Seven years ago in 2010 before California, before north cubby holes and south green rooms and southwest desert sandstorms, I would stand on the deck waiting tables at the Yacht Club in Ocean Pines, wind blowing (like a million different Pusser’s winds, Naptown holllaaa wudup Chessie and back then) and it blew warm and westerly like Hawaii, through my hair.
By the time second season came on that wind blew every single time a cover band played Ventura Highway. The kind of timing that always makes me giggle, alright alright haha I hear you, mama earth-G0d-Mystery-Baby Jesus, whatever it is. All Love no disrespect. Ventura Highway special wind all that Fall.
Anyway, that’s how I knew I would roll. Or how the Call came when I said yes to it All. Listening to the wind 🙂
Chessie the Bay Monster at Light City last weekend, where the Bay meets the City, Inner Harbor, Bmore
Now that I’m back home, land of birth-home original-soul home, I think all the time about Pirate Life. Haha maybe you have to be a writer to understand this? All love to Erika and our Nous, if so. My own private inside though, my secret place to run, haha since I was a kid! Is a yohohum deep in there that came alive whenever I neared the tide line of beach mud.
It’s been really alive since June 2015, when I arrived back in Maryland after a 10-day on the road cruise, back east from Laguna Beach. California Adventure behind me.
Pirate Life. I can’t help it you guys. Argh y’all, it’s true. I listen to the wind 🙂
Other things Calling. It was CSNY Southern Cross that called me again, back home here. And ohhh for real, oh wow them warm Laguna Canyon winds.
Carl Jung called these synchronicity. Joseph Campbell lined up coincidences in rows and said, this network from inside to outside you that you can follow is Divine, is the Mystery, and when you acknowledge this, you Follow your bliss.
This blog is a sweet outpost for me: A crow’s nest for my soul. A high and wide in the branch somewhere in the home of a Keebler elf. Hobbit style keeping eye lookout on all the kids. Thanks for letting me indulge the Words as a way of saying thanks to the Holy What Is.
It’s been a million days of this I think, and as I write such words I see the gray slant of my ceiling in the morning, the days leading up to, but especially following, Aunt Mary’s death. Grief, which sits like a bone in the air. Its smooth, cold, calcium-yearning. Always there, blocking the place in your throat where you draw oxygen. I would lay in bed morning after morning, awake but not really. Asleep, but not at all. Just clinging there, some place in-between, my eyes in a sorta dull stare.
Funny, what it means to come back to you again: oh words, oh sacred meaning-making, oh holy process–humbled understanding. It means I come back to me. I was reading an interview with Tony Morrison last night and was struck by an image of her, a working mother, up at dawn to find time to write before her kids, open-eyed, began to sigh and taunt out Mooom! What excuse have you, I thought. It’s simple, and clear as that. I felt a satisfaction that has been a long time missing. A triumph from the well of me, gold struck and electric, so body-strong I nodded my head. Yes, what excuse indeed.
I’ve been up between five and six for a solid two months of mornings. Restless. Tested by the ceiling’s gray slant, its oceanic pressing, its whale-back depths and want for air. I have told myself this is just June gloom. Diddled away on Facebook, even began running on the beach to break that terrible habit of mind-numbing waste. The skylight with the peek-show of flat clouds. The words, which would begin in strings of lit sentences that would trail off the moment I tried to set them down.
This life, said Poet-priestess diPrima, for which
…you can’t sign up as a conscientious objector
the war of the worlds hangs here, right now, in the balance/…a war for this world, to keep it/a vale of soul making
the taste in all our mouths is the taste of our power/…bitter as death
…the war…the war for the human imagination…
…to keep it/A vale of soul-making…
Yes indeed, for this is what I chose…AND MUST CHOOSE, again, again…lastly, devastatingly…AGAIN: That this soul-making, this commitment is what it would be, what it is. My very life a testament…Holy Poetry, maker of, liver of Psyche. Twelve short years ago, on a bouncy bed in a purple house, three months out of college, in the candle-lit magic I acknowledged destiny. I made a Decision. To this would I be subsumed…to this all else would fall into submission. Lead it where it would take me, take me where I’d follow–and so on and so on in the creatrix magic of such dance.
A vale of soul-making…
Thursday on the eve of New Moon I lit the charcoal, burnt the resins, a form of devotion I haven’t practiced in years. Kat brought them to me, a cherished gift. I prayed on my knees, open-hearted, kept a whole day of quiet yesterday to honor within. I tended my soul, peeked its mirror, stayed there with me to see myself when my reflection came back. This morning I woke in dreams and was awake long before I realized I’d been laying there, tending gray.
Oh reflection, here it is.
Here it is.
I am ready again–it’s been two straight months on the Bardo—to begin.
Virgil McFarland called me eighteen times in one night. The honey-tongued woman on the recording said nine of those times the same thing into my voice mail, “an inmate from the North County Penitentiary is trying to reach you, press one to accept this call, press the pound sign to deny.”
