Saturday, August 27, 2011

manifesto of sorts

Here’s the dilemma I face regarding updating my blog while I’m visiting my family. I believe my family has a right to their privacy, and I intend in my journals and writings, as well as I can to respect that right. The issue  for writers is always that we are destined to expose those we love, whether by intent or by accident. It is the same issue that all artists face at some time in their musings. To paint someone is to expose them, not only to the view of all, but possibly to an understanding of your view of that subject. To write a piece of music about someone or some event is to expose your own internal feelings about that subject. When you write about anything it is almost impossible to leave out the bits that tell how you feel about that subject, even if it is the most obscure reflection possible. 

I have had this issue come up in most of my writing, and it is probably my hesitation to expose my family, and my feelings about my family, that have hampered my concentration on writing and being published. I do have an ongoing concern about exposing those I love to my opinions, or the opinions of others. I am not a candidate for reality TV. Even though I have for years belong to a society, of sorts, whose whole premise is based on exposure of your deepest, darkest secrest; I have manage, within that structure, to maintain a sense of my own privacy. 

The reason I write this is to let you know that, although I intend to provide you with as open a view into my round the world experience as possible; there are parts and pieces of my life that I am not ready to expose, and will not do so regardless of how many more readers I would acquire if I was willing to subject my family and friends to that type of exposure. It is my goal to write as truthfully as I am able to do, without causing harm to those I love and care for. I realize this is not the “popular” stance, and that in this society all is sacrificed for the sake of exposure, regardless of the tone or level of that exposure. That is not for me. I believe I am at a place in my life where I no longer fear exposing my own inner self; but I will not expose others who have not volunteered. 

To my friends and family: If at any time you feel you have been exposed beyond your own comfort level, please do not hesitate to let me know.

So, while I intend to write as truthfully and as clearly as possible, I am more dedicated to a path of “being human” and I will not sacrifice that path for the sake of being a “writer”. There are, I’m sure,  writers out there who will howl in laughter or spit derision at this aspiration. So be it. I will be the writer I am meant to be, and will only hope that there will be readers who accept the limitations I place on writings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I want to preface this blog with the knowledge that I'm visiting very specific locales in Los Angeles, so my view is limited; but here is what I've noticed. It works. This city is organized, efficient, productive, active, and working. I've made a point to get out and ride the metro, which was not here when I was growing up; and ride the buses, which I did ride in my teens. The first thing I've noticed was how clean everything was, how easy it was to find my way around after all the years I've been gone, and how well organized the city is overall. If I go by what is on the news, I have an impression that America is falling apart; that our collapse as a country is imminent. I believe that there are parts of this country that are a mess, but traveling around LA this past week on my own, I experienced a vibrant city that seems to be running just fine. Although there are certainly places, even here, that are struggling with crime, poverty, lack of facilities and services; at least some of Los Angeles is working. Everywhere I went, people were moving around shopping, riding transport, eating, living, and going about the days of their lives. It made me realize that the way to find out what is really going on in the world really is to get out in that world and find out for yourself. I don't think there is any news that accurately portrays the feel of a city, state, country when you are sitting on the metro, riding on a bus, standing in a line for a movie, sitting in a square with other people of that city watching a free show. I will also add that the people I've been in contact with, strangers for the most part, have all been helpful. They answered my questions, and some of them on the metro and the buses even went as far as to talk with me; like the young girl on the bus to Glendale who I asked directions from, and she ended up talking with me about growing up in Glendale and how the city had changed. And the man on the bus stop who made of point of seeing that I got off the bus at the right stop. The one down note I will add is that this; people here do not smile as a automatic response. Smiling is either part of their job, or something they have to think about before they do it. In Hawaii, smiling is almost an automatic reflex, and if you're not smiling, it's noticed and weird. People ask you what's wrong if you don't have a smile on your face. Here smiling is definitely optional. The other thing I've noticed is that everything seems to be geared to distract you from yourself. Everyone is moving all the time. There is no sense of stillness, of introspection, of time or place to meditate on where you are going or why. There seems to be an underlying angst to this city. Los Angeles is a wind-up doll that looks pretty and dances well; but ultimately is just able to do what she is programmed to do, and she will not lift her arms to reach for the moon on a starless night for no reason.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Riding the train from Oxnard to Los Angeles Central Station through Simi Valley and Glendale, I saw flashes of the backyards of my childhood. Places we lived with little houses on the railroad tracks, dry, lonely backyards with no toys or swings and the sounds of the trains going by through my window at night. When my parents moved to California in 1953 I was four years old, and this was the golden state of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, jobs everywhere and houses going up like the weeds that now cover so many lots. This was the land of "moving on up", and everyone came here with a dream. As I rode on the train, I listened to Joni's song, "California", and remembered when I felt that way about this place. This was a home before Maui stole my heart, it was the place I dreamed to ride the world. Now this golden state seems broken and sad, like an old whore sitting in a tiny hotel room staring out at grey skys and empty spaces. She still gets painted up, tries on new makeup, has a facelift or two; but underneath she is old and wrinkled and dry. The air around her is stale, and her eyes are filled with shards of memory.

