death of sardanapalus

February 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm (destruction, history, innocence, power, sexuality)

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my family had a book of delacroix paintings when we were growing up. i remember being fascinated by this particular painting. i felt naughty looking at it for it hinted of things i didn’t understand…sexuality, the power of men over women, violence…

i couldn’t understand how the man in the bed seemed serene amidst the carnage. the women, so helpless, what had they done to deserve this?

it turns out, sardanapalus was under siege and when he knew defeat was inevitable, he ordered all his riches (including his women) destroyed. still, it puzzles me that he is so relaxed watching such horror unfold. imagine my confusion as a child!

as a young girl, i keenly felt the disparity between men and women. my brothers had masculine chores like taking out the trash and working on the yard. i was relegated to dishes and housework. i protested as soon as i was able. my family was politically liberal but my protests fell on deaf ears.

as a young woman, it bothered me that boys could behave a certain way and be cheered and encouraged. when i tried to pioneer, i felt resistance and sometimes even shame for being so bold.

i resented the physical vulnerability of being female and resented the attention that came from being pretty and charming. it took years for me to grow into my power. even now, i have moments of fear about being attacked, physically and or/psychically. i worry on behalf of my daughter, knowing that just being female means being a target of certain crimes and injustice.

it’s no wonder that for many years i distanced myself from anything too feminine. it just wasn’t safe.

is it safe now?

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baby moon

February 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm (divine feminine, friendship, love, mothering)

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i went to a baby shower recently. i didn’t feel like going…i never do. i’m a hermit by nature and have to force myself out. fortunately, i’ve developed the ability to talk to anyone about anything and have enough charisma to make it charming and fun.

i was glad to honor my friend. it has been her dream to be a mother, long before it ever occurred to me. she suffered greatly to get here. even now, she’s facing an uncertain future with the father of the baby who refuses to move out of the home he lives in, deep in the mountains. he refuses to compromise in order to honor his partner and child.

oh well…at least she’s getting her baby. at 40 years old, she might not get another chance.

the baby shower was lovely. we played silly games, trying to guess the inches of the pregnant belly. we cooed over the little clothes and blankets. i couldn’t help thinking that my friend has no idea about what she is being initiated into. i didn’t know before i had my children.

a world of love and worry. a world of chaos and exhaustion. a lonely world at times.

we had a moment of prayer for the mom to be. i found myself hoping my dear friend would have an easy labor and birth. i hoped she could manifest more support than i did. i hoped that she would have time to rest with her newborn while others handled mundane daily details for her. i hoped she could create and relax into a lovely baby moon.

i also hoped that i could get myself together to offer her the support i longed for after giving birth.

we shall see…

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my own oasis

February 9, 2008 at 2:08 pm (beauty, grace, innocence, simplicity)

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friends, i’m tired. how i wish i could curl up like a cat and nap the day away. it’s been a long time since i had such a luxury!

i used to live in a little, old house with big rooms. there was a wonderful tree in the front yard. it was over a hundred years old, the biggest tree on the block. i loved to look out the window at the big old tree. the western sunlight would glitter off the leaves and the breeze in the branches made a sweet rustling sound.

the house was a shrine to comfort and beauty. it was an oasis and a retreat for me and me alone. i hardly ever had visitors. i didn’t know the neighbors…didn’t want to. my bedroom was in the front and i used to rest in bed with a pile of books and that shimmering tree out front. i felt safe under the canopy of that great beauty.

i would get sleepy from reading and drift off. it was a lovely time in my life. the absolute quiet and the delicious freedom of being bound to no one now seems incredibly seductive. of course at the time i remember being lonely and concerned that the future was stretching out before me with no surprises in store.

things changed when my future husband moved in.

he is a friendly guy and quickly met everyone on the block. my anonymity was slipping away and i gladly gave it over. i didn’t want to be alone anymore. the naps fell by the wayside as our different schedules meshed and we started creating a life together.

i miss that sleepy little house. i miss the fantastic tree. i miss my soft bed, covered with books and the western sun casting shadows across the floor.

still, i wouldn’t trade it for what i have now.

a life bustling with noise and intensity, little children who smell like sugar cookies.

the messes, great and small generated by the torrential energy of the little ones.

shrieks and screams and conflicts galore.

still, a day in my old oasis would be wonderful. i could use a little rest.

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house on fire

February 7, 2008 at 10:32 am (destruction, grace, mystery, reflection)

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the house next door caught on fire the other night. at first, i didn’t think much about the sirens, since i live a block away from the fire station and hear the trucks all day long. then i realized they were crowding the street in front of my house.

then i smelled the smoke.

the house next door is ten feet from mine. i live in a dense, urban area. i looked out the window and saw gray smoke rolling out of the basement windows and creeping out of the cracks in the windows upstairs. i started feeling panicky as i heard the firemen smashing windows and talking on their radios.

i never saw flames.

the smell of smoke built up for a while. i worried about my sleeping children and wondered if we would have to leave. these houses are old and made of brick, so i wasn’t too worried about the fire spreading. it crossed my mind but i put that thought quickly aside. fortunately the wind was blowing the smoke away from us and we were able to get some fresh, cold air from the south side.