When you pressed one it took you to another prompt, in order so that you could enter money to a prepaid account. Calls from the penitentiary were a dollar a minute. I pressed one the first three times he called, but after that didn’t answer anymore. The prepaid prompt only took Visa or MasterCard, and all I had for money was my dad’s borrowed American Express.
I hadn’t seen Virgil since 2002, and that was eleven years ago. That night we’d been in the club where we both had hung out separately and at different times, never having seen one another there before then. It was the last time I saw him and the last time I ever saw Jim. Jim was Virgil’s best friend and someone I had loved for a long, long time. Jim told me they would be at the club but he was nodded out between two video games when I got there. It was sad, but nice to see Virgil and them. When we were friends years before that we had spent our time together in other places, not old enough to go to clubs. The edge of the ocean where the water meets the sand. On bikes with banana seats or hunched over ten-speeds with handle-bars like horns of a ram. The carny booth on the neon pier that Virg’s dad used to run. His house in Costa Rica under breathy jungle trees. My house on eighth street where I lived with Jim when we were eighteen, when Virgil was still in high school and would sleep on our couch, and where from the front porch you could see the part of the boardwalk that on some nights anchored kites to dance in the way up dark like electric stars.
I was thirteen years and one day sober and clean the night he called me from the penitentiary. I had been so sad because when he got locked up I never thought I’d hear from him again. I tried to find a way to get his information to write him letters and knew I could do so through some old friends on Facebook. Then one of those old friends, Rooster, found me. This was a beautiful coincidence because if you think about it, Virgil, Jim, and Rooster were the only three boys from the beach that I knew from age eleven on, back when we used to body-board all day until it was low tide and time to head up, salt-skinned and sun-tinged, to the snack bar for ice cream sandwiches or popsicles to take to the pool. Rooster introduced me to Jim and Virgil all the way back then. So for Rooster to call me for the first time in eighteen years on the day of my thirteenth anniversary being sober and clean, and to call me because he himself had just decided to go to AA and get better, too, and then to tell me that not only was Virgil still trying to stay clean in jail but that I could talk to him, too? Well, this really was a beautiful coincidence. Jim’s way of reaching out to tell us—life’s as aligned as meandering bows, floating in space on the tail of a kite, looking like connected stars.
Virgil was in jail for twenty-one kilos of cocaine which was a probation violation. He had been sober and clean himself for three months before he slipped. We had gotten back in touch when I moved to Southern California. Or had driven here, had arrived here on a whim answering the same kind of running in my blood that used to lead me barefoot through the alleys in the old beach town where I first knew those boys. I worked in a drug and alcohol rehab receiving clinical psychotherapeutic training when he first called. I can say with certainty that the disease of addiction often requires a person at least eighteen months of what we call pre-contemplation before they get to the stage of being capable of making lasting changes in recovery. That’s why I call it a slip, you slip in and out of recovery during those first eighteen months. Sometimes you slip in and out several times in just one day. The human mind is a funny place to end up trapped. For an addict especially it’s wired and set and always ready to be tripped.
Jim died in 2007. I was in the shower two days after I found out about it and sure as if he were standing right in front of me he came to me, same flat junked-out face same wide open O mouth, staring in to me with eyes black from where there used to be stars. He was just standing there, saying sorry. The sight of Jim standing there was for many years much easier for me to keep inside, in the sick place where the cyclone path had cleaved a black cracked facelessness down the center of who I was. Sealing off the black cracked place made me feel like someone let go of the string that attached my head. I could disconnect that way from somewhere below my neck and just feel my body cool and sort of floating there, numb.
Same time that Rooster found me then the recorded lady had called on behalf of Virg in prison I also had to be in therapy, too, also to be able to become a therapist. We talked about it. It made me sad for me, my body detached and head floating above me like that. It also gave me hot heart and wet eyes just to know they were alive. I once had a friend commit suicide instead of going to prison, so I’d spent many moments wondering if Virgil was alright. Sometimes I even prayed about him to Jim. But mostly I just hated Jim. I guess that’s because it’s just him, faceless up there, the expressionless looking down he does from all that sky. It’s funny that life will break and mend your heart using the same experience all at once. That’s the thing about coincidences, which is life’s way of making sure you understand that it’s making use of time despite you not realizing it. It steadily moves you along, and also keeps you strange and anchored to the same old place until you’re willing to look down and see where you’ve been tied.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know?
The 101 in Ventura County in June smells strawberry sweet. There are paintings of seagulls on a wall in town, circling a convertible.
My sister-in-law is 8 and a half months pregnant and I never got to hug her when her belly was big and round.
For every 10 men on the internet dating site, odds are 1 is actually looking for more than just text-flirting for fun.
June gloom in Orange County means running on the beach when the air is buoyant gray. The best way to run is Santigold.
The neighbor runs laundry all day long but never goes anywhere. 20 years of healing can be imparted inside 2 minutes of wisdom.
I fell in love 5 times since the winter, and all 5 are still sober, today.
My last cousin graduated. I left my love for so long, back there.
