Sunday, July 31, 2005

Plunging into the Target

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bad Manners

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Stain No. 2

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Friday, July 29, 2005


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I shot this on our last trip to the Getty museum in LA. It's not a good photo, but it seemed like a good point to leap off from in discussing compassion. I know watching the nun and her charge that I felt a great upwelling of pity and compassion, for both of them. I watched the nun cut a piece of fruit and feed it to the girl in the wheelchair. Every few bites she'd take one herself, so the two of them could share the experience, I suppose. Or she was hungry too.

I imagine both lives as incredibly circumscribed and incredibly bountiful. The nun has chosen her path of austerity, chastity, and service, love of the lord spurring her to turning her whole life into one ongoing act of self-denial and spiritual grunt work. The girl in the chair obviously did not conciously choose her cross. Her suffering is imposed on some level. I don't want to minimize her suffering or 'steal' it for the purpose of some pat spiritual lesson or musing: I worked intimately with handicapped and mentally ill people for years, both in hospital and residential settings, and I am under no illusions about the quality of their lives. But. I wonder if, in some cases, there is not a spiritual 'endowment' that comes with this great suffering, some ramping up of the inner life to compensate, in some measure, for the awful external loss?

Okay, maybe. Maybe not.

But how about on the level of simple intimacy? The act of another human hand putting food into your mouth? The most primitive and primal expression of love, of compassion... surely this must strike a chord of comfort at the very least, must communicate on a cellular level that there does exist some force in the terrible world that loves you, even the stricken and malformed, even the least one.

I just want us all to know a moment of peace, no matter how bitter the world we find ourselves in. And these two, for a few moments on a busy day in a glorious place, fed each other and my dream of a world where compassion finds a way.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dinner Table II

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Samsara, Wrong Number.

I was thinking about this as an experiment. I've tried it, actually. What do you think?

Day 1-

Get up. Turn on the news, eat breakfast, read the paper, have coffee.
Go to work and listen to the news on the way.
Get to work, check email and headlines.
Talk with coworkers about politics and the war.
Eat lunch at McDonalds and hurry back to work.
Work. Think about how fucked up everything is.
Stay late because you are behind.
Drive home fast and mad. Listen to the news on the way home.
Get home, turn on TV if it isn't already on.
Eat dinner in front of TV or with TV on, talk to family about the news.
Watch news.
Drink a beer or a glass of wine or three.
Watch a movie or sitcom until you fall asleep.
Crawl into bed and have nightmare.
Get up too early and turn on the news.

Days 2 through 2,000:


Experiment No. 2-

Day one:

Get up too early, lay in bed. Before you do anything, think about what kind of day you want to have. Imagine that this is the very last day you'll have, and that by eleven pm you will be cooling on a slab in a green-tiled basement room somewhere. Imagine that this is a secret and you can't let anyone know. Think about this for a second. Imagine all you'll miss. Notice how all your "problems" of money, stress, job, car, etc. vanish. Notice who you want to be with one last time.

Shower. Check yourself out as you do. Skin, how good it feels. Wiggle your toes. Soap up and let the hot water run all over your bad naked self. Mmmm....

Get dressed. No TV. No radio. No newspaper.

Eat breakfast. You can have whatever you want. Eat it slowly and savor each bite. Don't talk.
Just eat and drink.

Put dishes in sink, wash them, dry them, put them away.

Kiss family members good bye and tell them you love them.

Go to work. No radio. No iPod, etc. If driving, roll down window and listen and breathe. Look around.
Smile at someone.

You may sing as loudly as you wish for as long as you wish. You may tap your toes and the steering wheel.

Go to work and really notice and greet and listen to the first five people you see. Imagine that they are going to be dead by the end of the day, too. Find out something about them you didn't know but that they've always wanted to tell someone if only someone would ask them.

Ignore email. No internet.

Take on the first task and really settle in to it. Breathe. Get it's shape and depth and width and go do exactly what it asks of you to completion.

Take a break. Walk around, get a glass of water. Go say "hi" to the boss and to someone like the guy who empties the trash- go up the chain to the top and down the chain to the bottom. Treat both people the same, that is, as if they were the most important person in your life at that moment.

Go back to work.

