Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow and Vodka

Her dog matches her coat.

We had a lovely snow storm in DC yesterday. I'm not sure what the official snowfall total is (how do they determine these things anyway?) but to my eye, on Capitol Hill, we got about 5" or 6" of the fluffiest, lightest, most powdery snow.

The snow in combination with very cold temperatures, 18 or 19 degrees F., put me in a mood for martinis. Yes, that's plural. I had two which is one too many for me these days. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My roommate valiantly set out to buy the ingredients, after which we gathered some snow to sprinkle on top of the beautifully garnished cocktails. I should have taken pics of the spiraling lemon twists floating on a cloud of soft snow layered over vodka and vermouth. It melted fast but was so pretty.

As the afternoon faded my roommates told me (while under the influence, and in the nicest way possible) that if I colored my hair and lost 20 lbs I could be a real cougar and date men half my age. It was so sweet of them, it really was. The truth is, I don't want to date men half my age, I don't want to pretend to be 40-ish again. I always felt like a total fraud when I was younger. I was always trying to pretend to be cool and glamorous, two qualities that are - for me - completely false. It's only now, in my fifties, that I feel comfortable inside my body.

But I didn't explain this to them because we were having such a nice time. We tried on each other's slippers, danced to Earth, Wind and Fire, wept a tear or two as we listened to Nina Simone.

It was a lovely snow storm outdoors, and a very beautiful martini storm inside. A couple of Advils have squashed my headache, now it's time for coffee and granola, then work. All's well that ends well. What a nice day yesterday was!

Dogs and people enjoyed the snow.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Paradigm Shift in the Dreamscape

I am completely fascinated with my dream life. My dreams are so creative, sometimes it feels like I've channeled them. It's like going to the movies - man - I LOVE my dreams.

Sometimes I write them down carefully, re-read them later in an effort to understand what's going on in dreamtime. Sometimes I just let the dreams wash over me. I figure they can take care of themselves sometimes.

Over the years certain themes have emerged, i.e. the dream in which I'm trying to pack all my stuff in suitcases that are already full. I am going to miss my flight if I don't get packed asap. Or, I'm trying to get from point A to point B. I can't find my car so I decide to walk a most circuitous route that takes me through other people's apartments, down alleyways, through warehouses, up and down scary cliffs, over rivers, etc. These dreams were never fun.

Recently the patterns of these dreams are shifting in the best way imaginable. Right in the middle of scaling some sheer, slippery cliff I realize there's an easier path. In the dream I think, "I don't have to do this. I'll take the nice winding path over there." In the suitcase dream, instead of packing feverishly, lately the bags are already packed and though I'm lugging them to and fro, the stuff inside them is not spilling out like in the old dreams.

I even found my car recently in a dream. One of my great teachers appeared in the dream to help me find it and then we polished the car with big chamois cloths. What a triumph! I used to dream about looking for my car so often that one of my teachers actually made up a song about it. I tried to cure myself by having a friend park my car in a huge parking lot while I waited in a store. She handed me the keys and I set out to find my car. It took me all of 2 minutes in "real" life. But I continued to have the dream anyway. Until a few weeks ago I had NEVER dreamed of finding my car. Clearly something very good is going on at the deepest levels of my unconscious.

Last night's dream featured me with my backpack (no longer a suitcase) following an easy path over water and through apartments where the residents welcomed me and pointed to the back door. No more sneaking around in these dreams! I am finding my way.

In the dream I had applied the best moisterizer which might account for why the young Japanese man wanted to snuggle with me. In dreamtime, I tell him to back off. I am quite harsh. President Obama is there. He says to me, "I'm sure he wants to snuggle with ALL the old ladies." I realize OH. The Japanese guy is telling me I'm attractive. President Obama says,"You might want to reconsider your attitude."

Hmmm. I believe I am reconsidering many attitudes, way down there in the funky recesses of my mind. 2010, so far, is a really good year. May it continue! Oh yeah!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Reasons Why

Do you believe in cause and effect? Some days I'm not so sure there is an explanation for every single thing, or maybe it's more accurate to say that some days I believe the world to be so complicated that there really is no way to explain why things are as they are, which is not to say we shouldn't try. But perhaps we are a bit ambitious to believe we ever can. I mean really.

I'm thinking about cause and effect this morning because this week, I believe somewhat inadvertently, the Sufi acupuncturist named his diagnosis of my most central disharmony. He was trying to explain his approach to helping me through my springtime allergies, something we are already gearing up for. I'm sure he didn't realize I would spend most of the afternoon after my treatment looking through books on Chinese medicine, finding the symptoms associated with this disharmony, connecting the dots in my never ending search to figure out WHY I am the way I am.

