SECTION ONE: Biographical Data
Please answer the following questions:
1) What is your name, gender, and preferred pronoun?
Abraham Burickson, M, He
2) Do you have any nicknames? What are they and how did you get them?
Abe. That’s pretty obvious. It’s what everyone calls me, though I do feel like it sounds like some old altacocker who sits around bitching about everything. Look at how you see it in pop culture – look at Abe on the Simpsons. When it’s written I prefer Abraham. I don’t mind when people call me Abe verbally, as I sometimes want to be accepted for the altacocker I just might be pretty soon.
I was Abo as a kid. I miss that name.
3) What is your email, telephone number, address?
4) What is your date and place of birth?
Jan 8 1975, NY NY
5) Where and with whom do you currently live?
In Baltimore with my wife, Dare
6) Where else have you lived?
In order: Manhattan (-to age 12), Tenafly NJ (through high school), Ithaca (college), Manhattan (now they call it a gap year – back then it was a drop out year), Quito, Ecuador (study abroad), New York city (after college), Portland OR (go west!), San Francisco (many years! 2000+ I thought I found my place. Maybe!), Ithaca (artist residency), Baltimore (now)
7) What is your current relationship status?
7 months married!
8) Tell us about your occupation and what you do for work.
I do a few things but am trying to narrow down. I recently stopped being an architect so I could focus on Odyssey Works and Odyssey Works Workshops. We have split OW into two arms – performance and education – and the idea is that they can be symbiotic. It became clear in 2015 when we (Ayden and I) started writing the book that after all this work and development of practices the mission had grown to share what we’d learned with the world. This feels great and right, and I work with Ayden and a few others to present public workshops and to work with organizations to present private workshops. The Mexico intensive, like the Hybrid Intensive before it, is the dream situation, where we are inviting people all the way in.
I also teach at MICA in Baltimore and at another school online. I like teaching.
9) Do you have any pets?
10) How do you feel right now?
I’m excited to do this again. It’s been a while and I had forgotten how reading applications makes me feel – hopeful mostly, like our personalities are so unimportant compared to our inner lives. And most people long to live well and help others to live well, and I want to be a part of that. I just got over a cold and am on a plane.
SECTION TWO: All about you
Please answer at least 7 of the following questions:
1. How do you spend your free time?
I don’t have a lot of free time. But what I do have I generally want to spend with my wife. Anything we do together is time well spent. Also, I love saunas and baths. I put a soaking tub in the bathroom and love a good soak. I like to watch bad TV with Dare. I like to listen to audiobooks.
2. Describe your favorite/least favorite place in the town/city where you currently live.
My home is my favorite. I’m renovating it top to bottom and the shower and the bath are really nice now, as is the bedroom. The kitchen is a shit show and we spend a lot of time there. There’s a lovely bike path near our house that winds through the woods and I love to bike through it. It leads to a derelict part of Baltimore (this is more derelict than most) with an abandoned train station and burned out buses and a sad train museum. I keep thinking I could film a post apocalypse movie here. It’s by the river, which is so polluted there are big danger signs. Dare calls this the Baltimore Sublime. The path also leads past the conservatory, which is beautiful.
There’s so much not to like in B’more it is impressive. I went to a dermatologist office once where there were like 30 people who had a 3pm appointment with me, and there was a sign on the wall stating “you may ask only two questions”. That place sucked.
3. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Back to Iceland, with Dare, to go to all the hot pots we did not visit.
4. If you could have any meal for your birthday, what would it be? What would you eat? What would you drink? Where and with whom would you be?
I have a restricted diet, so I’ll interpret this as saying I could eat anything. So:hash browns, toast, pizza, then St. Germain Gin and Tonic, then cheesecake.
I’d be pretty fricking sick even if it weren’t specifically toxic for me. But damn…
5. What experiences are you numb to? What experiences deeply affect you?
I wanted to say that I’m numb to appeals for leftist revolutionary anger. From some early age I think I understood the ideals of liberalism to be kindness, empathy, tolerance, and the desire for a better world. On a gut level, none of this tags to anger, and I feel that, though seeing what is wrong in the world evokes anger and frustration, my gut says that anger and hatred don’t generate positive results. I have prohibited political rants in my writing classes because I really don’t want to hear it.
I am deeply affected by my wife these days. She is someone who strives to be better and to do better all the time. She is so different than I am, and she is so powerfully loving.
