Friday, December 09, 2005

buddhist nun ringing bell


buddhist nun ringing bell
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
she calls me after midnight to give me a pep talk. she tells me that i've never let her down, that i was a good husband and always a good provider. she tells me that it was never about me, it was about her and i had no control in it. the irony of it, almost five years after the fact. how am i supposed to respond? she tells me that her boyfriend has the utmost respect of me. how am i supposed to respond to that? is this some kind of weird closure? she tells me that it is up to me to get up and go, that i've not lost anything. if anything, it has just been dormant. what the hell?

it seems trite but it is appropriate:

"Up, down, turn around; please don't let me hit the ground
Tonight I think I'll walk alone; find my soul as I go home

Oh it's the last time, oh it's the last time

Each way I turn
I know I'll always try
To break the circle
That has been placed round me..."
--Moby

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Inferno: Canto I

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.

--Dante

Thursday, December 01, 2005

places

why is it that you have such a hard time getting angry with the people you love?

why can't you simply say things like "you lied to me," "you really didn't mean that," etc...
we cant't accuse those we love so easily huh? well fuck me!

even after years and the facts are clear, you can't even find the strength to make the accusation. doesn't that just drive you penguins? well i think it turns me into an anchovy to be a quick snack for some tuna. i'm going to turn into fish fodder in monterey bay. it will be my way of being close with nature.

i can't even run. there is nowhere to go lest i opt for the artic or the serengeti. i think the jackals would like me better or perhaps the walruses. i belong in extremes. these middle grounds have nothing for me nor do they want me here. i am a danger to all.

rain

today the skies agreed with my mood. steely blue grey with streaks of rain. now only if i were in scotland.

taste

moments exist between the lines that we speak
tonight it is the place where i find myself

pointing out the obvious is fruitless
and placing blame brings no resolution

so i sit in the wind and wait for rain
wait for something to wash away this grime

knowing that family is not something
one gets out of, not cleanly at least

it is the plague of genealogy
the fascination of one looking for roots

our roots may be common but they bear
very different fruits indifferent to taste

so is my taste to change?
how does one tell one's heart to change in taste?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

tonight tonight

tonight i am alone, not just alone but lonely. i feel far away from all that mean anything to me. my only comfort is the sound of music in a language that i don't fully understand. it is the language of my birthplace but my relationship with it is touch and go. it may be a sign that i need to go home.

the songs stir something inside of me but i can't quite put my finger on it. they leave me with a general impression of being misplaced. probably accurate.

in this state, i draw images. i draw and draw, not knowing where these images, these faces are from but i keep on drawing. drawing helps keep me from the things i should not be dwelling on. it is the only thing that works. there are strange faces and strange animals in this realm but they are helping to keep my mind on track. well, on track for what i can't say but it is better than losing my mind!

so the graphite goes to paper and forms appear, i wish life could be so simple...

restless in suburbia

ten things i'd rather be doing:

1. hanging by two fingers on a rock at joshua tree

2. sitting at a cafe eating raw oysters in the 6th arrondissement in paris

3. taking a road trip on the alaskan highway

4. fishing for trout in the eastern sierras

5. getting lost in mid-town manhattan

6. sitting atop a staircase at angkor wat, cambodia watching the sunset

7. talking to strangers in some dive in copan, honduras

8. quiet time inside of the cathedral at st. bertrand de comminges

9. watching the stray cats at the old roman coliseum at arles

10. eating a crepe from the street vendor on rue cler

i think there is wanderlust building up in me...

on my mind today

today, this poem rings in my head like a litany. i don't know why, perhaps it is cyniscism but i don't really believe there is such a clean answer or reason.


The Shortest Distance
by Erin Lambert

Perhaps the dead long for light, long for the sky and stars.
Why we fold them in boxes, shelve them neatly in rows
six feet beneath a world they lived long enough to die in,

I do not know.

I thought as a child that the hell-bound had it easy,
already down there, not much distance to go.
Those in limbo could rest awhile, stretch their bones
back into the earth and fashion new lives from memory;
live ten thousand lives in dirt and darkness.

But who can help those deserving heaven?

Even the statues turn away; angels with eyes lifted
or heads bent in prayers for the living because soon enough,
our turns will come. They try not to hear the dead who are good
tossing in their graves with desperate talk: Which way is up?
Was that a crow this morning?

Because the good are perfect, they are not tortured by memories
so they forget themselves. They lie with the damned
and those left to wonder, who try to give directions with talk of love
and light, the shortest distance between ground and sky. Remember God?
Those in waiting ask the good who, dumb as dirt, stagger for the answer
to a god too distant to wake the dead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

fireflies

fireflies

they skirt in settling air
of the evening sky
with boundless energy

in sudden twists,
in blazes, in bursts,
invisible paths of
fading luminence

wings soflty humming
rhymes in motion
ghostly melodies

night sky is the stage
the firefly is the player
the plot a challenge
to meet destiny

if one could follow a muse
if one could follow the spirals
an ephemeral trail of lights

fickle skies

today the sky was fickle. it started with the familiar grey windy and damp airs of autumn and then the sun broke through and took the morning. typical california. it reminded me of the things i hate about los angeles even though i'm 500 miles away. the bright autumn sun made me restless. it made me want to be outside on the side of a mountain when i could not. i am not fit for suburbia. it is killing me.

2:46am

somewhere out there i know the sun is rising. in this place, i am caught between wanting to be in the safety of darkness and the renewal of morning's light. i have no knowledge of how to make such a decision. i have no knowledge of what these primal urges inside really mean. it is a language that i've never learned. at the middle of my life, the basics of love and hate are alien to me. how have i gotten this far? all i know are to stay or run. how do they translate? have i always been this way? i don't remember. i thought i knew what feelings were. i guess i was wrong. so now i have to learn. another language to learn, i am good at languages. however, this language involves a grammar that has no rules; a vocabulary that has no etymology. all i have to use is the bareness of my heart, a pencil and a paintbrush for those moments and phrases where all i can do is to paint a picture.

...

an hour and forty six minutes past midnight.

i am wide awake and conscious of the hurricane that lives inside of my head. i feel like new orleans looking at walls of grey with specks of blue. at least there are specks of blue, it is just a matter of getting there.

i can't say that i know what seeing walls of grey really means. my sense is that i don't like it. it won't kill me or anything like that, i just don't like them. not that i am a blue sunny sky person either, i just want to know what the in between is. right now, it feels like a state of teetering between the here and now and the there and far away. my flight instinct is going through its checklist though there is no destination. what does that mean?

i surprise myself by seeing how blunt i am about what is going through my head in this medium. i think it is an exercise for me to face myself, if that makes sense. it is really not a confessional. it is more of a conviction or commitment so that i stay my course whatever course i decide on. strange and roundabout way of doing things i admit but sometimes that is what it takes. it does no good to be confessional and to trash your limbs about in saying what you are going to do. it is better to put it down somewhere that is not secretive and then go do it. now i just have to figure out the details of what i'm doing...

shells

Shells
by Kathleen Raine

Reaching down arm-deep into bright water
I gathered on white sand under waves
Shells, drifted up on beaches where I alone
Inhabit a finite world of years and days.
I reached my arm down a myriad years
To gather treasure from the yester-milliennial sea-floor,
Held in my fingers forms shaped on the day of creation.

Building their beauty in three dimensions
Over which the world recedes away from us,
And in the fourth, that takes away ourselves
From moment to moment and from year to year
From first to last they remain in their continuous present.
The helix revolves like a timeless thought,
Instantaneous from apex to rim
Like a dance whose figure is limpet or murex,
cowrie or golden winkle.

They sleep on the ocean floor like humming-tops
Whose music is the mother-of-pearl octave of the rainbow,
Harmonious shells that whisper forever in our ears,
The world that you inhabit has not yet been created.