Lunch. Eat somewhere new and take a friend and no TV, radio, newspapers, sports talk, bullshit. Just eat in silence, or ask them questions like "What's the happiest you've ever been?" or "What's the best thing you ever did for someone?" and then listen till they are finished.

Go for a walk.

Go back to work and do what's asked of you with a grateful heart and as if it is the last, best, most important thing you'll ever do.

Drive home and watch the sunset or the nightfall and no radio, news, etc. Sing if you like.

Get home and turn off the TV. Eat dinner with family. Savor each bite, savor the faces of your loved ones gathered around you.

Go for a walk in the dark after dinner. Bring anyone who'll come with you.

Read a book for an hour and have a glass of wine unless you are an alcoholic, then have a glass of water or tea.

Listen to your family as they get ready for bed, and check in with them for the last time. Remember, you'll be dead
in an hour or so now, so really let them have your full attention. They can't catch on, only you know what's coming.
But pay attention.

Lie down in bed and look up at the ceiling and replay the day in your mind. Notice the things you did that caused pain to others or yourself, and promise yourself you'll try not to repeat those kinds of actions. Notice the things that you did that made others feel good, smile, etc. and promise you'll try to do more of those things.

Fall asleep knowing that tomorrow you will die.

Day 2 through ??


A Curse Shall Light Upon the Limbs of Men

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Small Progress

The past few weeks the reality of the world's ugliness has been at the forefront of my mind. The hatred, intolerance, and fear of mankind for itself is in terrible display. Most of us live in conditions that, if they don't outright kill us by disease, starvation, or violence, wear away at our souls to such a degree that we become bitter and hopeless or angry enough to kill ourselves and lash out at the unfair world at the same time. The idea of killing babies in their mother's arms comes to seem the only way to adequately express our hatred and despair, our own endless pain.

I guess.

So, hell is here on earth. That seems, on the face of it, to be a reasonable conclusion. Now, the Buddhists will say that this hell is of our own creating, that all these suffering souls suffer because of:

1. The Karmic retribution for their own past bad acts and lack of understanding and compassion, and
2. Their mistaken ideas of reality that prevent true understanding, and thus the growth of compassion and the breaking of the grip of samsaric reality.

The nice thing about this belief system for someone like myself, who is relatively pain free and lives an incredibly bountiful existence, is that I can look at the dead, blown up babies and mommies and say, "Well, really, it's some working out of seems horrible, but it's a mistake to take any of that too seriously. It all works out in the end."

It feels awfully pat.

I can't make out an answer that works for me, although I am inclined to just 'make room' for my own lack of understanding, and to view the suffering of others around me as a goad to my own weak and pitiful sense of compassion. As a way to break the ego's grip on my world-viewing contraption, to shake it loose so that I might be able to see with new eyes.

And, of course, it is also true that Heaven is here on earth as well. Or Nirvana. Call it what you will, every joy, every happiness, is available to us here and nowhere else. It is all dependent upon the individual, I suppose. A combination of careful looking, of trying to see without judging exactly what is, from moment to moment, as well as flooding the world inside and out, with all of the love and compassion you are capable of producing. Not to change the world, but to love it as it is. With the ugliness. With the terror and pain.

How beautiful we are in our distress.

How beautiful you are in your pain.

How beautiful indeed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dinner Table

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Regard All Dharmas As Dreams

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Way to Open The Heart Is to Release Yourself From Expectation

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Things As They Are

Coffee’s tepid. I put in too much milk.

A dead fly
on the window sill, another
on the table.

What Charles Olsen said was right.

The light advances.


I listen to the sound of water moving in the aquarium behind me.
You shake your spoon over your bowl like you’re holding a fish
by the tail. Dog fur clings to the sleeve of your black sweater. We
are not speaking. You clear your throat, one hand
holding open a book, the other dangling that piscine spoon.

Nothing jumps up from the bowl to claim it.


You say you dreamed that you were kidnapped by a mob boss.
You started to like him. The two of you tried to make love, but
something kept happening.

That’s how it is in dreams.


Soon our daughter goes off to boarding school.
A few weeks left of the phone ringing every five minutes,
a few weeks of exasperated disdain for our parental
excesses, a handful of mornings to catch her
asleep in the bed of her childhood, her arm cast over the belly
of a soft, white bear.

