Archives for category: special shit

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

” I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.”

-Walt Whitman

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I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

I don’t think I am.  Not in the prevalent sense that has swept the nation in a misguided attempt at crunchy, glossed over religious tolerance.  I am not a spiritual being having a physical experience.  I am a physical being having a physical experience.  (Most of the time I’m a mental being having a mental breakdown.)

The Madonna of the Hairless

There is a cathedral here that I enjoy walking into once in while.  It is beautiful inside.  I really love beauty.  The rush we get when facing something beautiful, something terrible, something exquisite is mistaken for a spiritual experience.  When I say spiritual, I mean some sort of supernatural part of ourselves in touch with some other supernatural being or energy.  It is nice to be swept up in all of that.  It is nice that my body evolved in a way that all my neurotransmitters and hormones react in that way to make me want to be around things of exquisite beauty.  Most of the time, those things of exquisite beauty are unmolested chunks of the planet.  A mountain range jutting up to touch the cornflower blue sky, a dolphin playing in a wave, a sunset that sets the entire world on fire are some of the things that get my juices flowing.  There are other things, too, like the cathedral, like Van Gogh’s art, like a well choreographed ballet that work on me the same way.  These things are called “culture” and they really are just our species getting off on itself.  That’s fine by me.

There is so much that annoys me with the current religious climate.

1.  Apparently, the new mood is that it doesn’t matter which religion you practice because all paths lead to God.  If you believe that, then you don’t believe what you say you do.  Each religion exists only because it exerts its authority as the only way.  Only through the observation of its laws do you get the reward after you kick the bucket.  If you didn’t walk the path laid out by that religion, you lose the big one.

2.  It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.  I’ve heard Christianity dressed up in this plastic outfit since I was a little girl.  So, do I got to hell if I choose not to be involved in this relationship?  Yes.  Oh, okay, then it’s a religion.

3.  Religion is obsolete.  It is a male dominated, misogynist, hierarchical creation that no longer fits with our far more enlightened concepts of cooperation, equality, and science.

4. The New Age isn’t much better.  Living according to the vagaries of astrology, finding a guru, focusing on my higher self….I call bullshit.

I understand the perceived need for these things.  I really do.  I have people that I love dearly who still hold onto a lot of these superstitious beliefs.  Of course, I’m sure that they probably pray for me all the time and that’s okay.  No publicity is bad publicity.  It is such an honest wish that there is someone in the sky who is keeping tabs, who hears you crying out in the night and wants to dry your eyes.  It is such a temptation to move into a space where your meat and bones and sweat and shit is just some kind of beefy container for your pure self, your true self that is made up of rainbows and unicorn breath.  I GET THIS DESIRE!  We all have imaginations that can be put to use.  These are all different ways to comfort ourselves against the dark, against our inevitable fate as worm food.

Delusion is delusion is delusion.  When I let go of the very last shackle of my trained belief in the supernatural, I have to tell you that I felt a freedom that I had never known.  Yes, I am going to die and there will be no more me.  The mitochondria that ride along on my genes that have been there stretching back to the first mother live on through my son.  Unless I have a girl, they die with him.  It’s hard to accept our fragility.  Once it is accepted, once we understand how finite we are, that is when life becomes precious.  That is when each blade of grass sticks up like a green blade of exuberance.  That is when the taste of water clarifies as liquid life.  That is when every other person, dog, squirrel, horse, and lizard fully comes into focus with infinite value.  We are all the missing link from what has come to what will become after we are gone.  It’s not a lonely chain.  We are each unique and exactly the same.

So, no I’m not spiritual.  I’m psychological.  I’m emotional.  I’m physical.  I’m ecological.  I’m animal.

While everyone else is trying to cleanse themselves of their dirty humanity, you can find me outside making mud pies and peeing behind a bush.

i am always telling people to own their own lives, to do what their heart really wants, to ignore society’s mandates and to really craft a life of their own desire, because we only get one time around here.  we are the sole proprietors of our lives.  i tell them because this is the one thing that i cannot do.  not really.

but, it’s time that i do.  i own my life.

reminders come from the strangest places.  the one time i watched half an episode of sister wives (who knows where i was, i don’t have a t.v., so it was probably some hotel somewhere), the family was being interviewed by students at harvard or yale, something very “official”.  one of the lgbt students said to the family (and i’m paraphrasing), “you know, when you’re hetero, married, with 2.3 kids and live in the suburbs, you have a life.  if you are different from that in any way, you are living a lifestyle.  but, our lives are just our lives.”

i live differently than most people do.  and, i think i’m finally grown up enough to say that it is not because i have chosen a certain lifestyle, but this is just how i live.  this is my life.

