Getting out of your little box

Listened to a broadcast the other day. The man was telling a story about how he took a break from college and hitchhiked from New York to Alaska.

He was rhapsodizing “It wasn’t long until I realized that this was the only way to really meet people. I met all kinds of people, and talked to them. They were so interesting and welcoming”

This is such a cliche.

Guess what? Alaska is a place. It is a place among places. And you know what?


do you know what? You took a break from your life and started talking to all kinds of people.

You HAPPENED to be on your way to Alaska. Alaska had nothing to do with you pulling your head out of your butt and noticing the world around you.

Alaska is magical. You knw what else is magical? The restaurant down the street. And the bus that takes you to the next town. Or the elevator.

ALL THESE LOCATIONS are places that I have spoken to people I wouldn’t get a chance to speak to in my daily life. But wait, that is my daily life.

So. I have long fascinating conversations with all kinds of people on a weekly if not daily basis. People that I might not have conversations with every again. And some of them are people I have come to realize that I see all the time, but only have started to notice them once I had a good long talk.

People yakyakyak about how important it is to be diverse, and not prejudiced. In particular, I hear this from hallowed halls, of management in businesses and from professors of universities.

And sometimes I get to talk to the denizens of those hallowed halls and blow their minds about what diverse means.

It means getting input. It means listening and talking and conversing.

What it does NOT mean is dropping out of your life to sleep on a strangers couch.

And if you have to drop out of your life to remember what life is, you are way out of line.

There is that famous internet story about the fantastic violist that played on the subway, and nobody stopped to listen

I listen.

I always listen to music on the street. There is not much outside music on my street. But I always listen.

I left Alaska to find more people to talk to.

And I’m still talking.

Did everyone else forget how to talk?

Is this skill something that makes me special?


She has ears that can hear

It’s spring almost summer. June in Los Angeles is the season of not-quite summer. The kind of summer that you wish you had; a little overcast in the morning but usually turning blue sky and warm by afternoon. Not too hot.

But the days are long, like they are every where in the northern hemisphere. The flowers come out.

Trees bloom. I had never imagined such a thing in Alaska. This broad blue flowered tree looked like somehting out of Dr. Suess to me the first time I saw it.

And they are blooming again.

“Mommy! Look!”

“Aren’t the blue trees pretty, Veronica? They are called Jackaranda trees.”

The name is kind of magical too. A unique name.

“That is my Panda Bear tree, Mommy. I live there.”

what? Jackaranda….anda….Panda….

“That looks like a very good place to live.”

“Yeah! Do you want to come live with me in the Panda bear tree, Mommy?”


wherever you are going, there you are

The first Saturday in May is world labyrinth day.

I would not know that, except the first saturday of this may, 2013, I happened to be in the vicinity of a labyrinth.

A Labyrinth is not a maze, people. It’s different and special and super ancient. In the Iliad, Daedelus made a labyrinth that housed a minotaur. Young people were supposed to go into the labyrinth and find this minotaur at the center.

The center of the labyrinth–that is supposed to be the meaning, the goal and the reason. People have always had reasons and goal.

And that is why the labyrinth has been around so long. There is something to it.

I was not too far from where I live, at Glen Ivy. A spring in a desert, a hot spring with healing properties in the nearly desert area near my home.

One thing we’ve got a lot of around here is rocks. So the Labyrinth was made from rocks, matching my sentiment that we should use what is at hand.

Before I began my spa day, I walked the labyrinth. Stones on the ground, laying out a path for me, with a small natural obelisk in the middle.

I’ve walked these before. Somehow, though, that standing stone in the middle was different.

I wanted that rock. Up in the path, and it is right there. whoops, no, swing around to the left.

Don’t worry though. I will get there. Look, I am almost there.

Whoops, no, and again.

And THIS time I am walking all the way around a circle like I have nowhere to go or anything to care about and doesn’t matter because I’ll never get there anyway.

that rock

in the center

once I reach that rock in the center every desire I have will be fulfilled

and I want that rock

and it’s right there

but it


until I got there

Hey! I am at the rock!

Hello rock. I worked so hard to get here.

and now it’s time to go.

Back the way I came.

I feel sort of silly that I wanted that rock so bad. It is a nice rock, though. Look at that rock I visited there in the middle.

But now that I am walking back I can notice all the rocks along the way. THey are good too, forming a path for me to follow. And looking at this path I can admire how it turns.

And then it was over. A winding and unwinding, like all of my days. Like all of everybody.


Hi blog…sorry

I should have written somehting this week. It would be nice.

