Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Tags: Monday Morning
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Well, I have to say that all in all it turned out to be a good weekend. One of the things I wanted to do this weekend was push myself physically to the point where I was tired. I needed a good externally focused weekend of physical activity and so that was what I crafted with a combination of external activities and long fast walks in the morning and evening.
Today, I went for a long walk this morning, over along a park the runs the length of Lawrence Expressway from Westgate down to I-280. The park itself is about a mile away from the apartment and about two miles long, the walk was a good brisk four miles in the still hours of the morning. It was a beautiful morning - brisk and cool, bright and clear. I was bemused most of the morning as I walked because of the song that was playing in my head when I woke up - "The Devil Inside". It was mostly the chorus that was running through my brain.
I got home and fired up a pot of coffee and spend the morning listening to music and playing online. I watched the Dallas v. Redskins game, I watched "Reign of Fire", and the I went out with friends to see a movie.
We saw the new Spike Lee directed movie - "Miracle at St. Anna" and I have to say - I recommend it. It is a good and engrossing tale. It is over two and a half hours long and I never checked my watch once during the course of the movie. I got drawn into the story and the characters. After the movie we stopped and had dinner at Holden's - I kept it simple, a bowl of cream of chicken soup and a slice of Boston cream pie, washed down with coke.
From there, I drifted home - and am now watching the tail end of Reign of Fire again. Hmm, do you think that perhaps I like the movie? My plan tonight is to watch a little T.V., unwind, maybe write a little, maybe play online a little, hopefully talk to a friend. A long hot bath might be in order as well.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I thought I would add one last entry before I call it a night...
There are times with the people in your life when you realize there is almost nothing you can do for them - except hold them close in your heart, except keep them near in your thoughts, except bow your head in prayer.
Life is a great journey. It is the sweep of powerful and unseen currents. It is the rustle of winds in a great forest. It is the stillness of stone. It is the coolness of a hidden spring. It is full, in equal parts, of great joy and great sadness. It is...simply...what it is.
Some months ago I wrote of lighting a candle for absent friends, to guide them on their journey. Candles are powerful things. Simple and elegant. Like hope. Like faith. Like love. Like life.
It is the end of a good day. I am sitting in the living room half-watching "Red Dawn" (Toshiro Mifune, Charles Bronson). We had a good time at the Renaissance Faire though it got a little hot and dusty (it was about ninety five and I am still washing the dust out of my eyes - AFTER - a hot shower).
I thought I would share a couple of the images before I call it a night and drop into a deep sleep.
Today's plan - the Northern California Renaissance Faire. Breakfast is done, coffee is ingested, camera is charged and I am off to enjoy the day. Hope you are having a good day.
Friday, September 26, 2008
As I was driving over to Holden's in Saratoga to meet friends for dinner, I was contemplating a journal entry today. I was trying to think of how to sum up the day. Inspired by the CD that was playing, I decided that it was very much an Elvis Costello day. Simple, whimsical, but with layers of complexity.
I slept in and then, on waking, lingered over a novel. (I am still reading the "Machiavelli Covenant", I have been enjoying it so much that I am forcing myself to read it two or three chapters at a time to make it last. That is a the sign of a good book.) I cooked a cheese omelet for breakfast, washed into down with white grapefruit juice and coffee. I fired up the stereo and then spent most of the day either playing on the computer, watching movies, reading, and listening to the stereo. I went out and took a rambling walk. Late in the afternoon I took a long, slow, relaxing hot bath. Then the dinner I mentioned above.
About midway through the afternoon I was listening to internet radio and a song came on that I have not heard in a long time - Jackson Browne, Tender is the Night. I had to get up and dance around the living room in the golden sunlight. There was a lot of purity in that moment. Shortly thereafter I heard from a dear friend of mine that I had been worrying about, so that was a good touch point. All in all it was simply a great day.
I am going to go out for another walk here shortly, probably a quick two and a half miles - about fifty minutes or so. Tomorrow's plan is to go to the Rennaissance Faire down at Casa De Fruta and the weather is supposed to be very good, so I am definitely looking forward to that. I just happened to glance at the wall and there is a great big wood spider making his way toward the ceiling line. I am keeping a wary eye on him, but essentially leaving him alone. Though wood spiders do not bite, having one fall on you unexpectedly would cause a thrill!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I reference two songs with lyrics in the previous entry and it dawns on me that some people might not have ever heard either song, so here are a pair of links to YouTube versions...
