Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

Letters From Heaven

with 9 comments

I just came back from a 4-day Vipassana retreat at Breitenbush; these are the letters I wrote to the Esq while I was there. To read the ones from last year, they’re here.

Day One

Dear J,

Thanks for the laptop loan! Hand Cramp-Free is now my middle name – or maybe it’s my new Native American name – but it’s a big step up from last year. That being said, my uterus is bringing an onslaught of labor-like pain and my foot is going to fall off. Also: vegetarian food. Cramp-free hands aren’t really an even trade for all that, but tomorrow will be better – and even if it’s not, the mere memory of bacon and Twitter will sustain me; it’s enough to know they’re out there, awaiting my return.

Being here shows me how much I’ve depended on you, which is borderline embarrassing; you’ve been like an adorable Boy Scout this summer, earning your Crippled Old Bitch badge. I’m missing you tonight – and not just your awesome nightly foot rubs, although who are we kidding, that’s exactly what I’m talking about – so I re-read the notes you took throughout Europe (which are on this computer) and now I miss you even more. What I’m saying is: I suck at comforting myself. Also, we need to go to Europe, and by ‘we,’ I mean you should take me.

Julie is the one leading the retreat; she’s done it for 25 years, and works at Spirit Rock. She reminds me of a young Joan Plowright, with a little bit of Yoda mixed in. It took her 65 minutes to utter the phrase ‘sacred feminine,’ but what else can you expect from an all-female meditation retreat? ‘There is no right way to find yourself,’ she said, though I think a diet of cheese and cocaine is probably the wrong way. Note to self: change diet.

Gimme a B! B! Gimme an E! E! What’s that spell? BBEE!

BEING! BEING! BEING! BEING! That’s the name of the game this week. No DOING DOING DOING DOING – which is hard, when all you want to do is fart in the middle of a perfectly still, totally silent meditation practice with 50 other people.  While squirming in my seat and fighting off hot flashes, my stomach rolled and I thought GODDAMN YOU, GARLIC. Hey, I made it through without unleashing the beast, which is more than I can say for the gal who tooted at the end of our dharma talk. I was a little put out that she couldn’t hold it, but I guess I’m just spiritually superior to her. (I kid.)

During Julie’s talk this evening, she said that we should ‘enjoy the silence.’ That’s how I knew Depeche Mode was my musical guide and that you were with me in spirit. The girl I went to high school with is here again; I call her The Frizzy-Haired Bodhisattva. Someone said I should go say hi, and I was like – Sure, I’ll just walk up to her and go, ‘Remember what an fucking asshole you were to me in high school? Let’s reminisce!’ Reconnecting is fun. I’m sure she’s perfectly nice now, or maybe that’s just the story I’m telling myself; either way, I didn’t say hello. Mom said, “Was she mean to you in high school?” All I could say was ‘yes,’ because moms don’t need to hear what young girls are capable of – the reality can be pretty depressing.

I’m not tired, but I must sleep. Our toilet sort of works – I think it’s on East Coast time, or maybe it’s developmentally disabled – and I have a big bed to myself. All it does is remind me that you’re not here, but I hope you’re having fun slaying zombies and being a dude.

Instead of signing off with ‘Love,’ I’m going to sign off with what I love most: anything with a nervous system.

Bacon-wrapped shrimp,

M

Day Two

Dear J,

After sleeping in non-consecutive, 45-minute fits all night long, I finally decided that sleep is for the weak. So I forsake sleep from here on out – sleep, I reject thee! I also reject the vegetarian food, and the long walk to the lodge, not that it’s doing me any good.

I like how unconditioned I am here: image mostly gone, mind open, emotionally strong. No one besides our group knows me, or what I do (which is…?) or what I want to do (which is…?), and there are very little influences here that are negative except, you know, my own brain.

YET AGAIN I had a gastronomically-challenged meditation session this morning (GODDAMN YOU, EGG), so thank God for the outdoors; there are no dogs or boyfriends to blame it on here. I hope we’re having beef brisket wrapped in bacon and rendered in duck fat for dinner – is that so much to ask? Lunch was quinoa, sage tempeh with tempeh trimmings, salad, yam fries, and veggies. So tempeh, if you’ve never had it, is what I imagine vegans tasting like: like mushy, curdy, earthy beans with a little Nag Champa mixed in.

