On the other side of heartbreak

I’ve been single for going on five years now.  And truthfully, really more like nine with a six month detour just to make sure.  HOLY SHIT.  Eight years?  Is that right?  …yep.  Eight years, I did the math.  For a long time it really bothered me.  The loneliness which loomed all through my adolescence was much harder to keep at bay when I lived alone as an adult.  And then somewhere in there, probably right about the time Pluto transited my 12th house Venus, something snapped.

I’ve always liked – no, needed to spend a lot of time alone, but for years, decades really, much of my time alone was spent thinking about other people, fantasizing imaginary conversations, revising actual ones, real co-dependent stalker stuff.  And then finally, just a couple years ago, the elastic band couldn’t stretch anymore.  It snapped.  It stopped.  Silence.  Blissful silence.

Rom-coms are still my favorite movie genre, there’s nothing I like better than watching two people overcome their fear of being seen by someone and releasing into seeing.  I like being around couples, I think it’s one of the best, most bravest things to do, to love someone.  Mad respect to anyone engaged in that act, honestly and genuinely working to know and be known.  I even miss it, but the pursuit of it or the lack of it no longer drives me.

Like a lot of people I fell down as a child and bumped my heart pretty hard.  And it took a long time to heal, mostly because my approach was just dead off.  If you have a sunburn you can’t heal it by trying to fix the sun.  If you have a broken heart you can’t heal it by trying to fix other people or trying to get them to love you.  The worst part of this essential truth is that it’s totally obvious.  ONCE YOU SEE IT.  But seeing it – and sometimes you have to see it a hundred kajillion times before it really truly sticks – is much harder than it should be.

I’ve spent a lot of money to get people to tell me the same damned thing over and over until I finally took it in.  I’d bet money there’s someone reading these words right now thinking they don’t apply to to him or her when they do.  I know that because that used to be me.  I never could have imagined that being happy on my own really was the only way to be happy.  If you can’t be happy on your own than how are you ever going to be happy with someone else?  And if you’re happy on your own than what do you need someone else for?

Trick question.  Love and need are not the same thing.  I’m happy on my own but now I know I could be happy with someone else too.  I just don’t need someone else to be happy.

I used to think I knew everything about love, and now I know I know nothing.  I know all I need to know and it’s nothing.  And it’s the most beautiful glorious nothing I ever encountered.  It’s all mine, but I can share.

Mars Remedy Check In

vacaaay

Something funny about committing to doing this every day, just the simple act of writing something every day, is how it’s showing up every other area in my life where I’m not following through with things.  Today I’m hungover, both from the two beers I consumed last night and the burger and fries I had to accompany them. I didn’t sleep well, and that makes the third day in a row of too little sleep.

Two weeks ago that would just be a throw away, another lost morning, no big.  But today it means I can’t get my thoughts to gather, they’re too busy bumping into each other and falling over to hold hands and sing Kumbaya in unison as I arrive at another breathtaking revelation about being and nothingness.

I feel like my nephew, T, in the picture above, being poked at poolside by Palm Springs revelers.  In this awkward metaphor the revelers are playing my unruly thoughts and seriously, I’m starting to loathe them.  I initially chose this shot because it really makes me laugh and because I really want to be on vacation today and NOT write anything, but on closer examination I’m sharing T’s unease.  Stop poking me, thoughts!  Leave me alone!  You drunk!  You fat and stupid !  (my thoughts, not the people in this picture – I don’t know the people in this picture, I’m sure they’re very nice)

Anyway, I didn’t start this because it was going to be easy or fun.  I didn’t start it to be brilliant or know everything or be perfect or even happy.  I started it because I knew I needed to.  I need a discipline, a daily discipline, a daily reminder to be what I say I am, to be Wonder, to show up even when I don’t feel like it and can’t do it well.  I need to show up and do it anyway.

Damn it.  Fucking Saturn.  FINE.  Take this offering, I hope you choke on it.

Mars Remedy, Early Stages

I am determined to write something short today.  DETERMINED.  Crap, that’s already one more word than I needed.  And there goes some more!  Dangit!  My Mercury is the focal planet between a T square between Jupiter and Saturn.  My whole life I’ve struggled with saying too much or not enough.  Expanse or restriction.

The goal is balance, obviously.  Isn’t it always?  Not too much, not too little, but just right.  Like Baby Bear’s Porridge.

No wonder I’ve resisted writing every day, how am I going to get it right every day day after day? And therein lies the crux of the matter, because on the way to balance lies a path of extremes, always veering between one or the other before you can find the middle path.  And extremes are uncomfortable, they take time to learn to steer.

This is the point in the session where I always tell my clients to be patient with themselves, that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.  Oppositions require a lot of eggs.  And if you’re really lucky and you work really hard at it, eventually you’ll learn to make porridge at exactly the right temperature.

 

Sunrise in Chisapani

Chisopani
I know I shouldn’t hate things, I hate that I hate things, but I really do hate waking up in the city.  Most of the time I don’t think about it like that, because it happens pretty much every day, but the moment the bonds slip loose and I find myself somewhere far far from the smog and the streets and the noise and the cars and bustle – well, I remember.  I remember that I LOVE waking up in the country, I love waking up in the mountains, in the greenness and the blueness and the vastness of it all.

Back here in the city looking at pictures of it, like this picture I took of Chisopani, where my mum and I stayed the first night of our trek in Nepal last year, and it all comes flooding back.  Remembering that I love it and being far far away from it alerts me to the disconnect I feel with my current surroundings, and drops me into a quiet discontent I’m usually better able to ignore.

