consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Category: Berkshires

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” ― Aldous Huxley

The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

I learned about the Four Agreements one summer while working in the Berkshires from my friend Tom. A Toltec Shaman named Don Miguel Ruiz published them in a book in 1997. Tom would often climb a nearby mountain and play a flute.

This was the same summer my best friend’s stepfather was hit by lightning in his canoe, along with his nephew, both killed, and drug to the bottom of a lake in Ocala by alligators, only to later be identified by dental records.  This was the same Summer I once again gave servitude to a company I worked for, as, starstruck I listened to it’s elders for guidance, hoping that they would give me wisdom on how to grow up. I just wanted someone to tell me things like, “Don’t do drugs.” or ask if I knew where babies came from. No dice. I learned much about being a teacher, figuring things out on my own, and how to allow heroes to step off of the pedestal every once in a while to give them a break. Heroism was as exhausting for them as my need for a hero was for me.
This is the same Summer I slept only hours a night, seeking solace in the people who lived  most extremely. Everything was liberally done. Including damage. Facebook reminded me of this Summer today.

Facebook loves to remind you of things, and also today it reminded me that three years ago today I was in the Giants stadium in San Francisco. I took a job with a theatre company out there, being hired with stars in my eyes by a beautiful, charismatic, brilliant leader.

I will remember a few things about that place:

Mount Tamalpais : I climbed and climbed and climbed. I was searching so desperately for some warmth in this place I had come for work. I mean, there was no way for it to live up to expectations, and the self loathing, reinforced by leaders, was verbose. Mount Tam was a metaphor for the EXTREME sadness I was feeling, the worthlessness I had assigned myself. I was trying to get up and out, trying to see the world more clearly.

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The Pacific: Never have I walked so much on a beach. Never have I thrown so many questions to a body of water. And never have I considered pulling a Jeff Buckley more than in these weeks.

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Fort Point : The production I worked on took place here, and inside the walls you could find the signatures of all the men who were at the ready in the 1800’s for a war that never came. I learned every curve, every stone, every ghost.

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Golden Boy Pizza,  John, and Jamie: I knew already that I loved one of these yahoos, and the Jamie came later, brilliant, with a madman’s eyes, a poet’s heart, and a sailor’s soul. These two gentlemen, the patterns of good men, unknowingly kept me alive these months.

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The Giants : By God, they might be the most disappointing team in MLB right now, but they were a glorious constant then. There was nothing like sitting against a redwood in a forest with a game being funneled into my ears. There was something to root for. There was a home team. Watching a no-hitter in that stadium was the highlight of my Summer.

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Facebook also reminded me:

Nine years ago today Michael Jackson died.

One year ago I was on Peak’s Island saying poetry to a new crowd.

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Seven years ago, I was getting ready to perform at the Eno River Festival in North Carolina with Rebecca, still eating fire, still being a Carolinian and a Nickel Shakespeare Girl.  Still loving and being in love with one of the best friends I ever had, and ever will have in this life or any after.

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Four years ago I was cooking for a family in the Berkshires for side money alongside one of the dearest, most rock-hard strong women I have ever known.

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They became dear to me -to us- this family, and we became family to them. Sadly less than a year later, the patriarch took his own life, just like his father before.

 


One year ago my friend John was playing Lear in our show Dark Rooms. He knew he was dying, even then. A few weeks later, he was gone, and we were rehearsing a play he financed-literally his dying wish- about the first poet and the first prophetess. We spoke his name every day, and did our very, very best every moment. People came. People fell back in love. People fell in love for the first time. People grieved.

 

I am grateful for all of this, painful, joyful, wince-worthy, and formative. I hope I’m getting better at the four agreements. Thank God there won’t be a test.

“The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject… And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them… Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced.”
― Seneca, Natural Questions

 

 

Secondary leaves, Or mid-life growth spurts

It’s been a solid three weeks since my little life began here in the deep south. In that time, I have figured out the GOOD grocery store, the BAD date sites, the BEAUTIFUL garden walks, the WILDLY FRUITFUL yard-sale neighborhoods, and the inevitable MIRROR UP TO NATURE that is alone time. All of this, of course, yields incredibly useful information, albeit sometimes with great discomfort.

There has not been great success personally in raising things from seed in my life. I am a scavenger of disposed-of plants behind grocery stores, and while those forgotten plants usually live in the world of dry, old, or ugly– I try to revitalize them and bring back some of the good old days of green living. But from seed? There was a pitiful tomato plant once. It yielded one lone tomato, about an inch in diameter.

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It was a momentous occasion. My friend Caitlin and I divided it in two and ate it with panache, as we did many beautiful meals in that dearest old stinky house we occupied in Pittsfield Massachusetts, so many moons ago.

