Writing Exercise. Meta Writing

 

Are these the KNOWN things that we’re describing?

 

Describe how we describe.

With this exercise we were asked to describe our own writing and this is how I described it. 

The descriptions tend to be somewhat emotional linking sights with emotion and feeling. There is also a basic vocabulary which needs to expand and become more descriptive and vibrant to bring the words to life. This is where I have the opportunity to look at and explain things from a completely different point of view. I guess this is just me trying to find my voice. I am quite loud and comical (to myself at least) in the real world but have somewhat of a difficult time putting that on the page. How do I place myself on the page? I guess this is the challenge. Hopefully I will learn to let go and let it flow. I’ve learned to let go with my mouth quite well often times not having a filter, which can get me into trouble. Hopefully I can lose this filter with my writing as well instead of feeling at times like I’m holding something back. This will probably also, get me into trouble. Maybe a filter is good. Backspace backspace.
Paul Sorensen

Free Tibet!

Dharamsala is where Tibetan refugees are able to live and practice their culture freely, without Chinese oppression. Therefore, the town is a mix of Indian and Tibetan people. You can find monks, beggars, Indian artisans, Tibetan artisans, many Westerners, and natural healing medicines here. They work too! Its a very interesting place. Anyway, I wrote about the Tibetan thing because we went to see a documentary the other night on the Tibetan struggle in China right now and it made a huge impact on me. This is what I wrote in my journal entry that night, so I thought I would share it with you all. Please keep in mind that this in no way reflects the Chinese people as a whole nor represents my view of Chinese people. This is the government we’re talking about. Much different than the general public who lives there. Just the corrupt government:

