Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the pink house, part omega

(-Hey, Tina. That house isn't pink.) (-Don't I know it?)

Go back here, if you haven’t caught part nothing and part two.

the pink house

the pink house, part two

It’s sold. A guy bought it a couple of months ago for a ridiculously small sum. We would have held out until the market turned around some day, in fifty years or whenever that might have been, but we owed my mom the money and she needed it now, while she’s still alive. So that’s it. Done. Gone. Closed. Sayonara. And the bottom dropped out of the market mere moments after the deal was done, so we feel like we got…lucky? We got something, anyway. A little cash that looked nice in our bank account for a minute until we funneled it over to Aino*.

*My mom. I never know who’s new here. Right, and why would I? I think it’s optimistic of me to imagine that somebody’s new and needs to know my mom’s name, like they’re ready to invest all the way in this operation. “Now who’s Aino? And what’d I miss?”

The Pink House is no longer pink, so that helps me let go a little. It was such a ridiculous color, and I didn’t choose it – just inherited it – but I loved it, the way you love some goofball quirk in one of your nearest and dearest. Like the way my mom uses the Finnish pronunciation of the letter “y” whenever she says the word “mystery”, so it comes out sounding like something not too far from “moosetery”. “That’s mooseterious!” It’s a respectable sage green now, with cream trim. All of the inside walls are white (except for the kitchen - the kitchen is pale blue), and the wood floors have been stained dark to cover all of the imperfections. (Hat tip to Lucy, the Rottweiler who lived there briefly before I moved in, who smelled my fear and decided she was against me, fucking up my home away from home. I spent the two months that comprised her reign of terror at my boyfriend’s place, wishing she would go away. And then Kristen moved to NY and Lucy found a new home and I moved in.) (In your face, Lucy.) Goodbye pea green living room, orange & white & blue kitchen, red bedroom, blue bedroom, emerald green bathroom. Goodbye, silly floors, with your tiny nails that kept popping up to stab us in the foot. It looks pretty, but I almost don’t know it any more.

And then there was the renter, and the terrible thing.

He stopped paying his rent a month before he left town without warning. I called and talked to him before he left, and tried to work out a deal. I mean, we were clearly going to get stiffed, but I thought he might make a little more good-faith effort if I was cool and understanding. (Yeah.) And after he left, a friend of his moved in and squatted there. So we evicted him. Them.

We got a call from a friend of the family, Mark*, who was going to do some work on the place before we put it on the market. They’d vandalized it. They went to town.

*If you read the story “Convoy”, Mark is Irving. Irving changed his name to Mark long ago to woo a lady. It worked. They’re still married.

Mark painted over the worst stuff before we could see it, with whatever he had at hand, but it was still shocking to see what had happened. In the kitchen, in the bedrooms, in the hallway, bathroom, basement, everywhere. Black….spray paint, I guess. I don’t know. The thin paint bandage applied on top looked as horrifying as whatever was beneath it – a bright, nauseating surgical green. So you couldn’t see what they’d painted. You could just see black masses of paint lurking beneath the green bandages, with black “blood” dripping down the wall beneath the main injuries.

It almost doesn’t matter how it looked, although it looked gruesome. It’s how it felt, that’s the unforgettable thing. Gut-twisting. Something violent hung in the air, still, a kind of psychic odor, like the intention of the vandals kept refreshing itself, was still active. And right – it WAS still happening. This, in fact, was opening night. The intent of the vandalism wouldn’t have been complete until we saw it, the people it was meant for. Well, congratulations, fellas. It did just what you wanted it to do. I wandered around from room to room, agape, tears falling. My precious house. I used to kiss the walls when I lived there, I loved it so much. I would pat the walls sometimes, idly, affectionately, like the house was some giant beloved beast, a family member of sorts. And here it was, taunted, beaten, wounded.

The house was a living thing, it did have its own consciousness. I won’t listen to anyone who tells me differently. I felt so protected in that house, and more, what’s more, I was healed by that house. My life was so chaotic before I moved in, and then something quieted in me, something stopped fighting. Before I lived in the Pink House, I didn’t think I deserved a good and happy life, so I did whatever I could to prevent that from happening. I sabotaged myself whenever I could. Practically kept a gun in my desk and pulled it out and shot myself in the foot every Tuesday, preventatively. Landed myself in jail, even. But the Pink House took me in and whispered things to me beneath my hearing, and something in me relaxed and began to nod along, concurring. (I know it wasn’t just the house. It was the people near me, loving me so well, and it was time, and it was some kind of readiness within me. But it was also the house.)

