Saturday, December 29, 2012

10 for 2012

10 Things I learned (or relearned) in 2012

  1. Caffeine withdrawal - If I was given the choice to quit coffee/caffeine cold turkey again or take a fork to the eyeball it would not be an easy decision… 10 days of intense six-hour long headaches and nausea battles is enough to drive someone to drinking… Come to think of it, it kind of mimics what a 10-day hangover must be like. Life is surprisingly much better without. FDA is jumping in and last I read one of the popular energy drinks were credited with a couple dozen deaths and a spontaneous abortion… I can personally attest that much of what Wikipedia lists below is true …

Caffeine overdose can result in a state of central nervous system over-stimulation called caffeine intoxication (DSM-IV 305.90),[42] or colloquially the "caffeine jitters". The symptoms of caffeine intoxication are comparable to the symptoms of overdoses of other stimulants: they may include restlessness, fidgeting, anxiety, excitement, insomnia, flushing of the face, increased urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, a rambling flow of thought and speech, irritability, irregular or rapid heart beat, and psychomotor agitation.[63] In cases of much larger overdoses, mania, depression, lapses in judgment, disorientation, disinhibition, delusions, hallucinations, or psychosis may occur, and rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue) can be provoked.[64][65]
            Gotta find a new vice now.

  1. Vice – Sick of fluff and pop culture trash so I have been watching some eye-opening videos on The Vice Guide To Travel section is standout and about as real, gritty and as close to the action as you probably ever want to get - but could also be one of the best media sources to gain a worthwhile perspective… Anything else worth wile - news-wise - I get from the Colbert Report.

  1. Personal bankruptcy in Oregon – The court allows you to keep $1000 worth of guns.

  1. The first city building in Portland Oregon was a jail…

  1. Refugees from Somalia that I have come to know this year are some of the coolest, toughest and most American people I have met in the US. Somalia was colonized by three different countries and was at war with itself for over two decades and has many tribal groups… “We are a crazy mixed up people, man…” It also ranks dead last (or takes top honors depending upon how you look at it) with N Korea and Afghanistan on the Corruption Index of 2012. Top rankings, meaning least corruption… Denmark, Finland, New Zealand. The refugee’s stories of survival is proof that the human spirit survives and can still thrive after facing the most inhumane atrocities. Their lives stand as testament to a courage that is beyond imagining.  
  2. Crack climbing is paramount for a healthy and fulfilling existence. On granite multi-pitch in the warming sunshine and tied in with my girlfriend it becomes sublime.
Maureen styling in Tuolumne

  1. Just as climbing and a good relationship feed the soul, so too does awesome music… especially dancing to Sassparilla performing live at the Luarelthirst. And thanks to Vince who has again greatly enhanced/expanded my musical horizons with Other Lives.

  1. My Canada Goose pink parka makes me happy.
©Maureen Eversgerd

  1. Differences and distances mean little with family… Weathering life’s challenges, family and partner help bridge and complete - owning the good, the hard, the ugly, the transitions - the history that is us, the history that is me.

  1.  I have wanderer’s spirit… Even when not in motion, I am in motion, spinning, exploring, discovering… And it's so much better with a partner...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Rain Shadow...

Alone in a dark City of Roses...
Finding time to wander in the rain and find my reflection in the endless puddles.
 The dead coffee houses, the crowded burrito joints, city streets heavy with homeless.
Black skeletons, cold knuckles, cascading of hungry thoughts...
Opulence, cold shadows. Searching, waiting... The slipped starlight, vacant sunshine.  The rain shadow, the tilted verticality, again supine, and the warmth of your touch... Soon.
Images/words ©Bennett Barthelemy

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on Impermanence...

Some moments shrivel, some calm and expand. 

Friday the 14th was one of those days. Mucus from sinuses was stagnant, there were intermittent stabbing pains traveling from temple across the back of my head. My ears were not kindly clogged enough to keep me from hearing the amplified NPR chatter of remorse, shock, horror, expert opinion,disbelief, official statements, eye witness accountings through the wake of semi-automatic realities that had ignited this last week -one a few miles from me and one across the country. 

I parked and dropped my girlfriend off at her appointment downtown, then walked across the street to the three-storied Portland public library. Past the names of great luminaries chiseled into the ancient sandstone walls - Plato, Dickens, Euclid, Galileo, Austen, da Vinci... I slowly walked past the ornately carved edifices of the stone railings, from a time when these flourishes meant a little more, now tinged with wet green moss and falling away grain by grain...

I had coffee on my mind, as well as collecting some photos of nearby food carts, but the more urgent need was evacuating my bladder. I pushed through the throngs of languishing homeless amongst the library steps, shook my head at the guy asking me for money for heroin and hookers. Turned my back on the waving wheel-chaired seller of Street Roots, the homeless publication.

Inside the opulence of jet black stone flooring and black stone stairs carved in relief with filigreed scenes of lavish gardens was a striking contrast to the handful of homeless that wandered with backpacks, canes, blankets. The bathroom was a flurry with them so I ascended stairs to the second floor. This one too was at capacity with homeless and others waiting on the benches beside. Hurrying past to the third floor I caught an unwanted glimpse of a skirted, fifty-ish woman on the bench deliberately so that her partially crossed legs offered well-exposed views of her less than inviting flesh.

Drepung Loseling Phukhang Khangsten monks from India

Crossing the landing separating the second from third I noticed colorful Tibetan prayer flags strung across the cold granite railing. I turned my back to them and found the last restroom occupied as well and waited my turn. Upon exit the far room held a table with what I instantly knew was a partially completed sand mandala. I had never seen one up close. A few library patrons who were not homeless were admiring the intricate collaboration of tiny specs of color on a perfectly non-descript black table. Red velvet ropes kept the viewers a safe sneeze distance away. 

No monks were visible, just a table and an Asian man and woman selling the usual handmade paper journals, singing bowls, incense... iPhones were out and pictures being snapped. I pulled out my camera, the bulky SLR and changed lenses next to the blind woman sitting at a chair just outside the ropes. A homeless man stepped up to look. When I turned back to the table the Asian couple were gone and now four monks were seated.

Soon they got up and carefully went to a small table next to the mandala and carefully, never speaking, selected tools, sand colors... Observed the mandala for a few moments and found a place to rasp sand out grain by tiny grain. Once rubies or lapis lazuli and other precious and crushed stones would have been used. As I snapped image after image the monks never appeared to notice me, or the dozen school children that very reverently looked on with hands on ropes and wide eyes. A sweat bead trickled down a monks bald head as he leaned into the tables edge, the only sign of anything other than perfect calm. 

The Dalia Lama looked on smiling from a framed portrait on a table cluttered with edible offerings. A library volunteer shared sacred knowledge with the enrapt children asking if they had any questions, none did so she plodded along in monologue about moving from the center outward, that it would take a week to finish, that Sunday if they returned a ceremony would culminate with the sweeping away of all the sand by the monks. They would then offer a bit of sand to each person that had come and they would be blessed with this tiny gift. 

There rest of the sand was to be poured into the Willamette River...

Monday, December 10, 2012


Sun... Steep stone... Exposure...
Sweet views... Fresh air...
Good people...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Where In The World...

Where In The World...

Sedentary strolls up distant peaks.
With tepid coffee-
Blown pupils from artificial light.
Sun-drenched arabesque arches.
The lost afternoons.

Faded grey in the drifting nimbus,
The crushing concrete.
My chosen Alcatraz,
A purgatory of slipping dreams...

Your hand through the cold shadows,
Smile burning through the the myopic
Northwest twilight.
Inertia, movement to harmony.
Chasing summer south.

Where in the world. 
©Bennett Barthelemy 12-4-12