Saturday, May 21, 2011

the doors

I live for the doors. I wait for them. It's an exercise in great patience. Endurance even. First off, however, this is not a post about Jim Morrison. Though it could be. He walked through these doors as well.

So. I wait for doors. Wait for them to open. I watch them start to shut. I watch people try to pry them open. I watch people ignore them. Ask for do-overs. Take-backs. I watch people finally notice that they missed a door.

I don't believe in doors, however. I don't expect them. I don't have faith that they'll open for me or for anybody else, either. I just see them when they (finally) appear. And I hate it when people bang on the door. I think it's rude. But I don't say anything. I sit back and watch. It's a disaster, of course. How could it not be a disaster?

Once I waited for five years before I saw a door open and it was time to walk on through.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about clarity. About not acting, until you know (and this is how I phrase it) without a shadow of a doubt that it's time to act. Or move. Or change. Something. It has to be that clear. If it's not that clear, then the door hasn't opened. And maybe it never will.

Doors have been opening like crazy recently. And it's the first time I've ever been daunted. The doors have never opened to vistas like these before. I look through to the other side, and everything is vivid, brighter than real-life. Like Dorothy opening the farmhouse door and finding Oz. Like Alice finally unlocking the door to Wonderland. They both could have just stayed at home and skipped the big adventure, right? Nothing would have shifted for them. Except their consciousness.

My question is why? Why do they walk on through?

And why do I? I thought I already had my quota of doors (along with my quota of just about everything else). I was running around shutting and latching both doors and windows, battening down for a storm. I was shape-shifting: Wasn't Dorothy anymore. This was Auntie Em, just holding down the black-and-white fort.

And that was fine. I can do Auntie Em. My daughter's turn to do Dorothy, right? She's the one heading for Oz these days.

But, oops. Somebody screwed up somewhere. Like in one of those Twilight Zone episodes where the people discover that they're no more than dollies that some alien brought home for the children to play with. And the kid decided to move the dolls around a completely different way. Or quite literally, block up some doors, and set down some others in some new, random, or unexpected places.

That's what life feels like now.

This happened to my grandfather when my nona slammed the door. She finally divorced him (after a lifetime of threats) at the age of past-seventy, and got a court order to enforce it. Amazing that she managed it with so little English. Her problem with him was that he took care of everything. He shopped. He cooked. He paid the bills. He knew the language. And she felt kept. She wanted Vegas. (Really. I'm not kidding). She wanted what she knew was out there. She saw it all right before her, right there on her TV.

So. She divorced him. She changed the locks. And he found himself an inexpensive retirement home and put himself there. And fell in love. For the first time in his life. My nona had opened a door and kicked him through it. And there he was: happy. His girlfriend was African-American. They were one brown egg, one white egg: they were two of a kind. He blushed. She blushed. They held hands. They were completely happy.

My nona barricaded her own door. Lots of locks and chains. And then at some point maybe she figured out that she couldn't read the labels of her meds. She couldn't read or write. And he had handled everything. Lesson to self: don't ever be dependent. The fire department came and battered down that barricaded door after neighbors had complained. It was that smell. Of decomposition. A terrible American death. Alone. Not reaching out to anyone. And no one reaching out to her.

I'm obsessed with the deaths of my grandparents. Maybe it's where my little door metaphor got its start. Not sure. But the lesson sure was clear. One door slammed. One door opened. My grandpa by that time was very ill. But he died much happier than he had ever been in years.


I've always known that walking through the door when it opens is the way to go. I just thought though that that was it: no more doors. Khallas, and now I'm done. Only so many doors per customer, right? And I've had my fair share. Haven't I learned my grandfather's lesson?

The doors keep opening when you least expect them. They laugh at you. They chortle. Snort and tap their toes. Waiting, watching you. Judging, maybe, even. Do you hesitate? Do you stand there at the threshold? Do you hang on to the doorknob and try to swing both ways? And when you see it closing, do you try to rush on through? And when the lock clicks back into place do you then beg and plead or do you let it go?

Door opens. I walk on through.

I live for such moments.

They're rare enough, god knows.

