Date: 28th May, 2003
Subject: Untangling the web...
Mission District, Bryant and 24th. Taqueria La Pasta?
Bloody Mary finished, moving on to Marguritas. I like the vibe
of the place. Everyone's chattering in spanish. I'm the
only gringo around. When I arrived a guy was haggling for a car
stereo through an intermediary. The price was 40, but he was walking
away. Then he got it down to 35, then the seller balked when the
buyer asked to test it... The claim was that it had just come
out of the seller's very own car parked out front...
I love the Mission District. Its named for Mission Delores
just up the road a bit. Its been a huge mexican neighborhood/ghetto
ever since? The Mission was the origin of San Francisco, a mission
to convert the natives to Catholicism, to provide for their education
and health, an outreach to the "Indians". Now its just
a little corner of mexico in S.F. I like it here... It's like
the Brooklyn of San Francisco. Gentrification is taking the form
of hipsters moving into the low-rent areas and, well, being hipsters
So Now, off to the Castro for the Creamaster 3.
More on that later. Yesterday I played tourist. Went to
fisherman's warf and rode the Cable Car back to Market St. I think
it is important to be a tourist every now and then...
Date: 29th May, 2003
Subject: webbing beyond repair...
Oh shit and what just happened. I want to tell the world what just
happened, but that damn modesty, that concern for my parents' sleep gets
in the way. You, my friend will have to pry for the dirty secret
I am now concealing...
...This one is I think innocent enough... Who should unexpectedly walk
into my life monday except Yuvia (who's
story you can read here). She was in California, found an opening,
and dropped in on me monday while I was at the Memorial Day drum circle
in Golden Gate park. I looked up and saw Atma, whom I had pegged
for a traveller the day before at the drum circle, who was talking
to whom I assumed was Yuvia. We all agreed, backpacks are super-sexy.
Anyway, Yuvia dropped in for a night, and in the end, she is the only
one to walk a mile in these shoes (the same boots I wore to Everest Base
Camp. Over the last seven months she's been in Southeast Asia doing
the Thailand-Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia circuit. Having just returned
stateside, she is a bit bewildered. The mere fact that I've posted
her emails on my site should say something about how I feel for her.
We met on a greyhound bus in the fall of 2000 when I was where she is
now: returning from unbridled anarchy to the ordered, clean US of A.
I was trying to find my 'next place', and was on my way to see the house
I would soon move in to on Beacon Hill, Seattle. (Of course I didn't
know that at the time). I was turning around the very same day and
travelling to Olympia to see Angela. She and I talked about the
only thing worth talking about: death. We talked mostly about her
best friend who recently died from falling into a hotsprings at Yellowstone
National Park and being boiled to death. She was on her way back
to Yellowstone for the first time since, and our paths happened to cross.
I find truth not in words, not in texts, not in concept, but in the eyes.
The only truly living flesh available for public consumption. You
can imagine what the experience of one's best friend boiling to death
would do to one's eyes. And I'm sure based on my rhetoric my friends
consider me shallow in my attraction to women, but ultimately, the eyes
are the beginning and the end of my experience of a person. I had
seen in her eyes so much suffering, and I must admit, it was a turn-on.
So we bantered back and forth for the two hours from Bellingham to Seattle
about Death, and our personal experiences with Death, and what death means
in the greater scope of things... and didn't see eachother for a year
or more. I went and visited her one other time in B-ham. She,
I, and two kids
she was nannying hung out for an afternoon in a park on the waterfront.
So for a total of maybe six hours over two years and a half have we spent
time together. Now. Now. Now so many years later, Yuvia
came to visit me in the ebbing hours of my life in Berkeley. She
stayed the night with me at my campsite, and went to the gym with me for
a shower in the morning... in short, she now has the privileged position
of being the only person to have walked a mile (or three) in my shoes.
Yuvia's emails were very special to me; in the beginning, it is all "rainbow
eyes", yet in the end there is a true understanding of the situation
she is in. We have become very very close friends despite the spatial
distance that has always existed between us. She has been a penpal
for years. This time, when I saw her in Golden Gate park, and I
saw her eyes, I saw in her eyes, I could see though her eyes. This
time, everything was different. The eyes are crazy. They speak.
I could see in her eyes such pain and such suffering; I could see someone
with whom I could finally relate. I imagine its sorta the similar
experience for a parent to look in the eyes of one's child and see an
adult for the first time. All growed up, my little Yuvia.