Monday, November 28, 2005

cold from another place

the weather changed today. it was very un-californian. when i stepped into the hotel lobby and prepared to walk out to get some food, i realized it was like a cold rainy autumn evening in switzerland. the ground was littered with damp maple leaves. the air was fuzzy with light streaks of rain.

it didn't look real, more like someone put a motion blur filter on the air in photoshop.

the lobby door was actually closed. i put on my jacket and walked through the door into the cold of a different place. i wished i was in the other place that the cold remined me of, but that is far from here. it must be the figh or flight reflex. or maybe it is just avoidance behavior! something i might have picked up from someone i momentarily became enamored with *grin*.

i would confirm that but that person has disappeared!

i'm trying hard to amuse myself.

the walk in the light rain across the street, passing the parking lot and into the alley then onto the next street to the restaurant was refreshing though. i didn't mind the rain at all. well, i never do. not ever since living in scotland, how could i?

i walked into a new vietnamese restaurant and sat down. ordered my usual dish, i wondered how this new place would make it. it was quite good. it was slow so the chef came out and sat down. we chatted and ended up talking for over an hour. we traded stories about our last trips home to the old country. we talked about the restaurant business and cooking, it was a nice conversation. he even broke out some special lotus tea he brought back from vietnam on his last trip. it was a good experience. it relieved my restlessness, at least for a short while.

it made me realize how much i need to meet new people constantly. i think i am a social nomad...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

need for change

i am at the cusp of the end of one chapter of my life and start a new one. there is a sense of relief because at this point i feel so broken. it is not that i am in pieces. i am still in one piece but it doesn't feel like it is a healthy one piece. so change needs to happen, where it will take me i do not know. i only know i've slowly become someone i don't remember. maybe i'm schizo or have multiple personalities, i really don't think it is anything that exotic. i've just lost something and i need to figure out what it is i've lost and why and how to replace it or regain it. in any case, change is the only certain thing and i'm looking forward to it whatever it might be.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

hues

they called this morning
they called this evening
trying to bring me back to sanity

i think it was their colour of sanity
i was trying hard to understand
like sifting through three or four languages

it tired my soul
so i opted for sleep
but instead there was another world

with the complexity of colours
all my history replayed
a whirl of hues i can't escape

00:14

so it is a litlle a little past midnight.

and i'm sitting here eating granny smith apples sprinkled with salt and watching "collateral" by myself. it is probably not a good example of social behavior.

i could get philosophical about this but it is probably a bad idea.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

milestones vs. flagstones

so i come close to another milestone, one of those milestones that happen whether we want it or not. this one is called a "birthday." so called birthdays are always strange creatures as far as events go, they are are often like relatives. they are often "love/hate" relationships. when you are young, they are love relationships. as you get older, they gain more and more of the "hate" relationships. sometimes, we do this as a matter of following the flow of the river. at other times, standing in the stream and wondering if you should really flow that way is a matter of personal choice. in either case, it can be difficult to really know which way you are tending toward. how does one really know which side of the stream one is loyal to?

this brings me to ask which side qualitatively is more the real me. of course then i have to ask what is the real me, it is odd to have gone this far in life and not to really know intuitively which is which. the budhhist in me says to see it for what its true nature is and let it go. it is probably the most peaceful solution but one that is not easily grasped by the emotional part in me. isn't that strange? isn't strange that the most simple and elegant solution is often the most difficult one to attain? isn't strange that attaining something like that is often so subtle that often effort put forth is simply an obfuscation of the end? perhaps in that there lies the lesson that it is not about the goal but the process. perhaps in that i have come to lean too much toward where i should be as supposed to how i'm supposed to be stepping toward that next slab of stone that is the moment in which i'm in. perhaps that is what i forget, i need to step onto the flagstone of the moment and try to clearly see what is the next stone i am aiming at.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

single moms

so i'm sitting in front of this deli this afternoon enjoying my lunch and this woman (dressed nicely in a suit skirt and red wool sweater, black hose and heels) comes out of the place walking away from me and says back into the deli, "all single moms are poor!"

uh, i didn't know quite how to react to that...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

it's a wrap

today i completed a project i started in april...yay!

i think i still have all my limbs and most of the same brain cells i started with...?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

fuzzy air

all around me the air seems fuzzy. maybe it is because i've been up since early. there is a mellowness to my state now that is unusual. i'm rarely mellow. maybe it is a response to all the things that are there in life that bend us out of shape. maybe it is a sign that though i trip up all the time i'm still moving forward. people ask and i mostly don't have an answer. sometimes one really doesn't need to know why, just know you are on the path where you ought to be. try to walk it as best you can...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

no warning

sometimes realizations come to you without warning. you are sitting there talking to a friend about something and in trying to explain your point you find an epiphany. if you are lucky enough upon this unveiling not to fall over or feel suddenly nauseus it could be an interesting passage. when you see yourself in the light of another's illumination, things appear that you know are undeniable but you were absolutely not ready for. in this particular case, it is a strange thing for someone else to confirm those strange rumblings inside of your heart. they point out the obvious that you aren't really quite ready to accept. so if you accept them, then what happens?

the shape that my heart molds itself to is not something to be given lightly. it is a strange and somewhat blunt awakening to realize that i have little control over. it is a reminder that i actually have little control over much that happens. i struggle to be open to situations and to see what the horizon offers. this does not in any means remove the ever natural and present sense of fear that accompanies the effort.

yes i am trying to be vague. i am trying to be vague as i might be when telling her how i feel. i am trying to be vague because it is something i've brought up once before and really don't want to go there again but this is just the way it is.

i am in strange territory and in most cases i would never find myself in this place. i would not allow such a thing. nevertheless, i am where i am. it is now pointless to try to understand it now. this is a time of flowing with the stream and learning how to surf on the lines of least resistance. i am teaching myself how not to fret about the dangers of the adventure i'm in. i'm learning how not to fear about the things i have no control over. i am learning that i feel the way i feel and this will lead to something that i don't understand but that is okay. i don't have to understand.

the shape of something inside is changing. i have no control over it and that is okay too. come autumn when leaves are shed in some distant land something here will be affected and i will be ready.

until then there is repose, not in the way john singer sargent would have depicted it but it will hold. i know in the visions of these experiences there is something of the light of the morning and late afternoon. the other periods of the day can be left out for the labeling of being fantastical.

mackerel skies

mackerel skies line the ceiling of my world today. little bands of white clouds hide evasive strains of the sky. in this same way she hides those parts that don't want to be seen. with fuzzy edges and transparencies she divulges clues that let me triangulate her position.

matching the moves of another emotional nomad is almost as challenging as figuring out the twists and redirection of your own heart. this is especially true when your heart wants to dart and turn like a minnow fleeing a prey.

is it a game of predator and prey? the way people move between camouflage and presence like a changing of moods?

equine behaviour

the measure of the distance between a sunflower's petals to the hive is written in the spin of a bee's dance.

he has seen the dance and now is quested with finding the location. it is a bit of a quest between realms, the distance between where he is and where she resides.

it is a bit of a journey into forests with foliage unfamiliar that would confuse him. he is timid about the swirls in his heart though not of the creatures in this forest. she lies out there in the midst of these arboreal giants. a faerie she might be he is not quite sure.

it is more important that she kicks the soil in the equine manner that he might expect.

somewhere in another incarnation, they must have run together. these crossing of paths don't happen in random...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

horses

there are parts of me that want to cry
to fall apart in the way an empty shell is broken upon the pacific's surf
something keeps convincing me to stand there in front of that ocean
knowing that it takes less than two seconds to engulf me

yet i find myself standing here waiting for her
not even waiting for her but for some symbol of her presence
i have found someone as nomadic and evasive as i
so i try to contain my fascination of her in my own world
knowing it is bound to fail

one cannot hold a horse to corral, knowing that its counterpart is out there
so when you have two horses at great distances from each other
how do you determine the difference between corral and range?

crossing paths

in his dreams he sees the reflection of her eyes in the sunlight as snow. she looks up at the heavens, smiling. it is one of those quizzical looks where you can't really tell what is amusing her so. but she looks and she smiles, that is all that is important to him in his vision. there is a tang of something inside that is happening to him. he doesn't quite understand it. it is something between the elation of a happy moment and the trepidation of one's worst fears. the grays of reality that he has come to accept elude his vision. the strange comfort of knowing that nothing is really as it seems give way to a range of siena and then finally grays finalized by the rich harshness of black and white. in the way that weston can depict blacks and whites, his world has suddenly become something that is categorically undeniable in its richness and extremes. he is not ready for this. this thing, this thing that is changing his emotional anatomy. this thing that is changing the shape of the vessel that he carries the things he cares about. it is changing without his volition and his permission. how did he get here? it can't be because of a smile. it can't be from the sound of her voice. they must have known each other in another life. simple silk threads crossing over time and space in a manner that would drive einstein insane.

what does one do when paths cross this way?

in the afternoon

in the afternoon the sun moves and clouds dance to keep the shadows in the right places. i look at my feet and wonder if they ought to be in shade or sun. as a child, these games seemed so important. now, nearing the close of a third decaded i find the value in those childhood games and try to revive them. i am understanding how important they are. i am understanding how precious those moments are when you aren't feeling judged by anyone in your moments. so i am silly. in some ways, silliness is the only way i can understand the dynamics of my connection with her.

she is mature yet silly and retains those traits as she deals with the bullshit of this place we live in. she has not gotten eaten up by the acid of cynicism and lacks the polish of being burnished by years of misguided purpose. so i find myself in a place that i've not been in in a long time. i don't really quite know what to do with this.

so i look at my feet and ask them if they know where they are going.

