The S- Words • 8 May 2010

Stormy today, in a way that shakes the ground. I stayed home to feel the house rumble and watch the pale green leaves shake tapping windows. No sign of the next-door neighbor lady or her cat now: leaves intervene. I listened to the first minute of a Garth Brooks song about thunder, looking out the window at the iridescent green streets. In honor of life before irony. All my coming-of-age songs about rain—GNR, Live, Phil Collins—sound like Andrew Lloyd Weber secretly wrote them. No wonder I find meaning (or relief?) now in the open texts of electronica.

But about ambient moisture. We bought a humidifier in December, when it was so dry that my nails all split off and my nose would bleed onto the manduka some mornings. The dessicating air pissed me off, in a way: similar to the way that high barometric pressure used to get me tense. The past two weeks, its little meter on the machine has risen from 30 up to 55, peaking today when the clouds broke. I wonder if summer here will have the same narrative wave as DC in ‘98, pressure building up in my chest, more and more excruciating over 14 or 16 days, until the thundering climax would finally hit. At which point we’d all exhale and the interns on the Hill would hook up. If it works like that here, maybe I’ll bracket the moon and cycle with the storms.

Otherwise, it is quieter here than any place I’ve ever lived. Quieter than the coast of Bristol Bay, than a hilltop in the Central American tropics, than my grandma’s basement in Colorado Springs. I was sitting in meditation this morning, monitoring my default sense door—what Shinzen calls "sound space"—when I thought of what it would be like if I were sitting in my old apartment in LA. Reaching back for those memories from the baseline of ambient silence, I noticed the center-aft of my brain lighting up. I can’t describe it—there was no physical feeling—it’s just that this section of the brain went nuts as it reconstructed the feeling of that old scenario.

Experimenting, I turned off that memory work and thought of sex instead; and what do you know. Brainstem ignition! (I was hoping for a little third eye response, but no. Just the lizard zone.) But (in reference to secret email threads) even Scorpio sex drive doesn’t have to be inexorable like the weather: I turned it off and went back to silence.

Wednesday in practice, the house also vibrated. Mail dropping through the front door downstairs. I was in the suryas, and watched myself form an intention and whole stupid justification for pausing my practice to go down and retrieve whatever Nexflix and Sierra Club propaganda might have arrived. As my idiot plan solidified and I finished the surya, the quiver from the floorboards traveled up the old beams of the house and in to the frame of the closet door. Just as I came back to samasthiti, mindlessly, the old closet door drifted open. Heart-jump. Ghost! And then I saw that I was the ghost. And I woke up. And I killed the little escape plan.

One of the reasons I wished, at the time, that I could have blogged about my Beverly Hills colonic was that my psychic hydrotherapist told me something interesting—in between divining from my poo that a key mentor had recently died (true) and that an important dog had also passed away (true). Watching the roulette of my poo, she said: You have to create your own symbolic lexicon.

Yes. The constructions can be consciously arbitrary and still hold meaning.

For me, better the idiolect of this old house—the way it talks to me—than the dessicated intestinal jerky a sphincter-clairvoyant would turn in to tea leaves.

This town is so quiet, but in a way that makes the rumples and flashes and ghosts stand out. Anything I can use as a virtual gong, as a pinch to come back awake.

It’s is all a little dreamlike, so I’ve been paying more attention to my dreams. Or they have been paying more attention to me.

There are a lot of real fragments in there—the giant, humid haybarn where I’d climb the square bales and hide in their recesses when I was five or six; the face of a college friend who always shows up as a symbol of self-sabotage; the teachers’ motorcycles, which stand for two-edged swords—but surveying it from the morning, it feels mostly like the play of emotion. A choking miasma of it when I first wake up, and then I’m standing there at the far edge, trying to reach back in to catch just a fragment. Just some outline of an image that I can turn back in to an object, and then use it as anchor to re-create the drama.

What part of the brain lights up to do that? I don’t know—I’m so involved in the grasping that I have little sense of dream-recollection as a brain process. Except when I catch myself squinting hard. Then it feelsl like I’m tossing a line down right between the eyebrows, roto-rooting the Broomadhya. Pretty mucky in there.

