Happy New Year!

Sending so much love to each and every one of you.  May the new year find you with a peaceful, joyful heart.

My list of resolutions is still in the works, mainly because I have very little idea what my 2009 life will look like in Spain.  But I recently finished a book by Sakyam Mipham that helped remind me of the essence of good intention and resolve.  With wisdom and simplicity, he writes,

How do we live from the stainless pure ground of basic goodness?  How do we generate a compassionate heart in every encounter?  How do we plant the flower of bodhichitta on the rock of a dark age?  The quickest, most practical way to do this is to keep loosening our grip on ourselves [. . .] It all comes back to one of my favorite sayings: “If you want to be miserable, think about yourself.  If you want to be happy, think of others.”  This is how we bring enlightened mind down to earth.

Hoo.  Think I’ll leave it at that!

Have a wonderful night, be safe, and DANCE a step for me, won’t you???

Writing Letters

This summer, inspired by a couple of friends, and in the spirit of making things with my own hands, I started writing letters.  When was the last time you wrote one of those?  I hadn’t done it for as long as I could remember — maybe since summer camp — but the process immediately clicked with me.  An expression of love, a mode of communication, artistic playtime, and an excuse to buy stamps.  There’s a sense of accomplishment, intrigue and nostalgia when you slip an envelope into the mailbox.

From the beginning I was very ambitious.  I had read somewhere that Einstein wrote an average of one letter per day.  I aimed to write one per week.  I wanted to decorate them with stamps and stickers, illustrate them with pencil drawings — the whole works. I dutifully studied the advice (sage and often uproarious, if a bit anachronistic) of Lewis Carroll, who, for instance, offers guidance on how to begin a letter:

Continue reading

Family In Gaza

One of my roommates, Noa, one of the people I care for most in the world, spent her childhood summers with family in Tel Aviv, Israel.  When I hear fireworks, she hears bombs.  When I hear lightning storms, she hears explosives.  I can never understand what it’s like to grow up where she did.  To love a family that remains there, a family both culpable and vulnerable.  Still, I know that Noa’s heart is heavy, like mine, at the news of today’s invasion, and for the people killed.  They are also family; they are also loved.

Below is an email from someone I don’t know, forwarded by my dear, wonderful friend Henry Mills (Introduction forthcoming). There’s such a feeling in it of familial loss and heartache, mourning the dead and calling the living to action.

I have resisted writing emails like this for so long, emails to tell people what they already know and feel.
I woke up this morning to news from my family about 200 people killed in Gaza overnight in raids, and clashes happening right now in Ramallah.
I could say, these are two hundred people that had lives, lists of places to visit before they die or a plan for a better life, even a TV show they have been wanting to follow till the end, but it doesn’t matter.

All I can think about, are all of those people that are still alive. Continue reading

Snow Emergency

Hey y’all, sorry for the hiatus!  It’s been quite a week.  We had a snow emergency!  Which, as far as I can tell, is basically a blizzard that disrupts driving and parking.  And sometimes walking, too.  (Being from Sacramento, where — apart from puddle-jumping — strolling down the street is pretty much the same affair 12 months out of the year, the fact that winter ice transforms a sidewalk into an obstacle course still kinda blows my mind.)

Remember what my porch looked like a week-and-a-half ago?  Here’s where three days of white crisis’ll getcha:

Luckily, my friend Jonah had the fantastic idea of a blizzard party — where a group of friends get snowed in together, with movie rentals and hot chocolate and a picture window.  What do we care, how much it may storm?

Holiday Cards

In keeping with my 2008 snail mail kick, this is the first year I’ve sent out holiday cards.  Nothing fancy: no photos, no witty recap of the year, basically just another chance to connect with people I care about but only rarely get to see.  Aunts and uncles, former teachers, my sole remaining friend from the golfing years — who texted me last night to say the card brought him to tears.  Even though the snowy season doesn’t particularly jazz me up, it’s a good time to sit indoors with a cup of tea and write to people I love.

More on the art of written correspondence next week.  Til then, have a wonderful weekend, and if you’re here in the Northeast, take care in the blizzards!

A Word About de Blog: Or, A Reality-Based Community

Cyberspace: “A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators…”

–William Gibson, Neuromancer

As I wrote in an email introducing the Kloncke project (an email now appended to the first post — and thanks again to everyone who wrote me back!), for the last half a year I have been running full speed ahead in the opposite direction of all things blogospheric.  The “consensual hallucinations” that had once captivated me, that had held such promise, suddenly felt hollow.  Bankrupt.  Not only did they fail to build the kind of physical human community I wanted — they also seemed to corrode the ones I already had.

But, as George Mumford says, there’s no failure: only feedback.  So I’ve changed my aims and altered my expectations.  Before, it was about informing, exposing, debating.  A blog was a boxing ring.  Or a soapbox.  Or an echo chamber.  Now, I want to try something different, less grand, and maybe implausible.  A hallucination that helps to ground us in reality. Continue reading