December 31, 2009

Berlin 1991 - New Year's Eve

He made the call from the apartment of the unknown man. She said she had only stepped into her apartment for an hour. But to his delight he managed to reach her. Memories of her play, the green mask, the play acting filled his heart. He often would dream of her - oh precious Nathalie. He fantasized of her face.

The unknown man’s apartment was sparse filled with only a TV, a bed, a closet, a guitar and a playboy magazine. He paid him for the call. Driving up to the unknown man’s apartment he remained quiet having just parted with Terra on a sour note. It was just like the woman in the opera who came up to John and asked why he was so sad. John did not know haw to respond but said "Yes I am sad."

"Are you missing something or someone?" she asked

John didn't say "I'm always this way.” It reminded John of the game with Chris in Delaware, when they’d say over and over "It all goes back to childhood," he remembered with a smile. Why was the woman so concerned? She seemed to be genuine. John couldn't remember how she left or what she told John. Perhaps she offered a friendly smile or maybe she told him not to worry for it will all turn out OK. He didn't know.

After the call John slept contentedly - anticipating his time with the wondrous Nathalie. The next day John rode the train up to Berlin where he happened on the pour soul of a man who he remembered had no place to stay that Christmas. After the Christmas meal the pour soul boarded a train to a city the other traveler had suggested only to have all his belongings stolen as he slept on the train after confessing his sorrows to a thief. John had no intention of hanging out with the pour soul and quickly exited.

Sometimes it was protocol to hook up with a fellow traveler upon a chance meeting. On the train ride to Berlin John met two Swedish women who seemed very friendly. They spoke to John with perfect English. One had a cold but opened up her bag and sprayed perfume on. Was this a signal John thought in hindsight? John oblivious took out an Ernest Hemingway novel and read. The two women exited the car and came back with a fellow with long hair and tattoos. Had John missed an opportunity? He did not know.

When John got to Berlin he accidently made his way into East Berlin. Finding a tourist booth they instructed John to take the subway back to West Berlin. By this time it was in the middle of the night. John planned to sleep on the subway only at each stop a loud buzzer sounded. In and out of sleep John opened his eyes and saw a man with a bloody nose and lip - John decided to get off. Upon exiting he was delighted to find a gyro stand. Next order of business was to find a place to sleep. He saw an open door above which was a word John thought was German for "room". As he entered he gladly reached a man only to have him start screaming. John left.

John resigned himself to walking through the night. He came upon a large cement courtyard and much to his luck he saw a woman dragging a suitcase. Yes thought John. The woman was going to some place to sleep so John followed. Sure enough she led him to a hotel. John found a person who spoke English, which he found out, in his travels, was not hard to do and asked the price for a room. The price was more than John thought reasonable so he asked if there were any hostels nearby. The man took him aside and gave him a better deal so John took it. The Hotel was large and John was on the 13th floor giving him a nice view of the fireworks for New Years.

As he always did once he found a place to stay in a new city the next order of business was to figure out a way to get around and find the museums. It always filled John with a great sense of adventure. Soon his thoughts turned to Nathalie "Will I be able to recognize her," he wondered even though he often fantasized of her face, a mysterious face filled with promise and magic. John didn't seem to mind being alone for New Years. From his window on New Years John set his camera for a long exposure so that all the fireworks would manifest as lines of light. John felt alive and vital. Soon he would be near Nathalie.

November 28, 2009

Guandu Temple: Homage to Tiger

Fish will swim upstream. Birds float gently in the rain. I came out of the tunnel to a scene of the river. Haze lies on the mountains. Turning around I see the 26-armed Buddha. What are you holding - I cannot remember. The color is red.

I go back through the tunnel. On the walls are low relief sculptures depicting scenes from tales I cannot understand. Periodically there will be a large window each filled with warriors, demons, 3-headed children, heroes and most prominently the great Tiger. Your spine twists around itself as you dance great Tiger.

I sat under the canopy. I cannot move - if I move they will see me and attack. There is the noise of water - they are going to pour water all over my back. I cannot move. Don't Look!

Oh great Tiger fill me with passion. Let the bright light burst the clouds. I see only grace and awe.

My leg aches but I still cannot move. A small child runs across the canopy floor screaming in a language I don't understand. The rain is now pouring down furiously. Gusts of wind lay down the rain in sheets. There is a sense of the mystical flower, like the lotus floating. In a dream world my eyes are blurred and out of focus.

Katie waves hello. I don't respond. How can I let such beauty go to waste? Get Up! Get Up! Don't let the dark images win - only light. The pain has lifted. Ease. Comfort. Peace. Thank you great Tiger for letting me see a small portion of your majesty.