But I’ve not done it. I’ve been busy with other things. I’m happy though, I think.

how many kinda of shades of happy are required before I’m sure?
Funny. Maybe it’s like eating. I will never get the exact perfect eating figured out.

But on the whole, with the ups and downs tallied, i can do okay.

So i’m okay.

I am so looking forward to being alone with myself and my own whatever that I want to do this week. I don’t think I will miss chris that much.

aaahhhh…..finish a TV show and a conversation



That deer ought to know better, right? Those headlights do not mean anything good.

But she can’t move. The bad terrible thing she is staring into nails her in place.

I’ve been there, immobilized by the terrible.

No no no no no… this can’t have happened.

Lot’s wife turned to salt. She didn’t move on after her home was destroyed

Han Solo was locked in carbonite, not moving on from his terrible verdict.

And me? I can stand still, so still that years pass by while I try to understand what happened.

I stayed. But the world turned.

And I wake up to discover that I have worn out my shoes standing still.

It takes effort to stand still. The world moves on, and I have to move with it. Even if I’m just trying to stand still.

I wish I had spent the time running instead.

It feel shameful to wear out shoes standing still.

passion fatigue

It’s like I am a fish in water. Or at least I always thought I was a fish.

But the water drained away.

And I thought I would die. Then I realized I was an amphibian.

I am a sad amphibian. But I’m breathing.

I miss the water. I used to zip around with purpose. I could swim and swoop and loop-de-loop.  If I saw a predator I could get the hell out of there, fast and smart and invincible.

Now? I am stuck in the mud. And the mud is cracking on the edges.

I feel like I’m cracking on the edges too.

My passion has always been a part of me. But it has dried up. Fear and famine left me here.

It used to be so easy. The distance I could cover with a thought, the fast effortless  accomplishment…Gone. In my imagination, I can think of how it could return.

But it takes so much faith. And I have to wallow a little more just to stay damp.

Let it rain. Oh let the rain come.


I knew I should have taken a pill before I left, but I always lie to myself and think the headache will go away.


It did not go away. I was sitting in an overly air conditioned room, not able to get lunch and the headache was bigger than my head. I longed for that pill I hadn’t taken. Then I realized there was a pharmacy located only a short elevator ride away.

OF COURSE! Grab my wallet and relief would soon be mine.

No line, thank heaven, so I stare through the fog of pain at the legion of pain pill choices. I finally make my selection and turn to find a line of three people.

WHY?! Three people and it’s not moving. I want to get relief. I have a geologic age to contemplate the unfairness as I stand in my same place in the line.

The helpless outrage bubbles up to realization: I don’t have to wait.

I can step outside the social contract; I can open this bottle while standing here. My civilization-trained soul rises up in alarm.

Open it? Without PAYING for it? It’s not done.

Well, I have my credit card. I will pay for it as soon as my turn comes, but the pill with start its work immediately.

What if the credit card machine is broken?

I have cash. DONE. I pierced the safety seal and swallowed my gel cap. Was it psychosomatic? I don’t know, but my pain lessened immediately.

And I Felt So Empowered. I was in control of my destiny! I didn’t have to follow these rules. I wasn’t stealing, but I made it work for me.

It made me think about the purpose of money. And how money works. What if I needed that medicine and I didn’t have money? What would I have done? I’d have to barter something…I had a chapstick in my purse. But a used chapstick is not equivalent to a bottle of Aleve. I’d have to throw in something else. A pen? My cell phone? No, that’s too much.

Money makes this so much easier. What else could I have done? Mop the floor? But then I’d probably have to mop it before they would give me the pills. And I could live with a headache, but when it came to something like water or food, that would be a very difficult situation

This “extreme” situation is on my mind for two reasons. First, I’m reading a book about the depression. During the 1930s, the Brain Trust of the feds did some magic tricks that resulted is physical money not being available. At that time, money was mostly the sort that you could touch. The fanciest it got was a bank check, pretty much. So, if the factory boss comes up to the end of the month and has no dollar bills to give his employees their pay, what is he supposed to do?

This happened.

The Second reason I am thinking about this is because we are in the middle of a banking AND international currency crisis. The Euro dollar is very close to cracking right now.

But that leads me to ponder the great benefit we are given by having a reliable system for value exchange…AkA Money.

If the money system broke down, everything would grind to a halt. I mean, we have stuff to barter, but figuring out the exchange would take forever. We would spend hours just trying to figure out how many beans are worth how many grains of rice. And by the time we struck a deal, the kids would be crying because they wanted dinner.

If money didn’t exist, even for a day, we would have to invent it again.

We built the tower of Babel with our world economy and currencies. We should keep it health and appreciate what it does for us.


