A Pseudo Buddhist Politically Active Hothead on a Facebook Diet


Somewhere around 2005, when I was still running SLAMBoston, we did a lesbian play I wrote, and I had the privilege of really learning minority politics. I was in the play, and the woman playing my girlfriend–African-American, straight–asked me a question about lesbian relationships. And then she listened. I mean, really listened. She nodded a little, but didn’t say anything.

I kind of didn’t know what to do. So I asked her what she thought.

And she said, “I was taught that when someone in an oppressed group told me about their experience, I should just shut up and listen. And give them respect.”

I had, of course, heard this, tried to practice this, but I’d never received it before that moment. Someone curious enough to ask what it’s really like to be gay? Someone respectful enough to just listen?

And this woman had had a tough life. But she didn’t compare, didn’t compete for who had experienced the worst prejudice. She just listened.

I’m on a Facebook diet because no one’s listening. I’m super activated and pissed and very amygdala every time I get on the thing–and it sure seems like everyone else is, too. It’s an election year. No one is listening.

I’ve hypothesized, to myself (because no one’s listening), that a presidential election pushes every survival button we have. It’s all worst case scenario, all the time. Like, if Trump gets elected, will me and mine survive? Will racism and fascism dominate our country? If Rubio overturns gay marriage somehow, will I end up in a camp? If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, will the possibility of getting big money out of politics end up as dead as it has every time it’s come up before? If Bernie wins, will his ideals fall by the way side? Will my hope last? Can the earth itself be healed? Will we lose our privilege? Will the distribution of wealth keep going the way its going? Will me and mine SURVIVE?

So we scream at each other on Facebook. I’ve tried, in the first days of my FB diet, to put up humor, and people criticized and tried to suggest edits to my posts, basically turning fun into their opinions of my underlying politics, which they had, by the way, misinterpreted. Seriously? I find this so offensive and over the line. I understand they didn’t get the joke, but suggesting that I not speak? I have to say that I’ve unfriended, unfollowed, and basically been on the verge of a FB temper tantrum. Ohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..

I want to return to the listening that I was taught by my colleague in 2005.

I believe that if I am not a peaceful person, I cannot do worthwhile work for peace.

I’m only a pseudo Buddhist Queer Hothead, but it’s enough to make me stop and say…all this arguing? It does not a peaceful soul make.

Not even a Queer Hothead peaceful soul.

I have surrendered my long resentment of Hillary Clinton. I will not vote for her, but she’s become just another struggling human to me, and that’s a good thing.

The problem is, I seem to have replaced that resentment with about five others for people who comment on Facebook in ways I don’t like.

I definitely need to sit and meditate.

In one of my last posts, I threatened to step back and just meditate for the next 8 or so months. It was a joke, but I’m thinking it’s a good idea. I will sit…with my resentments and hurt feelings, with my loneliness and irritation, with my fears and feelings of being disrespected,  with the difficulty of relating in this new world…a world in which because gay marriage is legal, straight people assume they know what gay people are like. They feel free to comment on gay issues and gay politics, to interrupt gay people and tell them what their experience is or should be.

No one has asked me, since 2005, what it’s like to be queer. And me.

I’m sitting with that. It may be the hardest thing with which to sit. For anyone listening, watching my closeted lesbian mother lose the only person she ever really loved to the homophobia of a Catholic community, and then being sexually harassed and bashed myself for being lesbian, being told my writing was too gay by agents and editors, having my car vandalized (they scraped the word FAG over my diversity sticker), has not all been erased by the passage of gay marriage. Helped, yes, but I recognize that the attitude that we’re all so liberal we don’t have to talk about homophobia is, guess what? Homophobia.

Ohhhhhhhmmmmmm.

Of course, it’s never, at least in my lifetime, been an easy world. It’s all just sitting with one thing or another, sinking down, down, down, to the cornerstone of just being, which is Light.

I don’t want to have a big temper tantrum on Facebook. No matter how deeply I care about this election–and I do care, and of course I’ll vote my conscience, and I’ll continue to give money and work–I have to sit, first, last, always.

