Friday, June 30, 2006

The boy let Maira know his party was over by falling asleep on her. Ah, to be three again. When I try that people talk smack.  Posted by Picasa

Brother Sun and Sister Moon, together on the red bed. She started talking a couple days ago, just a simple "unnnh"s to get our attention. Sure does catch one off-gaurd at first, and so dern adorable. She already smiles too, whereas the boy didn't smile like that for another couple months. Darling devils. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

Start Writing

Writing brings out ideas and memories when done right, and the stars line up to dance punk rock underwater ballet. Thoughts race by in vehicles whose propulsions systems hum lights years ahead of their time, crazy kids. Aloofness abounds, gets belligerent, demands war. Scalpel & I retreat to my labyrinthe of Martian canals, dissecting Bradbury's brain while he cries "I CHANNELLED it all, NOTHING to do with me!", painless through yellowed paperbacks, rolfing, and acupressure. Ah, to just write, free of judgement or cohesive expression, whistling up & down country roads on moonless misty nights, the double-yellow line glimpsed once every three or four minutes, the sound of gravel underfoot steering legs back towards asphalt, miles gone by, miles to go, dozing while ambling, whistles at fears forgotten in a rusty dinosaur that drank it's last gallons of gasoline in the land time forgot, cold ears & nose numb. Sure, this may read like rough draft drivel but it's endearing snapshotz ruff-draft drivel to me, and Abraxas knows a repressed memory could slap half my vocabulary out of my head any moment now, now, now, well, maybe soon. All seriousness & idiocy a side, we had a kriller birthday party for the boy last weekend. Humble gratitude clarifies itself as an powerful ally.

Monday, June 19, 2006

No male or female, no rich or poor

"According to the world there's male and female, rich and poor. According to the Way there's no male or female, no rich or poor. When the Goddess realized the Way, she didn't change her sex. When the stable boy awakened to the Truth, he didn't change his status. Free of sex and status, they shared the same basic appearance. The goddess searched twelve years for her womanhood without success. To search twelve years for one's manhood would likewise be fruitless." --The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, translated by Red Pine from 'Wake-up Sermon'

Bodhidarma knew what the deal. Gender has become as real to me as race, national borders, and military intelligence. Yet another clever illusion, a veil to be lifted, a comforting but doomed idea.

Last week I went to see a stage reading of Myth Smashers, a play put on by Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE). The play entertained us all well enough, and provoked quite a lot of thoughts and memories for me. Memories of how rough kids often treat each other. Bullies of all ages tend to focus on difference or perceived weakness. Attacks I experienced didn't depend so much on whether or not you were of a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation, but if you were perceived as such. Man oh man did I hate bullies, and in my rapt hatred at times became one, and oh man oh man did I hate myself, although it was fun writing K-I-L-L on my knuckles. So long ago for most of us, but happening as I type to someone.

The play brought good memories too, like of all the counterculture kids I grew up with, people with all sorts of family arrangements that I'm glad my mom never taught me to trip on. Not everyone's mom can be as cool as mine, so I was heartened to see the COLAGE people getting the message out and having fun.

Bodhidarhma also writes, in his 'Breakthrough Sermon' "Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch a fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language."

Language take us so far, but not all the way. That I like. Language attempts to fuddle my mind on a more or less constant basis, so try thinking in colors, sub-sonic vibrations, submarine songs of heartbeats and blood in transit, anything to get away. Buckminster Fuller tried not talking for more than a year to shake his brain up. Talk, talk, it's all talk.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not all fun and games child rearing. He conveys his feelings well. Just stay back from the bed cause he has no qualms about getting physical to defend his sad angy space. We all know how much we loved to be photographed crying. I'll admit I have a mean side, all in the name of science, like eugenics. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Call of the Wild Road Bike

Threw the stack of rolled up carpets off the rusty, red, thirty-something year old, thirty-something pound Nishiki Sport last Saturday. A few pumps of atmosphere in her tires, a minor adjustment to the front brake, and we were one, ready for the paved world. Quintan drove over from the city and we made our way to debating routes on a sunny but blustery unseasonably cool June day. A couple months or so had passed since my last ride, and longer than that since my last road ride, so the relief of snapping that pedaling lull added to the high. The overhanging trees, the nervous cars, the almost silent zim of my tires on the road, the three whomper acceleration cranks followed by the steady cruising metronome pushes and pulls on the drivetrain, the creeks that flowed under the highway and through my veins conspired to rev me up and force a fire in my eyes. Not a very long loop, just through Orinda to Lafayette, back across the 24, and over the hill some pomposity name the Orinda Downs. The Downs sported many a mansion and some nice country views but had a distinct and distasteful planned community Ritchie Rich and his dog Dollar vibe. We succeeded in keeping the rubber side down and not letting anyone pass us, the usual basic goals. A group of three pigeons played the game of flying ahead 100 yards, standing there until we road up and then doing it again, and again. What goes through those bird's brains? Some kids had TPd the hell out of some nice old trees at the park; rich kids tend to crime strong in my experience. I would never think of wasting valuable toilet paper, especially on majestic matriarch trees, and I'm verifiably criminal minded. Ok, ok, I threw a few once upon a time, but not my own toilet paper, and it was over a crappy cookie cutter house wherein dwelt one 12-year old Ricky Layton, one of the many Santa Rosa kids I never did like. The ride ended in no time so it seemed. The bike rolled off to relax in the garage and my name became Papi again. Thought about how much I am looking forward to helping my kids experience the engrossing thrill of estimating speed in relation to the tightness, smoothness, and width of a curve, releasing the brakes and leaning in, pumping out while estimating the next, crouching for it, factoring in the shadows of the late day and roadkill mines. Steel's real. Rise up & ride the revolutions.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fatherly Love

