Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meals on Wheels

On Saturday I volunteered for City Meals on Wheels. I arrived at the Actors Church on 49th Street at 8:30 am. Early, I walked to Food Emporium but came up empty on breakfast food options that didn't involve sausage or bacon glued on to sandwiches with cheese.  I got by snacking on coconut water and a muffin. I went back and sat in the basement of the Church with only one other volunteer. The cold snap was keeping people away, or at least that's what the volunteer coordinator suspected as the reason for a low turn-out. Due to a lack of volunteers I would have my own cart and have to handle the entire route by myself.

City Meals on Wheels provides homebound people with food for the week. On the weekend, we usually deliver a hot meal, a frozen meal, and a cold pack of fruits/juices, milks. I grabbed my 3-tier cart and wheeled over to 11th avenue where all my drop-off points were listed.

The first building was over 20 floors of rusted iron and poverty. I didn't have to look inside to know this was public housing and low-income subsidized. Blacks and Latino overwhelmingly. I walked in and the doorman was screaming at residents stuck behind a jammed elevator door, "PUSH THE BUTTON." On his side, the doorman was trying to peel the door back with his chubby fingers. I guessed this exercise had been going on for more than a few minutes. The magnet that connects the inside elevator door with the floor-door had become de-magnetized. This meant that the lobby elevator barrier was open but the elevator door itself had not been triggered and magnetized to the opening. The elevator door was stuck with two residents inside.

HOLD ON. I'M GONNA CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. The tone of doorman's words suggested this was a typical inconvenience of his job. I offered to help so I wedged my body in the tiny elevator crack that was opening up. The doorman yelled at the residents to keep pressing the button. I flexed and bent my knee by squatting, drawing upon the full-strength of my lower body to jack the door. Even though I was moving myself in between the wedge, the door's pistons were absorbing most of the push.

I went into meditation on this moment. I stopped trying to 'force myself' against a mechanical device that probably was built to withstand several thousand pounds of pressure. Then I let go, stood up and un-wedged myself. A second later the elevator door effortlessly popped open. The doorman thank'ed me profusely along with the formerly-trapped residents. I assured them that I didn't do anything. In fact, it was only when I stopped forcing it and acknowledged what I couldn't do that the door slid open.

The residents and I took to the other elevator while the doorman vowed to have the broken elevator shut down. I rode up to a linoleum lined floor that felt both sterile and depressing. I handed my 3 meals to a few of the listed residents and then left the building. I noticed the crowbar marks on the elevator doors on different floors that bore witness to an elevator, building, and people that were in a state of decay.

My last building was privately-owned glass tower. I could tell because it had well-dressed security, brightly lit hallways, and perfectly-tuned elevators that hummed reverentially when they zipped up and down the 30 floors. I began at the top floor and worked my way down.

The first apartment had J in it (I'll refrain from using people's names). The door was already open in expectation of the visit. J was an elderly man standing in the kitchen in a white bathrobe with the logo for Trump Towers threaded in gold on his chest. He looked confused and tired. I asked him how he was doing and he admitted in a deep, hoarse voice "not too well." He described the pains of his body and his doctor visits. The inability to sleep, the inconvenience, the dizziness, trouble walking, ease at falling, the lack of appetite. I placed the hot, frozen, and cold packs on his pristinely unused stove top as I nodded along in commiseration.  My view was that he could try acupuncture and J brightened up at the word. Acupuncture had really helped him. J enjoyed it, the treatments made him feel better, but his insurance didn't cover it. But sometimes paying out of pocket is worth it, if it saves your life or improves the quality of the one you're living. He nodded along as he continued to look down at the kitchen floor in anguished contemplation.

J invited further into the kitchen to read a number magnetized to the refrigerator door. I stepped in further and noticed a brown bakery box with a half-eaten cherry pie. Many senior citizens lose their appetite and only snack, but then keep pies and cookies around as their only sustenance when they want something. This causes the body havoc. I suggested that him picking at a cherry pie for two days isn't the best way to treat his ailments. He nodded but said that he was told cherries were good for him. Yes, but you're eating a pie I reminded him. You can just go buy some cherries or get a healthier alternative than stewed and sweetened cherries under a thick buttery pie crust. He told me to take it then and give it to others. I sliced the pie up into nice slices and he gave me a paper plate.

