Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Birthday Weekend Indulgence

Suddenly it is 9:45PM on September 1, 2008. My long birthday/holiday weekend is at an end -- here's a quick re-cap.

My evening Saturday with CK was really marvelous. We biked back to her place, which seemed really hard still on my legs, and hung out a little. I got dressed while she hopped in the shower and sat on the sofa feeling the strange nervousness. I wore a very simple black skirt and shirt with my Teva sandals on so I'd be able to walk around comfortably. I added the necklace she'd given me along with the coconut ear jewelry I'd bought at Last Thursday. She woke a black shirt & blazer with some gray trousers. I realized I've never seen her that dressed up and she looked fantastic.

Drinks at the Heathman were fantastic, as good as I recalled from years ago. We also popped into Southpark and each enjoyed a half glass of wine with some spiced nuts, she a German Riesling, I picked a French muscadet. Both wines were very good and it was great having the half glass option. The nuts were very tasty and we didn't bother to find out about butter or not. We were having such a good evening and conversation that CK suddenly noted that we had to go.

Dinner at Higgins was excellent. We had a roasted summer vegetable & spinach salad with a balsamic dressing and a smoky, blended gaspascho that was rich with olive oil. CK's entree was a tomato, zucchini & chick pea flour cakes with basmati rice and a lovely sauce that included capers. I ordered the roasted eggplant risotto that came with a red pepper sauce. We also had a bottle of Evolution, which still is a favorite white.

It was great fun, although chilly for my birthday. We enjoyed walking around from spot to spot. It is an easy walk to her flat and the MAX stop on 7th Avenue, so it made the whole evening a piece of cake. Which we didn't have, instead we had a luscious peach, plum & ginger sorbet with a cup of coffee. CK even had a little of the coffee with me, they even had soy milk for us!

Sunday we got up and CK came up with the idea of hopping out of bed and over to Sweet Pea for brunch. This is something that is a regular with friends of ours but I rarely get to go since most Sundays I teach yoga at 11:15AM. However, this was a long holiday weekend and my summer series finished last weekend. We quickly pulled ourselves together and made our way over. It was crowded, of course, and we sat for part of our meal on the stairs leading up the the photographer's office (closed on Sundays). Tofu scramble, spicy seitan sausage (which I liked), steamed kale, diced red potatoes, a suitably savory gravy, pancakes, AND biscuits. Midway through we split a table with some other folks and each indulged in a second biscuit (I covered my with some agave on top of the Earth Balance).

Sunday afternoon CK and I watched Primer. I enjoyed it although the whole story starts to unravel and you start going back and forth in your mind as to when things really started to come apart. Subtle and lots of small things to catch. CK was going to watch and listen to the director's commentary which should be rather interesting.

Today we tried to watch Across the Universe, but it wasn't really catching us. I was enjoying it alright, just curious to see what music they'd use where, but not so much that I wasn't willing to turn it off.



Well I'm 39 today. It seems absolutely surreal; the arbitrary nature of age. I mean clearly I'm different from 20 years ago, 10 years ago, one year ago. But it doesn't really feel much different. I'm still here, in Portland, in the present.

I woke up a little later and CK made me toast I ate while I checked in on a meeting. I opened another present from her, she had picked up Lavinia for me as a gift. She knew I didn't have it yet and had been looking at it when we were at Powell's last Saturday. I am really touched at the ways she pays attention -- large and small. I wore the necklace she also got me today, made of dyed tagua. I love the colors of it and the feel, it is made from a seed and it warms up against my skin.

She insisted I wear her jacket today, that I'd be too chilled in what I'd put on. I'm still figuring out what I need to wear, eat, do when including the bicycle rides in my day. When I was going down the hill to the bridge I was so grateful for it, and her. As I came up on to the bridge I could see a barge moving sand upriver and the morning sun gleamed on the water. I still may feel a little nervous, but I'm starting to enjoy the bridge a little.

I was glad I rode in. The changes this year, including riding my bicycle to work, have been pretty big. I wouldn't have guessed this time last year I'd be riding a bike to work. That I'd be chanting at the Dharma center. Wouldn't have thought I'd have the kind of relationship that CK & I have. That my relationship with AM would grow and change to support CK & I in our love.

I got some work done today. Had a lovely lunch at Habibi with TG, DG, KW, and AM. Great food as always and so nice to have friends around me. KW had found a necklace with a quote from Mary Jean Iron handwritten on it, "Let me be aware" (see below for whole quote). On a piece of parchment attached in resin to a piece of glass, very small. It is just lovely.

