the war within

The long night gives way to a drool soaked morning.  Which I swipe with the back of my hand.
This notion of loneliness gives way to knowledge of what it means to be friend.  My mind is dream soaked as I try to understand the message, where?  I ask.  And then When?

Singing Josh Groban and Bonnie Raitt and the Dixie Chicks at the top of our lungs, we miss the turn off and find ourselves driving in a quaint area with lots of photo opportunities.  I chastise myself for forgetting a sketchbook or a camera.  At the beach I am dive bombed by a larger bug and then the luck of the ladybug is upon me.  I let her along for the ride.

We walk long and long past the well groomed beach and onto the hardpack sand.  Zebra mussels and driftwood are scatteredpall along the shore.   I do yoga in the sand stretching my body as you set up your umbrella.  We speak of heartache and love, we speak of the struggle of school and this crazy world.  We are sad of the way people treat each other.  About how much of a struggle it is.

We laugh at our bodies reactions to the cold water as we slowly make our way deeper.  We drift on the rocky waters laughing at our struggle to get on the floaties, and worried about a park ranger stopping us from taking our own risk in the waves.

Later I walk with the dog in Clark and am amazed at the number of frogs or toads that are hopping along the trail.   I recognize the quiet in myself and stop to listen for a moment.  All day long all I can think of is the small messages from God that I only hear when I am silent.  Thoughtful. Contemplative.  I feel a kind of truce coming within me.  I wave a white flag.

 

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Homecoming

Spiderweb

 

I have returned to you my beloved, my friend.  Though my mind is miles away I wander your muddy paths and savor the quiet of your sun dappled trails.  I watch carefully as my feet tread upon you, taking care not to harm my injured knee.  And I do not.   A twinge here, but nothing too bad.  It has been a long time.  The very possible threat of EEE and West Nile Virus combined with injury,  has kept me away too long.  He convinced me with a constant barrage of whining that I must go and I reward him under the power lines with time off leash.  We are started by a mountain biker and a group of very odd people running and walking.  I look ahead on the trail and am startled to see a shining gold thing in the setting sun a patch reflected at about eye level.  Treasure! What could it be?  I think spider web and as I draw closer I see spiderweb is the answer.

Holding Back

Sometimes, no maybe all the time, and a lesson learned while married, I hold back and withdraw when I want to pull in tight and close and squeeze with all my might.  I never wanted to appear clingy, I wanted him to feel as though he had the freedom to do as he would, and in the end he would choose me.  I could not have been more wrong.  I just want to have my passion bleed out my pores like it always does.  But I stopper it up, cannot have all that power, it scares people away.  Right?  Sometimes it even scares me.  A hand that is placed on the hip, a leg that is touching a leg and 3 small soft kisses.  Holding back.  While I imagine myself running and jumping into waiting arms, my hands pulling you close, and 100 kisses as my body intertwines with yours, I wait for your body to turn and for your strong arms to be wrapped around me, a kiss on the back of my head, my shoulder.  The night is dark and I am bleeding though I do not know it.  Like a mosquito bite that has been scratched too much in the dark.  I draw trouble onto myself a clarion call for all takers in scenting vicinity.  I go to the fair, thinking I am ordinary, but more than one man smiles and says hello in that way a woman knows is an acknowledgement.  But only one man has my heart.  I cannot breath it to him.  All that passion it scares people.  Right?  It scares the hell out of me.  But as one wine slushy is drunk and then another and then another I whisper it in the dark.  I whisper the words from deep inside that iron cased pump that beats and beats gushing all that stickiness.  Its just too sweet, like jack wax, a little vinegar is called for to keep you from getting nauseous from it.  We are parting and as we leave each other we pass back and forth between us all the fruits we have, a few apples for you, two peaches and an exotic fruit for me.  An ear of corn, some seed pods and peppers.  Later I chop the peppers and save them for the winter and I feel inspired to give more.  In the falling rain, drenching rain, you come in without knocking and take the oven hot bread that is offered.  And kiss me 10 times with lips that are so sweet.  But all this blood has scared you and I feel foolish for the leaving.  The blood of shame is on my cheeks.  In the dark, though it is hot and the fan is on my back, which cannot bear being cold, I want to throw my arms around you, instead I lie awake for hours wondering what my life would be like if I did not hold back.  Wondering what other fine mistakes I can make.  Wondering if you will lie to me every day for a year or for ten.  And tell me you love me moments before you pack your clandestine suitcase.  Fuck all this brutality.  Fuck how insignificant it makes me feel.  I want not my ego to be assuaged, but to have peace from this constant litany.  I hold back only because it all scares the shit out of me.  But what I want more than anything is for you to see that I don’t mean to go only until Sunday at 11:59 pm.  But I tell you to give me til Sunday, because if I happen to say that there might be some significant time that I am willing to commit to, I feel like I have just dropped a bucket of spiders on my bare belly.  I am really just waiting, for you to turn your body to mine and for you to wrap your strong arms around me.  Because underneath your calloused hand, and the soft skin of my breast is the iron cased heart of me, holding back.  I need to see what fruits we are passing between us, and to know that if my back is turned to you, that you will draw me in, or that when my hand is only resting on your hip that you will press in to me wanting more.  And when I see this I find my eyes closing and in the early hours of the morning, I fall deeply asleep.

