Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Austin: So close yet so far out...

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

I’m writing this while sitting in a fun coffee house, Ruta Maya. I’ve just returned from 5 weeks traveling abroad seeing some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, yet Austin blows me away. The energy and the attitude feels a lot like Portland, Oregon (another love affair) but with (eventually) better weather and cowboy boots…it's cold here now. Unseasonably cold. Everyone assures me that the Winter snap only lasts for a couple weeks, and that's that. Well, I have a post-travel cold due to the weather change OR it's Cedar Fever--an allergy down here--either way, I'm going through some tissues.

There’s bumper stickers that reads: “Keep Austin Weird”, and for South Austin "78704, it's not just a zip code, it's a way of life". 78704-EVER!
This is definitely a blue oasis in a red state. Oh, and everyone is so gosh darn nice--Cheryl says the contest around here is who can out-polite each other. I found the Bikram yoga (yogagroove.com) and went to a class, and can’t wait to go for more. Austin has definitely opened its door wide for me, and while my Brooklyn apartment is sublet, I’m entertaining what it would be like to actually (gasp) live here…We’ll see.

Re-entry was relatively easy for me (Cheryl was more affected). The day after arriving back we went and got our film fix and saw Sweeny Todd at a very groovy theater, The Alamo, where they serve food and drinks while you watch your film. The timing worked out to dovetail into to the promotional screening of Teeth (teethmovie.com), an indie B-horror/comedy—kitschy, based on the vagina dentata myth . (It just opened in NYC at Cinema Village). The Director, Mitchell Lichtenstein, was there for a Q&A afterwards, with much of the crew in the audience. The promo schwag were toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Austin does have a vibrant film scene.

We went to a “Come as your favorite God/Goddess party” on Saturday night, so I had an opportunity the wear my Lagong dance costume from Bali and dressed as Saraswati, the Goddess of music, the arts and knowledge.

South by Southwest (www.SXSW.com) is coming up soon. This is the penultimate event of the year. I went to the Volunteer call (as did the rest of Austin's KGSR listeners) and got myself signed up to be a photographer. Locals call the festival simply “South by”. This film/interactive/music festival does take over the town, so people here have mixed thoughts about it.

We went to the premiere of John Sayles' latest film, Honeydripper, with Danny Glover and Lisa Gay Hamilton. Another star was Austin's own Gary Clark Jr., a 24 yr. old prodigy who whales on the guitar and can sing the blues. The after-party was at The Continental Club, where he is a sweetheart, cradled to success. I've been seeing lots of music, because that's what you do here. People appreciate and support musicians. I love it! The radio station, KGSR is really great. Unlike any radio station I've ever heard. I feel like the DJ''s are choosing the program from my personal collection.

Even at the airport there’s live music in the public areas. So far, I’m really enjoying the “live music capital of the world…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A 48-hour day, Mirror Reflection

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

Aloha from Honolulu (although this picture is in Guam)—where we gain a day--two Ides of January-as we re-group on Waikiki Beach for 12 hours. The most bizarre part of our 3-day journey home is the 24 hr. visit to the US territory of Guam where it was literally visiting America for a day—instant English speaking people, drinking water, cable TV, US dollars, driving with the wheel on the left side. It is a sizeable US Navy and Air Force base, so the “Support Our Troops” sentiment reigns. The water is a beautiful turquoise and we snorkeled and said hello to some tropical fish while making our way out to a small island. The hermetically sealed resort beach was clean and pristine—unlike the Bali beaches, which have a lot of residue and garbage from the rainy season (and the cyclone from Australia). Arriving in Nagoya, Japan we were back in a foreign land—and loved it. We rocked the airport, which was modern and clean, and had shops, good food and the most excellent soft serve green tea ice-cream…

One thing most people who have spent any time in Bali will tell you is that the island has a sacred way (even if you’re not spiritual) of reflecting back to you exactly what you put out or think. I would venture to say Bali is the dwelling place of the cosmic mirror, which is why it is an intense place for many, and why people have a need for repeat visits or decide live there.

“This is the end of an era”, Carrie said as we walked out to a waiting Widodo (our driver) ready to whisk us off to the airport. We had become such fixtures in Carrie’s home, and to her community at large. The new friends, drivers and helpers that became ours—the newly pregnant Kombantu (house helper), Putu, Cheryl’s tailor, Rai Pasti in Ubud, and for me, I was teary-eyed saying so long to both the owner of the motor bike (23 yr. old Ketut—good kid) and the rental shop owner (Wayan of “Rudy’s Rental Bikes”)—What started as an adversarial who-done-it thorn-in-my-side of my holiday, transformed into friendship and trust, and ultimately an opportunity to dig my heels in deeper into an understanding of how the Balinese, the system and the people, work. I will miss these faces woven into the tapestry of this island tour.
Ah, time. There were days when I thought our time in Bali would never end. We had the luxury of time. Time was on our side. Time for sunset, time for yoga, and now, time to go back to the US. One thing I definitely carry away is another relationship with time, and I’m taking my time with developing it. Much gained, so much. I’ll be processing the pearls that were chucked open in these wisdom oysters over the next weeks. Cheryl and I have said: “ If we knew then, what we know now…” a bunch. Of course, you must go through the experience to have one.
And for now I “Begin Every Day as if it’s on Purpose” just stealing a line Will Smith says from our in-flight movie, “Hitch”.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Stairway to Heaven is made of rice paddies