Picked up some treats from Sweet Pea after lunch and got some more work done at home. Then I dithered around for 10 minutes with clothing. I finally settled upon a Prana skirt and the shirt AM got me from Seven Virtues. AM helped me settle. The shirt shows a lot of skin with the very wide, v-neck, and I'm just not used to showing that much. I know I used to, 10 years ago I'd have thought nothing of being revealing, but I wasn't really being myself back then. I was writing to CK that maybe it is because I feel so exposed, being myself, that I am wary of criticism. Or at least the kind of criticism I grew up with and knew in my first marriage.

I'm trying to keep focused on the reality. When I have revealed myself, my life, to people they haven't criticized me. I still am trying to get my mind around this -- that my differences really can be celebrated and respected. Still trying to get a hold of the unintuitive concept that the stability I've created in my life has made it possible to really see the past for the trauma it was.

It has been a lovely birthday, all around. It has been wonderful to have this day to share with my friends and partners. In all that it felt the same, it felt special because it is a day we set aside to honor someone for who they are. That's what makes it different, not that you suddenly feel older.

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare & perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky & want, more than all of the world, your return."

-- Mary Jean Iron


Must have a snack in the afternoon!

Rode in today, just made myself get up after Phoebe jumped up on me at 6:12AM, moments before my alarm was to go off anyway. I allowed myself 15 minutes of laying there with the cat, not falling back to sleep, alert. Then up, into the shower, pulled myself & my stuff together and headed out.

It was a busy day of working with other people. I didn't get to really work done that was on my list, but I think I spent some quality time with teammates helping them. I'm wanting to get dug into what is really on the top of my list right now, but really have to remember that the time I spend coaching people really is valuable too. It is just difficult to split myself up this way and see the completion of my project get further and further away from me!

CK rode down and had lunch with me. We went over to Blossoming Lotus and I had the garden of eden salad that I didn't get on Saturday night. Also had a cup of the raw soup of the day, chilled avocado, dill and cucumber. The salad was exactly what I'd wanted on Saturday. It wasn't that the sea veggie salad was bad, it was really very tasty, I just had really wanted to the nuts, carrots, and beets in the garden of eden salad. The soup was lovely, light and tart with citrus in addition to the dill. The avocado in the soup made it deliciously creamy instead of wet & watery (which seems to happen with the cucumber at times). We noted that Blossoming Lotus has really become a favorite in the downtown choices when we eat out.

At some point, riding up the hill to, and over the Broadway Bridge I felt a real wave of fatigue hit me. My shoulders and upper back felt tight. I remembered BM noting that some of my arm and shoulder tightness might be related bicycling in addition to the huge floods of emotion this month. Beyond the usual irritation mind-noise at the effort of going up hill I felt just drained. The ride home rises uphill most of the way, but usually once I'm up to North Williams I get some momentum going. I just wanted to be home and when I finally reached Killingsworth I felt hugely relieved to coast home.

I had meant to quickly get changed and ride back down to Dishman to teach my class but I flopped back onto the bed for a few minutes. AM came upstairs and offered to give me a lift instead. It finally hit me that my salad and cup of soup had worn off, my blood sugar was sinking. We didn't have any fruit, most everything in the house was too much to have just before teaching. I settled for grabbing a bottle of juice at Dishman and eating right after getting home. Still adjusting to the different needs of my body when I add in bicycling.

After some more chili and cornbread for dinner I feel better although ready to go to bed soon. I'm going to ride in tomorrow so I can take my bike over to Bike Gallery for the one-month "wellness" check in and tune up.

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Really, we've all needed a good weekend. A restful time of connection. That it included delicious intimate moments only made it seem even more a salve to the raw emotions exposed during the past few weeks. A sense of a sighing out by the whole psyche, releasing stale, bound up energy that had collected in the dark corners.

Fun to ride around the past day with CK. Just being able to enjoy hoping on the bicycle to over there, in to downtown for dinner, to yoga, to Laughing Planet on Mississippi, and back to the house. My legs feel it, the riding and yoga today on top of the hours in the car yesterday. I like to be able to have this option of just moving myself around the city and not be in the car. That it has become something I share with CK, her passion about bicycling is something of her that I enjoyed immediately, is really special.

After lunch and a ride back to her flat we slid into intimacy again, so delightful and easy. Both last night and this afternoon I felt myself shaking. More than just passion, or even pent-up desire, but relief, gratitude, love, and a sense of being held close emotionally. The container of our relationship expanding again, growing to enfold new experiences and needs recognized.

