lextopia

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Archive for March, 2010

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: 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

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.