This woman’s best friend

I tell him we are going on a long car ride and he happily jumps in.  He settles down and promptly falls asleep.  We spend the next several hours driving here and there, getting out for pee breaks and getting water. We stop in the town of Whitehall now sort of famous for Bigfoot sightings, birthplace of the Navy and the spectacularly gothic Skene Manor.  It is completely lacking in charm, utterly devoid of it.  He stands happily in front of the carved Bigfoot.  I call him Sansquatch great furry beast.  I think he laughs.

Sansquatch

In a small town near Lake George, he sits in a shady spot, I check him every 20 minutes, checking his nose, his ear temperature and the water, buying him an ice cream to help cool off his body, and give him a treat for sitting so quietly in the car.

The next day we rise and the day is breezy and cool, but the sun is shining.  We hike up the dirt road and up onto a high grassy hill overlooking a barn we sit in the sun while I paint a watercolor of the barn.  He wants to follow the other two dogs, but when he gets all the way down the hill he looks back, not sure why I have stayed behind, then he comes tearing up the hill.  He is hot with his black fur and we share my water bottle, I don’t even care when his tongue goes from the cupped palm of my hand to the bottle mouth.

He is off leash the whole day lagging behind and tearing past us, and then leading us all the way home.  We sit at the high table drinking our white wine and we see the cloudiness in his eyes.  Sometimes when I call him I have to clap because he struggles now to hear my voice.  He follows me around my friend’s house, sitting outside the bathroom, and sitting only a few feet from me, sleeping on the floor by the bed.  And when it is time to go, I say let’s go see the kitties and Morgan, and he jumps up into the car, he lays down and promptly falls asleep.

Old dog.  Dear friend.  Constant Companion.

Sancho

Litany of Stupidity

I sit in meditation the hard rain has stopped falling as hard as it was, but is in that stage where it still falls in bursts, and the wind is blowing strongly enough to make it splatter off the leaves.  We are chanting and where once I found it almost embarrassing, a feeling of heat on my cheeks when I did it, I now find that it is a solace, a moment of serenity.  When my thoughts stray I stumble over the Sino Japanese words.  But when I focus it comes out, my voice strong, and it is like singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite song, only I am a capella but for the other voices.  Shinge Roshi once asked me if I had had musical training, and told me my chanting reflected that I did.  I of course told her of once but no longer skill on the violin, of teaching myself to play recorder, of my time in chorus and church choir.  It is a relief to not have the litany of stupidity in my head, though I am now working not on shoving it out, but instead in trying to understand it, in trying to accept that it is a part of me, to sit with it no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.  But for a few moments my brain is silent, while the vocal chords and air around me are filled with joyous sound, accompanied of course by all the nature, windows wide open, wind blowing in the sound as it rises and falls.  And after, when we are quiet there is a moment in my brain where I realize I am at one pointed awareness, how can you return to one if you are already there?

I go to physical therapy for my knee injury and do squats until my thighs burn.  At home I get the dog for a walk who will later hug me in his dog way at least three times on the journey.  We walk three miles and I can honestly say I can barely remember it.  At home again I make myself some curried chickpeas with carrots peas and onions and put it over whole wheat couscous.  It is delicious.  I take my bike and ride almost 10 miles standing up to ride into the strong head wind.  And later when I go upstairs to get my journal from my bedside, I feel the aching in my body.  It feels good.  Really good.  I get on the scales before my shower and have lost 8 pounds since I last weighed myself which was some weeks ago.  My underwear are feeling too big, along with my favorite shorts, so I know inches are gone too.  Yes.  I realize that hunger is like unwanted thoughts, if you just notice it and let it pass, it does.  So though I want a light beer, and a bag of popcorn I do not have it.  The longer I go without the better it feels.  Where once I might have had carrot cake twice on Sunday and twice today, I have only had a one inch wedge from the cake, and I feel proud as hell because it is my favorite.