What I learned was indeed fascinating and spot on. No wonder I overreact to the surge of life force in spring! The diagnosis, kidney yang deficiency, means that my life gate fire is subdued. In order to respond appropriately to spring in the fecund midatlantic, one must have a roaring bonfire of kidney yang to balance the inner with outer. Because of the weakness in my life gate fire, the upsurge of spring feels like an attack. My body overreacts. Back in the days before I saw the acupuncturist, all of May was a miserable fog of sneezing, dripping and congestion.

What I especially love about this diagnosis is the fact that it's not my fault! Kidney yang is something you're either born with or without. My mother, like most American moms in the 1950's, smoked cigarettes, drank martinis and coffee while pregnant. Am I saying it's her fault? Nah. She had no idea she was depleting my resources; she was just living her life. My diagnosis is a case of no fault disharmony. As it turns out, I've done my best, unconsciously, to restore that deficiency. All the foods I love the most help build kidney yang. Edifying to know I've tried.

The way my energy flags in the afternoons, my spring allergies, my flaky willpower, the fact that I have such a hard time returning phone calls? It's NOT MY FAULT people, it's not. It's not weakness of character or psychosomatics or neurosis, oh no! It's kidney yang deficiency. Cause and effect - oh yeah!

I know, it doesn't account for every one of my flaws, it is not a unifying theory of everything nor is it a bullet-proof excuse, but I'm kind of in love with my diagnosis this week. It feels nice to take myself off the hook for a few days, it really does. OK? OK.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

To every thing, there is a season

The wheel of the year is turning. Here in DC, at 5:30 p.m. the sky is still light. Just a couple of weeks ago, 5:30 was night time. The days are expanding, and though winter is far from over, there's hope that spring will arrive, as usual, in late March. Oh yeah.

It is not springtime for the American empire. Listening to the president speak last night, what I remembered (haven't thought about it for awhile) is that we can step back gracefully or we can fall face first into disgrace. The option of being the big neighborhood bully of the world is no longer viable. We have to stop. We will stop or be stopped, one way or another. No empire is everlasting. The choice is ours as to how the decline of our empire unfolds. It really isn't all up to Obama. He's just one guy.

A blog friend tells me that he saw this bumper sticker: Dear God, please make me the kind of person President Obama thinks I am. May it be true! May we all wake up from our anger, impatience, and our sense of entitlement. May we stop blaming each other and get to work. May our eyes and hearts open. Are you listening, God? Are you listening, America? C'mon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Tonight our president will deliver his State of the Union address. For the first time in his presidency, I'm not sure I will listen/watch. I feel discouraged - not by Obama who I still think is a really good person and the best president we've had in a long time - but by the sinking ship of our empire. I find that I just don't want to hear about it. Is that denial? You tell me.

The Supreme Court decided to allow corporations the right to donate as much money as they want to political campaigns. It's a ridiculous decision in everyone's worst interest. And our president decided to freeze spending on domestic programs like education - an area in which investment is sorely needed - while not freezing military spending.

Most days I feel very lucky to live my privileged, cushy lifestyle where I can choose not to eat wheat, for instance, because there are so many other things I can eat, in which I get a nice hot shower every day, crank up the heat when I'm cold or the A/C when I'm too hot, and can attend to almost all my discomforts.

Some days it makes me heartsick to live in this empire. It is not sustainable, but we carry on anyway, as if the resources of this planet were unlimited. They are not! We are crazy to think it's more important to keep fighting two hopeless wars than to invest in education. Please.

Like all empires that rise too high, we are falling. OK. OK. Some days my heart sinks along with the empire. That's all I'm saying.

Detritus from last week's "Right to Life" march on the mall.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sometimes I wonder

Maybe this just happens to me because I am essentially a contrarian. You tell me, OK? But sometimes I find myself defending a point of view I know nothing about, absolutely nothing. Sometimes I find myself defending an idea that I actually disagree with. I can't say for sure how I get into these conversations, because by the time I wake up and realize, for instance, that I really have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm already deep into it.

In the past when I woke up in the midst of one of these experiences, I was almost always too embarrassed to admit it. In my embarrassment I would push on even harder to defend whatever it was I was defending.

People who come to know me, those who love me in spite of myself, see right through me. I had a very good friend who used to stop me halfway into one of those conversations. She would say, "Ruby," (my nickname at the time) "Do you really know what you're talking about, or are you bluffing?" She always asked with such genuine curiosity, that it broke the energy completely. This great friend helped me learn how to let go, turn on a dime, when I was indeed just bluffing.

