Monday, December 14, 2009
And left that place.
Promised I was never turnin' round,
But then I met my match-
She had my face.
I turned right on back, came home without a sound.
I said, Mama, what should I see?
She said, Darlin' take some time to see alone.
I said, Daddy, who should I be?
He said, Be the one who bravely marches on.
Someday, I'll see my path.
I know it will be bright and lined with stars.
But right now, that's too much to ask.
I just want to sit alone to heal my scars.
Battles, they're lost and won.
In the end it never really matters who.
But this time, when yours has begun,
Just remember that the lovers always lose.
Out of the desert,
Into the plains.
Up to the city,
And startin' all again.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Granted, I tend to believe (after the fact) that most of my posts are superfluous and unnecessary, with no real meat in them. But I guess it just depends on what one looks for in a post. And now it occurs to me that I might spend too much time thinking about the qualities of a post. So we're just going to move past it.
So the crazy lady next door, Sandra, has recently announced that she is going to stomp me. This comes as no surprise for those of you who are aware of the history I have with Sandra. For those of you who are not, the synopsis is this:
According to Sandra, I strategically waited until she left to go pick up her daughter from school, and within that 10 minute time frame I found a dead black mouse and placed it in her parking spot as a racial threat.
Those are the basic facts. Allegedly (not that I recall any of this actually happening, but what do I know?). Below is a story inspired by the event for those of you who would care to read further:
It was a sweaty and satisfying end to a long day, and the evening proved to be gracious and merciful. I went outside to take a seat on my new perch in the stairwell of my garden-level apartment (although the “garden” turned out to be more of a jungle, bearing muskrat-sized zucchinis and ferocious, domestic-cat-attacking animals of the night, whose other victims I can only assume included the 3-legged rabbit I had seen limping around the property earlier that day).
The cool evening air and the hush of traffic was enough to distract me from the woman yelling at me from the next house over. That is, until she repeated herself, louder this time.
“ExCUSE me! Did you…” she said.
“I’m sorry? I didn’t hear you,” I replied. Yay! I thought to myself. A new friend, a neighbor, one with whom I can share block gossip, one who will invite me in for dinner! Someone to give me the Heimlich maneuver when I find myself choking on a piece of lettuce while eating alone in my studio apartment.
She repeated herself and the tone of her voice sent up red flags and some adrenaline rushing through my blood stream. This was the unmistakable voice of an angry woman on a mission; you could feel the weight of the massive hunk of granite resting on her left shoulder growing heavier with each syllable she spat.
“Did you SEE who put a DEAD mouse in my FUCKING parking spot?”
“A DEAD, BLACK, MOUSE.”
“Did I see who put it there?” I only asked the question because the words “who” and “put” were really throwing me off here.
“You fucking HEARD ME. Who the HELL put that dead fucking MOUSE in my PARKING SPOT!” I knew it was a question by the syntax, but she launched the words through the air at me more like a missile than a query.
“Uh, are you sure it wasn’t a cat?”
“There ain’t no fucking CATS around here.”
“Well, I have a cat. But he stays inside, so I guess it wasn’t him. Are you sure there aren’t cats around here? I think I’ve seen cats here. But I just moved in, so I guess I don’t really know. But I think I saw a cat the other night…” The words dripped out of my mouth like water from a leaky faucet. Perhaps I was trying to bore this scary woman into leaving me alone by ceaselessly gabbing until she got so fed up that she would slam the kitchen window shut and forget I had ever existed.
It turns out that approach wasn’t going to work. My run-on sentences merely acted as fodder for her fury.
“It wasn’t no CAT. Someone waited for me to leave, then came out and put that DEAD fucking mouse where I park my car. RIGHT in the middle. Let me TELL you, I’m the wrong bitch to mess with…” And so on, so forth, and in the words of King Mongkut of Siam, ‘EtceteRA, etceteRA’.
As Sandra (I later learned the demon-neighbor’s name was Sandra) continued with her threats and other various announcements through the dirty screen of her kitchen window, I withdrew into my own thoughts, with only the occasional “FUCK” or “Start a fire like you ain’t never seen” slipping through the filter I had put up against her words. I began to drift, and it occurred to me that I was at a crossroads. I clearly saw the two paths I could take – ignore this woman or not ignore her, it was that simple. And I realized that I had been training for this moment for nearly an entire year.
