Thursday, July 28, 2005
Last night I went with my new friend Stephen, Voxcat, to his weekly lifedrawing class, and then to English Bay to watch the fireworks, a magnificent display of light and colour and explosion over the ocean and against the backdrop of the mountains, a most wonderful way to say goodbye to Vancouver.
I post three of my lifedrawing efforts. They were 3 minute poses. A challenge for one who likes to linger over drawing. By the third hour I was exhausted with the speed, and began to colour instead. These images contain stories, reflections, ways of composing life and being and may become photopoems later on...
©Brenda Clews 2005
Her Figments and Shadows in Half Tones
©Brenda Clews 2005
Are Those Her Wings, Has She Yet to Put Them On?
©Brenda Clews 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
With many behind-the-scenes crises and negotiations, it's finally official. I'm moving back to Toronto, where I expect to be welcomed by quibbling but supportive family and a whole group of beautiful friends. I plan to fly out of Vancouver on Monday, with my dog and cat in tow. I have nowhere to stay, and will have to rely on the kindness of friends for the first bit (my family can't help, my brothers live in a no-dogs condo and my mother is in her 80s and couldn't handle me & my pets)...
I'm gonna miss you all! I am working this week, and packing like a halycon now that it is actually going to happen, and don't know when I'll be on-line again, it could be a day, a week, a month...
I'd like to thank all of you for your supportive, encouraging, warm and sometimes humorous comments as I struggled through my uncertainties. You've all made it an easier journey, and my last post, Sky Songs in the Park, was particularly inspired by our connections to each other. I'd especially like to thank a fellow blogger who has been most kind to me throughout the ongoing crises and practically hand-held me through the worst and most unsettling parts, Ira, thenarrator. And Pru, ydurp, for your support behind-the-scenes too. And Laurieglynn, for your long and encouraging magical emails. And dear Bonnie, Literature_Chick, I hope to squeeze some time out of this busy weekend of packing and moving to go to the Slough to meet you, the Japanese fishing village in Richmond, where a most amazing woman lives in a little house on stilts. And Stephen, Voxcat, it sure was wonderful meeting another blogger and hitting the town to dance last Saturday night, and how you took me to that magical house in the Slough last night, ahh; we'll keep in touch with each other through the blogosphere...
Until we meet again, my beautiful writers, friends, confidants... big hugs, lots of kisses, and tons of delightful laughter... & keep on posting! xoxo
Sunday, July 24, 2005
"Marriage Mandala" ©1985 by Brenda Clews
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Uncertainty continues only because the coordinates are not coordinating. Desires and their fulfillment are slightly off. And that variation sends the compass spinning into chaos.
I'm attempting to plan a move back East because I have not been able to find permanent work. My children are presently in Ontario and their plane tickets back to Vancouver have been cancelled. Everything is nearly in place, but not quite.
Late yesterday afternoon I received a call asking that I stay on as a temp receptionist at my favourite company in Vancouver for a month; and I have been asked to do a maternity leave for a year beginning in late November too. Had the offer of a month's work occured even a few days ago, it would have changed everything.
I've been doing well living in uncertainty. Making plans based on the lack of work here, yet with no certainty when I arrive back in Toronto either. That's equally up in the air. But this call yesterday threw me into chaos, a sleepless night, the sense of inner explosions imploding...
Then it turns out that the mover I discussed my move with has booked nothing, not checked into the cost of shipping by rail, and so it's like I'm not leaving at all. Although I am leaving a house I haven't been very happy in; at least that's definite and certain. Or is it?
So, for a week's work, and hopefully growing clarity in the confusion, I wasn't going to say anything about my uncertainty. But I did. HR, who I adore, truly, wasn't too happy with me. But, hey guys, I could have lied, said yes, I can do a month, then sped out of here when everything else was in place, if in fact it did fall into place. They decided to give me another week of work here, a week I can definitely commit to.
At this rate, though, I may be out of a good job that gives me parameters I'm comfortable with, with great people, and a good move back home, and with the coordinates swinging wildly and without connection in the starry sky, end up on the street...
