Friday, June 29, 2007

It's almost dark and Munich music rumbles in the distance.

I've loved it here, and alternately yearned for the heat and mesquite of what I know as home.

I've come to love Germany, and Europe.

In the US, you can go from East to West, and there's no more difference than there is between Boston and Houston.
Same language, different accent. Same stores, similar food, same road signs.

It's hard to explain the thrill of driving half an hour and being in a very different culture, with a different language, culture, road signs, food, drink, landscape, and cityscapes.

We can drive to the battered, recovering Czech Republik, to places like Cesky Krumlov (next pic) to Austria, Italy, the
Bavarian Forest, we can fly to Greece in an hour or so, and we plan to drive to Amsterdam at the end of September.

It's hard to imagine how stimulating it is to remember the things to say in such a different environment and how much fun that can be.

I would hate to go back to just driving 12 hours to get to Colorado.

Travel in Germany is one of those legends everyone hears about, mostly concerning screaming along the autobahn at speeds which seem even faster when measured in kilometers. I've logged my share of Autobahn hours, but it's not my favorite thing. When I remember my teenage gearhead years dreaming over auto magazines and Porsches, and drive the Autobahn today, I have to sigh with disappointment. Gone are the days of "Fahrvergnugen". Now, all you get is "Joy of Trucks". Lots and lots of trucks. Double trucks, single trucks, trucks with cabs decorated like Casanova's living room. Trucks from Holland, Slovakia, trucks from England, Russia, Greece, and trucks from places I can't possibly pronounce, much less spell.

Imagine climbing into a comfortable seat in an air-conditioned space, picking up a book or plugging in headphones for music or a story or simply watching the world go by. Imagine that a fellow comes by with a cart, offers you a perfectly chilled beer and even opens it for you. I keep a little bag of nuts in my pack just to nibble with a beer, on the train.
Yes, this American (a Texan, no less) has forsaken the car. I believe that in 100 years (if we have a kind of
eco-economic revolution) we will look back at these silly little vanity boxes and say "What the hell were we thinking??" There are times I think it would be more practical to keep a horse. The personal relationship would probably be more fulfilling.
So I leave my husband the car, stroll to the train, bring a good book and music and savor the sweet, soft rolling scenery of Bavaria from the comfort of a second-class seat. First class doesn't mean you'll make it on time 90 times out of a hundred anyway. On the occasions I've paid the difference, I've been disappointed.
Meanwhile, I enjoy the simplicity of just getting on the train, and getting where I want to go.

My favorite mode of travel is most definitely the German trains. It's the usual stress getting everything together and getting there on time, but once on, it's just a matter of kicking back and enjoying the ride. A couple of nice Polizei helped me get my bike on board this dusty old regional bahn. My legs always get incredibly banged up, for some reason, hauling the bike on and off the train. I try not to load the bike itself too heavily, it's a mountain bike and not exactly light. I tried to fill the panniers with bulky but light stuff (food and tea bags) that would probably get squished to death in my rucksack. The rucksack overbalances me a bit, and I have to pay attention. I'm just hoping that it's all lighter on the way back!
I have a triple set of folding bench seats to myself, and a window that opens if I want it. My bike is propped up parallel to the seats, so that if the train lurches I can catch it, and it's out of the way of the constant thread of traffic down the aisle of the train. My shoes are off, my feet up on the second seat, and I am typing on the little laptop I take to school. It's a little noisy, but the rock, whoosh and rumble of the train are familiar noises, and the seat is fairly comfy.
It's wonderful to watch the scenery go by this time of year. Germany doesn't have much summer, so when spring hits, she goes all out. Forsythia explode in bright yellow first, with the fields glowing green and cherry trees fluffing out into pink clouds. I always love lilac season. Lilacs don't grow well in Texas, and I was delighted to find them when we lived in Indiana. They grow like crazy here, and I love to cut the full rich blossom heads and stuff vases with them. The scent will just about knock you over if you overdo it, though, and lilacs are toxic, so I try to keep it to one vase per room.
This is going to be my second to last training, and I intend to enjoy it. I know I will miss these monthly adventures down to Munich. It's a vibrant place, and the training is brisk and vibrant as well. My colleagues are fun and supportive, the teachers are brilliant and fascinating, and the environment is open and adventurous. Sure, homesickness is often a factor, but I find myself thriving on the change of pace and the independence.
Knowing that we may leave Germany some time after October, I have decided to start posting the little things I have written, here and there, about Germany.

A Munich Story:

I love to go sit in the little city markets when I find them. I buy a snack, something to drink, and sit and watch. If people want to talk, I talk.

The benches at these things are a kaleidescope of people.
Tonight I was joined by an interesting pair. One was a pilot and flight instructor, the other an actress.
Wow. Right now the Greek restaurant I am hanging out in is playing the "Bette Davis Eyes" song, and boy did this lady have that going on. At right about 60, she is vivacious, passionate, vigorous and, yes, beautiful.

