rumination house 

curious and curiouser

i see my most frequent referring visitor is paris-hilton-sex-video@blogspot-- or something like that--

what's that about?

sitting in shadow part one

speaking of happiness, and sadness--

i've been thinking about the american preoccupation with happiness. a number of blogs on this server concur with the idea that while we have more than ever, we are also more dissatisfied than ever. could be a sampling error, but a number of studies back it up. a book i picked up at the library, "the progress paradox" (i may have that title wrong) posits that despite material wealth rising yearly in the past several decades, happiness ratings have had a corresponding decline.

we all know money can't buy happiness, yet a number of people continue to chase it as if it could. another interesting study showed that folks' perceptions of how a given purchase-- a new home, new car, really cute pair of heels-- would change their life for the better were WAY off-- and that the perceived lift from it lasted a much shorter time than even the researchers expected. worse, there seemed to be a crash effect. which explains the addictive nature of consumerism-- we're chasing the high, and it becomes more and more elusive.

back to happiness. our bill of rights guarantees its pursuit, not its attainment. but that promise out there, mirrored and amplified by advertisements that suggest you are the only one not getting it, but hey you could, for only 19.95 plus S&H-- it's an overwhelming backdrop to our daily drama. we begin to assume it is possible to have it all. to live free of suffering, with the exception of the occasional and inconvienent grief of somebody else's death.

except these are false promises. there is no escape from suffering, unless you are numb or deluded. siddartha found that out when he escaped the artifically happy prison his parents had created to protect him from sights of sadness, disease, and aging. and realising we shared this common blanket of suffering opened his heart to compassion.

maybe it's not our job to be happy as an end result. maybe happy is the lovely, albeit intermittant, side effect of having eyes that are all the way open-- to the beauty and the pain, to life and to death. maybe we can only truly experience it against the relief of its soul twin, pain.
and maybe the best way to see it is by changing our sights from me me me, to we.

pema chodrin (again, i may have name wrong-- i'm not a great speller, or re-memberer) is an american buddhist nun who writes extensively on the idea of living in shadow instead of running from it. she recognizes our desire to be free from suffering and our very american way of trying to attain it-- by frantically changing our circumstance, pursuing alteration of our environment, love life, finances. the cure becomes the dis-ease. pema speaks on the value of learning to sit with not-knowing, with our dis-comfort and listening to what it has to say to us. or just accepting that this is what is.

emotions are so temporary. i read an article a few weeks ago in which christopher reeves was asked what he had learned in the past years. he said "i am learning to pay less attention to my moods".

today i wake up and i am happy. i see the chickadees searching seed from the dead sunflowers and i smile. tomorrow, same house, same circumstance i may feel great sorrow. i can listen to it, i can watch it. i don't have to react to it, or organize my life around it. i can appreciate the changes, which give rythym and release and shape to my days.

16 minute story

the latest issue of mcsweeney's quarterly had 29 stories written in 20 minutes each. my pal gippy and i do that all the time. here's one from last night that clocked in under 16 minutes (you get what you pay for...)

Dear Josh:

I know it looks bad. I mean, we'll all supposed to be so happy, right? But the thing is, I didn't get it done. I was signed up like everybody else, but when i went to get it done it turned out there was this other Jacob Walker right there, same birthday even, and I guess they thought he was me-- man, there must have been twenty Jacobs and Joshuas and Jeremys in the room, what were our moms thinking back then? and I was laughing about this, about how they thought he as me, and I decide to just play along and watch til he comes out after the implant. I was laughing pretty good, until he walks out, looking like that Nicholson guy in that old movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. You ever see that? About a crazy guy, only he's not so crazy, he's crazy like a fox as they say, amd he's putting one over on the Man, or so he thinks. Then they take and scramble his brain, and he's smiling like a pussy cat, but it's like it's not HIM any more.