I will never forget her eyes. They will always remind me of why
I live my life. We spent the night under the stars in a field in
Berkeley (we didn't go "there," so drop it). We spent
the following morning as I have spent so many.
Hi Hud, Thanks for the letter, it was fun to finally
read about myself. I do think you are confusing the look of deep understanding
for which I have of this life with sorrow and pain. I dont think pain
is so much what you see. My eyes are deep but it is not sorrow that
I choose to let rule them. I see the world differently, I grasp it for
the temporary place which we exist purely to learn more. Knowing that
it is not the all, I love to experience, see and feel, yet always remember,
and know through feeling that there is so much more.
This is not an idea I can easily write down in a few
moments, someday. Anyway, it was cool. I am glad we are friends. I think
we can offer eachother a lot. We just need to remember to be open and
My response to her response:
Now you have an even deeper insight into my writing.
It has very little to do with you and everything to do with my perception
of you... And not even my perception of you in total, but more my
perception of you filtered through me and what I choose to see.
This is not something I can easily write about in
a coupla minutes either...
But, long story short. I see "depth" in
plenty o' people. But you have to understand what I wrote in a greater
context. Dukkha, or the buddhist conception of 'pain and suffering
on the path to 'enlightenment' is a radical notion of suffering where
one is aiming for cessation of said pain. Everyone experiences pain
in their lifetime, but the good ones allow that pain to transform
them into beautiful people. When I see suffering, when I witness it
or experience it, I cherish it. And in doing so transform mere suffering
into existential suffering which becomes a tool for growth. I look
for the same thing in other people, and this would be the fuller explanation
of what I see when I look in yer eyes...
I'm sorry, I can't wrap my thoughts around what I trying to say.
Tonight I am drinking the Monkey Head (Arboreal Ale, (for the tree-dweller).
Its early, I just got off the phone with Julie, and yesterday I had an
experience COMPLETELY unfit for publication in this format. And
the day before I awoke in a field with Yuvia... and days previous I was
in New York and Charlotte, and Chicago... And I wonder how Josh
is doing in Ann Arbor... And I wonder about Mike who should be back from
overseas and returning to his wife. And I wonder about Jason Scott
whom I haven't thought about in years, but whom Erik alluded to as also
being in the Navy. And I wonder about wonderful things.
Today I bought a Holga.
Holgas are wonderful things. They require gaffer's tape.
Anything that requires gaffer's tape has got to be good. This is
a medium format camera with built-in flash and a cult following.
This camera has three focal settings (true zone focus), two shutter speeds
(bright and less-bright), and one aperture (f8). You have to tape
it in four places just to have a shot at taking a realistic picture.
In short, this camera defies the very possibility of photography.
But, one's portion at the end of the day is a vignetted image of soft
quality and a true monument to perseverence in photography. I now
own my very own.
Today I also went to the new Asian Art Museum in S.F. As I walked
through the Indian exhibit, I felt like I was visiting old friends.
Several of the statues, though I haven't seen these particular renditions,
were like visiting old friends. Tears welled up in my eyes.
And more profoundly still: I walked through the japanese exhibits
and realized that people have been travelling from China to Japan for
more than three thousand years. There were two pottery examples
from 2500-1000 BCE which showed a sophistication of technique that belied
a mainland connection. There was no mention of this fact in the
museum... It takes a traveller's eye, I guess. But walking
through the Japanese exhibit space was a real moving(moving)(moving) experience...
I was in San Fran today to pick up my passport, now complete with WORKING
VISA for Japan. Now it is finally real to me.
I am moving to Japan OH FUCK!!!. I'll let you in on a secret.
I never really considered it real until that sticker was on my passport.
Up till now, it was all theoretical. But once the Country of Japan
has granted me permission to work in their country, well shit, that's
real! Everything else was promises, and I'm far too old and jaded
to believe promises. I'm also bordering on too drunk to write prolifically
on this subject. Perhaps its time for another beer/cigarette...
It's all about the eyes...
Lisa is returned from Ghana. I can't wait to look into her eyes.
Life. Life is so much bigger than we give it credit. Last
night Lindy and I were hanging out. She is nineteen years old.
She is wide open to the world and in search of the secret. We had
a crazy night together which started with going to see Mathew Barney's
Creamaster 3, which is the most current highpoint of art in the
world... Oh and now the jukebox is playing one of my favorite songs...