I am deeply affected by some art – I’ll discuss that later I guess – but when something true or beautiful emerges, I am glad to be human and I think it’s worth it despite all the horrors.
I’m deeply affected by people who’ve been through AA. I don’t really have an addiction gene, and that’s not really the point. I just find that when I talk to people who’ve struggled with themselves like that I find a humility and intelligence that is so important.
I’m deeply affected by the fact of mental illness. I think it is everywhere and it’s an epidemic and if all the energy spent on talking about politics could instead be spent on making a compassionate space for the mentally ill we could really do something.
I’m deeply affected by people who strive to find what they have to offer the world and cultivate it.
6. What do you find attractive in a lover?
I could go on and on. Primarily, someone who is willing to make a lovemaking space where everything is good and wanted and it’s all exploration. I’ve had a good number of lovers and I don’t want more. I’m grateful for my experiences, and for the fact that my history with my love life was filled with people trying in their ways to be generous lovers and to connect. I learned a lot and hope I was able to offer something in return.
7. What is your biggest external fear?
Poverty. Having a kid with Down’s Syndrome or the like. Death.
8. What do you fear most about yourself?
The above, plus that I will love the inspiration that has driven me so long. That I won’t make anything that is a real offering to the world, artwise.
9. What is your biggest unlived dream in life? What is preventing you from realizing that dream?
Publishing the damn novel.
10. What do you feel that you do well? What do you feel that you not do well?
I’m pretty good at inspiring people to do their best, and I want to do more of this. I’m good at no-bullshit thinking.
I’m good at inventing situations.
I’m bad at sleeping. I’m bad at responding quickly to emergencies. Dare says I’m bad at Google.
11. Where do you feel in control in your life? Where do you feel out of control?
I’m in control in the classroom. I’m in control when I’m laying tile or running electrical or installing a window. I’m in control when I create circumstances where I and others can exceed habit and make something new
I’m a little out of control lately with eating, which is weird because I have such a restricted diet and I don’t break rules, but within the rules I’m not good at moderation. I’m also just not good at moderation.
I’m a bit of a workaholic.
Also, I get addicted to news and my phone and such. I went on a diet this January to try it out and I really liked not following the news.
In a stream of consciousness, or with drawings or audio recordings please answer the following prompt (if you are attaching a document electronically, please note the file name here):
Describe a major life-changing experience.
Maybe it’s cheesy to say getting married, but that’s the most recent and it is and was life-changing. People ask how the wedding went and I jokingly say that it was like the moment in lord of the rings when the people are crossing some rock bridge and they run across it as it is falling out from beneath them. They make it to the other side, though. After the wedding the caterer went out of business, as did the wedding venue (after getting sued by all subsequent couples) and I stopped talking to my mother for six months. But it was great. It was so moving. I am getting a little teary writing about it. Like a cheesecake of meaning – so rich. I woke up at my friends’ Airbnb and they prepared a bath for me (in a pretty substandard tub, but it’s the thought that counts) and then I had breakfast with them. They had all come to support, to be there, to make the wedding a reality. So much feeling. Then I was left alone with four married male friends and we spoke about marriage, and moving forward, and what it could be, and meaning. They were there for me in this, as were so many others – really too much feeling for one day. I kind of don’t want to write about the actual ceremony because it is a bit sacred to me, a meeting between what is sacred inside and what the world finds to be sacred. I’ve always had a hard time with forms out there in the world, with organized religion and with sentimental notions of what marriage should be like, and what culture should be and how we should feel about our identities, etc, but this was a time when, after hard thinking and work with Dare we made those things meaningful for us in a real way – the chuppah, the vows, her native heritage, the word love. There were so many discoveries about feeling from humans who brought love to us and made the event real, like their love was a material, like baraka, and the fact that my sister traveled on her own to be there.
And then there was my mother, who was awful that day and did not really support me, and who I’m trying to reconcile with but who I’ll never see as the same hero she once was to me.
SECTION THREE: Likes and Dislikes
Please answer at least 16 of the following questions:
1. What is your favorite color?
I say red. But is that true?
2. What are your favorite sounds?
Dare’s voice calling out hello in the morning or when she gets home. The birds in Austin, TX. Well-rendered soundscapes of any kind, whispered german, loudly spoken Portuguese or Turkish, the honesty of George Oppen’s voice in his pennsound recorded readings. Construction (small scale), a crowd of people, children playing, the sounds of the amazon
I don’t like the ringing in my ears.
