31 July 2011

Dream of the Gypsy Baby

I dreamed I returned to my dorm room and found a small group of gypsies at my door -- two women and a small girl.  The child was no older than 2 or 3 years. She carried a knapsack.

I invited them in and offered them something to drink.  The child went immediately to a cardboard box stashed between my bed and the wall. She started pulling out kitchen tools like spatulas and measuring cups and whisks, the kind of stuff that would strike a kid's fancy.  As she loaded them into her knapsack, I remembered the gypsies had visited before. I was surprised and impressed that the child still remembered where the box was.

One of the women scooped the child into her arms and pulled away its clothing to check for bowel movement. She scooped the soft, coffee-brown matter from the child's bottom with her hand and began to roll it like clay into a ball. Her gestures were quick and deft and I was, again, impressed. I noticed how the process of rolling seemed to dry out the shit, changing its consistency. I thought you could use this stuff for so many things when it's dry like that.

28 July 2011

Friends of Ego

Every time I stop smoking, the "real deal" zooms into crisp, sharp focus.

I come face to face with the Ignored, Denied, Postponed, Feared, Disguised, and Compromised; and heart to heart with My True Love.

The smoke clears, the latch lifts and all the quiet dirty secrets that usually sleep in the basement, drag themselves upstairs and stand stoop-shouldered around the kitchen. They stare at me and at each other with desperate, innocent eyes.

There's no violence. No screaming or pleading.

Just everybody standing around looking at each other in the light.

"Now what?" hangs in the air around us.

In the past, I'd launch into action: retrieving extra chairs from the other room and taking drink orders. Doing my best to make everybody comfortable in advance of the long night and hard conversations ahead.

This time is different.

This time, for the first time, I realize that this isn't even my house. I don't live here.

26 July 2011

What it Takes

I don't get it.

In the modern era, acquaintances request that I remember
  • never to call before 10 a.m. except every other Thursday and holidays
  • use their land line number for calls on the weekends
  • they have a cell phone but they do not text
  • they are sensitive to scent so don't wear or use inexpensive deodorant, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, soap, or laundry detergent (cheap brands are almost all scented)
  • also don't wear anything I wore on a day when I was using or wearing inexpensive deodorant, lotion, shampoo, etc.
  • always take off shoes in their house
  • don't serve them any foods containing gluten or dairy or meat or alcohol or peanuts or sugar or flour (and dinner invites must be scheduled between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., weekdays only)
In the olden days, even friends didn't require this much maintenance.

21 July 2011

A Mind Space

My writer muscles are loose and sluggish.

The process of writing has always provided a cool-breeze clear view into my heart and mind. So that's what I think and feel about that!

The process of blogging almost always provokes questions, mostly around the voyeuristic and exhibitionist nature of the medium. So here's my heart and mind....and YOU are watching... What are we doing?

Over the last two months, I have embraced the ideas set forth by Eckhart Tolle. The concept of "the watcher": being present in the moment with the awareness of an observer, watching my thoughts. Without judgment. Without feeling. Breathing and watching. Tolle calls it "the power of Now".

It is a space and orientation that is always available. For weeks now, I am either leaning into that space, or inhabiting it, or sensing it from one of the various frantic, far-flung exiles my egoic mind creates. There is no going back now; no forgetting how it feels to detach from identification with my thoughts.

Breath holds the key. Noticing breath and then following it and then merging...as though breath was breathing me.
Thoughts disappear. Without thoughts, there are no words. Without words, there is no writing.

Tolle points to using the mind -- rather than being used by the mind. This part of the practice does not come as easily for me. It is, of course, just another desperate trick of ego. Some sinister delusion that casts me out, alone, isolated and undeserving; what Tolle calls "pain body."

I resist using my mind because I have doubts and judgments and fears about the worthiness of its product. Actually, doubts, judgments and fears about the worthiness of my self.

Typical ego madness.

Today I'm blaming it on California. I get this way when I'm in California. I feel a familiar loneliness, remembered from when I lived here in the late 90's. It's like an old coat.

I have been cast in this year's production of Tandy Beal's "Here After Here". Most of the cast performed in the show's premiere. There are a few new dancers and, as one of four actors, I am the new member. After three rehearsals, my fellow actors' vague memories of blocking and lines are becoming remembered stagecraft.

I am the new kid on the block. It is fun. And strange.

In rehearsals, I multi-task: making notes on a printed script, experimenting with delivery, listening to Tandy's direction, memorizing blocking, learning names.

Tandy's most frequent "note" for me has been that my voice is faint and feathery too often. I've responded to that feedback with increasing insecurity about speaking; my voice and diction sound odd to me. I feel awkward in my body.

I have listened and obeyed Tandy's direction without comment so far, believing that she and everyone else in the room know the show better than I.

And they do.

And I am a performing artist. An actor in this case. And the actor brings something.

Last night I sat with the script and spoke the lines aloud, varying speed and color and pace. I began to see the outline of my character. I'm feeling it.

It feels like waking up. Like using my mind.

I want to be 80% off book by this Sunday's rehearsal. It will be fun to move around the stage with hands free and full of curiosity about the art we are making together.