Archive for August, 2013

claire’s first day

…at her new school, so completely San Francisco that it started with a drum circle. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new community center, then the traditional school opening ceremony with music and singing, and for the first time there was a space big enough for all the parents to attend.

The first graders looked so wee, and the eighth graders so hulking. I hope Claire makes friends; I hope they love her for her shiny awesome; I hope she is happy.

I thought, a school like this would have changed my mother’s life.

engine empire, cathy park hong

the booming trade of information
exists without our paid labor
what to do with all this leisure
I blink at my orange trees

spangled with captions,
landscapes overlaid
with golden apps and speculation
nudging hope like the sham

time machinist who returns from
the future, convincing
everyone with his doctored
snapshots of restored

prosperity and a sea full
of whales huge as ocean liners
singing the call-note of our
relieved tears.

my friends, though

All of you who have texted or DMed or emailed or called; all of you who saw me and gave me a big hug; all of you who came to dinner and brought your kids and dogs; who dragged me out to ride; who said how sorry you are and what a shitty thing it is (it is); who sent flowers; who listened or held me while I raged and cried: all of you. I do not know how I would have gotten through the week without you. What did I ever do to deserve you all? Thank you.

My mum is brave as a lion, which we knew. My sister is magnificent. I wish they didn’t have to be.

fears realized

My mum has cancer.


I dreamed that we and everyone we know had been drawn into a large corporate cult. We walked around the glassed atrium of a sandstone building with excellent natural light. I kept running up to friends – Shannon Lee, Shannon Engelbrecht – and saying “Cult! Cult!” They’d nod gravely but edge away from me.

I found a terminal and tried to message Jeremy, but the screen said: “Blocked.” I saw someone leading the a group of children outside, Claire and Julia among them, and I ran after them calling their names, but they had been told to ignore me.

I woke up in a panic. The cult is life itself, and when you notice that it is a cult: that is death.

seriously, this book, you guys

Don’t listen to me, listen to Zed:

Impro’s the finest book on teaching, learning, creativity, and human interaction I’ve ever read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who ever has occasion to teach, learn, create or interact with humans.

Suppose you have a job that was once the job of your dreams, but which for several years has ceased to feed your soul. What do you do? If you’re me, you accidentally read three books that form a strange, powerful trilogy.

The first book describes a young man who is paralyzed in an accident, and who goes on to become a yoga teacher. It speaks to you for months before you understand what it is trying to say: that some large part of your self, though you can’t feel it, is still part of you, and that you have ignored it for too long. The second book describes your predicament in more detail, the writer having dwelt there in the darkness herself, and gives you a passphrase that might open an occult door: “radical self-possession.”

And then you might pick up the third book, this book, which is so simply written that you might be deceived into thinking that it is simple. It is not. In fact, it recaps the earlier material:

Yat also talked about people who were cut off from sensing areas of themselves. ‘He has no arms,’ he would say, or ‘She has no legs,’ and you could see what he meant.

A ‘guru’ doesn’t necessarily teach at all. Some remain speechless for years, others communicate very cryptically. All reassure by example. They are people who have been into the forbidden areas and who have survived unscathed.

Then it goes off in an altogether unexpected and impossible-to-paraphrase direction.

A story is as difficult to interpret as a dream…

This is the book that pioneered “Yes, and…”, the improv technique in which actors do not block one another’s offers but accept and build upon them. Doing this in the large, between actors, helps people do it in the small, with the many different voices in their heads. The walls come down and the energy flows in and out of the walled-off places. I can feel the blood running through my whole body. I can feel sleeping parts of my brain coming online. I can feel where I am blocking Jackson, and feel how to let go, and feel the energy flowing between us.

The titles in my accidental trilogy, by the way, are Waking, Depression and Impro. This amuses me.

My new job is great. And even if it all goes cattywumpus, it was worth it just to make the change.