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.”

spring table

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.

me n eve

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

Springtime Bounty – Roadtrip!

I’m sitting on a warm porch  – in truth – it’s hot in North Carolina right now! My sources in New York say it’s cooold up there, so I’m taking advantage of the sun while I can.

It’s been a lovely visit with Mary Caton and her family. But let me start from the beginning.

My dear friend, Sarah, flew from Seattle to New Jersey to take care of some belongings she’d stored with friends there.

Friday morning, bright and early, I finished packing up my car, topped up my power steering fluid at Salerno’s – the gas station next door – and headed for Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge.

It was quiet in the city, so early, and I could get through the tangle of traffic lights quite well, and to the tunnel, and then, bam, smooth sailing to South Orange, where Sarah was finished sorting and sending things to herself in Seattle, except for a rather sizable amount of things she would take with her and things she hoped to find homes for. Our dear friend, David, made me a breakfast taco and coffee for the road and we loaded Sarah’s things into my little Rav and off we went.

On the road with Sarah

On the road with Sarah – that’s the face I make when I wake up at 6 am!

First stop was Philadelphia to have coffee with Sarah’s aunt Sally. We met up at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Sally is a masters student, after retiring from a high powered career. She’s enthusiastic and excited about her studies – her new chance at the life she always dreamed of.

Sally went back to class and we drove outside of the city to her house, to have lunch with her husband, Franz. Franz is a pianist from Amsterdam, so he and Sarah have classical music in common. He recalled my vegetarianism and made us a fritata with potatoes and cheese and peas. It was delicious, and just what the doctor ordered, as I have been ravenous of late! Maybe it is the end of winter and I want to be more active, so I have to eat more. I’m glad for it! We played with Sally and Franz’s two sweet dogs and two sweet cats – each with very unique “animality” (as opposed to personality). Ha!

After lunch, Sarah and I left the drizzly northeast and headed south for greener pastures in North Carolina.

The drive was longer than it should have been, because of the extra holiday traffic on the roads, but it couldn’t be helped. We tried to escape the worst of it, but we spent an inordinate amount of time going 15 miles an hour for long stretches of stop and go traffic that made me want to bash my head into the steering wheel. Luckily, I had Sarah there, so the trip was fun, despite the delays.

A full moon followed us down I-95 and I couldn’t help looking at her undulations behind the clouds, which veiled her on and off.

We arrived after 11 pm and had a celebratory glass of wine with our hostess, Mary Caton, and host, Eric.

Their son was already asleep, and they were about to turn in, too, but Sarah and I stayed up a little while and chatted over a second glass of wine, to unwind from the trip.

Sarah, Mary Caton (MC for short) and I all went to college together in San Antonio, Texas. The fourth wheel of our group, Nora, also went to Trinity, but she currently lives across the pond and couldn’t be here to complete our quartet. We were different people when we met, no question about it. But we went through the changes together, and the friendships stuck.

We had a lazy Saturday of hanging out around the house with the little family. Henrik is now a year old and adorable. Very clever and did I mention adorable?

We went through Sarah’s give-away things and then took little Henrik to the Duke campus, where we visited the chapel and then went to the gardens, which were in full bloom. We brought a bottle of rose and sipped it in the sunlight from a picnic blanket as Henrik crawled and cavorted.

Cherry blossoms blooming

Cherry blossoms blooming

Three out of four ain't bad

Three out of four ain’t bad

MC and Henrik at the garden

MC and Henrik at the garden

Sarah and I, with rose

Sarah and I, avec le soleil et rosé

Me n baby Henny

Me n baby Henny

We made pizza for dinner, to eat as we watched the basketball semifinals (if I sound like I don’t know anything about sports, you’re onto something). However, this game was important, since Duke is where MC goes to grad school, and they live in Durham, which is Duke central.

We drank our traditional Manhattans together and enjoyed the game (and the homemade pizza!).

Sunday morning we had a beautiful brunch, prepared by Mary Caton, primarily. She made bacon and eggs and pancakes with berry compote. There was a festive wine punch with a little sparkle and citrus that was just right. I took it upon myself to get the centerpiece, which was redbud from a tree in their yard. However, the tree was only in bloom up high, and I couldn’t reach the branch from the ground, so I had to climb the skinny tree and hang upside down from the long thin branch till it bent down enough for me to stand up and trim off a bit of it. Good morning workout!

