Friday, December 14, 2012

in memoriam

mourning for lives barely begun and for lives marked by others' inexplicable actions.

i feel deep grief in my gut, at the corners of my eyes, it feels like a burgeoning rage which i try to suppress. a hollow, guttural moan forms in my gut. grief. beyond the usual question, why?, lie clues: mom was teacher in classroom where shootings occurred. but, not much else. so far.

i'm reminded of alice miller's research: when celebrities kill themselves, the whole world asks "why?" but the world doesn't do more than look at the present: gleaming luxury car, gleaming glamorous lifestyle, gleaming social notoriety, gleaming good looks. what we would discover if we were to turn over the mossy rocks would be a childhood of punishment, neglect, abandonment, witholding, trauma, rejection.

the fact remains: they were small children. what have they to do with another's unhappiness except being in the way?

the fact remains: mom was a teacher in the classroom where the shootings occurred.

lives lost. potential lost. families broken.

tell children the truth and show them where to get help. the truth is that adults don't always know how to do everything right. the smart ones, the good ones, ask for help. before their pain causes others pain.

a quote, Columbine principal: "I think as a society, we need to come together. It has to stop, these senseless deaths."



pray hard and steady.

and let's work on "stop[ping] these senseless deaths."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

bet you didn't know that ...

expertise emerges from roughly 10,000 hours of study

things that appear to be obstacles turn out to be desirable in the long haul

struggle is not optional - it's neurologically required

struggling in certain targeted ways - allowing yourself to make mistakes, to seem stupid - makes you smarter

the zone of proximal development is the difference between what we can do on our own and what we can accomplish with the help of a guide, a teacher, or a mentor

the inner side of human life is the most important starting place for all endeavors

chance favors the prepared mind

the mind can activate the brain's circuitry in ways that change the brain's structural connections

you can use the subjective, inner aspect of reality to alter the objective, physical structure of he brain

the physical and mental sides of reality co-occur in time and comprise the wholeness of reality

any map of a territory is just that: a guide, not a prison

we can learn to loosen the grip of habit and engrained aspects of what we call personality to become more mindful

sometimes we need to name it to tame it

there are neural networks in our guts and hearts and they signal the brain's neural networks through an area called lamina I in the spinal cord

the brain continually monitors the external and internal environment for signs of danger in a process called neuroception

all human beings are hardwired for positive emotions

pleasure is the result of positive emotions rather than just hedonism

positive emotions widen our tolerance, expand our moral compass, and enhance our creativity

while pain, grief, and rage provide short-term benefits, positive emotions provide benefits over the long term

love is the shortest definition of spirituality

society ignores the emotional brain at its peril

our capacity for positive emotion and altruistic action comes from our inarticulate, subcortical, limbic, mammalian brain; these capacities are inarticulate because they are not directly connected to our neocortical language centers

our emotions are controleld by the powerful, nonverbal subcortical brain structures

the brain is designed to regard human attachment as more useful that calculus and emotional intelligence as more adaptive than a high IQ

in humans, love and attachment are auditory and visual; without visual and auditory contact, attachment in humans becomes difficult

love comes in through our eyes and our skin

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

how do you feel ...

 ... about THE HOLIDAYS?

depending on how old you are, you either remember, or you do not, these quintessential things that marked the winter calendar days in red: school winter break; ice skating; baking soft pretzels and sprinkling them with big chunks of salt; practicing carols; buying the tree; watching black-and-white bing crosby - fred astaire movies; of course, it's a wonderful life (also black-and-white); decorating the tree; drinking too much hot chocolate and licking the cookie batter spoons before they were washed; coralling the carolers and caroling everybody you knew, some you didn't; getting your fill of spiced cider and home-baked treats at every house you stopped to carol; going to bed early, saying special prayers, including a prayer for this night to pass quickly; getting up before the crack of dawn to see if Santa passed by your house; going to church, all dressed up, greeting everybody you knew and singing wholeheartedly for the joy of the world.

the red calendar days used to be marked thusly and, by the way, this is still an accurate fact: around the 21st of december, the sun, our source of warmth and light, stops traveling further and further south, as it has for the past several months. it just seems to stop. solstice is the name for this, linking together the latin words for sun, "sol" and standing, "stice." for three days, it rises and sets in the same place, far to the south, until the 25th of december, when it rises a little northward on the horizon.

