A City of Shifty Eyes

April 18, 2018By Focal NomadPOETRY

Where do I start

I’ve been afraid to write
For what I might uncover
From my time under another
I wonder if it will ever get better
Than it was with you
And I’m ashamed to admit
That I even miss a little bit
About what we were because
If I admit that, it means I
Still haven’t found any better
And how is it so difficult
To find someone who wants
To go there with you, who can
Listen to every little squirm of
Your big toe and push you to
Your limit with every little flick
Of your neck and other places
And why did you have to come at
It with all those false promises
I know you wanted to keep them
At the time but they mean nothing
If you don’t resolve to keep them
When it counts. So now every shifty
Eye, every second date, every second
Guess I take as a sign of poison
Not to drink from that cup but
Pour the elixir out, empty the glass
Completely and set it on fire to
Make sure no residue is left over.
I know alcohol is all ready poison
And im taking a risk there but it masks
The smell and taste of something much
More foul, especially when my go-to
Is a stiff scotch like a vampire trying
To reduce its urges to seduce, suck,
Bleed out and shred. I drink to keep
My demons at bay, to get to the point
Where I care just a little less about
The risks that I’m taking because
Every time I kiss another I’m afraid
That secretly they are you, or you,
Or maybe even him. Because I’m
In my thirties now and I don’t
Want to repeat any more mistakes
But I’m in my thirties now so a
Woman should be able to responsibly
Get her licks, right?

Spring on the Horizon

March 15, 2018By Focal NomadPOETRY
Cheese Borek at Barnsdall Art Park

Spring is coming
I see it on the horizon
As the sun goes down as late
As 7 o’clock
I embrace the later darkness
The illumination of the sun
Of giving into more daylight
They say the full moon
Illuminates that which we had
Been pushing beneath the surface
But the moons light is only a
reflection of the sun
So it’s time to cut out the middle man
It’s time to say yes to the sun
Say yes to the dawn
Say yes to things bright and shiny and
New. I realize that I am not
The same person I was a year ago
I realize that although I went my
Own path, and even from that
I sometimes strayed, it was still
My way – and that’s okay – that’s
Grand that’s just divine because
My journey can’t be like his, or his
Or yours or hers. I can expand and
Become more clear at the same time
Tunnel vision never got me anywhere
I really wanted to be. It’s fine to take
Sideways glances. It’s grand it’s
Divine to experience all things.
Mixing the old with the new. I keep
The things I love like this sunset
View and try it on with a cheese borek
An Armenian bakery that’s been
Around the corner from me that
I never stepped inside of until today.
Maybe it’ll be my favorite new pastry,
Maybe I’ll get indigestion. But how
Will I know my favorite foods until
I’ve tried them all? How will I keep
Growing outward if I limit myself
With assumptions? How will I learn
From advice if I don’t first listen,
And try it on for size?

Heartbreak, Bullies and Kundalini Yoga

February 2, 2018By Focal NomadBLOG
My mat after my Kundalini practice this morning.

Last April I was going through one of the most challenging times of my life. I had been dating this guy for a few months and it started out great: him bringing me coffee in the middle of the day just to say hi, Facetiming when we weren’t in the same city, romantic dinners and watching him play jazz… he even started bringing me to look at houses with him, because you know, like most great love stories that end in excruciating pain, we thought we had found our forever. Little did I know that all the while, lurking under the surface, he was wrestling with his past and I quickly became a projection screen for it.

I started catching him in lies, small ones then worse ones, the phone calls started to become less frequent, we stopped going on dates, stopped sleeping together – all the while every single promise he made to me he broke. What’s worse, he never had a good reason for it either. It was as though my time and my love had suddenly become a weed in his garden that he wanted to get rid of, but couldn’t sort out how. To be frank, it made me feel worthless. He made me feel worthless.

After it ended, I resolved to not let my learning slip away from me this time. Following breakups I had always been really good about getting myself back on my feet by taking great care of myself. Then a few months in I’d be tied up with some other shitty dude, or fling, or heartache, or so immersed in my work that the self-care would fall away. I would only stay in self-care long enough to feel normal again and last spring, I realized that what I had become accustomed to being normal, was less than I deserved. I promised myself I wouldn’t stop making myself a priority, and if others couldn’t make time for me, I couldn’t make time for them.