The whole clan is finally here: India with daughter Sara, and daughter-in-law, Stephanie; Emily with daughter Linda Jane; Ulista with daughter Lista; Denny, and then Mom and I. It’s truly a mother-daughter weekend, and I’m having so much fun just being with them – talking, listening, laughing, processing. Sorry, I meant we’re BEING with a capital BEING. I never noticed until now that ‘being’ and ‘Bejing’ are just one letter apart – they’re like second spelling cousins – except the word ‘Bejing’ smells like Communism, and ‘being’ tastes like freedom that’s covered in chocolate sauce.

In small group today, we all spoke about what’s going on in our lives, how we’re doing, what we’re observing. I spoke mostly about My Stupid Fucking Foot, because I’VE BEEN CRIPPLED FOREVER (well, that’s just how it feels). Even though I’m walking, it’s still pretty precarious, and I’m pushing myself too hard; but the main part is, I’m farther along in the journey than I was one day ago, two weeks go, three months ago. That’s progress. And even if I hate every minute of it, I’d rather enjoy what I can because I’m going through it regardless. I think people call that ‘acceptance,’ but I call it serious sleep deprivation. We ended the discussion with a chat about controlling the spray of your pee and how it’s different after having children; you know, just your average Friday afternoon.

There was a girl in line before me at lunch, and her giant bag said, “I WANT TO BE THE CHANGE I WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” The change I wished to see in that moment was me setting fire to that bag. I’m still on my period, is what I’m saying.

During Julie’s talk tonight, she spoke about women, and Woman, and the goddess and all that. She talked of compassionate and merciful goddesses, and the ones who are just like Kali: a fierce, no-nonsense goddess. I want to be one of those, please. Of course, a real goddess wouldn’t freak out in the middle of meditation about forgetting her shampoo, would she? Who am I kidding, real goddesses have minions for remembering that stuff. “Headdress, check; eight limbs, check; bad ass spiritual powers, check; Pantene Pro-V, check. We’re good to go.” I just need a small staff of six – it used to be eight, but what with the recession, we have to be realistic.

From my notes: ‘Can we recognize that all the experiences in our lives are doorways?’ Good question. ‘What can I do to be a better partner?’ I randomly wrote that one down – I plan on asking you for feedback when I get home; get ready to tell the truth and then pay for it (just kidding – no, I’m serious – or am I?).

I loved this:

‘The three energies that create suffering in the world: greed, anger, and delusion.’

Greed: the wanting mind, the not-enough mind, envy.

Anger: everything from the Aversion Family… the judging mind, the fearful mind.

Delusion: spacey, loss of reality, the confused mind.

‘When you bring awareness to and understand these energies, they naturally transform into energies of wisdom and spaciousness. The difference between spaciness and spaciousness is awareness.’ I liked that, because it’s very true for me and the world I live in.

Wow, I can’t believe how long this is – it’s going to be one epic blog post. My massage is tomorrow and I’m SO looking forward to it; my leg and foot are swelling in places I didn’t even know existed. I think they just miss you.

Duck confit,

M

PS – I’m gonna lose weight from the food, or lack thereof, so BONUS.

PS2 – I’M HUNGRY.

PS3 – Now I want a PS3.

Day Three

Dear J,

It just can’t be denied: the woman with the largest breasts in our solar system is here. See, our group is like The Gigantic Boob Brigade (except for some who will go unnamed but who might be related to me), and this woman puts us all to shame. I applaud how she goes without a bra, defiantly saying ‘fuck you’ to gravity and then tucking her boobs into the front pockets of her jeans. This gal is older and looked fairly severe, but I loved hearing her laugh; it was so loud and happy, and unexpected. It stripped years away from her face. She’s also the one who reminds me of the Sand People from Star Wars, because yesterday she wrapped her entire face in a scarf and I momentarily thought she was in league with Jabba the Hut. Or even worse: Jar-Jar Binks.

So here’s how I accidentally sort of touched a penis that wasn’t yours today:

I went for my massage with a guy we’ll call Atreyu – because he had that Neverending Story look about him – and he was a bit of a dish. I’m not into the giant ear holes or tattoos or vegan-thin bodies, but as granola-loving men go, he was pretty hot.

This sounds like the beginning of a beautiful affair, so I’m not really explaining it right.

Anyway, his massage technique was excellent: he had a good touch, could effleurage like a champ, and did the choppy-chop hand thing like a machine gun down my back. The fact that Atreyu’s weiner was basically on my hand for part of the time should. not. alarm. you – he was just leaning over me to massage my hip and my open hand was in the wrong place. So I was like, ‘Okayyy – if I move my hand, then he’ll realize he’s been resting his junk on me and be all mortified, which I don’t want – or maybe he’ll think I’m coming onto him, DEAR GODDESS NO. Or maybe… maybe I’m making a giant deal out of this. But it’s a weiner! Damn it, who cares, focus on the massage. But! Gah. Ee! Focus. Breathe. FOCUS. PULL YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.’ So I shifted slightly, he moved back after finishing my side, and all. was. well. And no, he wasn’t doing it on purpose, though we are planning on running away together.