On the train people chatter business on phones and type worlds on computers, as if there is life here to live, but there is a shuffle of people wondering why the hell they came here, and what the hell they hoped to find. I'm sure there are places where it is vibrant and alive, just like there are places in all of us, no matter how old and rundown we may feel, that stay alive and hopeful; but there is not that mad sparkle of new exploration that was here when I was young. California is no longer a gold rush, a beauty rush, a body rush, a wonder rush; there are no new ideas here. Just a state full of people trying to hang on to the old dreams they had, and wondering where it all went. I wonder if there is anywhere on this globe like California was in the 50's. A place where magic is alive, where ideas are blooming, where there is hope for a future that from most reports, seems grim. Is it only America that has given up? Even though I've seen the truth of our short lives in Kent and Helen and my mom and so many these past few years, I refuse to let go of a desire to find neverneverland; a place where dreams are alive, and life is blooming with hope. That place may only be in my mind, but it needs a space to bloom. A garden somewhere to grow. That's a small part of what this trip is about, finding a new gold rush.  The ore I'm mining is hope for the future; somewhere "the future's so bright, I have to wear shades".

Monday, August 8, 2011


Hard for me not to think of Kent while staying in his childhood home probably for the last time. We bought the tickets to take Helen to Kauai in September; from one care home to another. She is not able to be home on her own, and with all of us living in Hawaii, we do not want to leave her here on her own. She really wants to go back to Kauai; has wanted to go there for many years before George died. And now, having lost her youngest son and her husband of 60 years, she is ready to leave her Oxnard home. I understand wanting to leave the memories, as I have left my memories on Maui for now.
Kent is everywhere here. He loved Oxnard. He told me so many stories about his time here, growing up and later falling down. He drove a cab here for 9 years. He had a wonderful childhood, a southern Calfornia golden boy childhood, surfing, playing on the water polo team, having buddies that he kept for life. It was later that his life became a sad, lonely mess of drugs; lost in a sad parody of “The Big Lebowski”, one of his favorite movies. “The Big Lebowski” really aces Kent’s later years in Oxnard going by the tales he told.  Watching it with him more than once, I would see on his face and hear in his laughter that he was watching his past come to life. I cannot watch a Jeff Bridges movie without seeing Kent. Strangely, they looked alike from the time they were in their forties, when Kent and I met, and then aged looking the same through Jeff’s last movie. They were both pictures of California gone rotten with a bit of Tom Waits thrown in the mix; shaken and stirred with heartbreak and crying in the beers. The gold in dem der hills turned to dust and ashes.
Kent was blessed to finally pull himself together on Kauai, and we were blessed to find each other on Maui. We had about 15 years of good life, even though he was often sick; until the final 3 years of hell. And always, he remained the sweet prince of my heart.
I am saying goodbye to Oxnard for him since he didn’t get a chance to come back one more time to the town and home he loved. I brought some of his ashes with me and spread them in his mom’s garden; around the orange trees, in the berry patch, over the collection of succulents she had that he also tried to collect on our lanai on Maui, and over all the threshholds where he might enter. No matter that the house may be rented or sold; his spirit will have a place to come if he so desires. If he is not already gone to some far place beyond any desires on this small circle around the sun.