Jun 29, 2011

Dreams, etc

(This was written and supposed to be updated last night, but there were blogger errors!)

Beings of the six realms,

This morning I heard knocking on the wall of my sleeping area, and got up thinking that someone was leaving me a return note. It was dark out, no surprise. There was no one in the room. It was 1:30am. I went back to sleep.

Then I heard someone shuffling in the aisle between all the sleeping areas. Moving closer to my bed then further away, then closer before seemingly leaving without opening the door. It was 3:30am. I went back to sleep.

Then I heard three short knocks. It was 4am.

All during this event I remained still and pretending to be sleeping, even though I thought I wasn't. I was scared and apprehensive. I did not want to respond to whatever was going on. I wonder if I was awake, if I was asleep, what was happening. But mostly I wonder what I was afraid of. Tonight if there is a repeat, I will not be afraid.

A good day today. Happiness, bounce in my step, sunny and all.

Probably I will have a cartoon for you tomorrow.

Jun 28, 2011

Tuesday, Lameday

Long day today. Lots of work, rainy outside. In the evening we played Yahtzee!

I guess that's everything I have to say about today. Maybe more tomorrow.

Jun 27, 2011

Technically Week Two!

Although if you were a stickler for accuracy, you might point out that it more closely resembles week 1 day 7.

This morning, I was more awake than usual in zen. I felt confident in my movements and at home in the building. I knew how to do the work I was given and tried my best to practice in work. The food was delicious, as usual.

It is very strange how powerful the teaching method at the zen center is. Basically, they watch you and help if you need help. Just doing this somehow fills every moment with mindfulness.

I have found myself talking in voices from the Hundred Acre Wood recently, to make sure that Pooh wins in my head. He is really a rather lovely bear. That's all for today!

Jun 26, 2011

Sunday Sunburn!

The San Francisco Pride Parade

The San Francisco Zen Pride Center

The San Francisco Zen Pride Truck


Buddha #1

Buddha #2

The Parade!

Jun 25, 2011

Nothing to See Here


Today has been Saturday. Sitting, Service, Breakfast, Sitting Instruction, Lecture, Tea and Cookies, Lunch, Phone Calls, Naps, Dinner, Phone Calls, Yahtzee, Blogging.


Tomorrow will be Sunday. Breakfast, Pride Parade, Friends, Phone Calls, Blogging.

Thanks for reading. More excitement to come later.

Jun 24, 2011

Friday Night Lights Out


Today was another day. It is beginning to feel like I've always been here, even though I have not! This morning sitting was very peaceful and work in the kitchen was stressful! I messed up a couple times and it is not good when you mess up in the kitchen! Nothing too disastrous, but I got moved to folding laundry duty for a little while. I ended up singing to myself a little bit. The one song was the chant that goes "Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bhodi Svaha" and the other song was "Move slowly/Do one thing at a time".

Lunch was the most extravagant thing I've seen here so far. Bread, three kinds of cheese, egg salad, potato salad, hot peppers, pickles, tomatoes with basil, hot poblano sauce, rice with beans and vegetables, probably more things that I just forgot because there were SO MANY THINGS!

After lunch we decorated some umbrellas for the Pride parade and mopped the floor. This afternoon was Daniel's last work and he leaves tomorrow afternoon. It has been very nice to have him here. He is very earnest, asks all of the questions, works hard and is just very helpful to have around. He will be missed.

Now the archivists have invited me to come on a pub crawl with them. Probably it will only last an hour before we all collapse from being up since 5am. Further updates as events warrant!

Oh also, Heidi is a young girl who calls the koi fish in the pond "Nemo".

Jun 23, 2011

Stages of Awareness

Hey guys,

I'm drawing again! Here is one thing I drew. I feel like I was in Pre Awareness for so long that I now am unwilling to deal with the long wait for Post Awareness.

Question: Does this drawing make sense to you?

Another fantastic day at the zen center. It feels like I've been here for a month. Tomorrow will probably be another month all by itself.

This Sunday is the San Francisco Pride Parade. I will take pictures probably!

Thanks for reading this. I would love answers to my question on Facebook, here in the comments or via e-mail.

Jun 22, 2011

First Wednesday


Daniel said that yesterday was the longest day he's ever had. I replied, and then there's today!

Today we worked in the kitchen, which was much more continuous a stream of tasks than yesterday. Daniel spent about two hours scrubbing potatoes, while I got to clean, scrub carrots, cut strawberries and peaches and sweep!

Meditation has been very painful, which I do not mind. Difficulty is not problematic, this pain is not injury, and I had a nice realization during today's evening sitting which should help me to be in less pain tomorrow.

Tonight we had a talk from Victoria, who spoke about her mother who is 89 or 90 and in the late stages of Alzheimer's and has just been sent to a hospice. She also talked about her mother's family, who were Jews in Austria during World War II. It was a very moving talk.

Also, a group of archivist grad students in a masters of library science program is here for the month and they have now all arrived and been oriented. They start at 5am tomorrow. They are not zen students, they are librarians who signed up for a class. I think this will be wonderful.

Jun 21, 2011

i dedicate this day to you and zen

5:00 a.m. wake-up bell: walks through the halls with a giant clanging bell.

5:25 zazen: sit on a pillow with legs crossed facing the wall. legs fall asleep.

5:55 kinhin (walking meditation): put legs on floor, try to stand. once successful, walk around slowly.