3. What do you find most beautiful? Least beautiful?
Who would ask such a huge question?!?!?! I think I talked about much of this in the what moves you category. But to be more specific about some things: visual: a color relationship that expresses an emotional sensitivity. Literary: honest intelligence with emotional investigation. Narrative: bigness of questions. Urban: heterogeneity, utopian designs, wabi sabi. Sensorily: a shvitz.
4. Describe your favorite/least favorite beverage.
I’ve had to mostly give up alcohol, but I occasionally have some St. George’s Terroir. I like a good ginger kombucha. Actually, the Coffee Kombucha you can get in those little bottles is great, and the only beverage I feel is really special. I fear it will disappear.
Dislike? Chicha. Though that was a while ago and I like fermented stuff a lot more now. Flat (still) water.
5. Describe your favorite/least favorite food.
I’ve had to reconstruct this due to my ulcerative colitis. I love meat and, especially, lamb. Also, a good moist brisket, Texas-style. I love omelettes
Right now the paleo bakery in my neighborhood is making some amazing desserts, including a chocolate tahini bar – goddam. I eat that and kind of go into sugar shock (easy because I don’t eat much sugar) but fuck it’s good.
6. Describe your favorite/least favorite place in the world.
Hard to say. I’m realizing as I write this that I’m seeing so much of this through the lens of being in love with my wife – more than ever – and I want to say something like: “wherever we go together” and it’s true, the places we go are great and I’d be happy in a garbage can with her, though she might not be, which would make that suck. I also want to avoid old references: the amazon, Istanbul…Right now I just love the C&O canal tow path. It’s the perfect bike path – river on the side, flat enough to ride a bike forever, strange old houses nearby.
I really love my friend Nathaniel’s farm, and the Rochester Folk Art Guild, where I go and participate in work weeks, which are like meditation retreats in a Gurdjieff tradition. I have led a couple of these. I love Nathaniel’s house, which I designed and he built, because it is as alive as it was meant to be, and you can always see the kids even when they are upstairs and you’re downstairs. The bathroom isn’t very good and there isn’t enough heat, but you can only control a client so much!
7. Describe your favorite/least favorite place in the town/city where you currently live.
I think I already answered this.
8. What are your favorite/least favorite art works and why?
I don’t think I can limit it to one. But off the top of my head I’ll say Janet Cardiff’s Her Long Black Hair because it takes you on a journey that is physical and poetical and real and so well done. The Lightning Fields because they are a beautiful piece of experience design dressed up as sculpture/land art. Rotozazza’s Etiquette for reasons similar to the Cardiff piece. Is this supposed to be just visual art? Who make these categories? Bill viola for the intensity of the experience.
Least favorite: Art intentionally made to look like it was made by someone with no training. Interactive or immersive art where the performer asks you to interact and be vulnerable while being completely fake, techy art that has no soul, angry art that’s just a shout. House World. That terrible thing I saw at the DuPont Underground in DC.
9. If you could change one thing about how somebody you know looks or acts, what would it be?
I’d have my friend N. stop harassing all the men she dates and just accept them for who they are.
10. Do you read? How often, and what kind of books? What are your favorites?
Constantly. I read an audiobook and a regular book usually. The regular book at breakfast and when I can otherwise (on an airplane or in the tub) and the audio book while driving, doing construction, napping, etc. The book book is usually something I’m learning about, like design or workplace stuff. The audiobook is usually fiction, though I read The Sense of Style by Pinker recently, which is not a great idea, but I loved it. I just told the lady next to me about 2666, which I think is now my favorite novel because it asks the big question: what is worthwhile doing in the face of so much suffering? Others on the list: 100 years of solitude, moby dick, housekeeping, Teo Obreht’s the Tiger’s Wife, Godfather Death, George Oppen’s Of Being Numerous, Hass’s Praise. There’s so much. I recently read all the Magicians books and those were great. Also, I read all three of the Three Body Problem books, and that was weird and troubling and great and just interesting. Impro is great. Towards a poor theater. There’s so much; I have detailed reviews on my Goodreads page and could share them with you.
