Starting again

Let go of the fantasies. Return to the breath. Begin a new blog.

Given circumstances: free, single, with enough money to get by and no need to earn it if I’m very frugal. At home in a sweet little studio apartment in subsidized housing in NW Portland, Oregon. I hear the rattle of the streetcar, the hum of traffic, boat whistles and train whistles, voices in the street. My windows open onto tree tops. I smell the Moroccan restaurant on the corner, the coffee shop across the street. It’s an urban life, but peaceful. A few friends but no companion. Just me, restless.

This wire sculpture of a flying Buddhist madonna was made for me by my best buddy, Leif Anderson, and I photographed it in motion, the kind of restless motion I feel in myself. I just turned 65 and got my head shaved–a little ritual I perform every time I start again. I’m in good shape for my age–no addictions, no major medical issues, mind pretty sharp, though the short-term memory has started to slip. Still awed by all I don’t know, still curious. I’m grieving the loss of my little cat, Chloe. I had to give her up because I was developing asthma. I’ve always been allergic to cats, but I thought I could live with it. Not. So maybe, after Africa, I’ll consider getting a dog.

After Africa. I’ve spent half the remainder of my savings on a ticket to Lesotho. I leave September 29 and return, if nothing changes, a month later. I figure that will be my last great adventure because I’m running out of money and there’s no more coming in. But I want to see Lesotho again–the people I love there and the land itself. I want to go again and bear witness, go again and craft a tribute. Maybe a book, if I can sustain the effort long enough and find a publisher. I have an idea for a novel. But I’ve had ideas before. At least a blog. This time I’ll have a digital camera in my hands, a voice recorder to catch the music of the language, a laptop to keep notes. I want to take excellent notes. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have internet connectivity some of the time and can blog from Africa.

Maybe a dog. I’ve been hanging out around dogs, going to the dog park, visiting friends who have dogs. I’ve been watching Cesar Millan videos, reading Ian Dunbar, thinking about dogs and discipline, training my inner puppy. Cesar says if dogs don’t get enough exercise and discipline, they develop obsessions. I consult my inner bitch and find that pretty well explains my obsessive relations with an unavailable woman, and then with email, Flickr, and even to a lesser extent, Facebook.

If I were my owner, I’d give this old dog more exercise. I’d tell her SIT, STAY if she started sniffing around another dog. I’d poke her in the ribs and say, “Shhhhht” when she opens the computer. I’d reward her for doing something purposeful (you wrote a poem? good girl! now you can watch a movie or read a novel). Hence, this blog. It’s a place to put new work–pictures and writings, when I write them–a way to cultivate connection with old friends and maybe a few new ones. It’s a place to prepare for the Last Grand Adventure and for what comes after that. Here goes.

About Kendall

Undoing white supremacy and capitalism, one photograph at a time.
This entry was posted in Manifesto. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Starting again

  1. tigerofthenorth says:

    Thanks for being back in the blog world, Kendall. It is good to hear your voice in the written word.

    And I’m very sad about Chloe……..


    This is how Moonbeam McQueen does responses to comments, so I’m going to copy her system. Thanks, Jeremy. Chloe’s absence aches in my bones every day. Especially when I go out and come home, the emptiness vibrates. I can’t help expecting her to meet me at the door, and when she doesn’t–when there is no welcoming presence, just silence–it’s hard. The consolation is that she’s with someone who is crazy about her, and she seems to have made the transition. He says she’s the most affectionate cat he’s ever known.

  2. Christine Johnson says:

    How good to hear your thoughts again. I can hear your exact words, the timbre of your soft, lilting voice it makes my heart ache to see you again. Keep writing…

    Come to the USA when you can, Christine. I would LOVE to see you again. And I will…thanks.

  3. David says:

    Prayers answered! I used to follow your blog when I lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Your entries were ALIVE. I wanted to be you in Sao Paulo! I had to move back to Japan with my partner (I am not ready to be illegal in Brazil–that time will come). If you ever want to visit Japan–maybe as part of your adventure– you can stay at my place for as long as you want. My partner has already had a house guest from Brazil, so it’s my turn now…. I can’t wait to hear what you are reading, watching, absorbing. What a gift that we get to read about your upcoming trip to Africa. Thanks for coming back! David

    And my prayers are answered, too, David…you’re still out there in cyberspace. In Japan. Splendid. Thank you!

