Photos From Yesterday’s Trip

Since my mobile wasn’t cooperating, I had to get creative to get these onto my desktop so I could post them.

These are all phone photos, but they turned out pretty good I think.  Mostly Astoria but there’s one of a sea cliff along Highway 101 and one of a neat little crab that was very well-camouflaged among the barnacles on a large rock.

To The Sea

Today I finally took my much-needed drive to the coast. I don’t know if I’m any closer to answers though; it felt in some ways like ad hoc relief because I didn’t have a transcendent moment.

In other ways, it felt like a human moment that might have bought me just a little bit of grounding. I had my husband with me, and a random local guy I met via Twitter who seems OK.

I don’t know what the trip did for me really; I’m too tired to think after 12 hours behind the wheel.  It certainly was pretty, though.  We all need beauty in our lives and I drank in so much of it today; Western Oregon is possibly one of the most majestic places in the world, or at least in the US.

Also, I must admit that the sea air put some color in all our cheeks. We were all a bit pale this morning; now, not so much. We’re not sunburnt, we just look healthier.

I guess the biggest emotion I got out of this trip so far was a sense of profound longing, though. It really hit in Astoria, seeing the ships moving down the mighty Columbia toward the Pacific.

There is a part of me that really misses the ocean. And that part of me, I’m fairly certain, once sailed into Astoria about 150 years ago.

Maybe if the country goes to hell, that’s what I’ll do.  I have fewer regrets from my seafaring life than I have from the life I wasted at the Western Front.

In the meantime, what can I do, but go to the seaside as often as I can.

No Closer To Answers

I’m no closer to answers on what I should be doing.

I do want to condemn the shooting of a public official earlier this week.  I do not believe such actions are going to be helpful at this middle stage of metastasizing fascism.  Already there are calls to weaken press freedoms in the wake of this attack, which is the last thing we need.  The only time raising arms against a public official is justified is when they have already taken your freedom to dissent and they can no longer be voted out, though I fear that time may come sooner rather than later if there isn’t a massive, non-violent action.

Honestly, our best bet is a general strike that drags on for a long period of time and economically paralyzes the country until demands are met, but I don’t see that materializing, and I don’t know the first thing about organizing such a massive initiative.

With nothing doing in the way of a really constructive action, I haven’t been getting more involved in activism. Instead I’m retreating deeper into my writing.  I find that it’s the only lifeline I have to keep me grounded now.

Not only am I working on a novel that I’ve been trying to finish for years, but I’m also re-working a novel I wrote in 2010 and shelved, which should be ready much sooner since I’ve already done all of the painful work of actually sorting out the story.  I’m thinking of self-publishing that one since it’s outside the scope of what my publisher normally works with.  It’s a picaresque slice-of-life story about an unhinged American student living in London; my SF work has been easier to publish and distribute (thus it ever was).

Maybe this weekend I’ll go to the ocean.  I’ve needed that.  I haven’t felt this helpless or agitated since the life I spent sailing those very waters 150 years ago.  I’ve often thought about my husband and I getting work on a ship if things get too hopeless here on land, but it’s a bittersweet thought.  The sea was my refuge, but it wasn’t always a pleasant place.  We think of freedom in such glowing terms, but what is it really?  Wild animals are free; their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.

That’s what the ocean is to me: freedom, in all its glory and all its horror. Beautiful, but stark.  The will to live and the thanatos drive separate themselves by a thinner margin there than anywhere else on earth.  And on the shore, that liminal space between the rocks and the surf, maybe I’ll clear my head and come to some understanding with this uncaring universe.

Sorry to ramble.  I’ve got ten thousand restless thoughts right now and I can’t possibly force them all into some succinct or coherent box.

A Difficult Decision…

Today, I made a decision I’ve been agonizing over for months.

I decided to take a hiatus from my ecclesiastical duties.

The bishop was fairly understanding although I don’t know if he realizes that this could be a long-term thing.  For now it’s 3 months but we’ll see where I am by September.

The fact is, there is a part of my soul that can’t be still when the world goes mad.  Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that there’s a purposeful part of me that always gets involved when there’s a conflict brewing.

For me, I think the turning point was a couple weeks ago when I heard about the knife attack on the Max.  I was in the neighborhood when it happened, I saw the cop cars and yellow tape.  I was waiting for a friend of mine from out of town who wanted to go to a recreational dispensary (the same friend who reminds me so much of Richard).  As I sat in the lobby of the dispensary, I looked up what was going on and found the news story.  I was shaking.  I felt sick.

There’s a lot of other things happening in my city and country that are moving me to action.  Things I don’t want to get into here.  I discovered I was transgender shortly after exploring and then rapidly falling out with fascist ideals; you do the math.

But it’s clear that once again, the cycles of time have placed me on this earth in a time of conflict and danger, and the part of myself that rose to the challenge has been awakened something fierce.  I’m still unsure in what capacity I’ll get involved in the struggle or to what extent, but I know where my allegiances lie and it’s sure as hell not with the Fash.

There’s more going on though.  I’m also trying my best to get a writing career off the ground while trying to get my ADHD under control.  I’m trying to cope with severe dysphoria from having to delay my surgery.  I’m coping with a resurgence of past life memories that came as a likely result of stress from the incident on the Max.

