Archive for December, 2011


Al Gore may have invented the internet, but I invented Facebook.   Sure, I know it’s a ridiculous stretch.  The straight scoop: I have been musing of late about the benefit of making of my life an open book.  For instance, what if every time I spoke about another person, that person could see and hear my statement?  That would no doubt mellow my words.  Do you often sense that you are a different person depending on whom you are addressing?  That can be a problem if you are suddenly with two people.  Which you will you be then?  Could that be the root of social anxiety?  It is scary to be real with a whole bunch of different people all at once.  Whom then might you be?

The obvious solution to this dilemma is Facebook, or something remarkably like it.  Assiduous utilization of such an asset can and surely will force users toward an integration of self.  Every comment must be weighed against the perceptions of everybody else, not just the person seated before you.  Methinks it is a conspiracy to civilize an uncivil society.  There have been worse plots.  This one I kind of like!

I have been ruminating on such concepts ever since writing Gaze, that odd theory postulating that we create each other’s minds.  The more I weigh the idea, the more I believe it.

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Gaze ©

The gaze between persons is powerful.  I have watched it work as people process the possibilities of relating.  Because my mother taught me well how to read her eyes and face, I am adept at reading others’ faces.  I look at you and see you looking at me.  There is a lock.  I read your feelings, as I feel my feelings, now the products of our interactive gaze.  You read my feelings.  I read you, reading me, reading you, reading me……..all the way to infinity.  There is infinite depth in a gaze, like two mirrors reflecting between each other in endless images.  I am changed by what I see in your gaze.  I see that you perceive me to be an interesting, perhaps even capable, person.  I read that and rejoice in your assessment.  I am inspired to become an even more interesting and more capable person.  You read my feelings of happiness and interest and appreciation and decide to like me.  I see that you like me, and I feel even happier.  You see my happiness and I see yours.  We are pregnant with each others happiness.  There is mutuality.  That’s how strangers become friends.

Sometimes this ability can go awry.  I gaze into your eyes, and a shadow congeals.  You see in me something that foments concern.  What is it that you feel?  Pity?  Sadness?  Scorn?   The general feeling of concern resolves into a more precise feeling.  Let’s choose scorn as an example.  There it is, right there on your face, waiting to be read and understood and inculcated into my own reality.  Whatever the precise feeling, it creeps over your visage, overcoming neutral musculature to form a living depiction of your scorn.  I see that formation, not as an objectification of one person’s emotive response, but as my perception of your feeling that created it, intertwined with my feeling that perceived it.  I become “a person who is scorned” and incorporate that scorn as the truth of my being.  I am changed.  In this manner, emotion reaches across the space between us, much as nerves pass bundles of impulse across synaptic gaps to carry messages throughout a living body.  Are we separate?  Are we connected?  Is there is an actual meeting of minds, and if there is, how is it accomplished?

A psychiatrist stuck in the strictures of diagnosis will cry “delusion”, but this is not the reading of minds.  It is the experiencing of faces.  There is no “grandeur” claimed here, unless it is for the whole world of consciousness.  Life is indeed grand, whether in the real or in the abstract.

Ocular transmission is a viable hypothesis beyond the purview of homo-sapiens sapiens.  Eye contact is extremely important even in animal training.  Every type of creature is shown to have species specific rules for eye to eye communication.  The horse, as a prey animal with side vision evolved to provide warning of impending attack, is very different than a dog, cousin to the wolf, who eats only when his pack has killed.  A horse’s gaze is wary, and not very useful for establishing trust.  The eyes may determine that I am not preparing to attack, but it is smell, sound and touch that make the friendship possible.  The horse is a challenge, but well worth the concerted effort.  The best buddy I ever had, offered me a neck to cry on, not a shoulder.  He was a black Andalusian stallion who would stand very still while I warmed my hands beneath his unbelievably heavy mane and cried hot tears into that warm, safe, secret place.  He would nicker softly, reaching around me, gathering me into the bulging curve of his neck, drawing me into a horsey hug.