Resources, really? Is that the most viable reason China could come up with to occupy Tibet? because they want their resources? No, no. There’s no reason worthy or legitimate enough to ever oppress, detain, murder, or strip the culture of any human being. ever. At least 6 million Tibetans have lost their identity, freedom to choose anything, and ability to have a family of more than three persons who are able to live free of political , religious and cultural prosecution. They live in a cultural genocide. Of the 5 million in Tibet who have not mysteriously disappeared, fled the country or have been killed, not one Tibetan is able to have freedom of the Self. they are not able to choose who they are, wish to be, or what they believe in. Nor can they give their children (or one child) the option to grow up discovering and interpreting the world as they wish. They are controlled, all of them, by powerful, oppressive tyrants who force order and obedience to their liking.
No one will ever know, however, how suffering and constant fear of waking up surviving through each day fell like. No one will ever know that Tibetans are arrested, tortured with iron rids and wet electrical prods for saying “free Tibet” of speaking to foreigners about their situation. No one will ever know the atrocities the Chinese government has committed against nomadic and urban Tibetans. Until you are able to do research and be a conscious member of our worldly society, I will inform you of what I know so far:
-There is 1 Chinese soldier to every 15-20 Tibetans on the street.
-In one uprising (non-violent on the Tibetan side), over 1– Tibetans were gunned down.
-Chinese torture methods include:
*electrocution (wet and dry)
*hanging from ceiling in handcuffs until hands rip off (eventually leads to death from blood loss)
*water boarding
*beatings with iron rods
*chain whippings
*hanging from ceiling in cuffs with toes touching the floor as to not let the person die from severed limbs, but to force them to endure pain beyond a reason for living
*and any other methods which are inhumane, unjust, and cause a lifetime of psychological trauma
-Chinese government use Tibetans as factory workers to manufacture goods such as toy fish. If they do not meet their quota, they are beaten and tortured.
-Six students in Lhasa University were detained and haven’t been seen since for passing out pro-Tibet fliers on campus.
-It is against the law to possess a Tibetan flag or photo of the Dalai Lama. I think we are all starting to understand what the punishment of that would be….
-Nomadic herders of the Tibetan grasslands have been relocated to camps (or reservations) and are not able to ever return to their native land or lifestyle. Without this ability to live as they have for generations and be confined to a smaller plot of land, means that resources are limited, everyone is starving and poor. There are no medical clinics or schools set up for them and people’s desperation has lead to alcoholism and stealing. Let’s see, the government takes land away from natives in order to hoard the resources and confine them to reservations for which family life turns into harsh survival and they suffer from delinquency and social marginalization. This situation reminds me of exactly what happened (and is happening) in our country with our Natives. Cultural Genocide. It is an academic term used in Ethnic Studies courses (and hopefully more) in universities to describe Indigenous struggle and persecution around the world. It is taking a race, or Peoples, and killing them at the roots. Basically and elimination of a culture. The most important things which define the People is terminated. For example, their land, the right to be autonomous beings, right to choose what to believe in and practice it, right to have individuality, the right to have your own form of government and economic policies, etc. The list could go on forever. Basically, the right to Be. The scariest part is when actually human lives are taken or preemptively discontinued in order to eliminate a culture. Let me go into more detail.
Tibetans are forced to abide to China’s One Child Policy. There is an unattainable fee if a woman has more than one child and if she can not pay it, she is forced to have her Fallopian tubes ripped from their roots. No drugs, anesthesia, or rehab (psychological and physical) is given and some women are left handicapped or permanently injured, not to mention, emotionally scared. If a woman gets pregnant and the government finds out, a forced abortion will be inflicted on them which could lead to dangerous consequences. The (not so funny) thing is, the Chinese government says this policy doesn’t apply to Tibetans. This obviously is not true since the Chinese government’s main objective is to assimilate the Tibetan people and culture into theirs and to get their resources. Attaining all the land would be easier without the Tibetans in their way. Sounds like what happened/s with our Natives!
The forced assimilation and elimination of a People and living in daily terror are the main reasons Tibetans risk their lives and their family’s to flee Tibet. They also want to spread the word to the world of their situation since they have no voice inside Tibet. It is worth dying to many to educate the world on what’s actually happening in Tibet, not what the Chinese governments tricks us into thinking. Until their holy leader, the Dalai Lama, their land, culture, and freedom are returned, the exodus across a treacherous 1-3 month journey will continue. It is worth trekking through 20,000 foot peaks with the possibility of being shot by Chinese military hidden on the ridges to live a more liberated life and share the stories of their current situation. Some refugees get frostbite so bad that they must amputate feet and hands. Food is limited and many can only sneak through with the help of an expensive guide (like Mexican “coyotes”) or lucky help from someone who supports them. Some spend many years salaries to do this trip.
The struggle Tibetan people endure to survive, much less communicate to the outside world, is a violation of human rights everyone must be aware of. The Chinese government creates a facade of reciprocity and cooperation between the Tibetans and Chinese government, when in reality they pay off (big time) high-end monks to stay quiet and create human rights laws which they do not follow. They corrupt at all levels. Any media (people and records) which has tried to document then truth has either “disappeared” or escaped with luck. The misrepresentation of the Tibetan-Chinese relationship is costing Tibetans peace and freedom, two important concepts of their identity. It is also hiding the fact that the nomads are not happy in their new “homes” and are grieving at the dams in their rivers and soon-to-be drilling of their land. I only assume the latter because there is 14 trillion dollars worth of oil on Tibetan land. The Chinese government pays compensation to these people for the land they take from them, but make it illegal to refuse the bribe. Is that forced corruption? Either way, they are screwed. Something must be done to stop the greed that overlooks the basic human elements of compassion, tolerance, and respect. Resources do not justify the elimination of a culture, socially, politically and physically. Since when does wealth and power outweigh the value of a human life and their right to live?

“Love through kindness is my religion”

-His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Turkey 2014

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Last spring I enrolled in a class at University Nevada Reno through Continuing Education as a graduate student. It was an amazing and challenging trip that changed my life in many ways. Everyday we had to write a journal entry at the end of the day. This is the last one I wrote. When I track down the other hand-written ones I will post those as well!

Today we rode bikes around Princess Island. It was very beautiful and was great day of bonding for all of us. On the Island I got to see life slow down (compared to Istanbul) and locals work hard how I do during the summer in touristy Tahoe. The streets were swarming with tourists, horse buggies and filled with the smell of sea breeze and flowers. This reminded me of Tahoe in summer-tourist insanity and busyness but still so beautiful and fun.
This day summarized my trip well. After the final, my heart was pained with the oppression and bullshit the people of Turkey have to deal with, but also filled with all the love and smiles I received here. Some people in Istanbul, appeared impatient and judgmental to me, but in reality once I gave them a chance to see me and look at me in the eye, they opened up and the guard came down. I am not from a city, but I feel like cities in general create unnecessary tension and stress in one’s life. Everything moves faster, life is more about money and consumerism, and you are always in a rush to get somewhere. Istanbul is specifically an interesting city to keep your insanity in because of all the political division and military tension. On the Islands, although still busy, life slowed down to a pace I see more fit for Turkish people, and myself. The Islands, like southern Turkey, bring out the authentic Turkish character I related so well with.