I do want to be heard, to tell my story, to heal what hurts in me and whoever else I can touch, but…

I can’t work for peace if I don’t know what it is.

Facebook diet. Ohhhhmmmmm.

There’s peace in here somewhere.

I have absolute faith in that.

We are all capable of being kind.

So I will sit. To be peace. To find kindness. To not have temper tantrums…or at least not ones that I really mean.

 

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How much is too much?


Today I wanted to write about my partner, but what calls to me as a subject is grief.  I have always hated the expression, “You don’t get more than you can handle.”  I’m all for being positive, or at least balanced and at peace, but seriously?  I have 3 cousins who committed suicide.  I imagine their ghosts laughing their asses off at that one.  I think they would say, “Dude, look, it’s patently untrue.”

Growing up, I had a super American attitude.  Up for any challenge, ready to fight the good fight, thinking I could make it happen, go for it, be a go-getter.  Developmental, to a certain extent, that attitude.  Teenagers don’t know what they can’t do, and I remained a teenager into my forties.  I say this now, knowing full well that I’ve had a life that contained more than I could handle.  More deaths, more losses, more difficulties, more people with problems, including myself and everyone in my immediate and extended family.

I don’t have an answer for the losses that come one after another, without reason, as if we’re all standing at a huge craps table, and some people have dice weighted toward tragedy.  I’ve experienced this, and I’ve watched it–my partner’s cousin lost her husband, her daughter and her mother all in the same year.  I saw her rarely, but I was always studying her to see how she was making it through the days.  I noticed how openly she spoke about the losses, how honestly she answered if you asked how she was doing.  That seemed to be how she was getting through, and I admired and admire her greatly.

I know people going through this right now, and I suppose I’m writing this for them, or maybe just to say what I know, which is what it’s like to stand, bewildered by loss, unable to understand what it means, needing to find meaning, needing to lift the heaviness, if only for a moment.

The first 10 day silent meditation retreat I attended had, as they all do, dharma talks.  They talked about how Buddhism was the bummer religion, starting with the first of the 4 Noble Truths:  Dukkha is.  Suffering is.  I can’t tell you how psyched I was when they spoke about it.  Because here is the down side of our American way–when you can’t make it happen, when it’s too much, when you don’t meet the challenge as you’d hoped, when the most recent loss brings all the others back tenfold, you feel like a loser, like everyone else is happy, pursuing happiness and getting it, while you flounder around looking for a tether.

My dead cousins are like, “Dude, not true.  The ones who think they’re tethered are clueless.”

I think we fight the randomness of tragedy, because it strikes at our powerlessness.  Of course the American way is to get up, fight through, not let it get you down.  But it DOES get you down, sometimes.  And it is worth it to admit, to surrender, to say, yes, too much for me.  It’s nice to have something to believe in, at those times.  Or at least to be at a silent retreat where the talking people are saying that we’re all in the same damn boat, and suffering is completely ubiquitous.  Pick your poison.  Or more accurately, it will pick you.

I have been trying to lean into my losses for years.  I lean in, and then I go watch some more Internet tv.  Because the pain hurts, and you know, I’m not so enlightened that I can sit with it for all that long.  But I do go back–there’s that American thing–and I lean in again.  And I find it’s true what they say–when you lean in, when you surrender, it starts to let go.  It’s there, maybe, but a little smaller, and not a pall that lies over every moment, but a place you can visit and leave.

I want to be free.  I want to honor my dead.  I want to be a good and decent human.  I want to create beauty and bring out what is inside me.  I want to live from a place of peace.  Those are my life goals, and I’m happy with them.  Only, you know, easier said than done.

I now say lovingkindness every day, and today I say it for our losses, for all of us who are carrying more than we can bear, and struggling to bear it anyhow.

May we be well.

May we be free from suffering.

May we be safe and protected.

May we live with ease.

Or, as they used to say in the church of my childhood, Peace be with us all.

 

PS–Oh, and about my partner.  She makes me believe in love.  Need I say more?

