Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So much has been swirling around in the last several months on the housing front. None of it "started" by me, and none of it requiring that I do anything. Just lots of different options coming up, people around me changing, offering, suggesting. My landlords moved out. They appear to be in conflict with each other over whether to put the house on the market or not, so for now, it's just empty (other than me). Just change. Could be a change that works for me, could not be. At the moment, the biggest effect on me is that they took the internet with them when they moved. I have a pretty short fuse for - well, most things - these days, so the search for new internet options tends to fizzle at the first annoyance. House-wide cable will be shut off soon, and though I tend to be more on-line than tv watching, the complete lack of distraction is a bit concerning. Not enough physical work to be done here to balance out the vast hours of time I will not be entertained (or annoyed) by streaming netflix.

I have a house I might move to. I think my heart has already moved in. My mind is slow to say it out loud. To leave this last place we lived, to leave the physical evidence of our life, to leave the home and streets and buildings that say "he was here" back to me. But I think he may be more clear, out there, that I might be more clear. Away from the ugliness I can't stop seeing, Such a short fuse I have, scales so heavily weighted with ugly. The new house has fields-in-the-making, projects, gardens to reclaim, an art studio and kiln, a little barn, a tiny pond. It has hard wood floors and fireplaces. Matt was out there to check out some renovations but was snuffed out before he got to them. That is a graphic statement I hadn't meant to type, but there it is. The owners are friends of his, moving out of the country, wanting to care for him by caring for me. Seriously - I type this stuff and wonder why I haven't already moved. Slow things done slowly, or as a friend said to me - the first time your soul moves after being wounded so severely, I bet it is like a part of your body coming to life after long injury: exciting and scary and painful and slow.

Do you want to see the house? It's on flickr, so if you want to see, leave me a comment and I'll send you the link. (if you're wondering, being out there makes catering delivery/travel longer, but doable.)

In other news and changes, the farm where I've been working has changed hands. I had taken myself out of it, feeling like it had turned jagged and weird in the transition. But now I am back, having met with the new people and been offered something I have looked for for years: full time farm work with good people doing good work. It was not all good, or even instantly good. It is a very long drive from the new house to the farm. It twisted me intensely, this "decision" between a place that suits my heart and this place that suits - well, practical things, I guess: income, experience building, those things. A huge storm blew up in me. It was quite uncomfortable. However, it did show me how much my heart wants to live in the other house. So, for now, my answer is Both. How or if that will work, my answer is both. There are a lot of unknowns everywhere, even in the practical realms. Changes.

I saw some movies. Most of them surprise 4 tombstone movies. Maybe next time I venture out for internet access, I will put up my reviews. I will tell you that a book got me through the anniversary week: At Hell's Gate, by Claude Anshin Thomas. I'd seen a description of his workshops on meditation for veterans many months ago. A month or so ago, I ordered his book via inter-library loan, and checked out his website while I was waiting. On his website, I read some of his personal journal writing - it's graphic. It's violent. It is the sort of thing I cannot allow into me, as even Before, violent images stay in my mind and my dreams for a very long time. So I ignored the book when it arrived. Avoided it. It was in the car to be returned to the library for at least a week. And then, the day, the actual date day, I opened it. And read. Yes, there is a passage that describes violence, in fact, it was the same event I'd read about online. But this time, it was - tamer. The intensely violent details were not there. And I kept reading.

This book, and acupuncture, saved me last week. Yeah, probably god and love and all that "saved" me too, but it was this book that got to me. For one, he reminds me of Matt in so many ways. But what makes me recommend it to you out there is that he does not make anything pretty. He does not FIX anything. So many people spout off this pseudo-buddhist crap about "breathe and know that everything is exactly perfect as it is," and "the only thing present is now, and it is beautiful." Mr. Thomas says (and I paraphrase, rather than quote): ~ I wanted to punch the nun who told me that, the others who told me that a million times over. Instead I screamed that the past is here right now and it is not beautiful here and breathing will not make it alright! The world is not right, and nothing can make it be that. ~

Awesome. He talks throughout this book about mindfulness and meditation not making things suddenly okay, or even ever okay. You cannot chant your way into blissfulness. He even says that this itself, this desire or this directive to "be okay with all that is" is in fact a denial, a shaming and suppressing of pain. As though pain were bad, as though only a cinderella transformation will do, as though if you are suffering, you are clearly not in your true self, not in your center, and certainly not a good buddhist-christian-jew-hindu-anyone. So much I heard in those first months was similar to what he heard: breathe and know everything is fine. All that matters is this moment. Your true self knows you aren't really in pain. Between that and the incessant you can do it! cheerleading from people whose beloved was safe and alive, I felt like punching a few nuns myself.