Air: Ce Matin La. Oh the synchronisity as I try to write
about one of the most significant things to happen to me in recent years
without divulging too much. We went to see a movie. Mathew
Barney is perhaps the raison d'etre for Boise, Idaho. And his Creamaster
Cycle one of the most challenging movie series ever to be produced since
Eraserhead. We started the evening there and ended with a true,
deep looking into the eyes. Here is a girl who is really profoundly
younger than me, but no different than me all the same. I have been
blessed to see so many super-intense people in the last several days.
Lindy is "wide as the air to learn a secret". I never
understood youth until I met her. I fancy myself to be one unaged
from 21. She, however is still to reach even that wizened age.
And yet in her I see much wisdom, so much strength, and, truly, the capacity
to handle what is about to happen to her on her path. She's on a
scary scary path for an outside observer. A young, beautiful
girl on a mission to transcend gender and sexuality and find out what's
beyond arbitrary distinctions. I am enamoured and terrified by/for
her. We had a very intense evening which ended with me seeking
pizza and beer as comfort food, and retreating to me tree alone, so exhausted
as to feel, yes, life is indeed worth living.
And now, tomorrow I board a train to San Diego. A train to a midnight
bus to a five AM arrival in the next soap opera of this escapade.
OH my. I'm going to visit Beverly, whom I met in January on
my way to San Francisco. I promised that we would meet again, and
I hate to let a promise go unfulfilled. Do I get another beer?
I will thence be "too drunk." Well, my train isn't until
five pm, I can take the risk...So where was I, another 70/30 cigarette?
Don't mind if I do...
Its now 11:32 and the only bar worth mention in Berkeley has made last
call... Squirl Nut Zipper's go daddy-) is finishing. If
that gives you any indication of what I am dealing with... But last
night Lindy and I shared a truly bizarre evening. And tonight I
am marvelling that it is MAY 29. It is 2003. It is 11:34 PM!
It is yet another day in my life when I am abiding alone in my world travels.
When I have consented to get too drunk, too stoned, to reflect upon the
impending destiny I am following. Last night Lindy and I were talking.
She asked how long I have been on the monastic path. My answer:
since 1994. Mentally I calculate that she was ten years old at the
time. I was taking too much in Boone, finding/loosing myself in
the process. And I realize that the only reason I was there with
her that night was to give "the world" one more chance.
I'm sure for those intrepid souls who have read through the last twenty
episodes of this that you must wonder. I have been playing "The
Player" for a month now. And why? How does it fit in
to the greater scheme of things. I was studying ancient China today,
realizing that they had highly developed Bronze-casting in 2000 BC.
How does it all come together. Quoth Ecclesiastes: "With much
knowlege comes much grief, and there is no profit under the sun."
And to truly explore this notion is a dire thing. Last night my
every action was measured against the monestary that weighs on my soul
like an albatross on the mariner I parody.
woah. THat's deep...
In an email to my father, I called upon these writings as a defence of
my life lived in "open scafolding" (Rumi, Bismallah).
I acknowleged to my repository of intent that this is indeed a book I
am writing, and that right now we are in the part where everyone is biting
their nails, wondering what will happen next. I myself am wondering.
Having found the path, my first reflex was to "fall away" from
the path as sincerely as I discovered it. Thus, I think any
astute reader can see what has befallen me. I have been The Player.
I have played the roll. I have found love as I have never known.
Still I am drawn to the uncanny realization that the depths I fell to
in breaking up with Rachel will find fruition in her marriage five days
previous to my departure for Japan. I remenisce on the three years
of celebacy (two voluntary) I experienced bracketting India. I marvel
in my recent good fortune after seven years in the desert. I contemplate
the nature of solitude as I this moment experience, and as this night,
I go to sleep alone. Again alone. And the wisdom that is borne
"The monestary" has been such a powerful motif in all of this.
And after last night, and after the night before, and after the night
before, and the night before, and the night before that (truly you're
in my head if you follow THAT). ... And lets not forget the night
to come! Jesus Christ I can't even follow the flow this shit-stick
points to. But there is always that Monestary. There is always
the truth that in all this pleasure is much grief, and the cessation of
suffering is not by the means of this world.
I only want to be able to say that I gave the world an honest chance.
And so tomorrow I head for Japan. Visa in tact. Job in tact.
Apartment awaiting me. Friends in between I get to see. Frank
is taking me Sailing, Beverly, to the zoo. In Seattle, I will go
bowling. And in bowling, find my Truth. 234.