Still the light advances.


Yesterday my mother called, distraught. She thought her neighbor
had been killed in an accident and she asked me to find out
if it was true. I called in and confirmed it: a vehicle vs. bicyclist
fatality on Highway One, between the Castle and San Simeon,
a guy coming home from work, her neighbor.

I called Mom back and told her. She got so sad. She takes misfortune
as a personal affront. It knocks her socks off. She said “Oh,
I feel so bad.”

I agreed it’s always sad.

She said, “I don’t know how you do it, every day. Stuff like this.”

Her voice sounded so far off. I knew there was something to say,
something that would connect her pain to what makes sense.
Some way to connect her heart to mine.

I didn’t have the words. When she hung up I wanted
to reach out again, but did not.

The danger’s everywhere, is what I should have said.


Your blue breakfast bowl is in the sink now. I type away
and you have just closed the door behind you as you step
out into the back yard. You are going to work in the studio
with scissors and a needle. Something wants cutting,
some other thing stitches.

You’ll bite the edge of a sheet in your teeth and tear,
rending it in two for your art.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Prison Song

Was reading Alan Dugan's Poems Seven and was struck anew by the force of his vision, the density of his wordwork,
the sheer bullheadness and love of the stench of life and its better twin. Here's a sample I love:

Prison Song

The skin ripples over my body like moon-wooed water,
rearing to escape me. Where would it find another
anilmal as naked as this one it hates to cover?
Once it told me what was happening outside,
who was attacking, who caressing, and what the air
was doing to feed or freeze me. Now I wake up
dark at night, in a textureless ocean of ignorance,
or fruit bites back and water bruises like a stone:
a jealousy, because I look for other tools to know
with, and another armor, better fitted to my flesh.
So, let it lie, turn off its clues, or try to leave:
sewn on me seamless like those painful shirts
the body-hating saints wore, this sheath of hell
is pierced to my darkness nonetheless: what traitors
labor in my face, what hints they smuggle through
its itching guard! But even in the night it jails,
with nothing but its lies and silences to feed upon,
the jail itself can make a scenery, sing prison songs
and set off fireworks to praise a homemade day.

Ed Gives Good Directions

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Heart Has Four Chambers

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Understanding How Experiences Arise

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005


This week has been a dive back into the ugliness of the world. Last year I took this very creepy child molester off the streets, seriously the scariest guy I've ever dealt with, and I had to go through hundreds of hours of child porn videos and thousands of images as part of the experience I would like to put behind me for good. So yesterday a bunch of us went out to his place to do a probation search. Of course, he's back at it. We arrested him and seized more stuff, nowhere near the amount we got last time, but enough for a new violation. The wrinkle is he now wants to go in, do his time, and come out with no probation- no search terms. Which he can do in a few months of time, versus the three years of probation we currently have on him. Of course, the only reason he wants this is that he wants to keep doing his thing, and he doesn't like having cops all in his shit, harshing his mellow and bringing a lot of negative energy around.... So, I did good, went out and caught the guy again, but now I lose the best tool I had on him. Its a frustrating lesson.

I know I'm doing all I can, but it is scary knowing that all I can isn't enough.

In addition, I have a bunch of cases all reaching crisis points at the same time. I could have used five of me today and still been behind by lunchtime. And I haven't been running in almost a week, and I'm not sitting meditation, and I'm not writing poems, and the roof needs fixing, and the back door still needs to be finish trimmed, and I want a damn martini but I'm on call this week. And SWAT training on Sunday, so only one day off for the week.

Listen to me bitch.

So, what about my understanding of the beauty of the world today? Doesn't that soothe me, don't it make all my troubles go sailing away? Well, Mr. Bliss? Mr. Milk of Human Kindness?

Yeah, not so much.

Okay, that isn't quite true. So lets look at this situation through those blissed-out eyes of a week or so ago. Yes, you are busy. Yes, bad things happen, and you participate in them. Yes, there is more to do than can be done at times. You feel bad. You aren't living up to your own ideals of proper conduct- neglecting your diet, neglecting your practice, neglecting your exercise, your writing, your home life and family, and these decisions are, in turn, making you feel even worse.

So what is the answer to your problem?

