10 Days of Sober Repentance, Music, etc.

2. Religious Observances

On Wednesday I leave for 10 days of Vipassana Meditation outside of the already very rural Onalaska, Washington. You can read about the place I’m going and what the program is like via their informative and stimulating website. In brief: 12+ hours of daily meditation, no talking, no Interneting, no writing, no reading, no drinking, no smoking, no lying, no cheating, no acoustic guitar, no meat, and no dinner. They feed you delicious vegetarian meals and give you a mat. Also, it’s free. Why would I do this? If you don’t understand it I can’t explain it.

I’ve done it once before a couple of years ago in Brighton, Michigan. It was difficult but not impossible, and I was revived an empress. On the one hand, in grand Buddhist tradition I am interested in detaching from the results. On the other hand, my hopes include, but are not limited to:

1. Safe travel to the center and back. (What’s 10 hours on the road in a rickety 95 Saturn to an artist?)
2. I want to remember what it’s like to sit still and shut up for a second. Many, many seconds.
3. How to be alone.
4. Perhaps this sounds trite, but I want to come back a better person. Look, I know I’m not a monster now, but we could all be better, couldn’t we? Do I have to be so sarcastic and acerbic all the time? Do I have to hold on to petty resentments and act like a child when I don’t get everything I want? Just saying, I can do better. You deserve love, world, and I am here to love you.
5. A little fucking discipline, if you please.

This next list is a little absurd. Why not mix in a little new age mysticism with my old school meditation practice, before it’s too late. Set it and forget it like a rotisserie chicken, here’s some shit I’d like to manifest while I’m gone. Just leave it on my doorstep for when I return.

1. A new bike. Something slick and street compatible that makes me look cool.
2. A couch for our new apartment. And while you’re at it, make that weird broken futon disappear.
3. Chastity and continence. Sort of. (Inspired by @St Augustine)
4. Lord, God, Krishna, could you make me neater? Make me care about the dishes and laundry, because God, you neglected to give me this gene and I’m starting to catch on to how alienating filth can be.
5. Is it too much to ask to be the greatest writer that ever lived? Could you give me the words to say all the brilliant shit I’m thinking? I mean, I don’t want to get into a fiddle contest or anything over it, but we could all use a little more grace in storytelling, and by us I mean me.

Again, I mean all of this in a totally free from desire kind of way. Let me give something back.

3a. Music

These are some songs I’ve been particularly enjoying this summer. I spend a lot of time on an Internet music site called blip.fm where I play music and hang out with my other djs, or “friends,” although let me assure you, I love them like real people. Which they are. You know, sort of. So here’s a list, and if you want, you can follow this list to my playlist where I have helpfully placed these songs for your enjoyment. (Again, sort of. The task proved long and boring so they’re not really in order but most of the songs are there probably. Create a dj name and blip yourself, it’s fun! I’m not crazy!)

  • Lou Reed – This Magic Moment
  • Dépêche Mode – Clean
  • Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
  • Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
  • Kenny Rogers – Just Dropped In
  • Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
  • The Kinks – There’s a New World Just Opening for Me
  • Dolly Parton – Jolene
  • The Strokes – Heart in Cage
  • Lil’ Wayne – A Milli
  • Warren Zevon – Back in the High Life Again
  • George Harrison – I got My Mind Set on You
  • Florence & The Machine – Addicted to Love
  • The Black Keys – Next Girl
  • Townes Van Zandt – Lungs
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
  • Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
  • Murder by Death – Until Morale Improves, The Beatings will Continue
  • John Lee Hooker – I Need Some Money
  • Gene Pitney – Town without Pity
  • Delta Spirit – People C’mon
  • The Mars Volta – Miranda, This Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore
  • I love you all. Who knows what kind of weird mystic will be running this place when next we meet.


    How I’ve Spent My Summer Vacation, Part I

    Don’t trust a Molly. They always break their promises. The summer is half over. I can feel it slipping through my fingers like sand. Think of everything I didn’t do. Actually don’t.