Letting Go of Fear, Class 3…or, Coping with Boston’s Sports Teams


So, after 2 weeks of finding out that I’m scared of, well, everything, I now get to do a calming practice.  This is good news.  Because sensing into my body during Pat’s games to stop my racing heart from Tom Brady’s f#$%ing interceptions, thereby preventing a heart attack ala football, will be a good thing.  I mean, what is it with the Pats this year?  Are they competing with the Red Sox for biggest roller coaster ride in history?  Not that I think the Pats will embarrass the city of Boston as badly as the Red Sox did.  I recognize that as a near impossibility.

I wish I liked watching hockey or basketball.  Well, actually, I don’t.  When my partner suggests we take an interest in the Celtics or the Bruins, I start talking about my early demise ala sports teams or her early demise ala not paying enough attention to me.

I definitely need a calming practice.

I should say that I did sense into my body to figure out how fear was expressing itself during a near interception in last Sunday’s game, and my heart beat super fast and my breathing went all shallow.  I must be having clinging to winning with sports games.  Why else would I watch?  But I must admit that my tendency toward extremes leads to…well, extreme and unpleasant bodily sensations during losing football games.

And, sports teams aside, I found that the lion statue on Huntington Avenue scared the shit out of me yesterday, partly because my partner and I had been talking about lions and I’d had a dream about lions, so, being Catholic, the statue seemed like a sign (anything that appears 3 times is a sign, not that I’m superstitious) of my early demise and when I sensed into my body my entire shoulder girdle, upper arms and upper back were tingling and tense.  That is how fear expresses itself in the jungle.  On Huntington Ave.

Once, when I was twelve and huddled in my bed late at night with abdominal pains, my father took me to the emergency room, where they did an x-ray.  They found I was very constipated, did an enema, and sent me home.  My father went around for two weeks afterward saying, “I had to pay X dollars to find out she was full of shit, which I knew anyhow.”  I still resent this, by the way.  He was way more full of shit than me, and it wasn’t a good joke and thankfully some of the people he told didn’t laugh.  I am remembering or constructing the women looking at me with sympathy.  I don’t know if they looked at me like that or not, but it’s a nice thought.

Anyhow, the point is, Buddhism is kind of like a spiritual enema.  (Am I actually saying this?)  You get the 1st x-ray.  You find out you’re afraid of way more things than you could possibly imagine.  You get the 2nd x-ray, and find out the ridiculous behaviors you have in trying to avoid said fears (including, disturbingly, a tendency to exaggerate and backtrack so you seem less powerful than you actually are…and that would be me).  Then you walk around disturbed with yourself.  Then you calm yourself down.  Finally, at some point, you investigate the fears, which has the potential purging (ha-ha) effect (I’ve done some of this, which is why I know what’s coming).

Anyhow, in Catholicism, you confess your sins, assuming you know what they are through self-analysis, and then the priest makes you say a bunch of boring prayers.  In yoga, you try to figure out what satya is, and what lies you’re missing…not the egregious lies, but the ones you tell yourself, the way you misrepresent your feelings and desires, and then you seek self-correction.  In Buddhism, you notice, sense into your body, track your behaviors and crazy thoughts, and then try to accept it all.  You do self-correct (the Noble Eightfold Path).

Here is my long-term self-correction: I do not watch Browns/Steelers games because I am from Cleveland and my partner is from Pittsburgh.  This helps us not kill each other.

I would like to only watch Pats games in which Tom Brady throws no interceptions and wins early in the first half.

I avoided most Red Sox games this year for obvious reasons.  Though we won the only one I attended, and I did enjoy, as usual, singing Sweet Caroline.  (Total tangent:  Does Neil Diamond wear a toupee?  Or is his hair just like that?)

I will now walk through my day noticing fears and using my calming practice.  There will be no analysis, especially since Buddhism has taught me that my analysis is usually fiction.

Life is full of surprises.  I have been forced by the sheer power of Buddhist self-awareness to admit I am not the most self-aware woman on the planet.  In fact, I know nearly nothing.  This, for some reason, makes me kind of happy.

I am now, at this moment, doing my calming practice, because I had a thought float in that my stupid father with his inappropriate jokes may have had a point.  I reject that thought as a fear, and I calm, calm, calm.