In short, I’m trying to find a way to navigate through a very confusing, turbulent time and as much good as the church has done me, my obligations as a lay server were more than I could juggle with everything else I have to think about.

Gotta Wonder

My husband keeps having recurring dreams involving Maurice Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin.”

In one dream, he was riding a bicycle through France and stopped in a field, watching the skies at night while that piece of music played.

In another, he was in a cafe or restaurant with a sheltered outdoor dining area when he was approached by a poor Frenchman who asked him to play the second movement for him.

I can’t shake the idea that it’s past life related though nothing about him resembles Maurice Ravel, but I can certainly imagine him as a Frenchman around the turn of the 20th century.

Interestingly, this piece of music is dedicated to the memory of several people Ravel had known who died in WWI.  The Fugue movement is dedicated to one Second Lieutenant Jean Cruppi, a fellow composer.

I certainly hope memories of that war aren’t lurking in the deep recesses of his memory though.  He’s such a sensitive soul, sweet and shy.  I can’t imagine what those kinds of memories would do to him if they should surface.  I’ve told him often that he’s lucky to not remember the things I have.

I’d rather think of him as having somehow escaped getting pulled into the war, living out a long and happy life among the bohemian set at the end of the Belle Epoque and enjoying the all-too-brief respite of the interwar years.

Here’s the piece of music from his dreams:

An Amusing Anecdote

Monday before last, my week was sort of overshadowed by my hospitalization but I neglected to mention what had happened the weekend before that.

I’d exhausted myself with some friends from out of town.  Specifically, my singer-songwriter friend who reminds me a great deal of Richard and a mutual friend of ours from Scotland who plays keys.  They were in town for a couple of shows and a lot of partying and I was with them for a good bit of it.

Anyhow, I was watching them on stage and I got to thinking (none too seriously) if my tall, red-haired friend had been Richard, who could this shorter black-haired friend have been?

Then I looked at his keyboard and had to laugh.

It said “Roland.”

Funny enough, Roland was a short fellow with dark hair, though I remember him being stockier.  In all seriousness though, I don’t think this was him; I just thought it was funny.

James: What I Know So Far

For those who don’t want to wade through a lot of other material, here’s what I know so far about James.

James was probably born in England around 1810 because I remember being a young man at the time of Queen Victoria’s coronation.  Rochester is a good match for where he lived as a young man in the 1830s.

He served in the military and I suspect he spent time in India (much like Jack did about 60 years later).  The name “Chundaree” rattles around in my mind (I checked it out, there was some significant action there during James’ day) but specific memories elude me.  If the dream I had a while ago is correct, he was discharged dishonorably.  This dream gave me both the name “James” and an accurate memory of a 19th century military barracks.

I have a vague memory of having punched someone so hard they died.  This may have figured into James’ decision to become a sailor.

He made port in the northeastern US.  New York is highly likely.  Boston perhaps.  The detail that clued me into a northeastern port was a dream I had about a floating sailor’s chapel of a type that was common in that region in those days.  I don’t think he was involved with blockade running during the Civil War and remember nothing of southern ports.  I do remember a stop in Argentina, but only the faintest flicker of a gaucho’s boots of a style I traced to the mid-19th century. From there he sailed round the horn on a sailing ship.

The rest is a blank until San Francisco.  I remembered traipsing around Chinatown specifically (probably up to no good).  Then there was another memory from further up the coast, of having survived a shipwreck and staring down at a paddle steamer lying on its side in the surf below the cliffs of Marin or Sonoma County.  I confirmed that this stretch of water was indeed a bit of a graveyard for paddle steamers in those days.

I suspect I may have made it to Portland but I have no specific memory, only a nagging familiarity from old photographs of the ramshackle construction down by the old riverfront, long before they built all that nice park land.  If I did come here all those years ago, strange that I should settle here.

Then somehow, I remember being in France during the Paris Commune.  Exactly why or how I got there is a mystery.  All I know is that there were a number of Englishmen there at the time, all of whom survived the collapse of the commune as far as I’m aware.

The last clear memories are of working as a stagehand in a small opera house, the location of which I haven’t been able to pin down.  It was an old building even then.  Watching a production of “The Magic Flute” performed with costumes and staging based on the traditional interpretations of that opera brought back a flood of sense and sight memories, including the flare of a limelight, starting orange and then glowing bright and starlike; I confirmed this.  Verdi’s “Nabucco” is another opera I remember being performed there.  I was excited to confirm that it was common in those days for sailors to become stagehands.  This was probably the birth of my love of opera, which has stayed with me across several lifetimes.

The death I saw under regression was rather pointless.  It involved getting drunk at a party for the crew after finishing a production and taking a tumble into a canal.  This would have been before 1877 since Jack was born circa June of that year; for the sake of argument, let’s say circa 1875.  James was in his 60s at the time and to date this is the life where I probably lived the longest out of all the lives I’ve remembered.

I had suspected for a while that maybe he’d been hanged, since I have an extremely strong feeling that at least one of my lives ended that way; however, I can find no reference to anyone who sounds quite enough like our James having been hanged in England between 1860 and 1880.  If he killed a man, he got away with it.  It makes the end of my subsequent life- blown to bits on the Western Front- seem that much more tragically fitting; perhaps we do pay for all our crimes one way or another.