Drink more, exercise less, resist taking action, and grow more resistant and more unhappy and so on and so on?

Perhaps not the best choice.

So, perhaps, take a few moments tonight to sit. Fifteen minutes. And spend fifteen minutes talking to your daughter. Fifteen minutes listening to your wife, really listening. Fifteen minutes hashing out your problems on your blog.

Then go for a long walk in the cool evening air. Take the dog, take the wife.

Let your problems be your problems. Let them stay with you, make a little room for them. Don't be such a bad host to them.
Find out what they are doing coming around. Ask what they have brought you and what you can give to them. Don't be in such a hurry to send them on their way.

After all, more new problems are coming to take their place. Get to know these first.

don't forget to be good to yourself. meaning go for a run with Detective _________ tomorrow. Meaning breathe. Stop off at the beach on the way home from work and walk for ten minutes in the sand and just stand there and soak up the breeze.




That's it....

Monday, July 18, 2005

In Which Things Are Explained, But Not Revealed

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Deja Vu or Something Like It

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Up Late

I started a long list of things I am grateful for, but it did not have the magic I wanted it to have. Its true, what I love is mundane: the beauty of the physical world, the way my body functions as it was intended to, the fact that all my basic needs are taken care of, the fact that I have a wife who loves me, a perfect daughter, a great job, art, poetry, friends, a keen mind, a strong body, a fearless heart full of love for the world in all of its broken grandure...

the regular stuff.

For years I struggled with depression. I did not know how to cope with it, and it dragged me down pretty reliably. It hardly ever kept me from going to work, but it wore on my family and on me. For weeks at a time all I would want to do is sleep, or drink until I passed out. Everything was bland and ugly and meaningless, and getting out of the deal was the only thing that made any sense to me. Luckily I was never so overwhelmed that I lost site of the love of my family, but it was the sense of obligation to them that kept me breathing, not any desire of my own.

But for the past couple of years I've been free of the debilitating effects that depression used to have on me. I saw someone for a couple of months who kind of turned my head and helped me step onto this path I've been on, and I decided to take the reins of my life into my own hands in a way that I had never done before. At first it seemed like the worst kind of fakery:
making all these lists, monitoring my self-talk, meditating, understanding my feelings, dealing with my rage, etc. Whoo-hoo. I felt like an idiot.

But I was so miserable that I was willing to do anything. And that is what pain does at its best. It helps to dislodge you from your current place and nudge you toward the light.

So now I find myself a changed man. Sure, the weather still blows in from time to time, and I feel the old soul-numbing gloom sweep over me, but it no longer has any power over me. Like a cloud that obstructs the sun for a moment, but does not touch the sun. The light dims, but the wind shifts soon enough and the light returns as bright as ever.

What I have learned is that I am responsible for my own happiness. What a trite little lesson, but a hard won one. How freeing this knowledge is. It is not my wife's duty to make me happy, or the President's, or vodka's, or God's.

It's just mine.

So now I make sure that I do this most important job every day. I wake up, and I make a deal with myself to have a great fucking day. I promise myself to see the beauty in the simple things. I look at the sky. I watch the ocean. My heart lifts along with the birds as they take wing in masses from the eucalyptus trees that edge the highway. I treasure the aroma of the morning coffee, the sounds of my wife and daughter still sleeping as I get ready for work, the joyful presence of the dogs as they slap their tails on the floor or nudge the back door to be let out....I make a point to really see the people I work with, to really listen to them, to find a moment or two every day to just be with them and let my own preconceptions go....this is an amazing exercise- you should try it. How full of ourselves we always are! These people are always surprising me with their humanity, their dramas, stresses, joys....

I play hooky. I treat myself to ice cream, or a beer, or a long, long run....whatever I want, I give to myself. As a gift. In the spirit of loving kindness, and in the certain knowledge that my days are numbered.

If you are your own best friend, you will never be alone again.

And I have learned that compassion, once awakened, is the most powerful force you can know. I found it easier at first to have compassion for those I loved...compassion for myself was such a foreign concept that it took a long time for me to accept it as a valid stance. But once I did, the whole world changed.

I'm still learning. I am still too quick to judge, too quick to dismiss, especially the people on the fringe of society, the homeless and lost...its easier for me to imagine I am compassionate toward them that it is to actually feel compassion for them when I am confronted with them in person...but I'm getting better all the time.