And each time I pass across that miraculous threshold, I catch a glimpse of my grandparents — one on each side —

Sarah Castro Camhi of Salonica, Greece
My nona, who lived in joy
who laughed and delighted in the details of the universe
who sang with zills and castanets,
played cards, bred fish, believed TV —
She died alone in sorrow.

Jack Camhi (Yakov Kimhi) of Monastir, Macedonia
My grandpa, who lived a life raging against the bosses
who played oud and mandolin and sang ladino songs
who resisted with every fibre of his being
ever believing that he could be wrong
My grandpa. He died a happy man.

Thank you for your terrible gift. Of doors given and doors taken. I miss you both every single day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

a kaddish for captain jack sparrow

Okay. So. Another Pirates of the Caribbean came out today. And I had absolutely no plans to see it. But we happened to be in the neighborhood, and there wasn't a line, and there were plenty of tickets, and the timing was right —

There were also plenty of good seats. Bad omen, right?

Good news: We sat through the whole thing, right down to after the credits for what we expected to be there. And because we sat through the whole bleeping thing, we never ever ever have to watch it ever again.

Bad news: So. Another Pirates of the Caribbean came out today.

Worst news of all: This could have been a very interesting movie. Daring, even. Having something to say, even. Would that be such a problem for Disney or the American mainstream audience? Hey Disney. Guess what? We can handle it. Trust us. We're not fully and entirely morons.

I have to say this:

Don't-get-me-wrong, I-love-Penelope-Cruz-how-could-you-not? And yah, there's plenty of chemistry to fill the screen. But she's got to hold all the female energy for the entire movie. I mean, the only other women of note are lovely killer mermaids with nothing else to do but kill, mope or cry. But 'chemistry' is not enough to hold what feels like an outrageously long movie (or maybe it was just slow). Nor are pyrotechnics, nor the usual bunch of fighting and escape stuff, nor is Geoffery Rush enough this time round to save us from the wobbly Jack, no matter how pretty he might be. Surely by the fourth of these movies, a touch of character dimension might finally reach the screen?

But there is a story in this tale somewhere. And maybe someone was brave enough to write it. And maybe it ended up on the cutting room floor. And maybe it was just inked out of a script. And maybe it's just all my imagination.

So. Yah. There are these pirates. And they're after yet another kind of treasure. Usual greedy stuff. And fending off the Empires.

But they put a missionary in the movie. And while he's a super good and noble character through and through — they made him fall in love. With a pagan, no less. And believe me: he does not convert her.

Now, doesn't that sound promising?

And they put 'the Spanish' in the movie. Fighting for the righteousness of the church (and God) to overcome (read: destroy) the forces of evil (read: pagan). Well, okay now.

And they put 'the British' in the movie. Fighting for the glory of the Crown. And the Brits doing the usual attempt at expropriation of resources from as many corners of the world that they can garner. Hmmm.

But the rest is pretty much crap.

And when this hits home viewing (of whatever your denomination), I'd say just start somewhere in the latter middle, and just keep going from there. And speed-dial through all the yelling and the screaming. There's just nothing to fuss over or savor here at all. And nothing worth seeing twice.

But that missionary is of interest. I wondered what 'they' would do with him. Had the time come at last to expect a Christian holy man savior in a Disney family/kiddie movie? Or would they show him to be as self-serving as everyone else? How could they keep him goody-goody and still have him be compelling? And what does he do with his faith? That part had potential.

The missionary's end is worth the wait. The powers that be must have thought long and hard about what to do with him without inducing the vomit factor of being too pro-church for a pluralistic audience.

And what the Spanish do with pagan treasures. That too is worth the wait.

The Brits, of course, are just-being-Brits.

And the pirates are, of course, just-pirates.

Don't sit around and wait for Pirates 5 to go into any depth or tell a worthwhile story. There were lots of great stories (lost opportunities) that could have been told about the pirates of the Caribbean. And about the Spanish and the Brits. Real stories that are stranger than fiction. Sephardi pirates, enraged at the Spanish for the reconquista, expulsion from Spain, and forced conversions to Catholicism, for example.

And yah, the rivalry between pagan rites and monotheism.

