thank you for your steady flame,
i will strive to carry it
It's extremely fitting on the day my grandfather died I found myself locked inside a graveyard, which I only escaped by climbing a tomb and hopping a fence while the wind lifted my short skirt above my waist—much to the honking celebration of passing traffic. My grandpa would've fucking laughed his silent chuckle so hard until he was rolling on the floor.
That man had a sense of humor. Slightly dirty. But not too dirty. He was an elegant man. A simple man. A stoic clown. A man of the theater. A director, an actor, an organizer, an idea man, a quiet man—he played it all from the backfoot. Father of the coyote and the jester—my mother and uncle. I hope he is reunited with my grandmother. She was the loud one—ever laughing—bursting with joy and drama. She had the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard.
When I was a child, I would ask him to paint my face—he'd retrieve his make-up kit from the basement—it smelled like a few generations of stage makeup, and dozens of backstages and green rooms—a rich perfume of oil and powder and heavy black curtains and glitter gathering like cobwebs in corners, tinseled ghosts summoned through this ritual, stirring up the magic with each dip into the rouge or the blue cream or the white base. He used a stipple sponge on my cheeks. He put the flesh of his pinky into the red and white and patted it just so onto my lips. I'd ask him to draw stars on my cheeks.
After I danced or sang or pretended I was this or that fairy—semi-conscious remembering of prenatal knowledge, I would probably ask him to read a story. And I would sit in his lap and he would do the funny voices, of the Elephant's Child or Fox in Socks. And when he wasn't making me laugh and laugh, I would stroke his soft wrinkled skin while his voice—an elastic gargle, somewhat soft, wrought with gentleness—would spell all that was good and kind in the world.
I don't have much more to say about grandpa right now, or “g'pa” as he signed his cards for the latter half of my life. . .
I continue writing, two days later. . .
He had a commanding presence of peace and surety. He never liked anyone to cry. He always had a soft smile and a gleam in his pale green eyes. He wasn't flashy, but he was elegant. He wasn't brash, though a bit naughty. He wasn't loud, but he'd make the crowd roar. He didn't talk much, but when he opened his mouth, it was always at the right moment, it was always what was needed, always natural, and always seemed like the only thing worth hearing. In the right afternoons, any afternoon, any time of day, he could unfold the stories, wrap you a spell of tales, hilarity, hijinxs, and mystery, for five minutes to the hours. He was a magic man. A deep, wise, patient, radical artist. I learned love from him.
He wanted to see me in New Orleans. I face-timed with him a couple days before he died. He saw me on the streets of New Orleans. He was smiling. He couldn't talk very well. The call upset me so very much—I hadn't planned to call—I had meant to do something else with my afternoon—after the call I wept for a couple hours on the street instead and then went and improvised a song on a piano in a coffee shop. I am glad I called. I am glad a song found me. I meant to call him again. I didn't. But the last thing anyone could understand him saying was “I love you” to me. I asked Mama later: did I say I love you back? Yes she assured me, yes you said I love you back. The couple days before he passed, she would play again and again the recording I'd made of the improvisation, and read him a poem I wrote about him. He liked both very much, she knew, in the way of his nodding and the raising of his eyebrows, when keeping eyes open was too much for him. Mama told me she and Uncle John sat in the dark and sang him songs until they knew he had passed. I am so fucking lucky to have had an amazing, absolutely incredible grandpa.
He was a warrior of love, and a warrior for art.
He weapons were kindness and patience and laughter.
Yep. He basically taught me everything I know about how to exist. He with the green eyes, catalyst for creation in my family. Listen to this song I wrote for him on Friday. Click file below to hear the improvisation as it happened. I'll post lyrics later . . .
. . .some people came inside to listen to me and hugged me afterward, for indeed by the end of the piece, tears were falling as I played. Gosh, for someone who doesn't cry much these years, I've sure found myself crying a lot on this trip--mostly from being moved by connecting to strangers. I am blessed by love everywhere. Love is everywhere, like little weed blossoms in the sidewalks, leaves gathering in cracks, vines along a rusty chain-link fence--everywhere love spilling over, ready and waiting for you, for us, I want to give all my blossoms away, all my songs, all my hugs, take them, take them, have them, and thank you. . .
. . .
The night he passed, I was improvising more music at a celebration at my poet-artist-clown-friend Asa's house—for a short time, late at night, folks told stories of psychic events they'd experienced. I almost told the story of a dream my grandpa sent me in the fall. I didn't share it though—my thoughts faltered and I thought: I wonder if he will come to me when he passes? It may have been in that moment he did pass. The next day, I saw I'd missed a call from my father at 2am—and I rose and walked outside to receive the news.
Asa and his household let me wail and cry. I announced to those generous witnesses: his name was Donal Kieth Sexson—he was an actor and a director and a kind man and he was great story-teller and a great man! I wailed in the bathroom: grandpa grandpa grandpa I love you I love you I love you. . .
He lived a long life. A gorgeous, poetic, brave life. He taught thousands of people how to open themselves onstage—he taught people how to overcome their stutters and speaking fears—he put on circuses—he was a friend to every child and every person who needed a smile—he taught people how to be generous to one another, as artists and fellow humans. Please remember to be generous to each other. Remember laughter and peace and patience is all that matters. He had a very open mind. He was never a naysayer. Anything was possible in his view—if you asked him—for he was not one to preach a thing. He was available. He would help those ready to receive help. He never tried to change the things he couldn't. He lived altruism. He was elegant. He never complained. He kept himself happy. He lived by example. He didn't dwell on things. I heard new stories every time I sat by his chair. He made me smile and laugh every time by his side. Just thinking of him I smile. Through my tears I laugh. My grandpa was proud of me—he knew I was magic—I will be sad I didn't get to hug him one more time and feel like I didn't tell him enough how much he meant to me. But I think he knew. I know he knew. And he didn't need to know. But he knew. He knew so much. He had nothing to prove and gave as much as he could to all.
If you read this far, you are probably a good friend of mine—and if not before, you are now a good friend of mine. I know my grandpa was somewhere near to laugh with glee as I mooned traffic escaping a graveyard on his deathday. (I don't know how the gate got chained and padlocked behind me, but it did!) Later that day, I ate chocolate pistachio gelato with real raspberries in his honor, and drank chicory coffee which he loved. I just gotta eat some hushpuppies before I leave Nola for his sake too.
Most importantly I will continue to fight for myself and my dreams—he lived his dreams—he followed his callings unquestionably—and didn't give a fucking damn what anyone else thought of him. He fought for love and art. I continue his legacy. Every time I feel insecure, I'll think of him and his living example of self-love and “fuck em” attitude to the naysayers. (I never heard him say the f word tho.) And every time I feel the sparkling power of shining my starlight for an audience of any size, I will feel fiercely the joy of knowing his kindred influence. Any time I feel sorry for myself, I think 'well, shit, that's stupid' because he taught me how to keep on keepin' on. He taught me not to dwell. He taught me you don't have to be overbearing to have huge influence and change the world around you. He taught me not to question other people's processes—to trust that all happens as it can happen. But he was also an example of how to persevere for what is good and right and progressive. He would break rules if he thought it benefited his community. He was a quiet rebel. He could keep a secret. He had good, brilliant, wise, hilarious, loving parents who taught him he was worth his dreams and he has passed that belief on to his grandchildren and his thousands of pupils and artists he directed and to whom he gave his time and humor—he saw the gentle joke in everything—he entered a room with a positive step, a gentle smile, a confident head nod, and the sense that anything could happen, anything was possible, but it will all end well, because it is well, and we're all in it together, because we are it together.
I hope you follow your callings—and damn the naysayers. I am with you, my friend. Call me anytime. I am cheering you on. Love and Light, baby. We are all in it together. Death, birth, rebirth. . . What do you want to do before you die? I believe you will do it. Look in the fucking mirror and know you are a a miracle capable of who fucking knows what. What do you feel called to do? The world needs you right now! The world needs us! I love hearing about people's dreams and how they are fighting for their path. Send me a message about your current journey. You deserve to fulfill your calling. You deserve to laugh—you deserve to be the clown and the clownee—we all need to take turns prat-falling and playing the fool and holding each other and making up a song as you go along—you are ringing right now in the song of life—you are a love warrior, and I feel our dance growing stronger every day. Thank you for dancing with me. Thank you for fighting for yourself and the paths of love in all the ways you do every day. Keep doing it.
My ma texted me a picture of a quote today:
“To travel alone, I learned, isn't to rely on yourself. To travel alone is to force yourself to depend on others. It is to fall in love with mankind.” --Ken Ilgunas
I replied: “oh fuck yeah” and then “i meet marvelous strangers all the time and it affirms my feeling deeper and deeper that we are all connected just waiting to be friends”. I joke sometimes that all my best friends are strangers.
