lextopia

my thoughts . my memories . my family . my projects . my fears
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘Mom’

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.

This Was Always Coming

September 26, 2011 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom

1.

I won’t ever know what you meant. You have to say it like “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…..” Type out the rhythm on the side of an upright bass. Make the dude who usually plays it hold the thing up for you. I could be moving. I could be moving. I could be moving.

Everything is possible when you realize no one is waiting for you.

2.

“the meat is you who stand aside, and do not bite. the meat within is what’s to take at end of Spring. meat’s all that we have, isn’t that sad–make it raw, rare, or now/later–i’ll eat it either way. keep it here, though. i want to touch it when it’s ready.”

3.

when it comes it’ll be a gleaming surprise. i’ll look up and go: “oh. fuck.” smiling, breathless, in the most excited way.

Six Years Ago Today

July 06, 2011 By: admin Category: Coal, Filmmaking, Happiness, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom, Soma Girls

Ali and I were in the Sony studio offices and he was talking to me. Even though I was looking right at him, and hearing the words, I didn’t process one, single thing he said. I was, instead, hoping and praying that I would be able to make the flight from Orlando to Boston. It was the last flight that night and I was sweating, worrying that if I missed it, I’d be driving all that long way. Hopefully, though, if it had come to that, someone would have convinced me to take the first flight out the next morning, as I would not have been in any condition to drive.

It was something in Dad’s voice, in the way he said “Well, that’s up to you” when I asked whether he thought I should come up or not. I was working and it was a critical time for the project I was on, but… my mother was in the hospital.

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the day after I arrived–my birthday. On that day, Dad, usually never one to forget anything, caught a bit of what my brother was saying to me over the phone (he was wishing me a happy birthday), and while I was still on the phone I heard Dad say under his breath, “Oh for heaven’s sake…” He’d just realized it was my birthday. We were driving, on our way back to the hospital in the early morning.

Saying I miss her still doesn’t even scratch the surface. Of course I do, but as grief evolves it turns into other things and today my grief feels like profound loneliness. There’s no unfilled hole anymore and no wrenching pain, there’s just that feeling of my other half being gone. I am incomplete.

The meditation helps me to stay centered and objective, and even joyful, but it also strips every barrier away so that I can more clearly see how lonely I truly am. I am, indeed. It’s not a romantic relationship that I’m missing, though, it’s someone who knew me, and saw me, and cared about me every day. Someone who thought about me every day. We need that, I think, and I’m coming to realize that it might just not be in the cards for me for a long, long while, if at all. I’m certainly not looking for it because… where would I start, ya know? That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. So instead of actively looking for someone I’m just living my life, doing my incredible projects. I am so grateful that my day job and my independent artist work are the same thing: making films. Ridiculous. :) Amazing. :) The kind of love I need and want will come if it’s supposed to. In the interim, I will enjoy the joys of those I love. Seeing joy in the face of someone I cherish is worth a lot.

Thanks for all the vanilla cakes, Mom. I miss you.

 

On This Day, Reaction to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

May 07, 2011 By: admin Category: Meditation, Mom

This (below) is EXACTLY how I felt this morning, and I was there on 9/11. Smoke and human remains-filled ash flew into my Brooklyn apt windows. On that day the weather was still warm enough to have the windows open. On that day, if I hadn’t decided to work from home for only the 2nd time in my whole life, I would very likely have been trapped underground on the 2/3 train as it headed near the Trade Center on it’s way uptown. All the trains were fine on that day, but Mom and Dad and all of you wouldn’t have known where I was until hours later, and then only if I had been able to get a cell signal out. On that day, by 9:30am, cell service was barraged and many many many calls didn’t get through until the afternoon.

When I heard the news this morning I burst out crying. Not for Bin Laden, but for our country and all those who celebrate(d) his death. It’s a sad day when anyone rejoices over the death of another. I also cried because all of the stresses of that day, and the many many months afterward for NYC, were so hard and changed us so much and were called back by this news of today.

I’m glad I’m alive, and I’m glad he’s dead. I just don’t think we (or anyone) has to gloat. That’s not honorable.

Much love, and thanks for reading,

Alexia

Osama bin Laden is dead. One Buddhist’s response.

