Saturday, December 5, 2009

jarring yet nurturing lessons

The sage and her student were standing by a pool discussing longing and ambition.

"What do you want more than anything else?" the sage asked.

"To perfect my ability to love all of creation the way I love myself," the young man replied.

At that moment, the sage tackled the student and shoved his head beneath the water. Accustomed to letting his teacher shape the unpredictable contours of his education, he did not resist.

One minute went by. Then another. The student began to struggle and kick. His teacher was strong.

Finally she released her grip and the student surfaced, fighting for breath.

"What did you want more than anything else during these last few minutes?" the sage inquired.

"Nothing else was in my mind except the desire for air," gasped the student.

"Excellent," beamed the sage. "As soon as you are equally single-minded in your desire to perfect your ability to love all of creation the way you love yourself, you will achieve your goal."

what's with the violence, stace? you might be asking yourself. well, this 'sacred advertisement' summed up my experience in brazil thus far so aptly that i felt compelled to share it with you, my loyal audience, to save my breath and a bit of your time. however, i have some details to fill in, for your sake as well as my own. so i'll begin with the thesis statement: as per usual, life has knocked me on my ass. i made some plans, took some risks, let my idealism take over, and then had life stare me straight in the face and say, "no, seriously, WHAT are you doing?"

i have been drifting about (in case you haven't gleaned that from previous posts) and searching for ANSWERS, dammit! some days, i feel so happy to let it all melt on the horizon of sugary sand and breathtaking mountains, and just say 'YES!' to that ice-cold cerveja; but other days i quite literally burst into tears and can't even make out the words 'bom dia' to my neighbors. sometimes i can't believe how cool it is to have ended up in rio- meeting professional belgain soccer players and local rap artists and break-dancers and receiving invitations to batizado's at the fluminense football club banquet hall! and sometimes i get all thinky and neurotic and stressed that i'm not practicing yoga every day or going to capoeira, and i haven't taken a single dance class! they say the grass is always greener, but my problem is that i don't even know that i want grass! my varied interests lead me to believe that if i'm not accomplishing everything, NOW, PERFECTLY!!!, then a small (but very vocal) part of me believes that i have failed at life. gee, don't i sound like a barrel o' laughs?

sometimes all it takes is a bit of perspective. as in, no, x-y-z didn't happen, buy p-q-r DID, and those are really amazing and important letters! what good is it to come all the way to brazil and maintain exactly the life i had in the states? why leave? visiting somewhere and living somewhere are two different beasts. i can hear about a place from the comfort of my own home, which, for some, is fine. but i wanted to LIVE in brazil. which means laying in bed at night with firecrackers and gun shots outside my window, and being kept awake until 8am because of the baile funk, or holding the hand of a one and a half year-old in vila kennedy whose grandfather abandoned him at the shelter. transplanting oneself is really difficult and if i leave here with nothing more than a firm grip on reality and on what i want to make of myself (see below for the answer), then, you know what? that's actually what i came here to do! and now i know who to talk to, what it will take to live here and how much i need to make it happen. hell, i know that i WANT to live here!

because i came to brazil, i have learned things that can never be taken away from me. i am part of the social dialogue i so desperately want to engage in. i can speak to issues that interest me rather than just 'knowing' they are important. i know why i believe that educating women is the most important thing we can do for society, and that protecting the rights of children is right there on it's heels. creating a life in line with one's heart is incredibly powerful and it takes TIME. god, it's so annoying when you learn a life lesson and remember the inane and obvious adage you learned in third grade that already explained it all for you...

but beyond the over-arching "life-lesson" i am integrating into my being, i'm saying out loud to the universe that what i want more than anything is to dance professionally. i love afro-brazilian dance and music and i am passionate about creative, group movement. i am dedicated to my physical health and accomplishing specific physical goals as i work towards this career path. so it may shift the direction of my plans temporarily...and it may not, for that matter. but what i've learned is that life requires focus, and even though there are lots of causes and adventures and boys out there (let's be honest...), a little bit of light and satisfaction will always be diminished in me if i don't follow this aching desire i feel inside.

and that's all, folks. that's all you get from me for now, because i'm still processing and integrating this new mentality into my being (for good), while remembering the words of a wise, wise person: "do it now, do it now, do it now!" thanks, chip. and thank you, loyal readers, for being there with your words of encouragement. and don't forget to leave a comment about your own ideas regarding 'longing' and 'ambition'...just for fun...

