Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira

The Rites of Spring

I have news! Not only is it the beginning of a new year, with the onset of Spring, but I finally finished my book!

Technically, I wrote most of it by January, but I’ve been working since then to get it down to a reasonable number of pages, since it was 480 at its most bloated.

My book, “Dust and Light,” which is in some ways the culmination of this blog, is about my sister Erika’s death in 2011 at Burning Man, about her life before that point. For the last year, I’ve been incorporating sections of her journals into my manuscript and I finally completed that challenging task, producing a book which, I hope, manages to conjure some of her spirit.

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Erika dancing with abandon in Uruguay – January 2011

It is strange being done with it. To have time that can be turned to other pursuits. Other story ideas have come flooding in of late and I’ve had more inclination for strumming on the guitar again. A couple of weekends ago, I managed to break a glass at my apartment and step on it, barefoot, slicing up a couple of toes and bleeding impressively. Yesterday, on Easter morning, the worst of the cuts decided to heal up and rejoin with its separated skin, which is a relief.

This year, as last, I celebrated Nowruz (nav-ruuz) or the Persian tradition of the spring-time New Year. Still celebrated throughout Iran, Afghanistan, and India, this festival probably predates Zoroastrianism and it bears many similarities to the “Christian” tradition of Easter eggs and candy: the Nowruz table holds symbols of the earth’s bounty. Potted plants, flowers, fruit, sprouting lentils, even eggs can make an appearance, though I haven’t bought eggs in some time, so I skip that bit of tradition.

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Nowruz (nav-ruuz) table, featuring a copy of Shahnameh and symbolic plants, fruits, and other produce of the Earth

I add another more ancient tradition, mixing a dough from barley syrup and spelt flour and honey. It is a variation of the honey cakes devotees used to offer the Goddess of the earth – Bona Dea, Magna Mater, the Great Mother. In our lust to create a more advanced world, we have forgotten our Mother Earth. We talk about climate change in the abstract, but the truth is that we began down this path the moment we decided to sacrifice the sanctity of our earth for the production of human works. We chose to live at odds with the earth, rather than in harmony with her. We are in the process of destroying the very fertility of our planetary home in order to “progress.”

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My table morphed for the full moon / eclipse – but the message is the same – the Star card is featured because the star goddess has always been associated with Spring.

So it is important, I think, to give thanks to the new fertility of the Earth, reborn in the form of eggs in nests and blossoms on trees. The doves on my fire escape have made their nest in an old pot, left to crumble with only a bit of moss growing on the hardened soil inside. But still, a safe haven for young chicks till they grow big enough to emerge on their own.

In a similar way, New York has been my haven as I completed my book (which no doubt could still use some edits) but it is time for me to start thinking of my future. Music, which has been on the back burner, bubbles up again, along with my passion for fictional tales.

I’ve also been spending time with a 5-year old girl named Eve, which is a lot of fun. As the weather improves, I’m excited to have a good excuse to play in a park, and good company.

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Eve did my makeup and I did hers – kinda looks like I have a black eye and def have lipstick everywhere. That’s a flower on my face. Proud of the unicorn princess I made her into!

I also got to meet up recently with a friend and former collaborator who switched coasts, the lady Evangeline. I wish we’d taken pics, but instead we ate vegan dim sum and caught up on each others’ lives. She told me she’s started praying to the Virgin Mary – she was raised Catholic, so that is the apparition of the Goddess with which she is most familiar. I was raised Methodist, so we didn’t have the same emphasis on Mary. I told her that Mary, called the Queen of Heaven, resembles in many ways the more ancient goddess forms like Inanna and Ishtar. I observed the ardor for the Virgin Mary expressed in Greece and in France, and I see how natural it is for us to revere a mother figure.

So happy New Year, happy Spring, happy Easter – celebrate your inner goddess and the outer forms of fertility and growth we can observe in the Earth!