I needed this guy, not just last week, but now. I needed to hear that what the practice of mindfulness can do, and does do, is allow you a different relationship with pain. A changing relationship with pain. For him, mindfulness is a way to live here, in this world that is so full of pain, with wounds that won't ever fully heal. It gives him an anchor.

I returned it to the library (c - you can ILL it) and bought one of my own. I need to read it and re-read it, remember what he says, what he practices, what he lives and what he lives with.

Okay my people, that is all I've got. Getting burned out on the out and aboutedness of internet access, and I've gone past the point where I can sum up my experience and recommendation of that book in any good or coherent way. Best to stop typing, then.



  1. send me the link. i'd like to see the house.

    you've been in my thoughts, as you always are.

    i wish you peace.

  2. WOW. So much in this post. It's like your whole life is in here. The house sounds incredible in lots of ways. I am happy and hope it works out for you.

    I laughed out loud a couple times. You really hit it, here, with all the you-can-do-it b.s. (corollary of you're-so-strong b.s.) and the world-is-perfect b.s.
    I have found that what the brouhaha of "breathing" and "mindfulness" does for me is allow me to absorb the pain, acknowledge it RIGHT HERE, HURTING ME, and breathe THROUGH it, rather than pretend it does not exist or does not matter. It totally f&kng matters and informs everything I do joyful or otherwise.
    And I know that shit's been bugging you for a while now so how nice to read it on The Day, especially after dreading the guy's words. Thanks for sending, M.
    It's similar to what bugs the hell out of me, which is that attitude is everything if you have cancer, which translates to if you die you didn't want to live enough. Well, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you, people. The people who talk that way the most are the ones, as you say, "safe and alive".

  3. I'm glad that you have decided to do *both*. As I wrote to you elsewhere, the way you photographed the house - the plants, the details - tells me that the place speaks to you. I hope it will be like this old house and land - a place of beauty and healing.

    An odd coincidence, I wrote something on a friend's blog yesterday, saying that I live in the shadow of the life that might have been - and a few more things about what matters in life. He wrote back to me this morning, concerned that my comment meant I believe I will live in sadness forever - which was not actually what I meant. He mentioned the Buddhist stuff about happiness which you have written about up above. I wrote a long reply, too long to get into here, but in a nutshell, that I can be happy and live in the here and now, but it is a form of happiness that is tinted by what I have been through, I cannot look at the world through rose-colored glasses anymore. Sometimes it seems like my life is like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I cannot be fooled by wizards anymore. I know they are nothng more than curmudgeonly old men behind curtains. I am the watchmaker who has seen the inside workings of a watch and, when I hear one ticking, can never forget that that there are little wheels and gears making that sound. I cannot "live in the present" without all that I have learned about life and death - the sad, hard stuff that makes other flinch and turn away. What I can do is to walk onwards, able to acknowledge pain without being knocked down, or witness the happiness of others without feeling sad or angry and thinking "why them and not me". For me, that is what it means to be able to live in the here and now. I shall order a copy of "At Hell's Gate" and maybe read it this winter when I have more time. Right now, I am too busy just living here in the present - fixing up a wrecky old house will do that to you.

  4. Love bev's comment above. All so true.
    I would love to see the pictures too cjafatearthlinkdotnet.

    And, I have been thinking about this post all evening and have concluded, this sums up why I have "it is what it is" inked into me. Because it is just here. This is real. This changes things. Forever. I'm not saying *I* am over, but I am different now and pain and the finiteness of everything will never not be here.

  5. Hugs babe. The new house sounds ideal .... but at the same time, I couldn't imagine leaving THIS house where the memories live.