so the first week of 2012 has gone by and so far so good.

there are several habits that i’m trying to instill this year.

i have a MAJOR crush on leo babauta‘s mind.  his advice to develop habits instead of create goals rubs me the very, very right way.  yep, right there.

one habit a month is what he recommends, and that is something i can handle.  i am a closet perfectionist and over achiever which i disguise quite well by appearing like a total slob and slack ass.  it will be good for me to only commit to one a month and actually doing it instead of doing them all at once and pulling my hair out.

here are the twelve habits i would like to create this year:

1. make the first meal of the day a raw one

i’ve started this one already and i love it.  i’ve been having a kombucha and some raw milk cheese most days.  i also really love green smoothies and raw egg and coconut milk smoothies.  yes, raw egg.  no, i’m not afraid of salmonella.  yes, i do fantasize about being as kick ass as rocky balboa…with cuter work out clothes.

2. wake before 7 without an alarm clock

for the past few years, getting up before 11 was a miracle.  the depression beast was largely to blame as well as a deep abiding apathy for the grinding monotony of daily life.  hmmm…maybe the apathy came from the depression, too.

anyhoo, since i’ve come back from africa, my body has reset itself so that i’m up before 8.  i want by the end of february to have trained myself to be up before 7ish without an alarm.  alarm clocks are the worst invention EVER.  EVER.  i hate them.  i hate the jarring, heart-racing terror that they cause on my fragile nervous system.  no, i’m not being melodramatic.

3. brush the dog

oh, my dog.  sweet, attached thing that he is.  he’s always at my feet in the best way.  he has the thickest coat and winter is just a smelly dog mess for it.  he deserves that i start brushing it for him once a day.  march will be the perfect time to start developing this habit.

4.save instead of spend

crap.  this is april’s habit.  april is my birthday month.  i just hope all the gift givers in my life don’t decide to start this habit that month.

5. eat something fermented every day

i LOVE fermented food so this one will really not be that hard.  but, it’ll be nice to take it from a once in a while treat to a daily indulgence.  kimchi, kombucha, cultured vegetables, yogurt,….yeah, baby!

6. read a real paper and ink book before bed

june will be the beginning of summer and later bedtimes.  this will be a good way to shift gears for bed.

i read a lot.  A LOT.  but, it’s mostly online and in my ipad.  how nice will it be to read from a BOOK again?  my childhood was formed by the books i read.  i’ve noticed my attention span has really shortened because of digital media.  i still read before bed,even, but it’s never with the gentle weight of a book on my chest and the almost sexual aroma of the paper filling my sleep space.  this habit excites me and i just may move it to a closer slot.

7. do yoga every day

it doesn’t have to an hour.  it can just be a sun-salutation.  and july will be the perfect time to bring some sun worship back into my life.

8. market myself

it’s time that all my skills and knowledge start getting more recognition….from me.

9. stretch professionally

i know this reads as if i want to become a professional stretcher, but i mean to move out of my comfort zones in the money making arenas of jobs and business.  this one will probably be the hardest one on this list.  i feel nauseous just thinking about it.

10. feed others

i love to cook and i love to ensure that people around me are well fed.  ideally, i’d love to have people over once a week to feed.  october is a good time to start this habit.  it’s getting colder and people are hungrier.  or that’s how i feel when this time of year rolls around.

11. fast once a week

today’s the first attempt at this, so i don’t know why i’ve even got this up here as a habit.  i’m starting this one today.  i’ll have to come up with another one for november.  any ideas?

edit jan 9: got it!

11. media, money, and manna fast once a week

how about taking a break from electronics, spending, AND eating once a week?  could there be a better way to really take a day off?  don’t think so.  since this is my november habit, i will not choose thursday as that day.  thanksgiving is the BEST and just look at who’s planning ahead!

12. sweat daily

hmmm….all the way in december is when i am going to instill this one?  i’ll probably be doing this by then, but daily?  probably not.  i don’t even want to workout daily as a habit.  i’d love to hit up an infrared sauna, a steam room and a hot sauna every week.  and sex works up a sweat, right?  anybody having it these days, please report.

this list will probably be amended as i go along, but it feels good right now.

because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

this soup is to be had at midnight on new years or if you can’t swing that with all the drunken partying that you were doing, it can also be the first meal of the new year.  i just like to have it whenever i have the time to make it.

it was created by empress dessaline when haiti was fighting the french for their independence to feed the soldiers.  without the meat, it is really inexpensive.  it’s not the much pricier with it, either.  over time the colors gained significance as our five gourde bill (remember those, fellow haitians?) was the same bright orange color.  the turnips are traditionally cut into rounds to symbolize coins.  it is the soup of prosperity and happiness.  we won our independence on january 1st, 1804.