As I've gotten older, I've gotten a lot better at stopping myself, laughing at myself, and then admitting that I have no idea what I'm getting so vociferous about. But I still slip into those conversations. I wonder why? Maybe I'm looking for friction, heat, energy. Maybe I enjoy the spark created when two people disagree about an idea or philosophy. Maybe it's my martial art, my way of sparring. Who knows?

Sometimes, though, I wonder - what in the hell am I doing?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

A friend and I, distorted and reflected in the Anish Kapoor sculpture at the Sackler

"Just be yourself!"

Have you ever received that advice? I have, many times, mostly in the form of friendly encouragement before I had to go into any social situation. I am an Extreme Introvert which accounts for why I've needed, throughout my whole life so far, this kind of Extreme Encouragement.

I think what the people meant, the ones who told me to just be myself, was to relax and have fun at parties and in other kinds of gatherings. To "be myself" in a group - at least so far in this lifetime - is to glue myself to a wall, sweat, blink and in general freeze up or shut down. I'm sure that's not what my friends and family were suggesting! What they really meant, I believe, was, "Just DON'T be yourself!" They meant it in the most loving way.

Lately I and a bunch of other bloggers have been writing about identity. The question of who we are, fictional or "real," now or in the past, is in the air at the moment. It's a pretty fascinating wavelength. Are you thinking about it?

Rosaria is writing a blog of memoirs in addition to her great blog Sixty Five, What Now? Her most recent post, a reflection on the process of writing a memoir is perfectly named: Is it real or is it created? She makes so many good points in the post. Wow. It's true that all history is a creation of the historians who imagine it. So all memoirs are also creations rather than cold, hard fact.

Who knows who I was in the past? But - even in this present moment, who am I? Dan of the blog A Mindful Heart says, My very wise friend Walter would say that what you think is your "real" self is actually a fictional character. Oh yeah. My identity (yours, too!) is a moving, shape-shifting mass of ephemera. It's no wonder the "I" part of me gets so restless and moody sometimes.

Dancing in shamanic alignment with "reality" involves being willing to change moment to moment. C.M. Jackson of the blog States of Mine, wrote this morning about the need to embrace change. I'm beginning to get it - resistance to change is futile, unnatural. The Sufi acupuncturist tells me that, in Chinese medicine, change is so intrinsic that if things don't move, disease will result. I think, too, of a great physiology teacher who used to say, "It's OK to slouch - just don't slouch ALL THE TIME."

Below is an aphorism C.M. Jackson posted today, the perfect words to sum up what several of us have been thinking about. Thanks, C.M! Thanks, Ms. Buck!

If you have been sitting, stand.
If you have been standing, sit.
If you have been traveling, stay home.
If you have been home, travel.
If you have been teaching, learn.
If you have been learning, teach.
If you have been talking, listen.
If you have been listening, talk.

Annharriet Buck

This is my friend's pic of that same moment. Similar, but definitely different.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Yin and Yang of a Perfect Weekend

The skyline of the Smithsonian. See the tip of the Washington Monument on the right side? It's some distance away, but so big it looms even over the Smithsonian castle.

It's turning out to be a perfect weekend. Yesterday, my day off, was sparkling, clear, sunny and not too cold. A friend and I engaged in all things Smithsonian. We had lunch at the American Indian Museum cafeteria: YUM. Then we walked down to the Sackler to see the Falnama, Book of Omens exhibit which is, by the way, exquisite. We visited the gift shop, too, and giggled at the "ancient Japanese bobble heads" for sale. Then we walked around the national mall, people watching. A fabulous afternoon.

Today is gloomy and rainy, but hey, I'm working all day. There is no better backdrop than rain for both the bodywork practitioner and receiver.

Life is good. Who needs a fictional character as a representation? I'm going to stop worrying about it. Well. At least for today! Happy Sunday, y'all.

Nuns with backpacks on the national mall. We saw a lot of monks, too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Parallel Existence

This pink building on Pennsylvania Avenue has been standing forever. I see it all the time in old paintings of the Capitol.

One of my FB friends has suggested that we post, as profile pics, images of fictional characters who best represent us. I am completely stumped by that suggestion. What fictional character best represents me?? Who knows?

Maybe that's why I dreamed last night about the art professor - not the art professor I had the tragic affair with, no, I dreamed about his best friend at the time, also an art professor who also had an affair with a young girl in his class, but the professor I dreamed about last night, in "real life" all those years ago, divorced his wife, married the young girl, had kids and - as far as I know - lived happily ever after.

In the case of my tragic affair, the art professor confided in his wife whom he did not divorce and who, later on, blamed me when she developed spinal cancer that she died from a couple of years later. Can you imagine how many years of psychotherapy it took to unravel that adventure? Wow.