I rode back to the house in the rain (with no gear, I hadn't checked the weather forecast), but it was still warm outside and the drops weren't coming down fast. I'm making it to the house 5 minutes faster these days and I kind of enjoyed it. When I got to the house I put on some dry clothes and went down to the basement and hung out with AM.

It was great to find out that he and KW had a wonderful night together too, their one year anniversary of dating. Things have been pretty rough for the two of them, since March really. She has had a lot going on and it has really taken her energy away from really maintaining, much less building their relationship. They also were able to enjoy a really wonderful night of connection and intimacy. I have to admit it was nice to come home to really good news like this given how disconnected they've been.

AM and I've just hung out this evening. Having something of a vegan "junk food" dinner and watching episodes of Later... with Jools Holland. I've got more cleaned up and put away in the shala room. Yes, in part I've done this by moving everything into the living room, but it gets the majority of it closer to being out of the house.

Maybe it is the Zen practice, but there are times with things that I just feel overwhelmed. Papers seem really tough, maybe that's just because I've been finding some many old papers these past few weeks, and of those things that have stirred up painful memories. I find stuff I wrote, teenage poetry and the like, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Part of me really wants to keep it, but part of me just wants to be rid of it all. I think I'm going to get some shelves for the shala and my room, with baskets to hold these papers. At least if they're away maybe I'll feel better about having them around.

Last night, before going to bed I'd sent MT my article for Ink on the Cat. She hasn't written back, although I don't expect that people are always going to be into their email on weekends, and I find myself wishing she would! Somehow, for all the poetry I've shown people over the years I feel anxious about this bit of prose. It is very personal and the prose is more revealing, exact than the concise words of a poem. I'm also talking about how I've felt excluded, so it feels revealing to share it.


Long Car Ride, Evening Bike Rides

I woke up earlier than I wanted to. Since CK wasn't going out to the coast with AM & I we were going to leave a little later and I'd hoped to sleep in, especially after having tossed at turned a bit at 4AM. Despite all of that I was up at just past 7AM. I lingered in bed but couldn't get back to sleep and eventually took my laptop downstairs and sat on the rug in the sun talking to AM.
He took his breakfast outside to the deck and I sat inside with mine, reading aloud the article I'd written to send for Ink on the Cat. I have used this method for a very long time with writing of mine, even sometimes in technical writing I'll stop and read bits out loud to myself to make sure the words flow together well.
CK came online and we chatted. I'd just sent her the final version and she liked it very much. I am nervous about sharing myself in this way. I used to share my poetry in college, but rarely read it aloud to anyone, anywhere. Writing prose about my thoughts and feelings feels in some ways even more revealing than poetry. Plus I just haven't written a lot of poems lately. Occasional hakiu drop in here and there, but few poems.

Then it was quick into the shower and on the road. Too many hours in the car today although AM and I did meet some very sweet, helpful people which made it worth it. AM & I headed out to Astoria today to meet some folks and in trying to see a bit of road I'd not before we ended up stuck behind the chaos of the Hood to Coast run! It took us over an hour to go 12 miles.

This was since we didn't have nearly the time to spend with the people we were visiting. We then headed back home catching still more of the Hood to Coast traffic around Seaside. Once we were back on Hwy. 26 we made quick time back to Portland. I tried to read a little of The Science of Breath in preparation for the teacher training starting September 5th.
I was so worn out from being in the car, my legs just ached. It was nice to spend the day hanging out with AM, talking and just enjoying each other's company, but I was sick of being in the car when we got home at 6:45PM. I let CK know I was home and got my stuff together. I hopped on the bike and rode over in the warmth of the evening.

Evening Bike Rides

CK and I decided to go out to dinner downtown at Blossoming Lotus. It was so nice out, warm but not hot, perfect for riding. I even had to admit that the sun set glowing in the Willamette was beautiful as we road over the Broadway Bridge.