tchau for now.....and axe!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


as i contemplate my future, i'm reminded of things past. i stumbled across this today- an entry i wrote over a year ago during my time in brazil, and i am just as humbled by that experience now as i was then. i didn't edit this, so there are some "stream-of-consciousness" gaps that i hope you'll forgive.

week 9:

cinelandia protest, or demonstration. the excitement over free condoms is incredible, but what people don't know is even more incredible. here, in a culture driven by so much sexuality and expression, there's a serious problem with teen pregnancy and lack of sexual education. this problem is mostly in the favelas, as in most countries- the poor are left out of the equation, but the government seems to feel no inclination to address it. what is their role again?

grupo so capoeira batizado. 9 year-olds with more guts (not to mention technique) than most of the adults in my classes. and without knowing my last name or what i'm doing in brazil, professor cocoroca welcomed me to the family and committed to finding me a job.

centro de convivencia infantil. my first experience with vila kennedy (a favela, or 'communidade' outside the city of rio) was on a visit with my friend saulo. he grew up there, and we went to stay at his sister, fabiana's house. inside, the bathroom is right next to the kitchen and has a sheet hanging from a cord for a door. to flush the toilet, i fill a bucket from the spout in the wall. the shower has no curtain, and the same, raw concrete floor as the rest of the house. the babies get a bath in the bucket out front, where the extra cinder blocks serve as patio furniture. 10am, smoke a joint, drink some coffee with lots of sugar, eat a piece of bread with margarine and turn up the funk music. we watch the babies and their big brother slowly learn to dirty dance while mom, dad and tio watch, laughing and clapping and singing along. "can the kids understand these words?" i week later, vila kennedy is in the news. the comando vermelho from vila alianca broke into vila kennedy (their rival favela) as part of an ongoing power struggle for drug traffic control. gunfire and explosions all night. some injuries due to stray bullets. buses can't leave to take people to work. schools are closed. the next time i go back to vila kennedy is with another volunteer, ines. she learned about an organization there that provides space for kids before and after school hours to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, or to care for very young children whose parents (or mom, or grandparents) have to work. i arrived at 11am and spent an hour taking photos of/with the kids. they don't know my name, but call me 'tia' (aunt) and hug me tirelessly. i meet a one and a half year old boy who has been left with his grandfather. mom is in prison, dad went missing, and his grandfather all but begged ines to take him away. what he said was, "can you take him right now? i can't take care of him anymore." this little one follows tia cleide (the woman who runs things) around, crying, pointing to the door and calling out "mama." when he finally let me get close, i gave him a little back rub and held his hand. from then on, any time i was sitting, he was between my legs. before i even said good-bye, just as i started gathering up my things to leave, he started screaming. he doesn't trust anyone, and he knows that he's alone. how does that happen to an infant? and what was incredible to watch was the way ALL the other children help take care of him. there are children here with no parents and nowhere to play but a dirt lot. there's no money to buy food so every day they get spaghetti, black beans and sausage. lots of candies. hugs. kisses.

what's the most important "nutritional supplement?" i think love (excuse the hippy-dippy sentiments), but vegetables also do growing bodies good. not to mention balancing out the effects of starches and refined sugars on the energy levels of kids.....i think of this often when i see the rotted front teeth of two four year-olds at CCI. playing, laughing, smiling, and eating fistfuls of candy. they guard the candies fiercely, and drop all the wrappers on the ground. i'm not surprised considering the amount of people i see doing the same thing daily throughout the city. i couldn't stand seeing this wonderful place littered with trash, so i initiated a 'game' of trash collecting, and suddenly everybody wanted to get the garbage off the ground! how great, i think! until they start grabbing flowers and leaves to put in the bags....and as soon as the game was over, the mess reappeared within minutes as though some little filth fairy were taking the trash out of my bag when i wasn't looking.