Now those universal co-ordinates where desire and event meet in action, why aren't they matching up? They're slightly askew, just off key, and all it's serving to do is make me feel badly about lost opportunities. You can only push the event continuum so far in a direction, and then it takes off, like an avalanche, and there's no stopping what you've started. I'm almost at that point, or have I jiggled it enough so that a move back is already immanent in the Great Ledger of Life? A move back into the uncertainty of no job, no house, and having to start all over again from scratch? When I suddenly, and at long last, have work here now, or at least a real offer of it?
Or, why do I get offered exactly what I was looking for after I've given up and decided to leave?
I mean, I'm only talking interim; I was also going to tutor at an agency in the evenings for more money than a temp agency pays, and, hopefully, return to university in the Fall of 2006. This, merely a bridging strategy. So why is the bridge suddenly offered when I've given up and almost gone the other way?
What does it mean? Or am I to listen to the sardonic laughter of the Gods of Fate as they watch me squirm? Giving me what I asked for after I given up the thought of getting it and had begun to make other tenuous plans...?
I still have an enormous amount of packing to do this weekend. I feel like collapsing in a heap of tears and resignation. Arghhh.....
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
On the way home, after I had posted these thoughts, a butterfly landed in my open palm and stayed for a photo...
Monday, July 18, 2005
MP3: On Paintings in the Sand
Prose Poem ~ On Paintings in the Sand ~ at SoundClick, 6:42min (text here). There is some fun discussion of time in it, and other insights into the creative process that our lives are...
Jean, whose photograph inspired my piece, has written of the Tibetan Buddhist Sand Manadala created by monks visiting from Tashi Lhumpo Monastery in India in the basement of Clerkenwell art gallery in London. The monks, who had preplanned this by months, started the day after the recent bombings and the pouring of the sand to create the mandala went on for a week during the aftermath. Jean has written a beautiful entry. I urge you to read it.
(Photograph by Nancy Jane Reid, click on the image for its source URL.)
For more background information, here is an introduction to Mandala Sand Painting. Here is a site that shows the Mandala Construction process in photographs. And here's another series of photographs of the astoundingly perfect creation of a Sand Mandala and its being swept away...
On Representations of Ourselves, or "The New Profile Pic," or Myths of Self-Imitation...
"...many people put on masks to discover who they are under the covert masks they usually wear, so that the overt mask reveals rather than conceals the truth, reveals the self beneath the self; and it tells us that, although such masquerades cannot change people into other people, they may change them into others among their many selves"....Doniger goes on to say, "the essence of a masquerade: to present something known in such a way that people mistake it for something unknown (or the reverse.)"
Now, hmnnn... My new profile photo doesn't look like me. I'm not sure who it looks like... it was darkened considerably for the profile. Here is the original photo (click on it for a larger size), and another of the painterly things I did to the background with the impressionist brush and with the midtones darkened. Neither look like me, the light washing away the wrinkles, the years, the spots and arrows of outrageous time, but I found it an interesting photo in itself, not as representation of me as I see myself, but as representation of an image of self that is just plain different. I'm a soft woman, not the way it looks in the small version, which I think of as inclining towards heavy metal... *chuckles*~
If you met me, though, I might have to impersonate the image of myself that I have created in my blog... ! Oh, it's so interesting, persona, representation, who we are, the ways we present ourselves to each other! And how we might need to masquerade as ourselves were we to meet. Or, another approach, perhaps we masquerade as an aspect of ourselves that helps us to discover who we, in fact, are. So I masquerade as a writer in my blog, only to discover that I am a writer! The mask and the central persona become interchangeable so that life imitates art...
And he said, "You are nothing like the woman you are in your blog. In your writing you present a completely different person.' Which shocked me. Who says I have to be like the woman I portray in my blog anyway? I never said it was the 'real' me any more than any of the other 'me's' are real. *giggles & giggles*
I might not be at all as you imagine me to be were we to meet. And vice versa. Isn't this scary to contemplate? That the mask of the narrator of the blog and the central persona of the person might be far apart rather than simply interchangeable. Makes you wanna fret, doesn't it.
Especially if we are trying to discover a writerly voice, our best one, in our bloggerly lifewriting.
How does reality intersect with illusion anyway?
Friday, July 15, 2005
The wind that sweeps across the damaged landscape of meltings and obscurities scatters what's left, taking even the mementos of a way to compose the picture that made sense, that held it all together. There is no centre. Or circumference. Only the burning, the ceaseless burning of the fire in the sky. And the light that pulls consciousness with it, into recognition, into awareness.