Down the hall, a note was left on the door to leave the food on the kitchen counter. I walked in and and saw a man laying on the couch looking at TV. After leaving the meals for him and I quietly closed the door and headed to the lower floors.

On another floor I met "F," a female painter in an apartment overflowing with art. We spoke for a bit about life and art. She too noted the inconvenience of a new pains she was experiencing in her body. I found myself crying by the end of our discussion. I wished her well and went down to a lower floor.

At the next apartment, E opened the door and smiled. E is a small, petite woman with doll eyes. I placed the meals on another pristine stove top and she smiled and began whispering to me about her legs. She fell and broke her leg. It's taken her 6 month to heal. E said her daughter was stopping by in a while. That reminded me of J, who said his son was supposed to stop by later. Many of these residents seemed to live in a state of waiting for their children to arrive. E. told me how she met her husband who had a identical twin. The two brothers were tall, lean, blond Gods. Women adored them and chased after them. She often mistook one brother for the other, who looked exactly alike except for a slight dental difference in teeth gaps, which was totally unnoticeable unless both were smiling brightly. E. couldn't tell the difference between the brothers until she fell in love. By then she could distinguish the two by how her heartbeat in her chest for her boyfriend and not for the other. They married but her husband passed away after 9 years. E noted that she's been a widow for over 50 years. She is a survivor and has had the morose misfortune of burying her siblings and parents. Now she's stuck here alone in this high-rise condo against her wishes. Her sister passed away a few years ago in bed. E said she went to go shake her sister and felt the draining warmth of the recently expired.

I cried all the way down the tower. All these different residents living by themselves in their old age. All of them with severe pains and aches, disappointment, and the disease no one wants to talk about: loneliness. The incredible loneliness. None of them lacked food, clothing, shelter. But all had a sadness in their eyes, at the corner of their smiles.

I exited the glass tower with a half-eaten cherry pie and an empty cart. I walked down the street looking for someone to give the pie to but, alas, there wasn't anyone out on this cold New York afternoon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

US Student Loan Debt Hits $1 Trillion

We're entering new territory. US student loan debt has hit the $1 trillion mark along with record defaults. I have many friends who are buried in debt working multiple menial jobs they don't like in order to stay current with loan payments. I know many others who have just quit the game all together. I wonder what I can do? The number 1 trillion seems so beyond comprehension. No one ever brought up student debt when the number was at $100 billion or even $500 billion. Now in a quick blurb on a website the New York Federal Reserve casually notes that an entire generation is living under $1 trillion in fees and expenses. How are they going to afford homes?

I remember how much going to college was stressed to us as children. College, college, college. One day while in high school I floated the idea of not going to college to a few of my friends. You would've thought I was suggesting torturing kittens. The look of horror on their faces was astonishing. YOU HAVE TO GO TO COLLEGE!!! I was shouted down. The fanatic reaction made me laugh and, me being a contrarian back then (which is a fancy word for a smart-ass jerkwad instigator), I pushed it a little further. What if I didn't go to college? What would happen? Would I be struck down by lightning? What was so vital about college? What was gleaned from college that was so fundamental to adulthood?  I could see the malfunctioning computer freeze seize their faces. They were beyond speech. Silence. One of them sent me a note the next day saying she went home and cried at the thought of me not going to college. I wondered if my parents of Bank of America were paying her to say that.

I made a high school mental note: people are really serious about college. I have to believe this seriousness, this rigidity didn't come from them. It was handed to them by their parents and the institutions that cater to middle-class families. Somewhere along the way, going to college became a must-have for middle America. Something felt wrong. The reaction of my friends was unnaturally harsh, like they had been programmed.