i came here with the intention of doing yoga with the kids. they were really enthusiastic about it! so i taught them yoga, in a tiny room with a smooth concrete floor and beautiful blue walls. i taught them sun salutations and talked about the names of some of the postures. the mostly wanted to look at my tattoos...then we closed our eyes and breathed deeply...imagined the sounds of traffic were the sounds of the ocean...breathe in and smell the salt water.....i opened my eyes to scan the room and two boys in the back, paulo and gabriel, were so focused and engaged i almost forgot i was teaching! as we walked back to CCI i asked them how they felt after doing yoga, after spending some time on the beach (wink-wink)... gabriel opened his arms wide, took a deep breath in and smiled at the sky. "a natureza ajuda," he said. "nature helps." i can't help but see the weeds littered with garbage and smell the diesel fumes as we walk back to our building. just for a moment, we got to be together on a clean beach with fresh air.

antonio is perfect beyond belief. to look at him, orgasmic, to hear his resume, divine: violinist, soccer star, chess champion, drummer, lady killer. when i ask if he has a woman, saulo says, "quem quiser." "whoever he wants." but i don't see anyone. the one possibility lingers silently at a distance. an ex? a potential? one of those that slips through the cracks and gets a taste? he's high and has lost and beautiful eyes, and as i stare at him i realize we're all lonely. he can have anyone, but he doesn't want anyone. he wants someone. or maybe he wants to be wanted by someone who doesn't want him. i wonder as i watch him how many times he's cheated on a girl or broken someone's heart. i wonder how many times he's cried himself to sleep. i wonder why it feels like i'm suddenly without a home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

great expectations

i put salt in my coffee this morning. not intentionally, of course, but i dropped a heaping spoonful in there, nonetheless. the gods were with me when i realized this misstep BEFORE taking a sip. can you imagine? the funny thing is, i never put sugar in my coffee, but this morning, for whatever reason, i did. well, i tried. i also did laundry. and washed the dishes. and cooked chicken. and made a salad. i checked my bank account while filling in all the details for my flight to salvador, and suddenly i realized, "the cost of the ticket is more than i have..."

so the story goes, i've been in rio for 7 weeks, awaiting the fateful day when i would finally board that plane for my personal neverland, salvador, only to find that i don't have the means to do it. or, so it seems. i'm quite a resourceful person. i believe in miracles. and i also believe in following the path that presents itself. i've spent my day in a beautiful apartment in santa tereza, indulging in the modern day miracles like free internet, a flushing toilet, fresh food and a washing machine (god's gift to me, i think....), i practiced yoga overlooking three favelas and corcovado, and i discovered a magic link between some of my biggest passions.

here i am, in rio de janeiro, brazil. i came here to volunteer with an amazing organization called 'cinema nosso' that grew out of the favelas of rio and fosters young, brazilian filmmakers and artists of the future. the idea was that i'd be working in a favela, offering support to cinema nosso's programs in whatever way i could. well, that program doesn't exist anymore... so then an acquaintance told me about another program i could work with, but that never really panned out either. so i waited. at the pousada, around lapa, mostly at the beach. i met someone, learned to make love in portuguese, watched my abada collect dust in my suitcase, wrote in my journal. at least three days a week, i found my yoga mat. usually before someone made a caipirinha...

i'm at a crossroads. at this point, i could ask for money to go to salvador and worry about money there, or i could take advantage of some money-making possibilities here, in rio. i could also go home. i could sit in front of my computer, reading about all the ways in which other people are changing the world and making a difference, or i could attempt to create something of my own. i could stay with saulo in rio and make his wish come true, or i could make MY wish come true and travel throughout brazil and south america... i could go to that dance class tonight, or i could get a drink with a friend. i could say, 'yes,' or i could say, 'no.' i could worry about the way my life is going to turn out, or i could live my life moment to moment. i could make a choice, and then i could change my mind. i could let go. i could be happy no matter what happens; even waking up to a mouthful of salty coffee.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

abrendo o mau

it's more apparent to me than ever what living abroad can do for a person's health and well-being. speaking a foreign language presents enough problems for most, but expressing emotions in a foreign language presents a huge opportunity to overcome personal setbacks. in order to learn a language, one has to speak it. nodding in agreement, smiling and responding, "sim, sim," is not sufficient. the biggest problem for native english-speakers (i use this example because, around the world, english-speaking nations are the only ones without a culture of bi-lingual-ism....excuse me while i take great liberties with my native tongue) is that we are obsessed with looking good. we aren't used to being honest with each other in ENGLISH, let alone divulging our weaknesses and vulnerabilities in someone ELSE'S language. living in a community, with people of a similar class, from a similar background, with similar views, but especially with a COMMON LANGUAGE is COMFORTING. and i think we all just want to feel comfortable. but, c'mon folks, life is uncomfortable.