there are as many variations on the soup as there are home cooks.  here’s the one i made this year:

(pretend there’s a picture here.  i have one but for some reason my mac is holding out on me.  blog blocker.)

edit: jan 9 here’s the pic!

you’ll need a skillet and a soup pot.

also:

a pound or two of meat-stew beef is great as well as chicken on the bone

16 oz canned pumpkin (do NOT get the stuff is all spiced up for pumpkin pie, just straight pumpkin)

16 oz chicken broth

4-6 celery wands diced small

1 onion diced small

4-6 carrots diced small

3-5 turnips sliced into rounds

1 small cabbage shredded

thyme 1-2 tablespoons

a bunch of fresh parsley chopped fine

butter for browning the meat

salt and pepper to taste

1. take your meat and dry it well with paper towels or  a dish towel you don’t mind staining, salt it and pepper it

2. heat the skillet (you want it nice and hot!)

3. add some butter to the skillet

4. brown your meat in batches-don’t flip it until it is deep brown with a little crust (you can achieve this a lot easier if you don’t crowd the meat)

5. when all the meat is browned set it aside, turn off the heat under the skillet but keep it on the stove

6. add butter to your pot

7. when it melts, toss in your celery, onion, carrots, thyme and half your parsley

8. when it is all translucent, take a tablespoon or two of your broth and use it to scrape all the browned butter and meat bits from your skillet-add that to the veggies in your soup pot

9. when well incorporated add in the rest of the broth and the meat and bring to a boil

10. gently incorporate your pumpkin in spoonfuls stirring it in, add the cabbage and boil for 5-10 minutes

11.  add the turnips and turn the soup down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes

12. turn the soup off and add the parsley-salt and pepper to taste

13. serve it up!

here’s to your health and prosperity!

i had thought of taking the train into nyc, but my cousins talked some sense into me and we took in the festivities of first night in saratoga springs instead.

the night before we went snowboarding.  i did an epic side flip off the lift and landed in unfrozen marsh muck.  it was my first time taking the lift to a mountain top.  i did great but almost half-way down, all of my old dancer injuries decided to pipe up.  so, i unstrapped my board and did the booty scooch the rest of the way.  it only took me about 30 minutes.

it was with relief that my bruised body didn’t have to face the hour drive to albany, the 3.5 hour train ride, the subway transfer, the being corralled into a pen, the drunken puking, the waiting and doing that all again at 7 in the morning after no sleep.  instead, i was chauffered (fancy way of saying i bummed a ride with my cousin-in-law and the family in the mini-van) to the springs.

we caught some of the window performers:

some god-awful belly dancing except for this woman who saved it for me:

a great dance fusion group, an irreverent animal handler, and the fireworks.

i did not get a new year’s kiss even though i was scanning the crowds for a worthy random but i intend to rectify that by new year’s 2013.

this morning, i finished up the 20-30 gallons of pumpkin soup (seriously,there is SO much!) i started yesterday, because that is the de rigueur first meal of the year for all good haitian girls and boys.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

i am obsessed with sleep.  (OB. SESSED.)  its importance in my life is generally set up according to my sleep needs.  if i don’t get enough, everything gets ugly real fast.  because there is such a real need for quality sleep in my life, i have tended to overdo it.  at some point, the decision to get 9 hours a night was made and the rule is nearly ironclad.

part of being wild is not living by rules, others or one’s own.  (our own rules are usually the most insidious and the best ones to let go.)  the wisest thing to do is to listen to one’s body.  since being back in the western hemisphere, i’m been tired by 9 and wide awake between 4 and 6.  last night, i feel asleep at 10 and was wide awake at 5:30.

usually, i would just stay in bed and coax myself back into a disorienting sleep.  instead, i woke up, grabbed the dog and drove to the beach to watch the sunrise.

now, i’ve seen a lot of pictures of sunrises, but haven’t watched very many since high school.  i was the principal’s kid and had to be at school by 6:30.  (she was my ride.)  here’s the thing that i’ve forgotten.

pictures are not experiences.  there are some photos that are so beautiful, so raw, so eloquent that one can feel that they are having the experience pictured.  but, one is not.

as i walked, then ran, then stood on the sand the wind whipping through my hair, the dog tugging on my wrist and the cold seeping up through the soles of my shoes, the colors changed in the sky.  a few pelican flew fast and low over the water.  the tide foamed at the shore.  my fingertips gelled, my nose ran a little, my lungs felt purified by the fresh air.  there were stars in the sky, then there weren’t as the night was pushed out of the way by day.  and i was there.