“WWED?” I thought to myself. “What would Emily do?” This seemed like the most important question I could ask myself.
Why Emily? Because Emily is a goddess. Emily is the answer to the world’s problems.
She has the charm of Paul Newman and the steel resolve of a Mafia hit man. She is sweet and beautiful, with a heart like a bottomless buffet – “Take! Take! Take!” she says with open arms, a glistening smile, and endless hugs and kisses for every soul in line. Emily will tell you that she is not charming, but merely naïve, although I will always argue that just her statement of this fact makes it fiction, for the naïve do not know they are so. Naïveté and ignorance are fruits of the same tree, and Emily is neither of these.
I once watched Emily start a conversation with a rude and vaguely offensive man with whom those of us already sitting outside with him wanted little, if nothing to do. Within minutes she had learned and taught us all more about this man than I’ve learned about some people over the span of years, simply by asking him two questions: Are you healthy? Are you happy? She turned this stranger into another friend in the world, another spiritual fighter on our team. My idea of “stranger” melted away that day.
Some of you may be thinking, “Yes, that’s great, but too much sugar is bad for the teeth.” To that I say two things: we can handle, and could use, a lot more sugar than conventional standards allow, and secondly, one of my favorite things about Emily is the sour to her sweet. Just when it gets to the point where you ask yourself, “Does this girl have no limits?! Does she really love everyone THAT FUCKING MUCH?!!”, you see her air punch the back of some guy’s head for pulling a pan out of the box that she JUST PACKED, the pan that she JUST WASHED.
It is this anchor, but not unhealthy attachment, to the “real world”, the one that most of us embrace too tightly, that makes Emily so amazing. Too many of us hold onto the negative, choose to see people in the lights of their worst attributes, brush off those things that are foreign to us and drown ourselves in the familiar stench of conservative reality. Emily refuses these conventions, but not without acknowledging their existence. After all, the heroine cannot slay the dragon without first admitting that it is alive and kicking.
This is how I know she is not just crazy. Because the first time I ever met her, I was absolutely sure that Emily was certifiably insane. I had never met anyone so…nice. No-strings-attached, no-underlying-motives-NICE. Frankly, it was eerie. So I put up the old wall (you know, the one you whip out in line at the post office) and called it a day. But much to my surprise (and concern), it didn’t affect Emily at all. Like an arrow through the air of a crisp autumn day she hopped the fence and then proceeded to quickly (but oh-so-gently) take it down, pulling it apart and sorting the fragments into piles to be recycled and put to better uses than keeping the beautiful world out of this empty pasture.
And as quickly as I had disappeared into my WWED thoughts, I re-emerged. I don’t have to think about what Emily would do. I know what she would do by instinct. This is another beauty of her being – her joy of love and life is so intrinsic and true that one doesn’t have to think about it at all.
I stepped out of my head and right into the middle of Sandra’s threat to call her nephews on my ass (to teach me a lesson for putting the dead mouse in her driveway), and then she artfully segued into an explanation of the symbolic nature of the mouse’s color.
“Would you like me to pick it up for you?” I interrupted.
This stopped Sandra in her tracks.
“I said, would you like me to pick up the mouse for you? Would that make you feel better?”
“You can do whatever the hell you want. But that thing ain’t goin’ in my fuckin’ TRASH CAN.”
Now Sandra seemed a little dazed, and while it may have been the effects of whatever mental disorder she suffers from, I would like to think that my neighborly chivalry had something to do with it.
“That would be very kind of you,” she mumbled into the window screen.
At that, I scooted inside, grabbed the first plastic bag I found, and edged my way over to the long-deceased carcass of our infamous rodent friend (whom I had, by the way, named Rudolph at some point along the way). Gingerly I scooped him up and put him into a trash can (I still don’t know which one is actually mine), said a quick “Good night and good luck” as I slammed the lid shut, and went to go tell Sandra of my heroic deed.
