Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bon Voyage

Eartha Kitt performed in France, in French, just as she did in a number of countries and languages. A child of the sixties, I first fell in love with her in her role as Catwoman. Only much later was I educated about the wider and deeper accomplishments of this amazing woman.

Good voyage.

Vous êtes aimés

Christmas Stew

I made Christmas Stew. It was delicious. It will remain delicious for the next few days.

Seventy year old concrete

When I got up this morning, my body told me it wanted to jog instead of walk. I attempted to consult with my knee, but it refused to join the conversation. So I did jog, but made a point of slowing down my pace. It was a productive session and my knees feel good.

After jogging, walking back from the lake, I noticed a stamp in the sidewalk, giving the date the concrete was laid and the name of the contractor. 1937. A few hours later when I walked back from the store, I collected a few more dates from the concrete: 1931, 1939, etc. I also collected names from utility access covers and plates, including venerable companies that no longer exist. These older markers of industry were still in good shape after all these years, looking like they had endured only a few short years of wear. The newer, anonymous ground works showed more wear, and would not outlast their older brethren. So it goes.

There is one thing that surprised me in my recent conversation with Rol. I told him of some looming financial trouble. He expressed the proper sympathy. I replied that it would be all right. No matter how bad the financial thing got I would still "be breathing and working and happy." The part about being happy surprised me, even as the words came out of my mouth. Sitting there thinking about it, I realized that things might get bad for a while. But there was nothing to take away my joy except myself. I will have to meditate on this for a few days, than act on the realization.

It is Christmas, I am not Christian, but I enjoy the non-commercial trappings of the holiday season. I was going to spend the day in austere behaviour and headspace, but changed my mind. I walked to the store down down the street and came back with Christmas Ale, chocolate and the makings for a beef stew. The chocolate will last as long as it lasts, the stew project will begin within the hour, and one bottle of the Ale has found a home. Life is good. Yes, life is interesting and worrisome, but it is still good.

When I first arrived in Oakland I found a wrapped gift Melinda had left for me. I unwrapped it this morning. It is the graphic novel Digger by Ursula Vernon.

"The Cross is a barren stick, and the petals of the Rose fall and decay; but the union of the Cross and the Rose is a constant succession of new lives." - Crowley

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crooked pots and such

So I learned my lesson and started walking the 'correct' direction around the lake. Naturally, all but a few of the well formed female bums either changed directions to spite me, or stayed away altogether. But then why gaze upon what I cannot possess?

Yesterday I had lunch with Rol. I arrived a few hours early and walked around the city, down to the ferry building, through the market, past the skating rink, etc. It is a lovely city. I could become addicted to it.

Rol is doing well. He has been living here for nine years, and has been with his partner for six. Except for a few minor health problems - more annoying than threatening, and controlled well with medication - life has treated him well. He has a few pounds more than when I last saw him, but only a very few, and his glasses are a bit thicker. These facts are, each of them, also true of myself. Rol is still funny and kind and loving life. I regret doing such a poor job keeping in touch with him.

Today is laundry day, cleaning day, shopping day. It is a drawing, reading, moving, focus day. It is also a thinking day.

I noticed the toilet is crooked. With the exception of the flush handle, a toilet should be a mirror image from left to right - perfect symmetry about the center line. This one is crooked. Sort of like a drunk with a fat lip saying Ooooooooooohhhh.

My day pretty much wrapped up with a call from Kate. She is doing well. She enjoyed a good Yule ritual this last weekend, and - as must be true of Kate - the ritual was of a nature to cause growth and discomfort in her life. Growth and discomfort go together.

Monday, December 22, 2008

[Don't] walk this way

[seed paragraph]
I feel better when I act and think like the image of the man that I think I should be. If I can change "think I can be" into "Will to be", and put some work into it, what will happen?

My first inclination is to stick to my comfort level. Here in the wilds of Oakland, this means sticking to the apartment and not interacting with others. So the first few times I had to venture out into the wider world I resisted. This sounds silly. But it is reality. Somewhere in there I mused about the man I should be, as opposed to the man I am. What would he do and feel? He would pick up that phone, or leave that apartment, and interact. I have said this before (maybe using other words or images) but this is the man I want to be. What needs to be realized in this is that the concept of "the man I need to be" extends so far beyond just picking up a phone or walking into a small situation. It extends into pursuing a course at work, or building a proper environment at home, or establishing proper relationship with friends and families. Is this the Big Thing to focus on during this years Tour?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Yesterday I tried walking the 'wrong' direction around Lake Merritt. The lake is a popular venue for exercise - jogging, walking and rowing. The vast majority of walkers and joggers circle the lake traveling clockwise. I walked counter-clockwise.