Sunrise in ChisopaniHere’s Mum, watching the sunrise that morning, see how the mountains in the back are catching the light of the early morning sun, all pink and glowy?  Sunrise is always beautiful, but there is something about sunrise on the mountains that makes you believe.  I don’t care if you’re an atheist, a Hindu, a Christian, or a toddler.  This sort of grand beauty starts in your chest and spreads outwards, leaving you grateful and curious about what’s going to happen next.

I know this because we lived in the mountains far from town for four years when I was a child, and I woke up every morning and spent the days outside wandering far from our house, swimming in the pond and the creek, poking anthills, playing hide and seek in the forest, sledding in the winter…  We were outside all the time, with minimal adult supervision.  Of course, it was a different time, and it’s probably not really like that anywhere anymore, but dammit, it should be.

I know there are many wonderful things about the city that are great for kids, but I can’t help it, I hate that my nephew doesn’t have that vastness of space and sprawling wonder right outside his door.  The city is good for connecting to people, but country is good for connecting to something else.  Something before, something beyond, something timeless and still, and ultimately much larger than any one of us small little beings.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  Of all the things I’m grateful to and for her for, today I’m just especially grateful she knew to give me and my brother this gift.  The gift of experiencing how small and insignificant we really are and for always pointing out to us what a blessing it was that we should know it.

I love you, Mama.  Namaste.

Mars Remedy, Day 1

 Barbara Kruger, The Indomitable Spirit

You’d think that knowing you were at a crossroads would make being at a crossroads easier, but not in my experience.  And I’ve got a lot of experience.  I figure I’ve been at a crossroads most of my life, trying to figure out which road to take and really whether it was worth taking any road whatsoever.  Seriously, as long as I’ve got snacks and there’s something on tv (there’s always something on tv) why bother?

The bitch of it is that for me, at least, there really isn’t a good answer to that question.  I’ve got loads of reasons why it’s like that, I covered it all in some length (seriously, TL;DR, but suit yourself) in a previous blog post, but writing about it didn’t make it any easier.

I’m not sure it’s going to be any easier now, but I was listening to Rob Hand’s recent lecture, The Organic Approach to the Planets, this weekend, and I’ve got an idea waking up this morning that I’m going to run with.

In the lecture, Rob states that the real problem with Mars is that we treat it like a personal planet, rather than a collective planet.  It’s very simple, you see, because the value of a strong Mars lies in it’s ability to commit unconditionally to a mission.  The story Rob tells to illustrate this is that part in Lord of the Rings where Aragorn tells Frodo, “If by my life or death I can protect you, I will.”

Having that sort of resolve makes crossroads easier, I assume.  At least that’s been my observation.  I don’t have that sort of Mars.  I have the sort of Mars that wants to eat chocolates on the side of the road and watch the world go by.  My level of unconditional commitment to a cause that isn’t my nephew can be measured in ice cream and tv marathons.

However, I do have a super strong Saturn, and apparently what that’s good for is committing to a discipline every day for a set amount of time.  So today I’m going to start writing something every day, bad or good, happy or sad, doubtful or hopeful, whatever it is, I’m just going to write something.  Right something.  And yes, I’m already sorry I’ve committed to this and dammit if it doesn’t seem like a really bad idea, but I’ll try to keep my Saturnine doom and gloom to a minimum and just start walking.

If you don’t hear from me tomorrow I may have fallen asleep in a poppy field.

Golden Hour

I was out the other evening location scouting with my nephew and his mum.  She’s got a new album coming out and needed some promo shots for it.  We wanted to find a good spot during golden hour, that magical hour just after sunrise or before sunset, when the sun hits the horizon, slicing through the atmosphere in such a way that the light refracts all glowy and full of wonderment.  It turns average pictures into something special.

I felt like we found it, but I always feel like it’s a good spot and a golden hour when I’m with my nephew.  That sounds cracked ’cause it’s so corny, but it’s true.  Last year at this time I was pretty depressed and taking a meditation class during which I was reminded yet again how important it is to stay in the present.  I observed how easy that was to do around him.

Lately that seems more and more important.  There’s a very brief window of time here before he begins to develop a sense of time.  Until then he lives like a goldfish, with no memory.  Well, not no memory, of course.  He remembers who I am and greets me almost every time by smiling big and running at me arms outstretched till I gather him up wordlessly and hold him to my chest, rocking him back and forth.  It’s our ritual.  I hope for everyone and anyone reading this you’ve got one like it somewhere in your life and someone to greet you at the door in just such a way.  It’s the best, most precious thing imaginable.

And it’s disappearing by the second.  Trying to hang onto these moments is futile.  Already T is wriggling from our grasp, putting his hands in front of his face, saying, “no pictures!!”  He isn’t interested in our need to capture this moment, bottle it, try to hold on to it, but he is aware, on some level, that we’re trying to.  Right now he still sees it as an interruption to his flow.  He would rather be collecting leaves and sticks and stones and handing them to me asking me if I want some “mac and cheese.”

He isn’t interested in “capturing the moment,” he isn’t even aware it’s disappearing so why would he want to hang onto it?  Why would we?  Thinking about this the other day I saw for the first time that my “good” memories are as poisonous to me as my “bad” ones.  When I’m down and feeling blue I’ve grown accustomed to comforting myself with memories from my past when I was happier.  But thinking about how happy T makes me the other day and how sad I am that he is going to grow older and change and probably not remember any of this it struck me suddenly that a happy memory can be just as toxic – maybe more – than a bad one.

It’s obvious, isn’t it?  How it can have escaped my notice I can’t say, exactly, but there it is.  Every time I remember a past love, a long ago triumph, or an old revelation it’s like I’m trying to prove to myself that my life is about that, (proven – though past – happiness) not this (current sadness). But holding onto a happy memory from the past creates a barometer of what your life “should” be like.  It becomes a perfect example of something perfect.  Which, of course, is imaginary.  Only a Capricorn would believe anything could ever really be perfect.  Used in this way, a happy memory becomes toxic because it’s so easily used to show us what “failures” we are in the present.