Just yesterday I stopped to talk to some strangers on a stoop. Turns out they were performance artists and magicians. They tried to teach me some magic tricks and I laughed with glee. I hung out with them for three hours at least. We sang songs together and made each other laugh and laugh. They fed me. Crawfish and chicken. Love and light as the sun went down.
The other day I met a woman on the sidewalk, maybe in her late forties? She asked me about my friend Clay's Sh'zambulance—I told her about the social-change circus work he does—from entertaining orphans in Mexico to helping distract traumatized refugees living in tent cities abroad. I told her I hope to figure out how to do a similar thing some day—bring joy through clowning. She told me she believed in me. She told me she liked the sound of my voice. She told me I was already doing it and that I was going to be a ukulele playing clown and that the world needs me. She was one of the angels I meet every day. She was living in her car, been traveling alone. She reckoned she might stay in New Orleans for a while—it doesn't feel like anywhere else. We talked for about twenty minutes about love and war and laughing and music and cosmic coincidences and embraced. Her solemn belief in me had tears in my eyes and her authentic sharing got me good in my gut. Just a coupla lone wolves howling each other onward on our paths, meeting on the sidewalk, exchanging a few words and worlds of love.
In my grandfather's name—or your name—or the name of all mankind would do just fine—consider donating money to Clowns Without Borders or Clay's Emergency Circus or name your own price purchasing my personal music as a way to support my own journeys about the world trying to figure out where my powers can be most effective for battling the of war in the world, how I can best help heal the world where love and laughter is most needed. Or consider donating time, money, presence and support to any artful outlet of love that calls you.
Most of all, consider for yourself the joy and wonder found in your world, the exquisite beauty in those near and far from you—in your kindred and the strangers—what you share in common with those in your neighborhood and those in refugee camps—we are all humans wanting to love each other, we are all humans just trying to survive and to help our brothers and sisters and children and parents—we are all made up of the same stuff—all the same kinds of heart and soul everywhere in the world—every person a wonder, and each of us worthy of joy and peace—hold onto this and foster your wonder and joy in any way you can as much as you can—and when you make a mistake, laugh it off and keep rolling in this glorious miracle of life—and if you are afraid, it's okay cuz everyone is sometimes—and you ARE brave and you ARE beautiful and I KNOW you can do it—YOU know you can do it!
Remember we are all connected.
Remember I love you. :)
Karen Mary Joan-of-Arc Magic-Music-Magic Unkel Kunkel
PS: here are the words to the improvised song for my wonderful grandpa. music—like any art—is like love—there is an endless well flowing all around us—sometimes it seems difficult to tap into—but the well is bottomless—the flow is always there—tap into the shared reservoir and you hit the place where all our souls are one. . . that is to say something encompassing the following the thought: I don't know where the songs come from—but I am so thankful. Another good quote for the day, an excerpt from Martha Graham:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”
ok so here are the words from the flow for g'pa:
The song from Flora
through the dark
you are a meadowlark, you are a meadowlark
you are a riverbed, you are a riverbed
what we all will become
oooh all your channels
all your blood vessels
are drying up
you hold five million billion cups
of the finest green stardust
steady, steady, steady, steady
oh steady steady rhythms
from your ancient stone
to the newest shell
you knew about all the magic
you know the spectacle of hell
putting everything just so
you kept all the sparkles
in a nice jumbled row
oh puttin on your stage makeup again
oh youre puttin on your satin
takin of your linen
never have a bare head
keepin your hat cocked just so
and a ring on your finger and a bow
walkin with a soft shoe
carrying no canes, carrying no props
takin a stage name
ooooh all the world is a stage
you inviting all the children to play
I can see you
sittin by the river
playin at yer mark twain
knowin it holds all our names
knowin you hold our names
black and silver gold and blue and green
oh you with the cat eyes
ridin the troupe trains
oh you're a wiley father of the coyote
father of the stage
father of my uncle
father of dionysus
father of the jester
oh it's time
to go/to hold
i'm not ready
i'm not ready for the show to be over
and the show is never over
oh you will take another name
I hope your spirit
finds that songbird flying over your head again
nesting in your arms
. . .
and then I tried to write more that day . . . but you don't need to read this last bit--I mostly just wanted you to listen to the song : )
The Poem after the song
Grandfather is in the river
written in the flora
sung by the meadowlark
in the banks of love
grandmother is the moon and sun
they dance a slow waltz
her laugh could blow your blues away
candles on a cake
tinsel from the rooftops
sweetness in the spring now
everyone take their place
the joke is written poorly
delivered like a king
the prince and fool
share a dance with their kin
everyone is laughing at what went wrong
and everyone is overjoyed
like a child's summer song
for everything is going swell
and everything is alright
and everything is good magic
at grandpa's every night
the children are a blessing
the food was really great
and if love the bounty
we'd always have a full plate
grandmother's hand inside his
in lawn chairs on the patio
their outside arms hold cigarettes
and the smoke is sacred peace
the backyard is a field
yellows gold and green
the hills are smooth
yield apples and nectarines
every day a little circus
and in the morn he'll tip his cap
in the afternoon he'll drink ice tea
and take a little nap
afterwards he'll kiss his queen
and then ask me what I need
I'll probably do a little dance
and then ask him to read
and he'll do the funny voices
and make the funny face
and I'll tug on his ear so soft
born knowing what he gave to me
tell the stories, tell the stories,
make 'em laugh is how to be free
He never dwelt on sorrow
he never spoke of anger
indifferent to tomorrow
waltzing through the day
never in a hurry
elegant is he
born in the springtime
with parents strong and witty
from the pasadina playhouse
to the shore of galway
to the streets of spain
and wenatchee valley
traveled like greta garbo
no words can compensate
for the steady love
the curious mind
of one so magnificent
a simple man
a wise man
a kind man
a sexy man
a teacher an actor a believer a skeptic a psychic of the comedic and the tragic a poet, director, lover
grandfather artist bohemian professor trickster punk feminist social changer radical liberal
he had a quiet power, and bright twinkle is his eye
he played from the backfoot
but he always hit the sky
he knew how to weave a spell
discreet and sometimes wild
he knew how to charm the charmers
and to play fool to a child
my grandfather is dying
he is like my father too
I don't know what to do
I want to sing to him one more time
and hold his beautiful hand
and listen to a story
and the record of a swing band
I want to see his pale green eyes
looking into mine
and know that he is proof
A different mode
no time no place
for old names
only time and space
for the oldest ways
a language beyond the tongue
I have been in New Orleans less than 39 hours. I feel like I am home in a way different than other home. I don't feel so much belonging as I feel an animal united with her natural habitat. It is not so much excitement I feel as it is a deeper ease in talking to people I meet. It is not novelty I sense. . . it is a fog, an incense heavy in the air, from the bayou, from the river, flowing from an entire continent—bringing with it the energies only water can carry—and the wet magic of thousands of miles permeates every pothole, every crack in mosaic, every eyelash dewy with it, every pore glowing—and this cloud is alive and binding the humans together here, making more fluid the sponges between their boundaries of a shared mind-soul-scape.
“New Orleans has a way of putting a stick in your brain and stirring it all around,” said Julia last night, the manager of the name of a place I forgot, but I'll look up again. “It all comes from the river. I recommend going and sitting by the river tomorrow. It's very calming. Watch the boats go by.”
Julia found me crying out by the back door of her establishment. She did all the very best things—asked what she could do, asked if she could hug me—and she was a lovely hugger—asked me to come in so she could get me a drink of water. They were closing down, counting money, wiping tables—she guided me to a padded bench and just let me be until I needed to leave. I didn't stay long. I told her through more tears when saying goodbye what the little problem was: that I'd been telling a couple friends at the bar down the street that I'd felt like I was supposed to have come to New Orleans years ago, that parts of myself have been collecting here over the years—and my friend interrupted me to say “yeah and now it's too late”. Which is pretty much my worst fear for anything, and a fear I believe, and a fear I'm trying to shake and escape—and when my friend said those words, I had to excuse myself. I didn't want to sob in front of “friends” I didn't know very well and who didn't seem very interested in listening to my experience. But then I went back to the friends, feeling much better, and talked to them about it. My one friend—he—he listened a good deal and listened to my fears and explanations and ideas—and talked about the fear of being too late for something—the feeling of deep regret—I told him I feel like I am grieving something—some life I could have lived—I think it is a real thing maybe—But. . . I do not want to wallow in emotions. It is actually quite easy to sink deeper and deeper into any emotion and its attached ideas. And I do not want to do that. I am trying to not wallow in this very vibrant regret—I'm just trying pass it, to purge myself of it.