Friday, August 26, 2005

nonsense

what does it mean to finally realize you miss the presence of another person? when you miss it in ways you are sure that wouldn't happen to you?

disconcerting. we as humans like to think we are in control. what a joke!

what is it to understand that one loves another against one's will?

strange

from where he finds the strength to love and not to be in love he does not know. he realizes the oddity of their relationship. a liaison like that of a dragon and an earthling, two worlds apart but in heart sharing the same space. their best moments together is the sliver of grey between night and dawn, day and dusk.

he takes this trip and there is an empty seat next to him. in his heart, tissues have healed but there is still a hollowness in the shape of her. the boundaries between the two of them are like a strange nourishment. manna that they feed on when they are in contact with each other but they have to be careful not to partake too much and too often lest they let through the thing that keeps them safe from each other. the thing that connects them is the very poison.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

need rainstorm

i am here in person

my soul is in another place. somewhere where the rainstorms look different, the way the sun comes out of the clouds is different. you don't need huge rain clouds, you need the way people look at the clouds.

looking at the rain clouds differently, changes you. don't ask how, just look

Monday, August 01, 2005

fascinating thought

to be an heir to your action...a completely interesting way to look at the world

"Beings are owners of their actions. . . heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior." ~from the Culakammavibhanga Sutta

Monday, July 18, 2005

silicon valley traffic

now that i'm back in the land of PDA's and YOT's (yuppie offspring transport), i have to state that crossing the street is incredibly boring. traffic here is very predictable. people move to the right of the road before turning right and so on...how dull! ; )

Friday, July 15, 2005

back in the usa

so i landed at SFO on wednesday afternoon, my body is here but i think my mind is still at 10.82º N latitude, 106º longitude. the moments between clear waking states are still punctuated by images of streets crowded with mopeds, roadsides littered with drying coconut husks and myriads of smiling children. i've come home with over 6000 photos. fleeting moments and expressions captured, each containing its own little universe of characters, plots and moods. all those elements are like threads in a tapestry. we will see how the stories will re-tell themselves...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

on a motorbike with a buddhist nun

so i have to say that one of the highlights of this trip has been riding on the back of a motorbike with a buddhist nun!

we were in van hanh village and visiting five families of children we sponsor to help keep them in school. they are poor and live in remote areas of the village. some even have no land to build on and they live on grounds provided to them by a temple.

it was a touching afternoon. learning how difficult life is for these people yet seeing how they are able to carry on with no help and never for a moment lose their dignity is a powerful thing.

in short, the day's experience contained enough for a novel. some experiences change you in ways that might take lifetimes to understand. the subtleties are endless...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

wide sea of greens


Mekong Delta region
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
we are into the Mekong delta now. left and right there seem to be endless rice paddies or other crops. there are women working the fields. banana groves demarcate the edges of fields. every bit of available land seems to be put to use to some sort of agriculture as long as there is not a building sitting there...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

14D Cong Ly Street


little red pagoda I
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
at 14D Cong Ly Street, Saigon


So today the gang went out to lunch in downtown Saigon at this cool place called Quan An Ngon (literally translates to: Place Eat Well, or A Place to Eat Well). The building was very cool and obviously was old enough to date back to the colonial era. It was a villa laid out in a rectangular manner with a perimeter and then a center building leaving an arcade surrounding the central structure. The street it was on was definitely the same street as the street the old house that I grew up in was on but something seemed unfamiliar. As it turns out after we got out of the restaurant I looked and there was an adjacent alley. I thought to myself that this might be the old place so I follow it. The alley is currently being used as a moped parking lot. As I walked down about 20 meters it turned right at a right angle. As I turned the corner, I realized this was the alley leading to my grandfather's house. It was at the end of the cul-de-sac and the gates and adjacent buildings were unmistakable to me once I saw it. What I didn't recognize was beyond the gate.

I had been here only five years ago and there was no building in what used to be the driveway, courtyard and garden. The fish pond had been filled years ago and there was a cafe there last time. The thought that they destroyed the little altar at the end of the pond inside a structure modeled after the one pillar pagoda in Hanoi was distraughtful to me. There is a night club in the space where a garden used to be. The place where I climbed all over the footbridge leading out to the pagoda. I remember climbing the ficus tree next to it to reach the star fruit tree behind the pagoda and picking its fruit. The fruit from that tree was never sweet but it never stopped me from picking and eating.

We walked around the outside and even went inside. I described to Ivy what each section of the house was. Who used which room to the detail. We started walking upstairs but stopped past the second floor landing. There was a sign there. The last time I visited there were some in-laws of an uncle living on the top floor, it had been turned into an apartment. I knew in my stomach that was no longer the case. The sign read "mean dog, ring doorbell first." I didn't feel the desire to find out if they were there really. I don't know why but it was okay in any case. We started back down.

As we were just about to leave the premises I decided to check out the nightclub. We walked inside. There were only the proprietors there as it was just after lunch. I said hello and asked if we could look around. I explained that I had grown up here when I was a kid. The man was very nice and spoke to us and told us feel free to look around. Out of the right corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something through a sliding glass door and a wave of relief washed over me. There was a small courtyard and in the far right corner from where I was standing I saw the sight of a red, relatived newly painted one pillar pagoda. With all the construction around it, they had saved the pagoda. There was a newer altar next to it for some deity of protection or luck. I went out there. There were still remnants of the stone footbridge left. The ficus tree was enormous and had hanging roots all around it. A little spot of something from another life was still left and those who have taken over that space have respected its sanctity. I didn't think about all this in that moment but now it is clear to me. A strange sense of gratitude became alive somewhere inside of my heart.

When we left the place, I was reminded that nothing lasts, all is impermanent. What we might have that would seem more permanent is not necessarily tangible. The fragile intangibles though are the things that can indeed be passed on and kept alive in out thoughts and in our memories.

The rest of the afternoon, I had very nice pleasant moments. One arising and then passing but the chaing of them are linked together. It was a rainy afternoon and I walked up and down old Catinat Street with Kevin in the rain but in my mind when we stopped to look out over the grimy Saigon river with its waters muddied up by precipitation I still remembered that this is the place where sunlight rests.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

kwanyin (boddhisattva of compassion) in neon

i had written this on the night of arriving at Kieu Dam temple. we were to stay another night but our plans had to be changed. i hope to return there and spend a couple of days with the children there as well as the wonderful people who run the temple before i leave the country during this trip.


kwanyin in neon
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
20:53h 1 July, 2005. Chua Kieu Dam, Van Hanh Village. Vietnam

So I have wondering for a long time what it would be like to be at a monastery and here I am. Chua (temple) Kieu Dam is a temple/monastery about 70km to the east of Saigon on the way to Vung Tau. We arrived here about an hour ago. It is dark. The air is pungent and sweet in parts from the rain. The night is alive with life. Sounds of insects, birds and toads are a symphony beneath the unspoiled sky. The rain has lifted and there are bits of inky sky dotted with glittering stars upon the earth's ceiling. One of the benefits of being in a third world country, especially out of the city is the lack of light pollution.

Coming through the temple gates, the first thing I saw was a glimpse of the altar hall. It was lit inside and what I saw was very beautiful. The setting of the foliage grounds was a little like being on a forest path and serendipitously finding a thing of wonder behind a wall of trees. I have yet to go inside that building. That is to be saved for the early morning chant. I understand that begins at four AM. When I asked what time I ought to get up for that, I was told that I would hear the summoning bells and drums. Quyen tells me it is not something to be missed if you have never experienced it before. Surely I will not miss it.