But the real problem with allowing your memories to dictate your current emotional state is that they will.  In other words, living in the past, no matter how happy, is still living in the past.  It’s not now.  It’s not happening now.  And, the truth is, maybe it never really even happened the way we remember it.  It’s a fact that the more we remember something the further away from the original moment we get.  It’s not like a film we just rewind and replay over and over again. Every time we remember something we recreate it.  It’s not a file we access, it’s an event we recreate.

Which speaks to some larger truth I think I’m only just beginning to grasp, to be honest.  Because to re-create something we first need to create it.  I think I’m only just now beginning to perceive after years of reading and studying this phenomenon how very much I truly am responsible for the creation of my perception of things.

It would be a mistake to think that understanding this necessarily translates into the practice of it. If I’ve learned anything from T it would be that only the practice of it translates to the practice of it.  But it’s a start.

Happy New Years Baby!

New Years are very serious

Yesterday was my birthday.  I meant to post this then, but I got distracted organizing a drawer and then later I didn’t feel like it.  New Years Resolution #1: STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!!

The weirdest thing about being born New Years Day is that the normal reflection anyone goes through on a birthday is amplified by the fact that everyone else is doing the same thing.  Everyone celebrates a New Year with you.  In a way it’s everyone’s birthday.  I’ve been a mascot at every New Years Eve party I’ve ever attended. The pro is that everyone feels like celebrating.  The con is that – depending on how you feel about the year that’s just passed – you (and by you, I mean ME) often don’t.  Feel like celebrating, that is.

Actually, if I’m honest, I hardly ever feel like celebrating.  It’s like pulling teeth to get me to do it.  I’m a real Capricorn about it, frankly.  And by that I mean I’m a complete wet blanket who would just as soon go to work on her birthday as go out and paint the town red.  New Years Resolution #2: STOP BEING SUCH A CAPRICORN!!!!  LIVE A LITTLE!!!!

calendar grrl

Calendar Grrl

My friend, Natascha Unkart, made me Miss January for a crazy fabulous calendar she put together some years ago. It was an art project/feminist critique on American Apparel called American Appalling, (Horizontally Conceptualized Marketing). Totally wonderful and you absolutely should check it out, but for my purposes here the important takeaway is that she made me Miss January.  Here I am above looking completely gormless but HAPPY, which is how I think I should look on my birthday (well, maybe not so much the gormless part) but usually don’t, except when I’m faking it.  Of course, that’s a completely Capricorn thing to think, though, isn’t it?  I should look happy on my birthday?!  HONESTLY. W.T.F.

New Years Resolution #3: STOP LISTENING TO MY BRAIN!!!

Of course Natascha took the photograph months before she published the calendar when being happy came much easier.  I’ve been thinking about what it is about this time of year that is so strangely dark and weird for me, and I’ve come to some conclusions.  A.) The Sun is going through Capricorn which is my 12th house, so I’m not feeling particularly social B.) The Sun is going through Capricorn, which is Saturn ruled, so there is a sense of DUTY and OBLIGATION about this time of year, which is why some people hate the holidays and while I don’t, I certainly find them exhausting and by the time my birthday rolls around I never really feel like talking to another person as. long. as. I. live. again. ever. C.) Did I mention the Sun is in Capricorn?  Have you ever met a Capricorn?!  We are such sad fucks, really.  I mean, I love us, really, I do, but for God’s Sake, why on earth do we have to be so melancholy?  Fucking Saturn.  Fuck off.

New Years Resolution #4: FUCK SATURN.  FIGURATIVELY, OF COURSE.

Horoscopes for New Years Day 2013

My mum (who used to send me clippings through the mail but is now scanning clippings and sending them to me through the internets!) sent me my horoscopes for yesterday.  They’re good ones, too!  Here’s hoping they come true.  But if they don’t I have a back-up plan.  New Years Resolution #5: START CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY THE WAY I WANT TO, GODDAMMIT!!!

This year I realized that if I wanted to start having happier birthdays I was really going to have to start spending them the way I wanted to, not the way I thought I should want to.  ie; if I don’t feel particularly social, why on earth should I spend my birthday with anyone else?  At the last hour I got this bee in my bonnet about leaving town for a few days.  I totally had this plan to head off to Palm Springs for a couple days and sit poolside sipping on a cocktail – or two.  But then on New Years Eve I got stoned and started organizing my closets and got totally distracted and stayed up way too late.  By the time I woke up on my birthday the last thing I felt like doing was heading out of dodge for a two hour drive.  I mean, BLERGH, for realz.

So I woke up and kept organizing my closets and drawers, thinking about the last year and all that it was and all that it wasn’t.  I neglected to eat and by 3pm was really starting to feel a bit light-headed.  I had a piece of toast and started searching Yelp for steakhouses.  My thinking was that I should (there’s that word again!) at least take myself out for a nice – totally decadent – dinner.

And, at this point I’d shaved my legs, set my hair, and put on a new dress and was all dressed up.  It seemed a shame to waste such a totally bangin’ outfit on my couch and whatever movie I could find on Netflix streaming, but, boy howdy, I cannot tell you how much my couch was calling to me.  However, somehow I managed to get myself out the door and drive the few miles to the place I’d decided on.  I wasn’t feeling it when I pulled into the parking lot and handed over my truck to the valet (I hate valet!!!  #cheapasscapricorn).  I really wasn’t feeling it when I walked into the place and it was deserted and dark and actually a bit dank.  Then I sat down in the booth and a complete chill washed over me.  Seriously, I started to shiver.