the beginning of the return of the light.

ancient people tracked this movement, and those who used a calendar based on the sun often suspended time for those three days, holding feasts and religious rituals to honor the return of the light.

wikipedia says that the word holiday is a derivative of "Holy Day." we know this. or, if we don't, we intuit it. wikipedia further explains that it "... gradually evolved to its current form. the word originally referred only to special religious days. in modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school."

i have significant trouble with this derivation. i feel rebellious and nostalgic, desirous for some things to be preserved in their original incarnation. Holy Days, for example.

for if we were to have left these red calendar days ... alone, unmarred by the falsely-created need for "new and improved," "bigger, better, more, modern," we may well have avoided an observable increase in "holiday" crankiness, higher rates of depression, frantic drivers, morose sales persons, post-"holiday" blahs, disappointed children, significant dents in our budgets, inexplicable feelings of malcontent and alienation.

had we preserved the Holy Days, we may well have been warmed simply by a cup of mulled wine, singing old tunes, rejoicing with friends and family, a lit candle, and a string of lights.

what keeps us, collectively, from a return to red-letter Holy Days?

only ourselves.

christmas lights.jpg
Sometimes Christmas is as simple as a string of lights. -- LH

i wish you all a very merry season of peacefulness, joy, warmth, and good cheer!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

stillness and solitude: the art of noticing, assimilating, and/or discarding

a quote, annie dillard:

"One thing struck me as odd and interesting. A gesture drawing took forty-five seconds; a Sustained Study took all morning. From any still-life arrangement or model's pose, the artist could produce either a short study or a long one. Evidently, a given object took no particular amount of time to draw; instead the artist took the time, or didn't take it, at pleasure. And similarly, things themselves possessed no fixed and intrinsic amount of interest; instead things were interesting as long as you had attention to give them. How long does it take to draw a baseball mitt? As much time as you care to give it. Not an infinite amount of time, but more time than you first imagined. For many days, so long as you want to keep drawing that mitt, and studying that mitt, there will always be a new and finer layer of distinctions to draw out and lay in. Your attention discovers - seems thereby to produce - an array of interesting features in any object, like a lamp." 

and this:

"Artists ... noticed the things that engaged the mind's private and idiosyncratic interior, that area where the life of the senses mingles with the life of the spirit: the shattering of light into color, and the way it shades off round a bend. The humble attention painters gave to the shadow of a stalk, or the reflected sheen under a chin,or the lapping layers of strong strokes, included and extended the scientists' vision of each least thing as unendingly interesting. But artists laid down the vision in the form of beauty bare - Man Walking [Giacometti] - radiant and fierce, inexplicable, and without the math."

why these long quotes? because it's annie dillard! (and she is exquisite and surgical in her descriptions.)

these quotes because i think a lot about (and read a lot about) paying attention, focus, technology, time, speed, energy, being human, slowing down. so that we can see. and (re)connect. with ourselves, firstly. then with others. then with the rest of the beautiful, intricate, mysterious world around us.

i recall an art school 3-d (of all classes to mention in this post!) assignment redolent of the dichotomy of beautiful - ugly, natural - man-made. it was chicago in the late 80s, the late days of industrial/goth/post-punk - all genres i was enthralled with/entrenched in at the time. all my peers were, for the most part, devotees of same. the assignment was to bring in 2 objects - one we found beautiful, another we found ugly. absolutely! subjective opinions. yet, lo and behold, as though we had called each other the night before (and this is not very likely to have happened, because art students do not, by definition, communicate as effortlessly and commonly as regular folk), as we reveal our choices sitting around in a circle, the majority of us chose a natural object to represent beauty and a man-made object for its opposite qualifier. leaves vs. plastic. speckled sand vs tupperware. a feather vs a briefcase. 

i know the opposite may hold true; we have evolved to refinement, after all. we are, after all, no longer 18-year-old irascible art students. a paperclip can hold beauty, as can a perfectly-crafted shoe. ma-made can be beautiful.


