Monday, March 31, 2008
Last week was vivacious, if not a little perilous. Wednesday, I had a dental appointment (oh joy), followed by driving a friend to LAX (more joy), which apparently had some unusual explosions around it later that night (not to worry, has not been determined to be terrorist.) Thursday, I pulled a double shift at the Marine Mammal Center. That is good for the little elephant seal pups, but bad for the tendinitis in my elbow. Friday I worked all day at the dance studio, then fought rush hour for 2 hours to go to dinner with some friends. Oddly enough, even hours of making herring milkshakes for pinnipeds has not tarnished my love of sushi. Late Friday, I picked up Tag from the airport (Burbank this time, which is far less likely to burst into flame.) Early Saturday, we reported to the Zoo for a full day of smiling volunteer goodness. I am proud to report that Tag has passed his LA Zoo Docent final exam, and next week will have graduation ceremonies. YAY!!
Can’t believe March is already ending! Out like a lamb indeed, slipping past the gates nearly unnoticed.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I'm just finishing up Week 3 in Walking in this World. Now, I admit that I'm finding much of the book challenging. Transitioning from actress to animal behavioralist/trainer/keeper feels like walking away from creativity. However, the exercises remind me that life, lived to its purpose, is always creative. There is creation when a mathematician writes a proof, or a scientist searches for truth in a microscope. There is art in each human action, if only you let it exist. Therefore, I put my faith in the idea that my life still contains something anarchistic, untamed and alive, and I put together a collage art piece for speaking subconsciously with myself.
Holding a question/issue loosely in my mind, I spent nearly 2 hours pulling images that spoke to me. Some were as expected, animals or ocean. But others were surprising. Many were ripe berries and blooming flowers. Succulent fruits. Opulent pillows. Bold colors leapt forth in Blues, Reds and Purples.
Assembling the images into a message was the next part of the assignment, and oddly enough, I found they practically placed themselves. Even though I'd clipped out many words, only a few made it on the page. Most were simple. "Joy" & "Go. Do. Be." are the primary messages. However, the most unique picture and the most unusual words put themselves right at the heart of the piece. The visual is a stunning crystal formation, white & silver, pointing out in all directions, like a crystalline explosion.... or the tree topper in Superman's Fortress of Solitude holiday decorations. Under that, the words "God wants to see us happy."
Step 3: Write about what you have found. I sat there, pen in hand, overwhelmed by the message of my art (or my heart, as my fingers just Freudially typed). The piece is overwhelmingly about being ripe & ready for bloom. It speaks of joy, and expression. Unapologetic life, bursting forth with a center of divine guidance, inspiration and permission.
That's all well and good to look at and see... but to really GET that message was ... literally stunning. I sat motionless as tears rolled down my face. For you see, I never envisioned my life happy. Some girls put together dream proms or fantasy weddings. Others picture themselves ensconced in happy home lives, or pursing dream jobs. Me... I planned my suicide. Very elaborately, at the height of my fantasy career. Even in those frequently played movies in my head, I was not happy. Even then, I pictured myself emotionally alone in a sea of “friends.” I did not have love, although I had multiple affairs. I was tragic and under appreciated, like the “idols” I looked to at the time; Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Van Gogh, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin. Ask the people who knew me at 15 and they will tell you that I was a firm believer in “Live Fast. Die Young. Leave a good looking corpse.”
The more I thought back to my past, the more I realized that I never, NEVER thought I’d be happy. I never understood, or even imagined it was possible. I thought it was a good and positive goal to die before the world was ready for you to do so, like the old theatre adage “Leave them wanting more.” I thought "tragic martyr" was a fulfilling lifestyle choice.
No wonder my current situation seems so foreign to me. I wake up, and there’s not some feeling of overwhelming dread hanging over me. I’m not counting the hours until I’m dead. I get up in the morning and I have… hope. Previously, I would have thought this to be selfish, or childish, or both. I would have found the notion ridiculous, and would have scoffed shamefully at myself for even thinking it. But there it was… right in the damn middle of my piece. A clear affirmation that it is right and good to pursue what you love. The simple and loving statement that “God* wants to see us happy.”
I still don’t know exactly where I’m headed or what my life is going to look like in the future. But apparently, inside, I know that I am on the right path, getting riper each moment, preparing to blossom into happiness.
And as if to confirm it all for me, The Laughing Maiden opened her loving arms and with her soft breath, gave color back to the garden. Spring has sprung. No where was that more evident than at Pike's Public Market in downtown Seattle. I strolled through with a smile on my face and a blooming bit of hope in my heart. It is hard to be down when surrounded by hundreds of daffodils and tulips.
For more photos from our Pacific Northwest Adventures, be sure to check my flickr.
* GOD, for the purpose of this post and its various readers, may pleasantly stand for "Give Own Definition". I personally believe in a benevolent higher power, although I more frequently will call it Goddess or Universe. Whatever your specific definition, the point remains the same.
Friday, March 21, 2008
However, I find that the trip allotted me so much more than just precipitation. The flights themselves were fairly uneventful, often hovering over or barrelling through fluffy worlds of grey and white. Below me the land stretched out, a luscious green, rising and falling in large crinkly waves; emerald velvet discarded by some frivolous seamstress. Deep pools of black decorated the fabric of the landscape. Tract housing, with its circular patterns and identical roofs, reminded me of ringworm signs in flesh, and the irony of that was not lost on me. Urban sprawl is a parasite, leaching its way through virgin wildlife. Forehead pressed to the tiny window, I was simultaneously awed, inspired, saddened and disgusted. The more I study and work with conservation and rescue, the more I rage at the majority of American culture, with its need for instant gratification and its "Me First" attitude. And yet there I was, riding on a plane, for a recreational trip to another city, for no other reason than "Oooh, that would be cool."
Tag says that I worry too much. He's not the first to say something along those lines to me. But I can't stop my mind from spinning into a frenzy. I can't stop it long enough to sit still these days. My actual mental health scares me sometimes, as I feel that my long time depression is slowly transforming into something more bi-polar. I don't want to be sick, but the signs seem so inevitably obvious. Yet I don't want it to be true. I don't want to be on medication, not now... and certainly not forever.
I've read on various blogs the argument that if I had diabetes, I wouldn't hesitate to take insulin. Or if I had cancer, I wouldn't hesitate to treat it with radiation or chemo. But the simple fact is that I wouldn't want to. I would resist traditional therapies and would like to pursue other methods of healing. I don't care what the disease, I don't want to be on medication for the rest of my life. However, I fear that I am inherently lazy, and would not do all that needs to be done to treat the illness holistically. It is overwhelming to look down the barrel of that gun and feel so disempowered.
So runs the gamut of emotions that I experienced over the last three days. Awe at beauty, but fury at its demise. Impassioned about living, but despondent over where life is headed. Lucky, but unlucky. I am urged to take life by its proverbial horns and change the world, but discouraged by the feeling of being perpetually behind the 8-ball. Like the tiny ice crystals that form on plane windows, there are moments of small, unparalleled beauty, but they melt before your feet touch down.
Thinking never stops in my brain. I wake from dreams still pondering the questions that were asked of me during their neuron-dancing frenzy. And yet still, I wake without answers. Hanging in mid-air, the ground below is magical and enticing to the touch. I just need to find a way to bring that essence down, pluck it out of the wind like a butterfly or stray balloon, and let the floating freedom transform me. Because if I don't figure out how to manifest that transformation soon, I fear that I will remain this neurotic pill-popping people hater. And that is just one step closer to becoming part of the problem.
There is so much that needs transformation and healing. But tonight, I am overwhelmed and jet lagged, lost in thought that handicaps my desire for action. It is not the most comfortable seat on the plane.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
His name is Green Elley, Pen 6, but I just call him Big G. Sure, he has his flaws and quirks. He smells of fish. He's not potty-trained. He'll give the goo-goo love eyes to any sweet young thing that passes by with a bucket of herring. And the mucus... Yeesh, don't get me started on the elephant seal's amazing ability to generate and expel mucus.
Still, as I stood in Pen 7, in my chest-high waders, scrubbing seal poop off the concrete, I realized that I'd rather do that for free than deal with the office politics crap that I tolerated for 2 years at my last job.
If you too feel the pull of Big Green's dark & penetrating orbs, have I got a place for you! Imagine spending 4 - 5 hours listening to the varied barks and calls of California Sea Lions while blending up fish milkshakes. Picture yourself thawing and sorting endless amounts of fish while breathing deeply the scent of sea (and by scent of the sea, I mean copious amounts of pinniped guano.) Better yet, imagine that moment, where you collapse exhausted into your car seat, after hours of back-breaking work, and sit silently smiling, knowing that at least one abandoned Elephant Seal pup is still alive because of you and those around you.
If you live in the Southern California area, have a love for wildlife, and at least half a day of spare time a week... please think about joining the Volunteers at San Pedro's Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur. We're heading into the "busy season", where we will soon be inundated with countless elley pups who have stopped nursing, but have not found the way to survive on fish alone. Summer can also bring algae blooms, which can lead to Domoic Acid Toxicity in Sea Lions, causing neurological damage in the animals. In short, this small but efficient rehabilitation center is about to way more animals than they have volunteer hands.
You can do it for that "good Samaritan" feeling. Or perhaps you want to do it as a write off on next year's taxes. Or maybe, you'll find yourself here just so you too can get a chance to look into Big G's amazing eyes. Whatever your reason, the experience can change your life. Trust me on that.
Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur
3601 South Gaffey Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
Phone: (310) 548-5677