Peace with my grammy
restored. I don’t have to watch out
for them anymore. It makes me mad that all that time has passed
and the most I have to show for it are some photos on a screen.
What can I tell myself
about home that I
Something about September–
There’s something about September, that’s what’s in my head, in my body, what my experience is saying to me.
But wait Kel, it’s not September, it’s October, the second week in fact, so really that waft of sensual that grabs me from behind and muscles the back of my legs, that sturdiness of roots and wave of melancholy at once, that sharp plug in the air, it’s more apt to say–
There’s something about the fall.
I associate it with a tribe of mad-artist minds I know from college. I used to tell them we had K-necctions, the K stood for Karma. Not the Buddhist kind. Rather the Psyche-is-alive kind, an idea that comes to life when we dive deep into our own inner world to create. What we don’t work out we act out, and who knows this better than the artist in mid-creation? Psyche is psychic then, how what we don’t bring forth in creation we bring forth in our daily going ons. This is Carl Jung’s synchronicity, where Joe Campbell got “Follow your bliss.”
As a depth psychologist in training, one of the central philosophical tenants with which I continually experiment is, in the words of Joseph Coppin and Elizabeth Nelson, “the psyche is real.” Meaning I take as an approach to life the “reality of the unconscious and the whole psyche, which includes consciousness and the unconscious.”
It is the ancient wisdom then of gnothi seaton, Know Thyself, and continual experimentation with how I relate.
Mad artist minds–do they see themselves as this complex I wonder? Specifically as these days I believe them to be even madder still, of that divine-touched-by-madness-spark. Mad-eyed, with Image on the Mind. How psyche speaks in symbol, in image through sound or picture or sense or feeling. Artists friends that became musicians for the most part, but extend to people like K Russ on the soccer field with her girls in the daylight, at night her fingers full with paint. Or Chico, who still posts drawings on FB “just to draw.” Or Kate, with her anarchist leanings and class full of fifth grade. Or Erika, who enlivens psyche to extremes as raw and ruthless as actual visitations.
The mad ones get it’s a life thing, a way of life thing, the delving inward to express outward, the whole cyclical process of creating and how we create ourselves in the process, and struggle through. It’s a way of life, not an outcome. That’s something I associate with college because that’s where I first met others like me, in a myopic little east coast rural river-run place called Chestertown. And since that’s where I learned it was real, it’s somehow what I always find myself re-experiencing in the fall. You know, when the body remembers going back to school.
Thinking of fall there, east coast yellow–that dark-shadowed late afternoon picnic gold–smell of chimney smoke in the air, geese honks and marsh salt or sulfur smell high in the nose so it sits in your throat–it’s made me somehow more compassionate of chicken-headed California. Because I am more compassionate of my self. Of the artist in me. Psyche speaks and I answer now, I fall to my knees in awe and gratitude and trepidation and why me and why not? It seizes me, I give my all to it, I’ve always traded all for that call to finally understand that all is that call, psyche is everything. Being me, with a level of self-compassion and love and tolerance for my neurotic artist up/downs and passions and needs and funny flighty extremes, well it helps me just let all the others around me be them. Shallow or inconsiderate or whatever falsities I label them. Mad-eyed or not. California perfect blue sky and endless sun.
And that’s just the thing–psyche is real, so, aren’t we all an artist of our own life? In conversation with it, or else trying to busily ignore this Holy and Odd Sacred Within?
Who knows. Maybe most are asleep to their own life because no one ever told them: Psyche is alive, it’s true…
My tribe’s been with me like crazy these past two weeks, so much I feel them like bodies sleeping and sighing in my very own room. Up down motion of in and out chests.
Thank goodness for fall.
Some writer days I’m just way more superstitious than others.
I burn the candles, beseech the angels, thank the saints.
Cast love about the place from the Holy Mother, get the sacred heart flame of Jesus fired up, too. Honor the goddess Earth, her sister Moon.
It’s because as any true writer will tell you, of the Duende. Spanish folklore reported the Duende as a goblin-like spirit that rouses up in us like hot-blooded possession, he who is phantom and different from the Muse, all bathed and transcendent in her ephemeral white. Muse is great for escape, anyway isn’t that what transcendence is? Duende is worth fighting for, for him you struggle and sweat and stay in the ring.
Duende is human, all the way…and people who know me know that’s what I honor, what to me is most sacred: profane, touching, our broken human life. It’s that for which I will always fight.
In any case, this week is the full moon. She peaks Thursday morning and so will be at her fullest in the night sky on Wednesday. She is the traditional Harvest moon, closest to the Fall Equinox which ushers in a whole new energy over the weekend. We’ve felt it coming since the New Moon, though. Hear it, sense it, feel it in the evening air?
I was sleepless last night under the white moonbath through my skylight in the loft. She was getting our attention. It is peak time for review of our year, what has grown, what blessings reaped. What sacred doubts? Sacred because it is how you will gather courage to regroup, and start again.
It’s too the time that these spirits will rise in us, as ghosts or angels, Duende or Muse, whichever one. This is the moon for that, Sacred Looking Moon, just before Fall.