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Archive for the ‘Abandonment Journal’

No More Haze

February 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Molly, Mom

For such a long, long time, I’ve been unable to see the way others see. There’s been a haze, born in my heart, that affected my vision. I literally saw things and felt them as if at a distance. A friend recently told me “You dissociated,” but that word has a lot of power for someone else in my life, and anyway, I have no idea what it could mean for me. All I know is that on Thanksgiving I could suddenly see and feel again.

Something happened on that day that doesn’t need to be detailed for the result to be conveyed here. I was hurt in a small, really, insignificant way, but that very moment somehow broke through years of piled-up hurt that were causing the dissociation and haze-vision. I went home that night and cried the way I cried in Molly’s arms months after Mom died. I fell through my front door and collapsed on the stairs in convulsing sobs. It was painful, but also so so FREEING. I could feel all this weight and negativity and guilt and pressure, etc, etc, etc, leave my body and mind and when the sobbing was done, I could see again. I looked around the house and I could finally FEEL myself in it. It was incredible.

In the weeks since then I’ve been on a high of living in the present moment. It really is as exhilarating as all the yoga and meditation books say. :)

So, a breakthrough, indeed. Today I can read painful things from the past and not fall down. I’m looking toward the future, MY future. I have no plans, and it’s just fine. Kind of a funny, unexpected, but none-the-less joyful phase I’m in.

There’s A Post I Won’t Publish

August 27, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Coal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom, PlumTV, Uncategorized, Valet Battleship Parking

A few days ago I received a message about something very painful that happened in the past, something that I had done. The event was horrible and was my fault, but what had led up to it was just as horrible and hadn’t been my fault, but the message I got didn’t mention any of that. It just tore open the old wound for all to see.

I’ve been exhausted. Like, really, really, hit-the-wall kind of exhausted, and so when the note came I faltered a little bit because I didn’t have any resources, any strength, to bear up against it. Now, after a few days and some small successes, I’m feeling much better, much stronger, and the note doesn’t have the same impact. I can see it for what it is now: just a big mistake that will end up hurting the writer far more than it ever could me. That said, the note did change something profound in me. Something snapped and finally released, and as I finished reading I knew it was time to put some things away.

I’m apparently going on a long trip, but I think it’s one of mind and not of body. My meditation practice slipped in the last two weeks because we’ve been working just too damned hard. The President & First Family have been on-island and we’ve been all over them, filming, editing shows together quickly, and wringing ourselves out. Well, it’s done now. The “Obama Shows” have aired and the crazy summer season is drawing to a close–which is why I can write this from home at 9:30am on a Friday. :)

One of the things I have to put away are the cats. I spoke to the Animal Shelter here and will likely be dropping the cats off in another week and a half. This will be terribly difficult for me. I care for them very much and am not, as we know, at all good with letting go of things I love. But I don’t want to care for them any more. I just don’t want to. They’re hard in terms of upkeep, and remind me too much of a past I want to turn away from so I can finally move forward in a brand new direction. I’ve been in limbo for over two years. Two years. A lot of that was the economic crisis, but at least 50% was due to raw wounds that have been taking too long to heal.

In mid-Sept. I’ll finally “move” back home and have some serious time to work on the coal film. THAT’S where I live now: in my work. I’ll try to craft a happy life despite the hole in it where Mom used to be, but the main focus will be doing what I do: making stories that I hope will have some impact on even just a few people. And I’ll travel. I’ll go to all the places Mom always talked about but was too afraid to visit. I’ll stay longer than one does for “vacation,” and I’ll get to know new cultures.  I’ll read and I’ll write, and make sure–as much as I can–that my friends are healthy and know that I love them.

We’re all in limbo, in transition. Chogyam Trungpa, the late Buddhist teacher used to talk a lot about negative/uncomfortable emotions being preferable to straight-up happiness because there’s so much energy in them. He said it’s better to walk right into the center of ill feelings and just hang out quietly because what you’ll learn will blow your mind.

Bon voyage, everyone. :)

Open Water

June 27, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Blogging Dinner, Body, Coal, Faith, Filmmaking, Food, Going Home, Happiness, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Running

Tonight I went to the gallery opening of a famous island painter, Allen Whiting. His work doesn’t jump out at you, but if you spend a little time seeing where he’s going with his choices, it certainly grows on you. Revealed. The intention is revealed. In other cases you can see the intention immediately.