what have i been doing with my time here? good question. drinking lots of brazilian beer and homemade caipirinhas. riding lots of buses. eating lots of fried things (thankfully, a passing phase...), as well as acai to balance out the nutritional consequences. applying mosquito repellant. thinking about brazil. pinching myself because, oh yeah, i'm IN brazil. pondering the future. falling into something like love. missing capoeira. slipping into a secret street roda and hiking to hidden beaches. applying sunscreen. getting sunburned (on the beach, in the street, in my sleep.) attempting to hydrate. walking. experimenting with foreign ingredients (often in the produce section i can be heard saying, "what the hell is THAT?!) and occasionally watching 'family guy,' in english, with spanish subtitles.

last night we (my north american and brazilian friends) made a churrasco in a make-shift bbq pit (hub cap and wheel structure) while sitting in the street, drinking beer and listening to an eclectic mix of brazilian tunes (but, wait, was that, "rockette"???) the churrasco was scheduled for 6pm, but i think we actually arrived with the food at 8pm...peito and coracao...yes, heart. i ate grilled chicken hearts...really good, actually... earlier in the day i hiked up towards corcovado with alexandre and saulo to a hidden waterfall and drank a coconut on the side of the road. the kids from the favela stopped us and shared jaca (bread fruit) while the monkeys ate some overhead. then they showed me another secret waterfall. next we went to alexandre's brother's (allessandro's) house to use the bathroom, which consists of a tiny room, a concrete floor with a drain, a toilet and a shower head. the toilet doesn't flush- the extra water from the shower is used to flush it. the exposed concrete floors and cinder block walls make for a less than cozy "home" by most standards, but the sense of welcome i feel every time i come in this house is immense.

standards of living have NOTHING to do with one's address or amenities and everything to do with hospitality and joyfulness. and honestly, allessandro's view is one of the best i've seen...the focus here isn't on achievement and the aquisition of "things;" probably because the opportunities are few and far between. but also because people here relate to one another as PEOPLE, and not as co-workers or because they have the same car. at any given moment, the atmosphere is created by people, creating a home has nothing to do with what kind of floors somebody has or what's on the wall, and an awesome party can happen in a dirty workshop with a pile of wood for a "bench" and a hub-cap fire pit for a bbq.

with each passing day i learn more about myself. 1) the beach and the ocean make everyone happier and healthier. 2) being outdoors, in nature, is medicinal. 3) i have DEEP respect for immigrants everywhere. expressing one's self authentically in one's native tongue is hard enough, but doing it in a foreign language takes balls. and 4) letting go of fear and expectations can take you to amazing depths and frightening highs.

i'm repacking all my things today to prepare for my next move, and i absolutely have too much stuff. i brought a lot just in case i decide to stay. but even if i never leave, i have way too much stuff. what does one need in life, really? well, in brazil, one needs flip-flops, a bikini, a cunga (sarong), something to wear on top of that bikini- shorts and a shirt, and- well, that's kind of it... sure it's fun to dress up and have something new to wear, but if we're talking about necessity, than the first extraneous item on the list is pretense. it doesn't exist here. lovers are going to argue in front of their friends because everyone's in the room together and the argument is happening now. this guy is going to tell that guy that what he said was really messed up. students are going to get to class when they get to class because the buses are packed and they needed to stop and buy a snack. the passenger on the bus is going to call the bus driver a crazy fool for driving like he's in NASCAR. i'm going to wear flip-flops and use my bikini as a bra because it's more comfortable and it's CRAZY hot outside! and that's the way it is. brazilians live together, for better or for worse, til death to they part. and if you want to be a part of that, you have to let go of a little bit of self-preoccupation, and open your heart to the dynamic energy surrounding you in the hearts of others, and open your mouth and SPEAK. i never would have encountered the people i have thus far without jumping off that ledge every day.

i still believe the voice has to be used with purpose- not just to call someone a fool or make noise, but to really say something. especially because spoken language reveals so much about people- they're motives, the way they see the world, their spirit, their truth... brazilian portuguese is beautiful, complex, lyrical, sometimes overwhelming and full of sexual innuendos and jokes. it requires a certain confidence to speak it- the confidence to let go and really EXPRESS yourself. you have to sing the words. dance them. grab them with your mouth and show 'em who's boss. passionately, of course...

i'm ending one love affair in rio to surely begin another in salvador, with the rhythm of this language propelling me forward. like everything here, i'm keeping time with music and taking each day as it comes, one wave at a time.