Granted, I always thought I would go to college. But I was also aware that there were other routes to life. I had the grades, I'm good at solving problems, I can speak in front of people. There are millions of jobs out there for simple, fairly intelligent men and women capable of solving problems and keeping order: they're called managers. Store managers, restaurant managers, stage managers, office managers, it doesn't matter the setting. A manager is just someone who deals with people, fills out paper, handles problems, keeps order. A very necessary function to any business or organization, but not rocket science. You don't need a college degree to be a manager. Or to be an artist, humanitarian, computer programmer. You don't even need a college degree to go into business. In fact college is a luxury for most professions and lifestyles.The only job that seems to make college education a must is teaching in college. A hundred years ago, college was reserved for those looking to further their interest in a philosophy, study religion, or teach.

I think somewhere along the way, banks got together with major universities and saw a goldmine. You have all these kids who don't know what to do after high school. Most just get a job or go into the army, or take a class or two at the local college. If we can get millions of middle class sons and daughters to buy into 4-year university experience as a must, then we're talking about a seismic shift in lifestyle and financing. Along with owning a suburban house, car, and taking summer vacations, college became the post WW II item that parents wanted in their lives. Why? Because the next-door neighbor's kid is going to college. Doesn't matter if the kids wants to or not, they're going to college because that's the kind of parents they wanted to be. Hence, the baby boomers we're pitched college as a status sign of upward mobility. Then these baby boomers had kids and became the first generation of college-educated, middlebrow workers.

My sister's generation, Generation X, was the second generation of college-educated masses. I am the third. I notice the difference between her education and mine. Her education didn't have many frills. You went to the computer lab to write your paper. A pizza party was considered high-class college life. I remember moving her out of her dorm after graduating. We could fit everything in the back of a mid-sized van. A few years later I went to college and people were backing up U-Haul trucks to the dorm entrance. You needed a computer. And a cell phone. You just did. Additionally there was all sorts of university-sponsored items and university-stamped accessories to buy. And then there's tuition. The four years in between her education and mine had a startling jump in tuition from most major schools. The average of the top 50 schools went from being $20,000 (still way too much) to being $30,000. That's a $10,000 inflation in 4 years that has not been matched by wages. Now I hear it's at $40,000.

My time in college was great. I went to a top ten university, traveled, had amazing teachers, became an artist. But if I'm really honest the $30,000 was a status symbol. Did my education (mostly writing classes where would sit around table with paper cost $30,000? No. Could I have traveled, taken a few classes at a local college, and become an artist the old-fashioned way? Yes!

Halfway through my freshman year in college my friends taped me going on diatribe in my dorm room. It's been more than ten years but I remember I was ranting about feeling cheated. The food was nice, the friends were nice, the campus was nice. Northwestern is a really nice school. But something fundamental was missing and I suspected it was missing from all of the best schools.

In the past the liberal college education was based on making better men and women. You would study ethics, law, art, history. Getting a job was not the goal. The goal was enlightenment. But now that we were paying so much money the soul of college education felt dead. Our parents wanted us locked-in to a career. No question. Okay if you want to go to graduate school but it all felt like a huge wind-up for sitting at a desk.

The world order played like a con game. Just like back in high school with my friend insisting that we all MUST go to college. Now we were in college and we were being told we MUST get a job that fits our status. And me being a contrarian, I don't take to being told by society what I must do. I don't like feeling Adam Smith's invisible hand up my ass prodding me into the marketplace of trading dreams and goals for more nice stuff. In the middle of my rant I remember stopping. It felt like I was having a revelation. That's it. First it's must-do college. Then must-do white collar job. Then must-do marriage, kids, home, mortgage, debt, debt, debt! The whole game was rigged. It had nothing to do with improving my soul or educating my mind. It was about getting the cog plugged into the machine, working it until it broke, and then replacing it with a newer cog. The entire system is a game. At the time I was 18 and had been at the top of the class my entire life. But NOW I was really learning.

