a heart lesson: the contradiction of trying to keep quiet about feeling blow away

December 3, 2012

I felt viscerally blown away in my heart one day last week and I came home from work early. I hunkered down in my bedroom. I closed my blinds. I cried. I put on sweatpants. I worked while laying in bed. I took a long nap. When I turned off the my bedside light, I imagined it was snowing outside. Which seemed easy to do, given the quality of the late afternoon light and that whiteness was the only thing I could see around the edge of my blinds. I wanted to feel like there was no reason to leave the house or even get out of bed. Maybe, also I wanted a little to feel like I was back in Indiana. Not that its snowing there right now, but I definitely associate snow with home way more than I do with Portland. While I slept, I had funny dreams; I had strange dreams. I woke up and it was dark. I didn’t feel any less blown away. I wanted to cry some more. I closed my bedroom door because I couldn’t figure out what to say to Remy, who in her kindness and concern would have asked me if I was alright, and in my head it sounded so ridiculous to try and say out loud “I’m literally blown away in my heart and I’m staying in bed until I can figure out how to make that blown away feeling less terrifying.” I read, even though the book I’m reading is heart breaking. I heard Remy come home. I heard her stop for a second and stand outside my door. I imagined she stood there and waited to see if I would say something and went back and forth in her mind about whether or not she should say something. We both stayed quiet. I kept reading. I cried some more. Over the book. Over feeling scared. I texted some with MTB. I didn’t say anything about my day or how I was feeling or that I was hunkered down, riding out a wave of visceral blown awayness. I figured it would pass. I would see her the next day and I would be my normal self. Open. Smiling my ass off. Ecstatic to see her. Laughing about how sometimes when I walk in her house I have to remember to breathe. And sometimes she does too. I didn’t see the big ass contradiction in my approach, i.e. in feeling so very fucking open with MTB, but then deciding to not be open with her about how feeling so very fucking open was making me feel.

Ultimately, I couldn’t make that contradiction work, which was weird for everyone, at least at first, because I had thought I could, but then it just spilled out, all unrehearsed and maybe messy. (Also, I think I am somewhat embarrassed that I am not more skilled at being open hearted and close and trusting.) In reflecting back, it was all a good thing. For me to manage contradictions like that and the dissonance that inevitably results from them, I have to get a little shut down. I have to check out. I have to do some small version of numb me. This can be a valuable set of skills when I have to detach from a messed up situation or not take on someone else’s shit or deal with inherent inequalities and crap we all have to deal with to live in this culture, but its the exact opposite of valuable when I’m wanting to be connected and nurturing and close with someone.


not thinking and here’s a song i like

November 29, 2012

What is it exactly that makes me flash on Indiana? I will be doing something that has nothing obvious to do with home and then, suddenly, in my mind I am walking down Lincoln or 4th street or through the stand of trees behind the law school? I know I’ve posted about this before, but it still gets to me. Is it about my heart? Is about about feeling open or vulnerable or kinda scared because I can’t explain to my mind what’s going on in my heart?  And sometimes my mind gives me shit about that. I know this is not a thinking thing. But some moments, it’s so different to FEEL that this is not a thinking thing. Also, is it a good idea to be listening to Antony and Johnsons at work or to a mix I titled “Sad Hole?”

Typically, I don’t like to quote lyrics from songs or extract them from the music their supposed to go with, because a song is the whole thing, but I’m gonna break my own rule and quote a whole song today. I’m giving myself license to do this because you can listen to the song yourself on the Secretly Canadian site. Also, I can’t help myself from pointing out the Secretly Canadian is run out of Bloomington, my heart’s home, and that makes me happy.

I wish that I could float
Float up from the ground
I will never know
What that’s like

You have a way about you
I wish that I had
Thought it was impossible
To live and love like you

Funny how we all can change
If we just try to
Thought it was impossible
To live and love like you

One day you will be taller
Taller than the sky
Until that day you will be
Here with us below

Magic will do what magic does
Living in your eyes
Do you think someday soon
You will have the time?

