it's a thunder moon. full moon of july. the first one after the summer solstice. i have never been so in-tune with the moon. it all started when i got to banff last year. the weird inclination to befriend the night, though it always was there, as long as i could remember, really touched me this year. especially since gabe died. infectious fever to look up into the night sky. again and again and again.
as one cannot sleep, it's only natural to seek the nightly world i suppose- the one that may be pale and a bit far, quiet, almost eerie. even in the middle of the city of three and a half millions.
this evening, i tried to keep my consciousness occupied by editing pictures and doing some silly things. things with no deadlines. things to keep self busy. things that i could place in between the cracks of thoughts, the cracks that bleeds deeply through myself, a pool of grief, much like the tears of earth i walked on during caving adventures, the lagoon of silence untouched by time, a great loss.
great big fangs that bites through, tearing chunks off a living being. like icarus, one keeps living. a living wound. not to be healed. not to be ignored. real as it was, for the first time, for the eternity of my consciousness.
am i a living wound or am i a living being with a wound?
thunder moon, bringing storm onto the open land, the lone soul fleet foot fleeing from the storm, dashing through the shadows of grass stained with shards of falling sky, running and running and running and running, through the vast sky and earth, where one cannot possibly see the end nor the beginning of the great cycle of life, as i saw through the new cusp of the year at stonehenge, as i breathed cold air of the prairie dawn, as i soaked self through the glimpse, a sliver of the great distance of this world while crossing the great big belly of this land-
words that kept me going.
the words i sowed to eat, to live.
to pass through.
to hang onto.
i went through my own words with a hint of hypnosis- with no means to say 'no,' just like hansel following his own breadcrumb trail. i am eating my own trail. piece by piece. sustenance. for desperate times. for now. the writings of late april and may, splattered with a young life, lost on the road, still coppery on my nose, blood, slowly losing its colour.
i lay my head down and cry. it has been three short and long months. i shove more words into my mouth, through gritted teeth, as if i could choke my own voice, as if i am possessed.
i have lost a brother.
and he's not coming back.
and i am going on.
*photo: san pedro cave, bolivia.
(btw, we are a bit west of this map. but we could see that we came a long way, from shore of ontario!)
greetings, i have been away from a normal civilization for awhile. from the 15th, i have been travelling on this short school bus that is packed with non-conforming 20-30s, most of us being musicians or bohemians of some sort. it has been a quite an experience, just being on the road for no particular reason. right now, we are perched on the ranch in saskatchewan, where the horse lady is leading the life of grass, earth and horses, of course.
it's been quite difficult to get on to the internet and do a proper blog posting, but at least i am able to put up something for today! though it really isnt the right time to post something in detail, as being in the middle of such busy interaction, one's head tends to be full of too many things. but i am taking notes (analogue datakeeping!), and will be able to sort the thoughts out, as there have been quite a few ideas that would become rather interesting i think.
everytime i pass on a roadside monument- i am not sure if this is common but in north america, on the site of auto accident, people leave things such as crosses and flowers, to mark the spots, i have been feeling a sharp fang on my heart. i cannot override these unknown deaths at the moment as 'common sightings' anymore. and i wonder if i will ever (or someone will ever) go back to the mark where my wee brother have left this space. i am thinking it may not be necessary, as that's not really where he lives or he is anyways. it's just a gateway and it could have been anywhere else. and if one is to believe that the life, the stream of it, is to continue on with myriads of beings entering in and out, in ebbs and flow, then marking one particular death may not mean much as one would like to think. it is not that his death was insignificant, but more of the fact that at some point, it was expected, like most of us, who are born- and is moving towards to death in various path and context. in a sense, death may be the only common quality among the living beings. is it morbid to think so? i think it's quite liberating to think so. it's not an abnormal situation or freak incident.
coming to the ranch to one of my favorite persons also have been such a great event. with the horse lady, i feel more like a puppy at times, tagging along her ankle as she does the grown up things, like feeding and 'working' the horses. building the trust with the horse may seem like a difficult deal, as horses do not speak the language of man and the man have forgotten that there are more way to communicate than the limited means of verbal communication. i think in a sense, working with the horse in the world without words may be more truthful and fulfilling than the world full of languages and words, though the meanings and flavours of english words are one of the most tasty things i know of. and horses are very peculiar animals anyways, as they are herd animals with rather cheeky and playfulness as individuals. constantly challenging, up to the lines of mistrusting. it is refreshing but also somewhat wary to be reminded of the fact that if one is to communicate truly and freely, one must be grounded and assured- as anxiety and uncertainty would not only create difficult for the individual, but also spread such unease around one's context.
there is also the floating thoughts of communal living, especially concerning the internal and external communication and behaviors of the group. it is always easy to be protective of one's own herd, but what of the impact of the herd itself to the outside? this has been a particular interest and even a point of distress and i hope that i will write more about it in near future- before the feelings may fade.
i am now heading further to west, 10 hour drive through the prairies to arrive on calgary. still have to find a way for: calgary-banff on 22nd and banff-calgary for 24th, but i am sure it's all workable. life can be quite simple and i better not forget about that. it's about the things that matter and being alive and aware. sound very cliche but perhaps there's a bit of truth that something can only become cliche when it is (or used to be) genuine. linguists talk about this phenomenon: birth of a word. a new word is born within a very small group and as it spreads, its meaning may morph from one thing to another. as it approaches the critical mass, it will either become a standard (a cliche!!) and loses its shock value as it is absorbed into the larger society, or it simply will wither and die. same with the top 20 charts of music or publishing industry.
so i send you greetings from the middle belly of the country, where the grass is high and mosquitoes are fearful as the entire fleet of choppers, as previously seen in the movie 'apocalypse now: redux,' rising with the grandiose opening of the flight of the walkyries. ha ha. no laughing matters though. my ankle looks as if i am pregnant and retaining all the water i come in contact with. at least it'll all pass at some point.
special hellos to: PO, dani, bookbomber, mr. salamander, horselady, friends in toronto-new york-wherever else (aint i lucky to have friends all over the place or what!) and mr. bearcub. the world is a living and beautiful place only because i am able to connnect self with the long roots with the depth of the souls that i love dearly. without such deep richness, i may as well be a withered grey single, isolated blade of grass, past its life cycle.
so this holiday of just about a month or so is near to the end. well, it feels funny to write about 'holiday,' as it really does not feel like a holiday nor it is a typical holiday. i am not a passing visitor. i am not a tourist. i am no longer unfamiliar with the place and the people. it's a part of monkey points on the map, of several points where she spends a larger chunk of her days. i dont have to refer to the map to see where i am and i know what time the local shop closes. i can picture my grocery store's aisles and the local green grocer's display. the idea of home being where one's heart is, i have several homes and it always gets a little confusing here and there. it may mean my toronto residence, or my parents place. it may mean canada or often south korea. now it also means chinley, uk. among the sheeples and rolling hills, weaved by wriggly roads, including one of the most dangerous roads in england. no wonder i crashed. haha.
well, the holiday was supposed to end yesterday. 07-07-2010, 1355 departure from man to yyz. but obviously, as i am writing this splat in the coffee room near studio seven of bbc manchester, i am still here. a bonus day. how, it would be quite a luxury to move flight schedules on a whim- and i say, sometimes it just happens. falls on your lap. awesome. so what happened? dont be concerned- i did not miss my flight and hence am stuck here. i have all my paper works and it's all good. i was even early at the airport yesterday and i have no intention of being late either. so then you say: tell us monkey, what happened? and i say: okay!
around nine in the morning yesterday, we set off from the hills, monkey to the airport and salamander to the sausage factory (as he calls it once in awhile). a bit of traffic, the usual morning mess. only difference i suppose was that i wasnt going to get home for awhile, either way. after getting dropped at the piccadilly station, i dawdled down to the airport, train journey, a small backpack and a half-filled small lolly bag. to the check-in desk and etc. and as i approach my turn with the lady at the desk, i notice a small poster that whispered: would you like to volunteer your seat?
see, i figure what happens is that every airline likes to operate a full flight. and on this particular plane, i think it seats something like just over 380-400. well, taking the surcharges of the first class to account, let's round it off to 400. and they said it is four over. now is it done customarilly (as i think it's blatantly stated in the government books that you cannot overbook) or by glitches (perhaps due to system update, transaction delays whatever the legally allowed reasons may be), no one really knows. but i know they are usually filled to the teeth. so four of 400. that's just 1 %. no biggies. then there are people who fails to show up- either moving their flights, cancelling last minute or plain late (believe it or not, i have seen it multiple time, people showing up after the check-in gate have closed...) so the catch-up room of may be 1%. so in off-peak seasons, it must work alright. i have rarely seen a really full flight during off-peaks, domestic and international.
but you see, right now, month of july, august and early september, it's peak time (along with christmastide). actually i booked return on 07-07 because that was the very last day of the cheaper flight. the next flight that was available was already quite a bit more, with in the same week. so with premium price and summer schedules (vacations, school holidays, family visits, weddings, reunions, etc), the international routes are often full (trans. overbooked). and if you are flying with big airlines (of star alliance, one world or skyteam), it is always much easier for them to re-route you. and if it is within the day, it's a no biggie for the airlines themselves as they arent obliged to financially compensate you (in any large chunks really). so the chances of getting bumped to another date or completely different route is very rare. then comes the world of charter flights. because they are smaller and does not have such extensive alliance network, once they have an actual overbooking, they face a bit more serious consequence. like my airline. what they have to do is either cut off people at max capacity and offer them a re-route with compensation or look for volunteers. like me.
i had no time-sensitive engagement, so when i saw the notice for volunteers, i was tickled. as i wished there couldve been someone on the flight to uk who didnt mind to get on another flight, as i was desperate to get here on that day (for mahler 10! for mahler... im really losing it gaaa), quite happily with taxi service to homen or a hotel stay and a bit of compensation. so i dropped my name as possible volunteer and waited. most of the passing on crowd was hilarious in bits that one could see. there was a flight check-in for holguin for a jack-jill party (a simultaneous stag/hen party, for brits) and two couples were doing their quiet, we-are-in-the-public-space-gritted-teeth fight about how the boys have to sit with their girls and not talk football after all, because it's a romantic holiday getaway for all of them, with girls digging their nails to sulking boys, walking as fast as they can. the usual sundry airport entertainment.
and near the cut-off time, came a family of four. they have not reserved seats and now it is too late- the parents thought the only damage would be that they cant all seat together, that they may have to sit two by two. ooh then came the slightly nervous reply of the agent- umm, that is only partially possible.
well, the story was that there were only two seats together, and another seat by itself. and the boys were... 6-7 years olds little kiddies, maternal/identical twins. they were quite nervous, entangled with one another, arms linked, quietly chattering, looking up with two pairs of brown eyes: we cant possibly be separated, momma! but the harsh reality was that they would have to split, today, one parent and a child, then tomorrow, the other set. the parents were flustered, airline counter was sorry and boys were near tears.
but you see, there's always something. me and the other guy decided to volunteer our seats. that makes it four. then they'll see if they could create room for four to seat near one another. we, the normal, uninteresting, economy class passengers suddenly became heroes! within minutes, the family ran to the gates, i was supposed to redirected to gatwick at 1700, stay over night at a hotel then fly tomorrow back to canada. instead, now they found me a seat on direct man-yyz flight with a polite offer of travel voucher for the future. awesome. the company didnt do too bad either as i declined the offer for hotel or meal vouchers, as i was happy to return to manchester city and walk over to the bbc, to be picked up and head back to the hills for a bonus night.
so the bonus night was graced with a quiet tea of miso-haddock-scallop noodle soup and a nice small gathering at the old inn (local pub on next village) with nice bitters flowing about. and another tuck-in by mr. fish. shame the morning was too short- hurried, drive to station, hop in to the train, catch breath- then a breakfast at the bbc canteen (which was surprisingly good), start this post, good-byes during break, then back to the train-airport. now im at the airport, waiting for my flight to declare its gate and take me back home. which one? doesnt matter. i am so lucky to be loved by so many different people in so many different places. i am leaving one home in exchange for another. i am wistful as i dont want to leave home, but also happy to see old home. love to you all and hello to toronto, and to the green hills of chinley: i will be back soon, please take care of my wee lambs! (so that i may have some awesome lamb stew in the fall, mwuahahaha)
first of july- happy canada day for everyone! but it's kind of silly to designate a date to celebrate a nation i think. the idea of celebrating a nation is great. it's just the arbitrary nature of the exact date i think is a bit silly. okay, so it is not totally out of the blue as 1867 1 july 1867, the four provinces of nova scotia, new brunswick and quebec and ontario (used to be called the 'canada' province) formed the basis of independent canada as we know it (though the last leg of separation from the british paliament was as late as 1982), but along with the boon of the fourth of july just over the border, it is a quite a big celebration. if i was back on the branch up in 32nd floor, the sky would be very clear as both countries tend to take the whole week easy and shut down the factories to holiday schedule, hence giving the great lakes region a rare chance to see the sky (not smog).
however, at the moment i am still in uk, enjoying a visit that is no longer just a holiday, more like settling-in-by-numbers like session. ive been up to some domestication activities such as buying and planting small herbs for the backyard, cooking and entertaining friends, eating lots of cakes, dog/child sitting, etc., and recently passed a big holiday in a big place. now you wonder: where could it be?
i happened to realize that by summer solstice, mr. salamander would have a concert to do in malvern. so we'll be down in southward direction anyways. and that was taking place on the 20th of june. being that 21st of june is the solstice and we would be able to get to stonehenge without too much suffering, we have decided with childish enthusiasm to spend the nightout with the stones. one of the seven medieval wonders of the world, the stones are probably erected ca. 2500bc. what was it for- no one really knows. it seems that the site was used for various rituals such as cremation and other funeral rites; further entangled with imagery of netherworld, arthurian healing circle of merlin, it is still full of incomprehensible mystery and awe.
so after a semi painful performance in malvern where a number of the orchestral members expressed infinite sense of freedom and gratitute ('tis done!'), we spent a night in a small village of longdon to head down to wiltshire, where the stones are. the drive was okay, it was a brilliant day. the lines leading to stonehenge was busy with like-minded crowd: just to see the solstice sunrise by the stones. see, the special thing about the solstices is that the national trust opens the site to the full capacity. during the normal open hours of the year, one is able to go near by the stones, but is not allowed to interact with it, as there has been much loss due to human wear and tear. if you are extremely privileged and organized, you could book a ticket to see the stones 'outside' of operation hours. per 26 tickets, what you are then allowed to do is get near to the stones and be able to walk through some of them. but still, the stones will be carefully guarded and you cant touch it. but during the solstices, the stones were once again embraced by the people. as it have been, year after year.
the night was clear, cold and full of excitement. for no particular reason at all. there were no organized entertainments or activities. lots and lots of families. a little of hippie groups with their bongo drums (perpetually out of time). lots of enthusiastic teenagers, running around and kissing every stone. many international people. old folks with their picnic blankets. monkey and mr. salamander. that night, we spent the dark blue velvet night by one of the stones. leaning right against them. letting them take a bit of our body temperature, looking up and seeing the gigantic stone roofs. i felt happy, complacent and appreciative. how many have spent their evenings over stonehenge's history, looking forward for another axis point, a cusp of the year, the day of longest light. how many have dreamed, imagined and explored the things that are so far from the daily musings for morning tea and newspapers. how many times did the heel stone be set on fire with the rising sun. wondrous and magical evening.
the sunrise was a bit cloudy and so we didnt get to see the sun hitting the heel stone, but once the sun was up and was setting the wide green pasture with golden enthusiasm, we all were relieved into moments of relaxation, appreciation, warmth and hope. that weird sense of hope that run through +20,000 crowds, no major problems or disturbance, just a bit disorganized, too-early (sunrise was at 445am) however very personal, had blanketed all of us. including neo druids, pagans and just. simple. people.
the rest of the day was spent in salisbury, at the cathedral and and the down. it was a lovely day, a bit slower and fuzzier in the head, thanks to lack of sleep. but i can never forget that general sense of hope that swept across the open plain, as the wind caresses the long grasses, just like sea waves, evocative of the gentle stroke from one creature to another, as the each fine hairs bend slightly upon touch, following the gentle coxing of love.
it was rather funny as we were questioned by a few friends: why did you go there? only the idiots go there on solstices! well. let me be an idiot. i am not better than another fellow human who was there, occupying the same space and time, inhaling the same sunshine. i pity all those who needed to have a sense of superiority, the ones who were clearly not 'moronic' as they knew better. i wonder how they would prefer to see the stones, if not in crowd and not from far away. bang the national trust official? may be, ahaha. but joke aside. it is one of weird feelings that explanation just does not do any justice, as one needed to be there.
i wonder where i will be during next solstice. who knows. i wish it will be as awe-striking and inspiring as the wknd at stonehenge. love and best wishes for the long summer days, to you all.