Is that a case of parallel existence? The two art professors, the two affairs? Hmmm ... probably not, eh? Nevertheless, there he was in my dream, the other art professor, middle-aged and pudgy, gray haired, still married to the girl who without a doubt is no longer a young girl with long pretty hair.

As for a fictional character that best represents me, I'm unable to think of even one candidate. In my "real" life I often already feel like a fictional character, maybe that's why I'm so befuddled.

It's only now I can accept that when I photograph my shadow, Jake's shadow will not be standing nearby.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Space Case

This is from the American/Soyuz hook-up in space..

I'm certain I haven't been inside the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in all the years I've been in DC. It is one of the most popular museums during tourist season, and also a place where teachers bring kids on field trips. Both of those facts make the idea of visiting quite daunting, at least to me.

But as disoriented as I was yesterday after writing a poem, posting the poem, deleting the poem, and from all the astrological planetary re-arrangement I've been engaged in, not to mention the fact that January is not a big tourist month in DC, I ventured inside.

Buzz Aldrin's in-flight space suit.

Almost immediately I felt kind of sad. The budget cuts that the Bush administration levied on the Smithsonian really show in that museum. It's so shabby. The carpet is careworn and dusty, the exhibits are lackluster even though many of them are quite huge and historically important. But the truth is that it's actually more like a junkyard for old rockets, airplanes and spaceships than a museum.

I was happy to encounter the Apollo capsules, to understand in a visceral way that I'm not the only person who has yearned to go see the stars up close and personal. But it was kind of appalling to see how funky the building has become. There's even a food court attached to the museum, with a coke bottle dressed up like a rocket pointing the way.

Fast food is really the last thing that tourists and schoolkids need more of. I mean, really.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


That's Tonka's butt. He is the big burly household dog.

Aim for the chopping block. If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block. --Annie Dillard

(There was more to this post but ... uh ... bad poetry disappears!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Creature of Earth

Almost every bit of snow has melted, at last!

Who among us hasn't longed, at one time or another, for transcendance? After all, the body is, among other things, a royal pain in the ass. It must be fed and cleaned, shaved, trimmed, brushed, dressed and undressed every single day. The body has needs, oh yeah.

The body also has desires, strong ones. The body wants to touch and be touched, it wants sex, sleep, vigorous exercise in order to get an endorphin rush. Also: a nice hot bath, rich food and liquor and coffee. And sleep, of course. I could go on and on about the aches and pains, the small colds and devastating diseases that are also a part of incarnation. Or I could talk about aging, the most humbling experience, believe me! I don't have to do that, though - do I?

The mind, on the other hand, seeks beauty, music, knowledge and wisdom. The brain, according to the Chinese, is a "curious" organ. It sure is. The mind likes working out puzzles and mysteries, finding the right word on the right occasion. The mind loves to philosophize and wonder, the mind loves learning. And, too, the mind is extremely judgmental about the needs and desires of the body. At least mine is!

One really interesting thing about the mind is that it does not age. Those of us who are getting older really do feel a shock when we look into the mirror. The aging face does not match (for most of us) the inner sense of youthfulness that is a key aspect of the mind.

Though I'm often impatient with it, my body is the space ship that's taking me on this voyage through life. I honor and respect it, well, most of the time. Yesterday in order to get back from the outer reaches of the solar system back into my body, I skipped having a drink with my friend and instead had a latte. I listened extensively to the blues (thank you Hammer for the suggestion, and thanks, too, to John Hayes for posting all those cool train blues videos on your blog). I cleaned my room, did my laundry, and cooked a dinner centered around all natural, grass-fed steak. I avoided gazing at my star charts, kept my eye on the landscape instead of the sky.

It worked! I feel back in my body today. Woooo-hooo. Now - back to the stars! Oh yeah.

The Chesapeake Bay. Isn't it magnificent?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fly Me Back from the Moon

I think I've had my head perhaps a bit too far up in the stars because everything I see is beginning to look like a constellation. I saw an oil spill yesterday in the parking lot by the bank that looked just like Canes Venatici, at least to my eye. For heaven's sake!

Canes Venatici

On my way home from work last night, I was so fixated on the beautiful crescent moon and her partner, the brilliant Venus, that I almost got hit by a car. (Those of you who are not star struck at the moment should check it out tonight. Wow. Beautiful.)

Last night in my dream I was studying the constellations of Cuba and Haiti (whatever that means), while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get the Big Dipper to pour stellar blessings and smooth proceedings onto Haiti.