Ghost - Indigo Girls
I'm The Only One - Melissa Etheridge
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sometimes people get inside of you.
Once they are there they wander around and poke at things.
The Indigo Girls have a great song that resonates with me, especially with my tendency to refer to memories and thoughts as ghosts and demons. The name of the song is…
And there's not enough room in this world for my pain
Signals cross and love gets lost and time passed makes it plain
Of all my demon spirits I need you the most
I'm in love with your ghost
I'm in love with your ghost
Dark and dangerous like a secret that gets whispered in a hush
When I wake the things I dreamt about you last night make me blush
When you kiss me like a lover, then you sting me like a viper
I go follow to the river, play your memory like the piper
And I feel it like a sickness, how this love is killing me
But I'd walk into the fingers of your fire willingly
And dance the edge of sanity, I've never been this close
In love with your ghost
On a personal level this song is powerful enough to make me weep. There is a school of thought that says we should let go of past memories and events and focus in the now. There is a lot of merit to this, but…
I don't want to. There is a simple reason, for me, for that. Many years ago, when I was in a hard and dark place, I drew a lot of comfort from a dead Roman - Marcus Aurelius. "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius" came across my path and I remember spending quiet hours reading it. It played a profound role in shaping me…it played a powerful role in helping me move through that dark place, and I freely admit that Marcus Aurelius is often a constant companion in my thoughts.
He said (and I will paraphrase) that Emperors or slaves, we will all die and in a generation or two we will be forgotten. Our children will remember us. Our grandchildren might remember us. But to our great grand children and other descendents we will be a name, maybe a tale, nothing more. In time, depending on how we lead our lives, depending on the choices we make in this life, our tales will either resonate and be retold, or they will fade and be forgotten. As long as our names and tales are remembered - we are not dead.
I am a story teller. Some of the stories I tell are true. Some of them are mostly true. Some of them have a grain of truth. Some of them have an emotional core that is true. Each time I tell those tales the people who inhabited them, the people who shared those moments in time, those moments of glory and terror, those moments of bravery and cowardice, those moments of love and hate, those moments of hope and despair - they are remembered.
If I let them go, if I let the memories go, if I let the stories go - I let them go. And I love them to much to let them go. I refuse. I won't do it. I will laugh and cry and joke and be somber and tell those tales and honor them - ghosts and demons one and all.
Demons only hurt us become we once loved them or they once loved us. Ghosts haunt us because we loved them or they loved us. If our love is such that we can let it go - just because it makes us uncomfortable, just because it tangles us in thorns, just because it is inconvenient - then what was the value of that love?
We should be haunted by our ghosts. We should wrestle with our demons. Then they become the familiar landmarks of the topography of our lives. They wait for us like a dangerous corner on a rain slicked road in the dark of the night. If we deny them they come out of no where. But if we acknowledge them we know they are coming. Knowing they are there, knowing they are coming, make them less dangerous - makes us less dangerous as well.
Let me close out this particular entry with the one last thought - and some lyrics from another great song…
It is good to be haunted by ghosts and demons. That is how we know we are alive, how we know we are loved, how we know that, even for a brief and shining moment, we matter.
I'm The Only One
Please baby can't you see
I'm trying to explain
I've been here before and I'm locking the door
And I'm not going back again
Her eyes and arms and skin won't make
It go away
You'll wake up tomorrow and wrestle the sorrow
That holds you down today
Go on and hold her till the screaming is gone
Go on believe her when she tells you
But I'm the only one
Who'll walk across the fire for you
I'm the only one
Who'll drown in my desire for you
It's only fear that makes you run
The demons that you're hiding from
When all your promises are gone
I'm the only one
Monday, September 22, 2008
Life is shaped by very small things. I have long been fascinated by the huge impact small choices, small decisions, and small actions have on us. Sometimes, the difference between this life and a radically different one is a matter of one simple choice.
As I was sitting here writing this I recalled one of the instances in my life where that was very true. It was the early eighties, while I was a cop. I responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at a residence inhabited by "frequent flyers". In any jurisdiction there are always places where a cop constantly goes. You get to know the people who live there, what their challenges are, and what their problems are.