I also got some dogwood which was newly opened and barely blooming, but the flowers have opened since then.

Easter Brunch

Easter Brunch

The leaves began to green before our eyes over the weekend, especially since the house is in a little patch of woods, so we’ve had front row seats for the change.

MC and Eric hid plastic eggs for Henrik to find, with marshmallows and chocolate chips inside.

He’d probably have been as happy with two eggs as he was with a dozen. He enjoyed banging them together.

Sarah left Monday in a whirlwind of packing and rearranging and last minute realizations that there were more things to go through. A friend picked her up for lunch and then to the airport, and just like that, Sarah went back to the west coast and her Seattle life, laden with her precious things from her previous life on the east coast.

Sarah with our alarm clock :)

Sarah with our alarm clock 🙂

I stayed on in Durham for another couple of nights. On Monday, I performed a couple of songs for MC’s vocal students, which was fun. That night was an open mic where my friend Dylan runs the show, so I drove over after another delicious dinner with MC and Eric.

The lineup at the open mic was full, but I caught up with friends and enjoyed the familiar scene.

The next day, I stuck around, since I had no reason to rush back to the city. It was a sunny day and I soaked it up and we all had one last evening together in that happy little house. I made fried rice from leftovers and we watched Mad Men while munching fresh cookies. Mmmm!

I stayed up late enough to watch John Oliver interview Edward Snowden in Russia – very fascinating! It was shocking to see how many Americans don’t know who he is or what he exposed, but then, the discussion of what he has exposed has been both absent and present in the media. The NSA is mentioned, Snowden is mentioned, but as time passes, he recedes from memory. John Oliver is an amazing comic and critic and I felt that his interview with Snowden was really important.

Then it was bedtime. I awoke to say my goodbyes to the departing family, off for their busy days. I spent today finishing my laundry and writing, soaking up the beautiful, warm day and dodging bumble bees on the porch. Then it was time to hit the road, and so I said goodbye again to North Carolina.

I kept my sundress on and it was pleasant as far as Virginia, but then I had to capitulate and put on something warmer. By the time I got to Maryland, it started spitting rain. I saw large pileups on the other side of the highway, but the traffic gods were with me, and only the circumventing of D.C. delayed my progress with stoplights and low speed limits. But such is life.

I had plenty of time to think about what is going on in my life, but for a refreshing change, I found myself unworried, clear-headed. I’m unsure what is coming next, but I feel like I have made such progress in my own healing in the last year. It reminds me of when I was in India, in the south. My foot/leg had sustained a mysterious non-injury which nonetheless really hurt and prevented me from much walking during my first six months in India. I’d been trying to treat it with acupuncture and ayurvedic massage, but in the end, I had to massage it myself to get any results. Self massage was the only cure. But in a way, that wound has never healed. I still feel it – perhaps it is something inborn – an inequality between my two halves.

I got back to the city around midnight and unloaded my car, including all my new little reminders of Sarah and MC in books and objects. Visual reminders of my sweet friends and the time we had together. It is hard to say when we will be reunited again, but it was lovely to have a little dose of my ladies, even if we were missing an essential element.

Now to dress in warm clothes for a chilly city that hasn’t got the memo yet about spring, but I saw those blossoms blooming not far from here, so surely spring seeps north.

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

My Heart on My Sleeve

I must say, I was pretty nervous for this year’s batch of Spring eclipses. Last year’s packed a wallop that reverberates for me still, and just when I thought the world was rosy with possibility.

So far no terrible event or news has materialized. The winter hasn’t yet fully loosened its grip on the city, but what else is new?

My sister Erika’s birthday came around again on Tax Day. She would have turned 36.

 

with Erika and Claire in Brazil - New Year 2011

with Erika and Claire in Brazil – New Year 2011

 

It is strange to think that this year I will turn the same age that she was when she died. Three years. How swiftly time flies. How I wish I still had her companionship, her wit, her personality and sweetness. She cultivated her tender heart and opened it to everyone she met. She is so loved and missed by those of us to whom the world is a far less magical place in her absence. I have learned much about death through losing Erika, as I learned about life through growing up with her and emulating her.