 

PS–Yes, of course I know that Buddhism isn’t about purging and the ridiculous enema simile is ridiculous.  I am ridiculous and I am doing my calming practice and accepting my ridiculousness and the fact that most of the time this blog is my playground on paper…without paper.

Post-Cleanse, Day 2


It’s over, it’s over, lalala, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, lalalalalalalalalaa!

I just ate a cheese sandwich.

That would be half a rice tortilla, about 1 oz. of almond cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of earth balance.

Compare it to…Beef Wellington, say, or Filet Mignon with Hollandaise, both of which would probably kill me.  But on this diet, ambrosia.

Today I also ate 2 eggs and 1/2 a cup of goat yogurt.

My partner drank water from rice that had been boiled for a long time.

I hope to be able to do yoga without falling over tomorrow.  It’s a big wish, I know, but I have hope.

I hope to drive up to Endicott without spending an extra half hour in traffic on Wed.  We’re at blocking-and-rehearsing-and-hoping-we -can-get-it-all-in-and-make-it-great time.

I will meditate tomorrow.  Maybe all day.

Obviously my brain has been destroyed by kichari and ayurvedic herbs.  I suppose a cleanse lobotomy could be a reason for nothing every bothering me again.

We’ll see.  How long it takes to find another rant.  There’s always Mitt Romney, but really, why bother?  He’s doing a good job of destroying himself without my attention.  I think I’ll leave him to it.

Good night, one and all.  Much metta.  Or something.  I have forgotten the meanings of many words on this lobotomy, so perhaps something makes sense somewhere on some planet in some language.  Perhaps.  Spahrep?

A Commitment? Really?


I think I have to become a slightly more than almost Buddhist.

Why?

  1. Well, first, no one knows if it’s a religion or philosophy.
  2. And, 2nd, the Buddha never claimed to be a god.  He just said he was awake.  Which is cool.  (Much as I love Jesus, in a non-secular way, I have to admit the Buddha is kind of cooler.)
  3. Then, the Buddha never asked for faith.  He threw out ideas and told his followers to go try them for themselves.  See what works for you, basically, was his thing.  He didn’t need people to give up their independent thinking capacity.  He truly wanted to simply help them wake up and not suffer so much.
  4. Also, there have been no Buddhist wars in history.  I’m talking about a Buddhist holy war, in which Buddhists try to conquer some people or some country.  Non-violence is the most fundamental precept of Buddhism…and unlike “turn the other cheek” (which radical Christians interpret as “oppress everyone”), it’s actually practiced with great discipline.

So, the Queen of Commitment Anxiety is considering a commitment.  I now say, “I’m kind of a Buddhist.”  Since there is almost nothing in Buddhism with which I disagree, and since I spend my time meditating and reading the literature, and since whatever/whoever knows, I am always in need of accepting “what is,” well, I’m kind of a Buddhist.

It took me ten years to marry my partner the first time…which I did with my usual emotional grace.  Note the following lines, all said by me:

  • “I have a history of fainting at religious events!”
  • “Can’t we just live together for the next ten years and pretend we’re married?”
  • “You’re a controlling, kvetching, passive-aggressive jerk and I’m going to marry you anyhow.”

My flirtation, turned affair, turned almost-commitment with Buddhism is now 18 months long, so I am definitely improving.

So, I am in the process of becoming a Buddhist.  I mean, I’m almost a Buddhist.  Okay, I’m a person practicing Buddhism.

I like that last line.  It fits with the Buddhist “no-self,” non-identification, non-clinging philosophy.  I am practicing Buddhism, however ineffectively (non-violence at every level, not engaging in road rage, self-blame or tickling my partner in the ways I know she doesn’t like is HARD).  And I am not clinging.

Works.  Sort of.

Change, Change and then More Change


You know, if you start a blog that is supposed to be about making a movie, and 98% of your posts are about meditation, yoga and couples therapy, you have to wonder what you’re thinking.  I mean, really.  What am I thinking?

I learned a long time ago that we write to discover the truths we can’t see yet.  Writing isn’t really reporting or expressing.  It’s an adventure into the unknown self.