independently of each other, about 20 sullen 18-year-olds deep in the throes of hardcore music and urban nihilism mutually agreed - in their deepest interior, in their heart of hearts - that natural trumps man-made. that, unencumbered of progress and civilization and cultural relevance, sticks, and stones, and feathers, and leaves are to be qualified as unreservedly beautiful.

annie dillard invites the reader to remember to look. and to be still. and to record. 

whether one becomes an artist or not is moot. what matters is the practice of seeing. and internalizing. perhaps even cataloging. the opposite of these actions is inarticulate chaos.

who cares if the average attention span has decreased by 4 seconds in 12 years?

how can you capture the beauty of a child saying, after observing the reflection of irregular raindrops on a shiny surface, "i wish we could wrap this up and give it as a gift"?

(what) do we stop to see? and record? if for no reason other than to still the cacophony of modernity and (re)connect with our feeling/sensing/perceiving/thinking selves, which always (silently) await our return home?

people want pictures :)


go draw a picture!

but first check this out: 

i had a hunch.

smile. it's just your brain ... on media overload :)

recipe (part of treatment plan): grab a pad of paper, a not-too-sharp HB pencil, put on shoes, jacket, maybe a pair of sunglasses (if you're lucky), go outside, take in a big gulp of (hopefully) fresh air, look ahead, left, right, up, down, trust your instinct, walk in intuited direction, when it feels just right, sit, crouch, stand, or lean, put pencil to paper, and draw that which you are looking at. do this for at least 30 minutes.

report back in a week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

my feelings exactly

in the age of soundbites and market-driven-but-glossy-looking short-term memory amnesia, i abhor redundancy. so i refrain from commenting on this article, because my comments would replicate the author's opinion.


what brand is your therapist?

an old-fashioned, un-sexy shrink

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

heart and soul, part 1

why this title for a psychotherapist's blog? it's so ...

 ... un-clinical

it's so ...

literary. remember philip roth's human stain? that kind of literary.

explanation: because it represents me as a human being and a therapist as much as words can represent a person. 

this moniker for my practice came about in chilly alaska, when i was stretching my brain muscle looking for a soundbite descriptor of me and my approach to health, healing, the human journey, the all of it, the enterprise of being human and counting life's minutes passing by via idiosyncratic laughs, eyelash flutter, gaze, sigh, stretch, lunges toward health, away from isolation, and such ... like. 

these many years since, the moniker has stuck. and it suits me still. even though it's ... un-clinical. exactly and almost for that reason alone: because it is un-clinical.

clinical. let's play with words: sterile. blinding white. cold. smells like rubbing alcohol. cold, again. metal. scratch. cold, once more. forms to be completed. charts to write in. insurance billing. diagnostic codes. formulas. treatment. prescriptions. mottled blue skin. white pills, different sizes.clinical research; statistics. lab. white noise. cold smell. cold walls. cold. cold.

i've never been able to conceptualize the client - therapist relationship as a clinical relationship, even though technically and professionally that's what it is: it's a contractual relationship where information is exchanged for remuneration: my time and information = your payment.

maybe because my "becoming a therapist" was an organic process which, more or less, evolved out of my polyglot wanderings. or maybe because i am personally and politically opposed to the modern constructs of "marketplace" and "critical mass." or simply because this is an all-too human thing, this face-to-face, week-to-week, in-depth check-in, a compassionate and evocative dialogue that i engage in with whomever happens to sit opposite me. it has never escaped me, the nuance and complexity of The Other who sits across from me and discloses. and trusts. lives and breathes.

how can it not be qualified as heart and soul work, i asked myself? i attend to, i comfort, i am entrusted with, i cry with, speak to another's heart with my heart - knowledge base aside; this is a given - am privileged to be with, intimately - if by intimacy, emotional disclosure is understood. it is profound, empathetic, at-times wordless connection.

as opposed to a purely clinical relationship.

it is a relationship that requires presence.

it is an endeavor that requires heart and soul. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


i'm thinking of a lovely woman, a mother four-times over, an artist, a seeker. she has a twinkle in her eye. almost always ready with a deep, flirtatious laugh, sobs and heartache are not unknowns to her. she sat in a puddle of tears on my couch a few weeks back, reeling after a panic attack that a pinging phone set off.