I don’t have that kind of relationship with the house I live in now. It’s pretty, my house, now. It’s too big. It’s indifferent. It’s too young – it doesn’t have presence yet. It doesn’t know what it’s doing. And we haven’t filled it and adorned it and taken care of it properly. Like I said, it’s too big, and we’ve been too busy. It’s not responsive, because it just isn’t alive yet. It isn’t anything. I feel almost nothing for this place. It’s palatial and it’s empty. There’s something false about it. The floors aren’t hardwood, they’re laminate. The fireplace, it’s gas. You can turn it on and there’s heat, but there aren’t any burning logs. That fire isn’t real. I don’t want to live here forever. I want to love a house the way I loved the Pink House. Can that happen twice in a lifetime? If it can, then I bless this whole world and kiss it the way I kissed the Pink House, because that would be more magic than my brain can currently wrap around.

So, that's it. It's not mine any more. I hope you're happy there, person, but you won't be as happy as I was. If you are, I almost don't want to know about it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

mantra virumque cano

I just found out that one Thomas Ashley-Farrand just passed away. Well, sir, here's an extended toast to what you came to teach us, and in the meantime, I've circled around a mala in your honor.

Thomas Ashley-Farrand was a well-known and widely beloved teacher of mantra. I've read a couple of his books, and I just so happen to be very deep into a practice I pulled out of one of them. And so I just want to talk about it. I want to talk about mantras, I want to sing their praises, I want to talk about this practice I'm doing.

When I was young, mantras seemed...well, this was not an attractive practice to me. I imagined the people who did mantras to be spaced-out, fern-bar-frequenting, white-tunic-wearing California hippies. And yes, I grew up around these people, near them, but my own family prided itself on being the intellectual wing of spiritual kooktown, if you will. The drone of a mantra seemed to me like it drained your intelligence and free will right out through your mouth. Like I said, I was young, and vulnerable to cliche.

I'm an unabashed fan of the mantra these days. I'm not going to work too hard to sell them to you. This is not in defense of the mantra. This is in praise of the mantra, free-style.

Magic old words, bona-fide abracadabras that chimed out of primordial not-nothingness straight into the finely-tuned ears of the ancient rishis. Psst. Hey. Psst. Would you like a magic key? Would you like another one? How about another one? How about another one? We can go all day like this. We can and we will. Why not? It's the least we can do for you. There you are, stuck. It's comical pitiful tragical. Can't stand to watch it anymore. We're throwing you a bone. We're throwing you a thousand bones. Better than bones. They're keys, like we said. But you have to turn them and turn them and turn them, and slowly something will unlock and unlock and unlock more and then more.

Perhaps you saw that lovely creature I have in a position of honor there up on the sidebar. Lakshmi. I'm following her trail right now, around and around my mala. Let me tell you a little bit about her. So, Lakshmi represents bounty in all its forms. Beauty and grace and wealth know what it is? You know the real reason I'm working with this particular mantra of hers? Oh, blush, damn it, I'm really maybe going to tell you. It's going to make me look silly. (Transparency! yells Mr. Ashley-Farrand from beyond the grave.) (Yes, sir.) (Ach.) So, he said that this one particular mantra is to...[blush]...[die]..."Invoke and Eventually Become the Abundance of the Universe Itself." Ahem. He said that the appearance of Lakshmi wiped all cares from the minds of those who first beheld her, and that this mantra...oh, hang on. I'm just going to quote it, skipping a little up top.

Vishnu [Lakshmi's sweetheart -T.R.] spoke these words in the story: "God's love, through whatever door it comes, is the end of all desire and yearning." The highest abundance is Love. If you feel that your true inner nature is one with the loving, abundant nature of Lakshmi, that you want to bring an abundantly satisfied state of mind to every person and thing you encounter, these two mantras [same mantra with a slight variation depending on whether you're above or below the age of 29 - T.R.] can begin the process of your transformation into such a bountiful and beneficent state.

Well, who wouldn't want that? And, damn it, I do feel that way. I've always been exceedingly lucky, and for whatever reason, I've always been able to make people feel better. I don't know why. It's just true. And I'm going through some kind of profound life change and I thought, well, this is something incredibly positive upon which I can hang my hat awhile.

So I'm going for something called Mantra Siddhi. After years of observation back in old India, it began to appear that 125,000 repetitions of a mantra is enough turnings of the key to make something special happen wherein the power of the particular mantra really sinks into you and becomes your own. You absorb it deeply, it becomes permanently lodged in you. And if you keep going, the effect of the mantra is magnified and spills out onto others as well. I can share the wealth, as it were. So that's just what I'm doing. I have a plan, I have a timeline, I'm underway. I'll be there within a year, maybe a little quicker. And then I'm going to absorb another one, and another one, and I think that I'll just be insatiable for these magic keys. It's the nicest path that I'm falling along. And I owe all of it to Thomas Ashley-Farrand, who sang the praises of mantra in the key that I could really hear, the key that spoke to me.

I can't imagine why everyone alive doesn't find their own key like this.

Safe and happy travels to you, Mr. Ashley-Farrand. Thank you.

I dare you to note that he's wearing a white tunic, here.