While the evolving equine connection was something humans, on a horse by horse basis, initiated and perpetuated, wolf’s domestication as dog, was a cooperative venture, wherein dogs and humans came to need, respect, and yes, love each other, across species demarcation.  The mechanism for our much celebrated inter-species communication?  Eye to eye gaze is accepted as the primary path for dog and human interplay, a behavior that is unnatural to a dog, who traditionally relies on smell and touch to comprehend his own kind.  We have taught the dog to interact in mutual gaze, in exactly the same way that humans see and read each others feelings.  Who can resist the mournful look of a hungry dog, sitting beside his empty bowl, pouring all of his yearning into those well-deep eyes?  My collie’s favorite ploy, should all else fail to move me to response, is to park her chin on my knee and look up at me through lowered lashes.  How can I not succumb?  Even my cat, who meows to attract my hazel gaze, relies on his pair of slitted golden globes to reach into my soul and work his kitty-cat will.  Do our animals love us?  Of course they do.

How far down the evolutionary ladder will this dog hunt?  I doubt if the frog that I pulled out of the amphibian tank in Bio Lab 101 exchanged any meaningful insights with my fifteen year old self, but after regarding each other eye to eye that day, I doubt he was ever quite the same, a moot point considering that my class assignment required that I dismember him.  On the other hand, I emerged from the experience a different Dorothy, one more aware of the beauty, strength, and fragility of life and more committed to its’ advocacy.  When I looked into the eyes of that living frog, I beheld the intelligence of a sentient creature.  That made of the living me a new person.

My thesis postulates: “We, the living, create each other’s minds, beginning with the first opening of infant eyes, and ending only when the light within fades and flickers out.  That is the mechanism of our interwoven mystery.  Together, we are the nervous system of universal life, a collective intelligence, merging truth of every sense into universal mind.”


I am swept along

the aching curve of time

toward a wiser “I”.

I wait and watch,

to meet the future “I” that comes,

and in the coming,

sees the “me” meeting the future wiser “you”,

seeing me, seeing you loving me,

loving you, loving me, loving you, loving me, loving you.. . .  .   .    .    .     .      .       .        .


_Dorothy Jeanette Martin   7-12-2011




Note: “ .. . .  .   .    .    .     .      .       .        . “ is a useful symbol for “progression to infinity”.

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This is a snippet of memoir shared with my much trusted Monday Morning Writer’s Group after carrying it around in my  journal  since July, waiting for a time when I might feel brave enough to share that much truth.  The group drifted into a discussion about how to write the requisite sex scene in a formulaic detective novel.  It was the perfect time.

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Massage ©

In a state of body and mind, long ago and far away, I once had a full body massage.  It wasn’t my idea.  In fact I would have, could have, never personally decided to sign on to such a wild idea.  I was in the last dead state of denial about my bookstore/coffeehouse with its seemingly unfathomable pit of debt.  The bills weren’t being paid, but I didn’t know at that point that my much trusted bookkeeper/accountant was pocketing most of the cash.

My birthday approached.  The store’s sensitive and loyal staff knew what was up with me.  They passed the hat, or envelope, or whatever, and hired a well-respected local masseur to come to my home and give me a bit of an “unwind.  There was little doubt in my mind that I needed something of the sort.  I couldn’t refuse their gift.  That would have been unthinkable.

On the appointed day I waited, prepared as instructed, clean, depilated, and terrified.  My silk robe flowed in titillating susurrations as I paced the demarcations of my living room.  I want him to come.   I don’t want him to come.  I could call and cancel.  The staff would never forgive me.  Oh My God!  It’s the doorbell.  I opened the door, motioned for him to enter and then feigned a sudden interest in the carpet.  Breathe, I thought.  Just breathe.  It was only then that I moved firmly into the present moment.  Even the memory itself plays in the powerful voice of now.