My favorite thing Julie said today was this: the present moment is the only thing you can love. Loving in the past is Memory; loving in the future is Fantasy. And when she said that I was all, WHY DON’T YOU JUST STAB ME IN THE FACE, JULIE. ‘Loving in the future’ is what I’m good at; I was planning on putting it on my résumé. I never get hurt and I control the outcome – what could be better? I thought ignoring the present propelled me towards my future faster, but I guess even real no-nonsense goddesses have basic stuff to learn.

I made a list of ways I can take care of myself when I get home. On top of the list: being cig-free 100% of the time. Second runner-up: scrub my space. It continues with stuff like ‘start being friends with people I actually LIKE’ and ‘make healthy meals’; it ends with ‘be more compassionate towards the people I judge’ and ‘for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t get pregnant.’ Sage advice.

***

We just got back from the Kali fire. It was everything I needed, and I laughed SO. MUCH. One of our group, who you’ve met, knew how to start the Kali fire off right: with laughs I couldn’t get, not even with my best material. I haven’t laughed that hard – albeit a little teary – in a really long time; I’m a pretty hard sell. Since these letters are going on the blog, I won’t get into everyone’s offerings or what they said specifically, but I will say that our girl took a beautifully-executed swan dive into a brand new universe by completing (i.e.; knocking that shit out of the ballpark) her Al-Anon 5th step. If you know what that is, then you know how incredibly challenging it is – and if it’s unfamiliar to you, I can only describe it as swimming upstream, naked, in front of everyone you know, while being clubbed on the head repeatedly and drowning. Okay, well that was my experience. I remember it as looking like a warm embrace, but feeling like I was passing through the mouth of a shark. Completing a 5th step is a big deal; it’s like wrestling the wind and winning. I was really happy for her, if a little weirded out by the accidental spilling of her mother’s ashes on my bed.

Me: Oh my god, is that her on the floor, too?

For my offering, I had a piece of paper with the Charles Eames quote, “Take your pleasure seriously,” with a brief outline of what I was hoping to transform. I asked Kali to help me transform my most powerful words into a book – but gently. Last year I asked her to help me transform our place into a home, because I wanted to spend time there and to enjoy my surroundings. Well it really fucking worked, didn’t it – because my Achilles tendon ruptured and I’ve spent the last three months in our home, if not exactly enjoying it. But hey, that unleashed a bevy of learning opportunities, and you know how much I love those. So be careful what you wish for. Also, never end a sentence in a preposition.

Here’s what I’m missing in my life: women like this. Women who are strong, who fight the proverbial good fight, who laugh as loud as they can, who do everything voraciously, who enjoy life to the extreme, who face their issues head-on and trust their own intuitions; crazy, real-life goddesses. That’s what I love about this group: it’s so easy to be with them, it’s easy to be myself. To know I’ll be supported, no matter what; to know our conversation will start where we left off six months ago; to have a connection that is visceral, historical; to witness their hurrahs and also their oh no’s. This is what I want. I don’t feel like there’s anyone in my life I do that with regularly now, besides maybe you. And you’re kind of lacking the T&A (also a very important V), although you’ve got a pretty nice A and your girlfriend has fairly good T’s. Speaking of which, who goes this long without having sex? AND WHY?!

I get to see you tomorrow!!! Which would have been the best news of the night, but then I heard there might be a private meditation retreat in 2010 – for our group of ladies – WITH JULIE, AT THE BEACH HOUSE. AT THE BEACH HOUSE. WITH JULIE. AND OUR GROUP. AT THE BEACH HOUSE. I almost pooped my pants from joy, but then realized it was probably the dinner I had: garlic and garlic with a side of garlic. The food did not live up to last year’s, but to be fair, I think they were expecting more blind deaf-mutes, or people born without taste buds. I ate salad five times – FIVE! that’s more than one, two three and four! that’s more salad than I’ve eaten in 12 years! – which tells you the state of the rest of the food. It was edible, but not nourishing; it tasted like grown-up food for babies. Bleh.

I miss you but by this time tomorrow night, we’ll be… well, knowing us, I’ll be blogging and you’ll be gaming. But at least we’ll be doing it in the same orbit.