After my freshman year I went through a funk. I was no longer interested in nice things. I was a radical asshole, capable of telling you everything that's wrong with enjoying your sweatshop-bought shirt, your factory-processed food, your artificially-induced bourgeoisie emotions of romance. It took me another year to move through that anti-everything phase. By the time I graduated I felt more balanced. I realized most of my friends were going off to work jobs they would not enjoy to afford a lifestyle that left them feeling more comfortable than inspired. I accepted that marriages would be made, homes would be bought, and debt would pile up. I learned to be okay with desiring success and wealth, without getting stuck in the game. Along the way, I lost money, made a lot of money, paid off most of my debt, went to grad school, and refused dozens of desk jobs.

I am 32 and I know that I can not handle settling. I would crawl out of skin if I settled into a job, relationship, comfortable view of the world. This had made for some tumult and uncertainty. Unlike most of my college friends I don't know how much money I'm earning every month. I'm a writer, producer, and artists. Some days it's great and some days it's horrendous. But I am still here. And I would never trade in this flowing, rich life for consistent crumbs.

My generation's anger over our debt is that we traded not only our money but our hopes. And we ended losing both. The lost dreams of my generation dwarfs the $1 trillion owed. The money is merely another sign that the game is not working on a financial level as well as spiritual. We have to find a better way.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Motivations That Run The World

An artist friend asked me this morning about how does one develop motivation? I thought about it and this began a long discussion. There are two motivations which run the world.


"Doing" and "Being."


1)Doing: motivation TO DO comes from the ego thinking about all the nice things it'll receive from acting in the world. A person's identity is mistakenly qualified by what is being done. The 'doing motivation' is never satisfied. Not because it is evil or wrong, but simply because it is based on a mirage. The thing being done is not real, the goal is not real, nothing is really there. We know this because every time a goal is reached the mirage evaporates. 

The nomadic ego never arrives at its destination but keeps marching on to the next mirage. There is no home for it. Not surprisingly people driven by 'doing motivation' often work themselves to death or are forced to quit at a certain time in life when their bodies and minds can no longer 'do.'  

My grandfather did just that. He died in his sleep from a massive heart attack. He never had a day off at the end of his life because his mind couldn't take it. My father is a doer. He's been crippled by massive strokes. He has lived the past several years depressed at his limitations because he can't do what he used to in the past-tense of him. He has lost his identity of what he thought he was supposed to be doing. And in this system of motivation, a 'non-doer' is a non-person. A social zero with no status or purpose. Despite our love and affection, he insists on remaining a zero. This willful, child-like stubbornness is one of the last stands of the ego. It punishes itself and refuses spiritual sustenance such as grace and love. Rather than changing its view, the ego locks down even harder on its view, causing itself suffering. It has let itself down and inflicts judgment and wrath internally and externally. Ironically this judgment is often mistaken for God's will of fate. Willful and wrathful people project their own disdain out into the world. Often this fear is masked in religion or science.

At the end the ego brings the human back to square one: what to do now? The final 'do' for the human is death or rather it is something done to it.

Doing motivation is tautological because it is the echo chamber for human existence. This person is never satisfied because they are moved primarily by fear. And if fear is the underlying engine of motivation then a person must do because they will always finds something to fear, envy, admire, or fight. The cycle is endless when you are a 'human doing.'

2) BEING: motivation TO BE comes from grace and joining w/ holy spirit. 'Being motivation' is above the world's roiling and fighting while moving through it. There are plenty of 'Be-motivators' in business, politics, and the arts. Many are famous, but most are not. The 'being motivation' rests in the soul, and not in the eternal sense. Soul in the 'Buddha mind' sense or the emptiness joined in all phenomena. There is an emptiness to the mind and there rests a pure soul. It is present in every moment but difficult to wake up.


The soul has a home. It is in the spirit. This spirit can be called Krishna, Christ, Buddha-mind. In Buddhism they describe the moment of a pure mind touching on emptiness as pouring water into water. Quantum physicist would refer to this force as the zero-point. Out of the zero-point field the universe arises. Native Americans might refer to it as Supreme Mother. Those daring enough might even say God.