Such was the case with the above painting, “April-Tisbury Great Pond-Chilmark, MA,” which I bought in postcard form for a friend. The moment I saw the postcard I knew it was for her. “The intrepid fisherman in waders in the early morning, out alone in his little skiff, too young to be so in love with a practice that takes him away from people.” But there’s a love in the image too. Pure love, that’s simple and universal. Everyone will look at this painting and feel the same thing.

Things are opening up. My mind, specifically. Letting go is more a lesson learned and less a teaching, and I am, for what it’s worth, the better for it. But I still wonder about love. In all the meditation I’ve done, classes taken, and books read there is no mention of how we are to maintain an attitude of impermanence while accepting love into our lives. One teacher said: “Oh, it makes love bigger and better!” But I don’t see how. “As soon as you love,” the teachings seem to go, “you have to remind yourself that everything is impermanent.” They lost me at “Hello.” How can you love and maintain an attitude of… alright, you know the rest. But you get where I’m coming from right?

I’m thinking about these things because I realized that I’m still in love and that I won’t be able to have another relationship until these feelings fade. But they’re pretty strong feelings, so my hope for success is… kinda low. So I turn to the teachings which say, in essence “Live with it. Sucka.” Okay, no, the teachings don’t add the “Sucka” part, but that’s what it feels like sometimes. The good news is that I’ve finally moved out of Bitter. I am now firmly ensconced in “Oh well,” which I usually follow with a shrug. I am Learning To Let Go, and, frankly, it sucks. Truly, though, I won’t know if it’s good that I’ve learned to let go until I have a new, real relationship, and as we know that won’t be for some time… blah, blah, blah… You get the idea.

And so I spend a lot of time alone. I sit and look all around at this gorgeous island’s landscapes, I read, I edit, and I watch a little TV now and again. I no longer eat dessert, run probably more than I should, sleep without a comforter, allow the cats to drink out of my water glass, and avoid–as much as possible–looking at pictures of myself from the back.

In short, things are changing–evolving before my eyes–and although I’m happy that I’ve finally found some of the grace to just observe it, the price sucks.

In Your Eyes

June 10, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, Love, Meditation, Molly

Love, I get so lost sometimes.
Days, hours, and this emptiness fills my heart.
I want to run away, drive off in my car.
But whichever way I move I connect to the place you are.

Spoke with an old friend last night over Skype. She’s in LA. We don’t chat or see each other enough, so these occasional communications are vital and soothing. We both feel that there’s something fucked up going on in the world, in the air. Everyone around us seems depressed or in some difficult transition. To me, it feels like we’re all evolving. The astrologers say so. They talk about some cosmic shift in the planets affecting everyone and forcing change. Well, I’m kinda done with change myself. I’d like my fucking status quo back, thankyouverymuch. I had a home, a love, a job, a life. Hell, I had a dog and two cats! I still have the two cats, but I miss walking the damned dog, even, though, back then in The Life, I resented it at times…

When is this “weather” going to break? What have we done? You can’t move about your normal life anymore in the U.S. and not think about how the oil spill is going to affect you. Recently I filmed a bunch of fish markets. Most of them get their fish from fishermen who fish the Atlantic. That means that soon those fishermen are going to be running into oil. I looked at one man, one fish market owner, and thought about how long his family has been doing this–selling fish. His livelihood and those of his children and grandchildren could be disastrously affected. They must have all of their investments in fish.

In mid-April, before I came down to the Vineyard to do this job, my sleep pattern changed. I now get up at 5:30am whether I want to or not. I fall asleep roughly between 9 and 9:30, and by 6:30 I’m back from my daily run and having coffee. Nothing precipitated this change except for massive doses of anxiety and stress. I was TERRIFIED to make the move. Terrified I’d be giving up my house, terrified I’d lose everything, terrified I wouldn’t remember how to work in an office with other people. All those fears are mostly gone now, but I still wake up at 5:30. Also, I’m sad. Just sad, sad, sad. I realize I’ve been sad since the last year in CA, when things got just awful between Molly and me. And now, today, I miss her like an organ that was ripped out of me. The difference between then and now is that I can feel that place in me healing–scabbing over. There’ll still be a scar forever, but, like all scars, I’ll learn to live with it. I’m learning to live with it. It sucks out loud, but I’m learning to live with it. One of my solutions seems to be dreaming of her every night. Solution? Torture? Who fucking knows…

I’ve never been not happy for this long, and I hope it’s all just a phase, just a “transition,” as the astrologers say. I don’t know how much more of this shit I can take, or how much any of us can take.

