Happy Birthday Leonard Cohen


Today Leonard Cohen is 81 years old. Any lover of poetry and song has to acknowledge his influence if not his overwhelming charm, intellect and insight, aside from his stamina. The man endures but his words linger. Almost every occasion recalls a Leonard Cohen lyric to me.

I first heard of him in story, reading about Joni Mitchell’s love life when I was everything Joni as a young teen. Legend has it that they were lovers, his appearance cited in ‘A Case of You’ (“Just before our love got lost you said, ‘I am as constant as a northern star,’ and I said, ‘Constantly in the darkness. Where’s that at. If you want me I’ll be in the bar.'”)

I had never heard his music, which I would not have understood or liked back then anyhow. I much later came upon his name when I heard one of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright in the movie Shrek, not knowing it was his song. The lyrics moved me so at the time, a time of longing for me for some unknown missing piece I could not identify, could not silence the wind whistling through its gap.

Since then, I got to see him in concert at a lovely venue in Los Angeles with a long-time fan (and beloved), who opened my eyes to the man whose music I had heard and lyrics I had known most of my life. It was like coming home to witness this stylized crooner-sidechick act, the beat poet gone show-time while the words rang and rang and rang. His poetry attracted me like a siren with a bad smoking habit; I love the gruffness in his swagger and throat.

Happy birthday, Mr. Cohen. You know you’re immortal when….

there are 60 versions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ Ranked.  I still like number 3 the best, Wainwright’s version.

Midnight Ramble

  

 
 
Turning the key, I hear the wheels scratching the tar and asphalt, metal struts hitting cement. The skateboarders like the open space–and the night. This corner of the strip mall is recessed, secreted at night far from the beaming boulevard with auto showcases and fast food restaurants.

Tonight’s boarder seems older, maybe mid-thirties even. He is lean and has a beard, and he looks like he is in the zone, grooving with sways and swivels. And jumps. Fluid like an eel.
 
But then I thought about my sweater I left at Gina’s last night. I don’t know when I’ll get it back, and I like it so much. 
….
 
The door needs to be jiggled after it’s locked to check that it really is locked. Or maybe it doesn’t, but I need to check anyhow. The locking click of metal into slot and resulting tightness in the door’s mobility are pretty good testament to the door being locked. But I must jiggle nevertheless. It’s a compulsion.

 
The skateboarder makes another round to my corner. I sit in my car for a few minutes before driving off, taking inventory of all of the cords and usb plugs and devices. I charge and read, sometimes play games to wile away the time, chip at it with distraction; they are long shifts.
 
How free inside the gut and soul to skateboard when it’s right, when the sync is on. I remember snowboarding and those clicked moments: it feels so natural, so inborn–and joyful. The same joy as symmetry or coincidence, synchronicity, except fuller and rounder.
 
There is no snow boot big enough now. I won’t be boarding in a long while, I imagine. Still thinking about tattooing that bracelet silhouette on my ankle after it’s gone. It will be gone.

 
Though dinner last night was elegant and lovely, the guests lively, the hosts gracious and welcoming beyond measure–as always–I needed to be alone and felt awkward. Old friends should not make me uncomfortable. I’ve known Gina and Richard for decades. Perhaps because I just sermonized on introverts and declared myself one, I needed to prove it to myself. Since no one else cares. But I did feel sick, dizzy, like I was going to pass out from being too drunk, only I had had only one beer and a good amount of food with it. Could it have been stress?
 
My social anxiety is not that extreme. I don’t know what happened to me. But I suspect the pot everyone was smoking–and the over stimulation. F and C, new to the usual guest list, talk a lot, quick-talk about intriguing topics only remotely known to me, like Photoshop and cellular biology, so I have to concentrate. I can’t tell if they are smart or silly, self-inventors or mere drunks and stoners. Maybe all of them, and who cares? I suppose I have to label them so I can figure out if I like them or had a good time. Did I have a good time?
 
Their space–an oasis in urbanity–is mind-freeing, open to nature’s chaos mixed with their own, overlaid with nourishing touches, finishes and tucks of warmth. The night had that last bit of summer air, only a hint of cool. Unusually thick for a Southern California September night. Usually, the desert cold of night sets in around this time. So dinner outside was perfect, candles and overhanging white lights, festival lights without color, decorating trees and wood trellises. The fire pit flames cast shadows on the brick walls low like baseboard trim to the relentless hay, weeds and succulents strewn through the unrolling backyard.