Be-motivation requires a quiet, steady mind. The ego will try to trick this mind and create panic. Nothing is being done, the world is moving past us. We are losing! It's never clear just what is being lost in being quiet but the ego is effective at creating unrest and riot because it can't thrive with a quiet mind. A quiet mind finds stillness. And in stillness is grace and 'being.' Being what? Being here. Present-tense, simple, and clear.

 Being motivation can lead to being a singer, mother, or an angel. This comes from the soul which moves toward love. The ultimate love is one which includes everyone. A 'being motivated' human can enjoy interaction with the world but doesn't compete with it. Competition is impossible because the world is an illusion. Einstein and James Clark Maxwell said so and they're considered the co-founders of quantum physics. Buddhists have been saying so for a few thousand years.

A human who is being is one  who is in love with the world. They are in love because they are present. Here and now. 


 BEING VS. DOING RESULTS
There is no past-tense or future tense in being. Only here and now. In 'doing motivation' there is only past-tense and future-tense. The present is a constant state of anxiety at what is to be 'done.' There is no joy in human doing, only expectation. Conversely, human beings are frequently very funny, pleasant and alive. These human beings are often called spiritual but that implies that others are not. They are no more spiritual than anybody else, but they're just awake to now.

You can either be motivated by fear and the ego, or motivated by love and your soul. But you can't do both.

Being here is the highest type of 'human being' because in 'here' there is God. God is only here. As I write this very sentence, God is here. God isn't in past tragedies, future plans, or the holographic holocausts of images presented in the news. As Gary Renard wrote in his miraculous book The Disappearance of the Universe "God is."

Those are the two magic words at all time: God is

Monday, October 17, 2011

Underground Notes: Mad Scientists

I'm seeking to track my time underground in the New York subways in verse for a running series of poems. It's an experiment foisted upon me by the lack of time, multiple deadlines, and an agreement to create/perform new spoken word.

Chapter 1: Mad Scientists

And in walks the mad scientists,
swirling incense, clicking charms and selling potions
Shouting like a Carolina Baptists,
dancing like a Blue Grass Pentecostal
begging like a saint,
eyes scouring and scanning
for recognition, awareness. Looking for a face.

There are mad scientists underneath the city.
Cackling wild voices in echoing lairs
fall out bunkers, and hieroglyphic caves.

Mad scientists who blink their fingers
flickering lips and spittle drips from their
bursting ruby eyes,
glowing like demons.

Half-naked and shit-stained mad scientists
testing new drugs, liquids, and emotions
on the general passenger.
You see underground has the perfect test subjects
Endless variations. Nigerians dark as ebony
in white desert robes, Hasiddics fingering their curls
while reading prayers, Mongolian merchants shuffling off Canal
Korean students shoving fliers written in three languages asking 'Are you saved?'
Tattoo pierced Cross-dressed transgendered queers
and uncrossed un-pierced money-gendered Wall Streeters
shove for shoulder space inside snaking streets that never see sun.
The underground is lit by chemical torches, blinking machine red warnings, train lights, and trash fires .

And in walks the mad scientists. They must be planted at the beginning and end of each line
because they always seem to be there
waiting for me. They must know I have a busy schedule
and don't have time for the set-up. How thoughtful of them.
I'm a New Yorker, so if you're going to act
bat-shit insane I'd prefer we skip the formalities, introductions and get to the main event
Bring the Ruckus.
You have 7 subways stops to hold my attention,
scare me, thrill me, entertain me.
Afterward I will never see you again.

At Union Square, I walked into a private bedroom.
Quartered off with boxes, bags, and drapery.
He lay slumped over wrapped in loose loose
falling down loose pantaloons, half-naked.
Thin alabaster reed with a bouquet of  popping out of chest
wearing a crown of greasy string cheese. A white blindfold.
The man stood up, hands readjusting his pants in a striptease peek-a-boo
'now you see it, but you pray you won't.'

And then the zonked, blindfolded, half-naked passenger
began doing tai chi. On a moving subway from 14th St.
until the time I got at 57th St.
Naturally it wasn't a full set.
It was obscene, absurd, maybe even a bit erotic
but an experiment nonetheless.