Every morning after meditating I read ten pages of a book about inner work. Now that’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, by Gurdjieff. I try to read while maintaining sensitivity to my body. It’s an interesting experiment, and ten pages is about my maximum.
11. What are your favorite/least favorite musical works and why?
Gorecki’s third because it is devastating. Various Dylan songs at various times because they feel so true. Travis Weller’s compositions for OW because I hear in them the whole of the effort we made together to understand someone. Lately I’m listening to Reflektor by Arcade Fire a lot. I love experimental noise music at moments and at those moments it is worth all the suffering through the bad sounds that it took to get there. I love In a Landscape by John Cage. Most exciting lately is hip hop. There’s so much experimentation there. I think Childish Gambino is brilliant in most of the different things he does, though I don’t like the latest album so much. I love JayZ. Love the Beastie Boys. I’d like to love Frank Ocean.
I don’t understand what is happening on the radio. How do people like that stuff? I have a hard time with stupid lyrics or party! music.
12. What kind of movies do you like? What are some of your favorite movies?
I’m struggling with the fact that I feel like movies are mostly escapist nowadays. There are so few artistic movies. This is probably because the real creative energy is in tv and I think I’ll have to rewrite the question. The Leftovers was amazing TV, and Legion is really fun. Billions is so brilliantly elemental. There are a lot of movies I’ve loved, including The Thin Red Line, Streetcar named Desire, Star Wars, Othello, etc., but it’s really hard to want to go to a movie that’s not just entertainment lately.
13. What are your favorite/least favorite experiences of theater, dance, or other performance?
Oh boy. All these could be whole questionnaires. See above re: etiquette and Her Long Black Hair. Those are really tops. I loved a play I saw recently called Stranger Danger that was a reworking of Streetcar Named Desire where the actors learned all the lines and blocking and then replaced them with lines from other texts so that the experience was of watching the text float about the bodies like souls detaching, haunting. Really cool. I see a lot of shows. I love it when people work against form, meaning that they’re not trying to be the best “interactive theater” but are trying to make an experience of interactivity that is real and meaningful and they may end up making something other than “theater”. If it has no soul, if it is not driven by a real need, my gut says no. I liked, for instance, Sleep no More, but in an adventurous, technical way. I didn’t, however, feel moved by it. Dzeici does a version of Macbeth called Makbet performed by three people. Everyone in the troop knows all the parts and they don’t know who will play what each night. The work is passionate and meaningful and they invite you in, shove meat and wine in your face, let you smell them sweating. It’s powerful, participatory, immersive, and there’s no one performing for anyone else just to get applause. It’s meaningful stuff.
I’m going to a participatory experience where you experience your own death two days from now. I’ll see how that is.
14. Other likes/dislikes?
Did I mention saunas? But did I mention economics (both behavioral and macro)? Also: I really like when we hold hands before dinner and say what we’re grateful for. On the other hand, I dislike sentimentality a whole lot, and I worry that this talk of empathy will be a gateway drug to sentimentality.
In the university, I dislike grading because it implies that the student requires the stick and carrot in order to work in the class. I recognize the truth of this, but I don’t want that relationship. I want to be with people who are doing what is important to them and who look to me for help.
I like rigor in everything. Like I took some Butoh workshops even though I have no interest in being a dancer like this, but the rigor of the teachers and the method is indisputable, and that’s rare and should be honored. Students need to be rigorous. Classes in college that were rigorous hurt my head in good ways.
I am really getting to dislike systems. They are anti-presence. I was in the hospital for three days and the whole system works best when your consciousness disappears. I know they are necessary evils, but I believe they are evil and I don’t know how to live with out them. They seem to be the ubiquitous evidence of our weakness as humans and the continual reminder that we are bound to do bad things as a race. I was in the Soviet Union as a student and I visited Cuba, and those systems were terrible, despite the fact that they emerged from the same concerns that I have about how we treat one another. If we were conscious we wouldn’t need systems. But we’re not conscious.
I hate addiction. It makes me really upset. It destroys possibility, preys on weakness, feeds on moments of missing meaning, cutting off hope for that meaning. I was addicted to cigarettes for years, and it wasn’t an addiction that fucked with my life too much, but it did control my mind in chilling ways.
15. Do you dance? When and how?
Not too much. Though I do sacred middle eastern dances weekly. I have a toe injury that keeps me from getting down too much. Dare and I took some West Coast Swing classes and that was really fun, but we let it drop.