a week later, she's locked in traffic in seattle and a maniac cuts her off, swerves amidst the gridlocked traffic to insinuate his car in front of hers, presumably to reach a destination seconds sooner. rather than later.

being one of her pet peeves, lovely lady client responds with requisite huffing and puffing, clenches fists on steering wheel, grits teeth, probably yells an expletive heard only to herself, and then relaxes all facial and upper-body muscles when she reads the vanity plate:


minutes prior to this, lovely lady client (let's call her magdalene) and i had concluded our first emdr session. the pinging phone's panic attack was processed in session by creating a cognitive schema to be used in high-anxiety moments such as these, these unpredictable moments when, "out of the blue," we get triggered, lose our hard-earned savoir-faire, can't see our way out from under the pile of decades-old detritus, and regress to inchoate emotions and body tremors. this response will not do! this response is simply the response of the helpless, powerless, incapable, inarticulate, unprotected, unwanted child who learned survival lessons in the jungle of the family of origin. how can this response in any way represent us, today? how can it represent an accomplished artist, mother of four, friend, spouse, comrade-in-arms, adult?

the emdr protocol for this schema is known as the calm place, or the safe place, or that time in your life when you felt (fill-in-the-blank). fill-in-the-blank is thera-speak for client-centered, which is thera-speak for "empower client by letting them choose." i prefer the fill-in-the-blank option for a couple of reasons: 1. many people do not have a calm, safe place which they can call to mind, or; 2. many people come from such backgrounds as to make imagining a calm, safe place either impossible or actually unsafe, or; 3. some people would rather draw comfort and strength from imagining themselves in a scenario where they felt what it is that they want to feel about themselves today. examples for number 3: courageous; intelligent; loved; smart; accepted; acknowledged; protected; capable.

i should clarify here that the place chosen can be real or imagined. the brain does not distinguish between real and imagined. hence, memory distortion and subjective perception versus objective reality.

magdalene, clever girl artist that she is, picked a visually rich place, a real place that she visits once in a while, to stand for her calm place. during the emdr processing, she articulated feelings and desires and ephemeral thought fragments that she links with this place, that make this place (this cognitive schema) hers alone. she savored this creative process, at times inaccessible to me because her eyes were closed, relishing what was hers alone. and she named this place. she gave it a one-word handle so that it could be quickly accessed in times of duress, like pinging phones indicating a call from an unwanted caller, or an uncouth punk driver swerving in front of her on the road. she called her special place:


and the therapist, who was not in the car with magdalene, says to her, "i'd like you to say that word to yourself, heaven, and notice how you feel."

and the client reports, "i just let 'er rip! in the car! hootin' and hollerin' and laughing until tears came to my eyes!"

in thera-speak, we say that intermittent positive reinforcement enforces already-existing cognitive schema. real people would call this serendipity. or the universe at play.

there are no accidents. we are, each of us, a part of our own play which unfolds minute by minute, seemingly inconsequential and discrepant, until the fabric of our life is viewed from above and afar. and from the right vantage point, we can see that we create the breadcrumb trail stringing the moments together.
Turn to the right, there's a little white light
Will lead you to my (Blue) Heaven ...

smashing pumpkins, my blue heaven

Thursday, November 15, 2012

too much. is it really multi-dimensional? it's kinda boring

logos and icons and tweets and blurbs and one-liners and sound bites and data mining & visualization and acronyms and abbreviations and elipses and permalinks and catchy phrases / catchy words and data tags and digg and speed and nanobytes and ...

i'm blanking.

i think my brain has shut down. no, better still, it's rebelling (against the lemmings. why are they all jumping to their death?).

this post was inspired by james altucher's recent post on becoming an idea machine. brainy guy, this james. but something's off. so in this post, he rambles coherently about his past failure to bring seemingly-brilliant ideas to fruition due to lack of self-confidence, compares his experiences with people who proceeded to chase their "big idea" through to completion until the achievement of success, and gives a pedantic recipe for success: a list of 10 actions one should undertake to generate ideas,  more or less on a daily basis.