Because I know it is never too late. Possibilities are dying around us all the time—yes that's true—and there are endless possibilities being born. It's funny that I should come to believe how endless music and song is before I come to accept the fact that so are all possibilities for anything else. The possibilities of who can be a friend, who will be a lover—The possibilities of what monologue to write and perform; what city to live in; what country to fly to; what cafe job to get; what dance move to fall into; what way to be an active citizen. . . who to love; how to love; where to love; how to share your love. . . the possibilities are endless. It is overwhelming to me. But I spend too much time trying to pick the most perfect choices. This is part of my journey—learning to accept the deaths of the possibilities which won't happen. Another theme of my journey is learning to listen to my gut so that I won't make the same mistakes.
My gut doesn't feel fired up here in New Orleans, but my whole body feels supported, my spirit seems more physical than anywhere else—my soul is quiet and insecure and recovering from illness, but it is in the drivers seat more so than any other time in my life I can recall. I feel like I'm planning less—something larger than my calculating mind is steering me gently down each potholed street and cobbled path. I feel like a child talking to the kids in the neighborhood. I feel like I am of this heady magic on the warm damp breeze. I have always been in these streets. I feel like I have been here a long time and never left. Perhaps I am picking up the pieces of myself that have been waiting for me. Perhaps this is proof that it is not too late. It is not too late for love. It is not too late to fulfill one's magic. It is not too late to grow and learn and change.
I told my friend Danny that I felt like psychic tendrels of my soul have reached out to this corner of the earth for a long time, and those pieces of me have been waiting for my corporeal ass to catch up over the years—waiting so long that some of those pieces of me have fallen away into other timelines. . . I will pass this grief and regret. I also feel the slow movements of some other thing beginning. Maybe I will not take the time to name it. It is enough to know it is good.
What endings do you feel in your life? What is passing through you? What beginnings do you feel? How does the spirit resonate in these bodies, changing our eyesights, capabilities, personalities, actions, and choices? The possibilities are endless for we are all endless. It is strange, isn't it funny, to be so endless that it is almost incomprehensible to parts of our own minds? I am giving up that part of my mind. Trusting in the tendrils of spirit reaching out, and the soul which has a gentle hand on this vessel, steering with an energy that only looks forward and beyond, in a fierce, fluid peace.
I still have so far to go before I could offer or ask for some kind of commitment from or to some one single other person. I'm still reconstructing my magic. I have so much to learn and be—I have so much breaking a part to do—so much healing dancing—where I break a part my pieces so in the same whirling, my older, wiser, more alive particles can come in—take the place of what doesn't serve the shape and path of what I can be and can do. I can feel it—I think I am so close—sometimes I think it is too late—but that can never be true. It is never too late. It's never too late. It is never too late to let loose that little big something inside each and every one of us all.
When the final movement happens, whatever fricative powers and motions that propel me to a new way of being—I won't have time to write about it. I won't have time to stop and pause and reflect. Somewhere along the way of my childhood I learned to be very cautious. . . and to move slowly else I get hurt. . . I want to learn to love the pain. . . I can move fast. When I don't move quickly I get fat—see it now? I feel it, that's for sure. I want to inhabit my strength, my resilience, my ability to die and be reborn, my love for extremes—I want to fully inhabit my potential—I have so much to do. I need to keep it simple: be joyful. I can be dark and complex and fiery and violent and vindictive and suspicious and mysterious and coy and soft and silent and a million ways I think may or may not please whomever I am with. But to stick to the rule: be joyful. That is something simple I can do and not get too lost or tangled in. Joy can be violent or soft. Joy can be loud or slow. Joy can be an explosion. But joy—that is a magic word I can tell myself and feel the summation of magical healing powers as the root of all joyful expression. My joy and my ecstasy.
Sexy people are skinny and don't apologize. I won't apologize for doing whatever I want to at any moment. . . . Except for getting upset at Davey. Hah.
6 is magic number
it's the first odd number twice
aside from one, which if you add two, and then give it twice OR if you simply double thrice you get the number six, which is quite balanced, and if you halve it, it becomes two threes, and three is a circle, and two is binary and one is the symbol of what we all are! Three is one layered is more than fourth dimensional, so six is sacred magic, the seasons in between seasons, the sun and the moon,
Perhaps I feel keenly when I have been somewhere before in a past life.
Perhaps it's not connecting steps of the past—perhaps it is coming upon, running into a part of myself,
unconsciously following a silent tune I heard calling me—a part of my psychic energy which reaches forward—an invisible limb—stretched out so far ahead—that when I finally catch up with it—i feel like something outside of me, beyond me, yet completing me—an additional peace of me, expanding the smaller sensation of what I was without it for so long—that is the feeling I feel sometimes, when stepping into a new realm for the first time—often the threshold I cross is invisible—some step bringing me just into it's scope—the train pulling through past a certain aging porch—the car rounding a hill above the bay, just so, in early spring—the boat halfway across the Irish sea—and the feeling lights on me, a bolt of awareness so beautiful and amazing I am crying—a rod lifting my temple and my plexus, my knees bend, and my breathe sucks in sharp and deep, my eyes widen and suddenly I am home after being gone a long long time.
I keep mourning something the last three months. It's likely not important to try and give a shape, a name, an understanding to what exactly I am mourning—for it's something like the-lives-i-would-have-lived-if-only-i'd-gone-where-my-gut-said-to-go-and-never-cared-about-staying-where-i-was-and-trying-to-fit-in-and-find-a-place-amidst-those-i-admired-but-by-whom-i-never-felt-seen-nor-accepted. I feel like I am mourning the parts of my phsycic energies that reach out from my belly, far around the world, sensing where they will thrive, and call to me when they find the magic I need or that needs me, but my mind never unstood, and my body never catches up, and those physic bits of myself linger and wait and dissolve into other timelines, other lives which this Karen, me, shall never now live. I think it is those lives I mourn and those parts of me that how cried out, softly and loudly over the years to run to a place I'd never been before and had to reason—no intellectualized proof or plan—to go to—other than I felt called there for a little while. Now my gut is silent. It is rarely silent. I don't remember it ever being silent. Sometimes it calls me places. Sometimes it is unhappy with the place where I am. Sometimes my gut is fitful, excited, dizzy, elated, fractured, quiet, scared, or ill, depressed. . . but it is never silent.
I don't know what this means.
I am still searching for my tribe.
I do not trust how to trust.
But I guess it doesn't matter.
As long as I keep moving.
But is it too late? It feels too late. There: the grief again. Something has died. I don't know what it is. Perhaps I am only lonely.
I think it is both. Because they do feel different from the other. Grief and loneliness. But it doesn't mean I do not like my life. Yet am I doing my best. Yet do I claim my path, proud to know it absurd. Yet still I do I revel in every sunset.
This sunset, she is a dark-skinned ballerina, walking slow and tall across the plain—she lifts her knees high, and sets her feet down slow and soft, floating smooth, chin high, arms low, shoulders strong and easy, her fingers sifting through the rising heat like dreams of wheat, the highest curtain i've ever seen of violet and mauve follows her, their soft edges gold, her hair blue and white and grey—she is warm grace—the sun, red, outlined in a ring of yellow fire, like it's been cut by a smith to roam free—but it just hangs there turning, watching her and me.
. . .
Remind me to keep moving. Getting lost in the sunset. . . that is where I die. . . that is why dreamers have a reputation for doing nothing else—because it is a real thing and the thing is dangerous—to be still and alone—what good are visions if they are not enacted in real time with other corporeal beings? These bodies are meant to dance together and witness and heal and love through all our sufferings—knowing we deserve to feel the peace and wholeness of each moment—but with each other. I am still too afraid of being the first to dance. I know I am healed when I dance anyway alone—I know I have released from the moor where I batter against the dock—when I join the wind and the thought and motion are one thing—the act becomes the thought.
Your success is my success,
I failed us all by writing that poem
Goin on three hours of sleep doesn't seem to matter for present circumstances.
The scenery is sublime, the train pulling us a gentle ride through the deserts east. The light is still that of warm gold morning, making the desert bloom in shadows dappling all the green and grey, sage, cream and gold—a million hues of brown and clay—pink dirt—clear blue sky—and mountains deep blue in shadow and glowing like triangles of mica in the sun.
I always set my main bags in the passenger car, then bring my personal essentials to the viewing car. I'll probably keep this bench—drenched in full sunlight—claimed until when I find myself falling asleep. The train weaves back and forth beneath the path of the sun—every time I am in shadow, I am hilariously sad and cold. Every time I am in the sun. . . I am blissed like a tired dog on a porch in spring time after a long swim. Yep, I feel like I could call the train my front porch and myself a dog. I feel right at home, watchin the world pass by—though maybe I'm doing most of the movement.