September 23, 2009

Short story

He woke up in the morning achy and withdrawn. School again. Ugh. At breakfast he watched as his mother ate her Cheerios. The sound always bothered him. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. The silence was deafening. Perhaps it was filled with what was never said. His sister gave a knowing look and quickly moved the Cheerios box to block sight of her. The past night was again filled with the confusing dreams that he could never decipher. This one involved a vacuum that ran over a red carpet all on its own. John looked down the stairs at the vacuum. The image of the vacuum scared him. It was a lucid dream, which was rare for John. He sat down on the stairs and blinked his eyes until he woke up.

John got up from the table annoyed by all the chewing. Why did it bother him so much? Was it the silence - the deafening silence - of nothing - nowhere - empty. John got his books. The dream came back. Why the vacuum? What was so scary about a vacuum? Was it that it ran by itself perhaps run by some ghost or spirit? The night before there had been more dreams. That night red was also the color. He looked down through an open window to a couch covered in red - but the red was moving - blood? Again it scared him to remember.

The air was crisp and biting - John loved these cold mornings. What could he look forward to? Certainly not class. First period was Bible class. He always sat in the same seat just like everyone else. Jim sat across from him. That morning Jim chose to bother John. He moved to the front of the class, everyone still chatting, and wrote on the chalkboard - "John licks the eyelids off the fishes". John sank down in embarrassment as he often did: he did not counter or fight back - it wasn't in his nature. He burned on the inside. But what did it mean? Eyelids? Fish? Do fish even have eyelids? He did not know. The teacher Mr. Smith looked down at John and said "Poor John." It was awkward.

John remembered the first day of class when Mr. Smith asked the class "What do we know about Jesus?" The class went on about the life of Jesus - miracles, sermons, son of God, crucifixion, resurrection. But at the end of class Mr. Smith gave the twist, "We actually don't 'know' anything about Jesus from a factual, 'historical' viewpoint". John rolled his eyes - what a trick he thought.

The class seemed to drag on and John’s mind traveled to soccer practice after school. The Bible did not inspire him at all.

One of the first assignments given by Mr. Smith was to create your own version of the creation of the universe. John wrote about a group of stars that swirled and swirled - giving birth to a race of giants who sang a song and out of their heads popped the first man and woman. It got him a B.

His next class was across the campus. John didn't like all the people - why was saying hello such a struggle? He would rather sit by himself and doodle in his notebook. In English John sat uneasily, hoping not to be noticed. The image of the vacuum came back. It produced a sense of fear and excitement. His heart began to pump as the teachers voice faded into the background. He came back to the surface just as the teacher walked up and took his notebook saying, "Lets see what John has in his notebook." She opened it up and showed the contents to the class. All his copious doodles and class notes where now public. John shrank down oppressed by all the attention. He wanted to run away – to hide in a hole where he would be safe, safe from people. "Maybe I should be a monk,” he thought. But being a monk only in order to escape from life wasn't the greatest motivation. The teacher proceeded to shake Johns notebook so that all he loose papers fell on the floor. "I see you are quite organized", she smiled as the class giggled.

Caroline sat next to John. For most of the past 2 years John had fantasized about Caroline. She was beautiful - dark brown golden skin - brown eyes and attractive. John always tried to be near her. The day before John had seen her cleaning a table after lunch. "Can I help you clean?" he said. She smiled and John’s heart leaped her beautiful face lighting up the room. "I'll scrub this half and you the other" he offered. John lingered after the cleaning hoping to spend more time with Caroline but she just smiled and left.

John fantasized about Caroline all though the 7th grade. He had the courage once to ask her out on a date to the movies. "My father won't let me go on dates," was her answer. His sister had actually locked John in a room and wouldn't let him out until he called Caroline for a date. At a party that year John’s dream came true. They were playing spin the bottle. John prayed "Please let the bottle point to Caroline." His dream came true: he shakily got up crossed the room and kissed her cheek. There is a God he thought. But that was the end of it - nothing ever came of the kiss.

School was hard for John but his sister Anne was a light in his days. She was always cheerful and supportive: he loved her greatly. That night more red dreams. This time the dream was more complex. A man in a red mask was waving a knife, singing at the top of his lungs. A small rabbit ran by. John could read the mind of the man with the red mask as he sang. The song was joyous but what John heard from his mind was quite different. His thoughts said, "Take a cigar and burn your arm." John already had burns on his arms from years ago during a dark time. Why burn? John had no reason why. The urge was sudden and unexplainable.

September 4, 2009

Tarot Meditation: 4 of Wind

Look upon the heavenly rainbow! It fills me with wonder and awe! I glow like a thousand candles underneath a crystal waterfall. The wolves are calling but I pay no heed - they are out of range. They call to the moon - which is my deity also.

The crystal pool before me is deep and cool. I penetrate the surface. All outside noise and pain fade away and I enter a pristine world of golden blue. What creatures do I see here? There is the octopus which glows pink, the blowfish billowing to itself, the purple stingray and the magnanimous killer whale. These creatures speak to me without voices. I sense their love and compassion. I am on a grand adventure!