sidenote: talking with an old friend, the characteristic "one-dimensional" was proposed. i admit i hadn't thought about this descriptor in a long time. probably because i have been fortunate to not attract one-dimensional people. until recently. and so, in describing a recent encounter with such a person, a highly successful person who has achieved success because of his hyper-focus directed toward his field of study, this approach or personal evolution - incontestable brilliance in a scientific discipline - is bleeding into his personal life so that a dinner conversation precludes any other subjects for consideration. old friend immediately says, "one-dimensional!" "yes," i say. struck a chord. nice to remember this concept, one-dimensional.

i reflected on james altucher's post. actually, let me back up. i was intrigued and the more i read, i felt my facial geography change to adopt an expression of ... distaste. yes. that's it. it's not disgust. it's not pity. it's ... distaste. the more i continued reading, the more unsettled and uneasy i became. he gives nods - without naming names, probably because he doesn't know their names - to csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow psychology and the ericksonian postulation of self-confidence, but the rest is a melange of altucher's personal formula for what, exactly? how to generate ideas? how to show you're smart? how to increase chances of success? 

and so the lists. pretty rigid lists. kind of statistical. every day, he says, read from at least 4 books with different subject matter; write down 10 ideas, anything, it doesn't matter; surf the internet, says he "I just saw an “infographic”(Infographics are quickly becoming the new blog posts) on how to be creative. It said 'turn off the computer'. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes not. With the entire world of knowledge at our fingertips it sometimes is fun to get sucked down the rabbit hole like Alice and drift around in Wonderland."

he claims to have a strict daily routine, yet he programs in spontaneity just to jumpstart creativity.

and so what i'm thinking is that the chasing of new information, in massive amounts, and creating things (projects, enterprise, etc.) just for financial payoff or manipulating our reality and our organic matter to employ them toward achieving success and popularity (jimmy has thousands of followers) is kind of ... one-dimensional. kind of ... superficial.

agreed, he employs form various disciplines to create something of his own. agreed, he seems to have achieved financial success (multiple times). 

but what's the staying power of all of this bounteous information that he encourages us to ingest? it skims the surface of the thing being considered. if i skim a book or a website, and then move on to another book, website, after 2 hours of this activity, what do i really have? what will i have retained? for good? for real? for significance?

what's the difference between knowledge and information?

how do you measure success?

why learn (about) new things at all?

can we just stop with the obligatory lists, please? this approach is kind of ... one-dimensional. it's kind of ... formulaic.  it posits a life as though it's a tagline. or a logo. or a top-10, best-of ...

a life well-lived is not formulaic. it is haphazardous and spontaneous, fertile and savory and deeply meaning-full. it is natural and organic and raw and fresh and bleeds and laughs deeply. and sighs and pauses for air.

and remembers, 20 years later, those names of writers, thinkers, professors, who have influenced and can quote those introjects because ... they had depth and value. the opposite of ... lists. or tag lines. or sound bites.

my opinion.

but the ancients would back me, i suspect.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

self? or others?



we are often in a bind as to primacy between the two. no? i suspect this conflict is gender- and culture-biased. meaning, seemingly more women find themselves in almost-daily conflict regarding this choice: me or other? also, communitarian societies seem to - while not exhibiting conflict - posit the individual against the social or community good.

and so, the cavalcade of diatribes and epithets directed toward one who chooses self over others goes something like this (i've heard enough, i ought to know): selfish, individualistic, egotistical, egocentric, immature, opportunistic, unevolved. any others?

on the other hand, always - or preponderantly - operating from a place of others-first means what with respect to you? in a utopic society, others care for each other. in such a society, it follows that if i care for the others, the others will (take) care (of) for me.

i have rarely seen this work beautifully. or effortlessly. or altruistically.

i suggest we revisit the altruistic social psych experiments of the 60s to see how things turned out; in sum, they turned out not so favorable for community. also, we might do well to revisit jung's gender polarities, which he placed on a spectrum of care and self-efficacy; male and female, the fulcrum of which is superlative evolution, i.e., androgyny.