The restaurant was packed, as it seems to be whenever we are there. We stood around, which I didn't mind after all the car time. Much laughter was had by many due to a toddler walking around and pressing his face up against the glass outside making faces. We spotted an outdoor table come up and sat down. A dog outside got ill and the owners inside came out. The ended offering to trade tables (they were inside), just seemingly jumping us ahead of people in line to be seated! Orders were already in, we got the the other couple's order and ate part of the salad before they came out calling my name with our order.
Yeah, hilarity and yummy food ensues. The cajun tempeh platter was very tasty. On the edge of hot for CK and I had to pace bites of the cajun gravy lest I feel my ears burning a little. The mistaken seaweed salad was very tasty and we were glad to have tried it. Although I may have to go back soon for the Garden of Eden salad, which is what we'd order and I'd been wanting.
We then strolled around going to the Whole Foods for dark chocolate covered cocoa nibs. On into Powell's where I found three books despite going in with the intent to buy nothing. This has been a known danger for me with Powell's my entire life. What I picked up: The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle, The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry and a children's ABC book with very lovely, collage-style artwork, The Zen ABC.
Such a nice evening. Not too hot, but shirt sleeve comfortable. So much fun to be able to hop on the bicycles and go downtown that way. CK and I had some fun laughing about our helmets, attached to our bags, bonking against each other as we walked around together. We have had such tension and anxiety that it was lovely to laugh together tonight.

Longer ride, connection by many means

So tired tonight. It has been such a long couple of weeks and stuff is so close to the surface that I feel stretched thin by it. CK was supposed to come over tonight but is feeling absolutely exhausted herself so is at her flat watching a movie, we're chatting while I sit here trying to write while AM watches the History channel.

Had a pretty busy day working too, spent a great deal of time making adjustments to some requirements I'll be doing the development of. Began training someone how how to do account administration for a project they're taking over supporting from me. Then AM messaged me that he was still out in Wilsonville, it took longer to get there, and I should take the bus to my hair appointment.

When I checked the schedules and saw how long it would take I check the bicycle trip planner and decided to ride over to the salon on Hawthorne. It was further than I've rode before, but seemed doable especially since I'd be having my hair done for about 90 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised that it took me far less time than I thought it would and wasn't too difficult. It even took less time to get home than I thought it would.

Around 6:30 I felt awful, entirely depleted and felt my blood sugar crash. AM was also feeling awful, most likely a reaction to the tetanus shot he had yesterday. We ended up having dinner at Aladdin's Cafe, which is always tasty. Although I'm very disappointed that I'll have to follow up on the comments I saw on Yelp about the bread having dairy in it! Ugh, I hope that's not the case, how frustrating if it is since everything else is so tasty. Will have to ask the owner.

I try not to be a jerk about being vegan. I don't rant at people even when they ask me to talk about why I'm vegan. It just doesn't leave me feeling very happy when I consume animal products without realizing it, worse since I think I'm doing fine! It isn't like I'll get ill, although I might if I had cheese or milk, but my preference is to avoid animal products for many reasons so it can be frustrating to discover I'm being served something I wouldn't want to eat.

When we got home I talked with CK, it felt awkward and I could tell she was so tired. She wanted to stay home and, as much I was looking forward to seeing her tonight, I didn't entirely feel like going out of the house either. AM suggested that I consider going, that he was feeling a little better and if I could make sure the bed got remade (I'd taken off the sheets to wash) I should go. I sent CK a text message but didn't hear back from her.

My mind immediately rushed to bad places. Sure that she didn't want to see me anymore, that she wasn't just tired, she was really upset with me. I watched the thoughts race around, feeling them rubbing against my already chafed psyche. For a moment I felt myself freezing into silence and then I went and checked for her online, pushing back against the fear-cold. Her phone was still on "vibrate" and she hadn't seen my message.

We fell to chatting. I felt connected to her just by watching the letters she typed showing my on my screen. At nearly the same point we both noted this, how we were managing to feel that sense of connection without either of us having to leave our homes in the evening. We both felt better for it and understood how tired we both were.

Sometimes it is easier to write out my thoughts than talk through them, tonight is such an example of that. On the phone with her I felt so anxious and uncertain of anything other than my lack of skill in talking. Typing to her felt OK, better and I try not to call my self "silly" because of it.

Truly I am grateful to have so many methods to try to communicate and connect. Tonight I felt inadequate using my voice, I often feel that way. To have some other way to still get my thoughts out, a way I feel somewhat more adept with, seems like such a blessing. That CK understands this is equally relieving.


Rain Ride

After teaching yoga class this evening I walked over to CK's since my bike was still there. AM offered to come get me and the bicycle, but I really had wanted to try riding in the rain. I had the new pants and jacket I bought and it wasn't pouring, just an average Portland rain. I knew the route and had my lights, so I set out.

I felt dry but chilled, I need a better shirt underneath the jacket (had a yoga top on, sleeveless). I was happy to find that my fenders worked perfectly! The hills are actually getting a little easier, it only took me 20 minutes to bike home from CK's. 5 minutes less than usual and I found that I was not gearing down quite as much on the hill. When I got to the house I stood on the porch and stamped my feet, water just pouring off of me!