Walking the wrong way makes it easier to move out of the way. A person who likes eye contact has at least a chance to indulge. There are fewer surprises from people sneaking up from behind.

Walking the 'right' way, I get to look at Ass instead of Breast. I prefer Ass. There are no accusing eyes glaring at me for staring at the body. An ass walking the same direction stays in view much longer than breasts walking the other way.

In defiance of all the contrarians out there, I now declare that there is value in going along with the crowd.

On your ass.

What do you sit on when there are no chairs?

On your ass.

There are no chairs in this apartment. I am sitting on a plastic tub full of cat chow with the computer on a lap board.

I found the ergonomic chair thing works for meditation.

Why I am here

Here is Kitty...

...and here is Ziggy...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Huzzah, Thelemistas!!!!!!!!

Last night I attended Gnostic Mass with the Thelemistas. It was good.

I will first have to confess that, two years ago, when I was here with Holly and Beverly, they led us nearly to the doorstep of the Thelemista temple. I found myself walking the same walk we had walked then. This time I had an address and knew what time to show up.

I was greeted at the door by none other than Elton, the gentleman who hosted a visit from me and the girls in 2007. After a brief reminder, he remembered me and the visit. He was wearing moose antlers (the same type worn by Lisa's dog Booger) and wished us all a Merry Moosemass. I replied by recounting to him the Moose Jokes.

Pretty close to the scheduled time, Mass began. From the first moment it was an experience to remember. The energy was greater and different from the typical Horus mass. The deacon started the ritual with the voice of enthusiasm. The priestess then ramped it up a few notches by dancing during her circumambulations of the temple. And so the ritual progressed. I was bothered a bit by the way most lines of the mass were spoken too fast, almost seeming that they were being gotten out of the way as a bother or impediment. But to slow it down and hang on the words with too much weight would be to fall into the fault of Horusm where Mass is sometimes almost somber. I want to find the best place between these two places.

But the many good points outweighed the few faults I found. The operative word is this: We "celebrate" Gnostic Mass. Horus needs to turn Gnostic Mass into a celebration. Finally, for whatever I may find strange about the energy or events of the evening, I remind myself that a few of the people there knew Grady McMurty and Bill Heidrick who, as faulted as they may have been, were the vehicles that carried the modern O.T.O. to its revival.

Specific points:
  • Instead of a banishing, we all joined in a circle and intoned... Aum, aum, aum.
  • When the priestess circumambulated the temple, it was a very energetic dance, with a fast drum beat and much happy movement.
  • The anthem was sung by the priest, but with a melody I didn't recognize. While the melody itself wasn't rock-n-roll, the priest sang it that way.
  • As each person finished communicating, there was a loud cheer of 'Oh Yes, Oh yes!' or 'Huzzah' from the congregation.
  • Most communicants also followed up with hugging the priestess, priest and deacon in turn.
  • There was only one wine goblet we all shared. On the one hand, this makes for a generous helping of wine. On the other hand, it is good way to spread my cold.
  • Drums, tambourines, etc. Used with enthusiasm during both circumambulations and again while communicating. When the communicant turned to declare, 'There is no part of me that is not of the gods', the drumming would go dead silent. It was a good effect.
Given time and effort I could expand the list. The only thing to add is that I was instantly made to feel welcome and that feeling lasted all evening.

Other notes....
This was my first time using BART. Like all such public systems, it presents an inscrutable rubric to the new user. But once a few basic routines are learned, it becomes easy and graceful. Except for the guy announcing stops on the last train. He sounded like he was talking with an anesthetized tongue into a microphone buried in electrified Jello.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting it into gear

This is the day I catch up on my writing. The entries of the past few days were finished this morning as I listen to NPR out on the back porch.

I was up at a decent hour today, well before the sun. Listening to my knee, I dressed for exercise and took a brisk walk around Lake Merritt. While my knee reserved comment, my lower back tells me I exercised well enough, and not to push myself any further. So walking will be my daily exercise. I find that the pace of walking works well for chanting a mantra inside my head.

Now that I am exercised and bathed, what the hell am I actually going to do with myself? What am I going to accomplish? How am I going to do it? And bloody when am I going to start?

[Later in the day, after thinking and eating and a short trip to the store.]
In response to the questions posed above, I did what a Capricorn knows to do. I made a list. Then I pulled out the kitchen timer and got to work getting these journal entries posted. I will not bore you with the list - at least not now. Instead, I will update you with progress as it is made, pretending that you already know what I am up to. I also see myself posting to the blog ad hoc rather than one tidy post per day.