"horrid word or concept," you might say to yourself. bah! androgyny. really? do women not like to bang nails into walls? or lift weights at the gym? have i only imagined seeing a man stand in front of an overwhelming array of flowers looking for the perfect bloom for his beloved?

since when does poetry or wine or strength or finesse have a gender?

if i am strong and compassionate and look after myself, am i not in a better capacity to care for others?

i think yes.

i choose myself. first and foremost. and then come the others.

Monday, November 5, 2012

being human

to live; to laugh; to feel; to smile; to think; to receive information through senses, analyze, synthesize, make sense of; to plan; to change plans based on new information;

to connect

to love

to "fall in" love

to connect

80% of the human brain is wired for connection

what does this mean?

let's load the proposition a bit more; a spiritual, existential twist: i recall a beautiful image of dusty rose curtains billowing over the ledge of an open window. the caption assigned to the image by the visual editor: "love can be made in the absence of bodies but not in the absence of souls."

to be or ...

a new acquaintance has built a lifetime's work partially on the well-known cartesian precept: je pens, donc je suis, aka, cogito ergo sum.

alors, je sens, donc je suis, aka, i feel, therefore i am.

what is the capacity that renders one human? what is the missing ingredient that renders a thing not-human? i am, really, less interested in the latter than in the former.

what makes us human? is is the percentage of the brain employed relationally? is it the neocortex? is it the overall wiring of this organism? so then, it is the things that we can do and think and, concomitantly, feel, because of these structures, that make one human? must it have a sprinkle of soul and divinity? pixie dust?

should we become diogenes and relight the lamp in daytime? what truth would we be looking for?


Thursday, October 25, 2012

mommy group

4 young mothers work hard to find time to meet for "a quick cuppa joe."

3 hours later, half-eaten croissants, empty packets of sugar, attendant sprinkles littered onto etched-glass tabletops, mommies reluctantly gather selves, children in attendance, myriad toy pieces, board books, uncapped & (miraculously) capped markers, shove items (less children) into overflowing bags, and walk out into the fresh mid-day autumn air. reluctant to part, good-byes last longer than is comfortable - litany of to-do lists give an unpleasant push from behind - and they resolve (a bit too forcefully) to ... reconvene again.

thank God for small pleasures and warm hearts.

what's next on your to-do list, says one?

which of the multitude of to-do lists are you referring to, replies the chorus?

the one entitled ways to stay sane, says she, punctuating with a laugh?

Monday, October 22, 2012

i am (back where i started)

funny thing about unresolved things; they ... return. humbling, this.

we scramble around, at times more elegantly so, but we still scramble so as to shirk the past, or to engulf the past, or to "do away" with the past. but the past ... is present. (thanks barbara!)

and so, if the past is present, does the present present nothing ... new? except a re-manifestation, albeit changed over the course of time, of the past?

the past is now "memory." memory colors the "present."

i try to taste newness in my mouth or to feel newness enter my body through minuscule pores. but my crepuscular body matter (cells, plasma, networks, energy channels, organic ephemera) enfolds the newness in its comforting, all-too-knowing cotton wool, transforms it into new+old.

recognize this: it is "old stuff."

and, in spite of this: (re)connect.

a strongly research-backed therapeutic modality (emdr) i trained in over the weekend took me back. but ... there is a way forward. the way forward is this: the memory is ... malleable perception.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

i want this, none other

... simple

... clean

... well-made

... well-cut

... well-tailored

... timeless

... open

... subtle

... mysterious

... good movement

... solid closure

... consonant melody

... old and new

... honest

... human-made

(why) is it so hard to find simple? why must we "settle" for "new and improved?"

i think we are being "sold" a falsehood. old and simple is still (mostly) clean and honest; i have a suspicion that new and improved is (almost always) a trojan horse.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

some things you can't take back

first post with an in-your-face mistake: discord between days and dates.

the first page, marked by this. this, a humbling experience for a perfectionist who veers toward obsessive-compulsive behaviors when the stars misalign.



and ... "doing it over." how many chances does life give us to ... do things over? depends, right? i have found that life and time are kind. often kinder than we are to ourselves. in time, over the span of our lives, our mistakes become a part of our lived life; they become as indicative of us - our quirks and journeys and musings and adventures - as our non-mistakes, aka successes.