I write in my journal about how painful it is to never have closure with my ex husband.  I know I know I keep beating this dead horse though it is a prehistoric one.  And its bones better served for paleontology than self abuse.  I acknowledge my fear that someone will do this to me again, abandon me with no words, just leave as though I am nothing more than a paper towel wadded up and thrown away.  Done.  Though I can say he told me I was charming and lovely and the best thing that ever happened to him, there was never any closure.  If that was true then why did you leave me.  And why was I so damned blind and missed all the cues until later when I held up a lamp and looked backwards and the truth loomed like a 50 foot vampire cloak extended.  I write about how all of this is making it so hard for me to maintain relationships with men.  I write about how really what I want more than anything is the pirate, whom it would appear does not want me anymore, because of my stupid fears and wanting to protect my bodhichitta, the soft part of me that is in everyone.  I write about how powerless it makes me feel to have this wound, to have no closure and how I use this now old news situation to allow myself to sabotage what matters to me, to crush my own bodhichitta.  This nonsense, will the pirate call me, won’t he, will he want to work this out or won’t he, and will I ever get over what the selfish arrogant F___face did to me, and is still making me do to myself over and over again ad nauseum, oh you see this is the litany of stupidity.  I expose it here for all to see like a corpse in a sky burial.  And I know the healthiest way to handle it is not to try and push it out, but instead to open it up and expose it so that it will decay in the natural cycle of nature.

I continue to mediate.  I must continue.

Childhood Memories

The night is not quiet as they sometimes say, all of my windows are open and I can hear the sound of the insects buzzing, chirping and vibrating.  It is music.  For some reason I am transported to Hillsdale.  I fly over the valley and to the house on the hill.  I find myself in the dark room with the high windows, worn white crocheted lady pillowcase under my head, a hudson bay wool blanket on the bed even in summer and the carefully folded down bedspread. The picture of Jesus with a palm behind it watching over me above the desk at the other end of the room. The lingering smells and memories of cigarettes, Yardley’s English Lavendar, coffee, Seagram’s 7, gingerale, Bugles, buttermilk pancakes, boiler piped heating and cooked venison fill my senses.  And as these smells return to me, so too does the smell of the tool shed up behind the house.  The ambrosia smell of who knows what, but so distinctive.  A smell I have discussed with my brother at length.  Hops oil, lemon oil and citronella, the distinctive smell of deer, some other smells we could not name.  Behind the house, acres and acres of meadowed farm land, mountains, woods, stone walls and a creek, shallow enough to play in, deep enough to make it real, and water so clear.  I sigh in the night as I recall all of this.  A place that for me is the perfection of childhood.

What place could offer such perfection for me now?  I can think of none, perhaps in my older persons way it is Clark Reservation.  But certainly I am not building dams and I don’t see flocks of turkeys, nor deer very often and there is no old abandoned garbage dump to pick through pulling up old pottery and glass bottles and bits of metal.  A future archaeologists dream.  And I am not being chased by mad cows as I scramble to get under the barbed wire where it passes over the creek.  In a Far Side cartoon kind of way I think that cow must have spent her whole life telling the story about how kicking up her heels and curving her tail up behind her she chased the human girl across the field.  Like my stories of the men I have dated in the last two years, keeping everyone in stitches as I recount the hilarity and farcical nature of the adventure, I see the cow telling her story of that day to all new calves.  I can see that cow in her old age, standing at a stanchion and turning to her best friend in the stanchion beside her and saying in a droll voice, remember that one evening when the grass tasted so sweet and that human girl walked into the field and I decided to have a go at her?  And the cow next to her starting to giggle.  She could not get under that barbed wire fast enough, and then she slipped in the creek and nearly took a dip.  And then she stood at the fence and stuck her tongue out at me!

This is one of my treasures.  That if I could box it and give it as a gift to God, like the small angel in the story The Littlest Angel, I would do so.  It is one of the grandest treasures I own.  More special than any shining bauble.