[6:15 PM - Daily Practice]
I finally got around to meditating for the first time on this trip. To meditate is to sit. Melinda has no chairs in the apartment. For the computer desk she has an ergonomic chair like structure that has you distributing weight between knees and butt. There is the bed, with a mattress that is slowly destroying my hips when I sleep, and is no good for sitting. There is a futon, low to the ground, that looked like my best bet for sitting. Bad choice. It was fitful meditation, changing positions often, and finally giving up. I spent the rest of my allotted time testing other places to meditate. I think the computer 'chair' will be my best option. If not, I may be found sitting - pants up, thank you - on closed lid if the toilet. So I will call tonight's meditation a bust for effect, but an educational experience.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wasted days

Either this was a wasted day or it was a day of recovery. It depends on how I choose to view it.

Sleeping in, but being full of vim and vigor, I went out running about 9:00 AM. After I returned, I learned that the distance around Lake Merritt is about three miles. I jogged most of it. It felt good, but it was a mistake. Later in the day my knee informed me that I would not be running any more. After a bath, I succumbed to the lack of sleep suffered during the journey and slipped into bed for a nap. After the nap I would get busy with all the wonderful things I was going to accomplish these few weeks.

Again, I disappointed myself. I made some needed phone calls, puttered around, read a bit, then slipped to bed by nine.

It is both amazing and disgusting to see how easily I can let time slip from my grasp. It is a fault to overcome.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slow ride

[Actually written 20 December]
The train trip lasted a little over 21 hours, pulling into Emmeryville at 6:20 PM pacific time. Sleep was a problem. At first glance, the seats appeared to be perfect for the trip: lots of leg room, reclining, leg supports. As it turns out, sleep was almost impossible. With all that room, there was nothing to scrunch up against to hold the body while sleeping. Some relief came the next day when I moved to an older car where the seats were closer together and I was able to do a bit of scrunching.

It was easy to see who the regular train travelers are. They are the ones who dress like shit, spread a thick layer of support material about themselves, and get into some serious nesting. The first passenger I saw had this to an art. He was dressed in team colors for some NFL franchise, had an open cooler with drinks and ice at his feet, and was seated as close as possible to the restroom. Pure redneck nirvana. More civilized and innocent travelers, such as myself, were more reserved and orderly, taking great care to minimize our profiles and fade into the background.

It seems that sewage treatment plants and trailer parks grow alongside rail tracks, like moss grows along a gutter or ditch. Near population centers, there were many homes near the tracks, mostly working class. Alas, none of the residents of these homes was kind enough to go into a room facing the tracks, turn on the lights, open the curtains, then have wild sex at just the right time for me to spy them for a scant few seconds.

While gazing at the homes passing by, and at the back yards, vacant lots, and parks, I had a strong feeling of "Home." For each of these humble homes, I got the impression of a place that was safe and valued. Talking with Lisa few weeks ago, she spoke of having a home, a place that wasn't just space to park the self, but an actual home - a haven that was totally yours and safe. I got this same feeling when looking at these homes. I also realized that I have never felt this way about any place that I have lived as an adult. Where I live now, with my mother, I know that I am always open to the intrusions of others, and that my privacy and safety are incomplete. When I was living with Kathleen, I never was able to make any of that space totally my own. I always had to make way for Kathleen, for her possessions and desires, and for her way of arranging and running the house. Also, we never came to a point where all things melded from Mine and Yours into Ours. Having a place totally my own, where I could say, "This is my home", is something I have never had.

Then there were the industrial facilities and warehouses. Away from population, the tracks often veered to wilderness. Where the freeway, which was never too far away, was always keeping a tenuous touch on humanity, the rails often kept well alone, going through fertile wilderness and barren wasteland alike. It was pretty cool.

So most of Thursday, the 18th, was taken up in looking out at the world or trying to catch bits of sleep. As we approached the end of the line, it was clear we would be late. I began to worry that I would miss my connection to Oakland, but reasoned that the connecting buses were tied to the arrival of the train and would all leave with their charges. Again, it was battle with the worry side of my mind. I relaxed, and sure enough made the connection. I also made the first of the two buses I needed to get to Melinda's place. But the second bus - the last of the day for route 13 - never arrived. So I walked. I walked about two miles, but it felt longer. This was when I knew I was WAY over packed. I think I am sending some stuff back home in the mail. When I finally arrived, I said hello to the cats, unpacked, nestled into bed and tried to sleep.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Magickal Mystery Tour

[Actually written 20 December]
Welcome to Existential Angst Tour 2009. This year the tour takes place a bit early, but goes a bit longer. Melinda was going to drive home for Christmas, so she could bring her cats, instead of flying. I didn't really like the idea of her making the drive, so I hatched a scheme. I would use the rest of my vacation for the year and trade places with her. I would spend my vacation cat-sitting.

