The Move (Introduction)

On a bright, cool day in December I packed up all my things and took the fool’s journey into a new cohabitation. The fool will say “it’s different this time,” but the wise fool knows when it’s actually true.

What follows are excerpts from my journal entries written before, during, and after the move.

Saturday 12/10/2011

The dream:

A tent full of women in folding chairs,
a table at the front

a buffet served over beds of ice

Me introducing,
talking about the interplay between dreams/words and reality,
the inner and the outer life

how this very event starts as a dream,
started as words on paper,
and moved through them into reality

how reality and our experience of it
sparks our inner life —> poetry

the experience of a bite of food
or running into a friend by chance
or hearing someone else’s words read aloud

informs our own inner life

the idea of delicious food served over beds of ice
and wildflowers perched in mason jars
and a room full of women — all these beautiful women!
young, old, mothers, crones, fat and skinny, smooth and blemished —
listening and speaking

it’s important that some of the
women have short hair

Pepper Spray, Football, and Other Words that Don’t Mean What We Think They Mean

Last night, as Army Guy and I sat down for a late dinner at Galway House, tables filled with (mostly) large (mostly) men shouted at the plasma screens as men in tight pants ran around and jumped on each other*. Eating at Galway House is like eating in your uncle’s rec room, if your uncle were Irish and liked Pabst Blue Ribbon and had a lot of boozers for friends — and liked to cook you really tasty food.

This was the first time I’ve been there during Monday Night Football season. Football, cheerleaders, and NASCAR aren’t really my thing, but I do love the Galway, in part because you’re as likely to find a Lesbian Avenger at the booth next to you as you are a member of the IBEW. And as Jamaica Plain follows the same path of gentrification that Cambridge and Somerville have, I find myself more and more drawn to the places I avoided when I was younger and upwardly mobile.

Continue reading “Pepper Spray, Football, and Other Words that Don’t Mean What We Think They Mean”

Weekly gratitude practice: summer, work, Friday, clothes, love

  1. Summer arrived in force a couple of days ago. After months of shivering under rain and clouds, I will gladly take it. In typical New England style, we moved right from the 40s-50s to the 80s. But I’ll still take it.
  2. I’m especially grateful today to have steady work and a steady paycheck.
  3. It’s the Friday before Memorial Day…
  4. … and I am wearing a cute little summer outfit: a print skirt, a sleeveless top, and gladiator sandals. 75% of this outfit is new, which is lovely. I tend to put off buying new clothes for as long as possible. At a size 20, I’m not a fan of the buying process, but I’ve come to a level of acceptance about mail-order shopping. It’s not more convenient, it’s just a different kind of hassle. I’ve traded crowded Saturday parking lots for shipping fees, return forms, and trips to the Post Office. And it’s okay. Online stores like this one make it worthwhile. Last week I also had a closet consultation with Julie Foley, which is totally worth every penny. We revisited my colors, put together a bunch of new outfits, tried on some clothes I’d gotten in the mail, and made a shopping list. I’ll be busy for the next couple of months putting it all together.
  5. I’m feeling especially grateful for the love that surrounds me: the love of friends, of family, of Army Guy. As a society we tend to focus on romantic love, and I’m not discounting its importance in my life. I’m often struck with my dumb luck in that regard — as usual, it happened when I’d given up on looking for it. But it’s the other kinds of love that really sustain me. Without them, I doubt that my relationship with Army Guy would work at all. One of the reasons it does is because both of us continue to cultivate a wide circle of friends outside of our relationship. Without the sustained support of my friends and family, I wouldn’t be able to function half as well as I do now. I’m grateful that it exists and extra grateful that I know its value and work to maintain it.

The Practice of Receiving

Receiving is a powerful—-and intimate-—practice, for we are actually inviting another person into ourselves. Rather than focusing on our own practice, or on our own virtue, we can focus on providing an opportunity for someone else to develop generosity. In spite of its complexities and entanglements, the moment of exchange is one of simple connection and opening. That moment itself is unsullied. For that reason it is said that generosity is the discipline that produces peace.

From “The Practice of Giving” by Judy Lief, Summer 2003
Tricycle’s Daily Dharma

I finally got what this was about while learning qi gong. Receiving is always going to be difficult for a trauma survivor. The important thing is recognizing that and honoring that.

My natural tendency is to try to control situations by giving — by pushing energy out. What I’m learning is how to protect my boundaries without overextending myself. And I’ve even learned how to discern situations where it is safe to receive. Army Guy’s quiet generosity, the love and support of my friends, my mother’s visits in times of need — these are all things I’ve learned how to let into my life.