And in walk the mad scientists
pissing in a beer bottle
while mothers hold their children's heads
and run like they've seen a werewolf.

And in walk the mad scientists
singing a whiskey-voiced collection
of Christmas tunes...
in July, wishing everyone happy holidays
and doffing his Santa hat.
I gave him some change and he sang all the way
over the bridge.

And in walked...me
42nd Street, beginning of November
rainy night. Cold, lonely, Sunday.
My eyes pre-scanned cars as they rolled to a stop
The green wool scarf twisted 'round my neck
A bell rang and doors opened.
A scramble for the dayglo lemon and tangerine colored seats
I didn't even look before sitting but we all know that terrible feeling
when we don't look and find ourselves sitting next to crazy.
The mad scientists was sprawled out between 3 seats plus the two window seats.
Muttering, snapping, snarling.

We flip open our hand-held device and have a stare-off with the screen
Muttering, snapping, snarling
We hold our phone tighter. Death grips around the LCD.
His eyes scan our faces. One looks up. He goes in.

Mad scientists muttering, snapping, snarling, standing.
Staggering up in the rocking cabin.
Gnarled and nappy he leans into a screen,
"WHAT DOES IT MEAN?"

Female PYT leaps up and walks down aisle, never
parting from her screensaver mask, peering religiously
down at her phone.

Mad scientists follows and I look around.
No one is doing anything!
A sick feeling begins sloshing around my stomach,
duty, responsibility, some kind of subway chivalry. DAMN!

I wait, maybe someone will DO SOMETHING.
Muttering, snapping, snarling he pursues her down the aisle.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN he shouts.

Sickened, the feeling comes over me: that dream-like, time-stilled
murderous adrenaline floods up from my stomach and leaks out of skin.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN!!?

I stand slowly, trying to control this sickness filling my head.
Taking deep sigh, I close the gap between us in a second.
My hands become hooks. I snag his jacket and yank the shit out of it.

The cabin floor jumps and mad scientist flies through the air.
So light, so effortless. My hook throws him like soup can.
In mid-air he's not yet conscious of what is going on. 
That he is flying.

I could smash him against the metal pole or fly him into the ceiling.
Instead, I bring him in for a soft landing. Both hooks guiding him to the floor.
He's stunned. I'm stunned. The passengers look up from their screens.

What does it mean, he asks softly.
He's a little boy again.
Putting on my best 'Daddy voice' I assure him just like my Dad would
that the most pressing issue is that he needs to shut the fuck up!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?
SHUT THE FUCK UP!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?
YOU NEED TO SHUT THE FUCK UP!

I don't feel very Buddhist right now.
The young female runs out of the car when the doors open.
Suddenly embarrassed, I run too!
A hand taps me on the shoulder and a voice says 'good job!'

What does it mean?
I need a retreat right now
I need a monastery, a refuge, a prayer.
I say a prayer, more hands tap my shoulder ascending stairs
'good job!'
No, not a good job. Very, very bad job. Stop congratulating my rage.

Adrenaline drains from me and consciousness returns.
All my awkwardness
returns twice as strong. 

I run out into the night air.
I could have smashed his skull in. But I didn't I keep reminding myself.

I could have crushed his chest underneath my feet.
But I didn't.
But I thought it.
But I didn't.
But what about next time?
Be more prepared for the experiment.
Be more aware of the mad scientists.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Karma Kilowatts

I have returned to New York to find many of my artists friends with various ailments, neurosis, and fears. Yet, i feel more free than ever. Wisely, I keep this to myself as no one wants to hear about spiritual enlightenment in the midst of their mental breakdown. If only we call all see that the enlightenment and mental breakdown are of one in the same. They are made from the same stuff and have the same potential.