But before I get carried away talking about sun and sun and sun and sun and how much I love it, and before we celebrate how hilarious it is that the two books I came away with from Book Stop, a used book store downtown Tucson, are The Gypsies, by Jean-Paul Clebert, and The Best American Travel Writing 2015, I'd like to celebrate a few other things with you. . .
Waiting in the predawn light for the train coming late, I take my accordion out its case and play for the first time in a few days (too long). I need to work on my posture and technique so as to not injure myself—should probably also learn to play the piano and to learn basic music theory—I should probably learn how to play the accordion. I am so lucky to have found huge joy in the simple practice and doing of a thing—I don't know what I'm doing on the accordion—I reckon I'm not near good—but it doesn't matter—and that is the whole point of life: to love the practice, the doing, the actions of everyday, the trying, the exploring, the stumbling, the simplicity, the unknowing, and the learning—I have found my joyful zen in the accordion perhaps. And I play, an unplanned tune and patterns which don't repeat. I play slightly away from the gathering crowd—I do not like to dominate a space with a thing—like playing music for a crowd waiting for the train—if the people can't escape if they don't like the music. When I return, feeling satieted and sesning the train a couple miles off, I see children staring at me and a few strangers compliment me on my playing “It's very soothing” one man says. I credit the accordion and thank them too.
This gift of traveling through the desert lands has got me visioning—I see the painting hanging in my grandpa's den of native tribes traveling in lines___________ through the blue and green sagebrush of central Washinton state—I want a horse—I want to be a man on a horse with his friend—campin on our way to a new job—maybe a ranch somewhere—I want to go for miles and days feel wide and open and empty as the desert—there is a particular peace that fills a desert valley—the hush is the quietness of power—and the power is made up of insects and birds, lizards and plants all needing very little from the environment—resilient and tough, efficient—desert creatures are lean and quiet—I recall sighting the mailwoman when I was actually lost in the the vortex of Sedona town for a moment—she looked like a little fox—cropped red hair, large eyes and head on a small wirey body—skin dry and soft and freckled—there is a particular fierce bravery and peace settling at those who feel home in the wide open—exposed to the winds and sand—naked under the sun—weaving between plants that will sting and scratch and rocks that whisper and warm. I don't know anything about the desert really. But it is beautiful. I am a creature who likes extremes. Maybe it's a sign of weak character. But I do like instense, extreme things—don't do well with moderation—gimme feast or famine—gimme joy to be crushed—gimme floods of trauma to hold and heal—gimme nothing I'll make something—gimme everything and I'll explode. In the desert, I slow—weeks seem like days. At the side of the sea—time spent in and out the surf—time slows—and an hour seems like a lifetime.
Across the aisle there are people belonging to some kind of conservative, religious sect with obviously particular rules about personal appearance. The men have a very particular kind of bowl-cut. The women wear bonnets and don't speak much. But when any of them speak it sounds like German with phrases of English smattering their chatter. Are they those __________________? I'll have ta look it up, lest I seem real stupid on this blog.
It's been a couple times now where I think of one of my worst fears—that people secretly think I'm stupid—and I imagine what I would do if I found out it was true! And then I thought: well if I am actually, truly a stupid person--I don't fucking care! And I felt super powerful after that. That, an injection of self-love and baddassery. . .
I have a gift inherited from my father—the ability to do a thing—almost anything—probab anything and to be doing it, awake—seemingly—until I am falling asleep while doing it—whether it's driving, reading, talking, or typing on the train mid-morning in full sunlight of the divine viewing car. While typing the last paragraphs last sentence I fell asleep. I napped for about an hour—the murmurs of conversation, the vibrations of the track, gentle rock and swing of the cars—all making for the perfect white noise—sunlight wrapping me like a blanket like arms, while my shawl magically slips again and again from padding my temple to sitting on my shoulder—I keep moving it back up, in repetitive cartoon insanity you see in heavily animated scenes old 1940's cartoons—if I had a beard it would have curled into my nose with each in-breath, and waved like a flag of smoke which each release of a snore—and perhaps a little desert mouse would peak out of my swaying coffee thermos, each rock of the train lifting the thermos lid, allowing mouse a view of rolling cacti singing of the road to New Orleans while I slept a time traveling, a shape-shifter, a sleep-walker, a dream-stalker, a rich hobo, a white woman, an aging animal, a soul searchin, a fool playin', a star-sailor, nightengaler, wannabe cowpolk, hopeless folk, bumbling on their way. . .
At the station I recall to little boys, nine months, and almost two—they seemed smaller than other children—stuck me as a callback to genes of my granpa's generation—they seemed healthy and beautiful—piqued noses—bright skin—huge eyes peircing like moon beams takin everything in—their ma, I couldn't tell how old she was—she was small too. Her cheeks scarred, ancient remains of acne razed across her sharp little face. She was beautiful. Her accent was Texan, her voice high and stretching across her palette, hitting somewhere in her truncated upper teeth. She had what some may at one time have named “a speech impediment”--a softness of “r”s and “l”s. It gave her voice a beautiful unique music—i liked to hear her speak—about her stubborn step-daughter—who seemed a badass—and how her elder boy was born weeks late—and the next one two months early. That must mean something, I said. But I don't know what.
Oscar, the snack car tender, and I are pals already—he has a dry sense of humor, relaying a cynical amusement of unimpressed feeling about all existence. But that's just how he seems. I told him he's hilarious. He thinks I'm clown I think. And he would be almost right.
I love the train and I love train people. I love soaring through the land like I'm riding a huge sandworm and it's giving me a tour of nature's majesty I would not otherwise have seen from the throne of Hermes (my bus). I love train people—people who are accustomed to fleeting interaction midst transition—people who learn to make their bliss in the in-between places and find dignity, joy, humor in the challenges of the train life—Amtrak employees seem learned in the knowledge of just how much time to take in polite addresses—having learned the vitalness of ritualistic manners—reminded more often than those in other lines of work, that one never knows the emotional, physical needs of the stranger with whom they are about to interact—a mindful greeting, no matter how brief, and taking a few extra seconds to create as intentional a space as possible, still however fleeting, can make or break either party's sanity, and can and does make or break the opportunity for trust and kindness to bloom—and thus hope and love foster.
As ever, traveling makes me a better person and keeps me grateful for every bit about my life—makes me more grateful to be alive—stokes the ferocious furnace of my love for existence, quells my doubts born from fears or demons or down-right stupidity. A theme this trip—this life, maybe—of which I am still aware is the behavior/appearances of loneliness in my life. I told my Tucson friend Kat, I think it is almost a good sign—as a younger being I dealt with being alone better—but maybe I didn't deal with it better and instead was more ignorant of reality. I'm pretty certain as a younger being I was more distrustful of others—more certain they would never accept nor understand me—at the same time more affected by others energies—I felt more easily overpowered by others wills and expectations, empathizing uncontrollably to the point I felt it safer and more pleasurable to me alone with my thoughts and visions and fantasies as I wandered into new places. And I think I feel more genuine connection with all humans and all of the earth these days. I understand my emotions and needs better, so I can handle my own self better around others to whom I also feel better connected. However, I still get overwhelmed when meeting a new or old friend along the journey—like fiddle-playing Faith from the northwest, when I caught her touring through Tucson with the divine spooky-western-Roy-orbison-like Roselit Bone—or when I meet my new friend Zack—or when I see my friends Kat and Bekah whom I last saw and met last year in the southwest—during these meetings, my excitement is so great and gathering it tumbles out tidal wave of monologue, driven by the anxiety of time-constraint and preemptive mourning of swift goodbyes. It is embarassing to be so out of control of this particular mix of excitement-anxiety and to babble my stories and thoughts nervously wanting to share as much as possible in a short time. Such behaviour doesn't make for the best visit. Can be exhausting. Is stupid. There is never enough time. So why not just breathe. Look at each other. Look at each other's eyes. Compete for who can be the better listener. Wait for the most necessary stories to surface out the mouth. I won't beat goodbye by filling every moment with chatter. It is nice to be able to name the problem of my coping behavior—and discover the answer is, yet again, the same answer for all my challenges—be. more. present. Give myself the gift of enjoying my friend as they need to be. Let the joy of their existence win over my anxiety of not soon seeing them. Let the love for myself bloom and manifest in displays of confident kindness, and generous humor at any absurdities with which I get the credit. I get so nervous sometimes. Not sure which stories to share and not share. The excitement of my own mind creates such a chaotic energy of thoughts that it alarms me as it takes over—and gives the impression of low-self-esteem—but being unsure of how to proceed can seem like insecurity, for it is insecurity, but it is not in my own self-worth, though relatedly it is insecurity in knowing I don't know—i don't know which ideas, thoughts, songs, stories, energies to share—I feel many at once all the time—I seemany paths of truth splayed out, all at the same time—a criss-crossing web of shape and sound vibrating gold white—every path a choice to make—each intersection a chance to change a coarse—and none of them are false to me—but I don't know which ones will be useful to share with a friend. Which way to be? I can be quiet. . .but if I am too quiet. . . I think it is the worst. . . to not take any action at all, to speak nothing, to attempt to hold space and end up being a column of hesitation, not a witness, not a friend, but a woman, turned a ghost, turned a fly on the wall—doesn't even buzz—just disappears while the others speak. . . I am best one on one. . . but even then the nerves can be more powerful than either of us. . . perhaps I am best met as a stranger singing a poem patched together from all my pieces, of which, one, is definitely you. Doesn't matter. I am learning that any way I be is genuine, and any way I need to be is fine. I know what to do: travel, sing, perform, make 'em laugh, stoke the fire of the knowing that all are my kindred, breath deep into the knowing that there is time enough in every meeting, and that every single thing I start will never seem finished—so I must draw a line and call it good, call it great, and quit trying to expand forever—lest I do just that and disappear into the clouds which whisper to the woman on the bench outside the co-op.