The Turkish people I have had the pleasure of conversing with and becoming friends with have been nothing but helpful, accepting, and loving. Very hospitable in nature, Turks are curious about Americans and our lives, always asking questions and wanting to go to America to “have more freedoms.” Like every trip I’ve taken in the word, I will come back home with a profound gratitude for where I came from and the life I have. If only we could see our lives how Turks see them, we would be so grateful every day and be so full of love. Once I break through the shell that oppressed, urban Turks shield themselves with, I see someone who is the same as me; a mere reflection of myself. I thank Turkey for putting me through emotional turmoil and making me aware (again) of the daily struggles many people have to deal with, but most of all, for reigniting the love of life I should have every day for everyone.

Meta Writing

In this exercise we were asked to describe our own writing. This is how I described my stories.

 

Are these the KNOWN things that we’re describing?

 

Describe how we describe.

 

The descriptions tend to be somewhat emotional linking sights with emotion and feeling. There is also a basic vocabulary which needs to expand and become more descriptive and vibrant to bring the words to life. This is where I have the opportunity to look at and explain things from a completely different point of view. I guess this is just me trying to find my voice. I am quite loud and comical (to myself at least) in the real world but have somewhat of a difficult time putting that on the page. How do I place myself on the page? I guess this is the challenge. Hopefully I will learn to let go and let it flow. I’ve learned to let go with my mouth quite well often times not having a filter, which can get me into trouble. Hopefully I can lose this filter with my writing as well instead of feeling at times like I’m holding something back. This will probably also, get me into trouble. Maybe a filter is good. Backspace backspace.

Paul Sorensen

Stress With a Goal is Worth it

Starting a company has been one of the most stressful, exciting, confusing, and educational experiences of my so-called “adult” life. Thank god I have someone to go through it all with. Having confidence in yourself and a good business partner are essential. Liquid Gypsy has manifested so quickly in the last three months and I have yet to see the “fun” part I envisioned of traveling the world and meeting wonderful people. All I see is emails from banks, shipping accounts, web designers, logo designers, t-shirts companies, piling and piling up. Licenses, fees, permits, you name it!

There just is no time
Work compounded on work
Let’s just drink some wine

Sometimes I get really stressed out because of finances, time, deadlines, and the fact that I’ve never actually taken a business class. But then I realize that Paul and I are learning so much and starting the coolest freaking company ever and it’s going to be amazing once it’s up and running! It’s like we are training to get back in shape and we’re in the first couple of weeks where we re-train our muscle memory and put one lead-filled leg in front of the other until they begin to feel lighter and lighter. So light that we can become sky gypsies in a hot air balloon or perhaps under a parachute, circling wind thermals with condors. Ideas is what keeps our momentum going. Our ideas of what countries to see, which demographic to reach out to, which adventures we’re crazy enough to participate in, and what positive affect we want to have on the world. If we ever stopped dreaming, Liquid Gypsy would crumble and so would our passion. Dreaming can become reality and we’re making that happen, one permit and fee after another.

Sky rocket’s in flight!
Belizean island hopping and Mayan jungle caves
Passion fuels our motivation

Island hopping in Belize is possibly going to be the most relaxed I’ve felt in a year. After Paul and I have done a fair amount of lying on the beach and drinking Caribbean rum, I promise we will muster up the courage to swim with whale sharks on a full moon and go spelunking through underground Mayan rivers in Mexico and write about all the details for you. We do need an initial period of finding our barring with our “fun” compass and meet the insiders who will guide us on unique adventures. Once we are oriented and the fun meter is set at high, then we will be blogging frequently and sharing videos, pictures and information about the wonderful local talent and beauty down there.