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Rain and Progess

I woke up feeling so tired today, still not rested from the weekend. This evening I still feel fatigued, although the yoga class tonight was fun. Due to questions from the students we ended up really looking at utthita trikonasana and ardha chandrasana. I don't often spend a lot of time on just two poses, but afterward everyone said they understood the poses better.

I also made some progress on my configuration of php5 at work! I've been fighting to get this right since may, finally figuring out how to do some of the Red Hat package installation myself and just loading a missing piece I needed. I need to add a pear package and I should actually be somewhat working again.

AM is lying next to me on the new, big sofa downstairs. We had leftover soup after I rode home from yoga. Walked over to CK's once class was done since my bike was still there. AM offered to come get me and the bicycle, but I really had wanted to try riding in the rain.

CK came downtown this afternoon and we went to Habibi again. We talked about her day yesterday, the frustration at the unprofessional behavior and how it is personal. Other than that tension and general career stress it felt for a little while like other tension was a little less. We sat in O'Bryant Square spending a little more time before I had to head in to join a meeting.

I'm still recognizing that Saturday was scary, neither of us felt supported by the other when we really needed it. Neither of us was capable of offering support beyond what was holding us up. We've never had something like that happen before and it felt very overwhelming.

I'm glad I went over there Sunday and we were able to just lay together and have it feel safe. Just the intimacy of holding each other and feeling safe is so important. I know I can only practice with the times I wake up in a panic there, anticipating punishment, and have to force myself to look around the room, listen to her breathing, and return to the present, knowing I'm safe there.


Thursday is for Bells

It was warm nearly all last night in CK's flat. I fidgeted being on top of the bed, finally getting under at least the sheet. Somehow that bit of "normal" behavior around trying to sleep helped me settle and rest even if fitfully. CK got up in the early hours, it had finally cooled considerably, and covered us up, dropping a kiss onto the back of my neck. She said I made a happy noise when she did so.

It would have been nice to slide from that sub-aware moment of feeling a kiss, responding to it on some level, into happy dreams. Instead I slid into taking a chemistry exam. Knowing I was truly in the wrong room, the wrong exam, "I don't study chemistry!" Yet there I was, trying to make heads or tails of questions, calculations, and knowing with certainty I was failing utterly.

Then it was time to get up and get ready. I rode into the office of the Broadway Bridge. The bridges get marginally less terrifying each time, just practice. Work was starts and fits of progress here and delays there (yet more again, same project).

Although I slept poorly, insufficiently, I don't feel quite the same volume of anger-static around me today. The grief feels less enormous again, just there with me. IW's work yesterday seems to have cleared a little of that energy up.

The ride home was difficult but possible. I was congested, the August air is rather stale from all the heat, so the uphills were even more difficult to breathe through steadily. My legs were pretty done by the time I got to the house, but no cramps or spasms. At times I'm not sure I'm actually enjoying the activity of bicycling but I enjoy being done with a ride and having traveled under my own energy.

AM had a rough day with his depression and I walked into the hosue into a storm of it for a moment. He settled after a bit. I tried to point out to him in a more compassionate way that I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the, to me, sudden and unexpected intensity. We just sat cool basement together for a little bit and let the whole day settle.

AM made us Vietnamese inspired rice noodle bowls, bun, for dinner. We discovered that the marinated tofu, nearly charcolized on the grill by accident, tasted quite good. A maple and tamari marinade would make for a crispy, "bacon-eque" type snack. We included cucumbers from the garden, which is really wonderful to be enjoying.

AM didn't feel up to, or had the time to shower for, before zazen at the Dharma Center. I quickly changed and brushed my teeth. Still having printer problems so I swung by CK's to print the merit list and drop off some things she needed. I had wanted to check in on her anyway because Atari had another UTI and I knew being at the vet with him, transporting him, and worrying about him all had been stressful. I felt bad at having to rush away from her, she looked so tired.

More compliments and suggestions of improving confidence at hitting the bells during service. I'm still so caught up in all the things to keep track of that it is hard to also have confidence. Besides, having confidence is truly difficult practice, same as pride. I am trying to remind myself it is only the second time I've done the chanting and bells together, something that is traditionally done by two people. There is a lot to learn and it is OK to learn it at my pace. I did think I felt a little more confident in my chanting at least; the stress of the bells distracting me!