Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is there anywhere else on the planet where one could live with such a diversity of experience?

Today I visited Berkeley's annual Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park. Noticeable ( don't recall this from past years) was the great number of Tibetan and other Asian vendors showing their wares. They may have outnumbered the usual complement of Birkenstocked western converts -- among whom would surely have been my husband, Bill Soskin, were he still among the living. You can still recognize them by their studied serenity.

Thought of him today with every whiff of incense blowing by on the fragrant heavy summer air or the call-to-meditation rings from a tremendous array of antique copper prayer bowls being tested by potential buyers for resonance and quality of sound ... .

The perfect venue for wearing my crazy-wonderful Dorian-designed Happy Pants, right?

Remembered how much I loved living in that city all those years ago -- and of the many friends with whom I've (sadly) lost contact over recent years ...

But then ... .
One day -- in the mid-nineties -- my live-in niece, Gail returned home from work to find the McNeill-Leherer production team filming in our El Cerrito kitchen ...

She quietly lay down her gear and began to make coffee for the crew -- as if this was the most normal thing in the world and of no particular consequence. We often laughed at the obvious fact that for reasons unknown, the world tended to bisect through my kitchen!

I had only recently moved from Berkeley and hadn't lived in the community very long. After the multiple trucks and cameras left the two of us doubled over with laughter at the thought that my new neighbors were probably expecting to pick up the West County Times the next morning to read about the old lady drug bust on Cabrillo Street the day before!

The occasion was that I'd been discovered online (probably recommended by SeniorNet) as one of the growing number of seniors who'd become computer savvy and were using the new technologies in our daily lives. Somewhere here in my cluttered files is a copy of that unbelievable tape which features that video essay that had been aired nationwide.

It was a few years later when the (Gail-predicted) call came from the Oprah show. Someone at the end of the Chicago line was calling because my blog had been picked up by someone and I was being asked to be a guest on the show to talk about how the Internet had changed my life. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a single reason why that would be true. Having said as much the caller immediately lost interest and the brief interview ended. So much for a free trip to Chicago and Oprah fame.

Last week I had the same kind of repressed giggle attack upon picking up my phone at work to hear a woman's voice with a delightful British accent announce that she was calling from the BBC in London and that they have a 5-hour documentary currently in production. "We're planning to come to Richmond "rawtha soon" to film an essential "pawt" of the story." As you may or may not know, Henry Kaiser was building ships for the United Kingdom under Lend Lease prior to December 7th, 1941, and our entry into the war. "We're planning to arrive in Richmond May 18th to do some filming there at the park and would appreciate it if you could be available for an on-camera interview at five o'clock on Saturday, the 23rd."

"Life gets curiouser and curiouser," says Alice!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The old dear slipping a cog? Nope. Not at all, thank you ... .

Reading back through the last few days of posts it occurred to me that anyone reading them might erroneously conclude that the old lady has lost it. Reads absolutely manic, doesn't it?

In the event that the mood swings might suggest otherwise, let me assure you that they are more an indication of the hugeness of the world I move around in, and the enormity of what is out there to be sensed and felt and tasted and perceived -- and that give me a way to measure my own capacity to be open enough to let it all in without self-destructing. Writing is the way I sort through it all, and the means by which I'm able to make sense of the wild places these brain cells take me to if I don't allow the censors in to shut down those nerve endings and slow the synapses.

Wondered as I was dropping off into that quiet edge of consciousness just before deep sleep last night -- if what I'm experiencing as I age up into my "wisdom" (presumably) -- if I'm not tapping into that wildly open-to-learning-everything space that we experience in the ages from birth through 3 or 4 years-old? That period before we reach the place in childhood where compulsion to conform begins to erode curiosity. I'm certain that all of the people that I ever was are alive in me still and that I draw upon earlier parts of myself as the noise and the busyness of the world allows. There's something that feels quite primitive going on these days; something I can't name. But it's all good. No pathology here.

Of this I am certain.

... and this afternoon I'm going to attend a Mother's Day Gospel Concert at Star Bethel Baptist Church in Oakland. Weird for a non-believer? Not at all. There's a quality of profound faith in the black church that I can witness no other place on earth, except for a moment or two last winter while standing transfixed at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Black gospel music is glorious! Count it another dimension of existence. It needs no rationale. Nothing to prove. Check intellect at the door and join the shoutin'! The hats, alone, provide enough drama and color to satisfy most saints, surely! Next Sunday I'll visit with Mozart and Brahms and Haydn at a chamber music concert at Davies Hall in S.F., but today it's the celebration of Hallelujah! There's no earthly dimension that could simultaneously accommodate such diverse cultures -- but they co-exist within me -- and quite comfortably, thank you -- as do all of the apparent contradictions I wrote about the failures of public education and the exaltation of living those few hours with the fourth graders at Joaquin Miller School on Friday.

I see few inconsistencies, only Dimensions!