Sunday, November 26, 2006

Home from Thanksgiving Vacation


I am sitting at the dining table sipping jasmine tea and nibbling on dark chocolate with bits of crystalized ginger in it, watching the black bamboo and the sweet orange osmanthus sway in the breeze. It is silent except for the deep thrum of the windchimes and the tap of my fingertips on the keyboard. I forgot how much I relish silence.

Ten days of travel. The joys of seeing family and friends and children. Road noise, airport announcements, beeps and flashes, the annoying endless loop of television programming.

And now, home. Silence. People say silence is golden but I think few really understand what that really means. It seems to me like so many people fear being alone with their thoughts, fear the silencing of the external noise that drowns out their internal dialogue.

And now that I am alone, I'll let my thoughts flow, unedited, from my fingertips...
Girl Under Ginkgo (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006

The photo above is of my niece gathering up the golden leaves of the ginkgo tree. I braided some of her hair and put ginkgo leaves in it to form a crown. She looked like a princess with golden butterflies in her hair. A lovely child of four, with mossy green-brown eyes, so solemn and wide, and hair the colour of tobacco, brown and gold, with the same curls as mine. She resembles my mother in ways, particularly her mouth and chin, and she has the permanent sun-kissed tan that mom always had and which my sister's and I did not get. Lucky girl. I brought her Dr Seuss books and read to her, and she read the stories back to me, even mimicking the accents. She is so articulate, so expressive, so impossibly bright. I taught her fencing poses and lunges one day last May and she still remembered them. When she wrapped her arms around me and told me she loved me and missed me I fell in love with her all over again. My sister and her husband have done a fine job of raising her.

My nephew is a source of wonder to me. In January he will be 14. He is 5'9" already, and wearing a size 13 shoe. His hands are larger than mine, and mine are large for a woman. He is big and fleshy, poised for another spurt of growth. His nature is similar to what mine was at his age... he is very empathetic and kind, good-natured and friendly. He is popular with his peers but does not seek it. He does phenomenally in school--my sister was concerned that he was not bringing home any school work and met with his teachers, but the truth is that even with the GATE program he is hardly challenged at all. He finishes most of his homework before he leaves school for the day. I was prepared to find him at that age where teenaged boys don't want anything to do with their family--that age when they are exerting their independance and withdrawing from their family in favor of their friends. But he's not there yet, and perhaps never will become that self-isolating. For now he is thoughtful, affectionate and snuggly. I loved snuggling up to him and listening to him breathe, listening to him talk about the things that are important to him. Manga. PS2. Yugi-oh. Movies. Swimming. School.

We talked about girls. He said there are girls at school who say they are in love with him and I could tell that it confused him. "I'm too young for a relationship," he said to me with such seriousness. I always have condoms with me and I offered to leave him some but he blushed said he was fine--my sister has made some available to him but he doesn't plan to use them any time soon. I like him. Smart, articulate, brave, sure of himself in ways few teens are. He knows he is loved. My sister marinates him in it. I have faith that he will survive adolescence with his 'self' more or less intact.

As for my sisters, both are well. The one who was ill, well, she's getting better physically, but she drifts around a lot, somewhat out of sync with reality in ways that are hard to pinpoint. Some of that is being on morphine for pain, I know, but some of it is residual psychosis from advanced Beri-beri. She is existing right now... exisiting, and not in a place to care much for herself or others... she keeps falling asleep with lighted cigarettes in her hands, leaving burn-holes in carpets, blankets and clothes, freaking my other sister out. They fight over the smoking... my youngest sister fears that she is going to wake up to her house burning down. And so it goes.
Shave Lake, CA (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
Wednesday night I made yellow curry with vegetables and chicken for everyone. I decided it would be a good idea to have something completely different from what we'd be eating on Thanksgiving. Its a speciality of mine and my brother-in-law and my nephew were dubious, but find themselves enjoying it rather a lot.

Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. My sister cooked the turkey in cheesecloth, which kept it very moist. There was cornbread stuffing cooked in a muffin pan, acorn squash, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes, yams, and cranberry sauce. Dessert (much later) was pecan pie or chocolate cream pie. I had the pecan pie, of course. The best part was snuggling up with my nephew for a nap.

Friday the six of us drove up into the Sierras to Shaver Lake, which is located about half-way between Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon. We had some of the best pizza I've ever eaten and strolled around the town a bit. The kids got their photos taken with Santa and my brother-in-law snapped a photo of my sister and I clowning around at the base of the town's Christmas Tree. It is a good photo. I think I'll have it printed and send it to my sister.