 
It was a potentially too-long drive past Manhattan Beach, not in the maddening sense too long, but past the point of acceptability for a one and a half hour dinner. How many hours should one drive round trip proportional to the time spent at the dinner? Had I spent four hours, which I could have had I not freaked out, and drove two hours, which I did, then it would not have been a bad return on my driving time investment. The ratio seems reasonable.

 
Mopping the store floor when buzzed is the only way to get the full enjoyment of mopping. It’s like seeing Forbidden Zone on acid. Everything makes sense when you do.

 
Turning the lights on, cruising in my jalopy, a champagne 1998 Nissan Maxima, the first three-point turn to get on track gets me up close to the skateboarder, who dovetails just at the left side front end of the car.
 
His eyes meet mine, and I want to peer into them hard to see what it feels like to be free inside, to know joy at the core so fleeting, yet practiced in stealth, climbing the degrees of duration until the skill to ride fearlessly and flawlessly was always there. Only my windshield is too dirty. I swoop past in a wide arc and catch the flash glance each of us share, acknowledging our existences seconds deep; then I hit the bright boulevard headed for home.

 

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate’s Day!

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When I was girl, aye, many a moon ago,

a landlubber me, me mateys too

sailed the ocean in books from the bilge,

the library basement racks, and ventured far,

anchored only by words like hook of the captain

luring us in like Moby, wee urchins to the salty seas,

uprising smartly when it was time to go.

But we’d come another day for a skull’s whistle.

“For a tale awaits on the shores of shelves,”

the spectacle’d lass in pumps and plum lips said.

“Pirate the world in an open palm, my beauties,

Steal the wind with a spell set on shivering leaves.”

Ahoy and avast! And we did, alit below the stars

of blackened ceilings open endlessly beyond

and long before days peering into Davey’s Locker..

Outdoors Yoga on OutsideMyWay.com

  
I love this site and am so proud to have my first contribution published today. 

Fortunate to live in a sunny place, I have long ago adapted a love for outdoor activities. Whether I am up for a bicycle ride or jog along the beach, lining the sides of a soccer field to watch my daughter’s game or hiking at local day-long trails, soaking in the sun or even clouds and wind makes me happy, feel healthy and alive.

Since entering my fifth decade, however, my outdoor activities have changed. Before, running was always my thing, and mostly still is. A heart-pumping sweat feeds my healthy and happy. It used to quell my competitive spirit too when marathons and half marathons were my daily diet of training and racing…(Read the entire article here).

Are All Writer’s Introverts?

  
I googled that question today after teaching two classes, writing a few blog posts, counseling a student, and editing an article. Facing the prospects of a shift at a retail job to finish off the day’s work schedule, I am on the verge of collapsing into the couch and burying my head deep under the pillows.

People exhaust me. I am clearly an introvert, and I have never taken a test to prove it. I know it. However, whenever I confess to this most trendy of trends…”You know you’re an introvert if…” being an introvert, people are amazed. “But you’re a teacher and seem so social.” Both are true. I am a pleasant person, courteous at least, in the company of others and am certainly a teacher. I love teaching. But neither of those facts make me less of an introvert.

I hate to be the living cliché, but I believe most writers are introverts, living inside of texts, which are quieter and less demanding. People require attention, not only of the mind but of all the senses. They must be heard, seen, sensed, smelled and sometimes…touched. It’s all too much by the end of the day.

While I am among the masses, however, I do not feel sapped of energy. It’s when I hit the quiet of the late afternoon, sitting in the sun’s windowed reflection under the ticking of the clock punctuating my solitude among the table and chairs, tablecloth and armoire of my kitchen/dining area that the absolute exhaustion–a bone weariness of the mind and spirit–overwhelms me.

 

An aphid burrowing into the cells 

homing the pulp of me, crawling 

the synapses ablaze with centipedal

feet by the hundreds across attention

span and heat of the moment glee of

questions answered and asked, again

ticking off to-do’s of the do-nothings

but ply, ply, ply; it’s my trade, my cue,

my plight, but in the end, husked,

devoured, twisted, torn and teeth-

marked, me, hollow, me, cocooned

in respite of the dark, silent sap of

the dead thickening thinned linings

undressed, undermined and stripped

swollen, aching in whispering dawn.

 
credit: laurensapala.com

Ghosting

 

 
I learned this term today in an elephant journal article.  It means “ending a romantic relationship, by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.”