Friday, November 13, 2009


occasionally i feel the poetic impulse...

wandering into the calm break of the ocean
riding the swell, bobbing up and down
like an albatross...
suddenly the tide sucks both legs
out from under me, dragging
my body into the giant, frothy mouth
i see approaching.
it gobbles me up, pulling legs back
spitting my body forward
twisting both arms around like
a pinwheel in the gale-force wind
of bubbling, salty sea.
i hear whispers and whistles, the psst-psst!
of all-too shameless men,
i have bruises from rio's streets.
i feel wet and sticky from
impulsive romances, my eyes, nose,
ears, mouth full of sound and silence-
this language seems to mock me every day...
and did you know, in the southern hemisphere,
the toilets flush backwards?
provided it's one of the fancy, flushing models, that is...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

meu coração esta radiante

after two weeks i'm settling into things and feeling less and less like an outsider. the landing has been a bit bumpy (sharing one room/bathroom with six boys and all...) but the rhythm of my life seems to have adapted quite effortlessly. read on to sample a slice of daily life here in rio de janeiro.

every day i take a 15min walk down the cobblestone hill of santa teresa, and if i'm buying groceries, i take a ride up on the back of a moto taxi. the other day i walked up and accidentally stepped inside a hippie art atelier while admiring the graffiti across the street. here, gorki (a peruvian artist and former andes tour-guide) and antonio (a middle-aged brazilian smoking a joint and wearing bob marley board shorts) make me a custom-made pair of leather sandals, cut exactly to my foot, and give me a run-down on the inner-workings of our universe through a hand-made, 3-D mandala. it cost me $25. winding my way back home i stop to watch the two stray puppies playing behind the fence, when suddenly i look beyond them to see one of the most spectacular views of rio.

night falls and here i am, walking down the street in lapa, through an absurd mix of people, buying caipirinhas from the street vendors, swimming in the sounds of live music on every corner, kissing each other like their lives depended on it. here come the transsexuals and their unbelieveably altered bodies, and just there lies a man face down in the street with no shoes. i don't know if he's alive. but the crowd keeps moving.

the next day those streets are empty. but hoards gather in the countless snack shops to drink large bottles of beer out of a glass and watch flamengo KILL sao paulo! the men scream and cheer, and the whole room collectively groans in pain when their keeper can't stop the goal. and the beggars move down the line, some selling peanuts, others just asking for change for their babies.

when the rain stops, my friends and i go to the beach. the beach! sand like sugar, coconuts to drink, beautiful people playing volleyball, beautiful people glistening in the sun, beautiful people swimming and walking along the crazy blue water. did i mention the beautiful people? and in the middle of the street running along the boardwalk sits a crippled man, shaking a cup that holds a few coins; all he has in the world. he tries to crawl forward but can't. he tries to speak but can't. i try to figure out what to do, but i can't.

walking through this city moves me to tears. at times my head seems to block out everything- i don't recognize a single word, my preternatural sense of direction fails me and i can't help but feel lost. but i keep walking. and suddenly i see hear smell taste this city and my body lights up. that fear and uncertainty and love just tumble out of me.

moving to a new place is just like anything- after a period of time, the new car smell wears off; the noises lose their charm. the smells stop being novel and start becoming offensive. the endless gropes and kisses of the boys in the clubs (and bars, and samba rehearsals) only serve to remind me of the fact that i'm a gringa.

but this city takes my breath away.