Apparently, I must be thinking that meditation, yoga and being homicidal about couples therapy have a high degree of importance in my life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d kill to see Saint John the Divine in Iowa, the film, get made.  But as the days roll out, one after another, I have to admit that the draw to Buddhism, meditation and yoga grows ever more powerful.  I begin to wonder if I will be teaching theatre/acting next year, or the year after that.  Certainly I will not be producing theatre or film…though I may be directing/creating devised theatre (as I will be tonight, at Endicott College).

In yoga teacher training, when I stood up to practice teach asanas, peace flowed out of me into the room.  Shocking, in a way, that I had so much peace in me.  Or that I could channel it.  Or whatever.  But I find myself longing for that peace, for the feeling of it moving through me like water, touching everyone around.  I don’t know yet how I’ll get to teach that, but it seems I will, somehow.

Once upon a time, at twenty years of age, I had a 5 year plan.  Now, I only know what’s happening for the next 5 weeks.

The Hero’s Journey asks us to step blindly into the darkness of what is not known, willing to surrender control and be changed utterly by what the winds of fate have swept into our lives.

Let me have the courage to do it again.

The Lyralen Kaye Rules of Order


In other words, the world is f#$%ing with me again.

Seriously.

It has become apparent to me, in no uncertain terms, that the world and other people have not learned the Lyralen Kaye Rules of Order.  The extent to which they have not learned them is truly mind-boggling, since on some level I obviously think I’m God.  Or should be.  Or was once.

It’s unclear.

What is clear, as I’m driving down Route 28 to Stoneham yesterday behind a woman going 5 miles under the speed limit, is that things are not going according to plan.  And then I arrive at the theatre and everyone has a different opinion of the piece we’ve created.  And then, through no fault of her own, someone I’m supposed to meet is late.  It kind of goes this way, one thing after another, from birth onward, as the fact that I am not in charge becomes something that no amount of denial or obsessive control will change.

I wonder why no one else seems to have the same rule book?  And don’t they all know I’m right?

And then, because I am now officially a pseudo-Buddhist, I notice that I think these things and experience a moment of complete awe at my own insanity.

Then, because someone is late, I take a nap.  I love naps.  Yesterday, a day of relentless busyness, had no room for naps until someone was late.

I did, however, rudely pass the woman driving so slowly and weaving left and right so no one could pass.  I mean, I’m not a candidate for pseudo-Buddhist saintliness.

Then I go to yoga teacher training and it’s all on ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (honesty), asteya (non-stealing) and brahmacharya (celibacy).  That’s a great way to realize that you yourself are not exactly following the Eastern spirituality rule book and to fall, splat, into a nice pond of humility as you realize you’re unkind to yourself if not others, that you project an image when you want to be real and that you steal, covet, use your attractiveness and charm in a multitude of ways in order to get what you want and basically are a lower life form.

Then I came home and looked at the pink Cadillac convertible my partner bought me at Graceland last weekend.  This made me feel unexpectedly better.  Unexpected because I’ve been playing my favorite game with her (that is in no rulebook whatsoever).  The game is called, “If you really loved me, you’d….”  For about 10 years, the end of that sentence was, “Buy me a pink Cadillac convertible.”  (I always go for the gold.)  She won this round of the game by being very sneaky and getting me an Elvis-like toy instead of the real thing, so I’m working on a new version of the game, which, no doubt, any couples therapist would point out as extremely dysfunctional.  If they knew about it, that is.  But they’re not going to find out from me, satya or no satya, and my partner is so happy with herself for figuring out the Cadillac thing, I bet she’ll keep quiet, too.  Besides, I like this Cadillac.  If she got me the real thing I’d have to drive it around and look like an idiot (so I guess I set up this game pretty poorly, underestimating her craftiness in all ways).

Anyhow, in the Lyralen Kaye Rules of Order, manipulation in the pursuit of pink Cadillac convertibles must have a place.  I feel guilty saying this, because I got many of my rules from my German mother, and I know she would find the whole Cadillac thing ridiculous, garish and in poor taste.

New rule:  break all the German mother rules.

My epiphany for the day.