The pilot was a compulsive smoker, and seemed to have never forgotten the actress.
She didn't remember him, and sort of ran off with me in a series of strolls, cell phone calls and bathroom visits across a small part of the English Garden.

She had that sort of womanly sparkle that successful female celebrities have, and a lasting vitality shining in those big blue eyes. She reminded me of my mother's Cousin Jane, with somewhat less measured features.

It's interesting to be with celebrity. Every event, even finding a "pot to piss in" becomes something of, well, an Event! There was huge Porsche event, and we weren't allowed in, but security greeted her politely and directed us to clean toilets upstairs by statuesque columns overlooking the English Garden.
She took my hand and we strode along, Queens, Princes, Kings and Goddesses of the World.

This woman in this short time, taught me so much about the theatrical space and how to occupy it. I am so accustomed to disappearing, and not "filling my space" that the lesson is a truly needed one. Every woman should have some time with a Prima Donna, if only to learn what to do, to get a table at rush hour.

I directed her to colleagues in Koln, but I'm not sure what I can ever do to repay the theatre lessons.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There's a kind of bravery Army life takes, which has nothing to do with bombs or bullets. It's the kind of bravery it takes, to leave people, things and situations behind.
Getting there isn't the trouble. The human is designed exquisitely for new situations. We do nothing better than adapt. What we do poorly, is LET GO.
Some people withdraw and make no connections. Others become reckless. Those of us in between, seek connections with like madness. Unfortunately, it usually takes too long, and when Sympatico is realized, it's almost too late.
We live with a kind of sadness in every encounter, we become more sentimental than the average human ever has the advantage to be. Life on a military post is like life in a small town to the 10th degree. Desperation isn't quiet here. I'll never forget my first morning in the Grafenwoehr Training Area, when a young man just melted down on the wooded lawn outside the housing area. Lying in the grass, screaming obscenities at everything and everyone... he got jammed into an MP jeep, then transferred, kicking and bellowing, into a German ambulance and carried off into bizzare backwards Euro siren silence. That was desperation. I don't know who the kid was, what happened or where he is now. I just remember two obese women staring at him as he screamed, occasionally poking him with their feet like a half-dead animal.
Meanwhile the rest of us get in for our reasons and, if we are lucky, get out with our goals accomplished and all of our limbs more or less intact. Those who serve on the front, pay for the rest of their lives. My husband, barely 50, will get a new hip as a souvenir of his first stay in Germany, during his second. It's a weird peice of karma, and a wierd souvenir of our time here.
Our friends here are some of the most solid we will ever make. We are lucky, we are blessed, and we are proud to have stood through the fire with anyone and everyone who shared time with us here. We don't want to say goodbye, so we'll just say... the door is open. See you later.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I called my dad for Father's Day. Not a great fan of these Hallmarketing Holidays, but any excuse to call Dad and see what he's up to.
He was changing the oil on his truck. He's got a Dodge Diesel pick-em-up to pull his trailer home. No, seriously. I'm from Texas. It's OK. Dad actually owns land in east Texas, we've traced it back to Spanish times and it's kind of a Family Thing.
Here's the thing that makes it remarkable. My dad is almost 72. He's almost 72 and still happily changing the oil on his truck! That's something to celebrate! Especially since he ended up in the hospital for a couple weeks two years ago with kidney failure. Evidently it was a little medication bobble, not unusual when you are 70, diabetic, and your endocrinologist ups and moves to Paris (TX) with too little notice for patients to reschedule. Dr Whatsit, wherever you are, it wasn't worth my dad's life, whatever it was. Shame on you.
Anyway, Dad's still hanging in there, changing his oil, checking his land, enjoying life and bitching about politics.
Well.. you had to know where I got it.
Thanks, Dad.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We're still playing Fantasy Destination.

I've got to be honest, I just want to go home. I've loved this time abroad. I could just live out of a pack, wander the world free and easy and open, and say the hell with all expectations. Maybe I will again, someday.

Wait.. I think I said the hell with all expectations long ago. No, not going to be the way you expect. Don't know how. Don't want to. Can't either fit or understand the box. Don't want to. Why should I, when I can make my own way?

My mate is a real gypsy with no roots whatsoever. That's not me. Roots have to dig deep, in Central Texas, to live. We can't just blow around like tumbleweeds (imports from China to the SW, BTW).
Roots have to dig deep in the limestone, in the blackland prairies, in the alluvial sands of the Ouachita Mountains, the great-grandmothers of the Appalachians, roots have to dig deep to survive long dry spells and crazy rain. Don't dry up, and don't get washed away. You can reach as far as you want, travel as long and as wide as you wish, just never forget where your toe-roots find home.