  4. Bill says:

    How rich, warm and honest your words are Kendall. As the people of the First Nation would say..”your words have truth in them” and how eloquently you speak. I’m so glad we know each other. Be well, be happy.

    Happy Birthday, Bill. I’m glad too.

  5. Oh Kendall you’re incorrigible! “If I were my owner, I’d give this old dog more exercise. I’d tell her SIT, STAY if she started sniffing around another dog. I’d poke her in the ribs and say, “Shhhhht” when she opens the computer. I’d reward her for doing something purposeful …”

    No no, let her do exactly what she wants, to hell with the purposefulnesss….

    But if what she WANTS is purposefulness….

      • or that’s a bit brusque come to think of it. Rather, “let go of the fantasies” to use your own first words, appraise the purposes “honestly” to use another of your words, and THEN forget ….as if any of us can.

        You sound like Fernando Pessoa:

        What matters is to know how to see,
        To know how to see without thinking,
        To know how to see when seeing
        And not think when seeing
        Nor see when thinking.

        As if any of us can.

  6. Keith says:

    That did the trick! And I agree with the others about your eloquence. I often equate writing with music and you have a melifluous style which is very easy on the ear. I look forward to reading more and more….out of Africa?

    Thanks, Keith. I hope I do a more respectful job than Isak Dinesen did, but I’d love to have Meryl Streep in my movie.

  7. suenosdeuomi says:

    Congratulations! Love your writing, love your imagery, love your spirit. Blogging seems such an appropriate expression for you. I am delighted and look forward to more, thanks for sharing yourself so generously.
    P.S.: I studied Cesar Milan for about 9 months before Isabella-girl, my very first dog joined my life. His demonstrations even helped me with my Pretty Kitty, who also first has to sit before receiving food and who can learn what is and is not appreciated just like any old or young dog. Dog parks are great places to connect with the canine kind and remember most appreciate their dog getting an extra outing. I started to take out my neighbor’s dog before I came upon Isabella, then I got my hands full.
    May life be good to you with or without companion.

    Great suggestion, Om! There are several dog-owners in my building, and it hadn’t occurred to me to offer extra walks. Now I will. And thanks for your generous comments.

  8. Bob in SF says:

    I’m so excited that you’re going to Africa! Have a great time!

    And I’m grateful to hear your voice online again. There’s always a burst of inspiration that explodes in your writing. If you ever write a book of self-help or spiritual practice, you have a ready title in “Training Your Inner Puppy”.

    I notice you diplomatically do not suggest “Training Your Inner Bitch,” but I’ll keep that in mind. And I’m laughing at the notion of me writing a book of self-help or spiritual guidance. Maybe I will find my inner comedian just thinking about that!

  9. Darlene Olivo says:

    My, my: Africa, now this is a surprise. And then again, not so much in a way. At our age, when we are wounded, we often want to return to people/places/times that were familiar, in which we felt we belonged, knew we were loved, or, even filled with hope for a future that was different when circumstances prodded us to change or make a difference. Or, as in my case, escape situations that were destructive. Not being the traveling sort, I’m writing a memoir. I stand in awe of your ability to leap from the cliff, Kendall. Clearly, with so many people who love you bearing witness, you will soar, glide and land where you may, and we will be there to coach, coddle, nurture and, yes, laugh with you when you discover the mirth inside you that is definitely there.

    Dogs: absolutely. I’m not so sure about Cesar any longer–I, too, watched and was mesmerized; instead, I regard Lucy and Satsi (feline) as brethren, sentient beings, who enrich my life immeasurably. They are my children, my companions, my beloveds, generous with demonstrations of unconditional love, and vessels for the love I have to give.

    I do so look forward to posts from the field. When do you leave???

    Big hugs.


    I don’t leave till September 29, so there’s about six weeks yet for me to blather on about other things. The thing about Cesar is that he’s always dealing with PROBLEM dogs, so if a dog is not a problem, Ian Dunbar is the way to go. Fantasy dogs are like fantasy lovers: much easier to train and much less fun, but we get over them a lot quicker. Am I wounded? I wouldn’t have said so. It was my own damn fault. I’m looking forward now.

  10. For some reason, this post got me all choked up. It’s just beautiful to read your words here, Kendall. You’re warm, thoughtful and pretty damned wonderful. Wish I could give you a big ol’ hug.

    I am right now receiving your virtual hug, and I just wish I were as funny as you can be. Not that you have to be funny. You’re just very damn good at it. You’re my model (no pressure or anything).

