20 Oct 2008, 8:00pm
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life and love and dreams

today i helped a little girl make this. i think it was going to be dye. it’s made of water and every different kind of cool-looking flower and leaf we could find on the property, all mashed up together. she’s staying here with her sister and her mom. they are the most curious kids!

later we went to kehena black sand beach (all the beaches on this side of the island are black sand, i guess. there’s one at the southernmost tip that’s green sand, though, i hear!). we drove on a road called the red road because it used to be paved with red volcanic rock of some sort. i like the way names linger.

let me tell you, all this clambering over lava rock is really fulfilling the eight year old in me!

there’s a rope swing at the beach:

we sat on the beach looking up at the big houses on nearby clifftops, and someone said, “that’s, like, one of my goals. to have a place like that… except i’d share it, all my friends and loved ones, everyone would have their own room.” i am really familiar with that dream, but i think that it is actually a selfish fantasy. to have one’s loved ones on a shelf in one’s kitchen, so to speak… that is not love. our loved ones may not have the dreams we do… to love them is to love them even far away–but not to mourn them, whatever direction their own life and love and dreams may take them.

19 Oct 2008, 10:40pm


in my meaningless quest to document the undocumentable, today i may have succeeded a few times.

before i came here–or maybe i made that up, maybe i decided this just this afternoon–i’m not sure it matters–i decided that i would take what this island had to offer me and give to it and the people i found around me what i could. taking what comes, etc etc. i have no idea what i can give–except, i don’t know, an open heart. blah!

today i went with six other people to a tiny secluded beach called fox’s landing. for most of the day we were the only people there. a few other people were there for awhile, before it started raining (it rained on and off all day)–long enough to machete open a coconut for us to drink the milk from. this is what i mean. about taking what is given to me. i feel showered in gifts.

we spent the whole afternoon exploring, and part of the evening, as the sun set… words are, as usual, inadequate. here:

from up on top of the cliffs surrounding the beach, you could see the plume of steam where the lava flow hits the ocean!

we found our way out of the jungle to the car again and drove just down the road to the parking area for the lava viewing–hiked out to see the plume again, glowing red, and the path the lava took above us, also glowing red…

the lesson of the volcano is this: the earth is as young as it is old.

there is treasure all around us.

17 Oct 2008, 5:45pm

there you are

today’s walk was towards pahoa.

on the way i talked a little about the reasons why i’m here in hawaii, instead of, say, india (i was supposed to leave tomorrow…), and the person i was walking with reminded me of john lennon’s words: “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

so there you go. and here i am.

it is the kind of beautiful here that requires superlative superlatives. the most beautifulest! (however, i have four mosquito bites on my right kneecap alone right now.)

we passed lava tree state park and wandered in.

lava flowed over and around trees, encasing them, and the trees rotted away, leaving the negative space around them.

kissing trees!:

getting caught in the rain, embracing the rain, walking the wrong way, finding the right way, sweetbread, kind and gentle people, edible greens in the garden, two sweet cats…

oh and everything everything everything lives (reacts!):

16 Oct 2008, 3:57pm
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love, rain down on me

someone just put on yoshimi battles the pink robots (only my favorite album of all time!) in the common area here. could this place get any better? yes, there could be communal tea, or i could’ve thought to buy some last night when i got (minimal) groceries.

but, guys, this is how my day has gone so far: i woke up with the sun; i made breakfast; i stood outside and looked at the amazing jungle all around me; i got a tour through the volcanic crater in the middle of the property (~200 years old, totally forested over, but with a volcano tube of unknown depth); i used the outdoor shower (there’s a mirror behind the showerhead, so if you turn around and look into it you see yourself and the rainforest and that’s it); i was offered seeds from a giant lilikoi; i watched a woman and her dog crack open a sprouted coconut together, i was offered some of that too (it’s kind of like eating a sweet sponge); i made a sandwich for later and set off down the road towards the ocean, about four miles away.

last fall on my first day in europe i walked from salisbury, england, to stonehenge. it seemed appropriate to begin this trip in a similar way, but i didn’t actually think of the parallel until i was most of the way to the ocean. the walk was really lovely. a good chunk of it was through a mango grove, and there were rotting mangoes all over the ground and the smell in the air was amazing. the smells and sounds of the jungle are incredible. all last night frogs were singing.

it started raining when i was maybe half a mile from the ocean, and by the time i got there it was pouring. it was pretty much everything i hoped for.

it stopped raining and started raining and stopped again. i turned around and walked back up the road again. maybe a mile back, i ran into somebody who’s also staying at the hostel–he got in last night, too, and we shared the ride here from the airport. so i turned around and walked with him. we found this:

a warm pool in the jungle maybe twenty feet from the ocean.

this is tropical paradise, folks!