Soon streaks of light shine down for it is time for me to surface. As I rise the light becomes more and more brilliant. I surface into a glorious day! I look at my reflection in the water - what attributes do I see? The simplest and most noble is compassion. I must fill my heart with compassion, the compassion I saw in the wondrous creatures of the deep that applies to all creatures of this and other planets. It is through this that I can conquer the world. I feel my friends swimming beneath me - I feel their love. LOVE and COMPASSION these are the greatest.

August 27, 2009

Nothing Ramble Fool

buttermilk sweet smell 
in the range of night 
eat giant birds for dinner 
all is well in the cave of uncertainty
Please drink of the end of the world 
all the kings horses and all the kings men
raise up your hands and stretch your mind
in the end all inspiration lifts 
call to the beast of burden 
clamor at the sight of dancing 
up in the sky dark clouds are heavy
in the dark shamrock succubus 
angels listen while the first rambling 
of the greater flight 
eeks out of unfamiliar territory
towers loom - the crab must find the path
but the riptide sucks you under
enter the orange sips
organic system wind grateful 
shooting star 
always be conquer swiftly
purple eyes again
sanctuary - peace - grace 
all turn on nothing
spin aimless 
does the sphinx know?
use the rifle tangent 
in the morning wonder face 
the needy with personal discrimination
clouds sink the waffling instant 
can the people see under 
nothing ramble fool 
in the grapefruit sunrise atop the volcano
wish to see lava
but the buddha is covered in pumice 
on the black beach 
a horse with no legs 
I sit on the rocks and draw
play the game
return to the debauch 
lick the sweat from her forehead 
she had her leg over mine 
injustice as he told her not to stay
next bus ride with a smirk
dinner spaghetti ring around the rosie 

August 10, 2009

Poem: A Transfusion of Grace

the tooth and claw
yet another day
feel the ocean as you walk
Look and praise the sky
You - one with the purple eyes
let me into your mysteries
the butterfly lives in the
she gave me such gifts
I must awaken
Blue and White stones are under
my feet
I clasp the wondrous vessel
Two white doves fly straight
they are beside the butterfly
the crackle of snow
Bright Bursting Bubbles
you and I laugh
the Fool courses through my veins
a Transfusion of Grace
the blue and white tones again
I wade through the water
Oh great fish what is in
your Belly?
perhaps a license plate
perhaps some directions
perhaps a pencil
perhaps the phantasmagorical
your eyes are full
full of awe mystery and time
but what time is it?
time for me to run through the water
not walk
time for me to float through the grass
time for me to listen to
those Blue and White stones
twisting umbilical cords
they move in a labyrinth
Shall I meet he Minataur?
Will Theseus protect me?
soon he will ask:
"where is your case?"
I will answer
but the case is hard to grasp
for on it is the Eye of God
peering at us through the Pyramid
Go Forth
let the uncertainty guide you.

August 5, 2009

Tarot: 6 of Fire - Hard Won Gifts

I see a glass ball: in the ball I see all the suffering I have experienced. What occurs to me first is a drawing I made when I was a young teenager. It depicted a ball, and inside the ball was a scene of horrific depression. The images were jagged, the faces tortured. Where did this come from? Divorce, neglect, depression, cruelty? I showed it to my sister and she agreed. It was an accurate account. Other images in the glass ball were ones of living in fear and doubt - suffocating within myself - quiet desperation.

Then there is perhaps the grand daddy image of them all, Schizophrenia. They say it can start manifesting at a young age. Was this the true source of all the pain and suffering? I don't know. It is always an open-ended question- it is always a mystery - nothing is set in stone - it all flows richly down the stream of experience.

This question brings up an idea that has inspired me throughout my adult life, and perhaps even before, maybe before I could even recognize what it was. The great muse of MYSTERY! What gift these glass ball experiences have given me. And I have already well named it - the awe and wonder of mystery.

I guess through suffering comes wisdom - so I have been told - but I don't feel wise. We learn from our mistakes but I don't feel educated. Perhaps this all sounds miserable but I don't feel miserable. I look at the morning sun stream through my window.

Yet I am forgetting the greatest of all gifts - ART! It is my true passion and I thank God every morning for this gift however mysterious its origins. It fills me with wonder and awe at this beautiful horrific world we live in. Perhaps I can transform the glass ball experiences into crystal bright light even if the subject may be dark. It all boils down to this: each morning is a gift.

July 21, 2009

Tarot: 7 of Earth - Teachings flaring to life in me

"Tiger Tiger burning bright in the forest of the night - what immortal hand or eye can frame thy fearful symmetry?” Or something like that. Poetry was never my calling. Am I a chosen one? Has God chosen me or am I called? What is the difference? Called to what? If God sent out a calling what would be my answer? Surely I am to be an artist - it is all I ever wanted to be.