But you know, if you really want any of that, the place to find it (and a whole lot more) isn't another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but BSG. The reimagined Battlestar Galactica (and its prequel Caprica) do justice to all the larger issues — monotheism and paganism; colonialism and hedonism; strong women and men who can weep and moan; sex, violence, and pretty faces, and great music which morphs into a key plot device — BSG does justice to these and more without once blinking or turning away.

If you want an actual satisfying story, and one that delivers salvation beyond the grave, I'm still with BSG.

Oh. And spoiler alert, if anyone cares:

The missionary gets saved. It's nicely done.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the things-I-no-longer-do list

Two things coincided today, or maybe yesterday. I was talking to the father of my children, and in a moment of rare self-revelation, I exclaimed, "You, know — I never compromised, did I?"

"Never!" he exclaimed emphatically, like he'd actually known this all along. And I'm not sure that either of us had ever noticed way back when.

And so we had a conversation about that. And he talked about his being a push-over (for it seems he's in the same situation now as well).

"We're re-doing the attic," he said. "I'm just going to let her decide everything — that's how women are. They need that..." Something like that.

And I thought, WHAT? really loudly. Women compromise way too much, it seems to me. I mean, okay, I was never very good at it ... or maybe I really was. After all, there were tons of things that I'm willing to give in on. Surely there were tons.

"That's not compromise," said Rh. "That's stuff you don't care about. Compromise is when you actually care — and then you come to an accommodation."

So apparently I don't get credit even if I do give way. Bummer.

So. These conversations coincided with my bumping into my things-I-no-longer-do list.

Coffee was at the top of the list. LSD was at the bottom. Like an idiot, I broke my no coffee rule last week and took four sips of a half-shot latte (i.e. weak as could possibly be) and ended up in the ER with an atrial fibrilation event. So. Note to self: Keep coffee at the top of the no-longer-do list. Bad bad bad stuff. For me. Not for you.

Camping out was next. This one's not my fault. All my friends have bad backs or just look at me like I'm nuts that I'd 'still' like to go camping. And here I've got this great Marmot tent that's been with me across Europe and North Africa, and up to the High Sierra. And it's been at least 5 years since we've had an adventure together. So. I picked up the phone and called Big Sur. And suddenly a camping partner materialized as well. Cross camping out off the things-I-no-longer-do list.

Sex. Yup. The great boycott. At the time, I thought this was a good idea.

Eating Animals. This rule had a proviso in it that exempts Thanksgiving and Pesach, should I be so ritually inclined as to feel bird and lamb de rigeur. This one's still in place, although the exemption clause was a good idea, even if I don't use it.

Sleep through the night. This has been on the list since the summer of 1979. That was when I moved to North Africa. And got pregnant. And had children. And never slept through the night again. Oh well.

Compromise. Yah, it wasn't that high on the list, was it? This was just a fact I thought was funny. I didn't take it too seriously. But suddenly, compromise doesn't sound so awful. Time to take it off the list.

Marriage. Ditto.

Martial arts. Stays on the list.

Bleed. This one's a great pleasure. One of those pure life cycle events that changes you forever. After decades of meticulously keeping track on calendars, I was thrilled to put this one on the list.

Backpacking. Still on the list, though I can almost think about considering the possibility of thinking about thinking about taking it off. But no. Not a good idea. I think. So. Apparently I'm still very ambivalent about this one. Backpacking was always an exercise in organizational skills. I'm proudest of packing up for a month long trek from Tuolumne Meadows to Bishop — a distance of about 150 miles on the John Muir trail. Probably the greatest adventure of all. Just one foot in front of the other. An exercise in minimalism if there ever was one. Compared to camping out 7,000 miles diagonally through Africa, completely crossing the Sahara Desert and the Ituri rainforest of the Congo. Those required so much stuff (including visas and diplomatic skills for every time we got detained). Backpacking is all about paring things down to essentials. I do miss this one terribly.

Music. I think I've written enough already about my boycott of music. Learned my lesson. It's off the list. Permanently. I've learned a lot about music and musicians that I never knew before. I don't think it will ever trap me or trip me up again.