I quickly walked back to her kitchen window, only to find that she had closed the glass and left me in the driveway all alone. And while I was relieved that she had decided to find a new target for her suffering, I was more overcome by the disappointment I felt for not being able to end my conversation with her the way I had planned, by asking her two simple questions:
Are you happy? Are you healthy?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The days of wine and roses are over. The sun no longer shines for us; in fact, I don’t believe it ever actually did. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Rather, it is the last day of the best of your life. Actually, yesterday was the last day. Today is the first day of the steady uphill trudge that is to be your daily grind from now on.
We’ve had a good run, but every good thing must eventually come to an end. It was good while it lasted, and so on. We spin so many lines to describe the terrible events that no one wants to admit were actually that terrible (yet in which we fully immersed ourselves anyway in some vain attempt at happiness), but now I can move on to explaining to you how this new game works, as the old one has come to a bitter and crashing halt.
First and foremost you must forego any attempts at self-flattery, adulation, and the achievement of happiness as you once knew it. The ghost of bliss we once easily recognized in the glow of kisses and steaming coffee has found shelter in more obscure places, creeping in through the cracks in the walls that were listening when we told the world how it ends—abruptly and without reason. Where there once was a soft and happy glow subtly illuminating the world so we could see it all at once, there now are just spotlights here and there, serving their purpose of illuminating singular moments of clear joy and cruelly creating a deafening darkness in the meantime, one through which we stumble and often fall. But just as we pitch ourselves unwittingly into the holes we also climb out into lovely moments once in a great while. These are the dreams which keep us walking.
Secondly, you will grow to expect that no man or woman outside of your own soul will ever be able to support you in times of great spiritual need. Not your mother, your father, or the person with whom you spend every waking moment, the one that you think about when you fall asleep and again when you rise, the one about whom you dream while Moon laughs down at you. This is not to say that any one of these people does not want to help, it is just that they are generally standing too close to be privy to the vision of your crumbling. By the time you come to this point your grievances will be hidden at the bottom of a chest cloaked in the dust of so many years of wakeful stillness, and the bright pain of them will only present as the smallest pinprick of light to those outside. And while we all wish to find the soul mate that distinguishes this one light from the rest, most of us will never recognize our rescuers.
To be continued,
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I've been thinking a lot about self-discipline, and more specifically, my lack thereof. I think if I could only master that art, then my whole life would be monumentally easier (at least, on a daily basis). The key seems to be living one moment at a time, or trying one moment at a time. If I hold myself up to grand, epic standards with no specific daily goals then I will never achieve what I have the power to achieve.
It's been an interesting month. It has highlighted my tendency to live on the wire, that is, I live in a constant feeling of trying to achieve balance. I don't know if it would be better to always find balance, or to always try for balance. I feel like always being balanced wouldn't suit my palette. This sounds almost masochistic, but I think that it would be quite boring to be balanced all the time. What I mean by balance is the perceived notion of emotional neutrality. I would say "stability", but I don't think that is the best word for it. I think one can be emotionally stable without necessarily being balanced. I think that a natural part of living life to its fullest is allowing yourself to fully immerse in all ranges of emotion. Yes, it can be painful at times when you're in the bucket, but it is also completely exhilarating during the ups.
Of course, I say this because this is how I currently live. Maybe if I had found a way to stay steady on the wire, I would be preaching otherwise.
I stood up on my toes
To watch the coming Storm
Only to find that
The Rain had already fallen.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Was coerced, or herded, really, into a meeting about 401(k)s and how I need to start worrying about my retirement today. If I want to be fiscally successful and independent, I should be putting 10% of my income away in a hidey hole. That's a great sentiment but then I would no longer be able to buy groceries. But really, eating is so passe, so I should probably give it up anyway.
No wonder some people believe the world is going to end soon. "Our" (as in the Western world, and probably beyond) priorities are absolutely fucked. We are cogs in a machine and most of us don't even care. What is life? Life is not working. Life is not money. Life is not stuff. Life is people. It is blood, it is spirit, it is the sun shining and the clouds raining, it is walking and breathing and loving and speaking and connecting and playing and so many other things that are in-quantifiable, therefore of no great importance in the modern world for that very reason.