Into weaving stories, making patterns, creating forms, dramas about the world, personas for ourselves, staging scenarios because we don't know. What lies under the fabric of our lives? When the weaving shreds, and is lost, do we busy ourselves with raw yarn and our spinning wheels and our pots of dye and our artistic forms and create new pageants to express us and to create us over and over by reiteration? Why does what flows have to adhere to processes of fixing, stabilizing, pinning, eternalizing?
If I throw away all my weavings, crumpled and shredded and scattered, recycling into the earth, and let time undo itelf through me, will I levitate through the landscape of the unburdened heart? And will I feel the soft rain like glistening petals on my naked skin?
Click for a larger size.
At Jean's blog, This Too, today. A Tibetan Buddhist sand painting of a mandala. Isn't it exquisite?
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Rufus Camphausen, The Yoni, Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1996), p.58.
While packing books today, I was deep in my maternal body section, and found a stunning cross-cultural book on The Yoni. Which I haven't read but will. And I also found this roaming through the blogosphere over my morning coffee. Is there any connection? In the way of things, yes, I'm sure there is. This delightful wisdom from Dave Bonta's blog, Via Negativa:
"A woman with the right kind of fat is a joy to others and a joy to herself. Her body is pure lubricity, able to move in several directions at once: go watch a belly dancer if you don't believe me. One night with such a woman, my friend, & no skinny woman will ever again be able to entrance you with her momentary cry & one-dimensional hunger. The exclamation point soon loses its power to astonish, but the round curves of a question mark? Ah, there's something to ponder! A thousand queries flood my tongue with the tang of olives.
Now isn't that line drawing of an ancient cave painting most interesting? The way they saw it, the woman's yoni feeds the man's erection and gives him the magical "hunt" power to enrapture/capture his prey...
I could keep you occupied for many posts with images from this book, photographs of natural formations, very beautiful, ancient art, where the yoni is revered, and modern art, where, well, it can be strange (see Gottfried Helnwein's Lulu), or natural & sensual (see Georgia O'Keefe's Gray Line), or as worthy of worship (see Judy Chicago's Cunt as Temple, Tomb, Cave or Flower); if all that isn't enough, there are close-ups of different shaped vulvas (padmini "lotus," chitrini "fancy," shankhini "fairy or conch," and hastini "elephant") classified according to the Kama Sutra, the Anganga Ranga and the Koka Shastra of India. Camphausen wrote this book before Eve Ensler's, The Vagina Monologues, or else that'd be in there too. I don't know of a counterpart book on male mythic sexuality, do you?
Alas, I have to keep packing.
But you can expound prolifically in the comments if this post has caused a springload to flourish in you...
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Ah, then my books on tantra, how many are there, two dozen? Lots of art books on mandalas and yantras and academic books on tantric art and tantric thought. But there's this, Tibetan Arts of Love: Sex, Orgasm & Spiritual Healing, yes, Gedun Chopel, it is brilliant. Or the large and cross-disciplinary, Sacred Sexuality by Mann & Lyle, a lovely book with many illustrations from art history, and of course, The Complete Kama Sutra, Danielou's translation, no tantric collection would be complete without that, and California Tantrism, The Art of Sexual Magic by Margo Anand, or a Dorling Kindersley picture book of photographs of lovers, The Art of Tantric Sex, and books on full body massages...
I leave you with a photograph of a fun tarot deck: Tarot Sutra, games for lovers, which I've never used, sigh, it's in its original wrapping.
For me, romantic love combines of the erotic and the spiritual, the emotional and the intellectual, of eros and philia and agape, where there is meaning, wholeness, an intimacy with spirit, ourselves, our lovers, each other. (The other two great loves are differently configured: parental love, and I guess married love; but both, ideally, are weighted in philia, or friendship, being together on the path.)
I think I really do like the word, intimate, intimacy, intimacies... and perhaps can spend the rest of the day packing up my life, feeling my way through an aesthetic of intimacy.
It doesn't feel free; it just feels like life. Where we can only be certain of uncertainties.
And so should I give up the need to know what's next. Anything at all could be next. Anything at all...