taking off my mask
I see I look the same as you
I do not need to suffer
to deserve this life
rich with chocolate and sand dunes
coffee, pink fire of the moving sun
avacados and train rides
swaying foot to foot
singing in line for a taco
a strange girl joins
her voice to mine
we part laughing
everybody plays the fool sometimes
I want to play the fool all the time
and the masks I wear
are shared for mutual understanding
someday I will live a life
soon, I am fighting for it,
where I have built a table
big enough for all to gather
whenever they want
and my joy will spill off it's surface onto the floor
and people will come from near and far to fill up
to meet their kindred
to lend a hand
and know, relieved: their dream of belonging is a true story.
someday I will have built the table
on which we dance, on which we make love,
on which food is made and babies are born
and I will help spread the news
of how we can love
how we can find again
god in the earth, god in the signs of time we are so fond of measuring
finding god in our cycles of green gold blush rot birth
of how the spectacle of opera is nice,
but it seems to mimic the roar
of the ocean and the feeling of a friend nearby
blending into the orchestra of surf on pebbles, beach grass hissing,
sand flees buzzing, and the moaning of reeds
help spread the news you do not need to get to the office faster
than we need to lay down in the dirt
until a lizard crawls onto our hand
and we feel its tiny toenails, etching a whisper of a poem,
spelling out love with three grains of sand,
tiny, living, breathing things
I will help spread the news that the crabs
which brought you so much delight as a child
leaping from tidepool to tide pool like peter pan
from one world to another
due to the ocean's increasing acidity
due to human's burning fossil fuels.
I will help spread the facts,
we humans are dying,
like a coral reef—interconnected colonies--
wilting in great patches,
running in tides of grief
refugees from famine, from war,
due to the ways of consumption, accumulating this or that
I will build a new way some day right now
where people remember how to breathe
where people remember how to raise their voice in song
where people remember how to make each other laugh
where people remember their bodies were made
for climbing trees, racing with dogs and deer,
lying on boulders under sun, dancing in the monsoons
and their minds were made to learn from one another
how to greet a stranger with kindness
how to trust your gut
how to offer whatever you have to whomever your with
how to hold a stranger who is crying on the path
how to speak to someone who is scared
to show how silence is complacence
to show how one small word or gesture matters
to know it all matters
to know we all matter
someday I will find the path where I can serve
fly me to the place where they are starving
and I will bring them food
we all know there is enough to go around
I will sail to the place where they are sad
and I will remind them how to dance
for music is as endless as the wonders of your life,
our world, your world, my world, the only world we have
it will go on without us, consumed by fire long after we are gone.
But I don't want the humans to go yet,
and if I figure out how to spend my life
saving any lives,
just one life,
I will do it.
I think I already have.
Forgive me, my kin, for the times I was in pain and lashed out,
forgive me for doubting you.
Each of our twining paths is sacred,
I do not know what is best for you.
But I know I am blessed,
and I know I hear stories I must share,
and I know I love everyone I meet.
I am a lucky mother fucker.
I got to keep building that table
each song shared
each hug given
each pair of eyes met
each deep breathe
each struggle to resist
I get lazy sometimes.
Fuck that. Ease doesn't interest me anymore.
Neither does suffering.
Entering challenges unashamed at how I shan't meet my goals
is my new super power.
I am getting better at not caring who gets the credit.
My ego is changing shape,
spreading from one fragile vase
into connected channels
into you and you and you,
your success is my success
it's not a metaphor.
When eve ate the apple and saw she was naked
she was afraid
we are all afraid in our knowledge,
knowing we can hurt and suffer and kill
without meaning to
but know this
know this fruit, renewing, every growing
something wild and sweet, with a different taste each season:
you heal, you change, you seek forgiveness
and you save lives if you want to.
I take off my mask
and I see through your clothes,
I see you leaping in the tidepools
and connecting love in a triangle of
three grains of sand.
You are not afraid
and you are afraid
you are not afraid
when you remember
how it felt to ask—but why is she crying? what happened?
maybe we can give her something?
about the woman on the corner and the child on the news
soft and rolling
across hard dirt
like a herd, like a flock,
like blind bits of breath
My friend Glen posted on his facebook feed the following poem this morning, one his friend wrote. moved me immediately:
"Here is one by J. Wesley Fullerton. Not sure where you are in the world these days, but thinking of you old friend:
Because life will end anyway, I pick up a hitchhiker
four hours into driving a road where no one will notice
if we are good or evil. The hills are half blind, talk only
of the weather; the stars are off somewhere.
His hands are enormous, his hair hangs down
to the day he came home. He is good with talk,
and because life will end anyway, I tell him
of my heartbreaks and what I think they'll do to me.
From his bag he pulls an assortment of drugs capable
of turning a man into any imaginable beast or vegetable,
mineral or gas. He holds up a jar of dried roots. Eat these,
he tells me, you will be invincible. He lifts his shirt
to show me the constellation of five, six, seven bullet holes
dented across his chest, each healed scar a smiling flower.
Sons a bitches, he says, I walked right through them like a
. . .
i been thinking lately about—well, actually, I think about it most of the time, but I've been feeling more keenly lately experiences of life's impermanence, and feeling signs of death everywhere and how it is crucially twined to the absurd beauty of life, forming the ropes we walk—the unseen cords binding us all in a tapestry we cannot fathom—thinking more often of how taking "risks"--like picking up a hitchhiker—isn't a risk at all—it is what life is worth--you and that hitchhiker need each other—you are each other—you witness each other. maybe he kills you. maybe he gives you visions into more lives than you thought possible.
probably won't kill you.
i pick up as many hitchhikers as possible.
i am happier and smarter and more blessed because of it.
and sometimes, strangers let me sleep in their home,
because they want to help a traveler in need,
and they hope i won't kill them,
and i don't.
I would be living a sad, stifled, blind life without strangers and I helping each other in the dark.
Countless petals, blowing in the wind, the breathe of stars, rolling along the ground, signs of life, love. . . softness wins every time
I'm wild flower
and I walk in the wind
I don't have roots
I don't have a begin
I have no end
my petals are silk
flutter like a cape
wave like a tail
beat like the ocean
in the heart of a gale
hear a woman scream
in the roar of a beast
hear a best roar
in the siren of the train
feast your eyes
on the footprints of the rain
in the desert
the water is held by the land
like I hold your hand
I drink from you
I drink from the sky
I drink from the seafoam
I drink myself dry
and I lay down wasted
like something brittle in the gutter
'til I pop up again
a wild little flower
I lay down tired
mind drained in a slaughter
spent in the effort
to take it all in
ain't slept in years
except for in your arms
where my sisters at?
Here's another lucky charm
it's just a rock
but it has a song and talks
to me of all the parts
we're missing, past life limbs
I fell from a tree
a blossom wanderin
I don't drink of a bottle
I don't cuz I gotta
get my fill
by truth streams
comin on the wind
you can find me on the hill
under a pregnant moon
and you can hold me for a while
and put me near your ear
i'll whisper all the sweet things
you have longed to hear
and in the morning
I am gone
fell out while you were walking
you don't miss my goin
but I sure miss your talkin
i'm a wild thing
shape shifting in the shadows
i'm a lizard on a rock
bumble bee in the meadow
I float in circles
now you see me
now i'm gone
and it won't be long
until Spring is home
just like she never left
we want Persephone
when she's underneath the ground
memorizing songs from poets
who have found
a rip between the worlds
a window in which we dance
if we're lucky we can catch a glance
of the wild flowers
walking on the wind
their song is a scent
and like a dog I breathe it in
like a wolf I run for blood
like coyote I am hiding
like a snake I am slowly shedding and biding
and binding like nothing
to nothing to dust
i'm a wild flower
in seasons I trust
put my pennies towards my sins
don't let it weigh me down
the bags filled with fear like sand
thoughts stilling me like venom
evaporate with every changing season
wild flowers blossom when you know it's okay
for them to love everyone, everyplace, every way
all the ways
all the roads
all the beings, beasts, the hoards,
are meant to know the dance
of wild growing things
the chaos is balanced
the designs repeat
the stars etch their shapes onto our brow
and we can feed each other
if we let ourselves learn how
I know i'm of the everything
I know my roots are waiting
for now i'm just a ghost
a thought, a changling going home
for now i'm just a fool,
a song sailing out a tomb,
a hobo parading
you might only see the dirt
you might only see the husk
but I see sap and salt
and marks of all the holy dust
and you know somewhere nearby
you are wild too
I hear the ocean in your pulse
see the blush of roses
growing all over you
the horizon has traced your back
arched and covered in dew
shinin like your forehead
when your sweatin in the shed
riled and climbin
your skin, vines coiling,
around bones undead.
