27 November 2008

I just recorded my Thanksgiving episode for "Stories from the Road." I hope you'll take a listen!

25 November 2008

It's been almost two weeks since I posted an entry here. In that time I've been working my ass off rehabbing a log cabin behind the house I am presently staying in. By rehabbing I mean cleaning out literally decades worth of crap; hundreds of boxes, 400 sq. feet of straw and sawdust on the second floor as insulation, and just a lot of other stuff. I also hired a carpenter to put in windows, build stairs to the second floor, and build a wall between the living space and the car port.

Tomorrow I will pressure wash the interior, and then shop-vac it. This weekend the woodstove will be installed (fingers crossed!) and then I can move in. It will take some work to get it tight enough to hold heat, but it's definitely within reach. I am looking forward to being in the space. The cabin is over 100 years old, pretty funky, but with all we've done so far and a good cleaning, it's going to be a very sweet space.

Today I had a very nasty experience with the credit union in Vermont where I used to bank. Long story short, they tried to screw me out of $2500. I am so sick of financial institutions who act like they are doing the customer a favor by allowing us to access our own money, and who gouge the customer with fees every chance they get. I am so sick of being lied to, and having procedure and policy used as an excuse for dishonesty and theft. At this point, if all the banks fail, I will say "good riddance." I swear, in this country people seem to value money over life, over human connection, over just about everything!

I've made a point of simplifying my life significantly in the last 4 years, but I still deal with these financial institutions. I see them as parasites, sucking energy, in the form of money, out of people's pockets. Luckily I am savvy enough to make a stink and stop them from screwing me 99% of the time but there are plenty of people out there who are not savvy in those ways, who are being ripped off by their bank or credit union. It's really disgusting.

I'm watching Obama appoint his cabinet, as we all are. I'm disappointed in some of his choices, especially Hilary Clinton for Secretary of State. Hilary is anything but a peacemaker, which is what we need. It's also disappointing though not surprising to see how many Democratic machine players are being selected. It would be nice to get some really new players in the game, people who are not beholden and whose integrity has not yet been gnawed away by Washington politics. Ah well, as I said, disappointing but not surprising.

12 November 2008

Possessions...interesting concept. When I left Italy I boxed up most of my stuff and my kind friends there agreed to mail it to me in the states. This was mainly because I (finally!) realized that schlepping 80 pounds of stuff was doing a number on my injured spine.

The boxes were sent in mid-September and one of them arrived today! Hooray! My stuff!

I got rid of most of my material belongings in 2005 before hitting the road. It felt great to lighten the load,and to give things to people which they would enjoy. This period of waiting for my stuff has given me cause to further reflect on this issue of ownership. I miss my warm clothes, my jeans, my hiking boots, my drum! Now that one box has arrived it seems very likely that the other box will also arrive, but the length of time in shipping allowed me to confront the possible loss of my stuff, and I didn't like it. I didn't freak out. It is, after all, only stuff, but it's nice stuff that I cannot afford to replace.

Attachment is attachment, even if it's to a small amount of stuff, or to an idea. Even attachment to the idea of non-attachment is an attachment.

I have a dear friend who stopped having contact with me this summer and never said why. I think it's because he felt more attached than he was comfortable with, and so in an effort to eschew attachment, he stopped being in contact with me. I have felt sad and frustrated by this, but accepting...everyone needs to do what they need to do. I do think, though, that being attached to the idea of not being attached is kind of a paradoxical set-up.

The election happened. The person I voted for in the presidential race won. I have had more than a week to notice my attachment to the intensity of feeling I had about the election. Now that it's over I can resume being attached to watching and commenting on the government. There is a new piece now though, which is the hope that the new administration will be more human, more caring, and more honest than what we've had for the last nearly 8 years. Attachment to hope.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism have touched me, taught me, inspired me. Now, however, I am seeing the irony and paradox inherent in the quest for non-attachment.

11 November 2008

Miriam Makeba died this past Sunday. She was a musician, an activist, a mother, a champion. She was Mama Afrika. You can listen to my tribute to Miriam Makeba from the "Stories from the Road" radio show on wbkm.org.