In class Mr H gave us an assignment - write about what makes you special. I immediately thought of art. I described loving to "destroy the whiteness of the page" as part of the start of my creative process. He thought the phrase was powerful. At the time I was reading Alan Watts. He was Buddhist just like my teacher. Mr H gave me a book to read "The Moon and Sixpence " by Somerset Maugham all about the artist Gauguin. It was a snow day that Monday so I was able to finish the book. I was inspired. This little suggestion referring me to this book started a fire within me - a fire of the beauty and wonder of books. Up until then I had only read a few books. Something in the magic of Maughams writing excited me greatly. I went to extra help with Mr H that Saturday. In his classroom there was an Asian scroll of a man meditating. You see him in his house. And you see him floating off into the distance over fog filled mountains.

I was interested in the power of the word, which is ironic for I used words so limitedly. Holed up in my room I would draw a multitude of monsters and superherose. Painfully shy I rarely said “Hello” if at all. I would have loved it if I could hide away in a mountain cave like St. Benedict.

The word held specific power for me. Books on Voodoo and Santeria began filling my shelves. The magic of the word became my passion and obsession. If I said the right words could I change reality? The thought intrigued me greatly.

In the basement I created a studio - the heat above was oppressive - only a little cooler in the basement. There I embarked the world of fantasy letting my mind and intuition take me to new and greater heights. Excitement filled the air. I drew a vast landscape and in the foreground a man took root - literally grew into the landscape. The drawing was never finished and will fade into obscurity like I know I will. Perhaps I will fall through the cracks. Little did I know that 4 years later I would lose my mind.

July 14, 2009

Tarot: Mother Water - Entering cosmological love

Talking with a flower. This is my earliest memory. Twirling on the swing - dizzy and fun. My friend Deb and I would race all the time. She was always the fastest.

The day Te-Bo came into our lives there was great excitement. Te-Bo - master of all dogs - wondrous tennis ball retriever. Hitting the ball deep into the woods Te-Bo would always bring it back. He was intensely afraid of loud noises, which made the 4th of July nightmarish for him. We let him run free at night: hearing him bark - who would let him in?

Eddie, the boy next door, and I were buds. He had a Matchbox car collection that I greatly envied. His father had even made a wooden cabinet to store them, all neat and organized. Out in the back yard Eddie’s father built him a tree house - again I was envious. All along his fence his father had painted superheroes - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman.

Eddie’s Father hated Te-Bo. He thought Te-Bo was getting into their garbage at night.

Their above ground pool became our summertime play land. Eddie had a cousin, Normy, who had a big crush on my sister Anne and would always try and catch her in the pool. Anne dreaded Normy.

Te-Bo lay on my bed at night. He was getting old and it became more and more difficult for him to get on my bed. I loved the solace and warm feeling of Te-Bo laying next to me. He started losing his hair. He would gnaw at his coat. It was tragically funny - he would raise his leg to pee and then fall over. My brother Steve cried the day we had to put him down. We all cried. No dog will ever compare with Te-Bo. He was legendary.

I used to love soccer practice. Riding in the car with Mom I thanked God for soccer. Danbury Storm. We traveled all throughout New England playing in tournaments.

I loved to run. Mat was the fastest on the team - he played center forward while I played right halfback. I would kick the ball as far as I could to Mat, leading him to the goal. We would go into the housing projects to pick up Mat for practice. Mat told us stories of white kids coming to the projects to buy drugs. He said a carload of white kids got beat up. Lisa also lived in the housing projects. She was my first love. I invited her to Playland to roller skate. We held hands during the couples skate. Our hands got sweaty. Lisa would tell me about the kids who got naked and played with one another in the woods. I wanted to kiss her but I don't think I ever did.

Mat came over one day after school. We surprised my Mom. Mat always liked my Mom. Years later I ran into Mat at the mall. I couldn't place his name at first. He was dressed in a colorful suit and his buddy was dressed the same. "Is this your girl?" Mat asked referring to my sister Anne. "Mat - its me Mat," he said. I remembered. "Tell your Mother hello," he said smiling. "I hope you’re still playing soccer," I said. He nodded.

Years later my Mom showed me the police blotter "Mat B. arrested with possession with intent to sell." We came from different worlds - I will never understand what it is like to be Mat B.

July 1, 2009

Tarot: 2 of Fire - Transformation

I see a wall of flame but I am not burned: the flame is blue I think it is an ocean. I dive in and the flames envelope me.

I burst into a thousand shards of light floating around the world just as a flock of birds floats gently though the air. Collecting myself as a single being I turn into a rock - a sturdy ageless rock. I live for eternity but this is something I cannot comprehend.

I have gone too far: I must burst again into a thousand shards of life and flame. But now I turn and collapse into a hole in the earth. Time stops and then time reverses and then I am above ground again only there is no civilization now. There are only plants and animals - humans do not exist.

I soak up the freshness of the air. I am free. The mountains are pure and purple the sky is golden blue. Gently flowing with the breeze all is calm all is peaceful. I could live here forever. The birds caress my branches and monkeys jump around me. Ants trample my bark. Serenity.