I dreamed a man fell down from the sky
another world, an alien
he told me we only have one life
we can but sense what else has happened
and will happen and who else we are
by listening like a mouse, black eyes,
in an opera house, the buzzing of flies,
we are all on the wall, being written
and the orchestra is forever tuning
before the show
it is the show
the yawing, mawing, screaming, groaning, bass and bow
takes on the shape lovers meeting
tries on the shadow of peter pan
looks like fossils turning liquid
tastes like the neck of man
and suddenly i'm dancing
and I know I have no choice
but to roll in green waves on a black shore
and let loose my voice
one moment I am planning
writing down a complex list
next day I am only breathing with the sagebrush
and offering a kiss
with words short and simple
like saying I don't know
and I know that I am wild
and I know nothing matters
more than everything
and I know that I will never understand
and it is the sacred way of humans
to try and do our best
and to feel
and to try to do our best
and to heal
and to try to do our best
to know yesterday is not our answer
and to try and do our best
I know you are doing your best
I will remind myself you are doing your best
I will look in the mirror less
I will let myself learn something new
I will let myself let go of yesterday's crown
I will let myself change
I will let others know that I am available for changing
I will let others know that I am trying to be different than yesterday
I will not force a head to look
I will not dig for love that is not offered
I will not pull at the wool of someone's suffering
I will not meddle in the path someone is forging
I will believe my friends
I will believe my strangers so they will be my friends
I will believe in you and me just like my dog believes in me
I believe I can do all this sometimes
I believe I cannot do all this sometimes
But as long as I am trying. . .
I am still alive in heaven
And as long as I believe you are a part of me. . .
I might be able to make this world a better heaven.
People are dying due to war, due to money, due to illness of the soul, due to addictions of the mind. People are dying everywhere because you and I do not help them. They are dying and so are we. When part of the world dies it shows the whole world's suffering. Plants and animals of the ocean are dying. People are starving. Famine and drought. Due to humans burning fossil fuels. Due to humans burning fossil fuels, the planet is dying. This is not a drill. And drilling needs to stop.
I will build a new road, a new way, with the jesters wearing patches and singing songs
I will build a new road, a new way, and leave the gate open so that they may join us.
We will welcome them—tell them our home is built for them—lest they try to burn it down—tell them how good they are until they believe it and find it for themselves—I will help you build this road—I will help you keep the garden going. . .
Help me to breathe when I get hungry.
When I am hungry I lose my mind, and spend a month's money in a day, so that I won't feel like I am dying. Help me to breathe past my addictions. Hold me in the night friend while I cry. Because no one can do it alone. No one. Please call me when you need me to listen. Please tell me you need me to listen. I hope I will listen.
I will listen.
I will breathe.
I will let myself grow lean.
I will cut out the fat of my thoughts, the useless patterns will fall away, old paint.
I am gathering my positive magic, my love, my kindness every day
like ginger and garlic and lemon,
like cinnamon and eggyolks and a few nuts, unshelled,
I will find the right rock to break the last open,
and I will share the pieces with you
I will share my piece with you
or whomever happens to be around
There are a few men I love.
They do not love me.
Someday soon it will not matter.
Some days it never matters.
Some days they love me.
Some times I am wise—and know I know nothing—and know their love is not my business.
I could paint and write the day away
wander the desert, cultivating visions
and tilling the rows of my imagination
until I die consumed by an eden birthed from my mind.
But art has limits.
And art is not the end.
Art is a means to love.
Love is so many things,
healing and helping, building and knowing how to change when you are called,
knowing how to step forward into an empty place
incomplete and ignorant
to learn in that moment of death versus love,
helping a customer realize their inability to find the cream does not mock their insecurities, contrarily—the quest to find that which is at the end of their nose, is a symbol of shared suffering which should only make us closer
a stranger on the side of the road
dirty face, blank eyes,
listen to his voice, offer him safety, trust is often rewarded
a woman crying on the corner
go to her and ask how you can help
maybe you will spend all day helping her
maybe it is the most important thing you will do all year
feeling betrayed by a lover
taking a breathe
it is only my own mind that betrays me
it is only the thoughts I feed
you know those two wolves inside you?
That's a good symbol,
let yourself hear them vying for attention
feed the wolf of love,
he will show you where to find the medicine of intentions to gather each day.
What does that look like?
Who knows—we all look different—all our voices unique
but my brother benny said as a child:
“I need patience and a sense of humor”
he is right about us all I reckon.
Two nights ago, the full moon, I took a picture and wrote the following for an Instagram entry:
hermes and the moon. artemis holds council. the message is a long unfolding tale, orb bending waves of white and blue and gold, i am washed in moonlight, waked and stood straight up. naked and tall, i walk the night, faster and faster 'til running. a hunter running because she can. i am not hungry. i am free, and i relish the speed of my limbs, cool kisses of wind on my skin--i am awake, more awake as night deepends--who will dance with me? the full moon sharpens all of me and lifts my toes higher every leap--where are all my sisters? nights like these are made for dancing naked on the sore, baptizing in the water, singing and breathing, bright eyes, no speech. running down the road i know i am what i seek.
follow my Instagram @dasurrealdeal. . .
From yesterday's journaling 3/12/17:
Today I wake round 9:30
I went to sleep round 4:30
The full moon keeps me awake.
I wake with thoughts of Davey. I turn my phone back on. Texts appear—I turn in hopes he's returned my messages finally—I'm wrong. It's my mother and another man—a new friend—who's heart I've completely won. And now I think of Zack, the Hat Man—a dear new friend of mine. I am so thoroughly overjoyed to have met and talked with him. An entirely lovely human, kind and smart and funny. I was anxious talking to him because I was so eager to share anything I could—stories, hopes, wishes, dreams, fears and relating mutual friends.
Last night. . . was wacky. It was surreal. I had texted Davey earlier that day “I hope they [the audience] all get loony” Well. My wish was granted. The Tucson VaudVil show was held at Geronimo Square—a square of a small park snugged into a two block strip bursting with bars and big-named chain stores—a hub of excitement, newness, and consumerism planted literally next door to the U of A. It was spring break. So it was a relatively quiet night. Yet I noticed driving down the promenade the bars and sidewalk seating fairly full—all heads turned to giant tv screens inside bars and out on their patios. Descending Hermes I could hear the televised game echoing everywhere, crowds were quiet, all heads turned towards the dozens of screens glowing about the blocks. That was surreal.
Most shops had closed early due to most of the college kids being absent to Mexico. I dropped my instruments at the Square with kind James—VaudVil founder and producer. (say--read an interview I did for TVV here!) I finally found a restroom and black tea at a hookah cafe—packed with dream-eyed, slow-moving, young beauties—I cut through their clouds to the rest room and after sweet bladder relief, I there drew a star on my cheek and outlined my third eye.