Ride-side Up

April 25, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Nik

I skinned my elbow craning to watch her as she backed out of the drive. “It’s not ‘goodbye,’” I wrote in a text a few minutes later, “It’s a new way of saying ‘Hello’ and ‘I see you.’”

Best Breakup Ever, but now I’ve decided it’s not a breakup at all, but a pause. We have some time to be away from each other and to learn some things about ourselves in that space. We’ll see each other a few times while I’m gone and will check in with our connection–see if it holds up. Changes are afoot. But she is so alive I’d be a fool to look all the way away. And so I’ll leave her handwriting on my chalkboard and the lingering pressure of her lips on mine and will walk with her strength into my new phase. What a privilege…

An Exhausted Soil

April 04, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Beer, Faith, Family, Going Home, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking

Love will push through winter like first buds in spring through an exhausted soil. Remnants of leaves hang on in their dried weightlessness hoping for one more chance to not be raked away. The truth is in the loud and easy calls of the birds so comfortable in this urban area that I wonder if there were always houses here. Structures. The sounds of nature today consist as much of childrens’ voices, lawnmowers and the din of cars as they do the wind in the grasses, bird whistles and the deafening silence of stones.

I will be carried away in this soft wind by my busy mind, so agitated by the slowness of a Sunday. I’ll pick up on smells and think of movement when what I should do is stay and read just one more story…

I can’t say whether I’m afraid of death or not. Until it’s at our doorstep, who could? What I can tell you is that in this place of stillness and peace I feel the presence of love and life and happiness and gratefulness and hilarity and joy and the knowledge that death is real because I was there. I held her hand the day before she died and continue to bear witness by being her mirror. The new entertainment will be the standing still, and for that I need no one’s permission.

This Is

March 29, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Filmmaking, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, The Film, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

Whenever I feel afraid–and for me fear is always about the lack of control over my responsibilities, like not having a job so I can pay my bills–I gather my “totems” (usually books) and place them all around me, like a child playing with blocks on the floor. I set my mind to “accomplishing.” “Today I’ll read from each of these books and by the end of the day or middle of the day I’ll know what to do.” At least there’s a chance I might feel better…

In the last several months I have applied to hundreds of jobs and gotten responses from less than ten. My resume, if you haven’t seen it, is fairly extraordinary. I’ve done some amazing things and worked at a lot of impressive places and done well there, so it’s shocking to me that I have been passed over so many times. It is certainly wearing me down. Maybe that’s why I’ve thrown myself headlong into this film about coal–to keep my mind and body occupied so I won’t dissolve into despair. Truly, despair isn’t very “me,” but this economic crisis time is strange and powerful enough that I wouldn’t be shocked about a lot of shocking things happening all around me.

Last night I finished Isabel Allende’s beautiful, funny memoir “The Sum of Days.” Its a reflection of the lives of her family members in the thirteen or so years since her daughter, Paula, died. Isabel is looking at her “tribe” and trying to make sense of her own life and choices in the face of everything that happens within the group. Not surprisingly the book is gorgeously written and very candid. I like books like that most of all. I don’t see a need for hiding, especially the raw and ugly stuff. My greatest emotional liberations have come when I admitted I did something and then apologized for it.

Today is rainy and so I can’t work out in the newly cleared garden. Nik was here over the weekend and helped me rake. By being gentle, she first motivated me to not be afraid of starting the garden project. She sees, even this early in our relationship, how much starting something new sometimes scares me. My mind works in an odd way with new projects–I have no trouble starting, I just sometimes have trouble feeling it’s okay to start. I worry that if I’m starting this new thing it means I’m taking time away from finishing something else, but, truly, I’ve never had a problem getting things done. When I was little Mom said that Michael would never start his projects and I would never finish mine. She was talking about homework, but it’s a good analogy. ;) My first therapist–the great Joan in NYC–thought for a while that I might be ADD, but I shrugged that notion off. I’m not ADD, I’m just organized. ;)

Anyway, so I had a block about starting the garden project that I think was fear of being alone. I think I shy away from some tasks or projects because I’m afraid of doing them all alone, when that’s usually how things end up anyway. I always do my projects alone.I don’t want to all the time, but that’s what happens. People aren’t as motivated or passionate as I about getting something done and done well, so I end up working alone. TV I can handle in this way, more domestic-like projects I guess are tougher. This is something I’m trying very hard to work on in meditation: to be okay with the journey being largely or occasionally solitary. The motivating, mind-opening phrase is “the path is the goal.” Isn’t that marvelous?