I could use another hand
To help pull me through
Someday these hospital stays
Get the best of me

Trying to fix my mind
Still trying to fix my mind
Trying to work it out
I’m still trying to fix my mind

Still trying to fix my mind
I’m still trying to fix my mind

No Comments »

seminal years

November 28, 2012

Lately,  I’ve been looking back a little and thinking of those times in my life when everything changed, like in my mid 30s when I quit my job at the Shelter. I was 34 then. HDG and I went on a big road trip out west right away. Our 2nd one in 6 months. I can still remember driving Kings Canyon and missing a turn off and the nerve wracking climb back up the road that edged the mountain. We both tried so hard not be distracted (aka terrified) by the sheer drop off. I think we smoked a butt load of cigarettes to manage. I went back to school and started dating HL when I was 35, and then graduated from college (finally) and moved to Portland when I was 36.  Somewhere in there I also became friends with Bec and David, Jim and Ned and the whole Carmel crew. I started playing electric guitar and recording with whoever would play with me and reading Foucault and Chomsky and Zinn and listening to Pavement and the Pixies and Liz Phair, Stereolab, the Beach Boys and Johnny Cash. I started riding my bike again. And playing racquetball. I started running. I started having a relationship with my Dad.  I became a vegetarian for  a while. I became friends with a born again Christian dude. I started becoming a programmer, even though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Much of it was unplanned. Much of the rest of it was not planned very far in advance. Maybe the only real plans were: quit the Shelter, go back to school and move to Portland. All big stuff which I let open me up in a way that I had not been open for a long time. Which is why I think that so much from that time, friends, music, riding, reading, has stuck with me, become part of who I am now.

This year has a seminal feeling about it. For totally different reasons than 16 years ago and definitely with less exterior shit going on, at least for now (the future is tough to predict, though). But I am open again in my heart and head and there’s some big and grand stuff going on the inside.

Last night I was walking back to the house after walking MTB out to her car; it was kinda late the sky was bright but you couldn’t see the moon. There was a thin layer of clouds covering the sky, but you knew the moon was right there. You could feel it every where around you.


i am going to tell some secrets, in a good way

November 18, 2012

Last night I had drinks with MTB and some of her friends. They talked a lot about running and their magical and intense experience of running Hood to Coast together. It made  me grateful for every intense and magical experience I’ve had with other people that I cannot fully articulate to everyone else who did not experience it. Its a lucky thing to have those experiences. Deeply alive lucky. Also, listening to them talk about running  made me secretly miss running. A lot, weirdly. Especially the parts where you just endure hard shit you didn’t think you could endure.

There are secret Hoosier portals in Portland. Most of them are temporary, like what can happen when I make meat loaf and mashed potatoes or watch an IU basketball game with someone who is as into it as I am. And then there is this diner on Foster and 52nd. The name I’m keeping a secret to myself for now, although A.M. has been clued in, but she is a midwesterner and a good friend so she got it right away. Going there is like going to this diner on the way to the Viaduct in Greene County. Except no one in Portland has an accent.

I have been sleeping better. Not every night. But I have noticed a number of nights over the last couple weeks where I’m waking up only once in the middle of the night and usually that’s to take a piss. I’ve not told anyone about the sleeping, until right now. It feels sweet and precious and I think potentially it means something about trust and comfort and having a team or being on a team . . . for lack of a better phrase, I’ve recently been referring to it, at least when I talk to Remy, as heart shit; on occasion I might say serious heart shit.