The joys of fatherhood defy description but their wonder insists that I convey something. Rushing trying to get out of the house to work this morning, but all time stopped when the new daughter reached out with her eyes and started interacting. Her eyes grow continually more alert, focussed and full of portent as the weeks go by (week 6 is upon us). I danced with her in my arms, her gaze steady up at me, pressing her hair into my left arm, looking as quiet, alert, and relaxed as possible for any human, bonding by any other name. Couldn't conceive of running out the door just then. Got that beautiful sunset, height of the party, indelible moment, oh yeah, THIS is having fun feeling that pulled no punches. The gaze we shared allowed vast galaxies of understanding to flow between us, felt like standing next to a mighty river as it slips over a cliff, ever deep and humbling.

The boy also never ceases to amaze. He asked his mom "Can we go to Burning Man?" out of blue the other day, after looking at one of our framed photos. Saw a new purple tie-dye dress his sister got, and stated with a certainty that made us wonder "That's for concerts". A rocker and a roller, right on out of controller, just like his Papi.

He misses the breastfeeding he sees the girl getting, lays down as close as possible to the action, and has perfected projecting the eyes and look of an infant at will. He gets upset if I work late, and doles out love like nobody else. We share the moon, the stars, the wildlife, tasty foods, good music, love of water, so many blessings.

Like 50 Cent raps: "If I die tomorrow I'm happy how my life turned out". Hard to feel less than fulfilled with so much timeless wonder in my hands. No less than all the time in the world for whatever other summits line themselves up. This will be the summer I teach the boy to swim. Think back to when you learned to swim, assuming you know how. Now let's live it again, good as it gets.

Heard that Sweet Honey in the Rock song based on the Khalil Gibran poem "Children", and it hit me like never before, strong, strong, wise. Poem reprinted here for easy perusal:


And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, 'Speak to us of Children.'

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

--Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Toddler Discipline

Took the boy to the city & back on the BART & Muni trains earlier tonight. First time on BART in about a year, and his first time on Muni ever. He talked to people, looked out the window, got scared in the tunnels, a regular human on mass transit. He loves trains, so I figured he'd be happy as pie the whole time, but he wound up have a kicking, punching screamfest on the BART on the way home, wanting to get off at each station, clawing the glasses off my face, etc. I admit I'd been warned about keeping him out past his bedtime; an idle warning not. I stayed calm and redirected his attentions before driving too many patrons to utter distraction.

Discipline of children has many nuances, forms, and repurcussions that have had my brain and hands quite engaged in recent weeks. Not long ago I got a copy of 12 Point Buck by Killdozer, which is an old favorite of mine that got damaged years ago and is hard to find. The disc holds many excellent lyrics, but the one that mesmerizes me the most, that I find myself chanting for hours, is the opening line from Cotton Bolls: "When I was just my father's son he would beat me in the head with the butt of a gun". Now, my mother did not mete out any corporal punishment directly to me, but did let a couple of her boyfriends try me on it, and my brothers' dad did threaten me with one of his guns one rural drunk night. I loathed the spankings and slappings, never trusted any of those fuckers that laid hands on me; still gravitate to violent solutions.

In March 2002 Scientific American published an article titled Scars That Won't Heal: The Neurobiology of Child Abuse about how the changes in the developing brain associated with mistreatment often last a lifetime. According to the article males receive the most damage from neglect and females the most damage from sexual abuse. Those brain changes can make it difficult to "Just get over it" or fix it with psychotherapy. Behavior modification based on negative reinforcement formed the cornerstone of my early learning on the subject - rub the cat's nose in the shit said my mother's mother; my old dog Thurber used to yelp and cower as dude beat and kicked it for barking too much; make them fear and hate you even in the undeniable light of their love for you. Learned so much by taking the dogs we have now to puppy training school a few years ago, positive reinforcement based. I believe that many folks these days don't plan on beating their kids, pets, or lovers but end up doing so out of anger and desparation, reverting to what they were raised on. Those kids grow up to kick their dogs and smack their daughters. I very much hope that the wife and I can make it through raising these children with a minumum of negative reinforcement and zero smacking, but easier written than done.

Very clear to me so far shines the fact that to focus on a behavior encourages it, and that ill treatment of a person stands a good chance of propagating through countless generations, causing untold grief and sorrow.