Humans. Yup. That really was on the things-I-no-longer-do list. It must have been a hard night the night I added that to the list. I seem to be doing humans fine, these days. Go figure.

Say yes. Another stupid idea.

Spicy food. It's still on the list, even if I cheat.

Indians. Too much like looking in the mirror, (it's those ethnocentric identity issues).

Alcohol. Still do my requisite few sips of wine for Pesach. Still put a few drops of (don't vomit) amaretto in my fruit salad. But I stopped drinking alcohol at 18 when at a party at my boyfriend's house. Too much red mountain burgundy got me sick as a dog. I remember someone with a friendly voice handing me a very strange pipe. It was brass, and had water in the bottom. "Smoke this," he said soothingly, "it'll make you feel better." And after that, why would I ever want alcohol again (except when pretending to be polite) (like at those analyst parties) (that I don't have to go to anymore).

Fall in love. What kind of moron would have this on the list? But there it is in black and white.

Acid. Yup. The familiar form is on the list, not the more formal appellation, LSD. I must say, it's been a little while since I've indulged my traditional drug-of-choice. But to tell the truth, I was an Owsley's chauvinist and wouldn't dream of anything less than that. On the other hand, at a certain point nobody needs any more acid.

So. Here I was with this very definitive things-I-no-longer-do list, only to find that well, gee — given all the changes, I actually do compromise really well, after all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the vomit factor

You know this one. There's this couple on the bus next to you, or at the next table — or somewhere, anywhere (but definitely in public) — and they just can't keep their hands off each other. And their lips off each other. And they're pawing each other. And they can't get enough of each other. Or there's the mother — or the grandmother, which is even worse — who's got pictures in her hand. She's forcing them on you. A cute cherubic face at different ages. And now, of course, grandma's got 10,000 more on her iPhone. And you can't escape.

It's called 'the vomit factor.'

I just heard that term the other day. I'd always wanted a name for it, and that's just perfect.

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I vowed never ever ever to be one of those moms. And every time I found myself slipping subtly into my wallet, just happening to also pull out a baby picture by accident, I knew that I too was a perpetrator of the vomit factor.

Luckily, the people I've encountered are a lot nicer than I am. They haven't rolled their eyes and scowled. They haven't turned away. Or yawned. Or maybe it was all internal. Or maybe, so caught up in my own preciousness, I didn't notice. Worse case scenario: the truth.

Anything with the word 'cute' appended to it bespeaks of the vomit factor.

That includes kitties and pups. I carry their pictures too. Plus the 10 million others on the iPhone. Although, my favorite picture that I walk around with and want to show off is the one I took of the enormous banner over the Castro Theater that reads 'Milk' and a picture of Sean Penn as Harvey, with all the glittering neon lights flashing at the same time. I'm proudest of that picture. I remember Harvey well, from the days in his little camera shop. I think my kids can handle that being my favorite shot just fine.

So. This couple the other day. Having breakfast at a place I go with T. There were four of us. And at least two of us were cringing mightily. Probably all four, but I couldn't tell. But we — we were smacking each other's shoulders in utter horror and revulsion. That's when she came up with the term.

The vomit factor.

And there we were having a great Mexican breakfast. And there we were ready to puke.

I'm not sure all four of us noticed, but two of us did, at least. We tried to be polite about it. Tried really hard. We failed miserably.

"Let's never ever do that," said one.

"Agreed," the other one agreed.

But it's a lost cause, really. It's just so hard to self-restrain.

Even with the iPhone, I'm still carrying pictures in my wallet. Happiest-couple-in-America pictures. Happiest-family-in-America pictures. Aren't-they-adorable pictures. Sweet-puppy pictures. My wallet is weighed down with the vomit factor.

There's the more gracious word for it, of course. We call it love. Maybe blind love, is that a term? That kind of love where you can't see that the rest of the planet is just not in there with you. The gushiness. The mushiness. The cute, adorable, and banally sweet.

This is me, intolerant, and yet just as gushy [shudder] as everybody else on earth when it comes to me and mine.

This is me, with apologies to all, for when even unsentimental I slip up and gush in public. Another [shudder] is in order here. And for that couple the other day at breakfast, maybe a better response is to cheer?