Yes, I realize that it is wise to save money. It is something that I have to do in order to live in this world. But I get scared to think that someday I might be so involved in the quantifiable that I forget that those are DETAILS. My father told me that I was just going through a phase, that I'll grow up and come to realize that yes, the world is about money. If my notions that the world is much larger and more beautiful than a dollar bill can encompass are actually a phase, then I hope I die before I come out of it.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I opened it up and started writing things in it, then got very sad that I have relatively few things to write in it these days, at least compared to when I was in school. And I automatically was caught in a weak grip of panic, but instead of surrendering I asked myself, "Why don't you enjoy this freedom? Go ahead. Yep. You...there you go."
I still have a bit of a sour feeling in my stomach, but I'm used to it.
This morning as I was leaving my house I caught a whiff of my shared hallway, and it's a smell that I recognized from moving into the place. The other day I cleaned my carpet with the same solution I used when I shampooed my sofa upon arrival in the Twin Cities. Where is the crazy sniffer lady going with this? Both of these smells instantly transported me back to the crazed feeling of panic I had when I moved up here, instead this time I was an observer, not a participant. And I actually smiled about it. Look at you, I said. Look at you there, freaking out, with no one in the room to protect you from your own fears, with no one to grab your shoulders and shake you. And guess what. You're still alive. And quite smug about it. Look at you, indeed.
Then I went to work, where I alternately consoled, cajoled, and harassed harried loan officers all day. Oh well. The good with the bad I suppose.
As a sidenote, I sometimes wonder if the world can be boiled down to love and fear, and am wondering if we perhaps combine and/or confuse the two.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Nobody wants to gasp for air in icy water alone. But as it turns out, the people who manage to avoid it are the ones left on the other shore, and not the one where the grass is greener.
"keep on swimming, keep on swimming..."
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I reconnected with a really close friend of mine, and made a new friend along the way. These two have and will surely in the future be important spiritual seekers and guides.
Someone helped me pinpoint something this week. He told me that he believes I have found out that I have power over my life, over the course of events that unfold, and the ultimate power in how I choose to perceive those things. I think he's definitely onto something, and putting that feeling into a tangible sense makes the vibe that much stronger and more empowering, and it just keeps multiplying upon itself.
Stranger to a seeker you may be,
But no longer dampen the spirit of the learner
Instead seek to quell your own spells of hunger
By breaking bread with the one who asks you questions.
Your answers are not the ultimate truth
But that one is a sneaky fellow
Changing skins to suit the notions that we keep
And in the end, the ultimate is not so useful as we hope.
Through the searching eyes of those who sometimes seek us,
Though we know not why,
We can create a mirror into
The things which we cannot see for ourselves, of ourselves.
peace and much love.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I have fought against being a musician since I started playing the saxophone 13 years ago. I only just recently came around to it in the last couple years. I tried and tried to put it down, leave it behind, do something more economically productive, something that would more likely ensure financial success, something that would put me on an easy path of approval through tangible accomplishments.
I remember growing up how much I fought. I remember one day in particular when I was really upset about a lesson I was supposed to have, and how freaked out I was that I didn't think I was prepared for it, and how hard the music was, how much I sucked, blah blah blah. I worked myself up into a pretty good mess about that one, and told my mom I didn't want to do it anymore, I couldn't handle it, and that music wasn't for me, that I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. She sat me down and we had this conversation:
Mom: "Rachel, how many times have you cried over grades?"
Me: "Um, maybe once."
Mom: "Rachel, how many times have you cried about theater stuff?"
Mom: "How many times have you cried about your friends?"
Me: "Don't know. Never."
Mom: "How many times have you cried about boys?"
Me: "Never! No point!"
Mom: "How many times have you cried about your saxophone?"
Me: "Every freaking day. *Sniff**hiccup**"
Mom: "I think you are going to be a musician."
And that's when I told myself to stop fighting it. But I still did, just not with as much conscious effort. But everything up until now has been child's play. My world growing up, and the academic world into which I replanted after graduating high school were cradles, where nothing could really test my relationship with music. But now, scrapping my way through a world where people don't have jobs, homes, or money, let alone the time to think about where musicians fall into line, the fight has suddenly become a lot more important to me. And where I was once fighting against it, I now find myself fighting for it harder than I've ever fought for anything.
