December 2nd, 2004

Chalkboard

Cats, Esther and Anna Fight, Kabbalah For Christmas


It's beginning to look a lot like...Kabbalah?

I haven't felt like writing lately, or more accurately, I've felt like writing -- in fact I've had many conversations with all of you in my mind -- I just haven't wanted to sit down, organize, and type up my thoughts. I just have to write something though because I don't want to leave my last, sad, greyhound entry sitting there as the first thing anyone sees when they come to my journal; a really sad entry filled with swearing.

The cats are getting on my nerves. (We're back at home now.) I love them so much and am grateful for their presence in my life, but they're bugging me, argh. It's a very minor complaint, and one I shouldn't even be wasting our time making because, knock bois, for once almost all of the kitties are well and I'd rather have them alive and scratching than fighting a whole host of cat infirmities.

Here's the thing; everyone wants to sit on my lap and I only have so much lap. For almost a year now, I've been using my laptop rather than my desktop, and I do this from my bed, which may not be the healthiest plan as far as becoming a big sedentary Jabba the Hut blob is concerned. I swear I am going to get my big fat lazy ass out there exercising if it's the last thing I do -- no sense in risking one's life with a big, scary, intestinal-rerouting, stomach-chopping operation if I'm not going to comply and keep the weight off. Sorry for going off on a tangent there.

Okay back to the cats; so, I sit here when I use my computer. I put pillows behind my back and one in front of me and set the laptop on that, but the cats pile up in the space between my belly and the pillow, one on top of the other until there is barely room for my arms to reach around them to type. Occasionally another cat will come to try and squeeze in or just plop on top of the pile to be annoying and snag someone else's already claimed space. When that doesn't work, they pile up next to my thighs leaving me with little or no elbow room. Right now Niki is trying the climb on top of everyone with his heavy body maneuver and he's squashing Mouse.

Every once in a while I get fed up, pick up the pillow and the laptop, shove everyone forward and put my laptop back down again -- like clearing my cache. But then we start the whole process all over again with everyone circling back around one by one until my lap and arms are overloaded. Curly-Girl has managed to come back around and is pinning my right wrist down and here is Mouse who has just sat back down on top of Curly Girl. This forces me to shift the pillow and computer forward a bit to make room for them and then I have to strain to type...and here comes Zazu and Niki again. And here comes Niki and pretty soon we will start the process all over again. In fact here I go with the pillow lifting, lap clearing. For a time I will use my arms like the oars of a boat to protect my space, waving them away with my elbows while feeling guilty, but then I'll give in and they'll all pile up again. Oh what shall we do with a drunken sailor?

Esther and Anna went at it yesterday. Anna is mad at Esther because she doesn't think she does enough work, and Esther is mad at Anna because she feels that Anna doesn't value the work that she does do, and is aggressive and abusive in the way she communicates with her. I see the truth in both of their points of view and want to help both of them so I just sat there mediating for a good hour and a half, or was it two? It went on endlessly with Anna being kind of nutty and abusive while thinking she was this helpless innocent little victim, then in the end when she couldn't get her way and wouldn't listen to either one of us, she ran off crying like a little girl, seriously, yuck. I think there is something wrong with her, we can't be the only people she has ever had serious communication problems with before.

It's so interesting how you can learn more about yourself by watching someone else. I mean that she is so self deluding -- she comes up with these weird ideas and concepts and they become her reality, even when they are completely untrue. I feel the need to be vigilant and fair so that I don't do the same thing. It's that old, there are always two or more sides to every story, thing.

My Kabbalah book fell out of my car and landed in the water and leaf filled gutter the night before last. I could have seen this as a sign but I didn't. I just dried it out in the sun and it's as good as new. I really like this simple book, each time I read a little bit from it I glean some wonderful bit of knowledge. And yes, I am wearing the red string bracelet, and the promise I made not to gossip or speak badly about anyone else, while challenging in the extreme for a gossipy multi-feathered birdie girl like me is hard in the extreme, it is making my life easier.