Right out of college, after only one year, I gave up on acting as a career because I saw quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make a living from it, and that I’d have to do A LOT of bad work and work with bad people until I finally found something fun. But then that fun would only last three months at best. The thought that I’d have to look for work every three months was enough to make me understand that there was much more to life than that kind of suffering.  So I moved to television… ;) A much more satisfactory metier…

My meditation practice, and Isabel’s way of writing, focuses on staying right where you are and looking at THAT, just that and nothing else. Don’t let your mind wander. Isabel has this wonderful paragraph toward the end of the book where she describes the abusive inner monologue that greets her every morning: “Don’t eat the bread, do you think the weight will fall off by itself? You’ve been writing for over twenty years and still you haven’t learned anything…” etc. I don’t do that to myself, I’m much kinder about my accomplishments, but I do tend to think of my world too small. I forget where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’ll be going soon and allow myself, instead, to get caught up with “what if?” Dreaming. Dreaming when we’re asleep is fine, but “What if” doesn’t exist and has no value when we’re awake. Only “this is” has value, only the knowledge of love has value, and so today I will try to stay in the present, learn something, and reflect on all the love in my life. That’s enough for one day.

Dear Mom: The Glorious Craft of Silence

March 05, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Love, Michael, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking

Dear Mom,

First of all let me say that I know you’re dead and that if you were in some way able to read this know also that you’d find it annoying and silly. Well, this is my process, something I’d like to try, and so I ask for your patience and kindness. You know how slowly I come to things, so just let me do it. It’ll likely work itself out in a reasonable amount of time so there’s no call to go batshit at this stage, okay? Thank you. ;)

Anyway, I’m writing today because there’s someone I want you to meet. She’s amazing, and we’ve been seeing each other for a little while now, although scheduling has made any regular gettings-together a challenge. She’s younger than me-surprise, surprise-and also in the film business. If you saw her you’d be struck first by her beauty and then by her fitness, but you’d also want to feed her. Due to her open spirit, joie de vivre, ease around others, HUGE sweet eyes, and general soulful attractiveness you’d be compelled to hug her and that’s when you’d have a teeny-tiny meltdown. “You’re too skinny!” You’d yell, and then would look at me accusingly, as if I was somehow responsible. I’d give you The Hand and say we were off to the beach. You’d take a breath and respond in that mock-threatening way that’s always made scarier by your accent, “Okay, but when you get back I’ll have a BIG LUNCH ready.” Then you’d wink at her and turn back to baking bread.

Later, while she was in the shower after the beach you’d whisper questions to me. “How old is she? Where does she come from? Her eyes are so beautiful, but there’s a sadness in her. Is she alright?” Your instant concern would be genuine and so I’d know I’d chosen well. When you care that early I know someone is special. I’d answer all your questions and allay your fears, and then would tell you that Michael liked her a lot too, even though he’d only met her twice and then not for very long. We’d talk then about how perceptive the three of us are when it comes to people and then, a bit satisfied, you’d get up and finish making her lunch.

When she sat down, after a nice, long, hot soaking in the outdoor shower, you’d place before her The Largest Sandwich In All The World and would respond to her shocked look with one of your own stern ones that said, in no uncertain terms, “You’re going to eat ALL of that.” You have a way of wielding all your Latin energy, Mom, that I’m hoping I’m learning. It’s a powerful and fun skill to have… ;)

During lunch you’d want to know about her past, because those big, soft, gentle eyes that show everything would be breaking your heart. For reasons she couldn’t completely express, she’d tell you everything and in the course of the conversation the two of you would fall head over heels for each other. The ease created would allow the conversation to shift from family and history to gardening and food and flowers. That’s when I’d lose you both and would just be hanging on for dear life, hoping to understand something, anything before the day was out. She’d tell you what she knew about growing things in the shade and you’d tell her how finicky some of your favorite plants were. You’d bond on tulips, and prepare herb gardens in your imaginations. You’d laugh like schoolgirls when something resonated, and each make promises to connect in the Fall to dig in the dirt.

And I’d watch it all, finally, for once in my life, at ease from not needing to say anything whatsoever…

Burns

March 02, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Living, Love, Molly, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

The sting is ever-present. I can’t hide from it or it would be as if I’d scarred my face and pretended nothing was different. Everything is different. You wear shoes in for so many years, take the time, and then are told they don’t fit you… when you know they do.

I wear my scars on the bottom of my feet so no one can see.