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Before I left Maui I did some healing work with my friend, and more clearing on my broken heart. The death of my partner, Kent, shattered my world on all fronts. My present and future were completely destroyed, and now a new life is slowly being rebuilt. It was very powerful to acknowledge that my heart is still broken, and to do some further work on clearing the pain so I can move on. Clearing pain and denying pain are very different actions. I wanted to experience my grief fully as of way of honoring my husband, honoring the experience we lived together, and honoring life. I did not want to deny the pain. If I had wanted to deny the pain, I could have used drugs. That was not my choice. Then there comes a time in the grief process where you need to release the pain, and move on. That is also a decision I am making.  I do not want to stay stuck and continue whatever time I have left here with only half of my heart.
The color for this healing was indigo, and the scent was tea tree oil which I chose at random, but which was one of Kent’s favorite things to use. He used it all the time, and the smell of the oil brought his memory back clearly. I put a few drops in my carry on to remember. It does seem contradictory to let go of the pain of his loss by bringing up sensual memories; the answer is that it is important to remember those we love beyond the pain of their loss, to remember the love and joy we felt from them.
The day I was flying out, I did a sweat lodge and had what I can only call a vision. A waking dream. I saw my ancestors including my grandmother (mother) from West Virginia who I only met once, and whose name I can never remember. My grandfather (mother) from West Virigina, who I also met once on a visit to Campbell’s Creek, and whose first name I also can’t remember. There was my red-headed grandma Serena (father) who babysat me when I was a child, and who visited us when I was a teenager. She’s one of the few adults I really felt close to, and that I felt cared for me in my childhood. She was from Casper, Wyoming. Then my grandfather (father) John, who died of black lung from the coal mines in Harlan County, Kentucky when my dad was young. I saw my mom, Hazel, standing by them all looking exactly as she had when I went to stay with her after she broke her hip; sad, lonely, and frightened, but with some inner defiance. And my dad, Doug, who had regained his youth and stood tall and handsome. They were all standing in a line as clear and alive as if they were right in front of me. I could see every detail of them. They were quietly looking at me. I saw my 2nd mom,

Adele, and I believe she was the only one who was smiling. I also saw my hanai (step) grandma Tamam, Adele’s mother. She was Lebanese, and was very kind to me when I was a confused, sad teenager; and her husband Joseph who I didn’t have much interaction with, but he was a gentle man.  I saw Kent’s father, George, who I was very close to and who adopted me into his heart.  We used to sit and read together, and he looked as he had when he was still healty in his 70’s and riding bicycle on Hanalei road. Then I saw Kent appear in the center of them all; alive, whole, vibrant as he was when we first met and fell in love. All the sickness and disease gone from him, he stood tall in the center and my ancestor’s formed a semi-circle around him, facing me. I slowly put my hand to my heart and pushed my arms out to him, with the pieces of my heart pulsing in my hands. Kent took my heart in his hands, while looking deep in my eyes with all the love he always had for me, and then he closed his palms and pressed the pieces back together. Still looking into my eyes, he held out my heart in his hands.  Crying, I took my whole heart back and placed it in my chest. I took a deep breath that felt like the first full breath I had taken since Kent died, and when I let out the air, I felt so light; like spirit. The vision faded and I felt intense heat throughout my body.  This was my vision