The quarters I've been given are spartan and serene. It is a cottage about four meters wide and 10 meters long divided into two rooms. At the front room there is an altar for prayer and meditation, in the back room there is a sleeping platform (no mattress here, a wooden deck topped with a straw mat and a blanket) and cubicle where the toilet is and also a back door. There is no glazing here. In this humidity the doors are shuttered and the windows have scroll ironwork with outside storm shutters. The only thing between you and the mosquitoes is a gossamer veil dropped down and tucked under at the edges of the straw mat. The floor is tile and swept incredibly clean. This is one thing one notices in the details of daily life here. Even in the poorest of houses, the floors are always kept as clean as possible and shoes stay outside. If you don't walk barefoot inside then you have a strictly indoors pair of slippers. It is an important detail, especially on hot days there is nothing quite so pleasant as a cool tile floor to relax on - forget the chair or the couch.

I joked with Ivy and Quyen earlier that if you didn't know you were at a temple, the grounds, the buildings and layout of this place has the feel of a tropical resort. I will leave it to the pictures to tell that part of the story. It has settled down here and I think most are asleep. The only sounds outside are the crickets and the occasional toad. If I close my eyes, I could be in a tent in the middle of the tropical forest. 10.82 latitude north and 106.2 longitude. This is the place where sunlight rests.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

the place where sunlight rests

Sunset on the Perfume river

the place where sunlight rests

it is the place where dew rests
in the too warm morning.

ten degrees latitude north
but far enough south for
painted clouds to convene.

it is the place of legends where
the celestial and earthbound

congregate against counsel.
heaven hungers the sensual
flesh desires tranquility.

where sunlight rests
is the dusk and dawn

of human experience.
just short of paradise
distanced enough away
from sweat and toil,
the body's tears,
the heart's aches.

warm summer rain

this afternoon we were blessed with a brief set of showers, cooling off the city streets of saigon. with each day passed running around the city, parts of it start to become familiar. on some of the streets, there are still strong residual feels of the french colonial history. it is strange to realize that this city located in southeast asia shares the layout and city planning of a place like paris. there are some good remnants from those days like long tree lined boulevards and gigantic roundabouts.

i have to say that the experience of saigon traffic still mesmerizes me. i've decided the best description i can think of is brownian motion. yes, it may sound a little strange but it is pretty accurate.

today, i had an interesting encounter with a little boy named Lam while out at breakfast. he is just a little kid trying to help support his family. the thing is he is only eight years old. one can't help but be touched on different levels after sitting there talking to him. it makes you reconsider things. once you understand something, it is impossible to turn away.

For Alexander Calder
by Erin Lambert

We are more ourselves than earthbound, mobile birds, sculpted shadows.
I had an orange bike once I had a cold and then a life around my someday
circus, glass bells. With wire, I found means to quit electricity, speak softly
to a row of cucumbers, but my distaste for office light remains as a series
of unfortunate hands cramped over keys. For I used my own to rescue
buildings, to demonstrate in red with human touch how one's presence is
a series of connections all at once — gone, like a spark — drawn through air.

bodhi leaves


bodhi leaves
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
Poem by Czeslaw Milosz

Love means to learn to look at yourself

The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills -
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn`t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn't always understand.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

life in motion II


life in motion II
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
life in motion

sitting in a car moving through traffic in vietnam, especially saigon can be a zen experience.

there are lanes yet no one pays attention. there are no manners of making turns from a particular side of the road to another.

crossing the street for a pedestrian from the viewpoint of an outsider seems as perilous as walking across a freeway in the states. however, there is an organized chaos to it all. if one watches the traffic from above, it will look like water flowing down a stream in particles made of people, mopeds, cars and the occasional bus. but unlike water it doesn't all flow in one direction. it flows closer to the way ants flow. they go in all directions and seem to bump into each other, sometimes catastrophically but rarely do.

as someone riding in a car, your first instinct is to cringe but after a couple of deep breaths you can relax and just watch the motion. strangely enough, it occurs to you that everyone on the road has the same expectation that everyone will figure out a path to get where they are going without careening into one another. at first it might seem like inattention then later you realize that it is some sort of faith, or something like that...in any case, there is a lesson there i think. it may not be obvious but there is definitely a lesson there.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

view from hotel, hanoi


view from hotel
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
view from the hotel. from sixteen floors up, the moped traffic is akin to an ant farm with thousands of little creatures moving about like water flowing around stationary objects

Saturday, June 25, 2005

flags in temple altar room


flags in temple altar room
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
at a temple in Hue. see more pictures from this set at http://flickr.com/photos/horselatitudes

Thursday, June 23, 2005

95 degrees

yesterday was the grand opening of Tue Tind Duong free clinic in Hue, Vietnam. we attended the ceremony and it was a success. the show of support was incredible. standing room only. standing on the balcony of the third floor looking at people arriving, one can't help but be moved by visions of old monks and nuns making their way to attend the opening in 95 degree heat and close to 100% humidity by foot, bicycle or moped. the staff who were helping out ranged from the young to old from various walks of life. in the back area being used as a kitchen, women stooped over huge baskets of vegetables, slicing and dicing away. at another corner, there were portable burners set up. all in all the logistics going on in the porch there would have rivaled a modern resto kitchen able to serve a hundred people at a time. in fact, there would be aboout 350 people eating this afternoon following the ceremony. it was amazing to walk through the building and photograph room by room. they were currently brand new, unused. i thought to myself that in months if i came back these rooms would be filled with patients and caretakers. there would be a different kind of bustle going on here. perhaps not quiteas festive as today but in the long run, much more important. for many people, this free clinic is their only option of getting medical care of any sort. in a country of 80 million people, there are only about 825 hospitals. i am reminded why this is good work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

fulfilling wanderlust


P6210507
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
first leg of trip over, taipei intl airport just after sunrise. i survived cramped conditions on an airplane full of kids but survived intact. even slept most of the way. i gave thanks for having a small frame and being able to stretch out even in economy class!

another leg and i shall be home...

almost home again
strange place but somehow familiar
it’s either the faces or something in my chest

a feeling like the swell of the ocean
in a space the size of one’s fist

there is no fear of the ocean’s depth
it’s a place something could drift forever
and never quite touch bottom

but when on land and oh so close
to the deep blue’s sanctuary

one never asks why but dwells on how
it’s a pull to origins
the mechanics of reason are left on the sand

Sunday, June 19, 2005

rain drums

this season’s rain
comes to me like angels
striking bronze drums.

pre-iron age staccato
striking old rhythms
still looking for answers
from so long ago

eons pass but the struggle,
the same. purposely, i ask
questions without answers.

answers aren’t resolution,
only skeletons of desire.
metallic artifacts buried in silt.

making the world nicer

my horoscope for the day:
"Even in your grubby errand-running clothes, you're undeniably appealing. Yes, they're looking at you, so don't just stand there -- smile and say hi. Make the world a nicer place, one person at a time."

oh dear, here it goes again. that constant struggle between being intelligent and useful vs being an ass. heheheh

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

it is a mystery

life is full of mysteries and when i think i'm finished with being confused by one, it gives me another. firefly says i'm confused about being confused. how on the point is that?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

spiky


spiky
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
so i'm walking around a street corner and see this beautiful old asian woman standing there. it is late afternoon and she has a straw hat on. i notice in her hands she is holding four maple seed pods with stems intact. my first thought is i've never seen anyone collect those before. they are sharp and mean looking and as a kid they are what you avoid cause stepping on them barefoot on a lawn is very painful.

i smile to her as i pass and she says something to me. i do a double take cause i didn't understand a thing. she tilts her head and says it again very gently but direct. ah, it's japanese. no wonder i don't understand. she points south across the street and asks something but my japanese is so long gone i can barely order sushi. all i can make out is "ikimasu" and then she pauses and looks at me and says, "anata wa wakarinaidesuka?" i don't know what happened but i understood her. something clicked. i nodded and motioned for her to come over to where i'm standing and show her the crosswalk light button and then point across the street at the light. i press the button and then stand next to her and wait. when the light turns, i point and say, "ikimasu yo..." she looks up at me and replies, "arigato, arigato!" i nod, smile and she crosses.