Part of my Plan to Stay Sane includes a practice of balance, moderation. That's a tough assignment for those of us who tend to lean hard into everything, but it is well worth practicing, it really is.

So today in the interests of sanity and balance, and in a gesture towards moderation, I will stack my star charts on my desk, close the book I'm reading, Dr. Copernicus by John Banville (a really good book that has confirmed my theory that life in the middle ages was, in every way imaginable, magical realism) and keep my eye on the landscape instead of the sky. I'll clean my room, take a big walk, go have a drink with a friend - in other words, today I will remain firmly earthbound.

As Elizabeth Wix would say, too much of too much is entirely too much. Oh yeah!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stars in Our Eyes

Cygnus, the swan

Once upon a time, they were all stars. Every dot of light in the night sky, except the moon of course, was a star. Some wandered (that's what "planet" means), some were tiny ("asteroid" means small star). Did you know that the word "comet" originally meant "stars with long hair?" Sweet.

It's no wonder we thought we were the center of everything, standing on terra firma, gazing out into the impossibly star spangled skies. Before Galileo, the sky was a lot simpler. There were big stars and small stars, wandering stars and stars with long hair, but they were all stars. A part of my "memories" of past lifetimes, especially during the Ice Age, involves the importance of the stars. In my mind's eye, I remember how present the stars were in our lives, how we wondered, even then, what the heck was going on up there.

No wonder it was such a shock when Copernicus published his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. We knew by then that the wanderers weren't really stars, but we still believed that this beautiful planet stood at the center of the universe.

Since the invention of electric light, our relationship with the stars has changed dramatically. Though it's true we can't take our eyes off the night sky even now, the way we stargaze is very different. We look through telescopes or at photographs taken through telescopes.

I am so grateful for the Hubbel images, and for Voyager I and II, and the other probes and great telescope images of the past two decades. I'm completely fascinated by everything we've learned about the stars, also what we've learned about the solar system; the true nature of the planets and the rings around them, as well as the moons that "shepherd" the rings, dwarf planets, plutoids, centaurs, comets, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt, the Oort cloud and that giant ribbon at the edge of the solar system, for instance.

The more we find out, the more mysterious the night sky becomes. There's no doubt, though, that we humans love the stars, no doubt that we are related to the stars. I love that!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hot Air

This woman's dog got so cold during their walk by the river that she finally had to tuck him into her coat. He seems quite snug and happy there.

One thing I try to remember to say out loud to myself every day has to do with the impact of words. Every spoken word creates (at the very least) a vibration that carries it into the world, spreading whatever emotion was behind it along with the word itself. The spoken word can be a really healing thing, or ... well ... I've used it to harm, too.

When I speak in a way that's hurtful or destructive, it's almost always a mindless act. The Sufi acupuncturist tells me that mindless blathering and mindless blurting are common strategies people use to relieve internal pressure. As usual, I think he's right. When I see people cursing, it does seem that they are expelling potent chunks of energy along with the fucks and shits. How about the people who stand around in public ranting and raving and preaching? They definitely look like they're trying to get something out of their system. Yes?

Oh yeah.

I have a tendency towards expounding about this, that and the other thing. Yada yada yada. When I speak mindfully, even if what I'm saying is crap, I don't do much harm. But when I just go off, oh man, can I create a path of destruction!

One of my goals as I grow into older age is to spend more time actively listening, and speak less. Sometimes that is so hard! Wish me luck!

On the shore of the South River in Annapolis, Maryland.

Friday, January 15, 2010


After hurricane Katrina, one of my friends went to Home Depot, bought as many gas generators as he could fit into his car, gathered a friend or two, then drove to Mississippi where he found actual people who could use the generators. After he gave away all the generators, he drove home.

I loved that approach, how direct and personal and successful he was. He actually helped! Wow. Right now I'm sending Reiki to Haiti around the clock, and of course I've sent my paltry $10 through the cell phone. Though I would also be very willing to send more money somewhere, I'm hesitating because I have no idea which organizations could best use it. I am not a cynic, but I always worry about relief effort getting sidetracked somewhere enroute to places where something disastrous has happened. The NY Times had a good article yesterday, advising people to send money to organizations that are already working in Haiti. But - which one? It's so confusing.

Why did this happen to Haiti? An earthquake in the Caribbean? What gives? It seems completely unfair.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pie in the Sky**

While it's true that I've engaged in some serious pruning when it comes to lifetime ambitions, I do still have a very active fantasy life that I refer to affectionately as my tendency toward the IFs. If I won the lottery is a favorite (though that isn't likely to happen anytime soon since I've never bought a ticket). Part of my lottery fantasy has to do with anonymously depositing lots of money into the bank accounts of my family and dearest friends. When they call to tell me about it, I pretend that I am also a recipient of this anonymous donor. We all live happily ever after.

