Ok so seriously, I have a ridiculously busy schedule. In addition to a 40 (+/-) hour work week I also curate two monthly poetry readings, a bi-monthly reading that involves much more than poetry, I volunteer once a week, have mentorship responsibilities, accept reading invitations a couple times a month, working on a music project, my poetry collection, and some literary projects outside of the readings. And let's not forget making time for self, family and nurturing my wonderful friendships and romance-ship...
So of course I’m often asked, “How do you have so much energy?”
Well, I think it's due mostly to my listening to imperial court music, or just Toshio Hosokawa for weeks at a time. Every. Single. Morning. Sure I meditate too, but I practice Deep Listening at least once a day. I think when we become submerged in sounds that are spacial, in harmony with the movements of our breathe, we allow our bodies to float and wander off – away from ourselves - for a brief moment. What makes it a little different than meditation is that in the brief moment when we lose ourselves between the emotional chords, sounds, and ambient voices, we create an immediate bond with our surroundings, subconsciously. It’s as if we’re listening to an orchestrated love letter penned by nature. And like meditation, we also create a bond with the silence in the negative space (Ma, 間). When I return to the conscious state, I realize there’s been an entire conversation going on, a conversation with silence. My subconscious listens to the silence, and as I get better at this the silence makes the trip back home with me. It’s invigorating. And I feel armed for battle…
and ready for the day.
(give it a try)
The earliest memory I have belongs to December 8, 1980. The first time I'd witness a grown man break into a million pieces. That was the night I realized that I, my stepfather, family, and the rest of our crazy little world...was mortal...and human. And my stepfathers tears for the loss of this man who was only a funny musician to me then, meant that he'd make sure I knew everything there was to know about him. And thus began my life infused with John Lennon. And because of the lack of time, in lieu of me writing a new note like I do ever year, here's the note I wrote last year...on why for me, and for so many, it was John Lennon.
THIS POST written October 9 2012
I have so many fabulously talented and awesome friends, one of them is composer/musician/producer Joseph Minadeo aka Patternbased. He’s currently on a massive tour across the country, collaborating with musicians/artists/designers… planned, but mostly kind of spontaneous. He just left Ashville and is now in NYC/ Philly/NJ area…and is open to collaborating in cities near there.
If you’re a musician on the East coast…hit him up and collaborate. Ever patient, professional, flexible and with a great ear, he’s honestly a great producer/musician to work with!
Check out his website for details on what he’s worked on, his projects, style etc….
And one of several things he and I worked on was this piece he just published on his Soundcloud. It’s a little prosaic excerpt-infused-melody taken from the beloved Jean Baudrillard’s philosophical treatise “Simulacra and Simulation.”
There hasn’t been a month in my life when I didn’t think about Ray Manzarek at least once. That organ was a staple in my family home. I was a little girl when I found poetry, I was even younger when I discovered The Doors. My father would sing their songs to me on the long drives back home after spending the weekend with him, just outside the city limits. Repeating the words,
“I see your hair is burnin’
was his way of telling me that he loved me, and that I was his childhood version of Los Angeles incarnate. I wanted to become Los Angeles, I wanted to make my father proud. More as a child than now, I understood what embellishment meant, and I understood what it meant for a soul to be on fire, in a city of lights. When the music played, I felt my father’s heart through his eyes.
But then, I’d go home. Home was where my Mother and Stepfather raised me; another version of Los Angeles, within the cities’ limits. My stepfather was a musician, with an ego to match. The nine year old version of me wanted to be Jim Morrison. Wanted to move like him, to be free like him. I wanted to make music through words, just like him. But my stepfather had none of it. He tried to make certain I knew from early on, that Jim Morrison was “garbage”. “Manzarek was the sound behind the music, and the music is what we’ll always remember,” He tried to convince me. “Manzarek is a genius”. Of course I’d argue, “but Jim is soooo cool,” so as soon as we moved into a bigger house, my stepfather bought us a Vox organ that he found at St. Vincent de Paul’s .
I was nine years old when I discovered that a band didn’t need a bass player. But as I grew older, I realized no one else made such powerful and transcendent music without one. Manzarek was one of a kind.
Jim Morrison crept into my thoughts often, as I’m sure most LA poet’s and “musicians” can relate to. But, I always felt guilty for not mentioning Manzarek first, when talking about the Doors. It was his sound that brought the words to life. He created a venue for poetry to dance in. Manzarek provided the soundtrack to a moving mind. He was able to not only catch up to a rip tide of words, he made sense of them, through colors and waves of sound. Such inspiration. If it weren’t for Manzarek, Morrison would have been heard in mono.
“Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you.” -Jim Morrison
(I noted this on a facebook post yesterday, after a wonderful afternoon at a poetry reading, and today I thought about the magic behind music and poetry collaborations. Morrison, Densmore, Krieger, and Manzarek’s keyboards made that shit real. )
Let me begin with --
I’ll be your mirror
Within my circle of friends, watching films and having dinners usually surrenders to conversation; mind-bending, lengthy and worthwhile conversation. And up until recently my happiness was beginning to surrender to feelings of compromise, doubt, weight and worry. So naturally this means busying the life with more dinners and playtime -thus conversations- with friends. Eventually the settling happens, and thoughts are no longer restless, and feelings of comfort begin to create the foundations of harmony. We sit in gratitude, from a distance.
And of course, at times we reach the crossroads with some of our other friends. The ones that might have wronged us. The ones we wronged. We wonder. We regret. And we question. This always leads me to…
The Three Kinds of Friendships…
(Boston Marathon bombings took place on April 15th 2013)
Looking over facebook posts, realizing there’s a deep sense of sadness amongst some of my friends, because of ongoing national and worldwide tragedies. Going to two funerals in one week kind of forces me to look for a reason to smile, for a sense of balance, though its perfectly alright to feel no need to smile (considering). I think society has forced us to respond in ways that create burdens on our psyche. Smiling, laughing, and breathing, help us to alleviate some of that burden. I hope that my friends can find a reason to smile, even if only briefly, if they want to.
long past the timeframe they’ve told me is acceptable.
I wanna laugh
until I’ve drowned out silence,
or until they tell me to grow up.
I won’t listen.
I wanna ask
the easy ones with answers like,
“Because he thought no one loved him,” or
“we’ll never have the answers.”
And the tough ones, with answers like,
“Because he thought no one loved him,” or
“we’ll never have the answers.”
I don’t wanna know
why and when people stopped listening, stopped caring.
And because no one ever thinks they need a hug,
I wanna hug
everyone I meet.
That moment of letting go together,
when we feel emotions dancing.
And I’d rather dance
then grow up.
I want my heart to smile,
in a room filled with unbearable darkness.
Adult eyes piercing me with curiosity, longing to be
in my shoes, once again.
To grow up, in my shoes.
I’m 2 years young,
5 years old.
I’m that kid you once knew.
I am hope.
Love is what fills the softness
throughout my bones.
There are no options
for anything less.
I am what I want to be,
when I grow up.
I was gonna write about how today marks the anniversary of meeting an angel. An angel who - while disguised as human -came into my life like a tornado, bringing heaven and the stars with him, only to as quickly -as the just fed happy hummingbird- fly away, leaving a necessary, and wonderful, lasting impression. But…we’ve all heard that love and life story, and I might tell it later.
Instead, this morning I received the always dreadful news that another good guy has left us to cancer. (this cancer stuff is getting old, by the way) He’s a best friend to one of my closer cousins. All of us the same age, at that point in our lives when priorities surface, self-awareness speaks to us through the language of birth, loss, career transitions, and through the restlessness of the realities of a monotonous life. Our realities a little more settled in (just a tiny bit more), making it easier for us to understand each other.
So the other day, when my cousin communicated to me how devastating Oscars recent cancer journey has been —for him, my cousin— I realized the impression that Oscar has made on his friends. I again, was reminded of the power of friendship, and how powerful a lasting impression can be for one another, just by nature of being a good person.
Oscar leaving us, is a tremendous loss. I’ll always remember him as the badass UCLA left guard, who in high school stood out from the rest of my cousins friends because of his teddy-bear heart and because he was a vegetarian. His pro-football career cut short by his first battle with this horrible cancer demon, he instead became an amazing father, and remained very close friends with many of the same people he grew up with; a testament to his character. It wasn’t until recently, after twelve or so years, that I started to catch up with him again, and easily discovered what a wonderful father he became, and the loving soul that remained.
May Oscar rest as he lived, in peace.
“The winds that sometimes take something we love, are the same that bring us something we learn to love. Therefore we should not cry about something that was taken from us, but, yes, love what we have been given. Because what is really ours is never gone forever.”
...the inspiring awe of a Teslin Lake, embedded into the curves of a simple smile. The fishermen have shown me the certain greatness that lies beneath the magnificent beauty of the still waters, and beside the restless trees that embrace them. A life so beautifully delicate and complex that even men yearn, as women do their families, to foster a particular process of sharing time with, and to better understand, what’s hidden below.