Maybe more of that is what we need in public spaces. Maybe a lot more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

when it's good, don't say it's good — secrets of msr —

I do an awful lot of complaining, I admit, about student papers, grammar, exams, apathy, critical thinking skills, motivation, writing, attention span, due diligence, and well, writing. And that's a lot of complaining. So. I think it only fair that when it's good, I say it's good.

Tonight, it was good.

Tonight it was transcendent. I'm not even sure they know how good it was. It was that good.

Tonight we had our last regularly scheduled class meeting of MSR (Magic, Science and Religion) and we used it for the oral portion of the class's final exam. This portion of the exam is voluntary. It can either be done written or oral. All but two students stayed for the oral group exam. It's a big risk: they have to trust each other. I only grade this thing collectively. They have to help each other — not compete with each other. It makes them very very very nervous. One grade for all of them. Rise or fall with the collective.

They don't know I give bravery points. They don't know that the collectivity always outperforms individual work on these exams. It's downright un-American how well collective oral exams work.

Tonight, it was not just that they hit (with help from each other) key or nuanced points — it's that they began opening doors. One right after another.

They opened the Michael Murphy door, and found Castaneda and Fritz Perls waiting.

They opened the PARDES door, and found the Tetragrammaton and Orisha waiting — and even Thomas Kuhn.

And they kept going!

They were seeing the connections. No class had ever opened so many doors in one night before. Or come even close.

They saw Cavafy's poem Ithaka had the structure of PARDES, which is hard enough to get to. Which means, essentially, that they could see how it built from the concrete to the sublime in the same four stages. And the doors still kept opening. By the end of the night, they were almost in freefall. At one point, to be sure, the rush of ideas and emotions that swirled throughout that crowded classroom was downright entheogenic.

Relevant tales emerged, of relatives now departed. Tears. And not just in the telling. It wasn't just collective doors that were opening. Some folks had private doors they needed to encounter. They needed to walk on through.

And so, for the first time, because they stood right on the threshold, I told them MSR secrets.

I told them what you can really do with all those theoretical constructs. What you can do with all the unfamiliar models I'd made them learn.

Something very very special.

You can try them on, and you can live them. And when you do that — models come to life.

I've written examples of that here, in fact. You can be Chango or Oya and live that way. You can be El or Ba'al, alchemical fire or air. Anat, or the Shekhinah. You can embody them, and then look at the world through eyes. You can see what they see.

And everything changes.

So. Most folks study for their exams. They memorize as best they can, and spit it all out on their exams. Very boring. I know, because I'm the one who has to read all that stuff. But this way is different. They can try on the models and watch what happens. And something always happens.

They can be. And the world shifts entirely.

So. This is me — happy. But only for a fleeting moment. We all know how dangerous too much happiness can be. It trips us up if ever we acknowledge it. We pay for boasting of our pleasure — for falling in love, good fortune, or beauty. It's all too threatening, I guess, to those who say they know us. It's a whole lot safer complaining grumpily. People love you when they see you suffer. Happiness just brings on their envy.


I had a really shitty night in MSR tonight.

Let me tell you about it...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

the tzaddik and the negotiator

Malkah was in such awe of the tzaddik that she spent most of her time with him asking questions, and nodding at the wisdom of his responses. Of course, his responses generally started with the need to do more research. Look things up. Even go to the library, when he was stumped. But most of his real sources were at his fingertips.

His own library consisted of wall to wall volumes and treasured manuscripts. The paintings, he kept in the closet on the floor, inserted in rows exactly like the books. If he wanted to look at a painting, he'd slide it out from the row and lean it up against the bookcase for a month or two or three. And then he'd slip it back into place, and pull out another for contemplation.

Nothing was new. He never bought a new book in his life. Not even as a gift. Treasures were either old, vintage, or ancient. They were in dreadful, poor, or fragile condition. Some pieces required temperature control. Those documents he made sure were in the museum's library's rare book room. We were very proud when the climate control was installed, feeling the treasures were safe at last.

The textiles should have been there as well. Ach! What a mess. They'd be rolled up carefully — but textiles really need more care than cardboard boxes and rollers. ... They belong in a museum. I think Indiana Jones said that.