Ezell’s fried chicken,

M

Day Four

Dear J,

Now that it’s time, I don’t want to leave; everything’s feeling safe and warm, and I’d like to stay another day, give or take a few years. I feel like I just got into a groove, darn it all. I just got into my book, Three Cups of Tea – I think you would enjoy it – and Mom gave me The Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation; I’m determined to make that a book I actually read and not just one I use under my mouse. I love the weather, and walking is easier. I totally “sunk” in meditation for the first time this morning, which I can only describe as my ears plugging up and my head floating straight into my ass – for seven seconds, at least. It wasn’t totally unpleasant; my head’s usually up there, anyway. Of course I want to see you, but when I get home I’ll have to follow through with the shit I’ve said out loud – in front of Earthlings! actual people! human people! human people with ears! – which isn’t my forte. I just want to stay here and eat food that looks like seared gravel and read my woo-woo books and be an honorary Breitenbush Fire Department member, if only to wear the BFD t-shirt. This is such a nice place. Oh, except for the gunshots at night, but those made me feel like I was back in the city – people freaked out, understandably, but I was like, ‘Eight gunshots, awwwwwww….*snore*.’

Does it seem weird that I feel like I can have a Buddhist practice and still be an atheist? Take your Philosophy degree and ponder that, and let’s have a chat; I missed our random talks about nothing, where I basically learn everything. It’s just like here: I did nada, and learned a lot. NOTHING WAS THE POINT. Add an ice cream bar, Wi-Fi, and a light rail to the cabins, and Breitenbush would have been Heaven on Earth. Truthfully, I still think it is, despite the lack of meat products.

Julie described her personal retreat today, and I’m intrigued by the idea. I couldn’t go for three months – I’m pretty sure I just did that, THANK YOU LEG – but it might be cool to do. I forgot to ask if you’d ever meditated before; I wonder if you can do it without your body mercilessly punishing you. Doubtful.

After everyone left to pack, I had a nice chat with Julie about the blog, the book, how much you rock my life, Bluebeards (Emily’s term for unworthy buttholes that women choose to be with, of which I am familiar), and the possible beach retreat. I was so excited when she said that – I couldn’t concentrate during meditation afterward, because I was busy planning what baked goods to create on our not-set-in-stone retreat; hilariously, Mom was busy planning the food menu. “Like mother, like daughter” was the weekend theme, that’s for sure. Had you told me ten years ago we would have been doing this together, I would have laughed until I died – and even after being buried, you still would have heard my laughter. Thanks to her for taking me – what a fun trip! Guess I’m ready to come home now – I’m in such a good mood, you’ll hardly recognize me.

So fire up the hugs and shut down the porn, I’m on my way home to you! And Twitter – I really missed Twitter.

Meatloaf,

M

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Written by sn0tteh

September 21, 2009 at 6:22 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

9 Responses

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  1. This is one of the blogs I look forward to once a year. Maybe someday I will be there with you holding in farts and walking around naked. I would probally crey and you would make me laugh, and yes say something thoughtful because yes you in your own way are a goddess to me 😉

    mafiamama

    September 21, 2009 at 7:19 PM

  2. I meant to write cry. At times this tiny keyboard on my g1 does not do my already mispelling self justice

    mafiamama

    September 21, 2009 at 7:20 PM

  3. @mafiamama I hope you get to experience it someday!

    sn0tteh

    September 22, 2009 at 8:37 AM

  4. Oh, Snotty,

    If I’m REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good can I please come with you next year????

    Yours faithfully,

    Madm

    madm

    September 22, 2009 at 1:10 PM

  5. @Madm It depends on your spiritual willingness to get naked – you in? 🙂

    sn0tteh

    September 22, 2009 at 3:33 PM

  6. I wanted to write something snarky, and I didn’t read all of this because I almost felt a little too voyeuristic reading your letters to your love…but this caught my eye: “I missed our random talks about nothing, where I basically learn everything” and it really touched me. Sometimes you’re able to wrap up a feeling so well in one sentence that it floors me. so, um, thanks 🙂

    stacymarie

    September 22, 2009 at 3:56 PM

  7. @stacymarie Thanks, lady – and don’t worry, I write these letters knowing they’ll be posted, so I generally try to make it safe for everyone’s eyes – like you and my mom. 🙂

    sn0tteh

    September 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

  8. I love it, Snotty. Your retreat sounds magical and your writing brings joy, as always.

    Jenny

    September 23, 2009 at 3:30 PM

  9. @Jenny Thanks, you tattooed cutie. PS: we really need to get together. It’s been FOREVAH. I can tell you about my trip in person!

    sn0tteh

    September 23, 2009 at 3:38 PM


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