Wednesday, April 16, 2008

IT'S MINE, ALL MINE by Sarvananda Bluestone

“Why do you collect erasers?” Mrs. Belisle, the baby sitter, asked me. I was nine.

“Gesell says that I am going through a collecting phase.” That’s what Ma had told me. She was a devout reader of Arnold Gesell. Fact is that I was always collecting.

I have been collecting as long as I can remember. First, and always, it was records and books. I remember carefully handling the twelve inch very breakable 78 RPM records that constituted the “Lonesome Train”. I was four. I had learned to write my first name. Two years later, when my father returned from the War, he taught me how to write my last name. I still have the album, containing four records; with my name carefully and clearly printed on the inside cover. I never broke a record until I was an adult. Then I got careless. The long playing records that supplanted the seventy-eights were unbreakable. I had thirty years to get careless. I put the “Lonesome Train” in a collection of records on the floor and accidentally kicked it. It was thirty-four years after I had received the album.

I needed—I wanted—I craved. These were the feelings connected to collecting. When I was little and heard the fairy tales that had kings in the counting houses counting out their gold I understood what they were doing. I didn’t have gold, but I knew the feeling. It was an old friend.

People were uncertain. They could come and go. They could come back and die. They never stood still. Friends would return every summer to Journey’s End-or not. But I could go over my things—my collections. They always would be there. They were mine for keeps. They were mine forever.

“I wish Ma and I would never die.” It was a mantra that I began I think when I was eight. Daddy was dying. I was sitting on the hill at Tally Ho Music Camp. It was only about eight miles from Journey’s End and we would go to their Sunday concerts. I sat on the hill on a blanket with some of the other kids as the music floated up the hill.

“I wish Ma and I would never die. I wish Ma and I would never die. I wish….

When Daddy died I added my brother, Paul. He was a pest but I did not want to lose him.

“I wish Ma, Paul and I would never die. I wish Ma, Paul and I would never die…”

Then I was nine and soon we moved from our twelve room mansion on the hill in Yorktown Heights—the house with the winding driveway and orchard and four door heated garage with an apartment above it. We moved from Yorktown and my friends and the house where Daddy had died. We moved into a two room apartment on Six West Ninety-Sixth Street in New York City. Ma decided to send me to Walden School, the only private school I ever attended where they let the students do anything they wanted. I spent most of my time running up and down the halls with my two friends, screaming at the top of my lungs.

It was the worst year of my life.

“I wish Ma, Paul and I would never die. I wish Ma, Paul and I would never die…”

It was the year that I went to see Stella Chess, a psychiatrist, who helped me to anchor myself in the swirling world.

One bright spot was that every day after school, I raced down to Woolworth’s. I would think about that every day during school. That was all I looked forward to and learned how to count the minutes until the end of school. I raced down to Woolworth’s and bought a little pad of loose-leaf notebook paper. It was always the same size.

I never got the notebook that the loose-leaf paper went into. And I never made a single mark with pen or pencil upon the blank sheets. I just collected pad after pad after pad. Soon I had collected a little stack of blank paper.

Ralph had come into my life. I hated him at first. Soon I revered him.

“I wish that Ma, Paul, Ralph and I never die. I wish that Ma, Paul, Ralph and I never die.”

When I started to teach my collecting continued. I had my own income. When I was married to Heather I managed to subscribe to seventy-five periodicals. Some of them were quarterly and some of them were weekly. I actually kept up with them and took notes—until the Cultural Revolution in China in 1966. Then I fell behind.

Heather had an ectoptic pregnancy. It came on so suddenly. She almost died. I never realized that I loved her until then.

“I wish that Ma, Paul, Ralph, Heather and I never die…..”

By the time I left Heather and married Marci, later to be Premrup, the periodicals were taking over the house. They spilled out of my study and started to flow down the stairs like some academic version of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” When my five year old stepson, Jason, went careening down the stairs on some slick periodicals, Marci gave me a choice. “It’s either us or the magazines.” I made a major cut back on my magazines.

By now the list of people had come to include my daughter Julie Anne, later to be Hira. Right after she was born I would tiptoe into the room where her crib was and make sure that the cat, Phoebe, wasn’t sitting on her face. I would bend down and feel the gentle breath coming from that very small mouth.