During the course of writing this I've gotten several phone calls and IMs. It is good to be home and good to know I was missed. I'm ready to resume my life here in Portland, even with the spectre of 8 weeks of 10 - 12 hours days at work on the horizon. Ah well, the joys of being in the accounting field.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekend in San Francisco

After a rather stressful day at work, I flew into San Francisco Friday night, rented a car and drove over to M's by 10-10:30pm. It was good to hug him and talk, and we neither of us got to sleep until 2 or 3 am. But of course I was awake by 7:30am, and of course he needs his 9 and more hours of sleep, so rather than wake him and make him keep me company, I showered and went out. Lucky for him I had my rental car... or I just might have taken his nice little BMW Z3 for ride.

The weather was peerless, warm enough that I didn't need a jacket, and there was not a cloud in the sky. I opened the sun roof, rolled down the windows, and listened to a jazz station as I drove up the Great Highway toward Sutro Heights. CD recommended the park to me. I climbed the hill in my little blue Pontiac G6, passed the Cliff House, found a parking spot on Point Lobos Ave, and strolled up toward the entrance to Sutro Heights Park. Stone Lion at Sutro Heights Park (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006There be lions there, reclining on either side of the decomposed granite road. There are benches placed along the west side, and older people sat there, reading the paper and warming themselves in the late-morning sun.

It had rained a fair bit the week before I came, and I noticed signs of growth and renewal: new-green grass, plants pushing up out of the ground, bushes starting to bud. The air smelled so clean and fresh, and there was only the faintest breeze, barely enough to stir the folds of my skirt. Just past the gazebo I followed a dirt pathway that lead up into some trees surrounding a stone wall. Path along a stone foundation at Sutro Heights Park (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006 The quality of the light coming through the tree branches was dreamy, lending an ethereal quality to my little tramp up a stairway. I came out onto a broad foundation overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Wow. Three big trees (cypresses?) dominated the east side of the space, leaving the rest of it exposed to the elements. I rested my palm against a rugged trunk and shook a stone of of my Birkenstocks. Cypress at Sutro Heights Park (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006I liked the feel of it under my hands...rough and unyielding as stone, but living, a living being, this tree. I found myself wondering how old it was, how much it had seen, how many decades had passed for it to reach such an imposing girth.

As I wandered around the grounds I developed an appreciation for some of the specimens growing there, particularly this flower.
(c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
M woke up around noon and called me. We arranged to meet down at the Cliff House for lunch. I had a delicious shrimp louie at Sutro's Bistro, where they served these great warm popovers with a flaky exterior and an eggy inside. From there we walked down the hill to the beach and eventually sat on a bench and talked until the wind picked up about 4:30pm and it got chilly. We walked back up the hill and I followed him bak to his place, where we watched episodes of Ghost in the Shell late into the night.

I spent *hours* in bed on Sunday. I don't know when I last spent 10.5 hours in a bed. That is twice my usual daily dose. But it was nice to sleep in, and M did say that he would know his goal of geting my vacation off to a good start was achieved if I actually slept in. Which I did. Lunch was dim sum at a place that was insanely busy and we were the only non-asians in the building. From there we went to see Casino Royale. Went back to his place to watch more Ghost in the Shell and nap, and then went for sushi at Hana Zen, which was fantastic. (c) KR SilkenvoiceI was going to head south to see my sisters, but as it was dark and getting out of San Francisco and onto I-5 is difficult enough in daylight, I decided to stay over another night, and leave on Monday morning. Since he had to go to work in the morning I was a good girl and went to bed early, then got on the road about 10am.

A long, relaxing weekend with one of my best friends was just what I needed. All in all a great start to a week's vacation.

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Friday, November 17, 2006


Its been very stormy here. I've watched in delight and awe at the high winds making 60 foot trees dance like palm fronds in the hands of children cavorting after church on Palm Sunday. I've listened to the rain pounding my window; record rains that are washing out roads and flooding homes. I live where two rivers meet and every morning I've looked with wonder at the new heights the water reaches, wondering if the State parks that border my home will flood again, as they did in January.
Glorious sunrise (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
This morning, it stopped raining long enough for the sun to peep through the clouds, creating a golden stage that I fully expected angels to appear upon, blowing their horns. It was so glorious I stopped my car and pulled out my camera and snapped a photo. People looked at me--other drivers, their passengers--they looked at me and they looked in the direction I pointed the camera, looking for what I was photographing, and their faces wore puzzled expressions. I realized that they did not see the sunrise. It made me sad that nature had put on such a gloriously, exquisitely beautiful display for us as a consolation for two weeks of rain, and it went mostly unnoticed.