We waited and waited to start the show until after the game ended. U of A! Champions! Woot woot! Two comics, Malachai, and me. Friend Zachary, five other friends, two strange hecklers, and a scant few wanderers pausing to take in what unfolded on that stage between 11:30pm and 1am. One of the hecklers I found a little funny for some reason—perhaps because he seemed put in his good spirits rather bravely—struck me as homeless, though not too crazy—he smoked and smiled the entire time—and had a “crystal geyser” bottle filled not with water. The other heckler. . .now his mind worked more strangely—a piercing, wide-eyed gaze glowed with a hint of madness in the way it never changed, his smile was white and wide, a handsome face—his life story tripped out of his mouth into any silence he could find—a geologist, half native from Texas, holding seemingly endless various accomplishments to his verbal resume. He was carrying around cut gemstones in tiny white plastic boxes. I traded him a tourmaline for a download code. He asked if he could get any change for the train. I gave him two bucks. Should I mention not many folks stopped in the square on their way home from the game? Many did get called to by the comics with their mics. I thought all the performers where lovely. Matt Ziemak was charming as hell in his vulnerable relay of terrible circumstances, from the fact he tried to take molly last night and probably swallowed heroin, to the story of how he dealt with his mother's death via a hilarious online review of an end-table he inherited—I guess I don't want to give away his punch line. Leland Long told stories, who knows which ones were true, revealing his quiet satisfaction in torturing the uptight. I dug that. Malachai sang in sweet mellow tone—his guitar playing was unique, especially when he covered a song by a guy whose name I forget in a style that involved much slapping, tapping of guitar and string--a downright exceptional display of skill and artistry. By the time I took the stage, I was deep into a surreal waking dream. I was both exhausted and energized via the moon and the strangeness of the motley crew bearing witness to each others' suffering in the square. I sang some songs—I did okay—I abused my voice a little more than usual—couldn't seem to maximize my throat openings and let ring what needed to ring—but no matter, the folks seemed entertained and moved and rapt and I was thanked and loved and I hugged everyone and I sold an album proper—may all gods bless Chris The Sound Man, patron saint of reasonable voices in the eye of a vortex of mild, milling, insanity—the kind of quiet madness permeating places or people gnawing it's gums and shuffling down the street and you're not sure if it's going to sit down and take a needed nap or break out into a mad dog run, frothing and howling at any moment.
I am most glad to have finally met Zack Armstrong—a man of many talents: improv, juggling, circus arts, maker of juggling hats, teacher of literature and creative writing. As I said before: a person kind and smart and funny, patient too. I think he is my new favorite person—that is to say, I already admire him—and my first impressions of peoples' goodnesses is never, ever wrong! It is such a deep gratification to meet a friend of a friend—or to meet someone I “friended” on facebook—yet have never met—and to find we get on very well indeed—another hoped-for kindred granted—another cosmic affirmation of guessing what will ever be. If you live in Tucson, check out Leland Long's and Zack's work with Tucson Improv Movement! If you've kids, take the tykes to see FOMP shows—Friends Of Make Pretends, a live improvised kids show Zack created—free every second Saturday downtown :) Sounds dope if ya ask me!
The feeling of Loneliness is like an animal hovering near my vessel—it scares away after every performance—after every chance I have to bare my soul a bit on stage—and after hugging, greeting those who bore witness and testify that I am worthy of their love or whatever they deem. But it, that loneliness, comes swiftly back, like a grey gull to my feast, like a fly you thought you'd rid of, like a something large and thin and empty with hollow hungry eyes, made of tissue paper and fog, long-limbed—it blows away rather easily, with every sacred sharing of song and soul and stage—but that willowy lonely ghost returns with impressive swiftness, quietly appears—I don't know it's there until I feel my breathe tightening and sight shortening. . .it doesn't give up easily. . . as if it wants something. . . but there is nothing for it, for it is a wanting embodied. . . it is but the spectral form of my own thin fears I know are false. Having given him a little shape within this paragraph, I feel more prepared perhaps to greet him next I feel his quiet hoverance, whence I shall hold this picture I have in my mind, and tell him, it's okay to pass on, you are just a dream, my friend, and not really a living thing at all, and I will know him like a piece of cloud, and keep singing to strangers more and more so to blow the poor bloke away. Nay, a piece of cloud has more life in it than the shape of my loneliness. The shape of that loneliness. . . it acts alive. . . but it isn't anything at all. Yet I must do something to keep such falsities at bay, lest I be someday consumed unsuspecting by the forms of my own fear, wrapped round my mind or heart like a plastic bag, made of nothing but thoughts—thoughts born from lack of connection to my kindred. And kindred is all around me, all the time—truly—I hope I don't protest too much—I am simply trying to find the more exact words for why I must keep performing—I must keep performing because it is the way I can most share myself. I must keep performing because it is the best way I know to give joy and love to the most people at once. I must keep performing—singing--being silly onstage—being my truest self on display, so that strangers and friends alike are affirmed in the hope and fact: I am indeed a part of their own soul and they a part of mine.
I am naked inside Hermes. The heat is rising. The day is loping. I must onward to something—send more messages, I guess, seeking free lodging in NEW ORLEANS—oh my goodness and hungry psychic sense, I will be so relieved to be inside New Orleans. My spirit is falling apart waiting years for my body to catch up with it's collecting particles shifting, and hovering and spelling dancing weaving at the mouth of the great gulf with all the other saintly freaks. But will I make it in time? Or have my spirit particles been falling into other timelines—falling away from this life and into other parallel universes of lives I, this Karen, can no longer live? I will not give up on fulfilling the calls—but my caution holds me back still—blasted caution!—I will shake you and quake you!—I have much more mind to lose and madness to accomplish so that I may release my magic in a controlled flood of benefit to my brethen—so my potential may be answered as it is available. I will do it! I am doing it! I am on my way!
What do you feel called to do, my friend? Will you do it? Take one small step today. . . we are doing it together, right now, all the time, all at once—the struggle is beautiful, and you are gorgeous—a star in the web of all my wishes and prayers—sacred fire reflected back to me. Any one who reads this, know: we are all one holy ghost. Find what feeds your connection to others, to life, to this world. Have you already found it? Please tell me about it! Are you still looking? What has your search been like? I want to know you all—that too, is why I travel—I am hungry to see the faces of all my relations.
Aaaand now sweat is truly dripping down my arms and I gotta repark this baby closer to my favorite Tucson hub: 4th Ave.
Don't forget to tell me of the trying of your dreams and the sounds of your calling! If you don't want to post publicly here, just send me an email with a thought or message or story you may feel like sharing—tell me anything at all—just a “hullo” or a passing thought, or a confession or worry you might have, or, tell me your favorite thing to do, tell me what you are working on and working towards, tell me your wishes and describe your weather. Think to yourself, right now, about how brave you are and how hard you try—Think to yourself right now of the most beautiful part of your fleshy funny body—Think to yourself right now what you love most about the place where you live—Picture, right now your favorite flower or tree. Breathe in it's green scent. That is for you. This world is meant for you. The world is you. I love you.
PS: I tried to upload a voice memo--a song journal entry that came to me while I was jogging around the UofA campus yesterday, after I wrote the above journal entry. the words follow. . .
I don't need to take something from somebody
I don't need to take a thing from you
I don't need to take a thing from somebody
I don't need to take a thing from you
I have taken vows
I don't need, I won't try to take it
whats not freely given
I think I released it all, friend
I think I let go before I had it in my hand
I don't need to take a thing from somebody
I don't need to take a thing from you, from me, from you
I don't need to take a thing from anybody
I don't need it
I just wanna take what's given my way
I just wanna take what's given my way
I don't wanna take a thing
I don't wanna try
and take a thing from you
I don't want to want it, I don't want to want it
there are moments when I feel free from any wanting
there are moments when I bless the space you need
there are moments when I see your absence as a beautiful thing
and there months and days and weeks when
I don't feel a thing for you, oh oh oh oh oh oh
just when I feel free of any wanting
that's when I find myself seeking
there are moments when I am the best friend you ever had
there are moments when i'm no good, i'm just bein stupid
but I really don't need
to try and take a thing from anyone
and I think I will
hold on to
the peace I feel
titles: there are moments when i know true love. i hold on to that peace. i dont need to try and take a thing. You don't have what I'm looking for—you don't have it.
In about seven days' time I have gone from wearing winter layers in northern California, to working on my suntan in the parched lands of the southwest.
And a babbling problem.
Breaking the fogs of procrastination.
Slapped by Joy and Seared by Song.
"oh the candle light unravels all the knots I have woven and fettered, all my thought cloven and severed, and the gold dust on the darkness, like a hand on my brow loosens my grasp full of straws and how do you do it? asked the wind of the water, holding those creatures inside and outer your salty space while you dance with the sea grass and sand? i do nothing said the water, but open my hand and hold it out to be filled and hold it open to help and raise it high to welcome and put it low on the ground to honor what is missin'."
Wrote that in Hermes last night 'round 2:45 a.m. when I fell asleep computer in lap for a moment, then set in to the side. It took me a while, as usual, to find a place to park last which I didn't think would immediately enrage someone when finding me parked in their morning view. After getting off the freeway on a quest for diesel, I realized it was time to sleep anyway.