The Month of Magical Thinking

February 10, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking

The worst night of my life I was alone. Mom was dying and I was the only one from the family in the hospital with her. Molly hadn’t arrived yet from CA. It was late, after 9:00pm, and a little while after I’d held the phone up to my nearly comatose mother’s ear, on the request of my father, so that she might hear the concert he was attending–a concert in which my brother and sister-in-law were singing, and a concert my father was trying to convey to my mother by holding his cell phone up in the air to catch the songs. That was the night I fully understood my parents’ relationship. Only then.

I hung up the phone after giving my father the sad news that Mom hadn’t made any response at all. She’d just laid there, out like a light. What I didn’t know until a little bit later, maybe an hour, was that the nurse–a new one. Not one of our familiar and favorites–had possibly dosed my mother with too much of something, and that that something may have put my mother into a coma. I don’t think I’ll ever know the truth of that, but what I do know was that the most genuine moment I have ever exhibited was also that night. It was when I felt my body scream “STOOOOOOOP!!!!!” as the interns assigned to her ward tried to revive her with what seemed like Draconian methods. Of course they weren’t Draconian, they were what you do to get a pain response so you can see if the person in front of you is really there or if she’s been turned into… a vegetable.

Tonight the seriousness of human relationships, of love, comes into full view. The title of this blog post is a play on the title of Joan Didion’s heartbreaking and beautiful memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” in which she recounts the year after her beloved husband, John, died suddenly of a heart attack. When I returned to CA after Mom died I read that book over and over. I read it so much Molly asked me to stop, suggesting that “dwelling”–which is what she thought I was doing–wold only hurt me more. I didn’t stop. I just hid my reading of it from Molly, and that’s okay because until she loses her mother she won’t understand that what I was doing was grieving and trying to make sense of the senseless, of the loss of a great love.

The title of the blog post was changed from Didion’s original by Molly. She is using it as the title of a new album she will be writing and recording this month as part of an online contest called “The RPM Challenge” in which musicians are given 30 days to write and record a full album of ten songs. It’s very exciting and a good way to motivate yourself. Friends of ours did it last year and their album did very well.

The reason for this post, or part of it anyway, is because of what Molly wrote in the box describing her upcoming album:

“The Month of Magical Thinking is a meditation on my last relationship and why it took me five years before I could successfully end it and the abuse that went with it. I will be writing a song a day exploring my pain and loss and where, not quite a year afterward, I am now. This is how I will process my journey, by coming forward with it, finally, in song. I hope that my journey will inspire others to free themselves from abuse.”

Interesting that this is what should greet me upon my return from a weekend of meditation. Is the universe chatting me up again, perhaps?

Romantic relationships are the toughest ones of all in large part because there aren’t witnesses to everything. Only the two people involved really know what went on between them, and sometimes that’s very hard to bear. For a long time I needed validation from those around me that I wasn’t insane to be so hurt and changed and exhausted by my relationship with Molly, but I’m finally over that. I know what happened, as does she. My hope once was that we’d have a chance to talk and clear the air, finally get some closure. But her calling me an abuser crosses too big a line for that to be possible now. I know there are some things I’ve written about her in this blog that Molly disagrees with, but I never described her as being clinically damaging to me in any way. We fought a lot. Our relationship, despite the huge amount of love, was very hard. That’s all.

I am still in love with Molly, but I’m handling it. Mostly I’m just letting time pass knowing the feeling will fade eventually. It hasn’t yet been one year since we broke up so there’s more waiting to be done, but I’m confident now that the day will come when Molly is a distant memory. It’s the nature of things. Like death.

Since there is no response I could make to Molly in reaction to her horrid accusation, I have chosen to just close the door and only remember the love between us. There was a lot of it for enough time that I have some wonderful memories. I loved filming her performing, and loved waking her up in the morning. I loved making her soup when she was sick, and loved getting up early to drive her to work. I loved her funny, odd little sounds, and the way she’d stay up until dawn watching YouTube videos of other musicians. I loved how she loved food and marvel at her ability to taste every spice and flavor in a bite. And I loved sleeping with her. Climbing into bed and wrapping my arms around her as we drifted off will be one of the best memories I will ever have.

I’ll miss the moments of trust, which became too few; and the rare, rare moments when she took my hand or kissed me in public. I will miss her amazing driving skill, for she literally saved our lives more than once on the L.A. freeways. But most of all I’ll miss the sound of her noodling-away on her 7-foot concert grand piano as she worked out a song. I will forever miss the beautiful person I fell in love with. She is extraordinary and good and funny. I will wish her happiness and joy every day until I die.

A photo I took for Molly's last album, "November Antique."

A photo I took for Molly's last album, "November Antique."

The Living Room, written & performed by Amanda Palmer.