The next part of the fantasy has to do with philanthropic investments. I give away millions to organizations like the Potomac River Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. One of the things I do with the money I allot to myself is move to Paris and enroll in culinary school. I would really love to do that - well - all of it but especially the part about Paris and culinary school. Oh yeah!!

Some IF scenarios are less extravagant. I somehow make the laptop people disappear from Peregrine Espresso, for instance. I have nothing against the laptop people, I should say. I don't blame them for wanting to sit in the cafe while they work or whatever it is they're doing, but when they take up every table, all of them facing the windows at the front of the shop, I feel like I'm having coffee in an office. It feels like everyone should have a taupe colored cubicle, and that there should be a copy machine in the back of the shop. It isn't nearly as much fun as having coffee in a nice cafe.

Some fantasies are way more extravagant than the lottery scenario. Like: I completely overhaul health care (NOT the insurance industry, I mean the way health care is thought of and administered) to include what is now thought of as "complementary care." U.S. citizens are allotted a certain amount of free access to acupuncturists, massage therapists, psychotherapists, homeopaths and osteopaths. The practitioners are richly compensated for this work. What we now call "mainstream" or "western" medicine is seen as emergency medicine in my brave new healthcare world. The ongoing upkeep of good health is turned over to what is now seen as the complementary care practitioners.

Fast food restaurants suddenly disappear, along with high-fructose corn syrup and transfat. Industrial farming of animals and plants is replaced by sustainable, humane farms run by good people. Americans let go of their obsession with weight and instead focus on good health and good spirits. Everyone meditates in the morning. Etc. Etc. Etc.

You see? My personal ambitions have faded over time, but my imagination? My capacity to think of what a perfect world would look like? As I grow older, that capacity just keeps expanding.

And now ... back to reality! Which is, on this chilly, sunlit day in Washington DC, not bad, not bad at all. Life, though imperfect, is good and I am grateful. Oh yeah.

**A promise of heaven, while continuing to suffer in this life.

This is an American phrase and was coined by Joe Hill in 1911. Hill was a Swedish-born itinerant labourer who migrated to the USA in 1902. He was a leading light of the radical labour organisation The Industrial Workers of the World - known as the Wobblies, writing many radical songs for them. The phrase appeared first in Hill's The Preacher and the Slave, which parodied the Salvation Army hymn In the Sweet Bye and Bye. The song, which criticized the Army's theology and philosophy, specifically their concentration on the salvation of souls rather than the feeding of the hungry, was popular when first recorded and remained so for some years.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What would Goldilocks do?

Yesterday while I was working on my systemic re-ordering of the planets, I was simultaneously having a gentle laugh at myself. I'm not nearly a good enough astrologer to take on this project. For heaven's sake! My intention in writing "The New Astrology: On the Drawing Board" is to throw down the gauntlet to real astrologers, kick their asses into gear, or at least get them interested. It's a modest ambition, thank God.

Though I am occasionally entranced with the idea of creating some sort of legacy, over time, most of the huge ambitions of youth have faded, or been plucked out of my head and heart. Ten years ago I had a lengthy list of places I wanted to visit, subjects I wanted to study, things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to be remembered. Now? It doesn't seem so important.

Today, on the verge of turning 57, I can with all honesty say that there are only two places I've never been that I would still love to see before my time is up: Iceland and South Africa. That's it. I've released my desire to become fluent in Italian and Mandarin. Instead I'd like to keep my mind sharp by expanding - and using - my English vocabulary.

Having ambitions requires a lot of energy and takes up a lot of space; in fact, it's exhausting! My more modest goals for this last bit of my lifetime fit better, feel better when I think about them. Modest ambitions provide a lot more wiggle room than I used to give myself.

As far as the new astrology is concerned, I don't have to invent it all on my own. I'm content to put a few first draft ideas out there and see what happens next. Somebody else can figure it out, yes? I say yes! What a relief!

Not everything about aging is bad, believe me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blog Constellations

This morning I'm thinking about the structure of most of our cultural groups, how similar that structure is to our solar system. There's a dad and mom (sun and moon) with kids revolving around the central pair. Or there's the CEO and CFO, with employees revolving around. In school there is a teacher with students revolving around. When you go to hear music, there is either a conductor or a lead singer with musicians revolving around. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Here on the internets, there is no solar influence, no central pillar around which we all revolve. This situation - blogging I mean (but also within other cyber societies) - is a level playing field. Astonishing, isn't it? This really is unprecedented.