6:05 zazen: sit on a pillow with legs crossed (different way) facing the wall. legs fall asleep.

6:40 service: go upstairs and chant while making fewer than ten unforgivable errors.

7:05 soji (temple cleaning): get assigned a job. complete it while making fewer than five unforgivable errors.

7:20 breakfast: amanta (?), corn muffins, tofu/fruit smoothie. delicious.

9:00 work meeting: stand around in a big circle, make announcements like middle school. get assigned morning tasks.

12:15 noon service - lunch: macaroni and cheese, split pea or spinach soup, green gulch salad, cornbread. delicious.

1:30 p.m. work: get assigned afternoon tasks.

3:00 end work: stop assigned afternoon tasks (hopefully completed). naptime.

5:40 zazen: sit on a pillow with legs crossed (a third way) facing the wall. legs fall asleep.

6:20 service: enjoy the summer solstice with poetry.

6:35 dinner: polenta pizza, kale and chard. delicious.

Jun 20, 2011

Coming Back Where I've Never Been

Hello again, faithful readers!

Yesterday (Sunday) was a very enjoyable day. I slept in for a bit before waking up and watching the US Open while checking e-mails. Jon was out at work selling tofu at a farmer's market and so it was a very relaxing morning. Jon returned and shortly his friend Charlotte also appeared. We saw the end of the golf and then went to throw a football in the Presidio. The Presidio is fantastic. It is the biggest urban park I have ever seen, filled with giant trees, fields, lookouts, even a residential area. It was thoroughly impressive.

After the park, Charlotte departed and Jon and I went out to dinner with his parents. A delicious meal and enjoyable conversation followed before we returned to Jon's house briefly before going to Jon's friend's house to watch Game of Thrones with a bottle of wine. The season finale followed, we went back to Jon's house and I promptly collapsed.

Today has been a rather subdued day here on the west coast. I woke up and packed up. I loaded my bags into the giant unmarked white van that Jon had used to sell tofu and he drove me to the zen center. I stood outside the door and rang the bell and felt silly and anxious and ridiculous and nervous for no more than five minutes before a friendly man opened the door, gave me a key, let me in and gave me the quick tour of the place before dropping me in the men's dorm.

Here is my room:

The First View of My Room

Also from the entry-way

From the head of the bed

My bookshelves

Me in bed

I unpacked before wandering the halls in a vaguely successful attempt to familiarize myself with the building. I know where the bathroom and dining areas are, so what more could I need? Also, I had a snack. I came back to my bed and took a brief nap before reading for a little while. The other new guest student, Daniel, arrived during that time and we exchanged greetings. It turns out that meditation was happening this evening, despite my impression that the building was closed. Possibly this means there will also be a formal dinner, which I am about to go find out.

Jun 19, 2011

Change in Format

Dear People Who Are Aware Of This Blog And Also Occasionally Frequent It:

I am now in San Francisco, as I plan on being for the next year or so. As I was making my rounds of goodbyes in the Washington D.C. area, I received numerous requests for a blog updating people about how I am doing, what I am doing and what exactly it means to be living at a Zen Center. As such I intend on turning this into such a blog. I imagine I might also get back into drawing and will post those intermittently with written updates and pictures (if I remember to take pictures).

I flew out of Dulles airport on a 2:50pm flight yesterday, stayed in the air for six-ish hours and landed in San Francisco around 5:40pm (having entered a three-hour time warp at some point along the trip, most likely while watching Rango, which was actually pretty good). My bags arrived after a brief wait and I was picked up by my friend Jon. We began my stay by the bay in style, blasting Mac Dre in a beige sedan while stuck in traffic for an hour or so on our way to Journey to the End of the Night (http://totheendofthenight.com/).

We miraculously found a parking space after some creative altering of the rules of the road and headed off at a quick trot toward Pier 1, thoroughly pumped up by Jon's boombox blasting his hardcore cassettes (that would have been at risk of disposal had this perfect opportunity for their use not arisen). We passed Pier 26, then Pier 28, then Pier 38, then doubt set in. Perhaps the numbers ought to be going down? We pulled a quick U-ie and upped our heart pounding pace to try to get to the line as some of our compatriots had alerted us they were going to be starting shortly.

Luckily, we managed to get into the line and filled out our waivers and got registered for this tremendous, city-wide game of zombie tag featuring 1300 players. The instructions began (Remember, the game is fake; the cars are real) and soon we started running through this city I had never seen before, sure that just around the corner would be someone looking to hunt us down and convert us from noble, pure runners to cruel, predatory chasers.

The game was fun. There's nothing like running through the streets of a city while constantly looking over your shoulder and making friends with someone merely because they have a blue ribbon tied around their arms. Excellent training for the real, imminent zombie apocalypse.

After one checkpoint, the group had splintered. After two checkpoints, only two of us remained runners. After three checkpoints, we gave up and headed over to a bar where the group had gone for a round of pool and a rolling rock. Good times were had, we took a half-hour walk back to the car and drove off to end my first night in SF.

This morning I woke up in a strange city, but was completely at home. Jon's family has put me up for last night and tonight before I go in to the Zen Center (http://sfzc.org/), and I am still as sure as I have ever been that this is the right thing for me to be doing right now.

Happy Father's Day to my dad, who is the best father I have ever come across.

If you know people who you think would be interested to read this, please do let them know.