June 19, 2009

Tarot: 9 of Wind - Teachers

I was on a grand adventure. The whole year in Italy seemed like a fantastic movie -- getting better and better all the time. I was in Prague for Christmas. My classmate Terra was there with me and being clueless I made no advances. I was living in a dream.

One night we went to a restaurant and were seated next to two English-speaking men. I did not trust them from the beginning. We ate and I got the intuition that the talkative one was not exactly telling the truth. Terra introduced the both of us, "We're artists traveling around." She prided herself on being an artist -- a photographer specifically. After the meal we all went to a pub next door and proceeded to get very drunk, much to the glee of our newfound companions. It was the most incredible beer I had ever tasted - so smooth and fresh. The bar master immediately filled our glasses without any sign from us.

That night Terra and I had tickets to the Opera, Madame Butterfly, and I was excited about the possibility. The two men talked about a house in the country they have and maybe we, or more pointedly Terra, would like to join them for a while. Finally it was time for the Opera and it didn't look like Terra was up to it. But I insisted. I was drunk but could still walk. I had to prop up Terra. During the pub scene it must be noted that Terra seemed to lean suggestively on one of the men. I had seen this flirtation before because she had done it to me. We were not a couple - and never would be. Perhaps she realized this and was making other plans. But I insisted we leave for Madame Butterfly so we stumbled down the beautiful cobbled streets. We finally made it to Madame Butterfly and our seats were good much to my surprise.

Just as the Opera started Terra jumped up gave me her ticket and left. I did not know why she had left or why she gave me her ticket. Then it dawned on me - she was going back to the pub in hopes of an adventure. I did not know what to do - I was the one with the keys to the apartment and she was much drunker than I. So I decided to follow her and found her in the hallway perfectly white. She had just thrown up all over the bathroom. I took her hand. "We should go home now," I said - she nodded looking miserable. Back at the apartment she poured a large glass of water and put it next to her bed. I later found out this was for waking up in the night and being dehydrated. Apparently this was her routine on such nights. She took the large bed while I slept on a small cot. The next morning it was time to part - she needed to get back to Rome and I was traveling on to Berlin for New Years. At the station she left but paused to say "chi videamo" which translates into "see you later" or "I will see you again." I doubted that very much.

In Prague there was no hostel system set up so at the train station there are people that rent out their houses or apartments for a few nights. They ask you what you can pay and then based on that find you an appropriate house. The more you can pay the better the house or apartment and the closer to the inner city. The man who rented out our flat said he had a cheap place for me for a few nights. I remember blankly staring out the car window at night as we drove out of town to a series of huge industrial apartments. I think they took my reticence as being from Terra’s departure apparently thinking we were a couple who had just broken up. The apartment was sparse - not much furniture, a TV some playboy magazines and an empty bedroom with just a mattress, a closet and a guitar. He asked what I wanted for dinner - would steak and beer be OK? I said sure so he left and 15 minutes later came back with a full dinner.

I wanted to phone my friend Nathalie in France and asked how I could pay for the call. We worked something out and I called Nathalie unaware of the time difference. Much to my surprise Nathalie answered and my heart soared.

Nathalie is mythic in my life. My bond with her is deep and intense. I first met Nathalie when she was 16 and I was six or seven. She was a French exchange student living in our house for a year. We bonded on some great spiritual level and though I had not talked with her for years, I still feel the bond - the intense agape that we share. She was living in Provence as a high school teacher. She was obsessed with Jean Cocteau.

While she was living with us as a school project she directed a French play of her own creation for my second grade class. The storyline I have forgotten but my role I remember very well. I was the green dragon. Nathalie knew how thrilled I would be to be the dragon. We spent hours and hours constructing and painting the dragon. The final scene I especially loved for I was to be murdered. Choreographing my slow fall to death plus the appropriate cries and moans gave me a great thrill. There was some controversy for my final words before I died were "Oh Merde!" which translates into "Oh Shit" in English. The one teacher who spoke French shifted awkwardly in her chair about that one. As I think of Nathalie I feel she is one of my Muses. She is an inspiration to me - I carry her in a special place in my heart.

June 2, 2009

Tarot: 4th Daath - Naming the Adventure Calling Me

It came in a sudden flash - what beauty I lived and am living. As Julian of Norwich proclaims - I had a KNOWING. It is a time of reverence and awe when God came down and rested his hand upon my shoulder. Oh great spirit fill me with hope! Hope that will crush my demons. My demons weren't there at that moment for in that moment I saw beyond myself.

Breaking through the looking glass I shattered my image. I was not there any more - I was nothing. The shards of myself falling and falling into the abyss. That is where I dwell at times into the great unknown - the unspeakable - the ineffable. My life is small and great at the same time as is my soul. As an ant I rest. This thought brings great ease to my spirit. As they say I am dust - a mere phantom - From dust I came and to dust I will go. My heart fills with joy at this thought and my worldly problems seem to slip away into the night.