the impulse for writing this most recent entry was not the latest brazilian make-out session or beautiful beach day. perfect moments abound here; it's the dark moments that give this city its intensity and really keep my head spinning. war has broken out between the favelas and the police. people are dying. children are playing in the street. music is everywhere. people stop to drink fresh juice on the corners, and new friends open their arms and their homes to strangers every day. it's amazing to think that in a city of so much poverty and struggle and chaos, life can be so magnificent. i guess when you're living in the unknown every day, life truly becomes miraculous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

e a minha casa

my host's name is cornelius. he and his nephew, elias, wander around casa aurea all day, smoking cigarettes and, when the time dictates, drinking beer to feed their age-appropriate beer bellies, speaking an anglo-saxon-intoned portuguese. their german-by-birth, baritone voices fill the air with an audible expression of the city's strangeness. rio is beautiful. it's ugly. it's awkward and dirty and so awesome. and i really haven't seen much of it at all. what i have seen is grafitti and favelas that are more beautiful than the civic buildings.
what i've heard are gunshots from the neighboring police shooting range. or was it the favela?
what i've smelled is big city smells. exhaust. garbage. urine.
and what i've felt is a breeze so cool and sweet i thought i'd float away on my guesthouse hammock...
i don't think there's another country in the world that could affect me like brazil. i hear the language somewhere other than my brain. i understand it somehow, even though i struggle to speak.
i'm struggling to do a lot. but this is where i'm supposed to be. this is where i chose to be. and this is what i knew was coming. moving to another country is "exciting" and "glamorous" and really uncomfortable.
i'll continue asking my roommate how his day was until he looks me in the eye and smiles. i'll keep thinking up questions to ask leida and rose until the words actually come out of my mouth in portuguese. and i'll keep trying something new every day until i know which bus takes me to work, which shop has the best salgadinhos and which corner to avoid. this is my city.
thank god i have six months...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

for serious

this may be the least flippant thing i've ever written in my life. an opportunity to do what i think i am best in the world at; witness and cultivate people's stories and passions. i have found myself in a position to create safe space for personal expression. perhaps because that is what i crave most. and now, my dreams, my passions, and my BHAG are all coming together at once! i am going to Brazil to work with an organization whose mission is to, "empower [Brazil's youth] as they explore, discover, rewrite and appropriate their own image and history through audiovisual works," and to "broaden the cultural universe and contribute to the development of critical thinking of children, adolescents and young people belonging to disadvantaged groups through the use of audiovisual language."
i have so many reasons to go to brazil, and this organization came into my awareness so fluidly and inspired something in me i feared was no longer viable. in order to connect to another person, we have to be real. in order to grow, we have to let go. and in order to change, we have to be willing to say, "fuck it."
as i step forward towards my goal of living in brazil, and my BHAG of being a company member of dance brazil, i am getting more and more clear on my MISSION in life, which is to inspire others. i find the most satisfaction and excitement when witnessing inspiration in others. and i realize my life has been blessed. i don't want to come from a place of "having so much, and so i feel i must give back," but i also recognize my privilege. i BELIEVE everyone should do what they love. and no one should be forced into a lifestyle due to circumstance or lack of education. so much corruption in our world comes from ignorance, and open communication is the only way to eradicate it.
artistic expression is, in my opinion, the freest form of communication- free from self-consciousness, free from agenda and begging discussion!
at cinema nosso, "[the] goal is that...our students will have the skills to express their own ideas with strength and clarity."
i get to be a part of something i find completely inspiring and believe in wholeheartedly.
now to the practical part (barf.) i have a certain amount of savings. depleted partially just by purchasing a ticket to brazil. so i'm selling my car.
i'm selling my mattress.
i'm selling my bookshelf.
oh, and the chair i bought at pier one.
and the table i was given...
and lots of clothing.
this shedding of 'stuff' only makes me realize that what i really want in life has so little to do with material things. i'm not saying i don't dream of having a house; on the beach. with a wicked awesome couch. and great tile in the sunken bathtub that overlooks the ocean. but i'm just fine on very little. as long as there are people, i'm fine.
so look out brazil. i'm finally on my way.