Like the writer who defined the term, I am in the dark about new trends, words and expressions quite often despite having two teenage daughters. I often think how far behind the times I will fall when my contact with them is not daily–in my house. They keep me fresh and as close to hip and trendy as I will ever be (which is not very close), often with exasperated faces, slumped shoulders to punctuate the sheer agony of educating an older person.

However, rudeness is not confined to youth. I agree that ghosting is rude, excluding abusive relationships, of course. Treating people as if they are disposable plastic bags, discarded (probably on the ground) after use without a thought to future ramifications (pollution-physical and emotional) to other beings both human and animal is more than unkind, more than cruel. It is brutal. 

The kindest gift is knowledge with all of its up and downsides. I may be rejected, feel bad about being rejected or even about myself, if someone dumps me face to face or in an email or text, but ice that rejection with someone’s cowardice or cruelty to keep me ignorant in the face of such dumping, well that is too much. 

First, I not only wind up feeling rejected but ashamed on top of that. Once I discover the ghosting, I am bound to feel doubly embarrassed that I did not know the person I cared about was such a coward, such an unethical person. That is the part that would throw me into despair. How could I not know I was dealing with an asshole? 

That realization–that I am stupid, unobservant and/or naive–kills me more than someone rejecting me for being me. I do not need validation from someone else, though it certainly feels wonderful to be appreciated. But I DO need to know who I am dealing with–for my own safety. For how do I make wiser decisions in the future if I have a defective bullshit detector?

The battle is always between the bravery and freedom to trust against cautiousness, the wisdom to discern others’ intentions and needs, and whether those fit my own. The difficulty, of course, is in achieving clarity, sorting through what’s mine and what’s someone else’s. They get conflated and confused sometimes. Is it me who wants exclusivity or am I capitulating to some unspoken or spoken desire of the person I HOPE to build a relationship with in time? It gets complicated picking through the nuances.

Knowledge is the best armor. Knowing the self and observing others is a lifelong study. I hardly ever get it right. The attempt is all I or anyone ever has, but the trick is to develop an intuition or listen to the one inborn, weak as it is, mixed in with recollection of tendencies and traits that are recognizably lethal.

I believe ghosters are detectable to those paying attention. 

Barring the sociopaths, those who would do others harm smell differently, and I mean that more in a metaphoric than a literal sense. Tight listening to instincts, like wearing infrared goggles, reveal the dark hidden. If only we use the gear at our disposal: eyes, ears, heart and mind, take note of the signs, the hints, looks and words–not in suspicion but in curiosity, like an archeological exploration, seeing what the landscape bears underneath, hopeful of gems of discovery but mindful that the earth may be barren or even collapsable and dangerous.

Perhaps ghosting is more a phenomenom of youth with its inexperience, fewer notes on lived case studies. Or it should be. But even young people have inherent tools to sniff out fear, falsehood and feelings. If only they respect themselves and their abilities, without trepidation over likely mistakes. 

Buddha proclaimed it way before I did. Suffering, though inevitable, is minimized in the mindful.
 

credit: futuresequence.com

One for the Bees

Victory, most probably pyrrhic, for the bees last week in a San Francisco Court that ruled against the EPA’s approval of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically sulfoxaflor, a Dow chemical product that confuses bees flight patterns, according to the New Scientist. Apparently succumbing to “public pressure” (Dow’s money and agricultural lobby?), the EPA approved the use of the chemical without enough viable support, tactfully stated as “flawed data.” This despite the known harm to not only bees but all pollinators, other insects and even birds.

The upshot: Fuck the bees. There’s money to be made.

But can we live without the bees?

They are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.

The battle for the bee is not won, however. Though one of these nenicotinoids have been banned in the U.S., they have not been banned in Europe or elsewhere. Bees do not stay in one place. And other harmful pesticides are still in use–just not sulfoxaflor.

And while pesticides are only one of the causes for the dwindling bee population, they are a big contributor, one that can be controlled by human intervention. So hooray for the court’s decision last week, but so much more needs to be done.

Who will speak for the bees?

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Workhorses of a seething-bustling, 
strange, 
misunderstood 
and alien world that we barely see
its glory and gore
acidic stew of swallow
and cilia claws 
burrowed below
but for the infrequent frightful protrusion,
intrusion,
extrusion, 
threatening a sting, 
a bite 
or a siphon
sipping the living juices of us,
savagery in the encounter.
 