And yes I know there are blogs that get thousands of hits per day and others that only get a handful, but that's not the point. What is significant is that we don't all look for guidance and direction to one blogger, not any of us. I think that's why the trend of giving blog awards has faded over time (or maybe it's still going on elsewhere in the blog realm but I just don't know about it). There is no BEST among us. We have no central star. We're all stars here.

Here there is no bright light that sustains all the rest of us, no center of gravity that we all revolve around. Here in the blog realm we are truly experiencing the Age of Aquarius, the age in which the idea of a big hero who will save us no longer makes sense. Each of us puts into the blogosphere what we can and what we want. Others read us or don't. All together we are a star-spangled constellation of egalitarian participation.

Isn't it fabulous to be a part of this? I think so, I really really do! Bravo!!

Monday, January 11, 2010


In color healing, violet is the most cleansing of all colors, which is why I snorted and then laughed when I saw this self portrait. Look at my head! Clean as a bell. Wow.

I'm very busy right now re-ordering the Solar System. No really I am. I've been reading about all the recent discoveries, via the big telescopes and probes, that have been made in the last ten years about Brother Sun and his neighborhood. Discoveries? Actually, "revelations" might be a better way to describe what has happened to the way astronomers view the planets and sun. Wow.

Venus, adored as a planet of grace and beauty, has turned out to be, as one astronomer put it, "Earth's evil twin." Sulphurous, toxic and constantly roiling, it is hardly the Goddess of Love we once imagined. What about Mars? Associated with the God of War, it turns out to be a rocky, iron-rich, kind of unremarkable terrestrial planet, hardly the fiery warrior of myth and legend.

Many astronomers (not all) now see the solar system this way: four rocky terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars), four ringed giants (two gas giants: Jupiter and Saturn, two ice giants, Uranus and Neptune) and two belts of objects. The asteroid belt contains millions of rocks and larger, dwarf planet-like thingies, plus the "centaurs" - half asteroid, half comet. The Kuiper belt is similar, but bigger. That's where the recently demoted Pluto hangs out. Sedna, one of the recently discovered planets in the Kuiper belt is more than TWICE as far away from the Sun as Pluto. And beyond the Kuiper belt there is the fabulously named Oort cloud where the comets come from and to which they return. Cool, eh? Did you know that Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune have rings? I didn't either!

The Solar System is a lot bigger and more complex than we knew, oh yeah. What I'm thinking is that astrologers need to jump on this new information, reassign planetary associations, rethink our interpretations of the effects of the planets. Initially I thought some of the great astrologers should do it, like Rob Breszny. I wrote him but received no response. Then I realized that I, too, am an astrologer, why not me? I'm not a great astrologer in any way, but I've studied for many years. So I'm working on my own theories about how astrology should shift. Well, why not? Eh? Why not?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

People vs. the Weather

We Washingtonians are ill-equipped for lengthy cold snaps. We're much more at home in flip flops than warm boots, tank tops than big hulkin' coats. I'm certain that the citizens of New England are well stocked with the right things to wear in the cold, but here? We have to root around our closets, pull some bulky thing out of the back of a chest of drawers, in order to stay warm. Or else we have to put on layer after layer of the clothes we usually wear. We have to walk around like Heidi, all bundled up and disheveled, or wear light-weight DC winter clothing - and freeze.

There are exceptions of course, the hearty souls who choose to ignore the temperatures or somehow have the right clothing, the trim coats and hats made via the latest technology that allow them to sit outside the cafes mid-afternoon, sipping their coffees while radiating a vibration of superiority.

Personally I don't mind looking bulky and disheveled, and I really LOVE the people watching when it's so cold. The picture at the top of the post was taken at Peregrine Espresso just after noon yesterday. The place was packed, but felt twice as crowded due to all the outerwear. Below are two rather annoyed looking women in nice hats inside Eastern Market, and one of the hearty types, looking quite determined.

I like holding the camera at waist-level. People don't seem to register that their picture is being taken, so are not self-conscious in any way. Very fun!

If you live somewhere where it's cold, stay warm! South of the equator I hear the heat is on. To all southern hemispherians: enjoy the height of summer!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ice Cold Thoughts, Frozen Dreams

What's left of last summer's geraniums. They were so much happier when they could live outside.

Allegedly I am "of peasant stock," at least that's what my mother always used to tell us. It was her way of saying, You're strong and hearty. Get out there and change the world! Hmmm ... does everyone have to translate what their parents told them in order to get the underlying message? I know I always had to.

Peasant stock or not, this super cold snap (the high temperature today will be well below freezing) is making me feel like a blue-blooded wimp. How do my blog friends and family who live in the midwest do it? Wow.