The notion that receiving gives someone else an opportunity to practice generosity is a powerful revelation. Relationships are a complex dance of giving and receiving. I can’t always control the movements of my partner, or it ceases to be a dance.

Right Livelihood and the Woman Warrior

From the Daily Dharma:

October 23, 2009
Tricycle’s Daily Dharma

Being a Buddhist Police Officer

For thirteen years I was a law enforcement officer. In the dark humor of that environment, we called ourselves “paid killers for the country.” No one else wanted to be in out boots. I did not identify myself as a Buddhist; I was not aware that the way I behaved and experienced the world fit squarely with the Buddha’s teachings. It is clear to me now that we could have been, and were, instruments of karma. But skillful action, discriminating awareness, karma, the law of causality were not terms in law enforcement basic training.

For a Buddhist in police work, the most important thing is to be constantly aware of ego. It is not your anger, not your revenge, not your judgment, no matter how personal the event. I was paid and trained to take spirit-bruising abuse. I endured things of which the majority of women in America will never even dream. For me it was not judgment, in the Western sense, but discernment. This kept me, and others, alive and healthy. This discernment allowed me to act skillfully in crisis. The law of causality allowed me to know that if I could not stop the perpetrator of violence or pain or loss, that some other vehicle would reach that person—karma.

– Laurel Graham, from “Vajra Gun,” Tricycle, Winter 1998

I think a lot about right livelihood. For me, it means not only not causing harm, but also finding purpose and meaning in my work. Like most challenges of this magnitude, I rarely fulfill them perfectly. But I do strive toward them.

 

Being in relationship with a veteran has given me a new perspective on the life of a soldier — a warrior. I’ve always had a sort of fascination with this archetype. I view the realities of being a warrior with a mixture of horror and respect. It’s a way of life, a mindset, that in some ways I wish I were more able to stomach. What I’ve realized, though, is that being a warrior — a soldier/a police officer/a litigator/a fighter — doesn’t always mean fighting.

People who have been trained in competitive conflict and who have seen “action” have about them a quiet assurance in their own abilities, as well as a healthy respect for the consequences of violence. It’s one of the things that I find so attractive and admirable in M, and it’s one of the things I wish I had more of in my own self.

Get To, Not Have To

Woke up only slightly reluctantly this morning, all the alarms blaring and the kitty purring. Thought about a blog entry I might write about the night before.

Army Guy calls just a little after 7:00, and I answer the phone saying, “Just ten minutes!”

“Wake up Frances!” he shouts into the phone. Our own little ritual.

I get up.

I get to get up today.

I get to drive to work — I get to have a job to drive to!

I get to have supportive conversations with my coworkers.

I get to see the beautiful puffy clouds.

I get to do some real work.

I get to enjoy springtime in Boston.

I get to be alive.

The Good, the Bad, and the Roomba

The Good
“Remember how you said that the beef stew was a little thin for your taste? Well, I added some stuff to it and cooked it down, and now it’s nice and thick. Do you want me to save you some?”

“You know, sometimes I think you have the impression I don’t like your cooking. I think you’re a good cook.”

“I know. But it’s not just enough to be good. I’m a perfectionist. It can’t just be good, everything has to be faaaaabulous!”

“Well, you already are fabulous.”

“Awwww! I’m going to eat the last of the stew for lunch.”

The Bad
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. My cousin out in California and I had a falling-out because I kept trying to raise his awareness about trans issues. Regardless of what you think about trans genitalia, or whether trans sex is “real sex” (take a wild guess as to where I stand on that issue), I think we can all agree that transfolk have the right to, you know, live. Without being beaten, maimed, or murdered. I think that the ability to walk down the street undisturbed is a basic human right we can all agree on.

More information here: http://gender.org/remember/day/index.html
(and no, visiting the site will not make you queer).

The Roomba
Yet another reason for me to get a Roomba (I need to amass a good amount of them in order to overcome that “but we’re in a recession” voice in the back of my head):

Link in case of embed failure

I can’t imagine my timid kitty would ever actually ride the thing around the room like that. But still, soooo cuuuuuute! Robot friends!

Love, Logic, Fear, and Investment

“Do you love me?” I asked him. In the dark. Fearful.

“Yes, I love you,” he said, surprised. “Why would you think I didn’t love you?”

I rose up and kissed him. “I just like to hear it,” I said.

If you spend your whole life dealing with mysterious man-disappearances, with a sudden slippage when you least expect it, perhaps it’s logical to expect it to keep happening.

In finance, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In psychology, past behavior is the most reliable indicator of future response.

Of course, I’ve never invested in Army Guy before. Nor was he one of those other men who mysteriously disappeared.