of course, i took a picture.  i enjoy taking them, both as souvenirs and as proof to others that i’m having the life they’re not.  (let’s be honest.)

it was then that i realized that although i’d seen hundreds of pictures of sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, cities, etc., this was the only one that was mine.

millions of us “love nature”.  we watch the discovery channel, animal planet, flip through nature picture books, read about people having grand adventures.  but, it’s all false.  we don’t know nature.  we aren’t experiencing it at all.  we are a population of spectators with no authentic experiences of our own.

imagine a person who is in love with and is having a relationship with someone they have never met but of whom they’ve seen plenty of pictures.  how seriously can you take that person and that relationship?  not very.

these thoughts cut through a lot of my own hypocrisy.  i claim to love the wild, love the outdoors, but if i’m only outside an hour a day, how can i take myself seriously?  how well do i know the object of my affection?

instead of living vicariously through photos of oceans, mountaintops, backyard hideaways, trees big enough to climb, rivers, grasslands or watching show after show documenting animal life, i need to get outside and live truthfully.

 

checkout girl:  What is on your hands?

me:  It’s henna.

checkout girl: Oh, have you ever tried Indian food?

 

on the other side of the globe, people are warming up their ovens, stuffing a large bird’s privates with bread mixtures, pulling on their elasticized pants, and getting together for family drama.

i love a day dedicated to eating and being thankful.  i am among the very, very, very lucky few that get to eat daily and have mountains of things for which to be grateful, also on a daily basis.

the past couple of days have been very tourist-y.  we took a bus tour of the city.  it hit the major highlights and although it has an on/off option, we only got off at a couple places.  it still took all day.  this city is fascinating.  my hosting friend has been talking a lot about how the past and present coexist so peacefully here.  after the bus tour, we went to smoke (take a guess?) at the hookah bar.  at the next table over was a woman sitting cross-legged on the cushions in full abaya puffing on the hookah sipping a coke and texting on her phone.

one of the places we got off the bus was the iranian souk.  it is located down at the port. on one side are the old wooden dhows and the other are the freight ships.  the souk is just 30 or so stalls jammed together with stuff flowing out of their doors-a cornucopia of goods.  since it is right on the port, the pottery, buckets, pots, pans, tapestries, plants, incense burners, etc., go straight from the ships onto the shelves.  my favorite little corner was stretched to its seams with canvas bags full of spices.

we also switched buses at the abu dhabi mall to grab a shuttle to yas island.  on the island is an amusement park with the world’s fastest roller coaster, a formula one race track with it’s own little harbor of yacht berths, and an ikea.  the amusement park is aptly titled ferrari world and it is dedicated to speed.  one of the attractions that i need to come back for is a racing car simulation.

yesterday, we headed out to the western region to pick out my hosting friend (okay, i’m just as annoyed typing that out as i’m sure you are reading it.  she will be known henceforth as K.) ‘s apartment.  ladies and gentlemen, when they say desert, they aren’t kidding.  immediately outside the city is an ocean of sand and a very straight road running through it.  the dunes are enormous.  along the crests, the sand twirls up in a wind choreographed ballet.  off in the distance we saw three camels walking.  then, we saw a superiority of them in green blankets being herded by a bedouin man.  then, there was another line of them, barebacked and free walking along the road.  in that group was a juvenile who broke into a run to keep up.  there aren’t many things that are equal parts amusing and heart-melting as watching a baby camel run.  then there were hundreds of them.  some were nearly white and others were almost black, but most were the same color as the sand, creamy with a tinge of orange.  then, there was nothing but sand.  as we drove, we saw an island of green way off in the distance.  it was an oasis.  then, an hour later, great swathes of date palms cut through.  then, nothing but sand.

the town that K will be in is another island of green in the vast stretches of cream tinged with orange.  there is a mall with all the personality of a cardboard box and a co-op that looked far more interesting.  as we drove around the town, we counted three women.  all the activity was men.  i’m sure that the women were home cooking and caring for the children…or working inside running the place?

on the way back, there was nothing to see but sand, until suddenly there was a small grove of trees.  nibbling at the rare greenery was a herd of Arabian oryx.  it was so special to me as they have just been currently been re-introduced to the wild after near extinction.  i didn’t see a male with its fierce, splendid horns, but it was really good to see them anyway.

now it is thursday morning, thanksgiving day.  i feel so fortunate that my life is being crafted into something of such bounty that every single day is beautiful and full with things for which to be thankful.  enjoy your meals and your lives.  make it awesome.