Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



Woke up still tired and wishing I could stay in bed. AM asked if I wanted him to drive me down instead of biking from CK's and part of me wanted to do that. Instead I got up, took a hot shower, we went over to CK's so I could get my bike.

When I got in there I found her looking unrested and hectic, rushing around picking up socks and things, asking me if some socks were mine as I walked in. She revealed that she not slept well again; unsettling dreams cascading into one another all night. Instead of hopping on the bike and rushing off to the morning keynote presentations I sat down and listened to her talk. After a little while and time for many hugs I rode the rest of the way down to the convention center.

CK had told me that she'd been researching jobs for me, not to try and "solve" everything, just to give me ideas. I felt a momentary rush of surprise that she would do that for me, followed by the understanding that of course she'd do this for me, then just gratitude that she wants to be a part of my life all the time, for real. Both things stayed with me all morning. The idea that I really should look at the job market again and the gratitude for the amazing relationships I'm blessed with.

Talks this morning ranged from amusing, to interesting, to rather dry. I logged into
work and exchanged messages about training. I felt less of the feelings of inadequacy that had swelled up in me yesterday and even managed to chat with some people during the morning break. I mentioned the idea of doing a presentation next year on change management and the people I talked with said it was a topic they were interested in.

I was happy to get an email back from CK during the final series of talks letting me know she was feeling better than she had this morning, less exhausted. Shortly after that she popped onto the IRC channel set up for OSCON, we chatted for the last bit I was there. Then I was back on the bicycle to home, I thought it would be a good test since it would be about the same as coming home from downtown.

After I made it home AM and I got some pizza at Hot Lips then picked up a couple of things at
TJ's. Checked into work, let myself look at some job listings on Craigslist just to get an idea, and talked with AM for a while then rode over Prananda for a class. Just myself and another student but Joy held the class anyway. It was a nice class and a good way to transition from OSCON to "normal" again.

Nice having downtime tonight. AM made tortilla soup for dinner and we sat on the deck having some as the sun set. CK is spending time with a friend who is up from San Francisco. We've kept close over messages. It helps to have the easy, immediacy of communication when we're not together. Little reminders of love and desire.


mad crush of geeks

Today at OSCON was the craziness of the expo floor opening. T-shirts, Mac Air prize give-aways, flying toys, headhunters...

And relationship stuff that feels hard to navigate and that always leaves me feeling a little stressed. Hard to feel connected to either CK (stress and lack of quiet) or AM (because I'm not there).

My back and legs really ache. The combination of biking, tiredness, stress, sitting in conference chairs, standing talking... not so great. I'll be happy for my massage therapy appointment with Beth on Monday.

I'll be happier next week to return to something even slightly resembling "normal" schedule.



I am so tired, exhausted really. My head aches from the effort of attention, sinus pain, and just an ache from having a headache all day. My eyes are tired from processing data on screens large and small. Today I have awoken at 6:15, had a shower, got dressed, bicycled to CK's, discovered a sweaty back from bicycle & a cotton shirt don't mix, changed to a t-shirt of CK's, had toast, bicycled to OSCON, sat in on a very good workshop on PHP, had nearly the exact same lunch as yesterday (not worth elaborating upon... salads), went to what I feel was a terrible workshop on PHP, left early, got gvim working on my Mac, ate some soup, changed clothes, bicycled to Dishman, taught a yoga class, rode back to CK's flat, changed yet again, bicycled back to OSCON, and listened to various presentations & awards (geeky, inspiring, mind-boggling, funny...) until 10PM, and finally CK & I rode back to her flat! I promptly put on my pyjamas and sat down with a thump on the bed.

CK heated up more soup for us, which helps as has the water. Seeing the day up there in a list gives me perspective on why I'm so tired and hurt so much. It is a day that really presses on my resources rather hard. Although there are evening events at OSCON for two more nights, tomorrow won't be so long as CK & I already plan to leave a bit earlier, rest a little, then go to a yoga class. Thursday will be zazen and by then the sheer crush of so many people, so much talk, countless slides projected on screens will make settling into silence such a blessed gift.

The workshop we went to in the afternoon was very disappointing to me. Not only did I find it to not be very professional, even accounting for cultural differences (presenter is from France), but on a level where I felt that economically it wasn't worth the time spent, especially for someone like her who doesn't have a big company footing the bill to attend (which should be her choice to be irritated about, I didn't need to take it on to be annoyed on her behalf). CK finally propelled us towards going home early to rest a bit before I had to teach, plus I'd have time to eat a little. I hadn't wanted to go, wanting to stay and salvage the 90 minutes that weren't useful. She finally noted that I was having a hard time letting it go. And I was. The ride home helped burn off some of it as did fixing something on my Mac that was making it hard for me to work on code projects.