I realize I never unveiled my new Erika tattoo or mentioned it here. I suppose in part because it isn’t really finished, but then, I’m not certain it will ever be finished, really. In the same way that I will be recovering from and coping with her physical absence from my life for the rest of my life, I will always wear a tribute to her on my arm. It is a part of me now, and as we approach the third anniversary of Erika’s death, I know that my grief will evolve and continue evolving for as long as I am on this earth, and though I can’t sit down with her or hug her or get a phone call from her, I can be reminded of her at all times.

 

Erika tattoo after 7-ish hours of work

Erika tattoo after 7-ish hours of work

 

People tend to think that it is Egyptian, I think without looking closely at it. In fact it is mostly inspired by Alfons Mucha – the art nouveau pioneer who designed many beautiful posters and whose graphic style I certainly admire.

 

Mucha's Spring

Mucha’s Spring

 

Erika was born in the spring and since that is the season embodied by this work of Mucha’s, I thought it was appropriate as the starting point for the design.

 

a little closer

a little closer

 

I wanted to frame her with the phases of the moon, as I have a strong association between her and the moon. I also wanted to show her love of animals, so I inserted her kitty, Rosie, into the flowers she is holding and with her other hand she is stroking the head of a fawn. We grew up raising deer and goats and the deer also represents her love for nature and wild animals, while Rosie represents her love for strays of all kinds, but especially cats.

Next to her is a stack of books, because she always loved books and read voraciously – almost compulsively. There is also a glass of wine for Erika’s love of and dedication to learning about wine and making it. It was in many ways a creative outlet for her, I think. All her powers of language and description were put to use in her studies of wine. In the background, vineyards represent her time in the wine country of California and behind that, the mountains and lakes of the Ozarks represent our upbringing in nature. On the other side of her, the background is the desert at Burning Man, with the Man as he looked in 2011, the year my sister died at the festival.

Spanning both sides of the background is a rainbow, which represents so many things: the miraculous in the quotidian, the natural, the ephemeral, the beautiful. Erika was the first person I knew to express strongly and proudly her support for the GLBT community. She was radical in many ways but it was always with an eye for fairness and equality and love.

After Erika died, when my parents and I were driving back across the country from California with the bulk of my sister’s belonging’s in tow, there was a solid 15 minutes where we were driving straight into a rainbow as the storm before us continued apace with our progress. Mom had already started to associate Erika with rainbows and we all felt it was her way of letting us know that she was ok.

I think that over the years I will color more parts and even add more to the design. I have my whole life to build on it, to remember her, to ritualize my grief through physical pain, transmuting it into beauty.

 

Erika on one of her last days at Burning Man - airbrushing and showing off a real tattoo - a butterfly

Erika on one of her last days at Burning Man – airbrushed and showing off a real tattoo – a butterfly

 

Erika was brave and beautiful and I can never really capture her brilliant personality and spirit, her fierce grin, her silliness, her sweetness.

 

To paraphrase Tenacious D, this is just a tribute to the real deal.

 

Tonight comes the second eclipse of the month and though it won’t be visible in this city, I wonder if it will be felt. For now I’m living with the allergies that are a product of this slow-in-coming spring,but I’ll take it, if it means weather warm enough for me to be out on the fire escape enjoying the out of doors again at last.

Love and miss,

Kira

 

Is free will anti-science?

I’m not sure why, but I have frequently encountered people – alright, men – who hold a baffling set of beliefs that goes something like this: there is no god, so there is no soul, there is only the body and the brain and the brain is like a computer and the body is just that of a hairless monkey AND there’s no such thing as free will, so even though there is no God to dictate your fate, you’re still fucked, because neuroscience says that before we make a decision, another impulse occurs, its origins unknown, but supposedly it means that we are what? Puppet slaves to some hidden force which isn’t God, but which controls our every decision? Hmm, why does this not sound like a viable theory? Perhaps because we have no idea where that impulse comes from and no evidence that it doesn’t originate in our own subconscious? Perhaps because there is no logic behind attributing a neural impulse that happens in our brains to something outside of ourselves? We are human beings. We change our minds constantly. Puppets have masters. So who is our master? It makes far more sense to me to say that there is just another step to our decision making process that we aren’t consciously aware of.