“In the Shambhala warrior tradition, we say you should only have to kill an enemy once every thousand years.” –Chogyam Trungpa

So, Osama bin Laden is dead. We killed him. There really was no choice. We were clearly in an “us or them” situation and if we didn’t kill him, he was going to continue to do everything in his power to kill us.

As Buddhists, we are supposed to abhor all killing, but what do you do when someone is trying to kill you? Obviously great theologians have pondered this question for millennia and I’m not going to try to pile on with my point of view, which would be totally useless.

Instead, I’ll pose this question: How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it?

Strangely, I keep coming back to the same rather ordinary conclusion: the answer is in our ability to face our emotions. When we know how to relate to our anger, hatred, despair, and frustration fully and properly, they self-liberate. When we don’t, when we can’t tolerate them and therefore act them out, we create enormous sorrow and confusion.

Look at your own reaction this morning.

Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem. Whatever suffering he may have experienced cannot reverse even one moment of the suffering he caused. If you believe his death is a form of compensation, you are deluded.

There has been an outpouring of misdirected jubilation, as if a contest had been won. Nothing has been won. Unlike winning a sporting event, this doesn’t mean that our team has triumphed. Far from it. There is only one team and it is us.

One of us is gone, one horrific, terrible, vicious one of us…is gone. I don’t feel regret for him or about this. I’m regretful for the rest of us who are now left thinking that this is a cause for celebration. It is not.  It is a cause for sorrow at our continued inability to realize that there is no such thing as us and them; that whatever we do to cause harm to one will harm us all.

When we hate, we cause hate. When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost. In killing Osama bin Laden, “they” lose because one of their leaders is gone. But we lose too, because we have deepened the causes and conditions that lead to more hatred and its consequences. This is not over.

Then, what to do? I don’t really know, but for me, rather than cheering on this day, I’m going to rededicate myself to the idea of brotherhood towards all, even those that want me dead—and not because I’m some kind of really good person. I’m not. Because I know it’s the only way to stay alive—in the only kind of world I want to inhabit.

Perhaps the way to kill your enemy as a way of putting a stop to violence rather than escalating is to shift our view of “enemy” altogether. Our enemy is not one person or country or belief system. It is our unwillingness to feel the sorrow of others—who are none other than us.

So take aim at this enemy completely and precisely. Feel your sadness for us and them so fully and completely that all boundaries are dissolved and we are left standing face to face, human to human, each feeling the other’s rage and despair as our own, one world to care for.

If you’d like to try to generate such a switch, please try loving kindness meditation. Here is audio instruction in the practice.

“…when you do not produce another force of hatred, the opposing force collapses.”– Chogyam Trungpa

 

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. :)

“we were all given gifts and the idea is to use them”

August 16, 2010 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom

I was inspired this morning–as I am every time I read her–by my old Oxygen pal, Nancy Colasurdo. Here she is making sense of the Jet Blue guy, and “Jenny” the fictional disgruntled almost-broker:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2010/08/13/vote-graceful-exits/

What Nancy’s post makes me think of is the many people I know who don’t have the proper support from family or friends to take the leaps Nancy’s talking about. Courage only comes out of thin air sometimes. Most times, it comes from the encouragement, over time, of others. That’s what happened to my mother. She was horribly neglected by her father and abused by her stepmother, but she had her aunt and older brother who saw in her the light of the world, and never let her forget it. As humans, we don’t need much to hang onto, but we do need something.

I’ve been called judgmental a lot. Like A LOT, a lot. I’m opinionated and decisive and I speak up and sometimes that translates as judgmental. That said, I can see what people are talking about. So, in the last few years–between a horrid final few months in CA, to an emotionally destructive breakup, one soul-crushing year of unemployment, to a painful rebound–I’ve taken the time to look at what this “judgmental” thing is all about.