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
And how're you doing today?
Monday, July 11, 2005
The dancer, poet, writer, painter, actor, muscian makes love to their lover, symbolically, to the fragrant air, the rich and fertile universe, the intimacy of the medium of their words or paint or music. To see a harpist or a pianist lovingly caress their instrument into singing, or a rock star playing his electric guitar like it was his woman, this dance between lover and beloved is where art is created, deeply, profoundly. It is created in a loving that is erotic and spiritual, emotional and intellectual, that is an act of pure faith, a risk and leap into the unknown.
I feel art can only come out of absolute vulnerabiltiy, when all the veneers have been stripped. When we are naked and unashamed before the beloved. When we have left the safety of our patterns and are in the present moment in its entirety. Even if this moment be one of pain, anger, ecstasy, or a kalaidescope of it all. A moment of presence where there is stillness and flow, wholeness and unfolding, eternity and the onrush of time, nothingness and everything. Where it all works without willing it to; where it just happens – the fruit ripens, it falls in its sweetness, the birth of art occurs.
What I learnt in dance is that creating your movement is best when you are dancing with your beloved. When you are making love to the light streaming in from the window, the alter of burning candles and precious leaves on the silk mat at the front of the room, the colour and movement and sensuality of the dancers around you, the energy of the life-force itself. When you are making love to the man or woman of your dreams, or your God or Goddess. When you no longer care how you look, you're not self conscious, you're holding nothing back, not restraining yourself, and you give everything, your entire passion ~pain, suffering, anger, compassion, joy, love ~ where nothing is excluded, everything is present.
And so this has become my theory of art. The intensity of love-making. Only from this place of union of self and soul can a power erupt that can be carried on the wings of the words, music, paint, dance that it is produced in. And in this way we who partake in the art as viewers, readers, listeners, are touched at our deepest core, feeling our own pain, sorrow, anger, joy, compassion. Our vision is expanded. We are not alone. For we, too, are the beloved, and the artist is making love to us.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Friday, July 8th, tonight, a love poem...
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Passengers evacuate an underground train at Kings Cross (Photo: Alexander Chadwick)
Comment I left at thenarrator's site: It will never end, will it. Prayers. Prayers that the conflagrations may end. Prayers that mediation in the world may ultimately win. Prayers for the mediators; our hope lies in those who can calm the extremes, bring about resolution, who do not see the political world in terms of black and white. I don't know how mediation can occur with terrorist groups and organizations, but it can, somehow. Mediation is the only thing that ever works. Prayers for the fear and the suffering...
This will reveal what an incurable romantic I am! I have to admit it was partly motived by a Rumi quote that I wanted to use somewhere; this seemed like a good place. It's also touching on that very strange area of "internet romance" and its expectations, hopes... It's my entry in the Creative Writing Challenge:
A light rapping, knuckle on wood, breaks my solitude. In the dark warmth of the evening, I stop, listen, not expecting anyone, and ignore it. The light but insistent scattered drumbeat on the door tugs at me, continuing until I rise from my notebook, pull my cotton shirt around me. On one side of the door I breath into the soft darkness, unsure; my hand on the handle, I whisper into the crack, “Hello…?”In the silence of an almost inaudible gasp, I hear indecision, an awaited moment from which one could yet flee, even if what one was looking for has been found, it’s fearful, and holding back for what seems like minutes before the response, “Hello…I, Miriam, I know you weren’t expecting me, I… needed to come, I’m sorry…” “Who are you?” I whisper into the darkness and silence of the Summer night that spreads itself around the rustlings of moths whirring in the dim porch light, a light that reveals a man, in a soft summer shirt and jeans, standing at the door. His arms almost tensed, yet awkwardly beside him, his heart full of desire, knowing his need and her recalcitrance, and feeling ashamed and exhilarated to be at her doorstep, looking at her tired and worried face as if it were a vision, “I … had to ...” On the doorstep of my house, at the threshold of my life, in the night, I found myself wrapped deeply in the loving arms of a man I had never met, but always known. And I whispered to him lines from Rumi in the tightness of our embrace, "The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, they're in each other all along." We became two sighs in the enveloping darkness, a twin blossom of a moonflower, a double rainbow in the night sky, another hope for the future..