It was a warm summer afternoon and I pulled up in front of the house, got out of my squad car and starting walking up the sidewalk. The owners of the house came out to meet me and told me XXXXX had been there moments ago, drunk, raising Cain and had taken off out the back door when I arrived. I thanked them and made a decision.
It was a simple decision. I could go north around the house. I could go south around the house. I started to the south and then changed my mind and went to the north. I changed my mind for a very simple reason. It was a hot day and there was a gusty wind blowing from the south, kicking up dust, which was getting in my eyes. A gust of wind changed my direction.
I went around the corner to the north and walked through the yard there. When I reached the next corner that opened into the back yard, I paused for a moment and peeked around the corner. I could see over the metal trash cans down along the back of the house.
XXXXX was at the south corner of the house, kneeling, peeking around the corner. He was holding a rifle and waiting. He was waiting for me to walk around that south corner. I drew my pistol and covered him and called out for him to freeze, drop the rifle, etc. He cooperated on all counts and ended up in jail for a stretch. He never killed me and I never killed him, so it all worked out well.
But, in the simple nature of the world, a gust of wind blowing dust in my eyes turned me north instead of south. That gust of wind turned me so that I walked up behind him instead of in front of him and changed the course of both of our lives in the literal blink of an eye. He later stole a check, forged it, and set off a cascade of events that ending with him in prison for beating a man with an iron pipe. I have no idea what happened to him, having lost contact many years ago. I hope he eventually got his life together and found some happiness. I kind of doubt it.
That is one of the more dramatic examples of how small decisions set the course of our lives. I never again walked around a blind corner without looking first - a trait that kept me out of harms way more than once. To this day I almost subconsciously approach corners and blind spots and either pause a moment to look, or cross the corner poised to move very quickly backwards.
There are other examples of course and most of them are no where near as dramatic and many of them are beneficial things - but, this particular tale vividly demonstrates the power of small decisions - and you may remember that and as you go through your life and hit one of those many small decision points - and take that second or two to recognize the power of them, and so make a better choice.
I am one of those people who always talks to strangers. I have had some very cool experiences over the years that flowed out of that simple thing. Again, the vast majority of them have been positive and enriching and fulfilling experiences. A few have not turned out well, but not enough to make me change my ways. I imagine the wrong experience in talking to strangers could turn a person against it in the blink of an eye, so I guess I am thankful I have never had that particular wrong experience.
My point it (as I wander down memory lane) - just be simply conscious of the effect of small things in your life and if you want to change your life focus on those moments, on those small moments, when everything hangs in the balance and the choice you make ripples through the years. It is…kind of cool.
Monday morning and I am staggering around the house trying to convince myself that I am awake and the week is starting, whether I want it to or not! I woke this morning with a pair of dream images - actually, a dream within a dream. I have no idea what the significance is, but I thought I would tell you about it.
I dreamt that I was visiting the web site of a friend of mine and that she had prominently posted a message that said "I want to thank all of you in advance for NOT writing me short little e-mail notes." She had then proceeded to list a series of email addresses that had NOT written her short e-mail notes. Each e-mail address was a link to some very beautifully written letters.
I dreamt I was reading some of the things other people had written when I woke from that particular dream to find I was laying in my bed watching the sun flood the room and on the small desk near my bed was a big, fresh, golden round loaf of bread. It the dream I reached out and touched it and felt the warmth and softness of the bread.
Then I woke from that dream as well. It has been a while since I have had one of the complex dreams within a dream, so I thought that was pretty cool.
Fall is definitely in the air here this morning. I had to get up and pad around the house and close the windows as I waited for the coffee to brew. Not cold, but brisk enough.
I had a very good weekend - I managed to accomplish everything I needed to, many of the things I wanted to, and relax. Sunday was a long morning stroll, a visit with a stranger (from the West Indies) at the coffee shop, and time spent with some of the folks near and dear to me, both virtually and in real life. I looked at some very cool art work from one friend and some very cool pictures from another. There are truly some talented people online - talented and creative. I enjoyed my big screen TV (through the course of the day I watched "The Fifth Element", the Dallas Cowboys v. The Green Bay Packers, and then the Emmy Awards). All in all it was a very relaxing day.
If I were to characterize the weekend I had I would call it blessedly ordinary.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
In eastern Laio a girl was waiting, a girl of fifteen years. Deft with guitar, expert in dance and song. She seems to be fluting, even now, a reed song of home, filling every soldier's eyes with homesick tears.