I love this life. I am grateful for it all.


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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Welcome to the Center of The USA

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I once saw a machine whose purpose was to
represent a yellow chair
that exploded into four pieces which flew
out into four corners and then
into a yellow chair.

The machine was hidden in the black background.
The machine embraced the pieces and flung them about.
The machine was hidden and flung the yellow chair into pieces.
The pieces rejoined. The machine rejoined them.

In the midst of an autopsy I have always made a point
to tell the funniest joke I know and also to make Doc Walker
explain again the parts of the brain as he slices through them.
I tell him that the machine makes representations
of a yellow chair. I ask him if he can show me how
to put the yellow chair back together again
after the big show of flinging it all around.

He tells me the brain weighs this many grams.
He shows me the corpus callosum. The beautiful medulla

Two sides of the same coin

I wanted to put this out on the main page of my blog because it addresses the primary conundrum of this existence
in a nicely clear cut way...

Anonymous said...
But what if we don't love the world?

And what if the world doesn't love us back?

What if we never look in other peoples' faces?

I might as well be tugging my father's shirttail asking: Where does God live? Or: Daddy, am I going to die?

Do what he did. Point at the sky.
And lie. Tell me I'm going to live forever.

Tell me the world loves me--and that I love it, regardless of how brutal, how ugly it can be. Tell me that even though I can't meet peoples' eyes, that they still see me.

I took 2 personality tests tonight and discovered what I already knew: I am intensely introverted, and selfish, and brutal. Which is why I won't sign my name here tonight. But you know who I am. You know me.

To quote Bishop: When they write my epitaph, you must say that I was loneliest person who ever lived.

To which I replied:

Well, you certainly have a valid point. I am the last person who would try to pretend that all is sunshine and light in this samsaric realm. In many ways, the only rational stance is to see the evil in the world and in ourselves and to face it squarely and say "this is bad."

But some people do live in the light. This can't be denied.

So what does this mean for us? Is it delusion?

Perhaps. But it seems that to deny the light is as incorrect as denying the dark. Each day the sun rises as well as sets. Half of every day is flooded with light.

And even in the darkest night, some light leaks out.

For me the key has been to keep my eyes open at all times and to let each moment unfold without judgement as to the moment which preceeded it.

Not "is this moment good? is this moment bad?" but

"What is this moment?"

"What is this moment?"

"And, now, this one?"

A second key has been the decision to treat myself as I would a stranger. If a stranger came to you and said "Oh, I feel so bad. I am ugly, I am mean to my children,
I have failed at this or that," would you respond to them "Oh, yes, and look at your ugly clothes, and your stupid face. And what about letting your parents down? Everything you do is stupid and inconsequential, etc..."

Well, maybe you would, but I hope not.

So I try to treat myself with the same compassion I would give to a perfect stranger.

Then I try to treat myself as a friend.

When the oyster is clamped shut, it takes a tool of razor sharpness, a great deal of force, and a sure and certain hand to pry it open.

It won't happen if you just sit it on the plate and wait.

But, oh, it's fresh and salty and good once you get the bastard open.

Ms. Finch Visits the Bucket of Blood

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005


So one of the reasons I do this blog is to wrestle with the twin gods of this world: beauty and horror. As a poet and an artist, I recognize that I feed from both troughs equally. As a human creature I crave both equally. Horror takes me down into the depths, and Beauty lifts me back up into the light. So who am I to complain when the cup I fill at horror's trough is more bitter than I'd planned for?

Drink up.

And is there a choice, really? Jack put up a link to an article on the sandbox the other day (,00.html) written by a guy who had a stroke ten years ago. The guy wrote a book about his experience,
all well and good, but now he feels haunted by the stories of people who live in the "world of pain" that have contacted him
and told him their stories. He says he feels like a lightning rod for other people's suffering.

He goes into some depth about this "hidden world" of suffering, people with cancer, crippled, maimed, their lives of joy
cut short by accident and disease, etc. And he makes the point that this hidden world is waiting for all of us. We are all
in the doctor's waiting room.

No one is spared.

