Monday, June 22, 2009

During my times of trial, I lived on a steady diet of Sara McLachlan (I met her in person, she's wonderful) Me'shell Ndegeocello, Sophie Hawkins (more a Chuck & I thing), Richard Thompson, Patti Griffin, and Dixie Chicks.

You need some John Mayer: Vultures, Belief, Gravity, I'm Gonna Find Another You, Bold as Love)
You need a LOT of Richard Thompson: She Twists the Knife Again, Uninhabited Man, 1954 Vincent (just because it's wonderful)
You need Sarah McLachlan: Train Wreck, Stupid, World on Fire
You need Patti Griffin: When it Don't Come Easy
Nickel Creek: Reasons Why (the whole album is amazing)
And you need to listen to the Dixie Chicks sing Not Ready to Make Nice a couple dozen times.
Listen to Shawn Colvin's Get Out of This House -- as often as needed. Trouble, and I Want it Back are good too. Finish up with Sunny Came Home. She has a song called If I were Brave you might like.. what the heck, get A Few Small Repairs (the album).
Sting's Brand New Day is a great way to open your own new adventures.
KT Tunstall's Heal Over is a great way to have a friend sitting by you, when you need it.

I've felt orphaned more than once, and I've always found my way back home. You have, too.
My home now, is anywhere trees grow and grasses wave. Anywhere I can get something to grow.
I had to change my anchors drastically. I am now anchored to Life.

It's a very different experience, in every level.
I am acutely aware of the transient nature of every pleasure and pain.

I would not have any of that, if I had not gone through what you are going through, right now.
You never forget it.
It informs every single future moment of your life, if you are paying attention.

I think you can.
Chuck has never had the anchors you and I have, to have them ripped up and have to re-establish in a more flexible capacity. He never had the chance.. so the curses & cures run both ways.
Imagine if you never belonged to anyone, anywhere.

Me, I have a belonging and an identity, but it just orients me to my new experiences.
Most people can't even get that far.

It's truly terrible, and it runs to the core.
But if you can let go, if you can "weigh anchor" and "set sail" while still having the Ship of Self under you, the adventures are limitless.

It's a process, like so many. This is just your introduction.

This is Coyote life.
It starts when you are born, however that happens for you.
I call my mom every year and thank her for going to the trouble. I was a bit of trouble, something about insisting on being face up..

They call babies born face up "star gazers" and I hear that they tend to be relentlessly optimistic. Pushy, even.

At some time after 4pm today, Chuck & I transferred off the Red Line to the Yellow line, coming back from a really fun tour of another part of the Washington Zoo in DC. It takes several trips to get through everything, and public transportation is the best option as parking costs something like $14 an hour. We love the Metro, and we hate driving in DC. The sheer bulk of population creates behavioural pressures of time and space, incompatible with the lack of training the population has received, and the ability of the law enforcement to function. Of course, if people wanted to intrinsically do the right thing and help everyone get along to to go along, that would make a different world, wouldn't it.

So we got off the Red Line at about 4:15, hooked up with the Yellow and got back into Alexandria, where I had to pick up my favorite shoes from my buddy Cosper's office. I had stayed with him during the training.. he's a great friend, and everyone running a seminar needs some support. His son is crazy about Chuck (they can talk military tech & history to a level the rest of us simply cannot comprehend) Cosper & Chuck & I pun and talk shop, and we all have so much fun hanging out.

Chuck & I don't think anything of riding the Metro, we are both used to the German public transport, which is as close to perfect as such things get. I was late to class because of it exactly once in 5 years of use. I had to hop around a little sometimes, but it always worked out.

Two Red Line trains collided at about 5pm today, June 22, and at least six people have died so far.

Tomorrow is my 41st birthday.
It happened once before, that for my birthday, I got another birthday.

It was my 30th, and we had spent the day training with our backyard kenjutsu study group, beating the hell out of each other and then going to the Vietnamese restaurant, icing our bruises with jasmine green tea-flavoured chips & talking about everything.. I'll never stop trying to rebuild those times, somehow. I have it in many ways, times & places, it's just the reliability and frequency I'm working on.

Can't do the beating the hell out part so much any more.. not for my part anyway.
Not that I don't have any hell left, just short on intact ligaments.

It was my 30th birthday, and I was blissed out from great training and driving us back home down 969 like I had every Sunday for the last 4 years.

A car swerved into the wrong/oncoming lane, and I heard my sensei Jim P's voice in my head, GET OFF THE LINE and I did, into the other lane, as the car spewed turf onto the side of my car, and dove into the ditch on the other side. My ex had been napping.. didn't notice anything, and didn't know why I pulled over to check on the other guy, who had run off the road and ended up in the ditch.

Thankfully, the other guy was coming out of the car, scared mostly of having to tell his mom he had driven her car into a ditch. A stray EMT had stopped to check on him, and everything was OK, when it could have been very, very not.. if not for my teacher's voice in my head, and the steadying influence of my training.

Today was luck, just luck. We got off the train less than an hour before it rammed the other one.

When something that big happens, you're just fucked.

Thank you, to fate and circumstance, for waking me up to the fact that every single second is a gift. That my situation is the greatest stroke of luck since the first amphibian got hungry enough to venture out of the water.

Happy my birthday, friends.
If you don't celebrate your birthday, if you don't pull out all the stops and live life to the fullest, you must not love being alive.

I get it.
It's fragile.
It's beautiful, transient, and exciting.
It's not easy, because we are built for challenge.

I'm happy to be here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I stole it from Bill Bryson.. 
The ex-pat's dilemma is that of having spent so much effort, to fit into a strange place (usually after having spent more effort than that, trying to fit into a space defined by others anyway) and then having to come back to the place you didn't fit into, in the first place. 

I fit into "old Texas" culture, where mavericks (not power-mad Barbies who mistook their uterus for a clown car) were normal, and normal was not. 

This, once I did the work of translation, fit rather seamlessly into the values of Bavaria.
Seeing pictures of a house some dear friends are moving into there, and hearing of other friends moving out of their very nice place in Freiburg, just made my heart ache for the great comfortable blocky architecture of German houses. 

Living in Frederick provides glimpses of Old Europe in the great stone churches, cobbles & bricks, elegant & antiquated, a little patina of time on a great American city. There is a Pythian Castle, and gargoyles here and there. 

It brings me comfort, but it also makes me homesick for a truly great cappuccino or some of the terribly simple, high quality things we got used to. 

I found a little cafe where they put cool, crunchy steamed asparagus in salads & sandwiches, and the older proprietors treat everyone like kids who wandered into the house with their friends.  (FSK Kaffe on Record)  I can sit in there, chit-chat & read the Post as long as I like. 

I have a garden in the ground, an analogy to a life trying to take root in a place. 
Chuck says he is putting talcum powder on his "itchy feet" and I am doing my best to hold out against homesickness. I did it before, when we moved overseas. I was pretty bad for about a year.. but if I stay on the ground, I can grow some roots, wherever I am. 

Once I get into the swing of the seasons, once I get my garden(s) going, I can be happy just about anywhere we can both be healthy, see a lot of our friends, learn stuff and have some fun.