It’s now been ten months and the work continues as I’ve found my routine. For endorphins I run a 5k three times per week, for my nervous system and to help with my back pain I do at least 30 minutes of Kundalini yoga alternating my run days, and every single day, I meditate for at least 15 minutes. I try to set aside time once a month to do a new moon or full moon ceremony, I drink less and very rarely smoke, I take vitamins, have a handle on my digestion problems and migraines that I never had before and my voice is finally back after having lost it for over a year. The sunrise series (that started in the wake of this breakup) continues and I’m committed to my goals and dreams and don’t let anyone else dictate what they can be and mean. For as long as I could afford it I was in therapy working on attachment issues and was even going to support group meetings; and the work there still continues just on my own now.

Bit by bit I can feel the pain liberated out of my body; the pain that lead me to be with someone who couldn’t appreciate me for who I am and what I have to give. All year I have been asking myself, if we attract what we are, what have I not let go of that attracted him into my life? What do I continue to hold onto that has opened the door to a textbook narcissist, and generally emotionally unavailable men? I’ve been better about my boundaries, projecting exactly what I am looking for, focusing on and loving myself and letting go of those people and things that no longer serve me. As I shed all of this to rise to the fourth level of ascension, I couldn’t help but wonder why do I still feel the same? I’m taking the actions and doing the work but where are the revelations? Where are the breakthroughs? Am I numb? Did I do something wrong? Am I just going through the motions and faking it?

When you suffer from PTSD, your trauma lives in your body, and things that remind you of those moments or times are like pressing the down button on an elevator where try as hard as you might to press the “door open” button or the “up” button, it’s too late. You’re going down the elevator shaft to your past whether you like it or not. Though I don’t know anyone who likes it. So how does one navigate that fight-or-flight response once it’s activated? I’ve gotten to the point where I know it’s happening when it’s happening and I try to calm my body down with breathing exercises, meditation, holding myself and when all else fails, I smoke CBD or go to bed counting on impermanence that my heart will stop racing.

Kundalini works to regulate the nervous system and does so not just by working with the physical body but the metaphysical body as well. There are thousands of kriyas, which are Kundalini yoga sets, to target individual problems that relate to the rest of the body. I’ve seen it take down swelling from my lymph nodes when I was sick, I’ve seen it help my digestion regulate, I’ve seen it strengthen my back to balance out my sidewalk running, so why couldn’t it help with this down button? Turns out it can in a very effective way. A few months ago I tried a Kundalini kriya that is intended to take away anger and sadness. Growing up as an actor, one of the fundamental things I learned about human emotions and our ability to express them was that when confronting our vulnerability, first we release anger, then sadness. This is exactly how the kriya was constructed.

Guru Jagat encouraged us to let it out because “better out than in” – that it was our chance to let go of all of the resentment, the anger, the disappointment that would otherwise turn on us if we didn’t. At the time I was recovering from a brief relationship with a narcissist where I learned I had been gas lighted and cheated on with not one, but two women. I had a lot to get out. Then we moved into child’s pose and sang a chant that out of nowhere, with out warning, had me releasing buckets of tears. “Sing to the parts of you that needs liberating” Guru Jagat said, and here, in crying over the pain I endured from this terrible guy, I started to come to terms with the fact that I had weak boundaries with the men I was allowing in, and that my guilt was attracting those who were unfaithful and untrustworthy. I had been carrying around years of guilt as though it were a 50-pound weight for the few times in my twenties that I had knowingly become the other woman. I was punishing myself for hurting my sisters, for not honoring the pain I was a part of, for not living up to my integrity. I was giving myself what I felt I deserved for transgressions I halted and got myself out of, and later even attempted to reveal the truth to their partners. I made mistakes and had learned from them, but I never forgave myself. Suddenly through this kriya snot was pouring out of my nose and I realized, that I was trying to take control of Karma. I was trying to do it’s job by punishing myself and trying to get back at the narcissist by revealing who he was to those who weren’t ready to listen. Revenge was on my mind but all I was doing was perpetuating Karma against me. It wasn’t my responsibility; it was never my responsibility. All that was, was to learn, and forgive myself for making mistakes while learning.