I'll never become a full on Kabbalah girl because I'm basically a Buddhist at heart, well, a Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish Jain. I'm always going to be someone who creates their own hodgepodge of spirituality -- it works for me. Besides I've resisted the lure of "the cult of Kabbalah" for this long, but I am interested and want to learn more. Funny how my ego works though I stayed away precisely because there were so many celebrities getting into it. Now I just feel curious and want to see what I can glean from it. If it turns out to be completely patriarchal, I'm outta there.

I have so much more to tell you; stories and images to share, but I have to go collect my monkey man...

Chalkboard

9/11 Property Recovery and Survivor's Guilt

With the launch of a jewelry recovery database for the family members of victims of the World Trade Center disaster, I can't help but feel all of those torn up hurting feelings again. I only wish I'd been able to fly to New York and help with the clean up or done some kind of volunteer work during the aftermath of the tragedy but I was stuck here in LA, about as far away from New York or Washington DC, (short of Hawaii or Alaska), as a person could be and still be in the US. But I still felt ripped to pieces and I still feel torn up whenever I see images from that day and the days immediately following the tragedy, I still cry when I read first person accounts and interviews of survivors and family members.

I think I feel the way my Mother feels about the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the death of President Kennedy, only with this the experience is so much more visceral and immediate, or at least I think it is. I bought every magazine, newspaper, book and DVD I could find, immersing myself in them until it became clear to me that I was torturing myself and prolonging a kind of depressive survivor's guilt syndrome that I have worked to overcome. I threw or gave everything away and stopped watching videos and documentaries about that day but each year on the anniversary of the attacks I still feel sick and kind of paralyzed with a sadness that I don't understand why everyone around me doesn't share.

When we shot the documentary about Halloween here at my house I felt like I sounded like a kind of stuck-in-the-past nut case when I explained why I won't decorate the yard using gruesome body parts any more. That first Halloween was so surreal. It happened so fast, one minute we were waving flags from our car antennas and the next minute we were buying costumes and worrying about terrorists dressing as Sponge Bob or whatever character was popular at that time. I remember taking all of our creepy decorations, that had become increasingly grisly with each passing year, (Beau liked all the gore and our yard haunt had gotten progressively creepier as Beau got older,) out of their storage boxes and deciding that there was absolutely no way I was going to scatter these severed limbs and heads all over our yard and driveway -- no way I would put out the electronic wiggling hands and the bits of red rubber flesh that we had once hung from branches and put in the mouths of our many fake black birds and vultures.

In one of the episodes of Dennis Leary's New York fire fighter series, Rescue Me (which I thought was terrific,) there was a scene where one of his firefighting brothers has been writing poetry to help deal with all of the feelings of loss he is experiencing. He is invited to come read some of his poetry at a support group. When he discovers that none of the members of this post traumatic stress disorder support group were in lower Manhattan, or even greater Manhattan, and that none of them had lost so much as an acquaintance, he takes them to task for wringing their hearts and hands over this when there are people out there who experienced the tragedy first hand.

While I understood the motive behind writing a scene like this, I disagreed with the premise -- that people who weren't there can't have trouble dealing with the feelings they have had in reaction to it, can't have them, shouldn't have them, are manufacturing them for the attention this may bring them. Yes, absolutely, anyone who actually ran from one of those buildings, or ran into one of them in order to save people, anyone who saw a plane hit the towers or a body fall, anyone who ran for their lives, who huddled in that dust choked aftermath, or who were part of the mass exodus of lower Manhattan, anyone who was in New York, or Washington DC, (I really don't mean to leave out Washington or the plane that crashed in that field,) or lost a loved one, has a greater claim to a bigger piece of the pain and suffering pie, but that doesn't mean the rest of us don't still feel and suffer along with them. I imagine that, aside from Dennis Leary, (who is definitely a good and well meaning guy), anyone who experienced the tragedy of that day in a more first hand kind of way, wouldn't fault or deny the rest of us this empathic pain, because it only means that we care, that we are with them, or with you, in spirit.

The absolute rock bottom truth here, for me anyway, is that we are all connected. I am you, you are me, we are all united despite our physical distance and whatever happens to someone else, no matter where it happens, ripples out like a stone in a pond and affects all of us. I just felt the need to say all of this, it's been bubbling up for a while.