Thursday, December 22, 2011

Picking lint out of my mental bellybutton

This year has been one of extremes. Extreme highs and lows- nights when I wasn't sure how I was going to get up the next day, mornings where I would look around me and marvel with gratitude that this was my life. I saw a manta ray swimming at 70 feet below in Cozumel and I'm not sure I've ever come closer to god in my life. I cried so hard I threw up, in a Houston airport bathroom, comforted by a flight attendant who told me it would look suspicious to security if I didn't peel myself up off the floor and go through customs.

The Dalai Lama says that those who are our enemies should be revered for their ability to teach us in a way that no other human beings can. He makes the point that we rarely have enemies in this life, and that, when we have one, it's an extreme gift. I have worked very hard to soften to this perspective, and have had time to work with it.

And now it is the end of the year, the end of this extremely challenging time. It may not be over- who knows what 2012 will bring-they say it may be the end of the world. But I thought I'd perhaps talk a little bit about what I think these days.

I believe in love. At the end of it all, I believe. And I still love.

I believe in myself. This year, I have lost many friends, my home, people I considered my family, and the person I loved most. I have been betrayed. I have been slandered. I have been hated. Some days, the only way I got through it was to turn up Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" as loud as I could and yell the lyrics to drown out the vicious inner noise. "Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set. I'm on the right track, I was born this way." And I do. I'm not perfect- I've made an avalanche of mistakes- but at the end of the day, I believe in me. I know who I am inside. This year has really helped to solidify that for me.

I believe in the power of karma. Pema Chodron describes karma not as getting "what you deserve"- not the punitive, hateful justice of some sentient universe- but rather, the idea that you are always given exactly what you need to learn the lessons you need to learn. This concept of karma applies to me, but it also applies to my hope for others. May we always get exactly what we need- and take advantage of it so we learn what we can from it.

I believe in the power of distraction. Byron Katie teaches that our minds do more harm to us than anyone else ever does. Someone may hit you, but every time you replay that thought in your head, you are also committing harm to yourself- reawakening that experience, that pain. If you consider how many times we reflect back on painful experiences, we end up doing ourselves harm quite a lot. By distraction, I don't mean simply thinking of something else (though sometimes that's what I've had to do- thanks to Netflix for putting seasons of television on instant view), but by consciously working toward creating space between our thoughts and how much emotion and stake we put into them.

I think happiness is something you work for, consciously. And that it's fleeting. But so is pain, even if it seems like it will never stop hurting. Every day, with work, little pieces move unseen, like cogs in a watch, until suddenly you wake up one morning and realize that you hurt a little less, that you forgive a little more, that everything is a little lighter. With enough work, I think someday you can get to a place where you start at a higher plane of happy, so that even if pain comes (and it always does), you can deal with it from a higher setpoint. That's my goal.

I believe in taking risks. With life and with love. Love is scary as fuck, but in order to make it work, you have to trust that you'll be ok, no matter what. Sometimes I still don't have that trust, but I think one day I will, as I get better at accepting pain and the unknown.

I believe in appreciating today. We have no idea what's coming. Love everyone as hard and as long as you can because if you knew that that moment would be the last time you'd ever see them, ever be that close, you'd hold them and kiss them and tell them you loved them like crazy, rather than just saying goodbye. And maybe that would make us all a bit nuts if we did that every time, but I know I'd have fewer regrets if I'd lived my life that way.

Anyway, I'll stop now. The nice thing about no one reading your blog is that you can write whatever navel-gazing bullshit comes up and there will be no witnesses.

"Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained."
-Seamus Heaney

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Poem

Letter From a Shortsighted Girl

To Daniel

My hushed voice cannot reach you
My shortsighted eye cannot see you.

Maybe it is better like this.

Today I didn't have too much to tell you
Just that in the afternoon I went out for a walk.
It started raining.
Kissing in the rain, what a silly cliché
I thought, as I was searching for a shelter.

If I put all my courage together I would have told you
that in the last year I have learned to miss you reasonably,
while remembering the traps of the happy days.
Otherwise, I would have spoken about traveling and books.

Once I had a dream about you.
You were writing our embraces
on a piece of my unwrinkled skin.
In the morning, you wrapped it back around my body.

Last week I bought a green sun umbrella and a lily,
and put them on the balcony, in the place where I like to read.
From there I can see the horizon, stretching its back like a cat
ready to jump into my lap.

I don't miss you. It is just me,
that I don't understand anymore.

by Yodie

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Real Human Being

Remember when you told me about that show you watched that predicted how long it would take cities to return to nature after a human apocalypse? The green would spread, eventually choking out the roads and the buildings and covering everything again. And, in not very much time at all, all that was created would be returned to the wilderness that it once was. Perhaps that is how love is, after all the hatred and anger and sadness, creeping in and slowly recovering, until things fade into green again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011


It seems we’ve left skin
in each other’s lungs. I should have

looked under your bed skirt
for my wallet, but how

could credit cards compare
to the sneeze after we’ve parted?

Gone and still you make me
reach for a tissue—still my palms

turn circles in the red
breakwater of your heartbeat.

I want to tell you, I have nothing
but respect for your ribcage

now that we both know
it’s not big enough to hold us.

