer, collecting data, spying on otherwise unexplored pockets of humanity, and then suddenly I had the upper hand and the fear melted into pure eagerness and curiosity.  This is my new tactic for facing the unknown, for standing up boldly in my life.

Does that mean I wasn’t nervous when I arrived at the “reception”?  No way, Jose.  I felt totally awkward.  But a civilized older gentleman immediately offered me a glass of chardonnay and with a haughty splash of cool, crisp sweet intoxication in my hand, I was that much more prepared to face the room full of equally awkward humans putting on confident, friendly faces and making frivolous conversation.  A woman who turned out to be the fiancé of the “dictator” of Frog’s Leap admired my necklace, which graciously opened our floodgates into a sea of congenial small talk.  Honestly, I felt terrified.  But then I relaxed and felt outward into her, into the space, and I realized that she was just as uncomfortable as I was, beneath her façade of graciousness.  Her energy didn’t seem to be dropping much below her upper chest.  Relating with her felt like relating with an endearing, tightly coiled spring.  I am not a natural born schmoozer and boozer, can you tell?  (But sure, I can get it up in a pinch, when needs be…)

Soon enough though, it was time to sit down for dinner.  Phew!  I made it through the hardest part~ having free reign of the room.  And I was careful not to guzzle my wine out of nervousness.  (I have a pretty low tolerance for “the stuff”)  Good girl, Athena!  You get a gold star!!!  You get a Scoobie Snack!!  Ahem.  So we were seated, and then we got to hear from Mister Frog’s Leap Himself!  I swear he WAS my step dad, but in another dimension, where he got to use his double edged affinity for wine and numbness as a friend and an ally, rather than an unmentionable demon.  He was charming, charismatic and a great story teller… much like step dad.  Clutching dearly to a beloved glass of wine, he sprinkled our ears with stories, our brains with information about how he came to make wine, about his passion for organic production… Sometimes listening to so much information is work for me, but I was naturally captivated by this congenial lush.  I loved hearing about why fostering rich, healthy soil creates such an elite, quality product!  And even more, I loved hearing that he was not interested in advertising as an organic grower.  Nowhere on his bottles does it say, “organic”.  He said (don’t quote me) that he’d rather walk the walk than talk a big talk.  My companion for the evening could not understand this, and insisted that he HAD to advertise… after all, a living must be made.  Mister Frog’s Leap was quick to inform my date that there are more worthy endeavors in life than making money… such as INTEGRITY and PASSION. (Though he confessed to be like 21 million dollars in debt!  Eeek.)

That was the moment that I fell in love with Sir Leaping Frog.  Did I say “FALL IN LOVE”???  Yup.  But how can I fully open my heart to this man whose choice to drown his body in poison on a daily basis, I far from approve of?  This is the little pocket of tension that fascinates me.  It’s that tipping point where judgment and pure acceptance scrape together like a symphonic screech of metal on metal.  I saw this man, easily felt his heart, his passion… and simultaneously, he kept shape shifting into my own step father as he stood at the front of the room grasping fast to his perpetually draining glass, wooing us all with his increasingly sloshy antic dotes of a life story that has unfolded with heaping scoops of synchronicity, risk and adventure.  What’s not to love about that?

I’ll tell you what’s not to love… What’s not to love is what has not been forgiven.  I certainly have compassion for my step dad.  Honestly, I’ve always felt a little sorry for him.  I pity the chains he binds himself with.  I imagine what it must feel like to live an entire life investing so much energy in concealing one’s true self.  I don’t think there is a single person in my step dad’s life who he really let’s in to the most true, raw and intimate reaches of himself.  Duh, he doesn’t even seem to grant HIMSELF entry into that shameful (???) chamber…  Don’t tell me that this doesn’t break your heart even a little… I mean, we all have those places we hide within ourselves… But some cases are more crippling than others.

I have not forgiven him for drinking and then driving with me, my mom and my little brother in the car on a regular basis.  How do I do that?  Just let go?  Right now?  Just like that?  The thing that terrifies me about forgiving sometimes, is that if I forgive, I am afraid that it will encourage the imagined offender to repeat the same offense.  As if forgiving is the same as saying, “That’s okay, I don’t mind that you drove drunk and put your family’s life at risk time after time.  No sweat.  I don’t mind that you never listened to me, or to my mom, or to your son… that you just obliviously talked over us all and got away with it time after time.”  Should I just be glad that we’re all still alive?

At least he is a happy drunk.  At least he didn’t yell or hit or pass out.  He was the most benign kind of alcoholic there is.  The kind that can so easily slip right through the marginal cracks in our perfectly fractured society.  God blessim’, he always held it together.

After the dinner last night, after seven glasses of wine (no, I didn’t drink them all, JESUS!!!), Mister Frog’s Leap invited us all to the bar.  No thanks.  As we wandered out, he bid us farewell with a sleek little glass of grapa in his hand.  He begged us to visit the winery and I pinky swore that I would.  I really want to.  He confessed that he was not seeing straight.  Shrug…

Ahem, Athena… Are you ready to forgive?