Soon after that revelation and Kundalini practice I got very sick, for the first time in over a year. The practice is best done when you can do it every day for a week. Guru Jagat said, “You will not be the same person. You will live with out fear.” So I resolved to do it again after my health had recovered, but I kept making excuses. I think because I was afraid of what else I would uncover should I follow-through. After a month of traveling through Syracuse, NYC, LA, all over the Yucatan peninsula, on to Park City, Utah – following festivals and photo shoots, and everything that could go wrong going wrong, I was looking forward to coming home for a change. Home to LA, that is. I knew I needed to get back to meditating, not using swimming in the ocean or going on a bike ride as my exercise but just going on an old-fashioned run and processing everything I had been through on that spontaneous, unplanned, but somehow out of sheer will, still successful journey. So in the light of the blue blood moon, I decided it was time to try again, for the full week this time.

Yesterday was very simple: towards the end of the kriya I realized that I had become used to mediocre results. I was becoming okay with just getting by, and getting underpaid so long as I was paid and not living up to my full potential. I was comfortable with that, and that scared the crap out of me. Today, when I had to chant into those unliberated places I was chanting to the places that were content with mediocrity. What was I so afraid of if I let my light shine? What was the worst that could happen? “Imposter syndrome” is a common sickness in Hollywood: most of us, even those of us who have all ready found a stride of success, are scared shitless that we’ll be “found out” that we’re really just a fraud making this up as we go and that we actually have no clue what we are doing. I am no different than most Angelenos in this way. But where did it truly stem from for me? Why was I really so afraid of success?

Critics. The answer was critics. If I had finished my feature-documentary and it had gotten the festival exposure I always believed it had the potential to reach, what if it sucked? What if the people I want to like it, people who could define my career’s fate, people who’s taste I admire in the industry, people back home, people I grew up with… what if they hated it? Something hit me to my core there. I was afraid that my intelligence would be brought into question. I was afraid of being called crazy. I was afraid of being made fun of. I was afraid of being a little girl again and having kids make fun of me all over again.

Growing up, I never felt accepted. Comments I would get on a daily basis would be “you know your voice is really annoying, right?” and “God your hair is so obnoxious” and “what are you stupid or something?” I got the wind knocked out of me on the bus, a whole group of boys chased after me on the playground to take me down and kick me, my guinea pig died and this girl told me my mom probably sat on it, spit balls were thrown at my pencil when I would be the last one trying to finish a test because of what I later found out to be ADD. Throughout middle school I lead all of the neighborhood kids to play capture the flag and it was the only time in my life I felt accepted because I was always first pick because I always managed to find and bring back the flag. But during the school year, they pretended we were never friends those three months per year. Being friends with me was typically a bad look if you had any kind of status in my high school. I had long, thick, butt-length hair, I carried around all of my textbooks and never used my locker to save time, I used my lunch hours to work on my essays so I could go to a professional ballet school after we got out at 3pm. I was different. I had dreams, and those dreams were big, so I did things that didn’t line up with what the other kids had ever seen at Marcellus.

Even to the weirdo’s in high school, I was still an outsider; a group of upperclassmen in my chorus gave me the nickname “Moonbeam Starchild” to the point where I would walk into class and the whole room would chant “awe moonbeam!” At first I thought it was good attention, because it was attention at all. Until they started writing anonymous messages on my blog telling me that I would never be successful on Broadway because I didn’t have a great singing voice and my hair made me look crazy when I danced. I was told constantly to give up, that I wouldn’t make it and that I couldn’t do it. I sparked a fire when I spoke out against an upperclassman who was mean to my friend Megan backstage at the all school show, which that kind of ego, I claimed, is one of the reasons I didn’t get involved in the school shows. I knew I had been bullied my whole life, and I never really responded to my own. When kids would call my voice annoying I would say “oh, ha-ha yeah, I know” and I learned to have crushes on the boys who would beat me up. I never stood up to them and instead misdirected my anger at home, directed it into my dancing, and inverted the rest of it in my self-destructive behavior, as I became an adult.