it's moments like these that can make your worst day turn...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Phap Chon et al


Phap Chon et al
Originally uploaded by equusignis.
My Sensei, second from left at Vesak day celebration. San Jose, CA. May 14, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

trained behavior

early morning tv news.

the guys are sitting there barely awake yet transfixed to the tv and all its shallow and irrelevant stories such as the "finger in the chili at wendy's woman's court case." believe it or not, some people try very hard to turn such a subject into socio-philosophical discussion.

the next story that comes on is one about pit bull owners and the usual controversies surrounding them. pedro gives a sigh. someone else says, "they are just dogs. it is all dependent on how they are trained when they are young." another disagrees citing some horror story. i glance at the faces and stand up as i slip the ibook into its sleeve and prepare to leave the room, "they ARE trainable, of course you can train them. they are dogs. if you guys can be trained to wake up and lose yourself into the banality of the local morning news every single day then i can sure as hell train a pit bull to behave any way i'd like it to."

faces momentarily glance at me, trying to absorb what i just stated. there are no voices behind me except for the meteorologist saying that there is a good chance of rain today. i look through the kitchen and out the back door. there is a drizzle coming down. duh!

Monday, May 16, 2005

CowboySon


CowboySon taken by AeroDan
Originally uploaded by equusignis.

Dan assured me this would look cool, especially with the folded Buddhist prayer amulet...yeah, right!

C sans Prada

over several cups of tea, a couple of miles worth of strolling, a vegetarian lunch (it's dan's fault), a fantastic crèpe dessert at ti couz, a handful of funky store browsing in the mission district and hayes valley, dan and i have tested the hypothesis and proven that his friend L is indeed "C sans Prada." L kind of looks like C, speaks just like C, her voice sounds like C and is hip like C sans Prada!

dan and i have known C for a long time and we love her dearly but we have come to accept that it is difficult to hang out with her because over the years we have missed out on our "high maintenaince continuance" seminars and are no longer properly certified to be get C's time in any significant alotment. but we have rejoiced since we have found L. this is not to say that we don't want to hang with C or that L is a "replacement" of any sort, such an assessment would be unfair to both. it was simply serendipitous that dan met L. and in this fact, we hope to have many new found moments of laughter in good company together.

having said this, i have to admit that we were in a shoe store on hayes and i picked up a really cool pair of black shoes and showed it to dan. his eyes said, "cool!" i flipped over the shoe to see the price: $348. we frowned, i looked at the heel and saw the logo...in those unmistakably distinctive trapezoidal slab serif letters: PRADA.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

chloe contemplating


"if a cat turns its back on you, you no longer exist..."

chloe as a nautilus

cats have a better evolved way of dealing with everyday life no matter how insignificant or mind blowing a situation can be they *know* how to deal...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

checking email at the mortuary

scene: 21:47h. i walk into the room and see dennis sacked out on the floor wearing sunglasses (the room is brightly lit) with headphones on. there is audio leakage of jimi hendrix manipulating metal strings to the tune of villanova junction. he cocks his head forward, lifts his shades up and squints at me.

dennis: there you are, where have you been?

me: oh, at the mortuary – checking email.

dennis: you've been *what???*

me: [as a matter of factly] i was checking email...at the mortuary...seeing if there were any messages!

he lies his head back down for a slice of a moment then perks up, stares at me then bursts out laughing with as much hysteria as someone lying down could. his belly pad shivers and the image of a white trash, irish-american, red-haired, musctached lucky boddhisatva comes to mind.

dennis: hah, it didn't really strike me until the second time you said it! only *you* would give me an answer like that.

i should have known it. i've seen you do it. i remember that day!

[there was one evening dennis had ridden up on his bicycle and practically fell over on the bike when he stopped. he was carrying a full bag of laundry, a backpack and the wind was gusting a good 20 mph. he said he had to tack to make it upwind and thought he would have to walk the last stretch. after catching his breath he said, "son, you are the only person i know who would non-chalantly sit there on a bench in front of a mortuary smoking a cigarette and checking email as if you were at a café or something!"]

me: heh, you aren't surprised at my behavior are you?

dennis: hah!!! hell no, you just made my fucking day dude!!!

me: always at your service, my friend...

dennis: god, the fuckin french assasin stikes again... [he puts his shades back on with a smile]

Monday, April 18, 2005

sleeping in bookstore

i had a dream that i was sleeping in a bookstore last night. it was as if the bookstore was my apartment or home or something. my bed was right up against a bookcase as if the bookcase was a nightstand or some other piece of normal bedroom furniture. in this place, i lived with a couple of others but i don't remember who they were. it was cold and snowing outside. there was a fireplace inside i think, it was warm and cozy.

it has taken a long time for my obsession with books to get in dreams.=)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

passivus idiota

i have a new term.

passive idiocy: this behavior is occurs when someone is upset at you because you have kindly and politely put them in their place and tries to exert empty authority and agression upon you at a later time and fails horribly because they are too timid to make even a passing comment in your presence and you find out about their meek attempt of self consolation as they make those comments they should have said to you to someone else and a fourth party inadvertently hears it and reports it back to you. (yeah it's kind of circuituous, i'll have to make a diagram of it. pictures tell a thousand words. and bad karma is a bitch).

species likely to be found exhibiting this behavior: homo insapiens insapiens rolandus crackus moribundus.

Friday, April 15, 2005

36 hours to texas

that was what rob's bus ticket said. san jose, ca to dallas, tx by greyhound bus. that in itselft is enough or should be enough material for a short film. the first stop was in coalinga, ca. he asked me where that was. i said, don't worry you'll smell it before you see it. imagine a thousand head of harris ranch cattle waiting for slaughter and small hills of manure that is managed by caterpillar earth moving vehicles. on a warm day, the rich musty smell of manure can whaft a couple of miles with the wind and even in a sealed air conditioned vehicle you can't escape it. i thought, well it will get him reacclimated to texas. there's a hellalotta cattle there.

i can only imagine the interesting characters that might sitting next to him. the snippets of conversation, the junk snack food, the funky little diner in el paso. heh, everything is potential material in my eyes! i'm in the wrong business.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

silicon valley fashion accessory #37

bluetooth wireless headsets

subject: mid 40's male silicon valley technocrat, medium build, suited

context: having morning coffee and pastries with female co-workers

faux-pas: wearing his motorola bluetooth headset as if it was a new rolex

what he was thinking: "this is cool, i'm going to impress the ladies"

what his co-workers were thinking: "he looks like a dork with that thing on his ear"

Friday, April 01, 2005

"i was centered"

20:45h sitting out on the back porch with rob and mike watching the trees in the distance

mike: [sitting on the bench, relaxing with a sigh] man, i was centered til i came here tonight.

rob: [chuckles] yeah, me too!

me: heheh, yeah me too!

mike: [another sigh] man, i don't know how you two live with these guys day in, day out. all day long, i'm fine then i come here and it's, it's, awh man... i gotta struggle to keep...

me: [interjecting] hey man, i fight with it everyday...not to let the crack talk get to me. it's why this ipod is so precious. it's my anti-crack talk device!!! hehe

rob: yeah mike, every morning when son and i leave this place we take a couple of minutes to shrug off all the bad noise from all the crack talk and we are generally fine all day. but whenever we start returning to this place, we immerse ourselves in a kind of sick and twisted frame of humor. it is the only way to get by!

mike: [long sigh]

"the largest of storms are announced by a single drop of rain"

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

little things

it is a beautiful day in the plain sense of it. clear, cool and a cloudless sky. it is the perfect day for me to have a brain fart. or at least realize i have a brain fart as the bus i'm waiting for arrives and i realized i left my bus pass in the jacket i was wearing yesterday. arghhhh... i was not paying attention so this is payment. what a horrible waste of money. i thought of what the cost of a day pass could have bought:

1. many cups of non-starbucks coffee with free refills;
2. half a steamed soy sauce chicken from the asian deli;
3. three dense chocolate cake orbs crusted with chopped chestnuts;
4. several good espresso con panas (properly made, not with the whipped cream out of an aerosol bottle. ok, so maybe i have too much coffee...);
5. six ciabatta rolls (which would be really good with tapenade about now);
6. a yummy bowl of vietnamese pho;
7. one and a half bar of toblerone white chocolate;
8. a quart of creamy full fat organic yoghurt;
9. a copy of shakespeare's sonnets;
10. oh yes, and i can't forget a pound of baby shiitake mushrooms from the farmer's market

so tomorrow...mental note to myself: don't throw out this month's bus pass when i purchase next month's pass. it is still good for the day. but that is another story...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

i'm sitting in a cafe this morning and this woman walks over to me and says, "hi, do you remember me?"

this usually under any circumstances is awkward.

half a second later the visuals are matched with some place in my brain. oh it's margot! we used to work together at cks. gee, that was like...ten years ago. i was surprised that she would recognize me. it must have been due to the crazy antics i participated in back then when we worked together. yeah, things like roller hockey in the office, skate-by nerf gun shootings, and the occasional obligatory primal rage bouts at 10:04am with her boss bruce when he was having a bad morning.

anyway, it was good to see her. we exchanged contact info and agreed to get together for lunch or something sometimes.

it was a good way to start the day...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

local morning news

conversation that the local morning news foster among my inmates i mean housemates:

- discussion as to a particular sports jock shouldn't be allowed back in the game.*

- the complexities of lying and denial behavior in the michael jackson trial.

- complaints as to the ambiguity of the weather forecast, 50% chance of rain in the morning and possibly in the afternoon as well brings forth the comment "well, what the fuck does that mean? is it going to rain or not? what kind of a weather forecast is that?" [old asian slogan: "man who believe weather forecast voted for bush"]

- "you know it man, you know it man, right?" [yes, i know it is a waste of hot green tea if i throw it in your face before taking a sip. my blood caffeine and polyphenol level is less than .10% stay out of my body schema.]


*i say sports jock as supposed to "athlete." the dictionary defines "athlete" as "A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts." a sports jock is someone who participates in spectator based activities who drives overly large american made s.u.v.'s and is an unwitting object and platform for advertisement all the while believing that he is being paid large sums of money for his ability to: a) hurl his bacon and barley malt induced abdomen at anything in front of him b) drop his super sized burger created gluteus maximus to the ground while sliding to second base c) flaunt badly designed tattoos on the inside of his biceps thereby exposing his underarm and discouraging any opponent to come within proximity of his olfactory schema and preventing the basketball from being stolen from his possession.

part two soon to be published....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

emptiness without proper enclosure

5:20am walking into the kitchen...

why are guys sometimes such fucking idiots?

me: all right, i want to know who is the idiot who peed, didn't raise the seat and can't aim for shit and didn't even have half the decency to flush afterward?

thinking to myself: "i'm gonna beat this person on the head, pull his pants down and duct tape his crotch."

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot

Monday, March 21, 2005

sunnyvale starbucks umbrellas

me: "uh, if you have umbrellas that provide shade and protection from the rain...how come they are under the eaves?"

is this something like the narthex of a church?

odanata oniseptera

me trying to integrate ebonics into latin:

me: odonata anisoptera

rob: is he kin to obi wan?

me: obi wan kenobi?

me: he be gone!

me: he be gone to the force!

me: he be so gone to the force you can see right through him!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

bits & pieces of the old country

i have a fascination for language, especially those that are not really used much. especially the pretty ones.

so today i started learning how to write in nom which is a more or less dead writing system that used to be in use in vietnam. vietnamese was romanized thanks to the efforts of some catholic missionaries way back when so that christianity could be spread. gee whiz, yet another culture pawed by rome. but that is another story.

i am telling a happy one right now. well, sort of...

beauty is not always pretty, i believe...

i'm learning new ideograms/characters and am excited to write them with a brush. funny thing about ideograms, there is not really room for mispellings. if you misdraw the character, then you may be saying something completely different. well, i suppose it is like the spoken language as well. mess up the inflection and you may be cursing someone's ancestor or something...

--

there was a man sharing his story this morning. and there were parts of his life that held dark troubles for his soul. and i came across this poem today. i can't tell if i went looking for something like this. lately, things just turn up.

Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da


They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl's patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh

Friday, March 18, 2005

misery is a butterfly

made my day. well it is a song called "misery is a butterfly" by blonde redhead but it really made my day better. i don't know how to explain but it just is. it is one of those songs that you can't remember the lyrics to or what it's about but you remember how it feels. that is what is important some times.

today came with an overcast sky and droplets of moisture at dawn. it turned into a beautiful day in scotland. hehe...

rob is smoking crack! he really isn't actually, he doesn't need it. that is because he is from texas. we really ought to be planning what we are going to do to dave to make him feel paranoid but we are too busy laughing at the people walking by starbucks who are taking themselves way seriously with their young offspring strapped to the seats of their gas guzzling suv's. oh, we can't forget those who are doing the park, skip and a double latté with nonfat milk too to go either. basically, the slice of the suburban population who do so much to provide me with material to write about not to mention mock.

at the end of each day, i really ought to utter a prayer of gratitude for this rich source of material. they are as abundant here in silicon valley as there are sardines in monterey bay.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

small, medium or large. damn it!

waiting in line for a cup of coffee at starbucks. i'm feeling like i need to go to coffee anonymous and confess that i went to starbucks today because there is not another cafe around in the vicinity and because i need to get wifi access immediately. (this particular starbucks doesn't provide free wifi, the network belongs to an adjacent business; most likely case).

anyway, the person in front of me says, "a grande latte please." i'm still waking up because i'm only on my first refill. the thought that races through my head is "starbucks has successfully convinced this person that 'grande' means medium!" how insidious! how terribly fucking linguistically insidious!!! he reminded of me of another occasion when i was at another cafe (an independent one) where there was this silicon valley type engineer in front of me ordering and was having trouble communicating his desired size so he told the barrista that they should use the same "sizes" as starbucks. this jolted me and i blurted out loudly enough, "NO!, small is small, medium is medium, large is large!!!!! why would you want your "sizes" branded? and moreover, why are they branded in different languages using words that don't even work well for designating measure within the set? (articulating terminology that an engineer would understand) and do you even know what the words mean?!!!"

tall is qualitative but not specific. tall in relation to what? what? huh? an espresso cup measured from its base? a pint of beer? a giraffe? tall is an english word, grande is italian and it means "tall, big, heavyset, large, great." what gives? you are going to use two different words that can mean the same thing and it's okay because they are different languages? and what the hell does venti mean? so i looked it up. it means "20," probably referring to 20 ounces as most places size their coffee drinks to 12, 16 and 20 ounce cups. so venti doesn't even mean large! but what the hell, there are poor marketing fooled, blotted people out there who will subscribe to it.

what gets me in the end is i'm not sure which is more insidious, the fact that starbucks has successfully branded sizes or that people are so willing to behave like livestock that they aren't willing to think for themselves. and what really bothers me is a parent who asks their child, "do you want a tall or grande hot chocolate?"

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

i'm gonna drop you

scene: 5:30am, in the kitchen

dave (he says this whenever rob or i give him a hard time): i'm gonna drop you right where you stand!

then turns and walks away

me: hey dave

turns around and faces me with a quizzical smile on his face. i reach into my pocket and fish for a coin. i grab a penny and hold it out.

me: hey dave, you mean like this?

i flip the coin into the air and watch it fall to the ground. behind dave, rob and ronnie are standing watching. ronnie bursts into a fit of laughter. dave looks at me.

deer in the headlights.

he is just so fun to have around!

mental note to myself: send thank you note to intel for providing badly needed comic relief

Saturday, March 05, 2005

two days...

the beginning of two days away from the nuts i affectionately call "co-habitants" (as opposed to vermin). of course there are those i will miss cause i hate it when i am the most sick and twisted person around. i grate on my nerves.

today, i'll get to throw slabs of flesh on a hot grill. ha, it's only salmon! psych!! ok, that is pretty lame. the timing of my caffeine intake was not well regulated this morning. it is now going through funny spurts. probably should switch to maté at this point but seeing as i have no maté that is going to be tough.

Friday, March 04, 2005

friday horoscope

"It's not your imagination. They've been staring at you, and you've been staring back. Think about all those secret smiles you two have exchanged over the past few weeks. It's time to take this thing out for a test-ride."

oh gawd!