The trees are still changing. Some still wear green, but many are golden and ruddy, and some look ragged, with their leaves torn from them prematurely, leaving baldspots amongst the colour. At lunch I put on my rain-slicker and my Tevas and went for a walk. And as I walked, I noticed the ground was littered with jewel-toned leaves. I chased the ones recently torn from their trees, gathering them up into my hands, delighted with their singular beauty, each one unique as a snowflake.
Dew drops on autumn leaves (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
I walked back to the office soaking wet. Cold. Ankles muddy. Hands and nails dark with smears of leaf litter. A colleague held the door open for me, and I grinned at her, filled with a child-like glee, and showed her the treasures in my hands. She shook her head, this woman a dozen years younger than me and said that only I would be chasing leaves in a storm. Her smile was condescending. The leaves were unremarkable to her. She has a whole front-yard full of them, she said.

A conversation with a friend, someone I love deeply, oh so deeply, and whom I miss every day because I seem him so rarely. We talked and I spoke of how pleased I am with the amazing people I am inviting into my life. And we talked of change, and in his frustration he mocked me, stating that perhaps the best way for him to effect change in his life was to "start pretending that everybody in this world is fucking amazing."

That hurt. It brought tears to my eyes. I said, "Its not my place to tell you whether or not you need to grow or change, and it is not my place to tell you how. I am the child, remember? I am the idiot who chases pretty leaves in a storm. And looks like a simpleton grinning ear-to-ear because they are so beautiful to me. But they are just leaves to everyone else, you know. You are a leaf. You are beautiful to me. Perfect as you are. And I don't need you to change in order for me to see you that way. But its silly of me, isn't it? Pretending that there are so many fucking amazing people in my life? They are just people. Just leaves, you know? I find them beautiful and incredible, but to other people they are just people."

He said, "Your people aren't my people, and you seek to find the silver lining in the clouds. You are free to look at people however you like hon. What upsets me is that I feel you are telling me what I cannot do, ie change."

I responded with, "I thought perhaps it would be good for you to try being more like me, to see the possiblity and the beauty in even the littlest thing--I thought maybe if you could see the world from a perspective of change, it would give you hope and pleasure... But I want you to know that I recognize that my child-like enthusiasm for the adventure of both my inner and outer lives is not a paradigm that is for you. And I am trying to apologize for trying to get you to look within and explore the possibilities that changes inside you might create outside you, via a change in attitudes/perceptions."

He said, "Change for the mere sake of change, is a waste of energy. Change, to impact that which brings the most unhappiness in one's life, is meaningful."

I thought for a moment and said, "Indeed. Pity so much technological progress is tied to change for the sake of changing, of trying something new... "

I felt an ache in my solar plexus. I had trouble fitting my mouth around the next words, but I managed. "The truth is I should probably be more like you. Obviously, you only embrace change when it is absolutely necessary. You have your feet firmly planted on the ground and change is something that comes to you, not something you seek. You are perfect as you are. I love you as you are. And as you say you are happy as you are, I am happy, too. You don't often seem so to me, but maybe I need to grow up and live in the real world, like you do. Its rather ugly, it seems, and unhappy, too, but its real."

I see Orange People (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
There are days like this when I go to bed wondering when the curse of experiencing reality differently will be lifted.

And with that final thought, I'm off to bed to catch a nap. I'll be in California for about 10 days. It will be lovely to see my friends and family.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nietzsche on Love and Avarice