I never stopped wanting to fit in. I went to art school thinking if I were around other dedicated weirdo’s, I would have to fit in. Even then, taking a semester off to recover from the effects of an abusive relationship made me an outsider. I looked to those who seemed to understand in bands and started booking concerts. I continued to make myself different from my peers while simultaneously looking for acceptance. Activism became just as important as art. I became sexually liberated meanwhile rumors being spread about me because apparently someone’s boyfriend found me attractive. I hated this. I hated that even where I should have been accepted, I still wasn’t. Things started to grow and shift for me and I never really found what I was looking for. So I moved to Los Angeles to find it and soon after fell into a group of hipsters who loved their businesses, their music, their parties and their gossip. Everyone looked like they belonged in a Killers music video and had “ins” on the hottest rooftop and Hollywood hills parties around. I had one serious boyfriend most of the time I was in that group, and when going through that breakup, a rumor was of course spread about me in relation to someone else from that group who was also going through a breakup.

Why was this continuing to happen? I hadn’t done anything. I was more than disappointed, I was pissed the fuck off. Why was I continuing to try to sit at the cool kids table when the cool kids always seemed threatened by me that they had to take me down one rumor at a time? So I threw it all away and started taking sideways glances at the really strange: Burning Man. I had read about it when I was 16 in a book called “The Lost Soul Companion” and knew some day I’d end up there. The burners I met in LA I never fell into but I identified with the weirdness. At the same time, I was giving up on acting and transitioning into documentary filmmaking and photography. I was moving away from things that didn’t make me feel good and lining myself up with my integrity and my long-term purpose, which was to make change. I knew I was put on this earth for a great purpose, something that could enact lasting change, else why would I have been in the gym of facing adversity just for being different since I was in elementary school?

Soon after moving to NYC, I found my family, my fellow weirdo’s who I would run into over and over again all over the world. I found the people who had the same outlook – to stay sensitive, to stay alive, to stay present and true to your own work. I could finally be myself and be accepted and in these pursuits and doing this kriya I realized that is all I have ever wanted, and was the number one thing that was holding me back. If I revealed who I truly am, to myself and to the world, all that I am capable of by finishing something and putting it out there, I would have to own up to that work as mine and put myself in a position of being criticized, of being made fun of, of being told that I can’t and that I shouldn’t. Fact of the matter is, everyone has been telling me “you have to,” “you can do this,” and faith that what I do is going to be great and I’m capable of everything.

I realized as the snot was pouring down onto my yoga mat, and I was letting out deep moans like an elephant giving birth, that I had allowed those kids to control my life. I had taken what they had said to me personally because somehow, in some ways, I still believed them. They planted a seed that I watered for years and years to come. The seed grew into patterns of self-destruction from the fear of being found out, of being invalidated, of being told no, of being told I can’t. I became my own worst bully and the person I realized I was disappointed in the most, was myself, for listening to and believing a bunch of kids who didn’t know anything.

Today is only day two of this seven-day process. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Sunrise from Flight 24

December 8, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

 

I thought we weren’t going to see it.
I was sure the light would hit the pilots
Eyes and we would just get a magnificent
Casting of orange over the mountains of
Clouds. But sometimes when we think
We’re only being given a glimmer
The skies surprise us.

Facing just east enough to catch it in
The top left corner of my oval window
I feel a rush. Bright, neon orange crescent
Peaking over peaks and valleys of clouds.
I almost forgot to shoot this one, hence,
The iPhone. My smart device doesn’t really
Do it justice but I’m proud of myself for
Showing up. Most often, that’s what counts.

I’m exhausted and can’t figure out how to
Sleep. My heart is finally back in its chest again
Because it took getting up here to find it again
As for the past week I’ve been bathing in the
Sunsets I’ve shared and remembering them
In the reflection of these icey blue eyes
Eyes that sat above lips that were always primed
To be kissing mine. I found my heart –
And my head – again; back in these clouds.