--

earlier today:

the morning starts with noise from the tv. cheap tabloid gossip disguised as news. the chatter is followed by relentless superlative expressions and bloated gurgling voices that are empty. empty not in the way the universe is empty but empty in the way hatred is void of introspection. and the subjects range from lacie peterson to the bible, which they all believe to be equally important in the big scheme of things. important in the way that sports celebrities are equated to spiritual leaders. important in the way in the way the jock of the moment is equated to mahatma gandhi.

in the long run, i’ll hold no resentments towards them. they teach me valuable lessons. they remind me i have the choice between toiling in ubiquitous mindless jibberish or reflecting upon the choices that we can, in fact, make.

dave just started laughing hysterically as i walked by and muttered to myself, “stupid people shouldn’t breed.”

--

the pitfalls of using wifi in a public place:

sitting next to you is a cisco technocrat who exhibits antisocial behavior as he is self-important enough to plant himself in the middle of a bench with two tables in front of it. the manner of his placement is sort of the same as the way the old chinese culture sees and calls itself the "middle kingdom" (the character in question is the symbol for "center"). another workable analogy would be the way the catholic church used to insist (with fear of excommunication) that earth was in the center of the solar system.

i would normally not go through such a discourse with the others in my head but after asking twice (politely) if i could scoot in (read: make room [polite form]; move your ass over [vernacular condescend form]) he doesn't even so much as utter a "oh," "sure," or "yes." instead he is too busy looking at his yahoo! financials. if he is so significant, why is he using a free service to track his stock options?

some might say that i have acquired an incredible distate, almost dislike, almost hatred for the technocrats of the high tech economy. it could be true. i will have to contemplate. however, "hate" is such a strong word. as a friend once said, "it takes a lot of energy to hate something or somebody." i think he is right. karmic energy used toward hate is not a renewable resource. it just comes around one day and you find yourself reincarnated as a banana slug!

ah, it makes sense now...il est français! ha!

--

it's just after 5pm. i've survived...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

reason #11

sterotypes exist for a reason...because they are really out there!

and in public places are the last optimal venues to discover them. especially when they sit next to you and they won't go away and you really don't want to go away. it is even worse when they like to laugh at anything in a manner that is astronomically more hysterical than it needs to be. reason #11 for why headphones were invented.

beauty in lament

Lament

Where are those dazzling hills touched by the sun,
Those crags in childhood that I used to climb?
Hidden, hidden under mist is yonder mountain,
Hidden is the heart.

A day of cloud, a lifetime falls between,
Gone are the heather moors and the pure stream,
Gone are the rocky places and the green,
Hidden, hidden under sorrow is yonder mountain,
Hidden, hidden.

O storm and gale of tears, whose blinding screen
Makes weather of grief, snow's drifting curtain
Palls th'immortal heights once seen.
Hidden, hidden is the heart,
Hidden, hidden is the heart.

Kathleen Raine

this morning i was googling for a poem from one of my favorite poets. i had discovered her work about two years ago at random. and just moments ago, staring at blue letters in a list of search results i learned that she died in 2003. but that first poem by her that i read said "Kathleen Raine (b. 1908). British". a twinge of sadness passed through me. it was then followed by the realization of the beauty in the form of her writings that she left behind. i remember how i printed out the first poem i had discovered by her. it was called "envoi." it was beautiful.

all thins change. in the fleeting moment when there is beauty it must be grasped with the heart. it must be grasped in its entirety, not just the pretty but the source and the non-beauty that enables that gives us the contrast.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

reflections on a dew drop

"...it makes me look farther down the road too, for myself. i would be lying if i said it didn’t scare me. there are so many things that i pick up to distract myself. they have the potential to make me ask what i’m doing and the value they bring forth. i realize that i must let them go, all the things i have no control over and stick to what i can control. i know i have to be patient..."

me quoting myself to remind me the brain still works...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

the sunrise is...

anthony: yeah, but the sunrise in santa cruz is so much better, more beautiful.

me: what? and the sun rises differently here in the valley?

anthony: yeah, the sunrise here sucks man.

me: the only thing here that sucks is your attitude. you need an optorectomy. it is the surgical procedure that severs the nerves between your eyes and your anus thereby relieving you of your shitty outlook on life.

two minutes later...

anthony: yeah man, as soon as i have a car i'm outa here. i don't like it here. i hate it here.

me: well, there is no one stopping you. go! go forth and make your life wherever! go to santa cruz!

me thinking to myself: just don't be there when i visit santa cruz or maybe even better, i could bring a shitty sunrise with me. yeah, i'll talk to god and order a shitty sunrise for pickup and delivery it myself.

--


my horoscope today:

"This may be tough astrological turf for some signs to travel, but you'll undoubtedly do just fine. You're no stranger to difficult terrain. In fact, you often secretly welcome the trek. Your partner or best bud may not be quite so enthusiastic about this challenge, but if anyone can talk someone -- no, anyone -- into seeing the positive that might come from the negative, it's definitely you. Get busy."

read: you are crazy enough to do what others know to be insane.

i never complain of being bored. never. people talking who are boring...that is different.

Monday, February 28, 2005

it is one of those days when i should have just stayed in a dark corner of the cafe and blogged. tried too hard to be productive or ambitious or both. made it all the way to downtown, could not find robert at the library where we were supposed to meet. almost lost both my new beret and umbrella in the library. this is after having thrown away my monthly bus pass for february (accidentally) after getting the march pass. spent too much money. i am still amazingly calm and collected. i am most likely on edge but calm for now. trying to build the instinct for being mindful. trying is the key word. there is no use for getting upset at anything since i have a part in each of the events. they are mostly my stupid mistakes. i am now heading back to the cafe in cupertino. gonna hole up so the sky doesn't fall on my head.

here i am blogging on the bus. what an experience hih? whatever works i suppose. fuck em if they can’t take a joke. fuck em all! makes me wonder what kind of material i would amass if i sat on the bus everyday for a couple of hours blogging about what i see. it would certainly make an interesting “day in the life” kind of blog. looking out the scratched window of the bus, the southern horizon of the valley looks beautiful. the sky is clear with scattered high clouds. it is that kind of washed out boring blue but in context it is beautiful nevertheless.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

old grounds new camp

another move, another camp. as someone said, the nomad is built into you whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not.

so we'll see how the caravan will behave, i will see how many times a member of the "flock" needs chastising, direction, etc... nah, i didn't wake up cranky. i'm in a tranquil mood this morning. especially after the white chocolate mocha a friend bought me. in these last weeks, i have learned patience. sometimes i wonder where it comes from, there is no answer. there are periods of clarity now more often than ever. well, ever may not be accurate but a long time since...

in this clarity i am learning to be serious as well as goofy and not necessarily to anyone's detriment. this development is beyond nominal. in joviality, there is honest laughter hearty enough to wake sleeping dragons. in seriousness, there is enough compassion to subdue a crouching tiger. i am in fact learning.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

low clouds new paths

" I know that space is curved but my brain has been condoned by habit to grow in a straight line." --J.W.

learning to react differently to old stimuli. when i can't find in myself, i seek elsewhere. luckily this morning hasn't offered a lot for me to react to which is really pleasant. outside, the clouds are low. it's one of those beautiful mornings when the clouds are there but they have completely engulfed the air between the treetops and the highest parts where the hawks are at home. now only if i were riding a horse atop a ridge in sonoma somewhere...

ahhhhh!!!!!! stop it. stop the daydream, ok. everything is going to be fine. i was just slow in getting the caffeine into my system this morning. i suddenly had this thought of the perfect roasted chicken. don't know where that came from. well, that is not entirely accurate. i know where it came from. i just don't want to admit it exists.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Robert's Intro...

" Time to check in somewhere. For one thing, you may be willing to have murder committed, in the belief you won't be caught, to acquire the land or object that you covet. Or, to neutralize the feelings of jealousy you have for others. If you were cast in the role of a frontier rancher or a dictatorial government leader, the lives of others would become meaningless in your quest to conquer those whose land or material possessions are in your sights. Murder and carnage is just part of the game to you. You are probably clever, ruthless,relentless and unsatiable. You will do whatever it takes. You areprobably not warm and nice."

So says one of the many "personality tests" I've taken onliine say. Perhaps they were referring to the persons that Narthex wants to use a blunt force object on. Certainly I would never harm anyone... he he he!