I all but bolted from the place.  Got my truck from the valet and drove off.  Ann-Margret was blasting from my stereo and I had to turn her off, she was just too cheerful suddenly.  I could feel a Good Old Cry coming on, so I told myself sternly to pull off the road so if I was really going to succumb to such self-pity at least I wouldn’t be endangering anyone else.  I pulled over and just let it go.  I cried for everything the last year was and everything it wasn’t.  I cried for everything and everyone I lost this year and everything I said I would do last year at this time but somehow haven’t yet managed to.  I’m starting to tear up now just thinking about it, so I guess I didn’t really let it ALL go, but I tell you, I did my best.

And I guess that’s about all anyone can do, really.  And (aside from how much television I’ve watched this year when I could-have-should-have been doing something else) I have to say I really did do my best this past year.  Better than I’ve done most years recently.  I give myself about a B-. (I’m being generous, but what the hell, it was my birthday, after all)

When I didn’t have any more tears left in me I wiped my face, (thank heavens I’d decided against make-up when I got ready!!!) straightened up and started driving again.  I thought I’d try my second Yelp suggestion downtown. As I was feeling less and less like doing this whole thing at all and more and more obliged to do it I comforted myself that if I didn’t like the next place I could just go get a burrito and go home, my couch would always be there, after all.

Well, the second option didn’t work out either, but by then I was determined to keep going and fortunately Google Maps pointed me in a completely new direction.  After I’d parked my truck and was walking to the new place it occurred to me that I was relating to my Birthday date with myself in precisely the way I relate to just about everything I think would be fun or good for me – as if it were something I should be doing, rather than something I wanted to do.  What a weirdo.  But again, Saturn’s fault.  Seriously, what on earth was I thinking when I picked a birth with Saturn opposing my natal Jupiter within 17 seconds?!

On the other hand, if it weren’t for my sense of obligation and duty to myself I would have surrendered to my baser instincts and holed up inside my apartment feeling sorry for myself instead of going out to dinner 35 floors up with panoramic views of the downtown city skyline.  So, GO Saturn!  Once I settled into my cozy booth and had a glass of wine in front of me, everything started looking much better.  Actually, everything started to look very good indeed.

I’m so very glad and grateful for every moment of the past year, the good and the bad.  I’m so very grateful for everything in me that resists being happy and present and joyful and I’m so very much more grateful for everything in me that resists that resistance.

Birthday Girl

Sometimes I hate being me, but sometimes I love it.  What a wonderful, crazy, mixed up world it all is.  Sometimes I hate it, but sometimes I love it.  Yesterday there were moments I hated it, but last night I loved it.  My waitress, Norma, was such a darling, she was super friendly and attentive and brought me a New Years tiara they had left over from the night before with some beads and then she brought me a gorgeous chocolatey dessert with a candle and even a Baileys!!!  What a sweetheart.  It was so funny, you know, I wanted to spend my Birthday alone, but I realized I’m never really alone.  If you can connect with others and ever have to leave your house, you will never really be alone.

Having said that, New Years Resolution #6: SPEND NEXT BIRTHDAY IN PALM SPRINGS POOLSIDE

Seriously, I’m planning the next one.  I’ve learned my lesson.  Repent and Sin No More!  I’m not spending another birthday scrambling to create something special for myself.  I’m going to spend the next year creating something special for myself every day of the year so that by the time my birthday rolls around next year I’ll be ready for it.  I suggest you do the same.

Wretched Birthday Book

Of course it’s entirely possible that you already DO that for yourself and don’t have the GRAVE misfortune of being a Capricorn born under the rulership of Saturn.  You might be like my great friend, Sara Brown, who is my birthday guru, a Sag, naturally, who never fails to celebrate her birthday.  Of course, she’s also a Leo rising, bless her.  According to the Birthday book, she was born on The Day of Mirthful License.  Or maybe you’re like my nephew, born on The Day of the Space Voyager.  At any rate, you might be much luckier than me, and NOT be born on The Day of the Emotional Organizer.  Perhaps you don’t spend your birthdays organizing your closets.

I hate that darned book.  But I love it.  Oh, I don’t know.  Screw it.  New Years Resolution #7: START ORGANIZING THINGS MORE FUN THAN CLOSETS!!!! (Note to self: what could be more fun than organizing closets?! New Years Resolution #8 FIND OUT!!!)

I’ve got something more fun!  A GIVEAWAY!

In honor of my birthday and because I have honestly learned again this year (what it is about lessons you have to relearn that end up being the best ones?) it truly is better to give than to receive I’m going to give away a copy of The Secret Language of Birthdays (pictured above) to someone chosen at random in my comments section.  All you have to do is post an answer to the following question: What is your New Years Resolution?


I hope Randall Munroe won’t mind an astrologer linking to his comic… I hope I’m not breaking any science/astrology laws of feudal etiquette here… I just love this thing. It’s so very true…

So have at it, Little Parsnips, Turnips, Space Voyagers, or whatever it is you’re calling yourself these days.  Tell us about your hopes and dreams and disappointments and don’t forget!  REPENT AND SIN NO MORE!!!!

I will announce the winner of the book a week from today on January 9th, The Day of Ambition, as it turns out, so you better take this seriously, you lot.  Just kidding.  NOT.  No, really, I’m kidding.  …or am I?!

Anyway, Good Luck and may the most random person win!!!  We’ll see you in the comments below…

UPDATE:

Hello?  …Hello?  Is this thing on?  HA!  Since only two people posted their resolutions it makes choosing someone random super easy!  A good ol’ coin toss decides the winner, I gave heads to Kristie since she commented first and Tails to Tammee since she was second, and the winner is… (two out of three!!) … KRISTIE!!!!