(*Note*: This was written and posted very quickly last night as I drank a half-glass of pinot noir. The Editor, suspicious that sober I wouldn't use so much of the words sphincter and sex, advised I revise in the morning. Good call. But now I don't know where to start. Sober Saturday mind so different from tipsy Friday night. Oh well. I'll lay off the lower chakras a bit now.)


  • Posted 8 May 2010 at 2:04 pm | #

    Don’t revise. There’s enough here and not here. It reminds me of Jeanine Antoni’s work, “Slumber.” She uses an EKG machine to make a record of her brainwaves while she dreams, then tears strips from the nightgown she wore as she slept to weave the pattern on a loom. A dream blanket.

  • Posted 8 May 2010 at 2:05 pm | #

    Oops. Janine.

  • Posted 8 May 2010 at 3:04 pm | #

    wow, I even got scared at the closet opening, the wine may be helping the “effect” of the words in the reader… who knows, love your writing

  • Posted 9 May 2010 at 11:51 pm | #


    BTW, Antoni was on Art 21 a while ago. Here

    What a creative practice she has… not fetishizing the work-process and its materials, so much as churning it back in to the work.

    Work (v., n.)

    Podcast for vegetable-chopping tonight is Rick Hanson. #260 in the queue He feels a bit distractingly self-deprecating at the start here, but if you stay with it, his gifts and humor come through. I really like his way of engaging and his insight. “Self is really like a big archipelago…”

  • Posted 10 May 2010 at 3:23 pm | #

    Quiet. I miss the quiet. Though, coming back to LA after quiet puts my sense organs on overdrive… Jamie woke me up one night after I’d come back from spending a day out in the desert listening to the rocks… I was sleeping with my hands over my ears and crying. Too much. Which maybe explains a lot about people who live in noisy, overstimulating cities in general.

    I digress… dream awake, awake dream, it all kinda blurs into the same thing lately. What I don’t finish in waking life, I go to sleep and take care of… and the lexicon thing… yes.

  • Gregor
    Posted 12 May 2010 at 7:46 pm | #

    Jung had this thing, well, we all have a thing, but anyways, about the land having memory of the people before. Sometimes they show up in the dreams, and give you their wisdom or their colds. What was in Ann Arbor before we ‘found’ it?

  • Posted 12 May 2010 at 8:02 pm | #

    Oh god, Jung had that thing? Did he believe it?

    Native Americans were here until very recently – Chippewa and others.

    It’s so quiet here, and unlike my old street of Santa Monica Blvd (where the buildings have been erased and redrawn so many times, as Mike Davis describes beautifully in City of Quartz)the buildings are mostly first-generation. And there is so much exposed earth. And the weather really bosses us around. You almost can’t help but feel like the land could take or leave the town itself.

    Sometimes I think it’s the Boulder of the East, though. I was wishing someone would sing me the hanuman chalisa yesterday, so googled “kirtan ann arbor.” Yup. They exist. Next Friday at the Quaker meeting house. On the uploaded recordings, they bear down especially hard on their _R_s in the “Shiva ShankaRas.” How Scandinavian of them…

    Also, How to become an eccentric boddhisatva.

  • Posted 13 May 2010 at 1:56 am | #

    jai jai jai hanuman!

    perhaps the dreams exist wherever abide the legions of lost pen caps and rotary phone numbers. waiting for the ink of the mind and the shading of the heart.

  • Gregor
    Posted 13 May 2010 at 4:03 am | #

    Yes he did. My analyst was born in Alberta to fine scottish stock from Tiree (very strange people, god bless em). The usual concept is that all this stuff comes from your ancestors, um perhaps. But he had a dream when he was a young lad, with native americans with very specific markings. These were the blackfoot, from the area he was born in, and was at that time completely ignorant of.
    Electronica makes me drive off the road having lost all sensory perception. I stick to Van Halen.

  • Posted 14 May 2010 at 6:48 pm | #

    I like saucy Owl.

  • Posted 14 May 2010 at 8:16 pm | #


    You’re here!

    Maybe this week I mention the oversexed tulips.

    BTW, this series of stories on Coming of Age in India and Pakistan is fascinating. For the audio pieces, click on “stories” and then the audio-stream icon. So far, four audio sections have been posted.

    About fine Scottish stock, is there any other sort? Surely not.

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