I think of music as a very real entity in my life. I consider myself to be married to it, completely committed even on the days when I wake up and think, "I WANT OUT!!". My saxophones are not instruments, they are the only children I ever want to have. I mourn for their injuries and want nothing more than to give them wonderful and exciting lives. I feel a personal responsibility to be the greatest musician I possibly can be, if only to avoid disappointing the entity which is my greatest love.
Yes, there's some cheese there. But eat it. Because it is honestly made.
Now stop wasting time and go give somebody a hug.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
You sit and stare
While I type
Useless numbers into a dead machine.
You quietly wait,
For someone to need your glorious power.
You are the binder,
Turning mere sheets of paper into bundles of economy.
How empty this desk would be
Somebody save me. On the bright side, I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for a mini Iowa tour with Deep Soul and don't have to see this desk again until Tuesday. Woot!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
In other news, just got back from recording some tracks for the Deep Soul demo (we are playing March 7 at the Hub, for those of you in the valley of cedars), and experienced that moment I think (hope, for my selfish sake) every musician recognizes when you hit a wall and are forced to admit you will not scale it immediately. Well, I hit the wall, and it stunned me and even got me a little upset, but I'm just going to go to bed and see how my horn and I are getting along tomorrow.
Ah, Monday. The day when I am forced to reckon with the fact that I have an office job. Some days are harder than others to reckon with my desk, to convince myself that it's just for the rent and won't be my permanent life. I am generally thankful that I have a job at all, as that is more than many can say at this point in time.
Whenever I get down about life I try to take a moment to send some positive vibes to others, to wish them luck in finding employment (as many friends of mine are currently hunting), to help them find peace in their meanings, and to provide a knowledge that I will always be there to lean on, as I would hope they would be there for me. After spending a few minutes focusing my energies towards others, I generally find the day approachable and more welcoming.
Oh yes, and this weekend marks my first six months in the Twin Cities. I couldn't be more pleased and excited about my life here. I think back to my first months here and absolutely cannot believe the progress I've made, not only with my life goals but also the ways that I have grown as a human being. I cannot express how it feels to be writing this right now, but I can express my firm belief that while we all go through some frighteningly trying times, battling life and our own minds and egos, there is so much to be learned through fighting those battles. I thought I knew exactly who I was when I graduated college. I thought I knew exactly who I was until I moved up here, actually. Then I learned that there were many things about me that I hated, that I feared, that I didn't understand at all. I was forced to examine these things and take a proactive role in my life for the first *real* time, ever. And while it still scares me and some days fills me with panic, I know that I have made the right decisions, have led myself down a path filled with surprising and beautiful things.
I wish you all serenity and love.
Friday, February 27, 2009
For those of us who are imploding upon our selves, please remember that the people in your life are pillars, and often enjoy playing that role more than you are aware.
World spins without us and we choose
To see that we are not important enough
Or too important to be effective
On daily movement, planet life continues.
Vagabond dreamers hold truths precious
To hearts soldered shut by days passed
Lovers gone and love whisked away.
Now softly cloaking our eyes
With veils of egos, boost our smiles
Quickly, now let no man peek
Inside a haunted dream.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
As I'm sure you may have noticed, I've been posting some poetry. That is because about two weeks ago, I began to write again, after a four year hiatus. I couldn't be happier. The same person who inspired me to begin writing again told me last night that once we focus on the love we have for the people we spend time with, then that love becomes the only thing of importance, and the world just has to come to terms with that. I can feel the world around me shifting towards this notion, and it fills me with indescribable peace.
If birds could walk like humans
Would they proudly march
In bubbles made of their own egos
Or would they flock?
Rush around in mad scrambles
To follow the wind
To no avail, because their wings
Are gone, not just clipped but
Taken away completely?
Hold their heads up high
And preach convictions,
Thinly veiled bitter gems
Cloaked in righteous beauty?
Or would they fall,
Crippled by the loss of
Wings that used to carry
Bodies less burdened?