Kristie, I will be contacting you privately to collect your address so I can send you this bitchin’ book.  I really truly hope it’s kinder to you than it’s been to me.

Peace out, 2013lings!!!

 

 

Wonder Bright and Mother India Trip

The title for this post comes from the subject of an email my mum sent to Exotic India Travel Planners in Delhi on Friday confirming she wired payment for services rendered. The poor things have probably about had it with the two of us, to be honest. We’re such control freaks we’ve gone over everything they’ve sent us about a kajillion times trying to make sure it’s exactly what we want.

But it’s all settled now and me and my mother are hopping on a plane today bound for India! Well, first to Nepal for a week long trek through the Helambu region and THEN off to India just in time for a Thanksgiving curry.

I’ve been in a bit of a panic about it for the past week really, but it had less to do with the fact I hadn’t started packing yet and way more to do with what happened the last time we went to Nepal.

It all started in 2008, when, as I’ve mentioned before, my mum trekked the Annapurna Circuit for her 70th birthday. She came back from that trip and all she could talk about was going back. Of course I volunteered to go with her.

So we went back the next year in the fall of 2009. The picture above was taken of us three days into the trek just a couple hours before everything went horribly pear shaped. In this picture I am about as happy as I’ve ever been- with my mum, trekking through those incredible mountains, far far away from anything and everything… And oh man, those MOUNTAINS! Those mountains… I felt like I was five years old again…

This photo was taken later that afternoon after my mother fell off a four foot drop followed by a fifteen foot tumble down a steep incline only to narrowly escape going off a twenty foot sheer cliff into the river below. The only reason she escaped the fall off the cliff is because our guide, Pemba, leapt down the four foot drop, jumped over her hurtling body and braced himself against a stone at cliff’s edge to catch her before she went over.

Here is Pemba and our friend David administering first aid to her on the hillside. David and I trekked ahead of mum and Pemba so I missed the actual fall. The first I heard about it was when two young trekkers caught up with us on the trail to tell me my “mother fell.”

From that moment until the moment I finally slept about 24 hours later everything was in slow motion. It was a nightmare without the option to wake up. You may remember that was the year Natasha Richards died of a brain injury sustained in a fall while skiing. All that long, long day my mind shuttled back and forth between Natasha Richards and a CHiPS episode from childhood where Ponch and the blond guy stood accused of moving an accident victim who subsequently suffered complete paralysis. So I was totally terrified that my mum was either going to be paralyzed or keel over suddenly from a brain aneurism.

My mum, of course, was annoyingly cheerful about it all. Cheerful is not the right word. She was incredibly disappointed, but, as she said later to me, she knew she “was fine.” And, being possessed of an irrepressibly curious and good humored nature she was alternately interested, impressed, and bemused by everything that happened next and how everyone dealt with it. Here she is just after the incident having just instructed me to take pictures for posterity.

When I say, “everything that happened next,” I mean a lot of things, including a helicopter air lift from a river bed and arriving in Kathmandu on the last day of Dashain when everyone had the day off and the hospital was understaffed but celebratory and a broken gurney kept tilting dramatically backwards, leaving my mother with her head one foot off from the ground and her feet four feet higher.

Or how about when I told the nurse my mum had to pee and she sent us outside, gurney and all, with a bed pan so my mum could do her business away from the waiting room. Why outside the main entrance with people walking in and out and past was preferable to the waiting room we never did work out but by that point, almost twenty-four hours after the fall we were past caring. In that moment and our sleep deprived state all we could do was laugh and laugh. My mum had a hard time peeing she was laughing so hard.

But all that came after. First we had to get my mother down the hill to shelter for the night, as dusk was almost upon us. In order to get her down the hill Ngima and Dawa took turns carrying her in a basket the locals use to cart wood. I wish I had a better picture of that darned basket, but we wouldn’t have any pictures at all if my mum hadn’t been so insistent that I keep taking pictures. “Wonder, take my picture!!” She hissed at me, laughing and wisecracking as Dawa and Ngima shifted under her weight.

She had everyone but me and Pemba in stitches. If I hadn’t been so worried about Ponch and the blond guy on that CHiPS episode I might even remember what it was she said that had Ngima laughing so hard in the picture above.

But I don’t. I don’t remember. I was so mad at her for making me take pictures when she was about to die and how was I going to explain to my brother that I’d been taking pictures of it all instead of doing something useful.

Weeks before we left I dreamt we hiked across a sand bar at low tide and up a rocky, algae covered cliff to see the view. From our vantage point we could see for miles in every direction. It was beautiful. But when we saw the tide coming in we knew it was time to go. My mother turned abruptly and jumped off, sliding all the way to the bottom rapidly. Once there she turned back and looked up at me impatiently.

“Come on, honey!” She hollered up at me, “we have to go!”

I felt scared. It was too steep. Her face softened. “Don’t worry, it’s easy,” she said. “You can do it!”

So I did. I stepped off that impossibly tall and slimy hill and slid down after her, though not so gracefully. Reaching the bottom I felt relieved, exhilarated, inspired. Like I could do anything. Waking up I took it as a good augury of our trip, and of the way my mother has always been just a little bit ahead of me, encouraging me on.

Never did I imagine that it actually described a fall she wouldn’t take seriously but that would scare the crap out of me. What good is a prophetic dream if it doesn’t tell you what’s actually going to happen?

The weird thing is I don’t think I processed any of this really at all until last weekend. Knowing we were going back, that we were returning to the scene of the crime caused a rise in anxiety I just couldn’t ignore any longer. Fortunately I have some very good friends who were able to talk me through it. Saturn transiting over my Jupiter in Scorpio which it opposes natally might have forced the issue and maybe even helped a bit too.