I have been feeling very Indiana lately. Thinking about home. Having lots of random flash backs. Wearing an unironic baseball hat. Trying to hear if I really do have an accent. For most most folks that means nothing, by “that” I mean, “Indiana.”  Lots of  people I know have never even thought of Indiana and could not pick it out on a map. When I say Indiana to them, its  like inserting a big “blank”  or yawn in the conversation. There is nothing to say. Indiana is no where. I used to have a chip on my shoulder about this phenomenon, which was a super unpleasant experience for everyone. But then I went on this big re-remembering  journey, both an interior journey, but also I traveled home and everything I thought and felt was true. Which was amazing. So now, its just my secret. Yep. The secret heartland in my heart.


its not like i can keep this to myself

November 16, 2012

Has anyone else noticed? That’s what I wonder. Have I mentioned chakras to other people? Its possible. At the very least, I would guess that one of my work colleagues must have seen me doing a quick Google search on just where exactly the heart chakra is located. I wonder if any of them have noticed me texting more? Or how loudly I sometimes seem to sigh.

I certainly been giving out a lot  more big hugs and arm squeezes to people I have affection for. I would think some friend must have noted that, in addition to how much more attentive I am when and if they talk astrology stuff. Also, that I am using more exclamation points in texts and chats and emails. How could that not jump out at anyone who texts, chats or emails with me? The things that really first got my attention were this new chuckle I’ve picked up and how the easily the phrase “shit storm” comes to mind to say out loud and that when something goes right, I seem inclined to pump my fists in the air.

No Comments »

biking and committment and willingness and legs

November 15, 2012

Late night bike ride last night home from J’s. Amazingly dry, which was awesome, but the kind of cold that makes me shiver. Luckily, I had my glove liners and shoe covers with me. Learning curve lesson learned years ago: the right gear makes a big difference. Not that I want to talk about gear. For me, gear is the means to an end, which is why I like talking with gear heads, because I can glean valuable information on the best “means,” even if ultimately we are not really talking about the same thing. Anyway, I am especially psyched about riding last night because I really didn’t want to do it. So much so, that when I was riding home from work, I was conjuring up a list of all the reasons why I should drive my car to J’s: it was dark; I had some stomach cramps from gas; I had already ridden for the day via my commute to work; I had to go by the liquor store; it would take me at least 40 minutes to get to J’s and 40 to get home and I had a bunch of shit to do, like fill up the compost/yard waste bin and switch the outlet over for my new dryer and lift weights. It was a tempting list and yet, somehow when 6:30 rolled around I was in my saddle and pedaling down my street. I don’t know if that’s because I got all my shit done or it wasn’t raining or I thought of the list I made myself and posted about last month. I’d like to think it was about how I’m willing to experiment with committing to something. And how I want to concretely express my gratitude for things like the weather and my awesome bike and my body on my bike. I don’t think of myself as a bike rider, as much as someone who is willing to ride. So also, maybe I’m experimenting with willingness. Sometimes, I silently chant a mantra to myself when I ride, especially uphill. It goes: lungs, heart, legs, yes. And I try to picture each thing and how grateful I am for it’s ability to endure my on and off poor treatment and neglect. I used to do chant that all the time. Less now, but I pulled it out the other night for a long hill climb and really just loved my legs for a second.

I can see that for me, biking is biking, and also that biking is means to an bigger ends, which is probably not something that should be called an “ends.”


things like feet and and low action

November 12, 2012

Rainy walk in the dark tonight. I had to get some kind of exercise and that was all I could manage. No complaints, though; my day slipped away from me in the nicest way: hanging out with AG, then listening to music and reading. I had planned to ride my bike this morning to meet AG for breakfast, but my plans got derailed last night by the drawing of 12 point buck, talking about guitars, the story of Selena and two pair of feet that look remarkably similar. The feet were a surprise, a sweet one, and unexpected, except that everything that’s happened since September 6th has been just like that. Wonderful and unexpected. And sometimes it seems that the big lesson of these last several months has just been to go on instinct and say “yes.”  Tuck my tie in boots and leave my car parked down the street. This is definitely not a thinking thing.


kind of a mix of this and that

November 2, 2012

The sky looks magical. I am sitting on the floor in my bedroom and looking out my window at the the very thinnest clouds and they can’t contain the moon, and unlike last night, they’re not in a rush. I should be in bed. I”m tired. But sometimes I like to capture these sleepy minutes, when I feel looser and less worried if I am saying things right.