I look forward to crimson and rusted leaves
Biting into tart and sweet Empire apples
Drinking cinnamon-spiced hot apple cider
Wrapping myself into a long navy blue dress
And standing there in the family dirt surrounded
By my favorite senses, alongside my whole family
to wish my sister and her husband a life as
full as my heart. The only other person in my
life to know what it’s like to pick the biggest
apple at the top, to have dad carrying 2 massive
bags down the hill, to not be able to have just
one fried apple fritter. To know that
some days the apples are too sour, sometimes
we can’t get to the top, sometimes it’s muddy
but we’ll always find each other connected by
our traditions, and our showing up for them,
and that, is love.

Sunrise from the Amtrak Starlight Line

December 1, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

I didn’t want to wake her
This stranger, I cared enough
To let her sleep and let my art
Be shot at a sub-par level

The sun, for the first time
Since I started this
Actually burst over the horizon
I could see it’s rays peaking
For 20 full minutes, teasing me

I had to pee, I gently stepped over
Her, she awoke only for a moment
Smiling. She knew what I was
Doing. We had been laughing
As long-time friends just last night
About our travels, language
and the man I met in the dining car.

He was supposed to meet me in the lounge.
The view dark, blackened by the reading
Lights of the train. I had a thick copy
Of the Gonzo papers, which to him was an
Old Bible, a religion he used to worship.

We’d both been through some shit and
Sported the scars to prove it. Moving forward to
Get to our respective homes, optimistic
That although the bad seems to follow us
We seem to overcome each time.

I’ve been to the home he was headed to twice
Before. He had never been. He wanted to know
What he should do once he had gotten
There, and I told him about the deep house
Sunrises, using his instincts and mourning
His losses at the temple. Having noticed a
Bare left hand, I wanted to tell him more –
But we weren’t having dinner alone.
If I told him what I wanted to, our third
Dinner guest would have more to pray for
Than just his fight for his life.

He was supposed to meet me in the
Lounge, and I read our heroes words
as the pain in my head got stronger.
I went back to my seat, frustrated
giddy to my seatmate at this chance
encounter wishing I was going home
With him, not to LA.
Where I sleep, eat, and try to survive.

I went looking for him in Sacramento
But my train was about to leave, and
I had to honor my journey for this year.
Sometimes our journeys run parallel
With only very rare, very special
Moments to intersect, look at ourselves
In another to say “ah” there you are.
We will meet again, we just may not
Remember.

Sunrise at Pittock Mansion, Portland

November 18, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Maybe mint can
wake me up.
The most asleep
thing I ever did was
check in on him instead
of checking in with myself.
When there’s haze
and the beauty only
creeps in, I still
manage to shoot it,
but have I captured it?
There was a young
photographer from
Astoria in front of the
mansion – set on his
tripod, there in the
cold two hours before
the sun rose.
Using flimsy kit lenses
but using them all.
I promised myself
just one lens – but
left my tripod in the
car –
and didn’t bother to
go get it.
to me, I was just proud that I
didn’t go home with a
stranger last night in
favor of driving my ass
over here…
but I could have
woken earlier.
I could have checked
in on this checkin
to show up better
prepared.
But I wanted more
evidence to take home
as I continued my
loneliness patterns.
I cried during the
eclipse, and the relationship
to my camera bonded
stronger; but I
left the people out
in the foreground.
I haven’t lost my
motivation but it’s
like everything is going
in slow-motion.
I want to move
at full speed again,
or just be moved
to full speed ahead.

Sunrise over Oregon Eclipse Festival

October 5, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE, SUNRISE SERIES

The music whistled above the soft bass as I watched the flies bounce above the lake perfectly in synch. The ducks had just taken their morning bath are now diving back in. I’m looking around me and all I can think about is how I wish I had risked my camera to the dust a lot sooner.

“Don’t loose your sense of wonder,” a voice said to me, here, a few nights ago.