- Michael Meyerhofer

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On the Advent of the Death of Osama Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is dead. Apparently we found a way to kill him. Everyone on Facebook is celebrating- a collective sigh of relief, no doubt, for the death of one who caused the deaths of thousands. There can be no doubt that bin Laden posed a collective threat to Americans and Muslims alike. The formation and support of a radical branch of Islam that supports terrorism and martyrdom as part of the religion makes him what ol 'W' would refer to as an "evil doer." A cold-blooded murderer. The face that launched a thousand bombs. And yet, celebrating his death still seems extremely wrong to me.

I don't believe in the death penalty because I believe that there's always more to someone than an action, or a professed belief. As evil as he was, as Saddam was, there were still, most likely, good parts to them. Because that's what it means to be human. It means that there's a substantial amount of both light and dark. He was a father and he was someone's child, someone's brother. And regardless of his substantial crimes, he could not have been utterly full of hate all the time. No doubt he played games and laughed and did kind things for people he lived amongst.

If it seems like I am being too soft on such a murderous criminal, I am not. I just think the act of killing requires a black and white thinking that is the fundamental problem in our society today, and, I should mention, the very same problem that the man is himself guilty of. It is because he was able to see all Americans as evildoers that he was able to plan and carry out a plot to kill thousands of us. We know we are not all evildoers, but this continued focus on bin Laden = BAD America= GOOD is a lie. He was not all evil and we are not all good. The reason that he despised us in the first place is because he is a crazy person, but also because he saw America's hands in the Middle East these past thirty years, saw first hand the death and destruction we have caused, and hated us for it. Attributed it to our lack of God. The very things we hate in him, he hated in us first, until it becomes a projection upon a projection. The things we hate about Osama- his self-righteousness, his violence, his ruthlessness, his hatred of America- are the very things that he hated about us: our self-righteousness, our violence, our ruthlessness, our hatred of all things Islam. And who is right? NO ONE. Because when you hate people, you cease to see them as people and in that moment, you are ALWAYS wrong.

Killing him will be seen as a win. For Obama and for the "war on terror." And I hope it does protect people and prevent more death and destruction. I really hope it does. But it is not a celebration. It is a continuance of the destructive patterns of violence and hatred that perpetuate our country and our world today. Death for death, a life to pay for lives (which of course, it never can), killing to "stop" killing. I worry that it makes him a martyr to his followers; that there will be fallout for this action that will result in more death and more revenge and more "justice" and that more people will die, whether our own or theirs. I worry that, far from being the final chapter in a tragedy, that this is merely another plot development in an ever-deepening saga of despair. I truly hope, like Obama said in his speech, that it brings our divided country together, that it heals the thousands of Muslims who have suffered from bin Laden's hate, that it helps to bring closure to those who lost so much on that day in 2001, to those who have continued to die as a result of it ever since. I hope for these things, but my heart is heavy because I do not think it will really accomplish any of those things.

And so, rather than celebrate his death as a victory for our side, I view his passing with increasing solemnity. He could never have won this fight, but neither can we, as long as we continue down this path. Death is always a loss. May this be the last.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clean Getaway

I made my place by the door.
I didn't know what I was waiting for.
Felt just like home.
Except no grass, no yard, no pictures hung.

I could see across to the park.
And there were friends, they were laughing hard.
They looked just like my own.
With no face, no name, no voice I'd know.

I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.

I met someone at the bar.
He had a great smile and a great heart.
He felt just like love.
Except no fear of losing, and it wasn't tough.

I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
And I miss you,
I miss you every single day.

-Maria Taylor

Monday, March 21, 2011


I haven't blogged in a while. Mostly that's because I reread everything I'd written in the past year and basically hated most if not all of it. And, because I've been busy. And because I make excuses. :)

However, I need to write today, so poor prose be damned- it's gotta go somewhere, might as well take flight into the deep void of the internet.

I went to church yesterday for the first time in five years- not a Mormon church, but a Unitarian church. I figure, any church that allows you to be an atheist and has accepted homosexuals for ages probably can't be half bad. The pastor (or minister or whatever they call him) read a passage from Ursula Goodenough who is an atheist (religious naturalist) who talked about how she wishes, during times of trouble, that she could believe in a god to call on; yet because she cannot, she must rely on human love in all its fragility and imperfection, to help heal.

I think about love a lot. What it means to love someone, what constitutes "love" verses affection, whether there really is a thin line between love and hate, how to love someone and not be in love with them, how love manifests itself through actions, whether love can "die." So many questions about this emotion/feeling, so few direct answers. No one seems to have concordant answers to the questions.

Is it love if you don't say it?
Is it love if you betray?
Is it love if you can't forgive?
Is it love if sometimes you feel it more than others?
Is it love if it ends?
Is it love if you choose yourself over someone else?

I don't have answers either. However, having suffered my fair share of life's slings and arrows, I do believe, at the end of the day, that love is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is not shaken. I believe love comes with a price, like everything. It can be a heavy price, but at the end of the day, even while paying that price, I will say that I am not sorry to pay it. And so, come what may, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to have loved.

Then jet the blue tent topple, stars rain down,
and god or void appall us till we drown
in our own tears: today we start
to pay the piper with each breath, yet love
knows not of death nor calculus above
the simple sum of heart plus heart.
- Sylvia Plath