I don’t have the date of her fall, unfortunately. Well, I do, but I left it at home. In between the first sentence of this post and the one I’m writing now I got on that plane I told you about and now I’m somewhere far above the Pacific Ocean on the way to Seoul, where we have a 14 hour layover. So I don’t have the date and time on me, all I remember is that Mars squared my Moon and her Sun, which it did for a couple days at the end of that September.

There were some other aspects that afternoon that were less than auspicious, and looking at them beforehand I did say it was likely to be the most difficult day of our journey, but I wasn’t particularly concerned about them. I think I predicted we “might get into an argument, or something,” but assured my mum it would be “just a hiccup.”

That’ll teach me for being an optimist.

This is the view of the cliff Pemba stopped my mum from rolling off. Sorry the picture is so blurry, my mum made me run back to take it when she discovered I hadn’t already and my hands were shaking. You can see the bridge crossing the river, where it connects on the left is about ten feet away away from the rock Pemba braced himself against to prevent her from going over.

I can’t believe it either.

I spent that night giving my mum “consciousness checks” every hour on the hour per the instructions of the emergency medicine specialist who just happened to be staying at the tea house we stopped to have lunch at earlier that day. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

I know I should be more grateful to Brian, he was so incredibly lovely and great and good about checking my mum out and telling me what to do, but he’s also the one who confirmed my worst fear and told me that in fact, yes, my mum could have an injury that wasn’t apparent and we wouldn’t know anything until we could get get her brain scanned. He was adamant that we keep her head completely still and not move her or jostle her about at all.

My mum, of course, didn’t know how seriously he’d impressed upon me the importance of this task. So she remained jovial later on when when the security guards called in to help her from the ambulance (remember the hospital was understaffed that day) couldn’t figure out how to work the gurney or fix it when it kept tipping her over. She remained calm when the attendee on staff moved her head back and forth to check for mobility. MOBILITY. I managed to keep my tears in check until much later, but it was an effort.

The whole thing was probably much harder on me than on her, oddly. But then I was born in the day and she was born at night. Mars is her friend, not mine. That Mars square was always going to be harder on me than it was on her.

But we made it through to the other side safe and sound. My mum didn’t become paralyzed or have a brain aneurism and she is still with me and game for another try. I need to let go of the fear of losing her and get on with enjoying every second we have left.

After all, nothing lasts forever.

Here is Pemba, the man who saved my mother’s life. He’s also the man who trekked with her for three weeks when she celebrated her 70th birthday trekking the Annapurna Circuit. He was with her when she went over Thorung La Pass at 17,769 feet and and came down the other side of the mountain safe and sound.

Pemba isn’t chatty, he’s Saturnine and taciturn and sure footed and he knows these mountains like the back of his hand. He was the one who wanted to stop for the day at the tea house we had lunch at. He didn’t think we should push it and carry on, but I was so excited and having so much fun and Mama was so happy to see me enjoying her beautiful mountains she didn’t listen to her tiring body and we opted to carry on. We should have listened to him.

We’re hoping he’ll be the one to go with us through the Helambu region next week, but mum is a little concerned he may think she’s too much trouble and decide to sit this one out. Honestly, I think he took Mum’s fall as badly if not worse than I did, but mum and I are clear it wasn’t his fault. My mum suffers from an inner ear problem that makes balancing difficult, we never should have gone out against his recommendation that afternoon. If he comes with us this time we promise to be good!

Anyway, in the picture above he is wearing his Destination Nepal company tee shirt. If you’ve ever wanted to go trekking in Nepal, this is the guide for you. I can guarantee you will be in safe hands. The safest.

And here is my mum at the end of our trip going through her Qi Gong form on the roof of the Tamang’s house in Kathmandu. As you can see, she was fine. She is just fine. We’ll be just fine.

I realized that my fear of my mother dying is linked to a deep reluctance to grow up. It’s horribly selfish of me, I know, especially as I’ve been blessed with such attentive parents who have stayed so healthy and hale for so long, but I really didn’t want it to end. I wanted to be the kid forever and always be able to call my mum if I needed anything.

I see now it’s time to let that go a bit. So I promised my brother that I won’t let anything happen to our mother this time. This time I won’t go ahead on the trail. This time when I follow my mother it will be my privilege to look out for her as she has always looked out for me.

And I will be so grateful for every shared step of that trail.

Sometimes confronting your worst fears is exactly the reminder you need that life in the here and now is precious, and therefore all kinds of wild and wonderful. #saturninscorpiolessons

Namaste, my darlings. Laugh, be free, have adventures. Take risks. Take responsibility. Breathe.

 

Saturn Can Kiss My Lily White Ass

Totally awesome mug my mum sent me last week from www.therumpus.net.

…[W]riting means revealing oneself to excess …. This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why even night is not night enough. … I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down far away from my room, outside the cellar’s outermost door. The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars, would be my only exercise. I would then return to my table, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up! -Franz Kafka

I love this quote. Actually, it moved me to tears when I read it. Not because I write so often or so well but because I long to. I long to just sit here and do nothing else. It confounds me that instead of doing so I spend such long hours watching tv and surfing the web. Thus far identifying WHY I’m like this has been of little help. Frankly, more often than not it just causes me to sink a little deeper into my cushions and turn the volume up on the remote that much more.

But because I ALWAYS start with the why here’s my litany:

1. It’s my mom’s fault for not making me do homework as a child. BAD MOMMY!

2. It’s my blasted Jupiter’s fault for being so outrageously dimwitted as to not get out of the way of being blighted by opposing rays from Saturn at the moment of my birth. STUPID ASS JUPITER!

But you know what sucks about living in the past the absolute most? There’s fuck all you can do about it. And you know what sucks about living with your astrological significations as though they were writ in stone? There’s fuck all you can do about them.