The first thing I discovered was that, yes, I was given to snap judgments about people and situations. I would assess and determine too quickly. But I’m smart, so it never got in my way except in intimate circumstances–i.e., when I told my partner what I thought and felt about someone. Over time, after hearing enough from my partners that I was being too quick to put people into a box, I learned to slow down and reserve judgment until I’d hung out with people for a while. And what I learned, mostly, is that it doesn’t work for me. I was getting tripped up by what I hoped people would do, and they disappointed me too much of the time. Since that experience my navigation of this territory has evolved to just allowing myself to meet people and not really put any stock in them until it’s naturally necessary, like in a job of friend situation. There, the personalities emerge organically and we both come to know each other better in a safe environment. Maybe I’m late coming to this, but this is the way my path has been. This doesn’t mean I’ve gone back to being judgmental socially in the sense of being critical (I was never critical, just cautious), it’s just one of the tools I use to survive. And that’s what my partners haven’t realized.

One friend isn’t judgmental enough. She doesn’t see how/who anyone is until they’ve pretty much fucked her over. Her father used to say he’d rather be kind and get screwed than not be kind at all. I wouldn’t encourage this as a way to be even if you do, after many years of suffrage and failure, come out smelling like “the good guy.” I’d prefer to be thought of slightly less and still have roof over my head.

Another friend is a doormat and she won’t admit to herself why. She feels self-hating and sad pretty much all the time and won’t go to the dark places of her soul to fix it, even though she’s plenty strong enough.

In both cases, strong family support was missing. Michael and I are by no means the stars of the world, but we’re both doing what we love, and are surrounded by supportive, vibrant people. We’re not holding ourselves back, and we’re happy.

For a long, long time I wasn’t happy, and that was my own fault. I allowed the situation I was in to consume my joy. Along that path I made several mistakes for which I am sorely sorry, but the only thing I can do to try to make up for it is to CHANGE. And this is where most people get tripped-up. There’s this terrible, terrible myth in our repressed culture that change = the death of joy. Nothing could be further from the truth. All religions talk about “releasing,” “letting go,” and “going to God.” Call it whatever you like but it’s all code for: “Get up off your ass. If you’re hearing this then you’re alive, you’re human, and you have choices, so suck it up!” Of course there are situations that are too hard: poverty, illness, homelessness. But if you’re able-bodied, for goodness sake, take a chance on yourself. You simply cannot fail because, as Nancy puts it:

“”we were all given gifts and the idea is to use them.”

Inside The Tree Sanctuary

July 31, 2010 By: admin Category: Boo-Yah, Coal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom, PlumTV

“Love of beauty is Taste. Creation of beauty is Art.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


I’m stealing the use of this quote from a beautiful blog I found courtesy of someone on Twitter.

This morning I slept late. Really late for me. 9:30am. I’d gotten up at the customary 5:30, but was having trouble opening  my eyes. As I padded to the bathroom in the gray light I felt the walls so I wouldn’t fall down the stairs. I felt heavy. Really, really heavy and knew I was going to go back to sleep. I was so happy at the prospect because that hasn’t happened in well over two years.

When I crashed, I crashed hard. Heavily. It was the grounded, in the ground, rooted sleep of a changed woman. Evolutionary change always happens for me while I’m doing something else, and so I don’t ever realize what’s happened until later. The sound of the TV was what finally got me up, my eyes to reluctantly open. My show was on and there were people in my house watching it. I went downstairs to join them.

Each week Dad & Sarah have generously sat and watched the show and graciously given feedback afterward. In the last couple of weeks, though, they haven’t given any feedback, and the reason is because the show is good. As I sat beside everyone today, watching them watch, I could hear them listening and it was awesome. And when a specific, funny moment happened, everyone chuckled, unaware that they were sitting with the producer. For them, they were just watching an engaging show.

It was a good start to what has been a deep day. I didn’t do any soul searching, rather, I did a lot of soul listening. I meditated for over an hour with the intention of finally letting the Universe flood into my mind. Well, she did, and with her came answers. A letting go, a courage to be quiet, and a bunch of ideas for how to finish the coal film. From there the day was like those days I used to have before I got into relationships: present, comfortable, mine. I looked hard at my tendency toward self-criticism and knew there was a lot more work to do there.

I took a short walk into the open field on our property and turned to look at our house from a different perspective. While sitting in the hammock, a place I frequent every weekend, I was struck by an urgency to see things differently. I thought that if I shook up my visual comfort, more changes would follow. They did.