15 Oct 2008, 2:23pm
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making home

(i am still figuring out how to make writing here work for me. a lot of this entry is cobbled together from entries i’ve written elsewhere over the past few days, but i think that the whole created here is more than the sum of its parts. so.)

i am in the honolulu airport right now. i’ve got about two hours left here. a four-hour layover to save a hundred bucks or so. for lunch i ate greasy chow mein and some yogurt. where is my papaya, huh!? waiting for me on the big island, i bet.

i’m pretty excited and a little apprehensive. i have never traveled like this before. i am going to stay (more or less) in one place for a month! but only a month. i am having visions of the jungle the same way i had visions of walking on viennese cobblestones in the snow last fall. it ended up raining in vienna, but it was great anyway. of course. but expectations are unavoidable. in pahoa it is supposed to be 81 degrees and raining for the foreseeable future. dripping through huge green leaves, right? big fat warm cleansing drops?

i spent the past few days at my parents’ house near seattle, packing the dusty and neglected museum of my life into boxes. it is a bigger job than i or my parents anticipated, and it’s not done yet, though i have filled eleven boxes with books and mementoes and notes and journals and scraps i can’t bring myself to throw away. i read a story some time ago–i guess it was in extremely loud and incredibly close, by jonathan safran foer–i couldn’t remember, but some friends identified it for me (thank you!)–in which the narrator is shown around a small museum by a woman–the woman has basically collected together all these artifacts of her husband’s life and lovingly arranged them. she’s telling the narrator about this object or this other object that played whatever role in her husband’s life. at the end of the story, the narrator finally meets the husband, who says something along the lines of “my wife has been showing you her museum? very good, now come see mine.” and his museum, of course, is all about his wife. i thought about this while sorting through my things.* the thing is i don’t care what any of this crap makes any one else feel… i just like the way it makes me feel. making discoveries. the note on the back of a picture pulled out of a picture frame; an old address book; a film canister full of sand from a certain beach; love notes left with small presents on my desk in college. really very cozy to remember these good things that i have had in my life.

the boxes i packed will be as much an adventure to unpack as they have been to pack. if i were a famous artist i could totally get away with arranging everything in glass display cases with little explanatory notes, like, “white feathered wings to be worn around shoulders, gift from first love, circa 2002″ (those are kind of beat up. i haven’t decided yet whether or not to keep them.) or “wooden canoe paddle, 5′ long with painted ‘CF’ logo, earned for excellence in canoeing august 2000 at camp fernwood, poland, maine.”

i have so much “STUFF” but, i dunno, i really like museums. there you go: that is a truth of me. home is where i keep the footnotes to my past. my proof and documentation.

anyway my parents are moving to portland, of all places, which is why all the packing and stacking. my brother is pretty sure he’s moving there, too, from the bay area. i was surprised and delighted to hear it, a few months ago. portland is more home all the time, and i am pretty sure i could not have picked a better place. this is all tied together… i admire in a sorta aesthetic way people who own only what they carry on their back and have only enough books to fill their windowsill, that sort of thing; but i am an accumulator. i would not enjoy traveling like i do if i didn’t have such a clear solid knowledge of the home i am returning to. beautiful.

of that home: my last night in portland: at a friend’s house where six people with six different musical instruments (guitar, acoustic bass guitar, guitjo, accordion, viola and bagpipes!) played a jig together and a kitten with an enormous fluffy tail named breakfast climbed across my lap. i asked how breakfast got her name. her name was “food” until they realized a dog who also lives in the house knows what “food” means. why food? the kitten really wanted food. i wonder what it would be like if everyone were named after their deepest desire, or even just something they wanted. i wonder what my name would be.

i feel that i am in control of my own destiny. this is not a feeling i take for granted anymore.

my heart is in so many places at once, and instead of feeling as a result like it is nowhere (as i have often in the past), i feel like it is everywhere.

* Give back your heart / to itself, to the stranger who has loved you // all your life … Sit. Feast on your life.
–Derek Walcott

10 Oct 2008, 3:00am
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my love is stretched thick

i am having a lot of trouble meditating and finding peace lately, but tonight i walked from downtown, where i saw a beautiful piece of theatre*, to home, through my city full of rivers and bridges, wet roses, brambles and blackberries, lavender and rosemary and juniper, clouds and sun showers and moonlight, potholes and highways, friends and strangers, and for two and a half hours i prayed with my whole body.

god bless; bless god. and by god i mean something like this:

and oh so very incomprehensibly much more.

image credits:
orion nebula from spacewallpapers.net
mandelbrot set from wikipedia
earth at night from space from wikipedia
robert smithson’s spiral jetty from here
mp3 experiment #4 from improv everywhere
paper cranes from here
cherry blossoms from here
all other photos taken by me.

* i saw eurydice, by sarah ruhl, at artist’s rep. the script itself is beautiful and the performance as a whole was very affecting and enjoyable. i recommend it.

9 Oct 2008, 11:50pm
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making noise

JONI [first woman president of the USA]: (On stage, in front of a mike) When I was a young student I went to what was then the Soviet Union and there I was asked by another young student, a Russian, what it was like living in a democracy. I guess I was tired of being a spokesperson for America, so I just said, “It’s noisy.” I think it’s important to remember that as we go into a new campaign season. Silence is bad, except for meditation and I guess, sleep. Some people have been talking a lot about the war for control of the culture–I think it was me, actually. Anyway, long live partisanship, as long as I get to keep mine. I’m not interested in consensus or finding a common ground with some of the factions in this country. I have nothing in common with the Aryan Nation or Focus on the Family, but history and geography have stuck us together. In fact, we’re all stuck with each other, and as more and more family members–yes, I did say family–as more of the family arrives from all over the world, diversity is the only consistency. So please just look for a President of the United States, not a President of the United Culture. We will never have a United Culture. We will never be a “people.” We will always argue, and sometimes viciously. You’re waiting for me to say “But…” and end on a positive note. But I already have. The good news is the noise.

–from lips, by constance congdon