And this is true. This is exactly how it is. But this despairing message seems to miss the point. There is no escape, that
much is certain. But what do we draw from these experiences? How do we structure our inner lives so that our pain serves
to enrich us, enrich the experience of being alive?

Fuck if I know.

I have a certain set of imagined beliefs that address the loss of a loved one, the suffering of the innocents, the big Karmic wheel spinning through its complex and timeless permutations, but what do I know? Can I put forth a proposed system of beliefs about suffering when I can walk and talk and see and taste and hold my wife and daughter in my arms?

Where do I get off even pretending to have tasted suffering?

Of course, I might point to the fact that I move in a world of suffering, of evil and ugliness, and so have some insight-
but I don't know how much watching other people suffer, or even suffering vicariously through them, matters.

Yet I persist in both moving in that world and trying to make sense of it. And trying to make sense of my own world by extension.

Look into the faces of everyone you meet, and you will see yourself again and again and again.


Yesterday I was scooping a guy's brains off a tree stump, a suicide, and it just seemed like the most normal thing in the world to be doing. The guy from the funeral home that came to take custody of the body was acting kind of funny, and it turned out it was his first time out, first pick up. And it kind of stopped me in my tracks for just a second, and this vast parade of all the dead body calls I've been out to in the past twelve years just flooded through me...

It made me feel a little old, a little jaded.

Which, to be fair, I am.

So. Is this complaining? I don't think so, I hope it's not. It's just taking stock.

Detective __________ says the only way to deal with it is to "just push it down, and push it down, and push it down, and put a cork in it, and push it down some more."

Love for the world is all we have.

The Fallible Gods

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dirty Martini

A wonderful Sunday has transpired here. Yardwork complete (well, the front garden, anyway) and my other obligations met,
I'm sitting down now with the dregs of a dirty Ketel One Martini (w/blue cheese stuffed olives) and feeling pretty good. I got a check from Gulf Coast for fifty bucks for the poem they published. Thanks, Gulf Coast. I am now a paid poet. For whatever that's worth. It feels good, though.

I cleaned all three fish tanks and gave everyone a good water change, so I don't feel guilty anymore when the fish look at me sideways. Cash got a five mile walk this morning, out Rodeo grounds, across the highway, up through the woods and down to the beach, then back through town to home. A beautiful day all around. Sun, wind, blue skies. The motorcycles are droning through town, coming back from the Laguna Seca races, but other than that our little burg is quiet and slow.

Someone said something to me the other day, a small matter, but it got under my skin. I worried and worried it, knowing there was no point to it but not really willing to let go of it. The more I fussed over it, the funnier I was to myself. I can really take myself pretty seriously sometimes, especially when I deny that I am doing so. Ego is a subtle and confounding opponent. When you vanquish him, he will appear behind you, congratulating you for your victory and telling you how wonderfully ego-free you are!


Only days left in this lifetime. For each of us. This particular one, I noticed. This particular one I had gratitude for.

How many I have squandered already. How many left.

Presence. Awareness. Gratitude.

Dirty Martinis.


I've Been Wronged

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Saturday, July 09, 2005


It's nothing new, but while walking through the woods this morning with Yolie and the dog, we stumbled upon the truth again. The world is what it is. The ten thousand things. Good and evil. Yin and Yang. So what determines the experience of this world, that is, how it is subjectively apprehended by the individual? Two people can witness the same event, eat the same meal, meet the same person, and come away from the event with entirely different experiences. The data are the same for all of us, but we extract a unique experience from them.

So what determines the experience?

Well, I'd say that you see what you expect to see, what you condition yourself to see. That is, you create your reality for yourself from a largely undifferentiated morass of potential. For myself, I live in a world of pogniant beauty and love, of art and friendship and reading and wine and good food and great sex and much snuggling and touching, balanced with evil, danger, fistfights, car chases, courtroom battles, stake-outs, boredom, despair, death, mayhem, torture, abuse, righteousness, natural disaster, and crimes against humanity. Meditation and instinctive aggression. Love and more love. The evil makes the sweet things sweeter. The love makes the evil bearable.

So. I aim for present moment awareness at all times. Be here now. And then keep my eyes open. See what is there before me. What was hidden. What comes to the surface, what retreats. And then gratitude. Always, gratitude. For my beautiful body, for my senses, for the world to move about in, for the love that surrounds me, for the mystery, for the unfathomable, unknowable all.