It was that special day - that special moment when I knew my purpose or so I thought - I knew where I came from and where I am going but just as the life of the butterfly - the magic was gone - so beautiful yet so ephemeral. It was grandiose yet tiny - it was the universe yet a single atom. "As above, so below" the wise ones say. Maybe I have an inkling of what this means.

What was the sentence that lifted me to the heights of Heaven in a single moment? My sentence was this, "My art is a search for God." It seems so small when I say it - right now I can only sense a fragment of what I felt at that moment. I pray to God every day to let me into that wonder of wonders once more. I am on a quest - a journey into the unknown. My body rests as my spirit soars.

May 26, 2009

Tarot: Water Father - The Essence of My Heart's Desire

That year will live in my memory as the greatest. After that year everything went away - got lost. Going overseas without knowing anyone was a big risk. I'd been miserable - so instead of being miserable in Pittsburgh I could be miserable in Rome. A change in environment would do me good.

My memory is clouded yet seems so clear. It doesn't make sense. Little does. There were times when I felt life so awesomely - so grandly that I could not put words to describe those times. Ineffable. I was on a mission: Stromboli.

My sister Katie flew in for spring break and we rented a car and decided to drive down to Sicily. Such freedom, such powerful experiences. We bought blood oranges and I played my tape of the Indigo Girls over and over again. That album lives in my memory - each time I hear it I am transported back to that miraculous time.

We came to a small town - along the road was a funeral procession - it looked nightmarish yet full of grace. All people in black, moving slowly. In the next town we saw another funeral coming out of a local church. I sat and looked on in reverence.

Next we came to some Roman ruins atop a hill over looking the ocean. The light was so wondrous - I was in a dream - a fantasmagorical dream. Life was one big adventure. Recently Michele and I were in the hot tub witnessing the sunset. "Do you feel it Michele? Do you feel how wondrous everything is?" Michele nodded. "This is how it was every second of every day in Italy - every thing was grand and full of life. Imagine feeling this way all the time." We sat in the hot tub soaking in the intensity. Maybe I am romanticizing that year - but it does not mater - I love it.

Katie and I made it to Sicily and decided to take a boat out to Stromboli - a small volcanic island nearby. Arriving at the dock the locals met us with offers of places to stay. We were approached by a small man with a huge smile. "Rooms?" We followed him up the road to a charming villa. “Breakfast is at 8:30" said the small man as if he were some sort of Italian leprechaun.

We set out to explore the island. "Wasn't there a movie called Stromboli?" we wondered. Immediately an idea arose in my mind - an idea that would obsess me for the next few months. LAVA. I decided I was on a mission to see lava.

That night we ate pizza at a small restaurant ordering another glass of beer. That year was the beginning of my romance with alcohol. Katie said how odd it was to consider getting drunk with her younger brother. After dinner it was twilight and that wondrous feeling came again as it did every day - I was on an adventure! Full of Life! Full of love for the blessings of my existence. I smiled. I was happy.

The next day my obsession with lava intensified. We started on a trail where at the top they said you could look down into the crater. We only made it a short way for Katie had not brought the right shoes and was tired. Down we went - my dream of lava would have to wait.

Next there was the beach, all black sand. I found a small plastic horse. That year I started collecting small objects which would periodically in some way or other make it into my artwork. The horse was missing a few legs – they’d been worn away by the ocean. Years later that horse made it into a series of prints I called "Unknown Fetishes.”

Looking into the ocean we lay on the rocks. The feeling swept through me again - Yes - I was home - home on planet earth - what wonders there are to behold! Alive.

That summer I traveled back to Stromboli. My mission: see lava. The trains were a great part of the adventure. I remember sticking my head out the window of the train - feeling the wind - looking at the ocean, the mountains and towns. Yes! That feeling again. Back in Stromboli I was determined to climb to the summit and look in to find lava. Crestfallen at the top, the only thing I saw was clouds of sulfur. It was late in the afternoon. With clouds all around I descended and came across a view that blew my mind. Emerging from that bank of clouds I saw the sun set as I never had before. Yes! That feeling once again.

May 16, 2009

Tarot: 7 of Fire - Being Totally Alive & Awake

I see the monkeys on the roof. The stories about where I was born are burned into my memory.

I must awaken from the dreams of the past - so much hurt - so much pain. I was small - easy to lose track of - the marriage was long gone - I remember him cracking ice for his gin and tonic - I was knee high - I remember looking up to the counter. They all laughed at me as I sat on my own dinner plate after changing the channel. As the youngest I was designated official channel changer. Natalie was there - I love Natalie - I wish I had not abused our love in visiting from Rome. I was young - I drank too much.

When they told me I did not understand - I thought it was a game, a fun thing - but no - soon he moved away something that a divorced father should never do. So I understand it today. Should I live in those memories? NO emphatically not.