16. What’s the most recent thing you were happy about purchasing? Why?
Oof. The TSA precheck. The whole way that security system works is so humiliation based, and so anxious, and is such an undemocratic caste system it is pretty upsetting. It took me a while to concede to getting the precheck and supporting that system, but the humiliation is 20% less when you do, and I feel good about allowing that for myself now.
17. What are your most important values?
Consciousness. Kindness. Rigorous thought. Rigorous artistic investigation.
I try to say to myself regularly: don’t be a dick. This is when I’m tempted to litter, or not be respectful to someone at a cash register, or be rude to the salespeople who come to my door trying to scam me into switching to their bad electric supplier.
18. If you could only take one thing from the room you are currently in to your new home, leaving the others to be destroyed, which would it be and why?
well, I’m in an airplane right now. Most everything I have with me is replaceable. Even my wedding ring could be remade, but I guess I’d choose that. Or my Odyssey Works notebook because it has irreplaceable notes. Probably that.
19. Tell us about 3 establishments that you spend money in. How often do you go and what do you buy?
· Mom’s Grocery. It’s way too expensive but it’s hands down the best grocery store ever. They thought about every problem with grocery stores and fixed them, including paying their employees enough. The aisles are big enough. There is no bad produce. The meat is good. There is never a wait for a cashier.
· The leather repair shop. It’s what Dare and I call “old Hampden” – working class and pretty grounded. They fixed my leather bag twice and whenever I go in there I talk with the guy about business and his aspirations and they fix things well, by hand, and for cheap. One of their kids set up a system to call you when your item is ready – very high tech – but they know very little about how it works. They’re also beginning to make custom women’s shoes. The shoes don’t look good, but I imagine that they would work with you to make whatever you want, then they would tell their kids about the shoe at night. It’s sentimental, I guess, but I love real craftsmanship and caring about what you do in this way. Also, I am pretty good at accents, but I’m having a hard time learning the Baltimore accent and this is a good place to learn it.
· On that theme, Falkenhan’s hardware. It’s the Falkenhan family – the dreadlocked son, the old Hampden mother, some others, and the basement is upstairs and the main store is downstairs in the cramped basement. Makes no sense, but there you have it. There’s four or five people working in a tiny space and everyone knows where every item is. Once I was plumbing the tub (my first time) and the mother just gave me a handful of pvc pipes and said just take it all and then return what you don’t use and we’ll settle up then. I did. They do a good business and should stay in business, but I shop at Home Depot whenever I need real quantities of anything because it’s cheaper.
20. What makes you angry?
· My mother made me really angry when she yelled at Dare
· The news makes me angry. I stopped listening to NPR in the morning and my life got better.
21. What makes you sad?
22. Do you follow sports? What about your favorite team makes you love it?
No. I used to be a Yankees fan. I loved the devil’s advocate position of rooting for the dominant, rich team.
23. What brand of toilet paper, shampoo, or laundry detergent do you buy and why?
Charmin 2-ply. I accidentally bought some 1-ply because it looked like 2-ply. It’s a travesty how they market that 1roll=3rolls thing.
I don’t think much about my shampoo or laundry detergent. Dare handles that.
24. Describe a habit in your life that you consider a vice.
I eat fruits and applesauce at night. Sometimes several. I also overeat. I can’t leave food on the plate and then I feel stuffed and sick and bloated. There’s a compulsive pleasure seeking thing here that I’m not proud of.
25. (optional, like everything) Please give us the contact info for a personal reference –
In a stream of consciousness, or with drawings or audio recordings please answer the following prompt (if you are attaching a document electronically, please note the file name here):
Describe an interesting or significant dream that you've had recently.
I can’t do this right now because this cold has got me dreaming in incomprehensible ways. I woke up trying to hold onto this dream but it was the kind of thing where concepts were all forms and they had switch-like things on them. Everything up or down. Or maybe that was the post dream interpretation…
SECTION FOUR: Family and Relationships
1) Write a short biography in three paragraphs. The first paragraph is about your childhood. The second paragraph is about your life since you left home. The third paragraph is about where you are now.
I’ve done this a lot. I’m hoping to think about how to do it in a way that feels fresh…
When I was a child my parents were married and we had a big apartment and there was stability. My parents, however, were not normal and couldn’t understand living like the normal people. They were not concerned with deep questions, with art, with self-inquiry. Normal people were also financially stable and had salaried jobs and didn’t get cancer all the time. My father was always dealing with Cancer, it seemed, and my mom was always doing something heroic to save his life. One day my father took me to the park to go bike riding and I rolled down the hill and was filled with a wonderful feeling. My father said: that’s what we’re working towards. I was also not a popular kid, but I was scrappy and could win a fight – a useful skill in NY, but when we moved to the suburbs, which were white and wealthy, no one fought and people just talked behind your back and that was a hard system to comprehend. I was the kid with no money in a moneyed town. I was a bit lonely through grade school, but I got by, then I made good friends in high school and the think big part of me started to flourish. I met Paul. We hitchhiked to Yasgur’s farm when we were 15 and then up to Canada. Lots to tell there. We did drugs. The next year we got bus passes and went across the country and back. There are stories. Also, when I was a teenager, my parents sent me on trips with other teenagers and an old woman named Peggy Flinch. She took us to Mexico and gave us responsibility – to drive, navigate, figure out food and money, etc. The cars caught fire, the keys got dropped in the alligator pit, people fell in love, and Peggy showed us the wonder of the Mayan Ruins because she knew how wonder worked.
There’s so much. I liked college and architecture school alright, but I left and went to Turkey to join the Whirling Dervishes. That’s a whole story to tell another time. I studied abroad in Ecuador and lived with a tribe of head shrinkers called the Shuar, and built a house with them and went on a vision quest with them. That’s a whole story too, and I’m working on telling that one. I started Odyssey Works after Paul and I moved to the west coast and I met Matt. And shortly after that I got diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. That changed everything and sent me on a years-long healing search. I was out of commission for about a year and a half. I tried all kinds of meds, ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, a thousand different diets, and eventually got to a low-carb diet as a solution. I got off drugs and got back up on my feet and able to not spend every day after work in the bathroom and in bed. It changed my attitude toward my body, made meditation a thing that came from a need to know my body rather than something I made my body do.
Now I’m living in Baltimore (never thought that would happen), married (never thought that would happen either), teaching (love that) and thinking about a whole new kind of performance – one that would be as powerful for audience members as Odysseys but would be for anyone who wanted to come. It’s pretty exciting and daunting, and it’s a long arc of a thought, but I feel a bit like if it works out really well I won’t need to make another piece. I could just write or not make art. I could keep tweaking it. I am struggling with some aspects and with finding the money for it, but it is also nice to have an extended development period. It’ll happen when it happens. Right now it is scheduled for 2020, but if the various organizations I’ve asked to fund it fail to do so, then I can work on it until I do find someone who can.
2) Describe your relationship to the following (complete AT LEAST 8):
a) Father – He passed in 2004. I think about him mostly when good things happen in my life – ie getting married, getting into grad school, winning prizes for art or getting good reviews in a newspaper or magazine. I would have wanted him to have seen this, to be proud. He never really saw the part of my life where I accomplished things, just the part where I explored things.
b) Mother – This is honestly the hardest thing to figure right now. She was awful at my wedding and I am forgiving her because that has to happen, but it’s hard. I always thought of her as a fiercely loyal person who says that you always must be there for your people, but she betrayed that. She’s sick and she doesn’t have a whole lot of years left, and I want to be there for her and with her because this time is hard, but it’s not easy.
c) Siblings (if any) – Sister. Lily. She’s mentally ill and living in Vegas right now. She’s off and on homeless and has a lot of anger and a hard time managing the day to day. She became a Christian and got married to an old guy mostly for structure, but like everything, that’s falling apart. It’s a tragedy that is like an ongoing ulcer I mostly don’t think about these days because it really drained me for so long. I took her in to live with me for a while in SF but that didn’t work out and then one day she caught a ride to LA. The tragedy is that she never got help for her mental illness. I blame my mother, who doesn’t believe in mental illness and says absurd things like “She’s unhappy because she’s broke” my father and my mother’s new boyfriend were/are both psychotherapists. There’s a contrarian thing here.
d) Current family (partner, children, other)
Just married. It’s great. I’m really in love with my wife and I’m really glad I’m no longer single. I love that we can think about making family and home and future and I’m so glad not to be thinking about dating.
I used to have lofty ideas about this. Who didn’t? I went to poetry school for god sake! Now I think it’s everywhere if you want it. We can love each other pretty readily if we make space and time and get over our shit. We can also prioritize it. I see my friend Paul loving his kids and it’s the best thing for him. I think Dare is a savant of love – so gifted at loving. I think we should all stop overthinking it and start overdoing it and the world will be a better place
f) Death – It’s a terrible thing. We just end. Everything we love goes away. Don’t placate me with bullshit about the soul going somewhere nice or your works living on for you. This is serious. This needs to be addressed. I try to bear my mortality in mind as much as I can.
g) Spiritual practices and/or religion – I don’t want to repeat myself from previous times I’ve filled this out, so: in sum: I spent some time in Turkey and not in Turkey with the Dervishes (the other whirling dervishes – jerrahis) and then came to the Gurdjieff work. We can talk about this more if you want. It’s very important to me.
Right now I’m leading a meditation group in Baltimore based on this work. Dare and I say what we’re grateful for before dinner. It’s like saying grace. It’s probably the high point of my days these days – I could stay there for a long time.
h) Drugs and Alcohol – I did most of the drugs in my 20s, but after I got sick I had to be much more careful about everything I put in my body. I never did heroin or meth or opioids because they never sounded appealing in any way and they were associated with life-destroying addiction, which I really hate. I don’t drink anymore because my guts can’t, apparently, handle it. But I have started smoking pot with Dare as an alternative to drinking. I probably smoke once a week or so.
i) Money – I’m pretty stressed about money. We want to have kids and that’s expensive. I used to be an architect and made decent money, but it was pretty stressful and now that I’m on the east coast I would have to start all over with clients. I like giving workshops at organizations for money because it feels totally aligned with my values, but it’s a business in its infancy.
j) Nature – I’m not a nature nut, but I just took a nap in the woods under a redwood tree yesterday and that was really nice. I love those beautiful moments when you’re walking by a field and the weather is just so and the birds in the distance are making their noises and you sense something greater than yourself.
k) Body – It’s a thing. I had colitis and I have colitis and it is constant management, though I’m off drugs completely and have been symptom free for a couple of years now, which is awesome. I did spend a year basically in bed, which sucked. I also have other pains, like in my toe, so I can’t go running anymore.
That said, I love the pleasures of the body – sex and saunas and hard work. I love renovating my house and in general being physically active in a way that moves matter. I love work. I love the call from my body to be sensitive and present I love eating and bathing in my new bath and shower. I don’t like that I get more tired now than I used to, and that I’m a little soft around the middle.
I eat paleo food for my health and it works. I love eating a lot, and I overeat and have to keep an eye on that. I am not wildly sensitive to minute gradations in taste, which is kind of how I am about a lot of aesthetic things (except words) and love the big moments. The passion of meat is big for me – we had bbq at the wedding and damn that was good. Also, the heartiness of a well roasted parsnip. I love kombucha because it is healthy soda, and I’m interested in fermentation and probiotics. There’s a lot I can’t eat – grains, dairy, beans, potatoes, etc. but I don’t feel especially deprived because there is so much I can eat. It’s inconvenient and expensive to eat this way, but I don’t get sick anymore, which is worth it. And I don’t get as fat.
3)Talk about a mentor. How did that person guide you or change you?
I used to sit with David Wevill, the poet, once a week when I was in grad school. He was on the verge of retirement and was pretty much forgotten, though at one point he was a star (before his wife killed the kids and herself, after having an affair with Ted Hughes, which subsequently led to Sylvia Plath killing herself). I love being in his mess of an office and sitting around and experiencing his ongoing love of poetry. It was a model I look to.
SECTION FIVE: Wrap Up
1) Would you be willing to be blindfolded?
2) Would you be willing to wear ear plugs?
3) Do you have any physical conditions that might hinder your participation?
I shouldn’t walk more than a couple of miles, and I should wear my rolly shoes when I do so
4) Please list any allergies:
None. But I have food restrictions
5) What would your younger self from 10 years ago say to you now?
Holy shit you’re married! Odyssey Works is well known? You managed to sell the house despite this incredible market crash?
6) 10 years from now, what might your older self say to you now?
Try to focus!
7) How do you feel now?
Under the weather. But it was fun to do this again.
8) Do you have anything else to add?
Hi. I relate now to what you just went through. It’s been a while.