    The other problem is that I kind of really don’t know what this blog is for. I used to have blogs in the past, back when the Internet was in its infancy, and back then it was just some sort of weird teenage to post teenage performance art. Molly expresses an emotion! Veiled shout outs to boys I liked. Complaining about writing. (Perhaps things haven’t really changed…) I just pontificated wildly with white letters on a black background. I wrote all the HTML by hand, and getting 100 hits in a day was a really big deal. It meant something then. Now I get like 60 hits a day doing absolutely nothing. 60 people accidentally waste seconds of their life visiting my website, and what have I to offer them? This is the last time I start my blog post with a lengthy apology about not posting, I swear. Let’s accentuate the positive. Here are some things I did in fact do.

    How I’ve spent My Summer Vacation:

    1. Work

    “We had money. We were grimy and tired. Usually we felt frightened, because there was something wrong with us, and we didn’t know what it was; but today we had the feeling of men who had worked.”
    -Denis Johnson, Jesus Son

    Suddenly all of us were confronted with the fact that the school year was over and the University wasn’t going to send us checks anymore. However meager the TA salary may be, it is in fact money, and everybody loves money. (That’s why it’s called money, Ho!) As someone who pretty much had all of her hopes and dreams fulfilled when I moved to Montana, I have become accustomed to manifesting pleasant futures. When thinking about a job, I knew what I didn’t want. I wanted to do something with integrity. I didn’t want to aid in making people sick or fat or sad. I didn’t want to abet people wasting money on a service they didn’t need and I didn’t believe in. I didn’t want to do anything that occupied a fair chunk of my mind. I didn’t want to sit at a desk, input data, write things that weren’t my own writing, read things that weren’t what I wanted to read, or teach already privileged children how to pass a standardized test I didn’t believe in. The options were narrowing.

    Then one day, while doing the dishes, God (yeah, God talks to me. I know you’re jealous, suck it) said to me, “Molly, why not start an organic cleaning business.” So, I, you know, did.

    Firstly, it’s phenomenally easy to start an organic cleaning business. Step 1: buy some cleaning supplies and make products to use via recipes found on the Internet. Step 2: advertise on Craigslist. Those are the two steps. Now, if you know me in real life, it might startle you to learn that I would clean someone’s house on purpose. I am, perhaps, one of the messiest girls alive. (I am recalling an argument I had with an ex boyfriend once: “What the fuck is the problem? I like eggs. I like coffee. Why can I not use the egged fork to mix my coffee?”) So some, and not all but some of my friends and family had all sorts of unsolicited opinions on the matter. My sister, via facebook:

    “you + a cleaning job?? um… so that would kinda be like how hairdressers always have the worst hair.. alas, I’m guessing all the jobs descripted as ‘personal tornado’ have already been filled.”

    Firstly, it’s always a unique pleasure to have your friends and family so candidly express doubt in your abilities to succeed. Secondly, you were wrong. I am doing it. I have clients. I took up dog walking/sitting as well. It is exactly as God decreed it. Also me. I wrote this on my old blog about a year or so ago:

    I’d like to be a custodian this summer. It’s the most peaceful job I’ve ever had. Cleaning toilets, one after another, a long porcelain line like so many beaded pearls = the epitome of zen.

    It’s true. Cleaning houses is a little different but the principle is the same. It’s better because it feels more direct, close, personal. These people trust you to come into their home and manhandle their stuff, and you trust them to pay you, and everyone is richer for the experience. I think it’s great for character building. Humility. Humbleness. There is no room for ego when you’re scrubbing floors on your hands and knees like Cinderella. Humans want to be rewarded for their work, to receive some sort of accolade or recognition. This is all going to sound crazy but bear with me. You might scrub a spot on the floor for minutes, (think of all the elbow grease!) and no one will ever know you did it, and you just have to suck that up and move on. Good work has to be the reward in itself. I’m serious.

    Next, cleaning for others is an exercise in patience. I have to manually remind myself not to cut corners. Do everything every time, one foot in front of the other. It’s not about cleaning but polishing. The smell. My homemade products smell good and my hands are like velvet. Do with this information what you will.

    Finally, hello! Buddhism! Sand painting! Nothing ever stays clean. Do it again and again and never get to the finish line.

    To think, there are other items on this list! I went way long with number one, so I will try to come back in a couple of days to continue. Then again, don’t trust a Molly. I don’t trust me.