The other supposed nail in the coffin of free will for these believers of almighty Science is, as theoretical physics claims, that since the beginning and the ending of the universe were predetermined (according to our current perspective, since we exist), everything that happens in the universe is predetermined. And yet, these are likely the self-same people who would roll their eyes if I were to say “everything happens for a reason,” or if I tried to discuss the merits of astrology or tarot cards as predictive and interpretive reflections of the greater cosmic energy which flows through every molecule. That’s beyond belief, but fatalistic determinism, well that’s science!

To a materialistic person or one who doesn’t believe in the principles of cause and effect as they exist on the cosmic level, the world is nothing more or less than what can be reflected in the mirror of science. In effect, it is the equivalent of believing that what you see in a mirror is all there is, rather than realizing the limitations of a mirror, the boundaries of its capacity, the fact that a mirror does not accurately depict all aspects of reality in its dimensions and vitality. It is a tool: a way of examining and understanding. But it is yet a crude tool in our hands.

The mirror or lens of science is not attuned to the stuff of spirit. Indeed, it looks in the other direction: at the physical. The observable. The entire notion of the spiritual is that it’s something non-physical and therefore, non-observable through our very physical sensors. We define the parameters of our reality with our beliefs, whether we think there is something mystical involved in that process or not. What we consider to be possible determines what is possible for us in many ways. How could we look through the lens of spirit, when we don’t believe spirit exists? Why is it so hard to see that spirit and science need not negate one another?

Moving on.

Spring has sprung, signifying the end to the longest, hardest winter in my memory. It is like a door cracking open, letting the light seep in. It is the beginning of the new year in Persian culture, a time when the earth is opening her doors again to the cultivating of crops and the burgeoning of a new cycle of life. Round and round we go and hopefully, we continue to do so.

My dear cousin, Kate, has just had her first child: a baby girl. And I am fortunate to be near her and able to spend time with the growing young family and the newborn babe. Though I have been unlucky to lose my sister before she had the chance to have children of her own, it is quite the blessing to be so near to my beloved cousin, who has been so much like a sister to me. Her daughter is beautiful and I’m reminded of a lesson I’ve learned from Erika about prioritizing family. Though friends can become like family, too, and another close to me has also recently brought a new life into the world. It seems that this springtime is one of budding and producing for several of my friends in addition to my cousin. It makes the season seem brighter, somehow. Hopeful.

me n my sweet baby cuz :)

me n my sweet baby cuz 🙂

More brides to be with their entourages are coming to the Beauty Bar for celebratory manis and martinis, signalling another shift as winter winds down and women wear white. People seem somewhat giddy with just the thought of being free of these suffocating layers, these old skins are ready to shed.

It has been one year since I returned from my travels – one year since I came back to New York, and the anniversary can’t help but produce reflection on that choice. If I could have seen the future, I wonder if I’d have made the same decision to return. Perhaps I’d have stayed in India longer, or gone to the Czech Republic after Egypt. But then again, perhaps not.

It has been a tough transition in some ways, but then I suppose life is not purported to be easy. And that which can be lost was never really ours.

All for now – love and miss!

Kira

I know this much is true

It’s true: New York still feels like home. I tried to unstick myself, but in the end, I guess it was not the city, but my life in it which had become “koyaanisquatsi” – which, in case you’ve never seen the film, means (in the Hopi language): 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life disintegrating. 4. life out of balance. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.

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It isn’t as if I hated my life here before I left – I can’t claim to be anything but fortunate when it comes to the path that my life has taken – the opportunities I have been given, all my life, to explore, wonder, wander, dream, love, make mistakes, try again, learn. Though it is true that I can sometimes be caught wishing that life were more of a fairytale with a happy ending, I know in my soul that it is true that it is all about the journey. There is something about my journey through this time and space that lends itself to philosophy – philo meaning lover and sophos meaning wisdom: I am enamoured of both love and wisdom, and I have so far had the sort of life that has allowed me to pursue both, to be a student of love. Perhaps one of these days I may even be wise on the subject. But somehow it seems that just when I think I’m getting the hang of things, the universe confirms, in no uncertain terms, that holy shit I got it all wrong. Luckily for me, broken hearts write the best love songs – at least the ones I’ve always liked the most.