Monday, August 3, 2009

the bible

when my yoga teacher said today, "i am going to share a reading...from the bible," hesitating just long enough for me to understand that the word also causes her to raise a dubious eyebrow, i flinched; more out of habit than anything. don't get me wrong, i was raised catholic- i went to catholic school for twelve years, i've completed almost all my sacraments (wedding vows and last rites indefinitely pending). but catholics aren't really bible-y. you know, we all have one somewhere, but it's not something we refer to regularly, or quote with preachy self-satisfaction. i'm actually pretty into catholics because of how crazy they are- it's a religion of symbols and mysticism. and thievery and deception, but i digress. i'm a catholic. i don't read the bible. end of story. i flinched. and then she read on:
"seek, and ye shall find. ask, and it shall be given. knock, and the door will be opened to you."
hmph. good one. it's kind of relevant to my life right now. stupid bible.....

and thus began the yoga. it's a class i take regularly, a virtually un-changing sequence of postures tucked neatly into 60mins, and it's the closest thing to prayer/mass i do on a regular basis. yoga is the closest thing to "talking to god" i've found, if i may be so bold. it just so happens that today i felt the proverbial walls closing in on my life so tight that i thought my skeleton might pop as i rolled over into child's pose. you see, i've allowed myself to ride a wave of fantasy towards a goal so vague and clothed in celestial light that answering any practical questions about it is not just impossible, it's painful.
when are you leaving? oh (note of surprise), i don't know.
where are you staying? ha, umm (cheeks turn red), i don't exactly know.
what are you gonna do? well, i (stomach hollowing out)....i'm waiting (heart palpitations) (FUUUUCK!)....yeah, i don't know.

what's the goal, you ask? well, it started off simply; i want to move to brazil, dance every day, play capoeira, learn portuguese, join dance brazil, fall in love, and make babies. on the beach. in that order. with no particular timeline. but DEFINITELY in that order. now, the order hasn't changed, but my good catholic upbringing causes fear to clench my throat and all major organs whenever there is the slightest risk of failure and/or unabashed, ecstactic happiness. (fellow catholics, don't argue with me. i'm not saying catholicism encourages misery, but- well, kind of.)

i am facing the cold reality of unemployment- which i signed up for, i realize- in approximately four weeks, and already i'm recognizing my inability to adjust (read: to budget.) i took a pay cut about two months ago and it's been a little rocky...
but really, what am i talking about? i'm talking about fear. there, i said it. fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of the probability of broke-ness. FEAR of never being free to do what i love and live a life in line with my dreams. i only have one example in my life of someone who took a flying leap into the grand canyon and lived to tell the tale. and the fall was messy. he landed! and that's what matters. he made something pretty awesome of himself. but it took him down to the depths.

as i lay in bed last night thinking about all the things that might take me to where i ultimately want to be, i had many visions of myself in said depths. "this just might break me," i thought.
there's some clever saying about just that kind of situation, isn't there?

after the bible thing, the answer came to me almost instantly- what are you seeking? guidance. i'm seeking some glimmer of hope. no- strike that- i got plenty a' hope. what i seek is assurance.
and you know what??? 'at ain't gonna happen!
there are no guarantees, there are only opportunities. that's not mine, i stole that...
i have an opportunity here to take some really sage advice and, "fuck it." i know what i could rationalize and choose out of my mystical catholic, symbolic fear, but i choose to dive off that cliff. i don't KNOW if i can do it. i don't KNOW. I DON'T KNOW!!!
and that turns me on.

and after sweating for an hour and stretching against that vice-grip of yucky lameness, i sat inside myself and just let it out. i sat on my mat and cried. yes, tears. and i prayed, and gave thanks, for everything that i have ever been given and for everything that awaits. i didn't consciously talk to "god" during my practice- i wasn't "knocking on heaven's door." but yoga is magic like that- it puts you up against ridiculous odds, or physical states of being, and there you find something divine. there's a spark inside people, and everybody has a different name for it. some would call it "god", but if you want to call it elmo, call it fucking elmo! my spark is bootylicious and she really wants to go to brazil. take that. preach!
read the bible. or do yoga.
do something that turns you on and lights your fire.
and call me in the morning and tell me all about it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

welcome to it

if you're looking for life-changing literature expressing the why's of existence and exploring the deeper layers beneath our physical bodies and superficial material fixations, you may have found what you're looking for. if you're looking for a smart, witty commentary on all things from physical fitness to auto-mechanics, maybe not. it just depends on your outlook, i suppose.

i can't say what you'll get out of this blog, except a new take on things; my take on things, rather. the goal here is to keep you informed of what's cool* in the world- people, places, things, food, words, moments, shin-digs, etc. and also to provide a little joyous diversion.

i do hope you'll read on and enjoy what you find here. and re-visit this little blog of mine from time to time.

*priority given to the flip and lewd...these are two cool words you should remember.