I went out to see a show tonight and I accidentally parked by the place of my first date with MTB. It was hard not to get caught up remembering riding my bike up to Biwa and seeing her sitting in the little window alcove and how I hadn’t been nervous until right that moment, so then how I just concentrated on trying to keep my shit together. locking up my bike, thinking of what to talk about, trying to be cool with the fact that the date was actually happening. It all seemed so sweet and kinda . . . well . . . the nervous part was sweet.

Anyway, seems like it’s been forever since I’ve gone to see a show. The opening band looked like it had been transported directly from the 70s, circa Allman Brothers, Don Henley and Rush and sounded like an Eagles-Nirvana mash up. They had a few good moments and they definitely put it all out there for the 25 people standing around and vaguely paying attention to them. The second band seemed like something from an episode of Portlandia. One guy looked like a hobbit, another looked like a roadie for Tom Petty, another looked outdoorsy-gay, another had the short hair-big beard thing and the drummer was a  woman dressed circa late 80s. They had some moments too and did a pretty good Tom Petty cover, which seemed fitting because of the one guy. Sera Cahoone rocked it in her country style, sad hole way. Also, her band was soooo good with this one guy totally rocking a lap steel guitar. I really hope Sera is queer. That would be excellent. She seems like it to me but explaining why that is would lapse into stereotypes.

Also, I got completely gender checked in the bathroom at the Doug Fir. I opened the door to a women entering at the same time I was leaving and she stopped and looked at me and then up at the sign on the door and then back at me and then said “Am I in the right bathroom?” And I said, “I don’t know but I’m the right person.”

Wow, the moon got bright all of the sudden. I wish I could be out at Sauvie Island or something, staring at the moon from a back porch or a barn or really, I’d just take  pulling my car over on a little stretch of empty road. Maybe I will will try to go to sleep with the blinds up. Fool myself into being somewhere I am not. At least not physically.

No Comments »

tram magic

October 31, 2012

It is so dark now when I get to work. Coming over the the Hawthorne bridge I have to circle around and ride down under it and I remind myself to look up so I can take in how lovely the bridge is all lit up by the lights on its side. These days, when I get on the tram and look out and everything is dotted with lights — traffic and office buildings and streets and the glass towers that sit at the bottom of the south waterfront. When it’s raining and the tram is fogged up on the inside and covered with big rain drops on the outside, the view is like a water color painting. But on a day like today, when I got lucky enough to hit the half hour dry spell on my ride in, it was just beautifully dark and clear and the way things glimmered felt special.

When I get on the tram, I always look east to see what, if any part, of sunrise I can make out. Today, there was a strip of cloud break and the slightest sliver of pink was just barely visible in that ragged clear stripe. It looked tender and hopeful and kind of magical too. And ever since I saw that, my heart has been feeling so much tenderness that I can’t put it too words.


openess and thinking of the hurricane

October 31, 2012

I continue to feel like I’m riding like the wind on my bike. It is amazing and I am the tiniest bit less angry about the cab that cut me off this morning and the the guy who opened his car door as I was riding by.

Maybe I am done with sad songs for a little bit (or the sad hole as MTB says, which I am going to modify to be the sad sound hole) as a way to crack my heart open. Hmm . . . interesting?! This heart opening has been all instinct and gut. And now I am thinking that maybe it’s actually just ok to be a little bit open, like I am, because I feel safe. I don’t feel like I’m gonna get doored at any minute. Whoa! I just ran across this song called “Hello My Old Heart.” Serendipity?!

I have been thinking of my east coast friends, following their posts on FB and texting. It is hard to imagine a big chunk of Manhattan without power. Hard to imagine the flooding too and other destruction too, all over the east coast. I think of riding the train from NYC to DC and am reminded of the extraordinary number of people living in the region and that my heart goes out to the lots and lots and lots of people who enduring some serious shit.

No Comments »