The things people call love.— Avarice and love: what different feelings these two terms evoke!—nevertheless it could be the same instinct that has two names, once deprecated by those who have, in whom the instinct has calmed down to some extent, and who are afraid for their "possessions"; the other time seen from the point of view of those who are not satisfied but still thirsty and who therefore glorify the instinct as "good." Our love of our neighbor—is it not a desire for new possessions? And likewise our love of knowledge, truth, and altogether any desire for what is new? Gradually we become tired of the old, of what we safely possess, and we stretch out our hands again; even the most beautiful scenery is no longer assured of our love after we have lived in it for three months, and some distant coast attracts our avarice: possessions are generally diminished by possession. Our pleasure in ourselves tries to maintain itself by again and again changing something new into ourselves,—that is what possession means. To become tired of some possession means: tiring of ourselves. (One can also suffer of an excess—the lust to throw away or to distribute can also assume the honorary name of "love.") When we see somebody suffer, we like to exploit this opportunity to take possession of him; those who become his benefactors and pity him, for example, do this and call the lust for a new possession that he awakens in them "love"; and the pleasure they feel is comparable to that aroused by the prospect of a new conquest. Sexual love betrays itself most clearly as a desire for possession: the lover wants unconditional and sole possession of the person for whom he longs, he wants equally unconditional power over the soul and over the body of the beloved; he alone wants to be loved and desires to live and rule in the other soul as supreme and supremely desirable. If one considers that this means nothing less than excluding the whole world from a precious good, from happiness and enjoyment; if one considers that the lover aims at the impoverishment and deprivation of all competitors and would like to become the dragon guarding his golden hoard as the most inconsiderate and selfish of all "conquerors" and exploiters; if one considers, finally, that to the lover himself the whole rest of the world appears indifferent, pale, and worthless, and he is prepared to make any sacrifice, to disturb any order, to subordinate all other interests—then one comes to feel genuine amazement that this wild avarice and injustice of sexual love has been glorified and deified so much in all ages—indeed, that this love has furnished the concept of love as the opposite of egoism while it actually may be the most ingenuous expression of egoism. At this point linguistic usage has evidently been formed by those who did not possess but desired,—probably, there have always been too many of these. Those to whom much possession and satiety were granted in this area have occasionally made some casual remark about "the raging demon," as that most gracious and beloved of all Athenians, Sophocles, did: but Eros has always laughed at such blasphemers,—they were invariably his greatest favorites. Here and there on earth we may encounter a kind of continuation of love in which this possessive craving of two people for each other gives way to a new desire and lust for possession, a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them: but who knows such love? Who has experienced it? Its right name is friendship.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (Book 1, § 14), 1886.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Can you see the flower's singing?

No? It is clearing its crimson throat, preparing to raise its head to the sun and sing the nectar forth...

One of my primary goals when I entered therapy two years ago was conquering my attention-aversion. I've come a long way. I no longer cringe when my boss or colleague praises me in front of others. I am learning how to accept compliments with fewer attempts at deflection or self-deprecation. That feeling of needing to hide is diminishing in intensity. I've been putting myself out there--dating, writing, recording--and accepting the attention and feedback with as much grace as I can muster. Some days are better than others.

Recently I identified one of the triggers for my attention-aversion: the words "special", "talented" and "gifted". Most people associate "special" with good feelings. They like feeling special. Not so, me. When someone tells me I'm special, I feel suddenly wary. I find myself wondering, subconsciously, what they want.

I was at the local pub on Monday night, eating my favorite burger and sipping a beautiful microbrew porter. A commercial came on, and the voice-over actor said "What makes you special?" My reaction was immediate and vehement. My internal critic said "Nothing! I don't want to be special!" It shocked me. But I did not have time to examine it as I was in a social situation, so I marked it for contemplation at another time. I mentioned it to CD, and he reiterated that I was special, that I had such a gift for self-expression. I think he thought he was reassuring me, but his words made me choose to shy away from exploring it further. A few days later, in a chat, someone asked "When are you going to do another story? You have such talent!" Something in me cringed. I wanted to ignore his comment, but remembered to acknowledge it with a "thank you" instead.

Thursday night, talking with B, "special" came up and tears flooded my eyes--I felt suddenly, inexplicably sad. Trigger. And something about B's receptivity made it possible for me experience the trigger and trace it back. In that moment, eye-level with my psyche, I found it. She used to tell me I was special. Often. And like most children who fall prey to sexual predators, I blamed myself. I knew that it was something about me that made her want me. That something "special". And from that time forward, that word has been tainted, and any attentions ascribed to my being special or different or talented or gifted prompted instant withdrawal, an entering into "turtle mode".

Saturday morning I had conversation with B about what happened Thursday, abuut my understanding that I'm ready to process my aversion to "special", to lay it to rest and reclaim the word. And so I resolved to do so. But it was not enough. More was to come.

I rose this morning from dream-awareness, from that alpha state, cognisant of an internal dialogue-loop running in my mind "You've been renting space in your soul to a sexual predator for 26 years. Stop this."