There is only now - what am I doing now? I must let my spark explode into a million wondrous crystal cells. I will break up into a million pieces and fly into the sun. I will circle the earth looking lovingly down at all the wonders and horrors that are there. Live in the moment - easier said than done. Be open to joy and love. If I think it - It will come true. I do believe we make up our own universes - I can choose to live in the hurtful past or I can choose to live in the awe inspiring, wondrous and phantasmagorical universe of potential and life.

May 6, 2009

Tarot: 3 of Water

I am a cup - fill me with your grace. Wine is fine but water will fill me with possibility. Which cup am I? Am I red or green or blue? The sky is dark; water will soon spill onto the beautiful horrific world we live in.

I await the abundance. My crops need water. I will grow all that I can, living in the moment. I have roots. What will I grow into? Slowly I gain strength and soon I will burst into the glorious sunlight. My leaves - deep green and my flowers red, purple, blue and yellow. I am a glorious plant radiant in the warm sun.

Soon the water comes again to quench my thirst. Then the night comes, the mysterious moon reflects down to me. I am calm cool and content. But what is growing inside me? It hurts at first but soon I realize it must be a pearl, a golden pearl. The divers in the sky search me out - they want the golden pearl. They prey on me.

All is glorious but there comes a time when danger alerts. I must retreat into the ocean via the three cups. The water fills me from the golden sources. I pull back and realize the cyclic nature. Soon I will be the water that is filling me now - all will merge. The great oneness of being will show itself. But also from anywhere the divers cause pain and suffering - yet soon all will be growth. I too am a diver: the suffering comes from myself but all will be transformed into beauty love pills. When you take the pills the divers scatter for another day. Perfect Peace Profound.

April 3, 2009

Tarot: 9 of Earth - Celebrating the Cosmological Life

I enter you - you enter me. I fill you up with love while you take my hand and lead me into the forest. In the forest many creatures resound. I hear the Raven - my internal self - it flies into the deep rich blue sky above the trees. I climb the tree to get closer to the infinite. I am reminded of my childhood friend Deb - we used to climb the trees all the time - forget who we are and live as an ancient being - one with the cosmos, singing wondrous love songs. Will I marry you when all the magic stops? Will I still be able to talk with the flowers, spin endlessly on the swing, and run barefoot through the garden?

Our dog Tee-bo jumps sky high - he can fly as he chases the ball. In the sandbox we make delicious mud pies - stack them up and release pleasure and caring through the universe. I ate that wondrous peach: I buried the pit behind the sandbox hoping it would grow miraculously into the ever loving tree of goodness and life. Was it like Adam and Eve? Would the fruit be forbidden like it was for them? Temptation - Evolution - Saturation.

I will grow the tree and each languid humid day I will pick one peach and eat it gloriously - what will God think of that? Perhaps I can grow a garden - till the soil - plant the seeds - watch them grow. Deb and I will dance through the garden with Tee-bo at our sides just like the Fool. Will God let us eat the fruit? Will we sin and be banished out of our wondrous garden? There will be plants of every size and shape - all the colors of the rainbow will burst forth - all will be glorious until the snake.

Will the snake eat its tail or will it direct us to the sacred knowledge? The snake whispers enticingly. We listen in rapt attention. I do not wish to leave. I look at my body and am ashamed - Deb looks at her naked body and turns away. The angel with the flaming sword directs us out. I wish to play - to jump - to scream joy and passion but now it is time to leave. "Never forget," is the command of God. "Go in peace - meditate on what you have lost and what you have gained. Wake up each morning with the sun dazzling your eyes and filling you with the ineffable sense of belonging and loving."

Deb and I step carefully, drift away from our beloved garden. I wake up feel the humid air, "Never forget" rings in my ears. I take Deb’s hand and we smile. It is time to dance - we shout and yelp jumping endlessly in the air. Soon we fly leaving the earth. Perhaps we can catch the chariot as it pulls the sun across the sky. We grow feathers and are no longer human. All is now - there is no past no future there is only now.

Soon I see my grandmother sipping tea and eating asparagus. She smiles and opens the door to Mercury - Hermes - Thoth. Thoth bring the fire, brings the knowledge. His winged feet carry him as we enter his domain. All my friends are floating through the door also. We decide to have a party - everyone is flapping their wings laughing and experiencing joy. The memory of the garden holds Deb in my mind for an instant but then we forget and laugh some more with the people we love.

"Go in Peace," says God. "I have given you all that you will need," he smiles. Deb and I go back to the party - we hold hands and sing songs. "Never forget," says God - but it is too late - we have already forgotten.

March 25, 2009

Tarot: 5 of Wind - The Right Way to Move

Crawl out of your cave! You have been hibernating too long! Spring is here - a time of joy laughter and play. Why so serious? Don't you realize there is much love wonder and awe in the world? I know we live in a horrifically wondrous time.