Last night I dreamed that my roommate brought all the dogs indoors - not just our dogs; they are of course always inside at night. But we have neighbors who leave their dogs outside for hours, even when it's this cold. I find it heartbreaking and confusing. What are they thinking? What, if anything, should I do about it?

Eventually the dream shifted from the fantasy of protecting all dogs from their stupid owners. What I remember is a scene in which I am eating the most delicious sandwich made with thick slices of sourdough bread.

I don't even like bread, but apparently I'm used to having wheat in my system. Whoa. Detox is a bitch!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I thought I was turning off the camera, hence the completely unselfconscious shot.

There's no doubt about it - my nose is my most prominent feature, oh yeah. When I was in middle school I had fantasies about cosmetic surgery to reduce its size. Thank God I was too young and my proletarian parents would never have approved. Thank God!

Over time I've come to appreciate many things about my nose. In addition to having ... uh ... character, and doing a bang up job of holding my glasses on my face, it does a splendid job sniffing. Smell is certainly the most highly tuned of my senses. My eyesight has always sucked, but my sense of smell? It is so good that I can smell on my clients whatever they had for dinner last night. I know anytime someone has had a cigarette, or a drink. Actually my sense of smell is a curse as well as a blessing. Sometimes I really would prefer not to know these things.

(Hmmm ... I do also have an excellent sense of touch, and I used to have great hearing before the days when my main focus in life involved standing at the front of the music venue du jour, getting blasted with sound, dancing around, drinking excessively. I remember that P-Funk All Stars show when we were so close to the stage that George Clinton jumped into the audience right in front of us and danced for awhile with my ordinarily shy friend Eric Chang. My ears rang for three days afterwards. That same thing happened (prolonged ear ringing) several times after seeing The Cramps. But I digress.)

What my nose has been doing since seeing the acupuncturist yesterday is helping me cleanse away what appears to be many many many many many toxins, multiple viruses and God knows what else. So far I've worked my way through two giganto boxes of kleenex.

I should have known it would be a dramatic healing when, after checking my pulses, the Sufi acupuncturist said, "Well. It has to come out." It. He is somewhat inclined to believe that what I'm suffering from are the symptoms of detox since I quit eating wheat a week ago. Wow. If it's this intense to get that out of my system, I hope I never eat anything with wheat in it ever again!

I'm going to work tomorrow. My theory is that somehow I will continue feeling better and better as I work. After my mega cleansing of the last two days, I can't imagine there could be much more goo left inside me. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thanks Kenny!

One of my many unsubstantiated theories du jour is that in order to be a "good" healer (whatever that is) a person needs to cultivate a talent for healing themselves. The best healers, according to the cosmology of Reya, must experience the process from the inside out through illness or injury and subsequent recovery. What's that saying? Physician, heal thyself!

But I might be wrong about this. It might be another manifestation of my tendency towards romanticizing all things. It might be yet another way in which I try to integrate classical archetypes (in this case the archetype of the wounded healer) into ... well ... into everything.

I'll have to ask the Sufi acupuncturist what he thinks when I go see him this morning. Yes indeed I have surrendered to the reality that this virus is hunkered down and must be frightened away by needles, moxa and the moxie of the acupuncturist. I have fought hard against it for two weeks with no noticeable effect.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away, know when to run
You never count your money, when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done.

It's time to lay my cards on the Sufi acupuncturist's table. I'm sick of being sick. I surrender! Oh yeah.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eternally Recalcitrant

Anyone with half a brain, in my condition, would stay indoors today. Even the squirrels are tucked away in their snug nests. It's so cold, and even though Brother Wind has calmed down somewhat, he's still in a gusty mood - all of which makes time spent outdoors truly uncomfortable.

Add to that my discovery, after two days of work, that I didn't really vanquish that virus that was hanging around before Christmas. Or maybe this is a distinctly different cold I'm now suffering from, who knows? I'm hitting it full-on with all my herbal remedies, and holding my own (I think) but there's no denying I'm not 100% well.

So if I was smart, I would hang out indoors today, read my book, maybe do some laundry. Instead I'm headed out in a little while to run necessary errands like going to the bank, and unnecessary errands, like buying all I'll need to make a tagine chicken casserole this afternoon.

Etymology: Late Latin recalcitrant-, recalcitrans, present participle of recalcitrare to be stubbornly disobedient, from Latin, to kick back, from re- + calcitrare to kick, from calc-, calx heel

1 : obstinately defiant of authority or restraint
2 a : difficult to manage or operate b : not responsive to treatment c : resistant
synonyms see unruly

Oh yeah. That's me.