Every gift Malkah ever received from the tzaddik first belonged to someone else. Usually, a lot of someone else's. There was that stamp collection from the 1930's from the flea market. With strange-shaped stamps from all over the world. Malkah was expected to get interested in stamps and keep on collecting the ones that hadn't been included in the volume the tzaddik had given her.

Wow. Someone else's stamp collection! File under vintage, for it had been under 50 years old.

Then there was the gift, actually from Mrs Tzaddik, that took forever to receive.

"It's coming!" Mrs Tzaddik would announce. "Your birthday's only three months from now — it'll be ready by then!" she said excitedly.

Only it wasn't ready. And not three months after Malkah's birthday either. But at last the day came. The present, not quite a year later from the first tease — and there it was. A smallish object that fit in the palm of your hand, all wrapped in wrinkled white tissue/liner paper. You know, that paper they use on the inside of gift boxes. That stuff.

It was lumpy. And almost jingled. But didn't quite.

Malkah tore off the tissue paper.

"What is it?" she asked. It looked like — well, she didn't know what.

Mrs Tzaddik gave her a look of both expectancy and exasperation. She hadn't expected such a lukewarm response. But ingratitude was Malkah's default setting. What had she been thinking?

"A bracelet made of civil war buttons!" Mrs Tzaddik said excitedly. "Put it on!"

Malkah obeyed. The thing was enormous. About four inches wide and sewn together on some stretchy gold band. It felt like a hundred bulbous brass military buttons. It felt like a thousand. And it was too big for her. And it was heavy. And probably breakable. And the 'buttons' could fall off. And it was a 'treasure' — Malkah thought in dismay. Oh. And it was hideous — but you figured that one out already, right? Malkah was twelve. Where would she wear such a treasure?

"Thanks," she said. What else could she say?

When she grew up, Malkah had a child. Actually, she had two. But this story concerns the first and not the second. The second was too young to notice. Malkah's eldest must have been about four at the time.

It was Chanukkah.

The tzaddik had brought the little one a Chanukkah present.

"What is it?" said the Malkah's firstborn son.

"It's a — " to tell the truth, I don't remember at all what it was. But it was a great find at the flea market.

"How does it work?" the brilliant boy asked.

"Well it would go like this, but it doesn't work —" replied the tzaddik.

"You mean you got me something used and it's broken?"

And Malkah's brilliant firstborn took the tzaddik by the hand and went upstairs to his room. They came back down about 20 minutes later. Both with grins on their faces.

Malkah's firstborn had negotiated something Malkah would never have dreamed possible. The tzaddik was allowed to give his grandson something used — as long as it wasn't broken. Or something new. That also wasn't broken. Or a used book — but it couldn't be missing pages, especially the last page of a story. They had shaken hands on it. Deal.

Firstborn son went to the brass tray and picked up a tiny gift-wrapped something and handed it to Mrs Tzaddik.

"Here, noni, this is for you," he said.

She tore open the little wrapping with 'nona' crayoned on it.

"I don't want this," she said. "It's a Christmas tree ornament!"

Unnegotiable. She was already out the door.

Malkah's firstborn grew up to be a lawyer anyway. You just don't win every case.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

it can't be her because ...

This is probably my basic stance on life:
It can't be her because ...
Which represents, I guess, a basic lack of faith in what people call 'the universe' sometimes, and a zillion other forces of nature from 'karma' to 'god.'

I live inside negation.

So. Evidence is very important to me. But in cases where I've already deemed a point impossible, I don't go looking for evidence that might negate my negativity. I know. Go ahead and call it bad science. Bad, bad science.

Take the affair at the Roundhouse in London, for example. It's a simple enough example.

I was in the midst of a very long line to get into the Roundhouse to see Dylan and Ginsburg together. I mean, who would miss something like that? And I noted to my friend that a woman further up the line looked exactly — I mean exactly — like a woman I knew back home.

"Go up there and check it out," he said. And I gave that fateful line—

"It can't be her because —"

And of course it couldn't be her because she was back home, and we were in London. And what was the likelihood of it being her anyway? And I'll be damned if I'll embarrass myself walking up to a complete stranger... etc etc. At that moment of my little rant of why it could not be her — she turned around.