no one was hurt. no one lives there. the house has been sitting empty for almost two years. our former neighbors got a “great deal” in the suburbs and moved away. they were unable to sell the remaining house though and it slipped into foreclosure. someone had just purchased it and was starting to renovate. now it’s a burned out shell.

i was just starting to make peace with the idea that we were going to give up the dream of a simpler, more natural life. i was beginning to commit to living in the city and tolerating the intensity of sound, smell and other stimulation. my dream of the small town with a more relaxed lifestyle was fading and the THE HOUSE BURNS?

don’t get me wrong. i am so grateful that no one was hurt and that things are relatively fine but i was excited about the renovation. excited at the possibility that there would be an improvement to the neighborhood, that someone finally cared about the old beauty. now i wonder what will happen. will it sit there empty and burned, continuing a vortex of energy that never gets resolved?

what does it all mean? is it an omen? am i supposed to make meaning out of it?

maybe there is no meaning…just a random, life-changing event for someone else.

i wish i knew.

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the church of woman

February 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm (divine feminine, grace, mystery, passion, power)

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i’m not the most grateful gal in the world. i’ve been known to fret and fuss, fall into longing for what i don’t already have and throw a tantrum or two over unmet desires. sometimes it’s not about things but more about how i want to feel. it is the work of my life in some ways, to strip away the falsity and find satisfaction in the simplest of pleasures.

women are lusty creatures. we want more, more, more. the life force coursing through our bodies drives us to distraction sometimes. i know that men know this. it must be tough for them to weather the storms of female wanting.

so much spiritual philosophy has been geared toward the transcendence of desire and the transcendence of the body. as a woman, i find this offensive. how can a creature of the senses like me transcend the very seat of my power? why would the deity in the sky require me to subvert my nature to get closer to HIM.

i am the earth…can that be my religion? can love and passion and pain and procreation be my religion? must i force myself to stay in a space of gratitude and servitude when i feel like roaring across the sky? should i dim my light and limp around and pretend to be humble when my nature is so fierce?

if anything, i want my experience here to be more primal, more fully human. i want to get closer to nature even if it means discomfort and a loss of control. i want to be in harmony with the rhythms and cycles of nature. i want, want, want.

i put the judgment of wanting aside now. it is my nature after all.

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fading vision

January 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm (beauty, innocence, longing, magic)

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i need to see the magic in the world. it’s not a desire, it’s a need.

it was easier as a child. i didn’t just see it, i felt it.

when i was younger i believed in the inherent goodness of people. i felt strongly that when people behaved badly, they were undoubtedly guilty and repentant.

growing up on fairy tales and the happily ever after colored my view of the world. i was sure that in the end, all would work out no matter what obstacles appeared. i felt that all people truly wanted to work together to create harmony. i believed that we all wanted peace and the protection of the earth.

now i’m not so sure…

i find myself tipping into cynicism. i see the selfishness and the pillaging. i see subtle slights and terrible injustices and wonder about the true nature of the human being. we are warm blooded, we need each other to survive and yet there is a murderous streak in many of us.

still, i need to see the magic. if my sense of the magic left me, i would be lost. i too would slip into bad behavior, taking what i want when i want it with no second thoughts.

luckily, the magic hasn’t left…it’s just my sight that’s blurry.

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life, the way i want it

January 27, 2008 at 11:33 pm (beauty, longing, magic, simplicity)

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i want to live simply. i want to feel safe. i want the children to prosper and have opportunity. i want the luxury and beauty of the earth all around.

i dream of living in a place where the air is still fragrant. i dream of innocence and friendly neighbors. i dream of children playing together with the adults loosely watching. i dream of sunny mornings and the dappled shade of trees…afternoon naps under fluffy, soft blankets. i dream of gathering with friends and their children, raucous dinner parties with wine flowing freely.

i want to move more slowly and feel my life as i’m moving through it. i want to shift from doing to being and i’m not sure i know how.

the city i live in is the city i was raised in. it is sprawling and intense and still growing. i remember the wide open spaces that used to surround the city. it felt like an island, far from either coast. a city surrounded by vast fields that went from spring green, to burnt yellow, to crumbling brown, to snow swept and scoured and back again.

i was desperate to leave when i turned eighteen and leave i did. i lived in other cities where high culture ruled and people were well dressed and savvy. places where music and art and alternative thinking thrived. i lived on both coasts and spots in between but i always came home. i never felt at peace anywhere else, always the gypsy on the way to the next place.

i’m looking for a new home. there’s no rush, no need to hurry but i’m looking.

my fear is that finding the perfect spot won’t solve the riddle. it is my inner world that needs healing. the simplicity i crave must be created in the shadows and haunts of my heart and soul…the beauty i crave uncovered in the caverns i created.

still it would be nice to wake up to pure, earth magic which seems to be dwindling where i am.

is the dream viable? or just a fantasy to sooth me when sleep is elusive?

we shall see…

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tantra

January 22, 2008 at 5:54 pm (archetype, divine feminine, exploration, power, sexuality)

