Sunday, October 28, 2007


This weekend my friend Jessica visited. Jessica was the first real friend I met in America and we worked out that we've now known each other for over 10 years. We met working at Dough Roller, a very sophisticated pizza place, in Ocean City MD and have been friends since. We traveled to Thailand together, which was my first taste of the Far East. It was really nice to see an old friend who knows me well (I think the old me is kind of different from me now - BUT then kind of exactly the same:)

On Saturday we did a rebounding class at the gym, which is a crazy aerobics class on a little trampoline. Lots of the girls looked really fit. Jessica and I looked like a couple of 2 year olds, flopping around! It was fun though. Then we went to Short Hills Mall. My first time shopping since the Spring. As a rule I don't think walking round a mall looking for things I want is a very productive way to spend my time (or money when I should be saving for Mexico) and I absolutely get what the Dali Lama says about needing possessions being one of the main causes of human unhappiness BUT there is something delicious about spending $60 on a tub of moisturiser which smells good enough to eat!

For dinner we went to O Neale's - where, within 10 minutes someone commented on how great my new body lotion smelled - yes a truly wise purchase! I have discovered that they make really good fresh Margaritas. We left early and came back to my apartment to look through old albums and talk about old times - when we would have been out partying, rather than talking in our Jim Jams.

Oh and the reason we look so miserable in that picture is that we had spent all night trying to take a picture where we both looked nice. Obviously there was something terribly wrong with my camera this evening...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Alex Kirkbride's American Waters

On Wednesday night I met Cat, Allie, Hans and Aaron at a bar in the
city where Alex Kirkbride was giving a talk about his new
photography book. He inspired my longing to travel and
made me more convinced that buying my car was the right thing
to do. Also looking forward to getting a good digital camera.
A stolen and abandoned car at a disused quarry in Illinois.

His pictures were pretty cool. He had taken three years and traveled
around the States taking one underwater picture in every state. The
picture above is a stolen car at a disused quarry in Illinois. The next
are of a 20 yr old blind cat fish in San Marcos Texas, a rain pond
in Connecticut, an Atlantic sand tiger shark on the papoos wreck off
North Carolina:
This 20-year-old blind catfish in San Marcos, Texas, is one of the last survivors from when its lake was part of an amusement park.
The last shot from the last state - a rain pond in Connecticut. Atlantic sand tiger shark on the Papoose wreck, North Carolina.

More from the Dali Lama...

Simple life....
"If one's life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and cultivating helpful ones in meditation."

Awakening mind...
" The awakening mind is also compared to the sun because when the sun has risen, not only is darkness unable to obscure it, but even a single ray of sunlight can dispel darkness."

Friday, October 19, 2007

From the Dali Lama

"When we develop deep conviction in the law of cause and effect, we will be able to perceive the causes and conditions of our own sufferings. Our Present happiness or unhappiness is nothing more or less than the result of previous actions."

And on meditation:

I will maintain a state without thoughts.

The mind is generally directed towards external objects. Our thoughts
follow external experiences remaining at a sensory/ conceptual level.
In meditation we draw the mind inward and don't allow it to be
distracted by external experience, nor allow it to dull, but stay alert.

Try to see the natural state of your consciousness. Where your
consciousness is not afflicted by thoughts of the past, memories nor
thought of future plans, fears or hopes.

Remain in a natural and neutral state. Imagine the mind like a river
flowing strongly where you cant see the river bed. If there was some
way that you could stop the river flowing from both directions - where
its coming from and where it is going to, then you could keep the water
still and this would allow you to see the bed of the river.

Similarly when you can free the mind from thinking of the past or
future, being totally blanked out, then you will be able to see that
under the turbulence of the thought processes there is an underlying
stillness and clarity of mind.

At first when you experience this form of consciousness you might
experience it in the form of a sort of absence. This is because we are
used to seeing our mind in terms of external objects. We tend to look
at the world through our concepts and images so that when you withdraw
from these external objects you almost cannot recognize your mind.

As you get used to it you will start to recognize an underlying
clarity, a luminosity. That's when you come to appreciate and realize the
natural state of the mind.

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Orleans

I arrived Friday night, late and went right to my hotel and bed. The wedding was on Sat at 6, which gave me all day to explore. I'd been to New Orleans when I was 21 for a day or two with Jacqueline. I'd been a baby back then. We'd met two guys who'd taken us to various jazz bars. What I saw was pretty much the same. Perhaps a little more of the cacky (sp?) shorts and beer bong brigade.
So Saturday I think I was one of the first people in the city to wake up. I had breakfast, read and then took a short walk to the river, past Jackson Park, followed by a quick tour of the voodoo museum. At 11 I met with my friend John Karpousis which was nice, as I'd not hung out with him for ages. We found an outside cafe, with live Jazz and drank bloody Mary's. Then we walked around - enjoying the freedom of drinking beers from plastic cups as we walked. John plays lead guitar in a band who were formerly more active than they are now (wife, son, partnership, Nutley) and he loved the streets of N.O. It is a very good thing that John did not discover New Orleans as a younger man, or I think it might have easily been he (or equally me) we crossed the street to avoid: people around my age who looked like New Orleans had been pretty savage to them: tattooed, sunburned, homeless, drug dead eyes. That (and of course the devastation of hurricane Katerina) is the sad part of New Orleans and the part that brings this party town crashing back into reality. All in all, though a very nice day: Sunshine, music and a few beers with friends.