Thursday, April 30, 2009


For years I've read a blog called One City, which is the blog of the Interdependence Project in New York, a meditation community that J was part of when he was living there most recently. I think it started as a small meditation group or school in the East Village, but they've grown into a non-profit organization with a small staff, lots of classes, and activities having to do with activism, the arts, and Buddhist meditation. They're good folks, very committed and hard-working. This week they moved their blog to beliefnet, which is a very irritating sort of pseudo-religion web site, including astrology and new age stuff along with ads for teeth whiteners, etc.

I guess you would say I'm a lapsed meditator. I haven't sat more than a handful of times since I went back to school almost 2 years ago -- before that I sat almost every day for years. But I still consider myself a Buddhist. My outlook, my attitude, my worldview is Buddhist, as I understand it. I've never belonged to a sangha (Buddhist community), mainly now because I don't have a car, but, even if I did, I probably wouldn't. The few encounters I've had with Buddhist groups here and in San Francisco have left me annoyed more than anything else. I have this theory that so many Buddhists are huge narcissists because Buddhism promises some relief from the incessant nagging chorus of Me Me Me in their heads. (That's what attracted me to it, if I'm totally honest.)

So I enjoyed this blog because it gave me a connection to a Buddhist community and I liked that it was New York based because I just like keeping connected to New York, but after a couple days of the beliefnet nonsense flashing at me at 6:30 in the morning when I read my blogs, I left a comment saying basically, "Y'all have changed. This is not for me anymore. Goodbye." Ads for teeth whiteners are so exactly opposed to what I consider to be the basic values of Buddhist philosophy. Being told every morning that my teeth aren't white enough makes it hard to cultivate contentment.

What else?

I've been nursing a crush since Saturday. I met this young man, spent one beautiful night with him, and he moved to San Francisco yesterday. Since he is 24 (exactly half my age), I've been contemplating time and aging along with love and erotic obsession and the usual stuff. There's a paradox I can't solve. The feeling that I'm smarter now that I am older and have experienced a lot of things gives me great pleasure. And relief, because I know there are things I know now and will not have to learn again. Painful experiences I don't have to repeat because I've learned the lessons they have for me. So that's good.

Now, I know, even though I have playfully talked about following him, there doesn't seem to be an ounce of me that really believes I would do that. I don't even feel anything I might call a desire to do that, even though at times in the last few days I've felt a pain in my gut that would be relieved by his presence near me. (Just to put this scenario in a light that shows me at least a hair closer to sane, though I did just meet him in person Saturday we've been chatting on and off online for a couple years -- does that mitigate things at all?) Twenty years ago, I might have followed him there. I might have at least thought about it. Now, what that adds up to in my mind is the shutting down of possibilities, which is how most people describe aging. The shutting down of possibilities. Most people, but not me!

Every time I learn something, a door shuts behind me?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sleep Apnea.

Several friends have told me that it sounds like I have sleep apnea. I wondered about that when this first started happening, and I poked around on a few web sites, but I couldn't find a good description of what it's supposed to feel like, so I wasn't sure. Now that I really think about it though, I'm pretty sure that's what this is. At any rate, unless I run across a sliding-scale sleep disorder clinic in Austin, I don't know what I can do about it. It's not exactly an emergency, even though it sure feels like one for a few seconds in the middle of the night. Sleeping on your side is advised, and that seemed to work last night anyway.

One thing I found interesting in my research is that memory problems and sleepiness are always listed among the symptoms of sleep apnea. I've had difficulty waking up ever since I can remember, I have almost always my whole life been sleepy during the day, and my memory is notoriously unreliable. I've never really been able to retain information for very long. Maybe I've had sleep apnea all my life, and I'm not actually dumb and lazy (to use the lexicon of my family). It's very satisfying to have a medical excuse.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stuff Today.

I was on my way from Spanish class to the gym this morning when it started raining and I slipped on the wet pavement and bloodied my knee. A minute later I was folding up my umbrella inside the gym and I sliced my finger on some sharp part of the umbrella. (I asked for a Bandaid at the front desk, and I had to fill out an injury report. "Cut finger on umbrella.") Now I'm home and even though I got soaked from the knees down waiting in the driving rain at my shelterless bus stop, it's cool and dark outside, I just made a cup of strong tea with milk and sugar, and I feel cozy and content.

What else? It's possible -- not possible like I would ever do it but possible in the sense that so many things are possible but never happen -- that I could have a whopping midlife crisis, fall in love with a man half my age, drop everything, and follow him to California. Well, maybe it's not possible because I think I already had my midlife crisis 8 years ago. Are midlife crises like chicken pox, you only get them once?

One more thing: I'm a little -- actually more than a little, now -- concerned about this thing that's been happening to me in my sleep. I wake up suddenly, usually very soon after I've gone to sleep, gasping for air. It happens and is over so quickly that I haven't been able to put my finger on just what it is or what it feels like, except that for a moment I feel like I'm suffocating, I take a deep breath, and then I'm fine. Freaked out, but fine.

But last night it was more intense. When I woke up it took a moment before I could start breathing again. Not more than a few seconds, but long enough for it to register that, more than before, it felt like my throat was closed or maybe it's more accurate to say that it felt like the muscles I use to take in air were not responding. Whatever it was it was much scarier this time and must have been noisier because J came running into my room. When I tried to go back to sleep, each time I would drift off a bit I felt like I couldn't breath and that sensation would wake me back up.