And now, perhaps in my journeyed existence as a young woman, I’ve discovered that even beyond this life in the waters, stirs an even greater purpose. As a clown disguises his sadness in his false smiles, the waters cry out to us, not as sadness but as proof, that a smile is what we should seek to take when we explore its robust, still body. A smile that reminds us that it’s the world that we should make happy, and we merely follow. Our lives belong to this world, and the essence of our being lay still in the water. It’s the all-recondite joy we should share and remember, without asking why. Happiness doesn’t begin or end with a view or photo of a lake, nor with the fish caught from it. Happiness begins with awareness of the fragility of our lives and our response to all that the Earth has given us, including that smile in the lake.
2013 memory of Teslin Lake, Yukon 2005
‘Tis the season for caring and sharing and newly professed love! My favorite day of all days.
I find it makes sense that some people of the “web generation” are not particularly fond of Valentine’s Day, such a warm and personal holiday. Never mind the TV, malls and billboard advertisements. It’s about the distraught couple trying to find a resolution, the father waking his daughter up with Valentines Day smiles and hugs, and celebrating the idea that Saint Valentine passionately -yet secretly- defied Claudius by continuing to perform marriages for young lovers. It’s about writing that letter or telling that special someone how you feel; before it’s too late, or because you want to begin.
Someone once said, life is too short to keep secrets. Take it from me; we’re all here for a pre-determined time and when that time is up, that love is lost. This day is here to help those of us pass the message along a little bit easier. And the need for love, is not always a romantic one. Once upon a time, when we were young, we were taught to share kind Valentines messages with the rest of our classmates, at what age did we learn to stop doing this, to stop caring?
As a little girl my grandmother would send me a card, like clockwork I’d wait for it in the mail. We’d later visit them with a box of chocolates and she’d always gift me some sort of candy jar filled with gummy bears with cute lids inscribed with “I love you” messages written in puffy paints. What I loved most was that every year my sweet-toothed stepfather would buy several of those tin cans of popcorn we all love, a couple dozen variety of flowers, bags of the finest licorice and gummy bears - the high quality stuff, not your average Red Vine or HarBro - and the funniest Valentines card a father could pick out for his daughter at the nearest Osco Drug (always with at least an 8 1/2 page long letter attached). He would sneak into my room before I woke for school, and place all of it on my bed. The thing is, I never wondered why he wouldn’t do that for mom. I didn’t have to. And mom would love watching me smile, with the occasional grunt about him always buying too much candy. Everyday was Valentines for her, for a while anyways. He often wined and dined her, took her shopping and went on romantic road trips. They had plenty of romance. He purposely, with thoughtful intention, spoke to my heart…to a child’s heart. to show me that I was loved, that Valentines Day wasn’t only for romance and proposals. It’s about sharing love, making someone smile.. and just because you can.
No one else I knew at such an impressionable young age, had such wonderful Valentines Days. I hold those days, and the way he was, and encouraged me to be …very close to my heart. Close enough to be able to grab it and share that feeling with others. And sure, this is the first year I haven’t had a Valentine to share a kiss with. But I’m loved, and I love and I have friends to share my heart and smiles with…
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by whathappens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” -Khalil Gibran
Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all!
“…when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.” ― Sogyal Rinpoche
It’s been ten months since I last saw her alive. It’s been exactly a year since her last birthday. She was sick then, could hardly breathe. Listening to her music reminds me of her breath. It was always a struggle for her to breathe freely, openly. It’s no walk in the park feeling obligated to a life caring for a mentally ill mother. I would watch her live vicariously through her mothers wildly naked choices. Naked wasn’t a wardrobe choice for her mother, it was a thoughtless pursuit of finding herself. I suppose it’s always easier to look for a needle when there is no hay. Her mother looked, and looked…and looked. She never did find anything. Maybe that was the point, to find her self in the deepest part of the forest. My friend however, was handed this obligation, this struggle, her mother, and she observed. She cared for her. She analyzed it all over and over again, until her years of tears made her sick. She found too much. Her death was slow, long, debilitating. Her mother’s death, not too long after, was quick but I can’t imagine less debilitating. And I, we, look back at all of it, searching for clarity. I think the only thing we can do is love those around us, a little bit more. Continue to sympathize with those that struggle. Such a fragile, precious life, for all of us.
(i’m writing something about this subject, in depth, and not so enigmatic. this note is more of a way of processing, externalizing something so….well, internal.)