Reading list for the communist history

Now that it’s kind of over. But history is never over, is it?


Okay, so there is the Communist Manifesto, and it’s really short.


But the Communist manifesto was not an original idea. Marx wrote down one version of what a lot of people were thinking. And even when he wrote it down, there were a lot of competing ideas.

The way those competing ideas became real to me was when I read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. That story is very hard to follow, but the whole communist etc. revolution is hard to follow. Orwell goes to the Spanish Civil war, and he gets to be our avatar, interested passionate and confused.

We can read it and start to see…oh…this was NOT a monolithic consensus. AND he also talks about how Moscow had appointed itself the mothership, and that has implications for later.

So, then I think a look back, a look at how things worked themselves out to the monolith of COMMUNISM that Moscow became, is in order.

Doctor Zhivago

That is an amazing love story, but look past that. Look at the power struggles, and the people in the ideas and allegiances. Lenin, Bolsheviks, anarchists, and and and and and…

there were so many ways that it could have gone. But it went one way. It went the way of tragedy and persecution and death.

not to mention the many lives and loves that were affected. Which is why Doctor Zhivago (Zhivago means “Living being” loosely) is a masterpiece of a holistic story.

But more. There is more. The powers came into being.

Milan Kundera wrote The Unbearable Lightness of Being he talked about what it was like to be under the communist thumb.  So many of the types of people who are attracted to communism–thinkers and arty types–are the very ones who suffer from the totalitarians of Communism for the very things that initially attracted them to the ideology. A lethal homeopathy…

And then. Because communism didn’t only happen in Europe.

Grass Soup

But don’t read that last one until you are well grounded in your mental health.

Emotions: Men and women at work

This is a super sloppy blogpost. I wanted to be organized and profound, but I didn’t have the mental space to do that this week. It’s been a very busy week. On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about this topic for several weeks, and I should just get it out there, warts and all.

Been thinking about emotions. Those pesky things which you are supposed to keep to yourself except for special circumstances, and with certain people. Certainly emotions are unacceptable at work.

The rule of thumb is women are supposed to be all emotional and men are all logical.

I work mostly around men. I often have to spend days, strings of consecutive days, managing teams of men to get work done.

Once, I had a job site with only one person- A WOMAN. The difference was staggering. Here’s what I mean:

This woman came in, she had the spec sheet, and she had relevant questions. We talked about the work to be done, the troubles we were having about the work, and after we reached a resting point, we talked about ourselves. We talked about how we had been doing this work for a certain number of years and compared notes.

I loved that day.

When I work with a team of men, it is very different. The talk gets way more personal. We talk a lot about how each of us feels. I have heard the most amazing stories from people. I had a whole crew discuss their family problems, who had step children, and how to re-connect with an estranged daughter.

The rule makes no sense, in my experience; men are WAY more free to talk about their emotions on the job.

And this is up and down the career ladder. I work with construction workers and Chief executives both. I can be in a room with either of those men for hours at a time, making conversation. It has amazed me for the longest time that this rule is so very very false.

There is one other factor maybe that I hadn’t considered.  It is possible that I am acting as a catalyst. The fact that I am present might be the thing that makes these dudes go all open-hearted. Maybe it’s nothing but sports talk when I’m not in the room.

One of my favorite college professors told me I am like a coffee bean in hot water; I change the room I’m in. She ought to know; she’d taught classes with me in them and with me NOT in them.

So maybe my experience of men as far more emotional than women has to do with me rather than the world in general.

The few times I’ve worked with females exclusives on a job, it’s been a very different experience. That cataclysm doesn’t happen. We just do the work.

I don’t mind the extra personal talk with the men. I am interested in them as people and it passes the time. Some days can be very long.

I am SURE that in some cases, these guys are not aware of the emotional content of their communication.  Especially when it’s hostile, they are not aware that they are acting out of emotional aversion. This cool website put some good words around this experience:


the average person isn’t consciously aware of the emotion; however, the sensitive person is. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean the sensitive person will know why the emotion is there, but he will feel something. On the other hand, just because the average person isn’t aware of the emotion doesn’t. It will appear as a rationale for thinking, doing or saying something and tell us much about his emotional state and personality. This holds true regardless of whether he’s aware of this.

…sensitive people often have many emotions, especially intense ones, flowing through them, it can be intimidating or, at minimum, frustrating to work with them. It’s intimidating because they are likely aware of something that we aren’t.

I have that experience all the time. I can watch how someone will be thinking they are rational when they have red emotional paint all over their face in their reaction to me.

It is so disorienting. Maybe that’s how all catalysts feel.