N-is-for-NevilleBoth roads lead to ruin. Cavernous, bottomless pits of pits of unending, soul-sucking, self-defeating, privileged, narcissistic, melodramatic RUIN. The only saving grace in either activity – and it’s a profound one – must lie in figuring out where you went wrong so you can go back and do the absolute opposite whenever you find yourself in the same place. And using astrology to look at your past can help you do exactly that.

True story: The first time I played hooky from school I was nine years old. We’d recently moved across the state from a little log cabin in the middle of woods to a small brown duplex in the middle of a coastal town in western Washington. The population of that coastal town was 43,160 when we arrived but that had to be, like, 43,100 more than the population of the small not-even-a-town seventies back-to-the-land community we’d been living in.

the one room schoolhouse in Eastern Washington I attended for two years

To say I suffered from culture shock would be an understatement. Previously I attended school in a one room school house, grades K-6 with 25 other students. It was awesome. I loved it. Of course, I didn’t know I loved it until we moved. In the blindness of childhood I just accepted it all as it was, no questions asked. It wasn’t until I had something to compare it to that I ever thought it was anything particularly special.

But it didn’t take me long at Happy Valley Elementary to realize I wasn’t happy there at all. Not one little bit. The other girls thought I was weird and didn’t want to have anything to do with me unless it involved torture. They picked on me relentlessly every recess until my teacher finally told them to knock it off when I broke down crying in the middle of class. (My mum has always had a soft spot for Mrs. Mueller and her black polka dotted polyester two piece suits as a result of this).

waiting for the bus

 

Almost worse, there weren’t any wild spaces to get lost in on our way to our nearest neighbor. We didn’t have our dog, Rosie, who’d been raised by coyotes anymore. We didn’t have to trek a mile in the snow to get to the bus stop. Now I walked to school through a little suburban neighborhood to arrive in a class which all by itself before you counted any of the other classes was 26 strong. Before I felt wild and free. Now I felt invisible.

So I climbed to the top of the hexagon dome in the playground while the girls gathered about me at my feet, untied my laces and played keep away with my shoes. I disappeared into the winding avenues of my imagination and stared away from the playground, away from the school and into the far off distance. I began to disassociate myself from myself. It was then that I begin to develop the profoundly deep sense that my existence simply didn’t matter. I couldn’t change anything, I was just along for the ride.

That February there was a total eclipse of the Sun visible across all of Washington state. Everyone in my house left for work or school that day but me. My mother didn’t fall for my claim that I was ill, but since she left the house before me and my brother she wasn’t there to stop me from staying home when my brother left for school. I knew I was being bad but I really didn’t care not even one tiny little bit. I caught Holy Heck that night when I ‘fessed up to my crime – enough so that I didn’t begin making a practice of it, but for that one glorious day I didn’t have to do what anyone else said I had to and I didn’t have to suffer at the hands of those horrible little trolls on the playground.

Once I had the house to myself I floated about it in a green chiffon nightie I’d convinced my mum to buy me for dress-up. It was a sensuous, floaty little number that made me feel pretty and sexy and delightful. I remember how the sunlight floated through the windows in our dark little house and how the dust motes danced in the air like faeries. I remember briefly looking at the Sun through the window but squinting my eyes when I did so wondering if I was going to cause permanent damage to them, since Mrs. Mueller had warned us off it in preparation for the great event. I remember lying in my bed – which was actually a boat cushion from our small boat since Mum and Dad hadn’t been able to get us beds yet. I don’t know what I was reading, but I went away in the book and traveled off into some other person’s life and lived with them for awhile instead of the room I shared with my brother.

What I remember most from that day, however, is the feeling that illuminates all the other memories, rendering them vivid and charged, and more real than any photograph could ever be. I felt full. I felt at peace. I felt as though I’d escaped into a little space I’d carved out all on my own and no one else could touch me. I’d agreed not to exist out there – I’d erased myself from everywhere else but in here, in the dark house with the golden floating motes illuminated by the Sun, in my grown up green chiffon nightie. I’d stopped time and found a way to exist in secret: whole and lovely and completely possible. Both imagined and imaginary.

Saturn and the Eclipse circling my natal chart

Having just looked it up I can tell you now that this eclipse of the Sun took place at 7 degrees Pisces conjunct my 2nd house Mars conjunct my natal North Node whilst transiting Saturn was retrograde at 10 degrees Virgo trining my natal 12th house Sun from the 8th house. In case that’s all Greek to you my takeaway is that it was time for me to develop a dramatically new (Solar eclipse) experience of my ability to assert myself in relationship to my desires (Mars). This would come about through questioning my self worth and what I was worth to others (Mars in the 2nd, Saturn transiting the 8th). It was also a time to retreat, to learn to rely on myself and not others (12th house Sun ruling the 7th). With Mars in Pisces sextiling a 12th house Capricorn Sun this new-found ability to assert myself was never going to result in me mounting some unbeatable offense, now was it? Hells no. I was always going to choose defense.

It’s all too easy in retrospect for me to want to get into that memory and box that wee small girl’s ears. To tell her, “WAKE UP!!! It’s not school that’s the torture chamber! It’s not your homework! It’s those bloody awful girls!” But what’s the point? It’s too late for that. The die was cast. That day I decided that I didn’t like school or anything to do with it and I WAS NOT GONNA PARTICIPATE.

I can blame my mum all I want for not “making me” do my homework, but the truth of the matter is I was pissed and it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone else could have turned that around. She may very well have been right when she told me years later that she reached a point with me where she instinctively felt it was going to make things worse if she “made me” do it. In any event it’s too late now. Whether through predilection or practice, nurture or nature, I’ve spent the past 31 years stubbornly exercising my right to escape anything remotely resembling homework and replace it with a sort of incessant, graceful sloth whether it serves me or not.