Friday, February 20, 2009
Don't let a second pass without
Telling the world what is wrong
And why, and who did it.
Raise the alarm wake the guards
They've missed the coming of
The enemy to our gates as he
Breaks them down and threatens to
Build them newer, better, stronger, fiercer.
Set your arrows upon the man who
Tells you you are wrong and all that's true
Is false and your fear is false just like
Your pride and sorrow and the
Only truth is in your love,
Which you've locked away and lost.
Set the dogs upon the scent
Of love long lost, it hides
Somewhere deeper than we know
But we will look and
They will bark even if it's dead
It must be somewhere and they will smell it.
Just like the scent of fear, so palpable is the
Aroma of love even smothered
We will look and they will bark
It must be somewhere, we will find it.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Streaming down in silent ways,
We say that stars are like eyes,
Peeping toms in the night skies
Staring, daring us to go further.
Who says planets don't align
To bring us pleasure, life
A sign that something's right
Now, here in the ether.
Daily jumps through daily hoops
For treats, rewards that rarely
Come through, but still
We try and try again.
Someday soon, not now
Not then, but when
We do break the hoops
The stars will smile,
Then as we try, might the stars shine for us.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
As I sit here in my cubicle, perusing various blogs and trying to delay my lunch as long as possible in order to ease the suffering of a long and tedious afternoon, I keep coming back to one thought—the strength of a negative mind-frame, and how important it is to fight against it.
Rarely in the past have I ever considered myself, or been considered by anyone else to be the optimistic member of any group. I usually was labeled the cynic, or pessimist, to which I faithfully replied, “No, just a realist.” But I’ve since learned that reality is not static or fixed, but rather some foggy combination of fact and our perceptions thereof.
It is far too easy to allow the world and all of its inhabitants, tangible or otherwise, to step on you and keep your head under water. The challenge here is to fight back, come gasping back to the surface, while still knowing that there is a long line of people waiting to push you back down. Those people who manage to successfully resurface over and over again have discovered something that others have not—that our attackers are mostly fictional; it is generally our own thoughts pushing us below the surface; usually we are only drowning ourselves.
The most successful people in my experience are those who do not give the negative, invasive, all-powerful constraints of “the real world” enough merit to do any permanent damage. Our dreams as artists are delicate and must be fiercely guarded against the savage beasts of those who have failed before us and wish us nothing but failure and desolation. Unfortunately for the artist, most of those beasts easily roam throughout our psyche due to the fact that our consciousness is their own birthplace.
If you reach out to the world with a vision of something powerful and bold and important in its own right then the world will reach back. There will more often be times when everything seems lost, when you’ve lost the will to continue reaching because nobody seems to return the favor, when the tree in the woods stops trying because it has come to the conclusion that nobody is watching anyway. These times feel like vast and utter failures. But it is only when we lay down and allow our own demons to drown us that we truly fail at anything.
We cannot rely on others to make our world beautiful and complete. We cannot wait for the permission of others to allow our dreams to come to reality. It is up to the individual to create a situation that lends itself to his or her success and happiness. Whether this means changing yourself, your perception of yourself, actively changing your settings or instead molding the surroundings in which you already find yourself to better suit your purpose, it is regardless no one’s responsibility but your own. Strength and courage may be gathered through those that we love and trust, but true success and happiness is borne from a seed that only we can plant in our own consciousness.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I went back home this weekend. Each time I go it messes with my head a little bit less, but messabout it still does. It's painful. But I think it teaches me some very valuable lessons. Lessons which I hope I can understand at some point down the road.
I feel myself re-emerging these days. And then I disappear again for a few weeks, and painfully come out for a few hours, then scurry back into whatever secret hiding spot I have found, the location of which I have (purposely, I'm sure) neglected to reveal to anyone, including myself. I have decided that we are all multiple entities, and it is only when those entities are all honest with each other that one is truly peaceful.
I am frustrated that my heartbeat
Is not in rhythm with this song.
Can a true sage,
A master, really learn to control his heartbeat?
To make the interior and exterior a unified rhythm.
I wish I could sing it to you,
Perhaps then we could understand.