And I know, all the ads say it doesn't change nothing, just makes you happy, and even you tell me how great everything is now, since you and Debby had it done, and why didn't we do it early, when it was voluntary, save ourselves a couple years of regular real life misery. And I was all for it, too, till I saw that other Jacob Walker come out and look at me and smile that empty sort of smile.

So anyway, I never took it.

And I found out through the grape vine that there's a bunch of us, others who didn't take it because of some religious crap or because they're afraid of needles, or think it's some conspiracy to make us all robots. That wasn't my deal, but once I decided, I started paying attention to the Pre-bes, and thinking well they may be weird but at least they are THERE. And I was talking to Phoebe about it, and she had that weird smile, that same smile you see posted on all the faces in the Emotech ads, and she kept telling me I should get a check up at the clinic, because everything was really fine now and I seemed to have some glitch that needed adjustment. Our cat had been hit by a garbage truck the day before, and you know I hated that damn cat, but still, Phoebe kept going on about acceptance and letting in the bliss and I shook her and said but you LOVED that cat--

So yeah. I blew the place up. I'm no murderer-- I called them up and told them to get everybody out. That cop, I feel bad about that, but everyone says he is going to be fine.

I appreciate you trying to get me that insanity lawyer. But I'm not crazy. I'm just not that happy-- and that feels right to me.

You know?

Your brother forever,

all the way from jericho

the science of
all this chatter
is that heat expands
and nature abhors
and why is it
we insist on filling
each little space?

i walked eight miles
in a snow so quiet
i could hear my
own breathing, white
against white, soft
against soft. the whir
of thoughts sliding
into a blissful,

resolution, after a fashion

being unable to walk into the woods today, as is my new year habit, and muse and marinate my resolutions, i will hold out for their blossoming at some later date.

meanwhile i stumbled upon this poem in an old new yorker, and although (despite having read it five times) i am not completely clear what it means, i pretty much think it applies to me, and is nudging me resolutely in some direction.

i have no permission to reprint so please go straight out and buy something this man has written-- i will--


There is no way not to be excited
When what you have been disillusioned by raises its head
From its arms and seems to want to talk to you again.
You forget home and family
And set off on foot or in your automobile
And go to where you believe this form of reality
May dwell. Not finding it in there, you refuse
Any further contact
Until you are back again trying to forget
The only thing that moved you (it seems) and gave you what you
forever will have
But in the form of a disillusion.
Yet often, looking toward the horizon
There???inimical to you????is that something you have never found
And that, without those who came before you, you could have never
How could you have thought there was one person who could make you
Happy and that happiness was not the uneven
Phenomenon you have known it to be? Why do you keep believing in this
Reality so dependent on the time allowed it
That it has less to do with your exile from the age you are
Than from everything else life promised that you could do?

---Kenneth Koch

embracing our illusions

time to bring in another year--
and what shall we have this time?

i haven't written anything for a long while-- even posts were from old news. suffering from "obstruction ordinaire".

the best way to begin anything is to: begin. and begin again.

the old japanese saying is nice: fall down six times, get up seven.

but another saying i'm pondering tonight feels right too:

"we must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion."
cyril connelly said that.

any of us can name attributes that we or others would wear. i'm a firm believer in the power of story and the relative uselessness of truth.

it is true i am 5' 9 1/2" tall.

my story is i am strong.

it is true i write more than the average person.

my story is it keeps me passionate. that i need to do it.

it is true i know a few hundred people.

it is my story that i am connected to 5 or 6 billion more.

here's my unoriginal yet very important new year prayer:

may all beings be happy.

may all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.

may all beings know love.