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.” – Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Which brings me back to where I started this long meandering tale: SO WHAT?!

Because it seriously doesn’t matter where you come from, what your past is or what stars you were born under. These things are powerful tools you can use to uncover your hidden motivations, basic strengths, ultimate weaknesses, and repeating patterns, but at the end of the day what really matters isn’t what you ARE, or what you’ve DONE, it’s what you DO about it now. RIGHT now, in the here and nowness of the now. What you do now has the power to change everything about who you are and it’s only through your current actions that your past ones can ever be redeemed.

I’ve been listening to Caroline Myss’s most excellent CD set, Your Power to Create, and in it she asserts that visions from God don’t come to us like Mary floating down to the ground on a cloud, they come to us in the thoughts that cut across our mind every moment of every day – it’s those voices telling us to clean out our closets that we really ought to be listening to. Greatness isn’t something that comes naturally or in a flash to anyone. We have to work at it. Slowly, every day, chipping away at the imagined stone edifices of our better selves.

So lately when I hear my voices telling me to sit down and write or do my yoga or not eat that cookie I’ve been a little more obedient than in the past. I’m not happy about it, I can’t claim that. Actually, most of the time I seem to be engaged in some deranged dialogue with myself, “FINE! I HEARD you the FIRST time, stop YELLING AT ME!!!” Or, simply, “FUCK OFF!!” But sometimes – more often than I used to, anyway – I rouse myself and do it whether I want to or not.

Saturn, Lord of Capricorn and Aquarius

I like to imagine it’s Saturn I’m yelling at. Little Old Man Grumpy Pants sitting on my shoulder cracking the scythe. While it’s true he’s a complete A-hole about making you feel bad, guilty, and full of regret when things go wrong he’s not so bad if you actually do what he wants you to early on, I’m finding. And for the record, my constant stream of swear words when I’m engaging this Old Devil are totally appropriate. After all, Saturn has long been associated with the sea and sailors. Any daughter of Saturn can hardly expect to get his attention without a salty tongue. Besides, SERIOUSLY, he deserves it after everything he’s put me through..

However, it must be said that in following his instructions more closely I’m starting to appreciate the deeper resonance of Saturn as Authority. Most of us spend half our lives either rebelling against Saturn / Authority or avoiding it, as if it existed outside ourselves. But true authority starts within and doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else. After all, the root word of authority is auto – meaning self.

Authority comes, finally, from your own totally unique sense of self. Caroline Myss argues that the single biggest stumbling block in achieving our dreams is overcoming our fear that we will be alienated from others if we do so. And so, while I lament the trajectory my life took when I retreated into fantasy in the face of rejection, I do not regret the fact that I retreated. My 12th house stellium has a lot to answer for but I find that submitting to its dictates and retreating into worlds of my own creation where no one else can find me has been the only thing that has truly allowed me to find myself.

rinse and repeat

I’ve been waiting for some internal switch to get thrown inside me for most of my life now and change me from slothful to productive. Much to my chagrin, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to have to throw it myself. The story of my life isn’t going to be written by anyone else. In fairness, the timing is right for me to do so – Saturn is about to transit my 10th house and this year I’ve got some bomb-diggity zodiacal releasing going on, but still, at the end of the day I’m going to have to throw that damn switch myself. As Andy Warhol observed, “they always say that time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.”

So it remains to be said that I’m kind of totally and completely in awe over the fact that I’ve been working on this bloody piece since ten this morning and it’s now 9:14 pm. I had tea this morning, an egg around 5 and toast at some point. I’m starting my second glass of wine. I escaped everything and disappeared into my past, into my stars, and best of all into the telling of it all for hours at a time. AND I DON’T EVEN CARE IF IT’S TOO LONG OR IF ANYONE ELSE EVEN LIKES IT!!!!

It doesn’t escape my notice that we’ve got the last Blue Moon today until 2015 and that this full moon falls at 9 degrees Pisces only 2 degrees past the point where the Solar Eclipse I’m blaming everything on fell all those years ago. Maybe, hopefully, if I’m very good, I MIGHT be just about almost very nearly ready to throw that damn switch after all.

Only time will tell…

Party in Room 40something

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Last night was one of those nights you don’t want to end so you wait till it’s light out and you’re one of the last to go and once you’re back in your room you still don’t want to go to sleep but then you think that’s crazy so you wash your face and brush your teeth and lay down and are surprised to fall asleep right away… And then you wake up two hours later still wanting more.

It started at the AYA (Association for Young Astrologers) party where Chris Brennan handed the baton of President over to Austin Coppock. Here I am with Chris and our dear friend and former Kepler College classmate, Kenneth Miller.

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Then the party moved upstairs to the AFAN suite (Association For Astrological Networking) where my roommate Kate Petty and I continued drinking and taking silly pictures of ourselves in the mirror…

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Kate is fun to photograph.

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Then my pal Andy Gerhz showed up with her fabulous girlfriend, Ash. Ash and I totally bonded over our crazy Libra connection but I don’t have a picture of that, you’ll have to imagine it. Here’s Andy making a point.

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At some point I also shared a super tender bonding moment with Henry Seltzer over a conversation about Venus.

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Then Nick Dagan Best got a whole slew of photos of me and Rebecca Crane practically weeing ourselves, conveniently located in the bathroom. This one’s my favorite:

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Here’s Austin, the new Prez of AYA (he’s the right man for the job, can you tell?):

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In closing I’d like to leave you with some closing words from the ever brilliant Andy Gehrz and the “Human Ephemeris” himself, Nick Dagan Best: