We die a slow death

So the community walkabout project is over; Alex is wandering around the country, I think Mirra might still be living in New York, and I’ve decided to divide my time between working for FEMA and writing in Massachusetts. I’m considering starting a new blog, thingsinflight.wordpress.com on which, hopefully, I’ll be posting things about what I make, what I eat, what I do and what I write.

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Ionia

I’ve been back for almost a week (hard to believe) and life is amazing. Ionia has gone through a lot of changes since I left; the place is amok with wwoofers, visitors, and, of course, old friends. When I was last in Ionia it was the very end of the winter; winter here is a time of reflection and contemplation while summer is a time of activity. The garden is over flowing, the woods are full of wild berries and everyone would be enjoying the summer weather if it hadn’t been raining most of the time.

Really amazing is the fact that I’ve met a number of other people who are interested in intentional communities. Irene, for example, is a girl from Belgium who is on a quest very much like mine, Hannah has lived in a number of intentional communities including one of the ones I’m planning on visiting, and other people are thinking of starting their own. I never expected to find the people I wanted to meet in the place I went back to– I wonder if I could have started my trip better by just staying in the same place.

My relationship to Ionia will necessarily be different to all the other communities I will visit. I will be able to see the flaws of this place better, but I will also be able to see the benefits. Above all, Ionia is full of people who I love, things I love and ideas I love. I don’t know if it is livable for me, though. It seems a hard thing to figure out. I was very content living hee, but contentment can be a trap. Motion is important, passion is important and striving is important and I don’t know how well I can achive those things living here.

But then all of my interlocutions remind me that I have to remember how recently my life has changed, and how dramatically, and these things, no matter how you think they’re not affecting you, do. I am not in a place to make choices; I am in a place to reflect, to observe and to learn. Irene says ‘relax and let the universe provide for you’. I thik she is a lot braver than I will ever be, but I will try. Three more weeks in Ionia and they will go by so quickly.

And then there was one

After a great deal of deliberation, and though it breaks my heart, Alex and I have decided to go our separate ways. He’s going north to participate in the Beehive Summer Work Party and I’m going back to Ionia for a month.

I wrote a whole post about this before (it got deleted) and find my words have already been used up. I’m very sad about this; Alex has been my friend and roommate for the last six months, excepting the month he spent in Hawaii, and there has hardly been a day in that time when I haven’t spent all or part of the day with him. I have come to depend on him in so many ways, that I feel like his loss will be an amputation. But a part of me feels like this is right, and I’m very happy to be going back to Ionia.

Community Walkabout isn’t dead; it’s just divided. Alex is still planning on pursuing it as he tries to figure out his dreams and I am planning on going to Dancing Rabbit after my month in Ionia, and hopefully from there to Sandhill, Twin Oaks and Koinonia. How I am going to travel without Alex I don’t know. I’ll probably just break down and take the bus.

Change is a good thing. Relationships change and plans change and people change and all these things change to give us room and motivation to grow. There have been so many things in my life I have wanted so badly that I am glad now I didn’t get because if I did I wouldn’t be who I am now, where I am now, and this is just another of those things.

So I’m going to keep up posting, and I’ve invited Alex to post, but judging by his response (‘I guess… maybe’) I doubt he will.

Gwendolyn

Family

 The idea of family is one that’s coming up for me a lot lately. Last weekend we had a birthday party for my grandmother; she turned eighty on April Fools day, so the fact that we had a birthday party for her in July confused her no end.

Most of the members of my mother’s side of the family descended upon us, and I got to see cousins I haven’t seen for a long time, relatives I couldn’t recognize by sight, and little babies I was just meeting for the first time. It was really cool hanging out with my cousins, although most of them are older than me and have families so it was a little bit of me feeling like a little child. It’s funny how we don’t really have that much in common– they’re not really in the same culture I’m in, they don’t eat the food I eat and they probably can’t relate to a lot of the things I’m doing– but we have this intricately tied history, kind of like war buddies, that means we connect on a level I can’t connect with anyone else. No one who isn’t in my family understands what it’s like in our family. It’s wonderful being able to have that connection again.

The second thing that happened that makes me think about family is my grandfather, pictured above, just died.

I don’t really know what to say about that, because I don’t know what to think about it. My grandfather was pretty important in my young childhood, but I didn’t see him much after my parents divorced, so it kind of feels like loosing something I already lost. But death does this thing to your mind; it changes the world. Literally; there is a part of your brain whose whole purpose is to keep track of what the world is like and every time you encounter new evidence that the world is different a different part of your brain is responsible for correcting it. I don’t how, but death just doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t make sense, and so this one part of your brain is holding onto ‘this person is alive’ and this other part is trying to correct it and it sends you off in a whirl. When my father died I spent months with my mind like a broken record, all of it’s energy trying to reconcile the world. And then you come out of it, finally convinced and the world hasn’t changed. The earth still goes about its orbit and your neighbors and the people in the coffeeshop you go to and your co-workers– almost no one but you has noticed that things are different.

My grandfather was a pretty amazing man. He fought in WWII as the radio operator on a submarine, then stayed with the Navy for a while, stationed on Key West, where my father was born, then France. When he got out of the Navy he went and lived in the Mid-West for a bit because he thought he was sick of the sea, but then he gave in and moved out here where he became the pilot for a Alvin, a deep sea submersible belonging to the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute, that explores the deep places of the world. On one expedition to the mid-Atlantic ridge the scientists he was piloting found a worm they named after him.

 Family and community are deeply related. Your family is part of your community and communities are often made up of families. I like to think that a community is the family you choose, but the truth is that all your family is important, even when you don’t see eye to eye.

Alex’s community, Ionia, is mostly his family, but I have to face the fact that whatever community I end up in won’t have my family in it, and even when I start a new family, not having the rest of my family around will still feel like a loss.

Me write pretty one day

So I haven’t been able to write for shit lately and it is really frustrating me, especially because most of what we need to do right now, is write. I am told practice makes perfect, so my plan is to do that.

We are trying to put together a indiegogo campaign (which is what I’m having trouble writing),  but we are having trouble getting it together. And even once we do, I have no idea how to promote it? What the hell do people do to promote these things? seriously, if you have any advice send it our way (communitywalkabout@gmail.com).

Anyway, besides my writing woes things are going pretty good, the only thing is there isnt a whole lot of people that I know or hang out with in this town, I get kinda lonely. But that being said, a bunch of my fam is in and coming to town! My sis Jane got into town yesterday, my uncle David and friend Mirra got in the day before that, and my mom and my bro lauden are coming on friday, so it is going to be a really good weekend.

Well this weak, lame little post will have to do for now, because I gotta go and try and write.

Peace, love, and other good things.

Alex

Health is one step at a time

There are three things I want to talk about– funny how it comes in spurts, nothing, nothing, nothing and suddenly ideas I could write whole essays on pour in. Writing– there’s another topic.

 

The other three, so I’ll remember when the next time comes, are family, obligation and health. And harvest. Four. Five.

 

But right now, health.

 

I don’t know how well you know me. I’m gonna guess you do, so forgive me for telling you things you might already know. Two things: one, that I was rather ill for a long time a couple of years ago. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and IBS, and TMJ and some other things that are sets of initials that don’t have a treatable cause. Stress, maybe, depression, or something unknown. There’s a whole host of things like that, things that can be crippling, real things that you can feel– that you can’t stop feeling– but of which there isn’t much sign– no elevated white cells, no strange things in your blood, and of which there is no cure. Some people think of them as twentieth century diseases and why not when there are so many things in the twentieth century that were never about before.

 

The second thing: I lived in a Macrobiotic Community for a year. We haven’t talked a whole bunch about macrobiotics on this blog, mostly because it’s a big thing, a very big thing and this blog isn’t about it. But at the same time it’s huge in our lives. Alex was raised macro and I have become (mostly) macro, and that’s like becoming Buddhist; you can’t just go to church every sunday and read the bible. It’s more of a philosophy than a religion or a diet.

 

So here’s a third thing: I no longer have fibromyalgia or IBS or TMJ and for that matter I don’t think I really show many symptoms of having ADD either (another of my initial issues). Maybe I’m not depressed any more (I don’t think I was to begin with, though) maybe I’m no longer stressed out (I’m totally stressed out.) Basically, I blame the diet (that’s not exactly a diet).

 

I’m not a macro teacher so I’m not going to tell you what macrobiotics is, but it does have some guidelines, things you should probably generally avoid, things which I try to generally avoid because when I don’t they make me feel kind of shitty. The thing is, I haven’t been doing very good of a job lately.

 

I can blame that on a lot of things; my proximity to all sorts of snacks at my work, the fact that my mother stockpiled everything I try not to eat in preparation for our ginormous family reunion (it wasn’t that big, but my family is very good at taking up more space than we really need to), and of which a great deal remains (especially cupcakes), the fact that every social situation I ever get into involves alcohol.

 

But the truth is, I’m the one who puts it in my mouth. It’s hard, not eating things you know you shouldn’t when you want to, even when you start examining ‘you know you shouldn’t’ and ‘you want to’. I know I shouldn’t eat sugar, or drink coffee, or eat too many baked flour products because they make me feel crappy. I want to because I want to be normal. I want to eat what people around me are eating. It sounds like a pathetic reason, but humans are herd animals. Doing what other people do is part of our learning experience, and mostly other people are making good choices. So every time I see a customer buying something, or a friend eating something or are reminded that every other person my age goes to bars more often than I do I want to do those things because I want to fit in– I want to be like them. I don’t think it’s pathetic at all, actually. I think it’s a pretty reasonable thing to want.

 

But it makes it hard. I know I need to eat differently. I know that because I know how I feel when I eat things. I haven’t been hungry for weeks. I should be hungry for my meals. I should be hungry so I can appreciate the meals that Alex and I spent so much effort cooking, and so I can make sure my digestive track stays healthy.

 

Intention is the biggest part of valor, I think. What I mean is that I can look at every wrong move I make as a failure or I can think of it as practice. No one plays perfectly whenever they practice; that’s why it’s called practice. So maybe if I set the intention every day to eat the way I want to eat that day, eventually the practice will pay off.

 

Now I have to go finish eating this cupcake.

A little bit and dinner

So I got my new glasses, which was awesome because suddenly the world is light again (although it will take a little while to adjust to the new lenses), and to celebrate (or actually just coincidentally) we went down to Provincetown to see a drag show with Mirra. It was great doing something with her again– we get along so well– and we had a lovely (though long) drive to P-Town, walked around for a while, ate our picnic lunch, walked around for another while, waited at the door for an hour so we could get good seats, waited in the performance hall for an hour and you’ll know it was a good show when I say it was worth it. Although there was a little too much penis for my likin’. Some of the acts were awesome some were weird and some were somehow awesome and weird. We got back home a little after two and up at ten (which is five hours after we usually get up) so today was a little slow.

Today we started really digging into thinking about our IndieGoGo campaign, cooked, of course, and then took a bike ride. We’re just about to watch Firefly and eat popcorn (olive oil and salt… mmmm) but before I go I thought maybe I’d tell you about one of the meals we made today. We’re incredibly food-focused people (you have to be to spend an hour cooking every meal), and since it’s such a big deal to us, maybe it’d be interesting to you. So here goes;

Dinner:

Squash sauteed with olive oil and soyu

Refried turtle beans with leftover chili and mezuna

and

Reheated brown rice.

 

I love cooking with leftovers; it makes the question ‘what am I going to make’ so much more simple. My mom made a vegetarian chili a few days ago which was just too hot for me (I don’t like my food being too hot because I think it ruins the taste of it). So, to use the chili but to tame it a little I cooked a pot of beans, smooshed them, fried them a little bit and then mixed in the chili, cooked it a little to merge the flavors and then added the mezuna until it was wilted. It would have been really good except I was a little impatient and didn’t cook the beans long enough. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make a stew out of it. Leftovers of leftovers. Mmmmm…