I don’t think I ever included Marci in my list of people. I know I never included Marci. It was one thing to pretend that I loved her. It was quite another to include her in my prayers. And I never included my stepsons in my silent entreaties. This was one place where I was absolutely true to my fears and my love. I started to shorten my mantra to two letters: OX. I would simply repeat OX, OX, OX. OX.

I don’t remember when I stopped the mantra. I think it was after I had become a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. There was a period where I even had lost my fear of flying. The Master constantly spoke of the fear of death. For a while it began to recede.

The collections continued. With Heather I collected pot. Each purchase was put away in a little plastic box with an appropriate name. I got some grass from Justin Taylor in Vermont and called it “Vermont Justice”. The names were creative and the collection grew. When I went to grow some of my own from the seeds, I sprouted almost a hundred different plants. Not one of them survived except for a feeble little plant that was so weak I wasn’t even sure it was marijuana.

By the time I left to go to Rajneeshpuram in 1981 I had amassed three hundred cartons of books and records. That was my last major move. Before I left for the Ranch I had divested myself of all but my collection of poetry which I sent to Oregon before me.


When Ma died one of the greatest fears of my life had come to pass.

I still collected. I have collected books, software, tarot decks, crystals.

“OX. OX. OX. OX.”

I constantly fear for my daughter and my grand daughter. When she bought a Mini-Cooper I freaked out—internally. When she tells me that she is going to ride her bike to school with Lucy on the back, I swallow my fear. I no longer repeat the mantra. I stopped that long ago. I just worry and hope. At least now I can do Reiki. But I still collect. There is sureness there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

LANDSCAPE by Daniel Marshall

I’ve always liked women. I mean, of course I like women sexually; but besides that I’ve usually found women more interesting to be with than men—there are distinctions!

Today, I’m standing at the elevator, and there are already two men there waiting. This one, who’s tall and dark, like Wilt Chamberlain but not so tall, and missing his upper front teeth brings me into the conversation, which I think is very sweet and courteous of him. I catch the drift of it—like the two of them have been speaking Creole or Jamaican, and he’s bringing it down to me.

He’s apologetic. “You see,” he says, “we’re talking about strip clubs, and he don’t want to say that he was there, because you’re here.”

And the other interjects, “I think everyone’s got sexual thoughts!” I look at him, and he says it again. “I think everyone’s got sexual thoughts!”

“Absolutely!” I say. And they both look very relieved about me. “I mean, you’ve read the Gospels—the Bible, right?”

“Yeah! Yeah!”
They’re in familiar territory, nodding vigorously; and I say, “It’s always interested me how forgiving Jesus is of sexual sins—even the woman caught in adultery. Now, adultery is a pretty terrible thing, because someone gets hurt!” Vigorous nods. “Yet, He just forgives her easily; but the Pharisees He has no use for. They’re actually killing people, greedy, with their righteousness! Hot-blooded sins He forgives easily; but cold-blooded ones He detests! We’re supposed to deal with sex reasonably; but if we don’t … [I think what word I want to say. They’re chuckling, “Ha, ha!”] …, it’s forgivable.”

I didn’t mean that greed isn’t forgivable—like “the sin against the Holy Spirit”, and what that is! Oh, well, it’ll have to do; it’s out there.

The younger one can hardly contain himself: “Sex is necessary,” he blurts, “so there can be people!”

That was more interesting than most talks with men, but what I mean is, I like women sexually—that is, some women, if they’re into it, but besides that I just like being with them more than men. With women, it’s more getting into each other, grooving together.

With men …; I mean, take my brothers—they argue. We’re Irish and shy; and that’s how we show love! Men want to argue, or say nothing, or talk about sports, or fucking women. Yuck! Women are more subtle.

Except, women talk I can’t stand! I really can’t! When the women in my family get together … they’re off here, off there. My linear male mind wants to scream! “Stick to the point! Who is that person, and that one; and I don’t care anyway! And if you can’t remember his aunt’s maiden name, drop it, please, and just keep on with the story!”

Is there something wrong with me for preferring women’s company? Maybe I should get more men friends. I melt when women smile.
My male counselor has a beautiful smile every time—like a Cheshire cat. He was a monk twenty years ago and just walked away. I used to wonder whether he was homosexual. I don’t think so; but it doesn’t matter to me. I love him very much.