Monday, September 27, 2010

The Best Traffic Stop Ever

On a recent Friday night I was pulled over.

The officer approaches the passenger door and shines his light through. I never do get his name, but I like him.

"Can I see your license? Where are you coming from? Do you know why you were pulled over?"

I was stopped because my taillights were out. No big deal there, just a quick trip to the garage.

"Why are you sweating? It's a cool night."

"I was working out right before I left campus."

"What were you doing?"

"Tai chi, capoeira, different martial arts."

"Where were you working out?"

"In the grass."

"What's that in the seat beside you?"

"It's a musical instrument. It's called a berimbau."

"Would you mind stepping out here onto the curb?"

I get out.

"Have you ever been arrested?"

"No" (to myself, 'not to your knowledge').

"Are you on any medication?"


"Have you ever taken any drugs?"

"Just alcohol and weed."

"Are your pupils always that small?"

I'm not sure what to say to this, and communicate so through body language.

He explains that he is a DAR officer, and he notices that I am sweating and have constricted pupils, so he has to make certain that I am not under the influence of any substances and am safe to drive. I consent to cooperate. Next is being searched and sitting on the curb, a rigamarole that can be highly entertaining if you don't have anything to worry about and aren't in a hurry.

Time passes as more cops show up to make a total of five. While I am sitting on the curb the first cop shines his light over my gold colored pedicure and I see the beam do a double take. "Were you doing tai chi barefoot?" I answer in the affirmative.

A lady cop asks me what I am studying. "Math", I answer.

"Oh, I hate math. I got it right up till calculus, and then I gave up."

"Well, know what? One time, in the fourth grade, I was supposed to learn long division, but my teacher made me solve a problem at the board, and I didn't know how, and she embarassed me in front of the whole class, and ever since then I've never learned how to do long division." That gets a chuckle.

My pulse is taken a number of times, my eye tracking and pupil responses are tested, I estimate 30 seconds while looking at the sky. "Do you live in your RV?"


"Where do you park?"

"On campus, or at a friend's house, or wherever I feel like."

"Do you mind if we look inside?"

"Not at all."

The first cop and the lady cop thoroughly search my house. "You are what we call in the law enforcement world an 'anomaly'."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"You display the textbook signs of being under the influence of meth or heroin. But you seem highly lucid, and what with being in grad school, the organic food, the tai chi, the books on Buddhism, the yoga mat, I can't see you shooting meth into your veins to get high."

Belly laughing, I say "I've never done meth or heroine in my life."

He thanks me for my cooperation, I thank him for doing his job, shake his hand, and drive on, in an elevated mood and still in plenty of time for my first ever open-mic performance at the nearby Egyptian Tea Room.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coming Out

Often we confine our lives to boxes (aka closets).  What closets are you confining yourself to?  One sure sign of a closet is believing that there is no alternative.  "I don't really want to live this way, but what's the alternative?"  There are always alternatives, and there are always new distinctions you can make that can render your preconceived alternatives obsolete.

If you are considering living in an RV as opposed to a permanent dwelling, then you may be a closet nomad.  If you think about it, you might realize you are a closet musician, a closet athlete, a closet intellectual, or a closet happy, healthy, and successful person.

I recently came out of the closet as an ethical slut of the polyamorist persuasion.  Instead of accepting that there was no alternative to monogamy, I decided that there could be no alternative for me but to live the life I know I want.  By discarding limiting beliefs about what was possible, I didn't immediately change my world, but I changed the way I related to and felt about everything in it.

A closet can be a limiting belief about yourself or the world.  It can be a limiting job, career, relationship, social circle, or geographic location.  It can be a limiting habit, or it can be a habit of not doing something you'd love to do.  Evaluate your life for self imposed limitations and ask yourself, "Is there anything I have always known I really want but have never allowed myself to have?"  Then set new standards for your life to allow you to have that and other similar experiences, or at least to try them out safely.

Here are some helpful words on breaking free from Mr. Johnny Soporno:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turns of Fortune

There is an old Chinese story about the turnings of fortune. A farmer who lived on the edge of a great wild plain kept horses. One day the pasture fence broke, and two of his horses escaped. The neighbors lamented on behalf of the farmer, "How unfortunate." The farmer simply said, "We'll see."

The next day the farmer's horses came back, with three wild horses from the plain at their heels. The neighbors congratulated the man's fortune, "How lucky!" Again the farmer said, "We'll see."

The following day the farmer's son was trying to tame one of the wild horses. The horse bucked and threw him off, breaking his leg. The neighbors again lamented, "How unfortunate." The farmer said, "We'll see."

The day after that the army came through, conscripting soldiers. The neighbors' sons were taken, but because of his broken leg, the farmer's son was left behind. The neighbors wailed "How lucky you are!", and again the farmer said, "We'll see."

In life, turnings of fate take place regularly, sometimes in subtle and sometimes in obvious ways. In my life recently, I met a girl I thought was a perfect match, and experienced a nearly ideal beginning to what it seemed would be a nearly ideal relationship. Lucky? We'll see.

I expected this to go on indefinitely until she suddenly broke it off after only three months. While I was struggling with my own shock and heartbreak, I missed many opportunities to flirt with other girls. Unlucky? We'll see.

One of these opportunities I botched particularly badly. I was so wrapped up in my head that I almost didn't realize the cashier was flirting with me when I was purchasing my textbook, and I missed the opportunity to make a connection. Two weeks later, I saw her approaching on the sidewalk, and without a word she walked right into my arms. She nuzzled me and kissed my neck. Late for my teaching assignment, I gave her my card, saying, "I have to go, but will you call me?" She said yes and kissed me on the corner of the mouth. We parted longingly, pulling our eyes and hands apart. Lucky? We'll see.

Absorb the teaching of the masters: when ahead, do not rejoice too much, when behind, do not despair at all.