November 7th, 2016
I dream of a world where people live small. It’s happening. It’s a meme.
Small houses, small gardens, small vehicles, small pleasures. Small incomes. Small needs.
My path is to live and to model that life. Enrich my networks. Take care of what I have and get rid of what I don’t need. Place myself in situations of humility and of trust: monasteries, communities, neighbourhoods, islands. You can’t be small in isolation. Living small means asking for help, accepting it, giving it back.
My caution is to resist letting my needs mushroom mindlessly. The goal is to simply stay small.
October 11th, 2016
The angry molar is gone. In its place is a stitched excavation bleeding into a wad of gauze. Before Dr. Loo yanked it out I ran my tongue over its pitted surface one last time and thanked it kindly for almost five decades of loyal service, but when he asked me if i wanted to keep it for a souvenir, i declined. It was a good long run but it’s over.
I could rant on about the scam that is the dental industry but I won’t. Well actually i will. It pisses me off that the only people who get all their dental bills paid for them are the ones who can easily afford to have their own teeth fixed. If you work for a corporation or institution you make a fat wage, plus get your teeth fixed and your glasses bought and a year off to tend to your babies. Self-employed people, or part-timers or wage slaves, have to foot their own bills and those bills are high. I’m not talking about cosmetic dentistry, I’m talking about the care we need to maintain our health and our livelihoods. It’s not easy getting a job, let alone a date, with no front teeth. But Canadian medicare covers none of it. Why? Who knows?
Am I just a little bitter about that? Hell yeah. I know it’s my choice to live outside the box, but I’m pissed. I know couples who have not-one-but-two cushy benefit plans, so simply choose to mine the fattest and let the other one lapse. I’ve thought about placing an ad offering my services—sexual or otherwise—in exchange for an unused spousal benefit plan. But since I’m legally married now I guess that’s no longer an option.
Which leads me to the next possibility—the dental vacation. In the works: a trip to Merida, Mexico, where D. will brush up on his Spanish while I brush up on my teeth. It is rumoured that the well-certified and gringo-friendly dentists of Merida can repair my congenitally crappy teeth for a fraction of Canadian fees. That, plus a few cheap margaritas, should go a fair way toward relieving my dental malaise.
September 4th, 2016
I’m living the monk’s life in my green turtle bus, up on the bluff over the lagoon.
Wake up, chop wood and carry water, wash my panties in a pail and hang them to dry in the sun. Sit a bit, stretch a bit, watch the tides roll out and in. Out, and in. Soak some beans, then boil them slowly on the two-burner hotplate, seasoned with garden tomatoes, zucchini and herbs. Eat. Wash. Empty toilet bucket into pit. Sleep. Start again.
I wonder how my monk life will mesh with my married life … I wonder, but can’t know. The beauty is, we are grownups. We make up the rules. It is my life, it is our life, it is art: all one grand experiment.
August 10th, 2016
Dig this: Carmen is getting married. Yes you heard that right: CARMEN is getting MARRIED.
I’ve been super skittish about outing myself on this because frankly, it is about the scariest thing i’ve ever done in my life (and i’ve done some pretty scary things).
What is most scary about it I realize – what is actually flipping my stomach over and keeping me awake nights – is not that i don’t want to do it, or that i think it is a bad idea. I’m into it. What is scaring the living shit out of me is that getting married totally messes with the carefully constructed edifice of identity that i have spent 53 years building up. I swore I would never do this, and ha ha, the gods laughed. (The gods on their mountain snicker into their sleeves when they hear the words ‘never’ and ‘forever’.) Read the rest of this entry »
July 23rd, 2016
I sat this sesshin with my best buddy, the angry Molar.
The Zen retreat was at a small Tibetan Buddhist center at the foot of Black Tusk, in the forest near Squamish. I got a ride up to the retreat with Kaye, an RN specializing in mental health care. She counselled me to take Ibuprofen at regular intervals, and if my face puffed up, to get myself to the hospital pronto. She also divulged my job assignment for the sesshin: I was to be Ino. The Ino’s job is practice coordinator, aka, mother hen. My job was to care for everyone else’s pain. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2nd, 2016
My bike got nicked while I was running the door for PattiPow’s choir concert, at the Korean Hall at Hastings & Clark. The ol’ slippery pole trick got me. I locked my bike to a sign post with not-one-but-two heavy-duty U-locks, and even gave the pole a firm tug to ensure that it was solid before I walked away. The thief simply pulled out the bolt at the bottom of the post and slid it out. Bike vanished, U-locks and all.
PattiPow hugged me and said don’t worry chum, I’ll help you. Tomorrow we will go out and look for your bike. We’ve done this before and we’ll do it again. Conrad Schmidt was loading a/v gear into his van behind the Hall when I came trudging down the alley in the rain, feeling pathetic in my yellow bike jacket with my helmet on my arm like an empty shell. Quick, jump in the van, Conrad said. We’ll drive around and look for your bike. Read the rest of this entry »
June 18th, 2016
When I help a customer in the bike shop to choose a new lock, my standard spiel includes: “…and it comes with five identical keys. Don’t carry them all around together”.
So guess what I did?
Five days ago with the best of intentions, I finally reclaimed my old mountainbike from Red Sara’s crowded shed. This is a strange little brass-coloured mutant my brother Bennett bought for me at a Toronto auction maybe 15 years ago, which I brought back to Vancouver on the plane. It is a weird unlabeled prototype with fat aluminum tubing, high-quality components and fancy gold axles. Read the rest of this entry »
May 17th, 2016
Silent in the zendo face to the wall, Sangha surrounds me. Conventional wisdom says that the reason we gather is to support our practice, but I wonder again whether really the practice is just reason for sangha. Stripped down to essence of presence we don’t even pretend to drink coffee or walk or even talk. We just sit. Together. That’s enough.
I am thinking about Sangha:community. About why we need other people, and the ways we have of satisfying that need. I call up a friend to have coffee, play Scrabble, walk in the park, go to a show. Read the rest of this entry »