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Surely this is what Robert Plant was speaking of...and at the bottom of these terraced cliffs is a small Balinese mountain town known for the exquisite rice paddies, called Jituluweh.
Bali (population 3 million) --not just Ubud or Seminyak, but the entire island is really just a small town. Whomever you are meant to meet or see again--not to worry, you will. I mention this because it doesn't take much to tap into the nucleus here. I even have a juicy job opportunity if I wanted to stay for a Balinese salary, suffice to say, synergy abounds. But alas, my airline ticket says I leave Sunday, and for now I must be open and ready for the next chapter (this Blog will continue). Between "this your first time to Bali?", there's an assumption that there will be more trips, and I can see this is a place that warrants more journeys..."When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for..."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Flip it Good!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

2008 is the “Year of Infinite Possibilities” to quote my friend Jim Glaser a.k.a Costume Jim (www.CostumeNetwork.com), I spoke to him yesterday to get my hit of NY.
Today’s headline from The New York Times is: “Obama and Huckabee Triumph in Iowa”. And for me, Twee Merrigan (www.tweeyoga.com) was just what the Doctor ordered to start my day. Well, and the rainbow on the ride over to Desa Seni (www.desaseni.com). Originally a yoga teacher from NY, I had to come across the world to Bali to meet Twee and other Manhattan gems. I was literally moved to tears. This class marked the end of a week-long retreat she was leading. Carrie and I scooped up the last tasty morsel of it—and it was a good dose of life affirming heart language. The class was reminiscent of my Laughing Lotus Yoga training. We are all magnificent creatures who have boundless power to uplift ourselves, each other, and to change the world. I was reminded there is always a choice--we can choose to flip our observation in any given moment. Of course it is human nature to get caught in the dark places, even yesterday I found myself homesick, even bored—but now, again reminded, I’m in Bali, it’s beautiful, and people don’t come here because it’s not pleasant…if I don’t like a particular circumstance (i.e my stolen motorbike), than it’s up to me to create a new one—or at least a new perception. Afterall, we write the script and direct the film that is our life—whether we are conscious of it (law of attraction, The Secret) or not…

Of the rags that are available around Bali, my favorite is Positive News (www.positivenews.org.uk). It reminds me of The Onion except that it’s real news, not a send up, from around the world—talk about Pronoia!

I’m developing a new relationship to rain. One of total surrender and appreciation for the sound and the tranquility it makes me feel, the excuse to curl up with a book, or the bonding we all have navigating the weather in our blue rain jackets. The are many micro climates here, so if you look up the weather for Bali during rainy season you will get a wet forecast even if it’s sunny where you are—it’s raining somewhere.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy YOU Year!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
I send you a happy, abundant, prosperous New Year from “the morning of the world”. We are 13 hours ahead of EST, so I raise a virtual Happy New Year toast in every time zone. The last day of the year always feels sentimental and contemplative for me. I resonate with the New Year that is Rosh Hashanah and the Pagan observance on Halloween—but ultimately writing 2008 as a date and featuring a new wall calendar and date book, really drives the ‘new’ home. Reviewing 2007 in my mind’s eye, I’m ready so say so long, and welcome the opportunity to begin anew, mindful with integrity and intention.

The New Year was lots of fun and wet! It's pretty humorous riding a moped in the pouring rain. We started at a French restaurant, where it poured down before midnight and we all got shelter under the bar area. At midnight the French owner and his brother started playing with spoons on pots and it didn't take long to tire of that, so our night continued at Hu'u Bar where we danced and met up with other friends--Alfred and Johanna, A.K. and Matoez.

I am somewhere between being a tourist and living the routine of a typical expatriate being stationed in Seminyak-using the internet at The Corner Store, bringing laundry in, establishing a relationship with a tailor (Cheryl's job) and becoming a familiar face to the locals. The additional layer is the motorbike incident which is still in process...
I haven't given up on the "Bali Magic", that perhaps the bike will be found and returned before leaving. Certainly I'm living something that is real and that fills this experience with an understanding of 'the system'. Everything is sold to the highest bidder--manipulation and lies abound. There is no regard for women etc. There is a distinct firmness I need to maintain, like continuously applying pressure to a bleeding cut.

If you are a believer that everything happens for a reason--you'd say that if my bike wasn't taken away from me, there may have been a more grave outcome.

...and so it goes