I looked up at the trees, the scrub oak that I love so much, that surround our house. And I realized that God, Mom, all life, and all the answers were in the trees because they were beautiful. I realized for the first time in decades that Beauty is the portal to happiness and understanding, but you’ve got to have the balls to try to make beautiful things.

My silly little lifestyle show is beautiful, and all I need to do now is to stay out of it’s way. If it gets bored and needs something new to liven it up, I’ll develop a new segment. The show and I are one and each know what’s best for the other. Similarly, I will honor the coal film, and my own life and capacity for love. I will get out of my own way. Via Beauty.

The History of Boo-Yah

July 24, 2010 By: admin Category: Boo-Yah, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom

It’s not because I just watched the trailer for the much-anticipated ‘EAT. PRAY. LOVE” starring one of my original girl-crushes, Julia Roberts. It’s that I really need to fucking get away. But not away from the island or even away from Boston, I need to get away from comfort. I need to barter with life outside of the constant care-taking nature of the first world. And I need to do it before I fall in love again because once I shack up my heart it’s much harder to leave at a moment’s notice to go to places that might be dangerous. Plus, whoever she is, I’m just not the type to want to leave my squeeze. That’s why breakups are such a bitch for me… Ugh…

India with Molly was amazing. Third world and my best girl. But I was still buffered by Alison, Bryan, David, and especially, Nandini. I made “Soma Girls” in a brothel in Calcutta, yes, but I was literally and figuratively looking at those lives through a lens. My next challenge has to be without recording device or the internet. Just a phone, money, my wits, food and friends are what I need at the moment, and so I’m officially putting that out into the universe.

I feel unchained for the first time since I was very little. Unchained from Mom, unchained from a relationship. Now all I need to do is get rid of my ex’s cats and rug, and get someone normal to live in my house for a year. Will it be only one year? I’m old enough to know that length of time is all too short, and so we’ll see.

And where do I wish to go, you ask? I have no idea. All I know is that it’s probably going to be someplace I’ve never thought of and know nothing about. I’ll have to master a new language, learn to cook the local fare, and take a job I’ve never done.

The feeling of finally being unchained is incredible. It came with my fantastic co-worker and boss at the gig here on island leaving to move to New York to work in the corporate office of the same company. It gives me comfort that we’re still attached in some way because I think we need to work together again because it went so well here, but I’m thrilled she’s not in charge of me anymore. I’m happy taking over the show–it feels organic to be making something like this–but it’s not the last stop on the train. This isn’t the way I want to grow, necessarily. And so I’ve got to crank on the coal film and the others I have in mind. If I’m going off on some big trip “The Dirty Truth About Coal” and “18 Months” have to be done and living their own lives before I go.

I think a lot about Egypt. Probably because it’s one of the places Mom always wanted to visit, but never had the guts to. I need to make that trip for both of us. It’s not such a bad idea: going to the places my mother didn’t get a chance to.

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.

Dear Mom: Where I’m At Today

March 18, 2010 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, House, Living, Meditation, Mom, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

It’s been a while since I’ve written, I know. Don’t scold, you didn’t even like that I was blogging at first. I’m well, or well enough given the ever-present money problems. Yes, I WILL be going into one of my IRAs if things get even worse, but there’s still some time to wait to see if “anything turns.” I love phrases like that, don’t you? They imply some kind of beneficent moment of fate, like The Angels of Mercy are going to come swooping in and change everything for the better. Not to be cynical, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Still, it’s hard to complain a) when I have so many gifts, and b) when Spring is about to burst here in New England.

Laura said last night “At least we don’t live in a dirt hut.” She’s not unemployed but not as employed as she’d like to be and so she’s doing what she usually does in frustrating times like these: she picks a topic and goes to the library and gets every single book about it. This time, the lucky topic is Montana. I’ve never known or thought that I would ever know this much about Montana but when you have a walking, talking encyclopedia you do take stuff in. One piece of news is that Montana settlers used to live in dirt hut because they were warmer. There are few things that truly shock and/or astonish my sister-in-law and the stalwartness of these Montana settlers is one of them. They lived in dirt huts and eked out a living on hard, cold, wide land. Yeah, I don’t really have much to complain about.

Anyway, I’ve got to go but wanted to share about the Montana thing, and to let you know that I was alright.

All my love, A`lex