It's hard for him to understand who I am to my family. I've somehow managed to be the lost hero child.
Those who know the 12-step lingo, will understand me.. that this is Abraham's lamb and the black sheep all wrapped into one. They put me there, I just try to recognise it. If they need me, and increasingly, they do, I can't just wander off. Certainly, I need room, I always do, but I don't want to not be there for my parents when they need me. It's just not something I can do and remain happy. We'll see how I do it, and remain happy!!

In any case, this sheep is no lamb, and no ovid herd animal for that matter. My father, shockingly spiritually aware redneck that he is (our Shibumi Bubba) gave me a copy of Women who Run with the Wolves.

Woodswoman, hunter, martial artist that I am, I found some message in it, but the "with" part did not apply. I learned from this book that I simply AM a wolf. Not a fighter, rather a conciler, not a killer, rather a shepherd. It's easy to see the fangs and the shaggy coat, not easy to see the complex social system, care, and strategy of wolf life.

Wolves don't play Fantasy Destination unless they are out exploring. I am in this phase. I have brought down more valuable things than I could possibly imagine. The structural integration certification is like a woolly mammoth out of season. It's something I never could have done in the States. I devoted my entire income to it, I warped the bureaucracy and swayed the community to do it. I ran constantly round the herd, finding the right buffalo to nip, to get what I needed. My focus becomes ever sharper, and I see more of what I need to do. Now I'm seeing the end of the Army tunnel and it's hard not to just explode with frustration at the system I have been whaling on and subverting all this time.

That's it. I'm a tired, ragged wolf. My pads are sore but nimble, my teeth still sharp, my tail still high. I've done things here that others thought impossible. I'd like to go somewhere welcoming, somewhere I can make a living on my own.

So would my mate.

So take me home already.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What's my story? It was asked on a Rolfing practicioner discussion list I am lucky to frequent.
It's something a fellow practicioner asks clients when they come in for sessions.
Well. What's MY story.. It's not something anyone can encompass in one go, but I'll give it an abridged effort right here.

Most people get Rolfed and then change their existence. As usual, I went backwards. I changed my existence, left a rotten marriage, changed my Self through martial arts and time and meditation in the natural world. I changed my diet, changed my approach, changed the country I lived in. All in a kind of involuntary response to my heart's desires. I never planned it, never asked for it (consciously) and certainly never really understood, beyond messages from my heart which I had, at the time, no way to answer.

There is one incident I can point to which I believe led to my "unmooring" and the beginning of my Adventures. I saw a gifted massage therapist on a far too infrequent basis in the Bastrop City Hall. There is a point in my body which I have always equated with an old spear wound, as if I had been run through centuries ago and my soul had never forgotten.

As a child, I woke stiff and arched in my bed, nightmares of demons butting or stabbing me in the back echoing. I never spoke a word of it to my parents, who were not well-to-do and made me aware of the cost of every ailment I had. I never felt comfortable being ill, I never felt comfortable being hurt or needing help. The Reichian definition of compensated oral begins to define what defined me. Rigid, never needing help, never needing anyone, never admitting pain or need, even to myself. Even telling my dear and loving husband that I've had some tiny problem or need a foot or hand rub, was at first a real effort. His loving nurturance has shrunk that wall to a shallow curb.

This massage therapist, with her 350 hours of training and her Texas license, worked manually on this spot like a champ. At some point, breathing into the pressure, I said "it feels like there is a spear in my back" and she paused.

Then, with a bloodcurdling shriek, she pulled the virtual spear out.

What kind of intuition and bravery does this take? This borders on the shamanic. This woman is probably still a massage therapist in the city hall in Bastrop County.

I have never felt the spear again, though the wind used to drift through the hole in me it left. The beautiful ministrations of some of the best bodyworkers on the planet have minimized it to a kind of functional echo in my body.

So, I say to my elite colleagues, especially in the US, where the prejudice seems most keen... you just don't know when the mantle of the angels will fall on you. It doesn't fall because you are ever so special and have special training, or don't. It falls where it falls. Deaf, dumb, blind, stupid, toothless, mindless -- we may all have the honor of helping another. We should never think that it's because we are special in some way, that it comes to us. It is simply our responsibility, when it does.

Mind you, I am free of (save a devotion to Marishiten) deities, but I still believe this: We are angels for one another. In this real and practical world, we must be.

So yeah, I'm backwards. I came to enlightenment, and then Rolfing. Not the other way around. It doesn't mean I'm not grateful or amazed by the furthering of personal growth, or the opportunity to do the work myself, but let's face it.

There are other means to enlightenment, and we can't specify what they are, for everyone. Nor should anyone, ever, for any reason, decide that they have in hand a tool to enlighten everyone.

This way lies, truly, the hellfire and damnation of the Taliban, the Catholic ("Spanish") Inquisition, Hamas, and yes, especially the American Fundamentalist Movement.