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i studied tantra yoga for a while, back when i was single and carefree. i briefly considered becoming an instructor, though i doubted my abilities on many levels.

my intuition was validated at a tantra teacher’s training in hawaii. there were a lot of nuts in attendance and though i have a high tolerance for nuts, i quickly realized that any work involving sexuality would be rife with the wounded and the weird.

there were a bevy of young beauties in attendance, powerful, goddess-women. the men on the other hand, were older, wrinklier, and creepy. the inequity was so clear. we were studying the oldest profession in the world, legitimized and cased in spiritual terms. these lovely ladies were out to capitalize on their youth and sensual gifts. they were business women.

the men were just hoping for some touch.

in tantra, everything hinges on the woman. she is the force of divinity, the queen and priestess. it is the woman’s unending sexual energy that heals and opens the masculine. i saw men curled into little balls of infantile catatonia. i saw men open to archetypal forces greater than themselves. one man had the glazed eyes of an addict as he scheduled sessions with any woman able and willing to accept large sums of cash in exchange.

the truth is, i had natural talent for the work. i learned quickly, the arts and techniques of using sexual energy for healing. i loved the power behind it, but didn’t know how to cope with the revulsion. i battled moments of fear with certain men, fear of losing control, fear of their primal urges, fear of the rage that needed healing. It bothered me to be intimate with people i had no affection for or attraction to.

i saw how easy it would be to build a business of sensual massage and healing breathwork. i knew exactly what kind of client would come. MEN. divorced and lonely with plenty of disposable income. men who’d been roughed up by the angry american woman. the emasculated, beat down, affection craving, kinky old men. i liked these men but i didn’t want to take my clothes off for them.

all that grinding and panting and chanting started looking unhealthy. it was as if some carefully controlled energetic component was unleashed and though it may have been the best healing ever for the person in question, i found myself in retreat.

in the end, it was simply too unromantic for this lady. though i may be rough and tumble in the dark, when the light is blinding i retreat.

some things are sacred after all.

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friend, so far

January 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm (friendship, history, mothering, wealth)

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my best friend lives far away. we talk on the phone once in a blue moon. the thread of our conversations pick up right where they were dropped as if no time has passed.

i miss her.

i wish we could raise our children together…create a modern commune of parenting and life. it’s tough to be out here on my own, no family worth mentioning.

she and i have a lot in common. both raised in affluent homes, both chose to strike out and live a life of adventure, both married to men of heart with little to no resources.

my mother used to say that the last, unspoken american prejudice was against the rich. i thought it was silly to complain of being so fortunate. now i see how this prejudice has shaped my choices. i felt self-conscious about our wealth, our home, the excess of it all. i felt a keen sense of injustice for those who had less. i never wanted to be identified with fur coats and fancy cars. i never felt comfortable fraternizing with the upper crust.

my friend feels the same though now, both of us with children, we lament the lack of security.

still we live rich lives. in my case, there is a richness to my struggle. if i had chosen to marry for money, to stay true to my upper class upbringing, i fear i would be floundering around trying to find meaning. i would be drinking heavily for sure and fighting the rage of another lunch date to discuss my most recent european holiday.

instead, i’m fighting the rage of seeing a culture out of balance, the inequities horrifying and dangerous. fighting to build the security my family needs with my own two hands and a mind that was idle too long. i feel grateful for the opportunity to discover my own creativity and strength now that the promise of inherited wealth is gone.

i continue to count my blessings for i am so very, very fortunate.

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precocious

January 15, 2008 at 5:40 pm (daughters, love, mothering, physicality)

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my daughter is intensity in motion. good natured and affectionate, she can also be slightly brutal when she wants her way. she pulls hair to show displeasure and in defense. she’s strong and capable and PRECOCIOUS.

i didn’t know if she was a boy or girl but late in the summer before she was born, one lone rose bloomed on the bush that flowers in spring. the little pink rose lasted for a week and my mother said it was a sign, our little girl announcing herself to the world.

birthing her was difficult. i was resistant to the pains of labor. i assumed that because i had given birth once before that it would be easy and quick. it seemed an eternity with slow progress. when the time came to push her out i experienced a primal fear. i felt certain that i couldn’t do it. she was big and got stuck and everyone panicked. i could see it all happening from somewhere slightly distant. there was a moment of wondering if i was going to be the woman whose baby died. just as i began to make peace with that possibility, she came sliding into the world.

i grieved her birth for it felt too rough. she cried for a week, her arm sore from tugging. she wouldn’t nurse and i was frightened. we found a groove eventually and her black hair grew into a mohawk. it stood straight up. she attracted attention from those closest to me and strangers as well. she has charisma.

i can see in her the complexity of woman. she is a dichotomy and a puzzle. she wakes in the night with a shriek, leaving me curious about what is haunting her. she is physical and unafraid, a climber and a talker. i know she has a message for the world, though it is yet to be articulated.

my mother’s mother calls her precocious. coming from a woman who gave birth to seven children, i think the label is appropriate. i wait patiently and expectantly as she unfolds.

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