More from the asylum later... and more from sanctuary.

it's blue

"if you don't know how to use, ask for help. if you don't have the patience, don't use it. it's a computer, not a fucking vacuum cleaner."

followed by, "dude, this is the kitchen. there is food here and i'm making sandwiches. don't be taking off your shoes and asking for our opinion on your foot gunk. have you no consideration? take it out of here." oh, uh, i'm sorry, i apologize man. "man, just think about it before you do something. what the hell?#@*%!!!"

so begins my morning, a schizotypal in the midst of a bunch of crackheads who believe the 6 a.m. local news is gospel and that it is important to know what is going on in the michael jackson trial. with borrowed patience, gifted serenity and breathing exercises i manage not to misuse the sandwich board as a blunt instrument. a couple more deep breaths and my blood pressure came back down. creasing the top of the lunch bag into a neat self holding origami fold. i look up and leave and by the time i am outside i can sincerely bring a smile to the blue dawn.

often i find solace in words, in language that stir the mind and bring little wounds to our hearts. in hope, the little wounds might soften our hearts and make us stronger. in hope, the heart might learn to bear the pain and be able to carry the gift and burden of compassion. in hope, our shells might learn to live with our own self hatred and find forgiveness and somehow bring that deeply found understanding to the way we deal with others.

The Shortest Distance
by Erin Lambert

Perhaps the dead long for light, long for the sky and stars.
Why we fold them in boxes, shelve them neatly in rows
six feet beneath a world they lived long enough to die in,

I do not know.

I thought as a child that the hell-bound had it easy,
already down there, not much distance to go.
Those in limbo could rest awhile, stretch their bones
back into the earth and fashion new lives from memory;
live ten thousand lives in dirt and darkness.

But who can help those deserving heaven?

Even the statues turn away; angels with eyes lifted
or heads bent in prayers for the living because soon enough,
our turns will come. They try not to hear the dead who are good
tossing in their graves with desperate talk: Which way is up?
Was that a crow this morning?

Because the good are perfect, they are not tortured by memories
so they forget themselves. They lie with the damned
and those left to wonder, who try to give directions with talk of love
and light, the shortest distance between ground and sky. Remember God?
Those in waiting ask the good who, dumb as dirt, stagger for the answer
to a god too distant to wake the dead.  

--

it's evening. i'm at the cafe. soon i'll have to head back to "sanctuary" and experience the myriad of random behaviors of temporal housemates. i'm promising myself i won't pick up the cutting board with harmful intent. yeah, i think that is probably the right attitude. hehe!!!

i had another one of my "reading shakespeare on the bus" moments today. it caused me to get off at the wrong stop and have to walk way farther than planned. but it was okay, i need the exercise (yeah, right!). but then the cut down passages from much ado about nothing are so good. now if i can just memorize some of the better lines. but robert keeps reminding me that my insults are ineffectual unless i dumb down my language. hell i'm not even a native english speaker. what the hell is going on with this country? is everybody trying to be bush? arghhh...

need to make effigies. making effigies will make me feel better, especially after i...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

it wasn't because i was bored

there was something nagging at me today so i had to find out. the results are below. interpretations are open, i think, we think, they think...

so i took a personality disorder test. and i'm sure if i took it again next week it will be different, well it could be different, okay it might be different...

the results:

Personality Disorder Test Results
Paranoid |||| 14%
Schizoid |||||||||||||||| 66%
Schizotypal |||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Antisocial |||||||||||||||| 66%
Borderline |||||||||||||| 58%
Histrionic |||||||||||| 42%
Narcissistic |||||||||| 38%
Avoidant |||||| 22%
Dependent |||||||||||| 42%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||||||||||| 54%
Take Free Personality Disorder Test
personality tests by similarminds.com


you too could take the test...

Friday, February 18, 2005

bishamonten (lord protector of the north) at 5 a.m.

i was dreaming of walking through a garden, contemplating a statue of bishamonten (japanese) or vajravana (sanskrit) when i was rudely awakened by a loud rapping sound. it was 5 a.m. time to wake up but turning on the lights would have been sufficient. when i stood up, i had the thought in my mind that i would have liked to have had in my hands the bow and arrow that bishamonten often is seen depicted with to use in fending off demons from the kingdom.



i looked around for targets but they had already quickly vanquished themselves from the sanctuary. i suppose they don't believe that they would be safe on sanctuary grounds. they generally exhibit some signs of intelligence before they head to the kitchen, turn on the tv and start talking crack. crack talk and testosterone in the morning...my nemesis. i try hard to recall what little mindfulness instruction i have and breathe out the growing impatience accumulating. i remind myself that they are just empty shells reciting empty mantras of kitchen table, over-sugared cereal, shallow morning tv show philosophy and discourses on what the female meteorologists look like. that is not even to mention the fact that they are middle aged males flouting the departed audacity of their past adventures. why do men feel that there is something positively affective in boasting to other men. do they think the "guys" are impressed? by boasting as such, do they think they are going to "score" when they go out in public today?

wow i woke up a bitch this morning...

but i was having wonderful dreams of going back to the old country and visiting old places and homes of my grandparents. there were lush gardens and many buddhist sculptures and artwork on the walls that i don't quite recall. the dream reality was a split vision of a temple and an old house. curious that my mind was blending the two. perhaps old influences from the ancestors' altars in the house in saigon surfacing. anyway, to be awakened by loud rapping started me as a knife's edge...

a hot shower and coffee away from the sapiens imitating parrot teachers changed my mood. outside there is a pale blue sky playing hide and seek with grey and platinum skies. the low clouds glow differently when the earth is glossed by water, reflecting gleaming asphalt and verdant borders.

i need still waters and intelligent conversation. give me this and i'll write you a poem.

--

evening. 9:21 p.m.

back at sanctuary with the crack talkers. there is strange behavior going on, but they are others' strange behaviors and not mine. this is a good thing. there are definitely people here who ought to go to emotions anonymous. no kidding.

they walk this life without living, mimicking the motions from moving screens and muttering the phrases of talking heads.

II

"The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.
With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.
 

III

You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands."

--T.S. Eliot. from Preludes

Thursday, February 17, 2005

coffee cups

so rob and i were walking back from the café to catch the bus tonight and we were talking about coffee. and that led to good vs. bad coffee, folgers vs. starbuck’s, disposable vs. commuter cups, etc...

somehow it led to rob making a comment that at a particular starbuck’s nearby, “after you put on the lid, you have to give it like a half a turn otherwise it always leaks.

there was a moment of silence then i blurted out, “what do i have to do? put vaseline on the rim or something?”

we then realized we were walking in public on the sidewalk with people ahead and behind us. suddenly, we felt terribly conspicuous at which point the only right thing to do was to burst into raucous laughter.

--

so i took a white trash test and here are the results:

I am 12% White Trash.
Not at all White Trashy!
I, my friend, have class. I am so not white trash. . I am more than likely a monarchist (you can be my serf), and my place is neat, and there is a good chance I may never drink wine from a box.


--

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

let us go then

LET us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats         

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …         

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

--T.S. Eliot from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


so let us go and make our visit. make a visit into the fabric of today to find what can be brought forth. what tales, discoveries, and secrets lie within the yarn? how many unknowns are there and should they be kept track of?

--

so my brain started to try and talk to me. dredging up all these complicated to do lists, things to be apprehensive about, people to avoid, people to contact and so on. i looked for the standby switch. it didn't work. i looked for the off switch. it had been removed.

i was left to deal with the reality of the situation. so i let it have its say, acutely listening, contemplated the message, its intent and pondered its true nature and then let it go. they say the mind has unlimited capacity to asorb and learn and its potential memory is limitless. i am making it a point to reserve enough space to remember how to learn a lesson on how to do something. i think that is where i usually lose it. if it is a how to then it is not so tough but a how to on a how to can start to get tricky. i always have had the suspicion that i have difficulty thinking linearly. just can't think in a straight line. maybe that is why i sucked in math. hmmm...

or maybe it was because when i was a child in school i used to get my hand rapped with a ruler by the mean french teacher whenever i finished my math problem quickly and then flipped the chalk slate over and started drawing airplanes. i probably looked like i was never doing the math problems. belated clarity?!

possible, but unlikely.