  11. Leif says:

    How wonderful to have your lovely stream of consciousness to read and respond to. It’s my turn now. You have been so faithful. What you write feels completely in keeping with your present journey. Your soul is clearer than you know; your path is revealed.
    You will laugh to know that I did the hair thing, too. Just yesterday… Not shaved, but sheared quite close to my happy, liberated head. With me, it is weight released, vision restored. I hope… Thanks for letting the vibrating angel be one with this new beginning. I, too, and with you, my precious friend.

    Still on the journey together, 59 years later. That’s some kind of miracle.

  12. John Guarino says:

    I too am anticipating…

    It’s all your fault, you know. You and Keith.

  13. The Quiet Plodder (Terry) says:

    Thank you for the invitation to this site – It’s all a new world, so to speak, for me in this regard. It is a pleasure to read your lines, full of verve, opinion and honesty. And such adventures await you!

    I should think you have much to teach from the journey of your life. Not only to the younger ones, but plodders such as myself. This teaching will come through your photography as well – a superb ‘learned’.

    Too, the emotions, alas, are not skilled workers. Sometimes, we think we’ve got this love stuff understood, then a whole new chapter needs reading and then comprehension amidst long slow sighs – oh, not again! I reckon you have many chapters in this vast book alone, though we all do to varying degrees.

    Too, the loss of a beloved Pet, can be rendering in a different way, not the least painful. I suppose, with a Pet there is that unconditional devotion (and need) and that makes their ending all the more searing.

    I look forward to more essays both with the camera and especially with your words.

    I am humbled by the invitation to be here.

    I’m hoping you’ll be encouraged to start one yourself, Terry. You are a word-man and an image-man, and I think you’re already doing a blog on Blip, but maybe with a blog of your own there would be opportunities for more play. You wouldn’t be stuck with a picture shot on that day, for example. Think about it. I think you’re a natural blogger.

  14. georgia johnston says:

    You are a wellspring of inspiration for me.

    It goes both ways, Georgia.

  15. Barbara says:

    I almost had the opportunity to spend some time in Portland recently, and the only reason I really wanted to go was to see you again. (The in-laws, not so much!)

    “Training Your Inner Puppy” sounds so much like you! I still miss the dog I had years ago, but I have absolutely no desire to get another one. (Turns out I am probably allergic to most cats and dogs and my fish in the pond are not very friendly.) But I really enjoy watching the local birds and dragonflies and butterflies.

    Here is another virtual hug for you: ((( ~~)))

    Hug gratefully accepted. Do come when you can. I look forward to seeing you again! Perhaps you and your husband are dog-substitutes for each other, which would explain your not needing a dog. Or could it be the other way round?

  16. Chris T. says:

    Funny. Our high school represented Lesotho for the Model United Nations but I never thought that anyone actually went there. Have a wonderful trip. Oh and congrats on your new blog.

    You’re not far off, Chris. Very few people who weren’t born there ever show up there. What a privilege to tell that story, then. Thanks.

  17. Michael Baugh says:

    Don’t pick a dog. Let a dog pick you. They know. The first, (and most bittersweet) love of my life was a 1/2 Lab, 1/2 Setter I named Jody. She was the runt of the litter, eventually topping out at about 80 lbs. I got her when I was 10. God I was stupid. When she had to be put down, (when I was 22), something inside me broke that has never healed. Sorry. I guess on second thought, don’t get a dog. It will only hurt.

    Maybe it’s time for a dog to pick you again, Michael.

    • Michael Baugh says:

      No, because I do the same thing for dogs and people. They never really know me. That happened once with a girl. 1974 and 1975. Then it went away. Then she got hold of me again in 2002. (I hate Then my life blew up. My fault…no one else’s. But I’m still convinced that it’s what led to my heart disease in 2004. Just my own thoughts, no one else’s. I don’t really like me. But I can’t get away.


  18. Jamie says:

    Wonderful, so glad you are back. I’ve been hoping you would write again, your blog was my favorite and my inspiration. Have a wonderful time in Africa, I can’t wait to see your photos. Now it I could only figure out how to subscribe to your blog 😉


    • Kendall says:

      Thank you so much, Jamie! I’m making this an official Reply because thanks to you I realized I had not added the widget that enables subscriptions! Now I have. Sorry I missed that, glad you helped me out here!

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