So we're living in New York as young, successful artists. We have our degrees, awards, fellowships, grants, commissions, prizes, medallions, plaques, and Boy Scout badges all in order. We have our therapists, dog walkers, cat sitters, and nannies all aligned in our astrology charts streaming from our iPhone 4S. There is nothing better, we are living at the peak condition in this form. And yet this is not good enough. It will never be good enough. Panic, fear, and doubt return. These feelings can't be destroyed by they can be diverted into more running, more moving, pushing, shoving, dying.

The question isn't the world or what is to be done in it, b/c this is all an illusion. It's the way and with what intention I interact with the illusion. If I interact in a way like something is out there that has to be won, fought, overcome, run down, then the energy I'm expending is for something that isn't really there. If I recognize it's not really there then I move differently. I dance with a shadow then I'm not trying to 'get anything from the shadow' because I can't. It's not real. But I will then pay more attention to the way I move and why.

If Plato, Buddha, Jesus, Einstein, and Lao Tzu were right, then the world is just a shadowy illusion. There is no boyfriend from his own side to win or fight, there is nothing to be run from or toward. I am playing with the illusions created by my consciousness. It takes some of the 'seriousness' out of my attitude and accomplishments as well as failures. it even takes the seriousness out of my religious practice, my vegetarianism, my so-called altruistic side. Now I'm beginning to understand why the Dalai Lama laughs so much.

 I was thinking about that last night walking down the street, taking my fancy herbs, and holistic juice drinks, and vegan this and in my head I started having a running, joking conversation with my NYC artist friends...'yeah, I'm collaborating with Yo Yo Ma on a lil thing...' 'cool, well I'm just polishing off a tiny musical or Sondheim,' 'rad, I just finished editing a book for Anne Wintour...a lil chat book' And I became aware that I have artistic friends in several different parts of the country. But NYC is the only place where my friends are all doing multitasking on top of multitasking.

I came back into this city to chill and have been handed a book revision and editing job, writing script bible for webisode series, show about blues musician, meeting with a TV producer/writer about his sitcom, doing consultation for new studio opening in Harlem. 

I've been here two weeks!!!  And I'm really not trying or pursuing these things. This is stuff people come up to me and ask me to work on. It feels like NYC magnetizes me and us, projects seem to come and stick to our skin. This is my illusion. I'm grateful for it but I know it's just a shift in consciousness. There is no need to struggle with it. Btw I owe producers 3 script revisions for 3 different plays ppl want to produce. This would have freaked me out years ago. Now I laugh. It'll get done when I feel like it, when the energy moves.

Karma popped into my thoughts. Not the mystical thing, but just the unit of energy, the wattage, the literal physics definition of a karma: a unit of energy arising out of a past action. How many kilowatts of karma does it take to live and be in this city as oppose to others. And my mind began making mysterious calculations like ' 1 week of good NYC living burns as much karma as living well on Miami Beach for 3 weeks. 1 week of NYC burns as much karma as 3 months in Iowa.' 

And maybe that's why I see the illusion of so many of my high-flying NYCers with ailments, weird knee injuries, pains, psychic pains, and other stuff that a general population in their 20s and 30s should not have. The kilowattage is extreme and it's so b/c I believe there is something to do. Out there.

But then it is possible to live like a monk in the midst of Manhattan, to keep that -as Melville wrote- 'solitary Tahiti' in us safe. It's a higher form of awareness people have been coming up to me and telling me, teaching me. It is quite amazing. Every time I feel the prod of buying into that old illusion, the pride of new things, the agitation of constant comparison to other artists, I get a little message: it's not real. How can I feel the pressure to achieve or the fear of failure? These things are nothing.

I am learning to give up on nothing in order to gain everything. And as a result I get to play with the illusions of this prosperity.But I don't buy into it. It's a dance of shadow.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes recipe

From Food Republic
Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions: 
  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
  2. In another large bowl, beat egg with buttermilk, sour cream, food coloring and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, adding melted butter in gradually as well, until all lumps are out.
  4. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat, then drop in batter 1/4 cup at a time to form pancakes.
  5. Flip when bottoms are set and bubbles are forming on top and cook until firm and fluffy all the way through. 
  6. Serve warm with cream cheese or syrup.