"An Old Air", Li Qi,
Sent via BlackBerry by AT
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Dawn is still. The open window brings only the soft hushed sound of a tree swaying back and forth. The air is crisp and cool, verging on cold, and we linger for a moment inside of the warm cocoon of the flannel sheets and comforter. There is a peculiar light filling the room, a grayish green, the color of fog and diluted sunlight flowing through the tree outside. It is the color of other worlds.
It is the color of other lives.
It is the color of a bonfire day. There are times when we wake and in the act of waking we are stripped of the "all that we are" and are pure. From within that purity we can see the world that surrounds us in a thousand intimate details.
We know, instinctively, which of those details are true and which are not. We know which of them are pure and which are not. We know what of them matter and which do not. We know all these things in a moment. We can see in intricate details the web of our lives, the web of our truths and our lies.
In that moment of waking, in that moment of complete clarity, looking at our world through the prism of other worlds and other lives, we know what matters. In that moment we know the meaning and value of our bonfire days. Those days when we take all the baggage we carry, all of the false things and false gods and false hopes and false desires, and we pile them in the middle of the street and burn them. Burn them all and walk away from them as pure as we can possibly be.
That is a bonfire day. They are rare. There are a thousand reasons we do not strike that match. The principle one, the one that stays our hand again and again and again is this. We are human. We are not pure. We are not true. We are simply what we are. Wrapped inside of us is the pure and the impure, the true and the not true. It is simply an illusion. We are tangled and tumbled in our lives. We might dream of serenity, of peace, of perfection - but it is just a dream.
We move through the bonfire day back into "the world that is" and we tumble and get tangled and that is a good thing. That is what we were meant to do. That is who we are. We are creatures of joy and sorrow. We are creatures of desire and denial. We are these wonderful creatures that do our best to just make do. Somewhere inside of all that, all the tumbling and tangling, we have these spectacular and magical moments that make it all worth while.
We endure the suffering and indignities of life so that we can experience those fleeting moments of sublime grace, where ever we find them. So we may dream of bonfire days but in the end we warm ourselves by familiar fires and enjoy a cup of coffee. This is good thing. That is the value of a bonfire day, to remind us that a familiar fire and a cup of coffee and the company of friends is a good thing.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I've a few minutes before taking off for dinner, meeting some friends at Holden's on Saratoga Avenue (about five minutes from my apartment). Today was much better than yesterday. The morning was basically non-productive, consumed in meetings, but the afternoon was much nicer. I managed to get several things done so now I can confidentally say that I am back to where I was last Friday!
I love the corporate world. I often to refer to it as Cloud Cuckoo Land. Things make their own strange sense then - or they do not make any sense at all. One of the things that has always astounded me is the amount of time spent in meetings talking about the things that we should be doing - rather than just simply doing them. Folks tend to counter with "Rod, meetings are doing things...". Hahaha - Cloud Cuckoo Land.
I have been feeling a creative urge the last couple of days so I am hoping that tonight will be productive, writing wise. I still have a ton of work to do tonight though, so what I am going to do is - have dinner - and then decide if I am going to work tonight or not. Mood is a fickle thing. Some nights I am very productive and have no problem working late into the evening. Other nights I might connect virtually and struggle and never really accomplish anything except churn and burn. And, on still other nights, I might just - not bother. Tonight, I think it can go direction at all.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Well, that was a fun day. Fortunately, the afternoon did manage to redeem itself. Without the burden of meetings I managed to get a few things accomplished. Not as much as I would have liked, but enough - just enough, that I can move into tomorrow.
I worked about twelve hours then called it a day, mindful of the shoulder/back problem that was the focal of my world a few weeks ago. I made sure that I did not sit too long, made sure I did not hold the same position to long, made sure I frequently got up and moved about. Then, I stopped at the twelve hour mark.
Dinner was chicken, rice, green beans - followed by a desert of Boston cream pie and vanilla ice cream and a tall cold glass of milk. Tomorrow is another day. Time to start over and run through the day.
Even in a day like today there are always bright moments that can be savored. I savored a few. Dinner and desert with my nephew. Email from friends. Incidental conversations in the hall way. The laughter of my co-workers. And tomorrow is another day.