But, due to Memphis dirt, divinity, dedication, decidedly good counsel, and delicious Tennessee light, we have secondary leaves.

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There does seem to be life here. In so many forms. The relish of fellowship, the love of music, the surge of urban art, the evolution of plants, neighborhoods and organizations, the REBIRTH of itself, the phoenix-like qualities of those who are marginalized –the sheer TENACITY of this resilient city is infectious on so many levels.

On this precipitous Friday, we look into that mirror, and rest with the ghosts who are becoming most transparent.

We wish them well, and they fade into thin air, like smoke.

“All things are engaged in writing their history…Not a foot steps into the snow, or along the ground, but prints in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. The ground is all memoranda and signatures; and every object covered over with hints. In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and the narrative is the print of the seal.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Memory loss, 951

 

Some Inn with a fire, somewhere in some Berkshire town.

With some rug, some orange, some tub

lilac smelling

 

prophesies- some day something

some cataclysm would befall

some lovers

 

they would fall, relent, give in

learn the lash line

sink the teeth

 

armed, perhaps for the sheet fort confrontation

and the inevitable wounds

of the war.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s End or Chicken Shit 101

It is really so simple, she said

Light down the spine,

name and number each bone

make a fantastic inventory.

Use descriptive language when searching for skin, hair

wrap each finger carefully in curls

(the slightest tug will do for now)

Ask short questions pertaining to the weight of winks

Itemize the sighs, bottle, and preserve.

Linger in the kisses a moment too long,

paying close attention to the way the eyes look while closed- just after.

Document.

Rest on the slight curve of the hip, apply pressure with fingertips. Make the slightest mark.

Index all of the whispers, separating night from day whispers.

Backlog each moment we speak of love.

Season is fickle.

Words and wild remain un-categorized,

lovely, longing and without requite.

I will paint this, sing it. And forget.

See you each day, (And your graceful peasant eyes)

referring to the record

of our almost (surrender) affair.

WARNING! MELANCHOLIC MUSINGS! or Let’s just read the funny papers

I have terribly neglectful of this blog. I think it is the general lack of mindfulness I’ve been experiencing. The Berkshires beat on like beautiful retired war heroes yawning at the sky and my snow peas reach for that sky. There is a melancholic air to all and as I am like every other human I am trying to unpack the story.

So many bad dates. So many nights without sleep. A summer that gallops apace without me at the company where I work. A summer that isn’t at all what I thought it would be at the other work. It’s been over a month since my dear friend passed and a little over a month until another one marries. I turn 40 in 27 days. Is this where most are at this juncture? I would love to know if it is.

My Mom always asked why I did things the hard way. Even without purpose. Leaving home early, choosing to wait on marriage, choosing an impossible field to work in, choosing impossible places to live, being on the road living in a tent for so long, having such a long period of being so sick, and fighting for what I believe in as opposed to watching injustice happen (even if I never live to actually see results for that fight) are the things she doesn’t understand about me and also the things she respects the most.

Sometimes, not most- but sometimes I tire of it.

And then sometimes it becomes the song I sing.

And sometimes, just sometimes on a bleak and beautiful cool Berkshire morning like this as the fan hums and the cat perches in the window and there is stillness and quiet– at these times- at this time- I just want to read the newspaper with someone and sigh in the knowledge that I have a partner in crime- and rest easy in the knowledge that this partner will not now or any time for the rest of our time need or want to go anywhere else.

Can I have both? Certainly. I think. As I get older I am underwhelmed by wooing antics and proclamations of obsessive love. With so much experience in love comes a great responsibility to be patient while the other party meanders like a Cocker Spaniel puppy through their feeling world. Recklessly banging around and pawing and overturning food bowls in the name of excitement. What I need is a great long beautiful sophisticated Great Dane. One who knows who he is. One who is completely fine with the space he takes up in the world. One who is OK with my days of Saint Bernard and my days of Chihuahua.

But I digress. Adventures continue. Love will continue. Seasons will pound on in fours and August will come and go and I will enter in to my fifth decade.

I laugh every day out loud and don’t think for a moment that I take that for granted.

I am just missing that puzzle piece. That one little one that becomes the priority.

Henry Rollins says this perfectly-

“I want a soul mate who can sit me down, shut me up, tell me ten things I don’t already know, and make me laugh. I don’t care what you look like, just turn me on. And if you can do that, I will follow you on bloody stumps through the snow. I will nibble your mukluks with my own teeth. I will do your windows. I will care about your feelings. Just have something in there.”

And that pretty much sums it up.

 

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