Hang in there baby …

Hang in there baby …

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not an animal person. Seriously, I only just learned that the cat I’ve been living with for the last 8 years is a male. And once, after I’d moved out of my parent’s home in L.A. and had been living on my own for years, I stood at the end of their street cupping my hands to my mouth and calling for our dog, “Bow Wowwww, Bow Wowwww,” I cried, only to realize mid cry that Bow Wow had died years before, and that Mom and Dad’s new dog was named Skippy. I still don’t know the names of my Mother’s dogs – those two furry yappers who are always so happy to see me when I visit. “Hello!” I will say meaningfully to match their joy, but honestly, I have no idea who they are. So it didn’t faze me last Saturday morning when I walked into my yard and there was a very loud MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! coming from somewhere on my property. Even I could tell that there was a cat out there in distress. I looked up into the trees and over at the roof of my studio to see where the sound was coming from, but I couldn’t see anything, so I walked back into the house to tend to the pressing matter of coffee. A little while later I went outside again and there was the crying, but louder, more insistent. I noticed my two neighbors, Todd and Kenoa, standing in the street looking up, hands on their hips. “You’re welcome to come into...
Let’s Have a Difficult Conversation

Let’s Have a Difficult Conversation

So there we were, five old friends sitting down to a sweet New Year’s Eve night. We’d planned to do a ceremony of sorts – not your typical New Year’s ritualizing with champagne and reflections –  but something that would involve a little concoction we’d brewed up, and there would be groovy lights and an 8-hour soundtrack that my friend Jed had put together, plus we’d put pads down on the floor so we could lay down in front of the fire and relax. And just as we were getting this party started, Jed, who has been a solid brother to me for the last 30 years, says “Laurie, you talk too much, and sometimes, I believe you use words to escape your experience. I think you’ll get more out of the evening if you hold most of your thoughts to yourself tonight.” It was a stunning moment of straight talk. The eyes at the table went wide, everyone watching me for my reaction. I went wide too because I recognized the significance of the moment, that I was with someone who had the courage to speak plainly to me, even possibly hurting my feelings. He didn’t soften the blow either, he didn’t say, “you know, I think you’re really interesting, I think you’re great, I love you, but you might consider being a little quieter tonight, know what I mean?” No, he said it straight. And there was no cruelty or emotion in it, and no qualifiers or caveats either. He trusted himself and he trusted me to hear it straight, and I did. It doesn’t matter if he...
A Cosmic Hive of Humanity

A Cosmic Hive of Humanity

I’m writing this note from Boudhanath, a city inside of Kathmandu, Nepal. I don’t believe in bucket lists – good god, no – but I do hope you to get to this place sometime in your life – the sooner the better. Not that it’s going anywhere; it’s been here since the 13th century and probably longer – but we know where you’re going –  where we’re all going – eventually. My partner out here, James Hopkins, who runs the Himalayan Writer’s Workshop, has a story about a student who tells his Buddhist teacher that he doesn’t think he has time to take the path to enlightenment. His teacher says, “well, then you may have a scheduling problem.” I took that to mean if you want it – enlightenment, or to visit Nepal, or to let someone know that you love them – you might want to get on that, put it higher on the schedule. Kathmandu is cracked open brilliance. The entire valley is laid out like a mandala – for real – and there are sacred sites everywhere you turn. Some of them are too mind blowing to comprehend – like the Boudhanath Stupa which I’ve pictured above – and which is also a world heritage site. But some of these ancient, sacred spots are in the middle of congested streets and surrounded by broken buildings, sidewalks that fall into sewers, and monkeys swaying from thick electrical wires covered in soot and which hang low in the cool November breeze. I’ll be honest with you, much of Kathmandu is a chaotic catastrophe of open fires on the...
On a flight to Kathmandu …

On a flight to Kathmandu …

As I write this * I’m on a flight from Guangzhou, China to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I’ll be co-leading a writing workshop for 10 days with my friend James Hopkins who runs the Himalayan Writers Workshop. It’s surreal to be leaving the country now, a day before the election results come in, and head to a place where American politics won’t be front and center. The Nepalise people probably don’t give much thought to what’s going on in the U.S. because they’re busy surviving. I read the other day that the average monthly income in Kathmandu is $59. Two years ago, in that other election, I stood in a sports bar in Ubud, Bali, eyes scrunched and head cocked as I watched a televised map of the U.S. turn bright red. The Balianese people I ran into for the next few days didn’t mention the election. Apparently U.S. politics aren’t the center of the universe, though it’s certainly felt that way as we live the daily horror show of bombs and shootings and a president so vile that it’s impossible to believe he’s still among us. And least we forget, there’s the caravan of Honduran refugees that hasn’t even gotten to the border yet, but you already know how that one ends. By the way, are there still children in detention camps who haven’t been reunited with their parents? I am ashamed that I don’t know the answer to that, and like the news media, have moved on. I’ll be honest, it’s tricky writing blog posts and sending newsletters in this political climate. To be writing about anything other than politics and...
Claire and the Butterflies

Claire and the Butterflies

This is not the first time this year that I’ve sat down to write a blog post and not known what to say. I am speechless about the state of the world. I am flattened every time I hear Trump’s voice or watch him point his finger at some mysterious enemy on television. I am incredulous when I see a photo of republican women wearing smart red suits and waving American flags at the president, lips as shiny as blood, each one waiting for a kiss from a man who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them. I need a news break. I need to turn my attention to something simple and beautiful. I need to find something good out there so that I’m not huddled inside my house waiting for the SS to knock on my door, or calculating how old my children will be when we run out of water, wondering whether we should have armed those girls with shot guns. But then I remember the butterflies. It’s not my story, but my friend Claire’s story, and even as I write this I know I’ll have to get her permission to share it and she might say no because her story is huge and not one that I want to minimize in a blog post. And also because one day she might want to write it herself. I’m just a witness, someone who started Wild Writing with Claire about a year ago, and who got to watch her take on the butterflies. What you need to know is that three years ago Claire’s husband had a stroke...