Love and miss,

Kira

A New New Year

I’ve now officially restarted this blog twice! I’ve been busy writing other things, as my work on my memoir feels like it is starting to pay off. It is rather like finding a sculpture in a chunk of marble, trying to tell a story about your life. Spring has arrived, though the snow on my fire escape would have you believe otherwise. Still, I celebrated with my own version of the Persian holiday, Nowruz –  a new day. I spent the morning writing and planning my day before running around the neighborhood to buy the essentials: flowers and flour – I was looking for barley flour, since barley cakes are a traditional new year offering, but I settled for spelt. I bought honey and incense and beer and scampered home in the snow, which was falling in lacy flakes. I was a bit thrown off by the weather, and not as thorough as I could have been, but I got some fragrant pink hyacinths and bright yellow daffodils. I came home and finished cleaning the apartment – the traditional Spring cleaning, which is also part of Nowruz. Painted eggs is a tradition, too, but I didn’t think of eggs till I was already home and so made due without. The Persian New Year is celebrated by compiling a table full of symbolic food and flora: apples are for love and beauty; garlic is for health and strength; vinegar for development; sprouting lentils for happiness and rebirth; walnuts for creative fertility and money; the flowers symbolize the rebirth of nature after winter, of course, and I placed another of my houseplants on my table. To these, I added my own touches – spelt cakes, made with barley syrup and honey – and beer: libations and sustenance.

A traditional Nowruz table

A traditional Nowruz table

Strange how familiar this ancient tradition feels to me. It is a tradition which predates the historical record – one that is practiced today from India to the Black Sea – and beyond, really, as the Christian Easter is a variant on the theme, just tying it to Christ’s death and rebirth instead of the Earth’s, and removing it safely from the old association of the Equinox. But co-opting the symbols – the egg, the lamb, the cross. Even in Muslim countries, this festival is celebrated among some sects. The very countries where relics are now being destroyed by radical extremists – those very relics were often tied to rituals celebrating natural and astral phenomena. The result of that ancient culture’s interest in the stars is modern astronomy and mathematics, lens technology, knowledge of the Earth’s shape and its position in the galaxy. By celebrating and marking the Earth’s cycles in relation to the heavens, our ancient relatives achieved a remarkable amount of understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. Speaking of our place in the cosmos, I’ve been taking classes at the C.G. Jung Institute here in the city. One class is about the Goddess archetypes of the ancient world and how that iconography and mythology changed over time to reflect our changing relationship with the world, with nature, and with our own fate. We talked about Cybele, the lady of the mountain, accompanied by lions, symbolized by the doorway. She was the Great Mother to the Romans. But before her came Ishtar/Inanna, the star goddess (indeed, it is from Ishtar that the word star is derived) of war and lust – the Queen of Heaven and the Great Below. She was the kingmaker, the provider of bounty and fertility. When she descends into the underworld, the world of humans begins to wither and die. Inanna eventually returns, but in her place, she sends her lover, Dumuzi, who didn’t mourn her in her absence. From then on, the people mourned for her every year, for the loss of her lover. But they celebrated his return with the beginning of spring – the new year. I’ve been steeping a bit in ancient history of late – recently went to see an exhibition at the Institute for Studies of the Ancient World, which featured items excavated from ancient Uruk and showed their influence on modern art, notably Henry Moore and Picasso.

burial duds of ancient queen of Uruk

burial duds of ancient queen of Uruk

A couple of weekends ago, my good friend, Jenna, was in town from Portland and I got spend time with her and her boyfriend, both of whom were with me at Burning Man in 2012. Jenna and I spent an afternoon roaming Central Park before heading to the MOMA, since it was free Friday. It was packed to the gills, but I enjoyed the Lautrec posters exhibition, which was quite impressive in its scale. I even saw a model of the Oslo Opera House, which was designed by my former company, Snohetta.

The Oslo Opera - at the Moma

The Oslo Opera – at the Moma

Jenna being art at the MOMA

Jenna being art at the MOMA

Jenna and I joined her friends in Hells Kitchen, drinking whiskey and chatting until it was time to figure out dinner. We ended up at an Afghani restaurant around the corner from their apartment, where a very congenial waiter entertained us all. The food was delicious, though, and I cleaned my plate. Yum! The next day, I met up with Jenna again in the evening and we had another lovely night on the town. She lived in New York before I moved here, and even lived on my street! Jenna and I have been crossing paths since we met in 2006 when we were both traveling in north India before studying yoga in the south. We didn’t realize when we first met that we were going to the same ashram on the other side of the country!

Jenna and me in Jaisalmer desert - 2006! (with our three monkeys)

Jenna and me in Jaisalmer desert – 2006! (with our three monkeys)

Me n Jenna in 2015!

Me n Jenna in 2015! (photo by Stephen Crawford)

It is nice to have such long-term friends in my life. It is a gift. I can’t help but wish I’d been a better friend to my sister, when she was still alive. I can only do my best to treat the family and friends I still have in a way that shows them what they mean to me. Well, all for now – lord knows this one’s been postponed long enough! Love and miss, Kira