As usual, I created great plans for the tour. Also, as usual, I over planned and over packed. And, also as disgustingly usual, the reality is falling flat against the expectations. Follows the record so far:

December 17, 2008
I got off work at the usual time and made it home to pack. After packing and wrapping up loose ends, I started getting ancy - wanting to get to the train station an hour before the train was to arrive. This is a personality trait I am starting to change. So I worked on my mom's schedule instead and showed up only a half hour early...just in time to see a train pull out of the station. WTF? I got on the phone and called AMTRAK customer service. According to the dude on the line, the train was a half hour behind schedule. His best guess was that I saw a special ski train pulling out. He was right. AMTRAK showed up late and I got on board at about 10:00 PM.

Somehow, but I am not sure just how, this seemed a fitting start to the adventure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calling in sick (private)

I called in sick today. I am sick, but being sick isn't why I called in sick.

The reason I call in sick is from lack of sleep. I get no sleep because I am up all night. I am up all night because I am coughing all night. I am coughing all night because I am sick. But I can't 'call in sleep deprived', so I 'call in sick.'

Exercise? I am not working out - can't run while coughing, can't lift weights when shivering and aching.

Spirit? There is limited magick. While the LBRP sounds cool when bumped down a half octave, it sounds crappy when whispered and raspy.

Lisa was in an accident this week and totaled her car. She has no money coming in. I have a divorce decree looming in the wings. I am now researching the best way to survive a foreclosure. I have mixed feelings on this. It would be nice to skate out of the problem, and leave the mortgage company holding the bag. But 'nice' doesn't overlap with reality, or with my ethics. I know what I want, but I don't know what my other options are. As soon as I return from vacation I am going to have a little talk with the mortgage company. We could pull this out of the fire, but it may require a small miracle.

I will be buying a few lottery tickets while in California...

Full weekend coming up. Taking The Grrls to the airport. Repairs and cleaning in Tooele. Packing for vacation. Cleaning upstairs at mom's place.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Surrender to the authorities

Today five former Blackwater employees surrendered to federal authorities in Utah. Something to do with emptying several clips of ammo in the general direction of peaceful citizens of Iraq. One of the perps lives in Utah, the others cam in from out of state. Why Utah? In hopes the trial will be held here, so they get a jury that is more likely to render a favorable verdict.

The mind boggles. Is someone seriously thinking that Utahns are more likely to say something like, "Well, Zeke, even if they didn't pull a gun on our boys, y'all know them ragheads was up to something. Them islamaniacs is ALWAYS up to SOMETHING."

Even if the jury does come from Utah, what if they all happen to come from Salt Lake City proper, which voted for Obama (this vote being canceled out by the rest of the state)?

Better yet. Let's make a list of "The best states to turn your self in, based on type of federal charge." I would start of the list with [un-named southern state] for bigamy and [un-named midwestern state] for incest. Texas for EPA infractions. Alaska saw the light with Ted Stevens, so Massachusetts will be up for bribery. Etc, etc.

I am secretly hoping they DO move the trial to Utah, and that our jury sends them to prison for the rest of their miserable little lives.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Deep and Low

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is interesting when done a bit quieter and a half octave lower.

Sore throat. Contagious. Poor sleep last night. It's one of those odd illnesses that is little trouble during the day, but as soon as the head hits the pillow, the juices start to flow and the coughing starts.

I was going to skip ritual tonight, but went for it anyway. It was interesting. Being quiet and low brought a calmer and deeper energy. As a side note, the last week or so the energy of the temple space has changed. I can't walk into the room without being compelled to do a quick kabalistic cross before entering.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Setting expectations

The plan for December is 20 days with workout, and 20 days of the magickal practice. So far, not very good. The side effects of structural, getting a sore throat, and knee problems have interfered with all plans. The month isn't over.

Tonight, with a sore throat, meditation or ritual is out of the question, so I am updating the blog instead. I did weight lifting last night, so today would be aerobic. Again, the sore throat has its say.

I think I will salvage a good month from it, even if it is all off to a shaky start. Keep plugging.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ouch - Installments 2 thru 6 of 10

Still doing the structural. Last week, working the sacrum, was interesting. It really rose to bit me when I attempted to work out Tuesday night. It wasn't happening. I let my body rest.

The latest session was face and neck. I am amazed at how far a finger can go up my nose. Not even my finger.

I am coping (poorly) with the exercises the therapist wants me to do. It reminds me of the physical therapist for my knee many years ago. I did the math and figured he wanted me to spend about three hours a day just doing therapy for the knee. This was not a short term thing, but 'forever', and as knees go, my problems were minor. In all fairness, I took what he taught me, applied it with long term success, and have avoided surgery for over ten years now. Yea me.

Will I do the same with the structural exercises? Time will tell.