Inside this new love, die.
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone
suddenly born into color,
Do it now.
You’re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
—Jalal al-din Rumi, Sufi poet, 1207-1273, translated by Coleman Barks
From my journal while on the road, 6 weeks in October and November 2008, Alaska to California and back to Portland Oregon, then home to Cambridge Massachusetts—with 3 new slide shows about Palestine/Israel, “My Trip to Gaza,”, “Bethlehem the Holy,” and “The Hydropolitics of Israel-Palestine.” In early December and again in February 2009 I’ll be touring with these and other shows in the southeast section of the US. You can find more information here.
California, part 11 (love and venues):
Along Piedmont Avenue
First the weather, since it’s so remarkable, contrasting with the equally remarkable Juneau weather: warm, “balmy palmy” as I wrote M last night from the back patio. I sat out there around 9 pm, in a light shirt, blue puffy down vest, bare feet, comfortable, outside in late October. Hardly possibly in Cambridge, impossible in Juneau. I’ve just returned from a morning walk, same clothing except for sandals, giving out SUV tix. The temperature now is 59, with a low in the upper 40s, a high expected of 80. Much like Jerusalem weather.
Surprisingly the sky this morning was clear enough to see the major constellations, Orion prominent. Also prominent is the noise of traffic on the expressway, a constant din.
The neighborhood consists of small houses, usually single level, very few larger apartment buildings, the skin of these houses often beige, sandy, tan, light brown, shades of desert and the Mediterranean. A few palms dot the streets, some deciduous trees seem to be dropping leaves, but I detect no color. Lots of shrubs and few flowering plants. Not as many SUV’s as I’d expected, enough to make my morning run satisfying.
I wrote my reply to M’s disclosure about another man. After composing in 2 sittings, 2 different approaches, and letting both gestate overnight, I’m relatively pleased with my writing, I feel I threaded the border between expressing great remorse, sadness, despair at the loss of a possibility with her for a deeper relationship, and a more or less nonchalant, well, so it is, so it be attitude. Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
I find myself not crushed, not pained, not miserable–at this moment. I’ve overcome my initial sense of rejection, partly because of how tenderly she expressed her news, with great compassion and caring for me. And partly realizing that I’d invested minimally in her, and that life with M is not over because she has a man-friend, a possible partner. I keep in mind her admission, “I’m a bozo when it comes to relationships,” and this can apply to all of us.
What the fuck, I say to myself, life goes on. No big deal.
Mountain View Cemetery
I’m well prepared, I hope, for tonight’s first Bay area show, Hydropolitics at the San Francisco Friends meeting. I’ve finally found a sound track for this 3rd show in my west coast series, choosing so far to use no natural sound—Voyage in the Yo Yo Ma Silk Road series. The music is just eastern enough, ethereal enough, to possibly fit. I won’t know until I try it tonight. Once again the show is long, I’ll put in jumps, I hope I don’t have to use them. I hate to cut. I have so much rich material, at least 1/2 of it new.
Dan, dear man, will drive me. I’ll treat him to dinner near the site. We continue our romp thru friendship. Laughing, joking, confiding, loving. I told him about M’s news, about my dream of her on skates. He offered, she’s skating away from you. Or you from her, since dream characters are usually aspects of the dreamer.
Some of our richest conversations recount our pilgrimage experiences, notably Cambodia. Since I’d missed Israel-Palestine because of running out of money, he filled me in again on how pilgrims found housing in Jerusalem: after an initial rejection at a large French hostel, walking back to their temporary dwelling at the Faisal, Brother Sasamori in his orange flowing robes, they met a young beautiful French woman (F?) who brought them back to the hostel, reminded the sister that she had a bevy of unheated cabins. So pairs of pilgrims each had a private cabin.
Dan volunteers about 2 days weekly at the National Radio Project, where he answers phones, does mailings and other humble office work. He told me about a recent call from a Black man in Texas who felt he was being disenfranchised. A detective left him a letter demanding he come to the office to determine if he would be accused of a misdemeanor or a felony. If the latter, he’d be removed from the voting rolls. The man had no idea what this was about, thought it harassment. Dan suggested he vote immediately, early by 2 weeks, and then see the detective. Dan also put him in touch with a local agency protecting voting rights.
This is a huge issue, protection of voting eights. Already signs are emerging that Republicans, maybe Democrats as well, are threatening voters, intimidating them at polling places and thru phone calls. As if the Republicans sense disaster and are desperately attempting to alter the outcome thru chicanery.
Dan and Elizabeth will also be poll workers again this round, for their 12th year. They will be trained, then serve an entire day, something like 7 am to 8 pm.
I enjoy watching them together, comparing them with Elaine and Bob in how they fit around and into each other. They cook together in the evening, but Elizabeth admitted to me yesterday, Dan and I agree on very little concerning food. How then do they manage? one might inquire. They balance each other in conversation. Elizabeth is indeed a beautiful woman, in her early 70s. Dan is 74. Curiously they have on their walls and fridge many pix of themselves, separate, together, and with others. A veritable parade of Dan and Elizabeth. Odd, I don’t do that. Altho I treasure photos that show me with loved ones and potential lovers, as in the recent photo of M and me on top of the Mt Auburn cemetery tower, most of my family photos are of others, sans me.
Altho Elizabeth and Dan have no children, they are close to children in many families, hers, his, some in Chicago, and from neighbors.
Their house is compact, well designed, well lived in. I was with them when they were virtually living out of suitcases, 1995, pilgrimage time when we met. All appliances are elegant. All furnishings are elegant. Little is extravagant. The coffee maker, for instance, sleek black, combining grinder with maker, and a timer. The stove, gas, self-lighting. The water filter. The small island work counter. The large fridge not stuffed (as was Elaine and Bob’s). The dining room wooden table. The various chairs and sofas. Buddhas abounding.
Chris M is arranging, belatedly, a show of Hydropolitics at the Napa library. She bemoaned the lateness, wondered if we should cancel. I said, Well, I’m going to be there anyway, I think, visiting Louise, so why not? Then the Portland show. But that’s about it, along with the Davis show this Saturday. Not much to show for all this travel, other than the side benefits of visits and more photography—and all the editing I’ve done. I’m puzzled about what to do concerning Seattle and Portland, since I have a train ticket which will bring me to one or the other with little to do, too early.
Allan gave me a dire report about San Francisco show arrangements—virtually nothing pending. When I said, Well you tried, you did your best, he retorted, No we didn’t, we could have done more. Phone calls, for instance, other forms of follow up. He told me that for the first time in years he’d attended Pacific Yearly meeting of Friends. He’d stopped going because only 2 or 3 would attend his presentations about Israel-Palestine. This year: 30 enthusiastic Quakers. He announced my availability to give shows, I’m not sure whether this was in person or by email. And only 2 responded, both no’s.
Why is this? I asked.
Possibly the surfeit of similar events, San Francisco is deluged with political presentations. Or people are too busy to organize something. But, he added after I’d asked, I don’t think this is from self-silencing. I wonder. I suspect the heart of the matter is, as he suggested, his and his office’s minimal attention on finding me venues.
October 22, 2008, Wednesday, with Dan and Elizabeth in Oakland
Where I write and process photos, Dan’s room