Archived entries for

noooo way

The Hindu, the Buddhist, and the Christian were all sitting together. They were taking questions now. There was a big pause. I had not intended to cause discomfort. I had actually hoped for a different answer.

The Christian, a Methodist minister with a warm and quiet demeanor, had spoken gently about God as Love and about how we are all called to this Love by this Loving God. Lots of love, lots of God. Very nice. But, this Christian never actually got around to mentioning Jesus of Nazareth. This was confusing.

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black magic

Mark Rothko made me do it. I will be ever grateful to that plenitude of enigmatic black paint in his chapel for pushing me out the door. Because, at eighteen, I really did not get it. Well, them. Fourteen giant canvases of dark earth to inky night, arranged in an octagonal building on the grounds of the Menil Museum in Houston, Texas. They are oddly appealing, but opaque. Very opaque. And very very black. No words of explanation anywhere, though declaring it a chapel implied an obvious spiritual intention. In no way obvious to me, I asked at the museum for a book. The attendant suggested the Brazos Bookstore, just down Bissonnet Street.

Independent before that adjective was even necessary, the store was small and beautifully strange to eyes just now emerging from twelve years of parochial schooling. Exquisite art monographs hung like paintings on thin bracket moldings along the east wall. Categories like “Shambhala” and “Jungian Analysis” leapt up from short stacks alongside the sunny windows. But, most intriguing to me was a ten-foot by ten-foot block of shelves on the back wall behind the desk, dense with curious titles and crowned with but one word, capitalized. TRAVEL.

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a very good thing

“She is very young.  It is a good thing!” I was the very young, at twenty-four. My new lover was forty, and the leader of my trek in Nepal. The declarer of good things was Anil, the lead Sherpa of the trek, and a more intuitive and insightful man I would rarely again meet.  Well, except his brother Arun.

My inamorato was a dealer in Asian antiquities as well as a mountain guide. So, after the trek, in between mornings and evenings ensconced in a tiny room at a hostel, I would accompany him to dusty shops of trinkets and treasures and talk with the relatives while he negotiated with the owners. Anil owned the best shop, off a twisting side street near the Boudhanath stupa. Arun kindly made me mint tea while the eyes of that stupa peered through the window, as curious as me. What questions I asked, I cannot remember, but I did somehow keep the treasure of one of his answers.

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first the ecstasy, then the peanut m&m’s

I was trying to eat peanut M&M’s in the First Baptist Church OF AMERICA. Only twenty-two, and in my first (and what would turn out to be my last) year at the Rhode Island School of Design, I saw its steeple each day from the hall window of my rickety apartment building on Benefit Street in Providence. An austere and elegant structure, I had nevertheless tended to skirt around it. Anyone who has ever grappled with the Southern Baptist Convention would understand.

Yet, this was The North. These were Yankees. I was the pilgrim from far far away, and I required of myself curiosity and open-mindedness in all other exotic lands. Why not New England?
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