I'm currently at a Whole Foods dotted somewhere in the sprawling new-adobe cookie-cutter gated communities between Laguna Hilla and Laguna Niguel. I tried to find a non-chain coffee shop this morn--no dice. Eventually I asked Siri to take me to the nearest Whole Foods because they are often large enough I can find a cafeteria seat with an outlet to charge my devices and crowded enough no one bothers noticing the food I eat didn't come from the hot-food bar. This time the cafeteria is just a modest strip of couches, sprinkled with five women wearing tight grey and black and pink leggings and tops. They are all gorgeous--thick hair, glowing skin, thin, lounging lithely, some on their phones, sipping different post-jog libations. They are not together. But they all belong to the same tribe, that which I never want to belong. They live in a place where literally every neighborhood is a monotonous repeating pattern of wealth, and their shopping centers are all chains--I wove in and out of them late last night and this morning--semi-shocked and impressed at the monotony and vastness of the winding land of faux-clay and repeating grids of palm trees, felt like I was going in circles, getting closer to the center of hell--aka the most boring place on earth, where they would most likely pay someone to pay someone to pay someone to kill a gypsy like me for the crime of my brazen existence as a person who loudly gives zero fucks about earning money; driving a yellow box in which I obviously, oh my fucking god, live.
More of my thoughts later on the tip of the classism-iceburg which has pricked me more sharply than ever of late (since living in Hermes).
I'm sitting in the nigh dark though it be 10:01 a.m. I asked the young folks at customer service where I might find a place to work on my computer for a moment--meaning another local, a coffee shop, or somewhere very outlet/writer friendly that is not Whole Foods--but the young man kindly steered me to the closed Rock-It Bar, where the chairs where up on the tables and the blinds drawn, and he proudly revealed the one outlet hiding near a comfortable looking bar stool with a back--I like stools, and I like chairs, but stools with backs are the best--I'd raise this blind, but it's electric. I got 16 ounces coffee here for refill price cuz I gots my own cup. I indulged in half a slice of french toast from the hot bar, soggy with something heavenly and topped with hot berries. I don't like that I'm not at a small business or co-op, and I am disturbed by the wealthy suburbia suffocating me buried deep within it's sterile labyrinth, but the young folks at this Whole Foods are quite nice. I think of the awesome salad in the cooler in Hermes, greater than the sum of it's comprised-of-leftover-food parts, laden with lemon juice, ginger, garlic, rice, quinoa, kale, zucchini, turmeric, pepper, apple cider vinegar, and sardines on the side. Gosh I love food. I have so much catching up to do with this blog, dammit. I still weep for the first entry from this trip, an extraordinary piece of writing spat out in a dash directly onto the website whilst at the Whole Foods in Eugene, and was directly eaten up by black holes in the internet. And though I feel like losing that entry was a sign of continued derailment to come--I fight this notion. I yet do better as time passes with resisting procrastination--just starting the thing, whatever the thing may be--without indulging in the notion I know what will come, and resisting the temptation that I must first produce the correct and comfortable environment in which for me to start the thing--and that is why I sit in the dark at Whole Foods in the midst of spooky rich Laguna territory--because I have lived too much life where I'm seeking the environment in which my blossoming and flowing will be easy and natural--trying to invoke emotions on myself like a spell woven from the correct light sources and aesthetic suggesting whatever it is I am lacking--spending time preparing to begin until I the day is over and I still never really began what it was I for which I was planning and preparing. That vague madness I suspect taunts us all from time to time--but I feel keenly it's stealthy seduction of my focus, a fog I try to keep at bay on the daily--the clouds of procrastination that can suck my thoughts inverted into a moment like a black hole condenses matter, until I believe time-travel and astral-travel must be a valid experiences reachable only by fully losing your mind as you sit still--your mind imagining other futures and times and places and conversations with other people and gods, as your body moves slower and slower, turning the fool to a touchstone on a hill, or a blob on a couch--one's mind moving faster and freer and deeper into it's self-made dimensions--until it no-longer deciphers between make-believe/fantasy/ideas and reality--until your mind betrays your corporeal goals, leaving action and interaction with other humans behind, birthing a new life lived only in the mind--vibrating on the band of spectrum ranging from the distractable undisciplined mind, graduating to either paranoia or delusions, and leveling up to either schizophrenia or astral-travel.
Who knows, maybe between the point where I am now and the point of complete madness is hell, but the end point is secretly divine--but I don't care to find out--so I'm headed the other direction--trying hard to not procrastinate. Trying not to second guess. Trying to observe. Trying to act. Trying to observe as I act. Trying to resist the cloying temptations to create increasing levels of comfort. Trying to not guess the future. Knowing I don't know what will happen. Ever. Never. I will let myself hope. I will encourage myself to hold the moment easily as a holy joy that also holds me--this sunshine, this coffee--seeing this man across the wood-paneled floor--he wears a red polo shirt--he looks like a weathered rosehip, his brown skin glows softly in the light of the windows where he stands, holding glass jars at an angle-just-so. I don't know with what he fills them, but I like how steady his gaze is and his movements slow like a wave of wind across a field of wheat.
I woke up with an ailment in my right eye this morn--an evolution of some stress-induced resperitory/sinus infection--and the eye continues to ache, swollen and leaking green puss. It kina hurts. It's not pink-eye. And the air outside smells sweet and green like it only does in early spring. Or maybe it smells that fresh every day in Laguna land. The sea is calling me still. I am heading to San Diego, thought the route east from there may be tedious with border shit, for I am not sated by salt water its sand on which to lay while wearing as little amount of clothes as I can muster.
I think for a moment on of saying goodbye to my dear friend Sarah late last night--she barefoot at her gate in Koreatown--I don't know if I've hugged anyone so much who wasn't a lover--we cried we love each other so much. I don't see her often, but her countenance is almost a shock at the release I feel around her--the release of childhood bliss unfurled--and the blooming of all the best of me that has formed over the years. She is true love to me. If we both liked having sex with women, we would definitely get married. A trite comparative for the connection we feel--but a true soul sister she is--completely affirmed by each other every moment, letting me slip immediately into another realm of ease and confidence I know with few others, and--the best part of all--the kind of friendship that is mostly all kinds of laughter.
I am so very glad I am a person blessed by many, many friends--of many different lifestyles, personalities, experiences, classes, vibes, colors, and tribes. I value solitude so that I may hear my own self, but damn, I would be nothing without constantly being affirmed by other humans--whether it's an exchange at a gas station, or with a stranger who pauses for a moment while I sing on the street, or a new friend I dance with at a house show, or an old friend like Sarah who has known me for a decade and seen me go evolve through many extreme changes since we first met when I was still a child at twenty-one years old. As I get older, I am getting better at true empathy and feeling connected to others--respecting them and recognizing them as actual pieces of myself. This is so likewise, and perhaps because of, my increased self-knowledge--knowing what my health and happiness and sanity needs. I know I need my alone time--but it has naught to do with feeling disconnected from others--like I used to feel. It has to do with seeking a break from being overwhelmed by being influenced by the awesome energies of others. If I am to be an effective human, I believe I must still seek out solitude on the daily so the voices calling me to do only that which I can do might be heard. I need that balance--strict solitude and silence and white noise--and intense connection with all kinds of other energies.
I have been a little too alone lately. It leaves my confidence wobbly and my emotions easily tipped. But these things I observe and try to temper accordingly. Though I crave and need community to root me in a context greater than me and yet supportive of patterns I may form within it as satisfactory self-expression. . . I yet reject a community where I am physically rooted for more than six-months time. . . I try to have my cake and eat it too--as much as possible--but I now know which one my happiness must sacrifice when I must make the choice--and I give-up the having--more consciously this year than ever before--I have learned a new level of understanding that traveling makes me more happy than staying put. The next time I stay put somewhere it will be with the knowledge that the staying-put is a thing I do sometimes only to sustain my fleeing and flying. Someday I will slow down a little bit. And I have already tried to slow down--for it seems like a good idea in so many endless obvious ways--but my voices, though I push them away, still call me on. My happiness will not give up on me. And my happiness requires wandering and touring and traveling--gathering information--seeing what is out there with my own eyes. Everywhere I go I ask someone what is the meaning of their life. Everywhere I go I hear a new song. Sometimes it comes from an experience with a person, but oft it comes from the land, and it comes from the movement of the people living on the land--their movement shaped by the land--no matter how polluted and tamed a land is, no matter how wild--the land is still what gives birth to language and song--its rhythms are at once deep and buried, the foundation of the movement of creation all around, but as the base it is also the most obvious thing, waiting, large and quiet, to be seen as the source of all.
The Laguna Hills are chill and hypnotic and they lay down their bodies, limbs languid to the sea--a seductive, easy rhythm, chill and quiet--paradise--the wealthy claim it now and cover it with cement and tweak the peace into more rigid order, but those hills still infuse something into whatever is going on here. But I'm not gonna stay to find out. My phone is fully charged. And though it's been swell, I gotta get to the beach again--where the surf somehow roots me--strips away most anything except my sense that I am a fucking gorgeous animal belonging right where ever I am, the ocean is my god, the land is my mother, and all else on this planet my kindred. The ocean stops my mind imagining things. The ocean obliterates all my fucks. Just five minutes by ocean and I am woke, standing taller, seeing farther, moving easier, breathing deeper. Why am I still typing? Bye. I love you.