The irritation feels pretty far away now. I can look at the afternoon and spot it, but it lacks the immediacy that was making it hard to let go of. With that time shift I wonder how one irritation in the day might rile up other feelings of irritation that lurk below the surface. It is a slippery slope to follow irritation down into anger.

I used to have the mistaken impression that in Buddhism anger isn't allowed, better yet we somehow transcend it. I asked Hogen about it and he made sure to reinforce to me that it isn't that we never feel anger, that's unreasonable because we will feel anger. It is that we don't give rise to the anger. We don't let it manifest into unkind words spoken out of that heat that is just a few degrees hotter than irritation.

So CK became my important Sanga of one today. A fellow traveller upon the Way who merely noted that I wasn't letting go. Had she not brought me back, giving me perspective, I may have easily let the irritation rise into anger.


Revisting the Genjo Koan by Bicycle

Oh I slept so poorly last night even having taken some melatonin. I tossed and turned from some combination of pain and travel dreams. That busyness of rushing to a destination, unsettled. I could not help but whimper a little when my alarm went off at 6AM. I hauled myself out of bed and got myself together, onto the bicycle and off to CK's.

I made it a little more quickly to her flat this time and had some breakfast while she finished getting ready. It took us only 10 more minutes to bicycle over to the Convention Center for OSCON. We locked up and watched all the guys walking by with badges on. We laughed at how relieved we were to be there together. She's not been to an event like this before as an attendee and I've not been since 2000.

We got through registration, through the Starbuck's line, and onto our respective sessions. I had all Perl workshops today while she did one on PHP and another on A/B testing. We were fed salads topped with grilled veg and tofu, which was pretty good. Tomorrow she and I both will be in PHP workshops together. I'm looking forward to it a lot.

The ride home was hard since the wind was blowing right down N Williams making the hill climb up to Alberta challenging. Other bicyclists passed me in a parade of faster rides powered by legs more trained than mine currently are. I just kept pressing my feet into the peddles and trying to breathe through my nose, control my breath.

CK asked me later if a year ago I would have thought I'd be commuting on a bicycle. I'm so thrilled that I can do this, very surprised too. I didn't really think it would be possible to find something that I felt both comfortable and safe on. It is intimidating to be out in traffic again, I found the big trucks loud and close as they rushed past me on Russell. As tough as I find the hill up to Alberta, I'm still so grateful to be huffing & puffing my way up it.

In answering her I found myself stumbling over one of Chozen's Dharma talks from last winter. The sangha had been studying Genjo Koan for several weeks. One evening Chozen focused on the image of a boat that reappears in Dogen's lines. She talked about how we feel when on that boat, with nothing but ocean in four directions. How would we see the ocean at that point, how is the boat viewed.

In that kind of situation we tend to cling to the boat, the idea that the ocean is enemy at that point. If we loose the boat, we are consumed by the ocean. We don't see the limitless, boundless, teeming depths of the ocean as our element, we cannot sink into the idea of merging with it, abandoning our little boat and our wish to see land soon.

Chozen taught that our mind is that boat floating upon the boundless ocean of the BuddhaDharma, but our tendency as we age is to close our mind which shrinks that boat. We start telling ourselves that we're too old to learn something, no longer willing to try new things, and believing we're not capable of something. Chozen found herself, at 60 learning how to play piano for the first time.

And I find myself riding a bicycle. My shoulders, mid-back, side ribs and chest ache. We realized that it is most likely because I'm gripping the handlebars with such tension as I learn this skill all over again. Still, I'm making my way through trucks and the whoosh of cars.


OSCON08 by Bicycle

At OSCON today I was telling CK how much I enjoy sharing the experience of being at the conference, learning with her, that it feels very organic and collaborative. So often in the past it felt very competitive, having to prove myself as a woman in unix systems administration. Now at work I more of a coach so there isn't that feeling of collaboration in the same way. Plus this is another way in which she teaches me, we share learning, and that is very precious. I am enjoying sharing the challenge of learning to bicycle again with CK and how I'm able to actually just relax into her taking care of me.

Back at the house after what felt like a long, but possible bicycle ride to the house AM had experienced an unsettled day. We talked about one thing that kept at him was that despite of how Love has been written about but that some people just will not know that kind of connection. I especially liked his comment that we don't find love, we are conduits for the energy of Love in the universe. It reminded me of the idea that we are growing, cultivated by our relationships with one another.