Slam! Welcome to Monday. After a lazy weekend I slammed into Monday morning. I woke with a stomach ache (blame last nights chili dog for that). I woke because a phone call pulled me into an early meeting that lasted three hours. I scooted into the office when it ended. I dropped into a one hour meeting that...accomplished nothing. I noticed I was wearing mismatched socks. I had one more meeting where the tension was so thick it was gravy.
Slam! Whew. The bright spot - a series of alternatingly funny, human, and incisive texts from a friend. Then lunch. Chicken "what the heck is in this soup"? Cheese (because it is really hard to mess up a piece of cheese). Venga Rehydrate. Cause it's good for me. The day is three quarters done and I've accomplished nothing. Nothing. No meetings this afternoon, so I might actually get something done. Maybe. So, it is safe to say - Monday is a bad monkey day and there are no cookies. Time to hit the reboot button.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I woke this morning with three particularly strong dream images.
The first image was alternating black and white triangles.
The second image was of buying blues shoes for a ballerina.
The third image was of a book that had a title or author name with a prominent R.
There was no narrative associated with the dream, merely a succession of remembered dream images.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I can smell her scent faintly
A mist of magnolia on a sultry night
Her hands are small and soft and light
She unbuttons my shirt
She pulls it open at the collar
Then the rattle of the brush
Spinning inside of the cup
I close my eyes and try to relax
Her hands spread the shaving lather
Over my cheeks my chin my throat
Her finger tips trace the topography
The curve of the cheek
The angle of the chin
The edges of the mouth
She steps back and I hear
That whisper of steel on strop
A subtle burring sound again and again
Then she steps close
I feel her heat through my skin
And then she caresses me
With a cut throat razor
An expert at her craft she
Shaves away the shadow of the day
Lays bare the skin beneath it
Until I am as naked as the boy I was
A long time ago
I came to the realization a few minutes ago that I am moving rather rapidly through a strange day. It started at about 4:00 AM when a bright flash and a sharp report woke me. It was like a strobe light going off on the street outside. A few seconds later there was a whole string of reports and strobe like flashes. I got up and slipped on a pair of jeans and walked out on the balcony. A transformer a block away, behind the complex, gave quite an impressive fireworks display as it blew out. A few moments later the familiar sound of fire trucks filed the air.
It was an early wake-up, so I padded back into the bedroom and laid down to pull out another hour or so of sleep. When I rewoke, I got ready to go to work - and my Blackberry rang - it was work, asking me to attend an early morning east coast time. I fired up the computer and logged into the meeting. Which was followed by another meeting. I glanced at the calendar, ran through the shower, dressed and headed off to the office.
I stopped at the local coffee shop, only to find myself in line behind about ten people off a tour bus. I debated skipping my morning coffee - but I always weigh the time factor. I waited for my coffee. I climbed back into the car, fired up the Pogues, and started to work. It was a relatively smooth commute and I was halfway there and I realized...
I had left my employee badge at home. We use RFID badges and proximity readers to open doors and move about on the plant. Without your badge, you get a paper badge - which means anytime you go anywhere someone else has to go with you to open the doors, or you have to stand at the door and wait for someone to show up - and unfortunately that includes such simply things as going to the bathroom or going to the breakroom. A day without your badge is highly inconvenient.
So, I looked at my watch to estimate how big of a time window I had - I was right on the threshold. I could go into the office, go through the visitor center and get a temporary badge, or turn around and go home and pick up my badge and take another meeting from home, then try to go into the office. I decided to turn around and go home and get my badge.
I got home, picked up my badge, put it on and then logged into my computer from home and went to my next teleconference - which spilled into another teleconference - which spilled into another teleconference...
So it is chasing 10:30 AM Pacific Time. I've been working since 6:30 AM and have been to five teleconferences (with three more to go), so I gave up. It is nice to have the option to work virtually, and that is what I am going to do for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
craving the feel of cool sheets on warm skin in the dark night
craving the first glimpse of dawn soft and golden
craving steaming hot water from the shower head
craving the scent of soap and shampoo
craving the slide of a warm fluffy towel
craving the feel of a clean t-shirt
craving the comfort of an old pair of jeans
craving barefeet on a hardwood floor
craving hot strong black coffee in a mug
craving fresh picked blackberries popping on the tongue
craving a voice raised in song wrapped in a guitar
craving a blue sky and a bright sun warming the skin
craving the glide and taste of soft lips
craving the breath of a whisper in the shell of an ear