Presence, Awareness, Gratitude.

Maintain these and the Universe is yours.

Friday, July 08, 2005

under my skin

Okay, I swear I don't want to make this place into some kind of confessional, oozy swamp of bad feelings and bad facts, but today was a bad day and I feel the urge to purge it.

I was already in a kind of thin-skinned mode with the Joseph Duncan murder/molest story and the general ugliness of a large part of humanity, when Detective __________ asked me to go with him to talk to a child molester who had just been released from prison. We like to do a kind of welcome wagon thing for them, let them know how we are going to be there for them, help them readjust to society, keep an eye on them, ensure that they get all of the attention and help they need, etc.

So I won't go into details, but this guy's crime was horrific. I guess each one seems horrific in its own right, but this one, well,
was bad. I mean, when I get bent out of shape about it, it's not your run-of-the-mill abomination.

So Detective ________ and I are all chummy with this guy and, this happens sometimes, I just could not stand to be in the room with him. But I know that we are doing something important, something that just might make a tiny bit of difference.
Something that might keep this guy awake at night, hearing our voices, seeing our faces, and sort of re-evaluating the need to do something awful to another child- knowing personally who we are and how, well, enthusiastic we are about our jobs, and etc.

Some times your armor works and the shit bounces off of you. Some times the shit finds a little chink in the armor, and it penetrates. This time it did.

So this thing sucked, and Detective ________ and I really took a shine to this guy, I mean, we had a live one. One of the beautiful things about being a detective is that I work with guys who are super sharp, really incredible machines who sniff out and probe human weakness, ugliness, evil, and Detective ___________ and I were all in this guy's shit. We knew the subtext of every excuse he offered, knew the truth behind the lies he told himself. We drew him out of his scared little shell and got to see a little bit of the real monster he is.

What is it they say about the banality of evil?

Any way, we did our job. We kept it civil, we kept our tone polite, we smiled, we commiserated, we showed our own flawed the end we both agreed that we communicated very effectively with this person....

All I could think about the rest of the day was ....well.

And that was the morning, and the afternoon continued in the same vein. All day long I felt I was swimming in excrement,
and now all I want is a bath. Or a hundred martinis....

I love life, I love humanity, I love so much of this world. But some days you eat the tiger, and other days the tiger eats you.

Today the tiger ate me.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Spartanburg

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for Jim

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Capsule 6

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Gisela und Heinz, 1989

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sunrise at the Bucket of Blood Saloon

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How to be Happy

How do we nourish and maintain a grateful heart? My wife pointed out today on our walk that it is very difficult to keep the precarious nature of the world we take for granted in mind. We go through our daily routines trusting that the stove will heat the water for our morning coffee, the sun will come up, our house will be whole, things will be as always.

But there are these little reminders of the fragility that jar us from time to time.

Last night we woke up to another earth quake, a small but noticeable thump and rumble, and it put us in mind of the last big one we went through, and once again the light goes off in our heads and we remember to be grateful for what we have.

Or we learn that our close friends are divorcing because of an affair, and our own marriage is both more endangered and more beautiful because of it.

On friday I took a statement from the hospital bed of a sixty year old woman who had been raped and beaten and left for dead by her son. Through her shattered teeth she told me how he attacked her, turned on her, in a way that she simply could not comprehend. I spoke to the father, also beaten badly, who described finding his wife, naked and bloody, on his son's bed, so badly beaten that he could only recognize her because of her colostomy bag. The daughter bleeding and dazed as well. None of them able to predict when they went to bed the night before that they would each awake to a utterly changed world.

Our blindness is willful. Not one of us can go through a day without a thousand reminders of our own sweet mortality, but how many of us live as if this day is the last and only day we'll have?

If we could learn to do this, how wonderful could our lives become?

When I come home from a homicide scene, bone tired and shell-shocked, my secret is that the entire precious world glows with golden light, and when I gather my beautiful wife and daughter into my arms and breathe in the scent of them as the dogs whine and slap their tails against the floor and force their wet noses into us so that we will include them in our embrace, then I know more vividly than ever that I won't ever know a deeper happiness, a more complete and tender love.

For them, for myself; for the living, and the dead that we will each become.