Seize the Day! Simple pleasures are the best! Without pain there is no pleasure. Observe - Listen - Meditate. Don't let the demons control your mind. Fill your mind with dreams of bright, radiant colors. Let the colors fill the path of the demons so the demons stumble and eventually fall. See them small alone and tired!

Once the demons are down spray them with fun - cover them with laughter - immerse them with joy! These ideas eat away at the demons so that they fall into a pool of memories that can be visited now and again.

Where will I move? I move to a place where Love is the glorious law. Take a look at the sky. Van Gogh once said that he never tired of looking at the sky. Simple pleasures are the best. I will stroll down the street and look at the sky. PEACE. The demons will always be there - this is a fact. But approached from the right angle demons can be turned into butterflies.

March 21, 2009

Tarot: 9 of Fire - Spiritual Revelation

I once thought I had heard from God - Julian of Norwich says that there are two ways to know God directly - that is feel his presence in our lives: the first is called a "Showing" which means an actual visual image appears to the contemplative - or to any one; then there is what she calls a "Knowing" which is touching God through your mind - internally. I believe I have a vague remembrance that I once had a Knowing but the memory has faded.

I often wonder about my memory - sometimes it is in one ear and out the other. It is interesting to note a session I had with my Dr. I had just watched a great DVD on Kabbalah and I wanted to share it with her. As I started to talk I couldn't - I was blocked and sat in silence - completely without any thought to the DVD. I had been profoundly moved by the DVD but the thoughts would not come. Finally as minutes had passed in silence it all came to me and rushed out in great order.

I often am aware of my bad memory - maybe it just takes more time for me to access information. Sometimes I think my sister Katie knows more about my history than I do. So what was my Knowing? Did it have to do with my art? ART - the love of my life - my passion - my beloved. Maybe my Knowing had to do with my confirmation as an Episcopalian in 2004. The Knowing may have been tied to this decision.

I think this is coming up for I am questioning my faith. What I am most passionate about is not Christianity but all that I read about Tarot and Kabbalah. These ideas fill me with wonder awe and inspiration. There are flashes of this same feeling associated with Christianity but they are often embedded in dryness. Mostly what I feel is confusion. Like the phrase - the more you learn the less you know. I am feeling the full impact of that phrase right now. Did Julian of Norwich have these feelings? I may never know - perhaps some reading is in order to find out more of the wondrous Julian.

I once became enthused about the Saints - I bought a Saint book and was fascinated by all the different - often times violent and gory - stories found there. Then I had a new inspiration - a group of Saint woodcuts. There was a lot to choose from - their lives, what they were the patron saint of and the symbols associated with them. I chose Anthony of Egypt first. I analyzed St. Anthony. I let the info move me so that my intuition and imagination could take over. Deciding to do a small linocut I dove into the process. I had a printmaking professor who said that printmaking is an ocean and one must dive in with one’s whole body and then one will see if one sinks or swims. I worked hard to make the print work but it didn't. I looked at the finished piece and knew quickly that it was a failure. I even tried painting the print to give it a stained glass affect but it still did not work. I had failed.

March 12, 2009

Tarot: 8 of Water - Being Love, Contemplating its Existence

I sometimes think of those days in the summer - the heat and humidity so oppressive. The sound of crickets at night. I love the sound of the fan at night. It reminds me of my happiest memories. Each summer from the time I was a toddler until I was sixteen years old we would all pack in the car and drive down to the beach in Delaware. Beautiful Delaware - Luscious Delaware. It was always so exciting for me as we neared the condominium. Rising over the bridge - yes I can feel it now. My sister Anne and I would always be stuck in the back of the station wagon - we didn't mind - it was all a grand adventure.

We would always stop in Bethany Beach to buy blowup rafts. It was such a joy to ride the waves on the rafts - the water so refreshing. The crabs under our feet we tried to warn of our presence by stomping our feet. I never knew if this worked or not. Then there were the innumerable sand castles - "mudsopolis" we would call them. Stretching from the water all the way up the beach the endless castles. We would take shovels and dig near the water until the pit filled with water. We created what we called "dribble castles" - taking wet sand in our hands we would "dribble" the mud slowly from our hands creating ornate creations.

At night we all had fans - the sound of the fan was always so soothing. To this day I still turn on the fan at night - even in winter whenever possible. It reminds me of waking up in the morning hearing the fan anticipating such a relaxed time - hearing the tennis ball being hit early in the morning. Those were the happiest times in my life. So now I need the fan to sleep peacefully. The sound of the fan symbolizes the carefree, wondrously relaxed and joyful time in Delaware. All we did was go to the beach eat and read books. Tower Shores - we would always go there for ice cream - we never wore shoes - we played everywhere. I remember at dusk just before dinner we would run and experience the grand presence of the ocean. For two or three weeks each summer I was in heaven - memories I cherish. So now it is part of my sleeping ritual - I always turn on the fan even in the cold just so I can hear its soothing sounds and transport me to that happy time.