 

Mai Lan Restaurant

MaiLan Restaurant

We have been going to this tiny hole in the wall restaurant for many years.  It has become a tradition that we go for lunch when I am on vacation from school, and that we get take out on our birthdays.  They make hands down the best spring rolls on the planet.  While Morgan always gets the Shrimp with Lemon Grass, I like just about everything on the menu and today I got a big bowl of Noodle Soup with Shrimp.  I stopped to pick up a birthday cake for Morgan at Biscotti’s Cafe first, home of the best cannoli I have ever eaten, though I can no longer indulge with my dairy allergy. It was a carrot cake minus the walnuts since she has developed an allergy to them, and pecans in the last couple of years.  When I walked in the the owner whom we call Mr. Mai Lan came out and greeted me and told me to have a seat.  Then Mrs. Mai Lan came out and as always she asked how I am and how is my daughter.  I told her it was her 20th birthday today and she told me to tell her Happy Birthday.  Then she said something to her husband in Vietnamese and quickly went back into the kitchen.  After a minute she popped her head out and said I am giving you something for her birthday.  I didn’t wait long after I paid, she brought out a steaming container of sweet and savory rice cakes that smelled absolutely heavenly.  She told me that this was something special that she made for her family and wrote a message of Happy Birthday to my daughter.  When ever I go in alone as I sometimes do to enjoy a quiet meal by myself, she asks about my daughter and always tells me she is very beautiful.  She is so kind and so compassionate and such a warm and friendly woman, her smile always brings me joy.  Today was no exception, all I could think as I was leaving, grinning from ear to ear (a way to a man’s heart may be through his belly but to this woman’s heart it is through the child) that if anyone saw my face they would just go into the restaurant to see why such a place made a person so happy.  It may not have TVs at all visual points, and they may not have a standard fair that can be eaten anywhere else in the country, but the welcoming smile and warm friendliness of the people that own it makes it the best place to eat in town.  And frankly hang the damn television and prepackaged garbage food.  This place is why we always celebrate our dates of birth there, because you feel like you are not just a customer but that you are a welcome member of the community.

Thank you Mrs. Mai Lan, you made our day, as you always do.  You are wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Hitting the Reset Button.

“The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.” Pema Chodron

Wow.  Is all I can say.  What a powerful reset button I am pressing.  I know there is a whiplash effect and it will come to me, but I am finding the reset is needed, and that I cannot leave my meditation practice anymore.  The truth flies in on a witch’s broom and I see suddenly what I could not see before.  It flies back out again swoop.  And I am left here saying  oh I get it now.  The reason I was wound.  I get it now.

I just want to say before I go to bed, one can only imagine that sleep will come, that I have worked my body hard today.  I walked two miles, rode the stationary bike 20 miles, did some weights for my arms, and did yoga for  a little over an hour.  I am starting to feel a little sore.  And I am still a bit hungry, but I cannot help but think that just because I am hungry doesn’t mean I need to eat.  My favorite black shorts were falling off me today, I really needed a belt.

Reset the mind, reset the body.

I have returned to one.

 

I am wound like a spring about as tight as it will go.  POP! I hurt someone I love, POP! I have hurt myself.  My mind is out of control spinning, frantic.  Wounded, deeply, I am still grieving.  I don’t know it.  I wind myself up.  I cannot go on like this anymore.

Steps taken.  An old boyfriend, who is a personal trainer is my first call.  Help me I say.  I cannot go on like this.  He promises to help.  You can do this he says, judging from what you are doing now, it is some simple steps.  Try this, do this check back in with me in a few days, I will do what I can.  I am so grateful.

I return to one, I return to the Zen Center.  My mind is a cacophony.  I try hard to quiet it.  It will not hush.  Dokusan.  Shinge Roshi asks, where have you been? Why have you not made an appointment and talked to me about what is going on?  I weep in front of her.  You have been wounded deeply.  You are still grieving.  There is no timeline on grief.  Start where you are.  And continue to put your mind to your practice.  I know I say.  It has been the thing that has given me peace.  I know I have to return to it.  I tell her.  I messed up.  She gives me amazing advice.  And says, you have taken steps to make sure it never happens again,  he will see that you are sincere, and if he doesn’t well, he is not really worth it.  But he is, I say.  He really is.  But also I hear her.  I really hear her.  And I know her words are truth.

For a moment my mind is quiet and I feel peace.  I am so happy for it, though it is brief.  I know that practice will bring relief.

Warm loving hugs from dear friends.  Welcome back, we have missed you.  You look so good, your hair is so becoming, you look wonderful.   I know that practice will bring acceptance.