And yet they sustain those who would crush them,
self-defense or not, 
fill the undergirding of our world with germinating life, 
exchange and commerce in wildflowers of the fields, 
manicured gardens of urban rooftops 
and edges of the sand dunes. 
They nourish us with sweet meats 
of the trees 
and gifts of the earth’s panoply of gallant beauties
pageantry of roses, peonies and daffodils,
and green godly goodness of cabbage cool,
beans of the vine
and broccoli floret 
walnuts
almonds
Brazils
the browns of nutty seas.
You, pinpoint friend, swap the day away, 
flitting from one sweet hollow to the next 
wearing, 
ingesting, 
carrying 
and dusting yourself with your wares, 
plying your trade 
and all we breathe better for it
and eat 
and expire
respire by your daily toil, 
though your armies are micro
populated,
though thinning, 
smallest of the small, 
and most benign. 
Some will warn
look away
not to watch,
not to near 
or interfere
or swat 
our swelling flesh worse for the encounter.
Carpenters of the Carribbean, 
homed amid the yuccas 
and woods 
while others gnaw at our backyard decks right here. 
Crow swims in sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, 
carpeting himself the golden sun, 
while sumptuous sand specialists 
hang in the hills of North Carolina 
or the Eastern Shore dunes, 
skimming the edges for life. 
Affable-bliss, 
drunkard, 
drinks from his nose of a tongue, 
buzzing about the Badlands, 
sucking up sweets from the wells of bells, 
trumpet trollops of honey delight, 
a piña colada of rum and pineapple pollen bits.  
But big old bombus and Metallica and modest-us, 
modest in size, 
half a rice grain wide, 
who carries her goods inside, 
a vomitous gift 
her babies survive
or they die
too sick
sparse
poisoned
murdered
by un-notice
unseen
unheard
unfelt
turnaway.
Health of heart, 
health of earth, 
home to hordes
4000 kinds strong
all native North American
only 40 left home
to honeycomb here
home to homo-cides
ignorants
polluters
stung-greedy
core-less
suicides
who
deny
if they are we are.

Thank You

A year ago today, I committed to daily blog posting to see if I could do it, after starting this blog six months earlier and then neglecting it. My aim then was to begin a discipline of daily writing, some place where I could be held accountable to produce writing, not mere scribblings.

The practice was more for me than an audience, but the practice evolved, I have evolved–teeny bit, anyhow–and I believe it is time (way past time) to thank those who follow, read, contribute and/or comment. It feels like a collaborative work, which is far more satisfying and meaningful.

If I had more time, I would do this better, offer more, not just content but more. I would learn to blog better to embrace you, my readers, in a more compelling and inviting way, make you feel at home, not like voyeurs. But there is still time to improve, thankfully.

So, with gratitude…

 

Fugue

  

  
Sundays. 

In day-drifts I spend them in lengthy morning sheets, 

woven threads striping maypole my legs with yours.

Skills. 

You have them: attentive, unwavering, intent. 

Your strong gentleness fills our bed with symphonic hum, a vibrational fugue. 

I cry. 

Some tenderness tears at lost time, flaked off bits of skinned cycles round, 

a heart with no hands.

Touch: soft swept fingers warm atop cupped palms, like namaste hands, loose prayers. 

Your hands. 

The edges brush by bristled cheek, full flesh and heated like sun-baked summer squash.

Promises: unsaid, steady and willed. 

You cannot. 

Ties from September past, 

a dozen dozen or more in months melded to seamless years of you and you and you. 

And her. 

Until: always when, yet, but still, then again, for now, someday, and forgive me.

 
credit: thisisnickwhite.com

Yet Another Ode to Dionysus: Sampling Under the Auspices of Research on a Saturday Afternoon

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I drove miles to meet, caught on the draft of highway 1,
Steeped knee deep in alder wooded cabinets stained in olive oil for
Caressed care of liquid pearl, grapey god’s velvet sip.
A dream of Athens, fleet footed baccanalia, you, my hedonistic loined lover of leaf and vine.
The sun.
Engineered glycolic canyons deep, your sugar mined for me
Wilts me weeping, drunk on pleasures
Deep, soil rich and dancing, your hooves in mine, herding your tethered Lust for wine–and me.

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