the buddha nature of diners

things know, & can even say, but we can't hear them. usually we are too busy with the sound of our own wheelspinning to hear much. everything is alive. & all beings have the buddha nature, even rocks. everyone except coyote. i read that in a gary snyder poem many years ago.
i sat in a diner, gazing at a creche set made of napkins & whatnot. a piece of what might have been chicken seemed to be jesus.
jesus, i thought, gazing down into that little snowy world. i wondered if the woman with the haunted eyes & the funny finger i passed on the way in made it.
i closed my eyes. it had been a long drive, a long life. i had always kind of counted on dying at around 44. now here i am 60. i left everything i knew a long time ago. i have a shack in utah. i read & i walk.
" open up your heart & let the sunshine in you old butthead,"--i heard someone say, quietly but clearly. i looked around. 4 old dudes finding fascination or something like it in what might be potatoes. a waitress staring at her nails.
"you heard me!" the voice said.
i stared at the baby chicken jesus.
" let's sing something!"
yes, it was coming from jesus.
i started to reply, coughed, & mumbled " like what?"
" well i have always enjoyed hark the herald myself. you start"
as i say, it had been a long drive, a long life. what do i have to lose now? if they take me to the loony bin maybe i can find someone who likes to talk to me.
so i started.
i had not sung for a long long time. my voice did not sound like my own.
" hark the herald angels sssinggg.."
everyone stared at me. i kept singing.
" you're doing fine," chicken jesus peeped.
i heard the smallest meatiest voice join mine.
& then the old fart over in the corner joined in. then the waitress. we all sang. we helped on the verses we didn't know that well. we laughed & we sang.


i have a shack right near the diner now. i help out with cars that break down & such. evelyn & i get along pretty good. & we make a kind of weird creche set every year. out of whatever is around. it is best to go with that.

little chicken jesus

stine in--
The hashbrowns are especially greasy tonight. Glistening in pink beneath the neon OPE sign above her table, they waft an aromatic steam cloud that clings to Mitzi's face. She's been stranded in Fields for three days now, and while the burgers are palatable when washed down
with a shake, the hashbrowns still don't charm her. The folks at the counter said the deep fryer was gonna be fixed yesterday, but the guy from Burns never came. At this point, if she had the wheels to get there, she'd go buy the parts herself-- but then again, if she had wheels, she sure as hell wouldn't be sitting in a truckstop in Fields.

She pulls out her three castles and rolls a cigarette. The waitress has finally stopped scrutinizing her like she must be a drug trafficker and now drops off an ashtray when she needs one. Mitzi takes a deep drag and ponders the cultural advantages of a place where you can still smoke and eat at the same time. SHe asks the waitress-- what's her name--
Evelyn? for a side of yogurt and some iceburg lettuce.

She works calmly at first, a chunk of lettuce, a bit of hashbrowns, a thin coating of yogurt-- but soon her hands are moving rapidly and she needs more side orders-- some raisins, a carrot, medium rare ground beef. Evelyn never questions her, happy for the business.

An hour later she requests a single chicken strip, trims it slightly with her fork, and dresses it in the swaddling clothes of yet another napkin. Christ is in the creche, and the nativity, crafted entirely of edibles, foodservice paperproducts and the holy spirit that has taken over Mitzi's body, is complete. She leans back in her chair and gazes out into the night.

On the early evening horizon she sees one headlight lurching forward, curiously.

fingering things out

--luna back---
Mike and Boog wandered off in their delicate wintry way to the House of Beauty and Terror, in hopes of finding that precarious place in between.

meanwhile, the lovelorn sarah dinsmore is driving fiercely in the general direction of arizona. on the cd player, william burroughs rants incoherently. outside, lightening flashes incongruously,beings there are no apparent clouds. sarah tries counting her blessings, but when she gets to
her middle finger, she is stumped. coincidentally, so is her middle finger, thanks to her poor attention to the gun safety training portion of her "oregon outdoorswoman" course. the sad irony of that synchronicity causes her to attempt a familiar obscene gesture at the sky, which obviously falls short of intention, since there's no middle finger.

muttering obscenities, she stomps the footfeed and lurches into the night. there's a diner out there some 80 miles ahead, and she's got a date with destiny.

winters mudfest

--rainie in---
Hitting his forehead with a smart slap "nena's do--should a known that--have that date embroidered on my other shirt" spat out Mike.

"would you care to accompany me back to the mudfest--two winters are better then one and if we run into Sydney we could ask for a double header".

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