Balls Gone Viral

This piece of randomness was an exercise we did in our writing class to get our mind thinking. Each person in class wrote three images from their week down on a paper. Then we passed one paper (one image) to the person on our left and one to the person on the right. That way we ended up with two images that are from somebody else. We took these three images and had to somehow link them all together in a story, prose, poem, whatever. At the end we had to choose a noun, verb and place from what we wrote and create a haiku. Here’s what I got:

Three Images:
person on my left–> “The thickness of the book”
my image–> “My Mom opening an email from her brother with a picture of a man’s balls as the attachment”
Paul’s (on my right)–> “A skeleton of a man up on a wall playing piano”

A skinny lad wanted to perform his first piece of music for a crowd in the bar one night, but somehow had to muster up the courage. Therefore his friends got him piss drunk and threw him on stage. After the harmonica and guitar tunes were through he chose to tackle the jolly piano in the corner. He ripped off his shirt and with spit sailing over the crowd started to play the piano with his feet up on the wall. All skin and bones he was not ashamed to be a skeleton of a man up on a wall playing a piano. In fact, he was so confident about other regions of his body he did not mind his thin stature. He then tore his pants off and told his friends to take a picture of his package, specifically his balls. In hysterics, his mates began to send the picture out to all their friends email as a funny prank. Little did one know that he accidentally included his sister in the group email. When his sister opened her email the next morning, coffee steam still waking her nostrils, she nearly jumped out of her chair at the picture of large, hairy balls on her computer screen from her brother. Nearly laughing in disgust at the image, she said to herself, well, the balls all gross but his penis is about the thickness of the book I’m reading.

Up on the wall lad
Show your balls for all to see
Even your sister?

Drinking commences
Deep on the piano wall
Viral testicles

Coffee or liquor
Decisions become sicker
Funny ball pranksters

How to Not Think

How do we let go of everything? Of thoughts, assumptions, perceptions, feelings. “Not thinking” is so difficult to most of us in the modern world that we cannot even comprehend what it would feel like to exist in neutrality. When I volunteered to do a ten day meditation course with my best friend in India I thought nothing of it. I thought it would be “fun.” Little did I know, it would be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Vipassana is arguably the most intense, difficult and ancient forms of meditation through what I’ve heard from regular mediators. At a Vipassana retreat, the participant is to leave all belongings locked away out of access except for the bare necessities like clothing, toiletries, and maybe a pillow. There is no form of communication with others allowed; no eye contact, speaking, writing or touching. The goal in learning to practice Vipassana is to simplify everything as much as possible. To push out any external clutter and distractions so we are able to clear our minds and be in the moment. During the ten day course we meditated for ten hours a day, in one and a half to two hour increments with breaks to quietly walk outside, to eat, bathe, or sleep. During this meditation the physical goal is to not move. My back, hips, and knees have never ached more in my life. Holding a position for 120 minutes without moving takes some serious discipline, and ignoring the pain takes even more mental focus.

Past baggage is heavy
Monkeys thunder on the tin roof
Hips burning, some “retreat”

It took me six days (sixty hours) of talking to myself in my room, ignoring my best friend when I would walk by her, eating in silence, and crying when I stood up from every painful session before I trained my mind to let go. With the help of the meditation leader and the students around me I learned to let go of associating the feeling in my joint as “pain” and the thoughts running through my mind as “distractions.” Instead, I learned to be aware that I was experiencing these mental and physical sensations and let them come, stay, and then pass, but not latch onto the sensation. After six days I could easily get up after sitting cross-legged for two hours and feel fine, refreshed. My mind unfortunately is a busy bee and the wheel never stopped turning, but I was at least able to clean the rust off the wheel and let them roll freely. A truly clam state of being can be the most difficult thing in the world if you try to be clam. However, if you simply allow yourself to be calm and let the chaotic thoughts and itches on your forehead pass, then it becomes easier.

Just breathe says guru
Be aware but don’t label
Cleanse the soul

After the meditation retreat was finished, I could not say that I was able to clear my mind or float in enlightenment, but I was able to say I cleared some unnecessary emotional baggage out of my soul and could now meditate through pain. Because of this experience I am a believer that the mind is more powerful than we could ever imagine and we are able to cure ourselves of many of our physical and emotional ailments; relieving ourselves from suffering we do not deserve. The expression “mind over matter” now holds some weight and meaning to me and I encourage everyone to try some form of meditation to heal themselves of the misery we create.