do we discard something because it is ill-fitting? or do we reconstruct it? do we put it in a special box for to-be-done/addressed-later projects? i do not think we discard mistakes made along the way. i think we live into them, we extract their essence so that we may transform the ill-fitting experience, maybe adorn it with bells and baubles (to make it less jarring, less ... conspicuous, in a i-meant-to-that kind of way).

was it friday, january 22nd or friday, january 23rd? does it truly matter, in retrospect?

not really.

however, all could be else wise. in an anal-retentive, perfectionistic, obsessive-compulsive-tendencies way, it does matter. it matters because it's a piece of cognitive dissonance committed to "paper;" (wish i could take it back!).

the playful, loving part of me says, "quelle domage. i am human, after all." the memory and the feelings are what matters. these will be remembered. but one more important piece will be remembered by me: i have truly made one of my mistakes public! success in owning this, says she with a broad smile!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

looking back as a way of beginning

the apprehension of the blank page.

unencountered since art school, many many years ago.

today, i supposedly help people surmount this predicament.

today, i start something new with something (reassuringly old). my first post on this my blog will be a looking-back at something in the not-too-distant past that may be said to be a bread crumb to today's typed letters you're reading here.

my first missive from far-flung alaska, to loved ones back home. "posted," in a different format then, on friday, january 23, 2010.


friday, january 22, 10am, alaska. rambling impressions. in small 9-seat plane, on way to homer from anchorage. 30degF in homer, with a 45-min flight. besides nicholas, me and the cat, one more passenger, a woman who moved to homer from michigan 8 years ago, and the pilot (young, maybe mid-20s, wears glasses) with his lime green backpack. plane dashboard with 30+ gauges, buttons plainly visible to an itchy nicholas.

mountains on either side. frozen ocean.

"mami, can this plane fly on the water?" "no, not this one either, nicholas." since we landed in anchorage thursday night, nicholas' interest in the ocean has increased manifold since he made the connection that whales and seals live in the water. so, to achieve his end of getting closer to these creatures, it seems to me he wished we were on sea planes. some day.

stretches of dark brown land, forested. thick thick forest. pockets of lakes here and there. sun rising slowly between mountain peaks on left. on the right, the reflection of the sun covering the mountain peaks in a pale rose, accentuating craters and ridges. plane flying low. cannot believe mountains all around. magnificent and solid and beautiful. mountains mountains mountains covered in snow. the rosy glow on the mountains. nicholas finally stopped fidgeting, his nose pressed to the window. looking at the singular peak rising among the mountain chain (mt. mckinley?  have to look at map). amazing and beautiful and ....

flying over a long stretch of land where there is just snow covering the hills, the evergreens - smaller, larger - visible as dots on the snow - smaller, larger.

clouds are low. the sun is rising metallic yellow and cold.

i can see snowmobile tracks below.

plane leaning into landing, thin strip of homer spit visible, here and there small wooden houses scattered on the hills, among the snow and spruce. on the anchorage-homer route, no houses. just wilderness.

in homer, driving to final destination, we make a few errand stops. we see a pheasant slowly crossing the road, tail feathers sticking up a mile long, a young eagle flying low over our car toward the library and, as we climb the hill toward the house, we surprise / are surprised by a young moose feeding on spruce. it stops chewing, looks at us looking at it, turns sround slowly and circles to the other side of the large tree.

by the time we both get dressed to go outside, the sun has gone down almost all the way. lots of snow. lots and lots of snow. beautiful, all of it, so far.

sun rises at about 9am and starts descent at about 4pm. the colors are unbelievable. all i can do is just look with my mouth open. on one side pronounced violet leaning toward purple, while on the other side, where the sun's light still hasn't reached fully, the sky is still a pale, clear, turquoise. the sun sets even more and the colors change again to milky velvety bleu marin, a streak of a demented shade of yellow, fingerlets of saturated rose, and the moon is oh-so-bright. and the snow sparkles.

"if you think the snow sparkles now, wait till the full moon," i'm told.

so much beauty. a friend from here, magnus frangipani, says, "so what do you think of our not-so-subtle beauty?"

end of first day.

wish i could send pictures, but the camera cables are packed in the car, with the important stuff, which will arrive first week in february.

carmen, nicholas, and the cat