It was her.

It was great!

Okay, so despite my being emphatic, I was wrong. We hung out for a week in London. And I forgot the incident afterwards. And of course, in my sociophobic way, did not call her when we both got back.

I was at a stuffy party of psychoanalysts about fifteen years later. The men (it was men — and their wives) were smoking big fat cigars. I was roaming the library of the villa hoping to find something of interest to read so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. Eventually, I dragged myself back into the great room. And I saw this woman on the other side.

"It can't be her because —" I said to someone I'd managed to strike up a conversation with.

It can't be her because I already bumped into her at the Roundhouse in London on line to see Dylan and Ginsburg. It can't be her because these things don't happen twice. So, no, of course I won't go over and check it out.

She heard and turned around.

And it doesn't take a genius to realize that if I'm bothering to even tell this, that of course it was her again. In the most unlikely of places. She'd gone from hippy to psychotherapist, hanging out with la crème de la psychoanalytic crème. We chatted briefly about the impossibility of this-sort-of-thing happening twice. She gave me her number. Again. And still I didn't call. And never would.

So. It's really not serendipity that I want to talk about. It's about basic nihilism. The attachment to negation. Living on the downside of the dialectic. (I'm for it). Somebody has to do it. Especially when you're surrounded by people of faith. People with faith. With hope. With expectation. With a sense of purpose and meaning. With, dare I say it — optimism. And a sunny disposition.

Existential nihilism (obviously) negates all that. There really is no meaning. It (whatever it is), just is. There's no purpose — and therefore certainly no divine purpose. There is no point. No point at all. We simply are.

Things were not meant to be. Instead, they just happen to be.

I've been having a little trouble with my basic worldview of late. It's just not working for me.

If I were someone else, I'd say the universe was trying to send me a message. Again. Trying to sort me out. Again. Having a good laugh. At my expense. Again.

'It' is good right now in one of those insane and synchronous ways. And all I want is to be able to sit here and negate it. I'm trying really really hard. Okay, true enough, the good is being balanced solidly by a shitload of trouble and woe (and 'shitload' is the right word here to describe it). In some sense, right now things are downright terrible. Very comforting — and validating of a good, solid negative worldview. I'm still dealing with my own fair share of death and dying.

But then this something comes along. This someone. And just blows the negativity away. And that's not supposed to happen. I was running along quite happy in my grumpiness. And now I'm being grumpy that I'm just so undeservedly happy. What do you do with that? And what just happened?

I found my beshert.

Of course, I didn't find my beshert. Because of course I'd never look, and never see. I'd never ever find all on my own. Never recognize. Never believe ...

But there she is. There's evidence.

She tracked me down somehow. She stepped into the path that I was walking and blocked my way and made me stop. And think. And wake up. Maybe that's what it is. And all these corny things I roll my eyes at started happening. We started walking the path together. Yes. You're welcome to throw up now. It's just as dumb as it sounds. Way too mushy for words. Except —

She's rational. Thank god. A thinker.


So here's my worldview, rising up to defend me. It just can't mean anything, right? It can't have purpose. It's not that 'the universe' planned to have another laugh at my expense. It's an accident much better left at the side of the road, right? No one deserves this kind of happiness with a worldview like mine. You merely step back and observe the doings of all others. Take notes and write it down. And (like the psychoanalysts) come up with something profound to say. Preferably publishable.

Humans are meaning junkies. And so, when sideswiped we seek out meaning. Stick our experiences into a box that makes some sense. Even an existential nihilist can slip up from time to time. And this one does fit into a meaning-box — and I just can't say the word out loud. I feel sick. And mostly scared. It's in the realm of feelings and not thoughts. Not my speciality. The things that I don't write about. That thing that defies rationality.

It can't be her because ...

I've got a million different reasons for negation. Reasons to deny and to demur. But the fact of the matter is problematic.

Just like at the Roundhouse, it's really really her.

And I'm still not calling.

Observe the humans. See what they do. Just watch. Take notes. Write. Present. Publish.

I mean, it can't possibly mean anything, right?