Sunday, July 03, 2005
me to ash
me to dance
my last dance
on the rich earth
of bone dust
fly with the wind
light as breath
& illumined love
into the lake
©2005 by Brenda Clews, all rights reserved
Friday, July 01, 2005
Portrait of the Sexuality of a Middle-Aged Woman
Which sounds so, middle-aged...
She's never taken naked photographs. O, not true, a lover in her 20s did, but they were so faint, it was too dark; and her ex-husband took polaroids a long time ago. But not since then.
Though one night, when she was alone, she did, in the oak cupboard mirror, first seated, naked, only one breast showing, and she didn't like the photo but played with it, re-creating it through various filters that disguised her.
Then she surprised herself. The rebellion of those passing over the proverbial hill? She opened her legs and took a photograph of her vulva. When she displayed the photograph on screen, what she saw was larger than it is usually shown in medical text books. What she saw was beautiful in its own way, the folds within folds, the way her sex spread opulently from front to end. The white creamy remnants glistening. She had taken it after pleasuring herself, just to see what she looked like. Swollen, full, rich. She liked the photograph, felt it was a coming of age recognition of a sexuality she had never really seen before. She hid it on her computer, and then rushed over to delete it when a friend was looking through her photographs, mumbling about a naked photo that embarrassed her.
She'd never intended to keep it. It was not the sort of self portrait that you keep. Not what you'd want your children to find among your effects after you'd passed away. Or anyone else, not even a lover. It was an elaborate cunt, not something she'd ever seen in a Playboy or Penthouse or at any of the online porno sites she'd stumbled on, the ones with cum all over the woman's face and hard, hot cocks still beaming and glistening. When "holes" were shown, they'd be those small slits that the medical text books show.
It didn't make her feel any better, but maybe you had to be older, not tight anymore, to have this gland with its folds and glistenings and outrageous pearly opulences over which you place panties and forget about, or against which you place pads when you are bleeding with your monthly moon.
She's in her 50s. Hard to believe. She's white, Caucasian. She wears a size 8 comfortably, a bit baggy, a size 6 is more fitted. She is about 5'5", weighs somewhere around 125 lbs to 130 lbs. Her hair is long and curly and ash brown but is coming in with much more grey. Her waist isn't bad, but she doesn't know the circumference. She wears a 34C bra size; usually with an under wire for support. Though she loves bras with no under wire for hanging around the house.
She had a 'sex-goddess' body once, flat stomach, rounded breasts. After the birth of her second child, her thighs were left mapped with cellulite, which she accepts gracefully as a remembrance of the bearing of children, but which her husband found most unappealing. She's not comfortable in a bathing suit because of it. Before kids she wore string bikinis, the less fabric the better. Things change when your body is stretched with a child growing within. It's not that she doesn't love her body, she does, just in a private way. She prefers to be seen in clothes, that's all. When she was younger she preferred to be naked. Things change.
And now the little spider veins on the legs, around the feet, the larger ones that are showing on the hands, that's bothersome. But more in the way she thinks it makes others uncomfortable. The tiny veins remind her how the body is like a tree, with tiny branches or capillaries carrying life blood, and it's a beautiful creation no matter how old or what size one is.
Her breasts do sag a little, but she doesn't mind. She still has an awe of her breasts because of the breastmilk that flowed through them so freely once. And because if they're caressed and squeezed gently and sucked on she becomes very aroused and her vulva responds in ways that...
She's slim enough, not skinny, making the signs of aging both less and more pronounced. If she was heavier, her hands wouldn't be so carved with maps of veins. But she can still bend her body with as much flexibility and freedom as she ever remembers. She just can't fall onto the floor on her knees anymore, or even bend her knees for too long without pain. Her eyes are blue, or perhaps grey, with little brown specks around the pupils. Her skin is good now, but she has rosacea, it runs in her family, and has to wear a hat always. The skin on her face is very sensitive to sunlight. She babies her skin. Her teeth, oooh la. That's maybe getting too personal. Talking about vulvas is easier than talking about teeth! Save teeth for another day... Only one scar on the shin. Her skin is soft.
Orgasms are easier than ever. She believes orgasms are very healthy and would like to have at least one every day. She thinks everyone should agree that orgasms are healthy and that everyone should have at least one a day.