Late this morning I spoke to CW. He's in Colorado Springs again. We talked for a while.
I commented to him that I'd noticed a change in him the past couple of weeks with regards to how he and I interact.
He asked what I meant.
I told him he appeared less bothered by my insistence on my independence, on my need to continue exploring and growing outside our relationship. He said he'd read some articles on gifted adults and it made it easier for him to understand and deal with me.
My knee-jerk response was "I'm not gifted."
He laughed. Loudly. "You most certainly are."
Remembering my conversation with B, remembering my intention to reclaim "special" and its related words, I stopped myself from arguing or withdrawing, and listened to him.
He said, "I stumbled across an article titled 'Can you hear the flowers sing?' and it made me think of you. I remembered you stopping us in the middle of the forest and saying 'Smell that? Can you smell the fungal mats growing?'"
I grinned, remembering his bafflement.
He said, "I have a better understanding of the challenges you face, not only with resolving your past, but in the present. I remind myself that you're not being intentionally perverse--that you are pushing at the boundaries that stifle you."
It was my turn to ask what he meant.
He said, "Social boundries, sensual boundaries, metaphysical boundaries. You are one of the most aware people I know. It makes you very sensitive to things most people don't sense. Including me."
Part of me was relieved that he seemed to have come to a place of acceptance. Part of me was wary. And then he said something that triggered me. Again.
He said, "Deny it all you want to, Kay. It won't change the fact that you are special--no--that you are exceptionally gifted."
Tears. Fuck. I cried and blabbered to him about my conversations with B, and the connotations that "special" carried for me. I wished very strongly that he was there to hold me. I wanted to press my face against his chest and breathe him into me. But he was in Colorado. So I forced myself to calm down and have a coherent conversation.

Later, he IM'd me a link to the article he'd mentioned, challenged me to read it and disagree that what it said applied to me.

And so I read it. The title resonated very strongly with me. The line in the article "no one else hears the flowers singing" resonated even more strongly. God, I know what that feels like, to experience the world differently than most. Sometimes it makes me despair, when I am excited by something I see/hear/taste/smell/feel and the ones I am with give me this dumb look and I try so hard to help them sense what I am feeling but they cannot. I think sometimes that is why I enjoy photography so much. Because sometimes I can get others to see not only what I am seeing, but how I am seeing it.

Anyway. Given some more time, I think I'll be laying another demon to rest, perhaps even embrace some more of the abandoned gifts that my shadow has been holding in safe-keeping for me.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Absent the need for certainty: growing a friendship

Farmer's Market 2006 (c) KR Silkenvoice
Absent the need for certainty: growing a friendship. Enjoying being present. Facing and discussing what arose. Struggling to remain open and vulnverable. Allowing energy to flow.

I had an interesting evening with a friend-in-the-making who asked perceptive questions that made me think, and because I was open to him, often triggered emotional responses.

Opening to possibility (Me: One of the first things I tell some one when we get into a relationship is: "I promise I will hurt you. I also promise I will never hurt you intentionally." He: Wouldn't a better choice of words be "I may hurt you.." The way you word it you are guaranteeing it will happen instead of allowing for the possibility of it. Me: Its a certainty. Miscommunication happens. Things happen. No matter how hard we try, the ones we love still feel hurt by things we say and do. So, that choice of words is deliberate. He: But wouldn't you rather chose an option that allows for the possibiltiy of not hurting the ones you love? Me: That is possible, but improbable. He: Still, we're not talking about statisical probabilities here. We're talking about relationships and allowing for the possibility.. why do you feel it necessary to set those expectations? Me: I am pragmatic. Its a warning, an acknowledgement that at times I will hurt the ones I love unintentionally. And a reminder to myself that the ones I love will hurt me, as well. Hmm... I will consider what you are saying. You are right that such wording does negate the possibility of not hurting someone.)

Opening to fears (He: Are you afraid of connection? Me: Yes. He: Why? Me: *hesitation*. He: Don't think, just answer. Me: Some of it is that childish abandonment issue from my mother disappearing when I was 9 or 10. Some if it has to do with Love. Some people stop loving, and I don't. The relationship may change but the reasons I love people are still there. I still love them. I don't understand how people can just stop loving someone, loving me. And that hurts. But more than that, it confuses me, baffles me, rocks the foundation of my inner-reality (love). So I'm very cautious about who I build connections with.)

Opening to what we want or need from each other. Expectations of our relationship, or more suitably, lack thereof. What we sense can grow between us -- there is a sense of boundless intimacy. That question I have--will he become a friend of the soul? I would like that.

Talking about the difference between being terse and being succinct, and my tendancy at times to be the former in an attempt to be the latter. Discussed Polyamory and Monogamy. His desire to educate not only the monogamous masses, but those struggling to make polyamory work for them so they don't participate in a string of divorces or serial monogamy. Awareness that one person cannot be all things to another, and even if they are, that such a state is unsustainable. Jealousy, and my statement that I do not feel it or experience it, and how this hinders my ability to understand it in others.

My face pressed to his chest, hot tears for no real reason. Simultaneously knowing it was alright, and fearing this release would be too much for him. I fiercely hate crying. But he is far more comfortable with tears and emotions than I am, and he did all the right things. And in that moment, one of the petals of the lotus unfolded. And that first petal was trust.

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