June 20, 2010

Blue eyes

Yesterday I saw a friend I hadn't seen in 6 years.  Today in a  quiet moment, I recall how we take things for granted when we're with people who we call 'friends'.   Friends because we like being with them, there's an ease, friends because it becomes a habit of calling back and forth and eating b'fast on the weekend days during grad school, friends becasue not only do we bump into each other in the hallways and classrooms but because we spend hours talking about what art we can't stand or what we love and tease in between, friends who collaborate, collaborators who become friends.  I remember one of the first nights out with this friend, we were in the Saugus Cafe, rickety authentic side of the road cafe on the way to Saugus.  Cracked booth seats, jukebox contraptions on the table, coffee in those small thick mugs that gets cold fast, greasy potatoes that I love.  Andrew is a vegetarian and so was I at the time so we made fun of the menu and of roger, who squeezed into the booth with us and rolled his eyes.  Oklahomo.  Or wait, was he making fun of us?  Groaning cuz he was going go have to endure our persnicky diets?  We all became very good friends in grad school.  Out of school, we still maintained our connections but it wasn't daily.  We didn't bump into each other anymore.  Efforts had to be made.  Visiting him in Hollywood required parking the car and that was a pain in the ass.  Slowly those plans got eroded and then Andrew was gone, got a job in Indiana, moving up and out into 'academia' while I opted for yoga immersion, escape hatch out of 'swimming upstream in the art world.'  

Yesterday I picked up Andrew at Union Station.  I saw a guy sitting on a bench with shorts on.  Ever youthful, even into his early 40s now.  Same.  He hopped in my car and teased me about almost running over pedestrians that I didn't notice because i was looking for him.  The gal on the bench next to him noticed however and was like, 'why's she honking like that?'  I wasn't honking at the pedestrians I didn't see, I was honking at Andrew, on the bench.  When we got to my studio, we both took off our sunglasses and I felt a little self-conscious.  Would he notice all my wrinkles now?  We're here at that point.  And I looked at him, really looked at him, and was fascinated by the blue of his eyes.  Those eyes that I didn't really see years ago.  We were too busy instead looking into our own thoughts, our ideas, our plans,  but not into each other.  Not like this.  It's more relaxed now, but more poignant.  He's just visiting.  And somehow, I'm coming upon the fact that we're all just visiting all the time.  And how the only thing I can really do about this or want to do about this ...is sit and look and deeply admire.

April 16, 2010

The Happy Meal

Okay so I'm at the task of pondering karma, actions, cause and effect, in particular that of the non-virtue of 'taking what is not given' and in Paltrul Rinpoche's book, 'The Words of My Perfect Teacher', he describes how "nothing could be more effective than trade and commerce for piling up endless harmful actions and thoroughly corrupting you."    The acts of trying to be the best, the harm involved in subjugating your competitors, selling 'lies', extolling the good qualities of a products while making it on the cheap and it goes on and on.  

And then I think of McDonalds.  What started out as an idea for a quicker meal, a 'happy' meal, for people has now served billions and in the process (or processes), billions of cattle have been slaughtered, billions of pounds of saturated fats have been ingested, billions of styrofoam products and paper products have been manufactured and used and millions (I hope not billions but who knows) of people have been physically affected, judging from the increase in the obesity rate all over the world.  Every time someone buys a quarter pounder, apparently, according to Paltrul Rinpoche, even if they haven't had a hand in the initial idea of such a company nor did they themselves slaughter the cattle or create the styrofoam wear, they are complicit.  As he writes, "any participation down to merely offering hunters or thieves some food for their expedition, is enough to bring you an equal share of the effect of the evil action of their killing or stealing."  So in other words, every time I plunk down a few dollars for a burger there, I'm giving them 'food' for their continued 'expedition' (ie: enterprise).  Now I think back to the times my teacher has suggested that as a way to exercise discipline (one of the seven noble qualities), we could try not going to McDonalds one day a week.  Presuming we have a habit of this.  Or even maybe, once a month, or ever again, according to our capacity for restraint.  And then I'm thinking, ah ha, it's not just because McDonalds is known to be an unhealthy eatery and that's bad for you as the individual but perhaps because every time you order or consume a Big Mac and fries, you buy into a cascading waterfall of negative actions, multiplied to the billionth degree and restraining one's self from the urge for a 'happy' meal is a start?

April 13, 2010

The Garden of Hope

When I first moved into this bungalow on Hyperion, there was an longish oval shaped patch of yellow weeds and sick looking dirt, hard, cracked, greying, spanning the length of my door to my neighbor's.  My friend urged me not to move into this 'dump'.  But boy was it cheap.  So I thought I'd first set up to beautify the exterior with a garden.  Quite excited was I because growing up, we had gardeners and I never lifted a finger.  But I'd watch my dad out back after work or on weekends toiling to plant some nursery item he'd just bought.  So I figured, now's my time to figure out green thumbing.    Well with one push of a shovel into the dirt, I knew this was not going to be something for the single lady.   So I persuaded my friend Josh  (Josh now is an organic farmer in Hawaii..) to come over one afternoon and we began to amend the soil...in August ...in LA.   It was so cement like and 'disturbed' that we probably should have used jackhammers.   It was like we were stilt walking on our shovels most of the time but finally the 'dirt' started turning a deep shade of brown.   I then went on a shopping spree at the nursery to make an herb and vegetable box and chose sun light friendly flowers.   For a while I weeded and plucked up what yellow brittle grass would continue to arise - apparently this ugly patch had been a green lawn at some point in the past.  I would puff up a bit with pride but then enter a slump as I saw my lovely flowers, my gardenia plant, my purple and blue and white tulip-y flowers shrivel up in the LA summer and eventually the neighborhood cats (mine included) turned my herb box into a litter box.  And my neighbor Eddie turned his corner of the 'garden' into an ashtray to which I responded by regularly piling up the cigarette butts and putting them on his front porch with a little love note as to how he should just buy a proper ashtray.  

But now years later, this garden grows itself.  I'm kind of amazed.  I hardly do a thing.  I got smarter and got succulents and cactii, roses and rosemary and it just sustains itself year after year.  In a meditation session, it flashed....  You amend the 'soil', sweat it out, jump all over it, get a few plants and seeds and for a while, you beat back the invaders and trim the shrubs.  You even give up as you see some things shrivel and die and then figure out another way.  Then, eventually however, you let it be and it just is there, in a kind of almost dare I say lazy glory!  This garden gives me hope.

April 7, 2010

The Allen Ginsberg Project: Peter Marti & Marc Olmsted Interviewed by Julie Adler

This audio was in the can for a while when Marc Olmsted prodded me to turn it into an edited radio segment to promote Peter and Marc's poetry. I ended up laying on the floor listening to this way too many times. Something about Ginsberg giving poets and artists the green light to expose the pain of life while creating appeals to me.