Deep breath, try,
Writing something, by
Breath, lie about
Your job, your relationship
Status, your income…
I found myself
Puffing myself out like
A duck this weekend.
Who was I trying to
Impress, anyways?

There’s a lot of work to be done. If there’s anything this place has taught me: the craftsmanship, the music, the acting, the dedication to performance, to parenting, to yours and mines LSD trips… It took all of us to create this experience. It dawned on me here at dawn, that all I ever wanted is in the friends I tackle to the ground when I see them. The synchronicities and full circles shared from strangers turned friends. Festival magic is us.

I want to wake up to myself, get to my practice am grateful that I wasn’t distracted. It gets cold at night – but then the sun comes I’m grateful for my choices to stay awake. To say no to beautiful bodies that could risk my seeing a sunrise. The beautiful choice to spend all night in a tea lounge – learning about the subtleties of the varied leaves and the ritual of its steeping. Making “just-friends” with every addition to come to our table even when the candles were blown out. The choice to go back to a spot that I said I would and expand. The choice to be okay with the unknown ahead.

The choice to say fuck you to management and my job so they never kidnap me full time. The choice to be here, to not burn, to not know why I had to, and then the sky going dark and just knowing I had to – and why hasn’t my camera been out longer? What have I been resisting all this time?

She calls to me – Art
And I am hers, I choose these
Sunrises over any impassioned love
For this Earth is my home.
It’s only for that I should
take some time out of my
mornings to honor her majesty,
Her forgiveness
And her magic.

 

Sunrise Over the 175

August 2, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Some might call my choices foolish
Reckless, even. Stupid, when will
She ever learn to stop making
Wishes on weeds. I guess it’s a
Thing of my girlhood I won’t
Leave, to keep seeing these as
Flowers. Seeing bad ideas as seeds.

Every moment I think that I’m done
The light changes and more is revealed.
I dry my feet and wait in the car
I’ll suffer for my art but not that much.
The wind rustles, I wonder how many
Wishes are being wasted right now
On nature. Mother earth has a lot to
Wish for right now though.

Humans like me we try but we still
Stomp on un-mowed grass and plants
That we perceive to not matter as
Much. Like we could know better.
As if we would know better than
Nature intended. So maybe nature
Did intend me to be this way
In it’s complicated force, not all
Parts of nature are beautiful or nice
More often it is simply necessary.

It’s an interesting thing to watch oneself
Create oneself and destroy oneself
Simultaneously. One would argue that
It isn’t possible. We must first die
And then be reborn and grow from there.
Then, I think of expansion, and how if we
Are all connected, I am always born, reborn
Dying and thriving all at the same time.

So what if I consciously chose to do this?
What if I took that seemingly meaningless
Dandelion and blew so hard that I did
Nature’s work for her? Watching the seeds
Drift and land where they may. Some
May die, some may spread and grow into other
“weeds” But then, may some get eaten and
digest into something bigger than I had
planned for, but was naturally ready for.

There isn’t anything that I want
That isn’t all ready sewn into the fabric
Of my making. If I choose it so. I
Choose to uncover this. Take a risk, be
foolish and try once again.

Sunrise at El Capitan, Yosemite

July 12, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Trying to remember
The tranquility of the
Dead pine crunching
Beneath my feet
As I pop an antacid
Trying to pretend like
I’ve got time to shelve
This shit.

I wanted to walk further
Away from another
Just stay on my own
Side of the path
Stay in my own lane
Stay in my own row
Of seats and let myself
Be unaffected.

I don’t really get jokes
These days, unless it’s
Clown-nose obvious.
I don’t want to be shown
All the ways in which I
Missed magic, confronted
With all the ways in which
I’m half-alive.

Click. Click. Click-click.
I’m here, I’m watching
The light move from
Blue to golden and I’m
Feeling a rare sense of pride.
I woke up to a bird chirping
And my body was right
On time.

Pinecones in my pockets.
Thousands of images on
Discs. One page, one word,
One step at a time. Progress,
Not perfection, they say. The
Light creeped along El Capitan
I caught it, and I didn’t just
Stand there, when it burst
Through the trees.