All that being said, the truth of a broken heart, at this stage in the game, is that nothing is really broken. Bruised, perhaps, tired and sore, but not at all hopeless – such has not always been the case for me. I think most of us can have a hard time maintaining equilibrium, especially when circumstances are beyond our control, when hopes are dashed, when we come to believe we’ll be be seeing nothing but pairs of cherries, just to find a line of lemons instead. Maybe it is just a philosophical coping mechanism, but I think there is truth to the statement that letting a thing go is the only way to see if it was ever yours to begin with.

Then again, there’s a chance that, once you let it go, you’ll realize you didn’t love it so very much after all.

Not so with New York, at least not thus far. There is something about this city that just runs through my feet like a current and races through my veins and fills my lungs, makes me drunk as I walk down my new street, smiling in the springtime sun. Yesterday I donned my only outfit that passes for evening-wear, since most of my clothes are still in storage or packed into my car in my grandmother’s carport, and took the train to the Gansevoort Hotel on Park Avenue where I was meeting my beautiful Italian friend Sylvia and her Dutch boyfriend Robert. There was an Italian happy hour, full to the gills with be-suited and smiling Italians drinking Peroni and eating hors d’oeuvres. Robert and Sylvia came on their bikes, so when it was time to head up to Sylvia’s office for a fashion show/ fancypants event, Robert let me hop on the back of his cruiser and gave me pretty much the best ride through midtown I have ever had. It was warmish despite the onset of evening and I rode sidesaddle, like the women in India do in their saris, as Robert remarked. I was grinning from ear to ear as the towering buildings slid by like cards, shuffling memories through my head and Sylvia looked so elegant in her Dr. Scholls platform shoes, up past Bryant Park we rode and I recalled a summer picnic there – not yet a year ago, but lifetimes have passed since then – when Sarah and I munched on goodies she spread out on the old orange tapestry and drank champagne from bodega cups, watching the Wizard of Oz – the story of a girl who goes on a long, strange trip, just to find her way back home again.

We parked the bikes and bypassed the line of people waiting to get into the event, like VIPs, which is always fun when you just cruised up on two wheels. Sylvia is an architect who works sometimes in this collaborative shared space, which also happens to be an event space which they rent out for parties and, in this case, a fashion show / benefit. We tried beer and cheese pairings and sipped cocktails and watched the models display their wears (get it?).

painted argyle

painted argyle

walking the cat

walking the cat

marina and i on the red carpet

marina and me on the red carpet

On Wednesday I moved most of my things and the remainder of Nora’s out of the old apartment on West 4th, and it’s a good thing I waxed poetic about it when I could, because Tuesday night I was taking down curtains and packing up boxes, not unlike my last few nights in Brooklyn last summer before I took off for foreign lands, but somehow easier because it wasn’t my stuff, for the most part. The moving guys came the next day, and so begins my life in Williamsburg.

I never intended to be a Williamsburger, but here I am, loving it after just a few days, though the change in the weather can’t hurt, either. There is nothing like the joy of sitting on one’s fire escape on a sunny afternoon, writing, listening to music, listening to the unbelievably loud meowing of some hidden cat. Manhattan peeks through the trees on the far side of the backyards behind my new building. It’s a different life than my last life in New York – different folks, different scenery, different job – that’s right! I’m working part time for a screenwriter who teaches classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan on writing and film, both things I love. And the fact that I can walk to work is a big plus.

As the technicolor of spring sets in, the cherry blossoms bloom like the dickens on streets and in gardens and on everyones’ Facebook page. The full moon has been looming over the city, portending deep change, transformation. I thought it was just something energetic until I got some news this morning that made me realize this moon isn’t fucking around. As much as I might have thought it would be possible for me to pick up the pieces of my old life here, I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am starting from scratch.

Chance and Other Games of Love 

Love and miss,

Kira