 *  *  *  *  *

I see his feet in sandals, expensive, elegant.  His toes are warmly tanned, softly hairy, a man’s toes.  My eyes swarm up his loosely garbed limbs taking in the full implications of his yoga inspired trousers.  How can he be abroad in daytime Laguna Beach in such an outfit?  I shake my head.  My eyes rise to his face.  Men don’t look like that, not the men I know: techies, engineers, scientists, UCI faculty.  First there’s the hat.  It’s soft leather, the band a pattern of woven hide strips, reminiscent of Indiana Jones, but unbelievably here in my living room.  It isn’t on his head; it’s part of his look, a perfect frame for a too-beautiful visage.  No man that handsome could ever be standing in my foyer waiting to soothe lumpy little me.  I carefully self-correct: This man is here to fulfill a lawfully certified and professional contract for which he has been well and duly paid.

He nods and unbuckles his bulky case that transforms into a table for bodywork.  It opens and waits to accommodate a body, supine, and in need of relief from the tensions of commercial striving.  It is I who is to lie naked upon it.  I arrange myself as instructed, trying for “graceful” but not all that successful, while he excuses himself for a hand wash.  Wherever is my robe?  There it is, over there, on the chair, giving credence to the vulnerability of my situation.  It’s just me now, me and this sheet, or is it I and this sheet?  I’m not really in the mood to quibble over grammar.  I hope that well-intentioned staff of mine knows what they’re doing.  This sheet feels good…clean and cool.  White-knuckled, I tuck it under my chin and wait.

Eyes closed ostrich-like, I hear him enter.  Soft shush-shush of protesting carpet fibers gives him away.  He scratches a match and lights a candle.  Curious, I sneak a peek at the lit candle, at him, at his hat, still part of his look, and at his smooth bare torso.  Thank God he’s kept his pants on.  He closes the drapes, gently, slowly, in a studied dance of quiet and balance.  He stands beside the table and speaks several words in what is surely ancient Sanskrit.  Then he places one hand, warm and light, on my belly and waits.  Warmth creeps through the sheet and melts the knot of wariness it finds.  I want his warm hand on my belly.  I do.  Just breathe.

He turns the satin-faced and hemmed sheet away from my left shoulder and takes my hand, drawing the arm up and out.  The candle has done its work.  Oil, warm and slick, slides over the arm, a smear of fragrant fluid, hands smoothing and kneading skin.  Muscles melt and mold, follow eagerly the anticipated trace of those hands, relaxing even before his fingers get to where they’re headed.  When the arm is in total bliss, he folds and puts it away, but not before placing a chaste kiss on the inside of the wrist.  “Yes Toto, we’re definitely in California now”.  He moves to the foot of the table and pauses, faces my languid presence, presses hands together prayer-like, and bows his head.  I think he murmurs “Namaste”, but who can be sure when mind is afloat?

Now it’s time for the right arm.  Yes.  I am definitely up for this.  It’s the same drill, but this time its mirror image.  I wish I didn’t already know what was planned for this, my good right arm.  Then it would be another surprise, but he does not disappoint.  No kiss this time.  He leaves me wanting; nothing is more poignant than want.

He uncovers feet and legs, turning the sheet up and tucking it firmly, safely, about my thighs.  The pitcher of oil is now very warm.  He lifts it, holds it in both hands against his chest while he intones a few soft words to the room, certainly not to me, because I am not part of this tableau.  I am else-where, else-when, a mere watcher.  He tilts the pitcher and streams a small line of oil back and forth over feet and ankles.  His free hand presses both ankles together while the line of oil anoints his own hand and wrist.  I understand.  We are bound in an intimate celebration of sensation as together we are gratified by the warm oil rubbed into skin, his hands, my feet.  His other hand replaces the pitcher and joins this gentle orgy of carpal, tarsal, and filangeal sensation.  His eyes smile, but his lips are composed.  He rubs his hands and arms, my feet and legs, pressing first hard, then relenting to tenderness.  The oil smooths, warms.  The hands glide, awaken. Eyes close.  I pray: Don’t stop!  Please don’t stop!  Both hands advance slowly, gently upward.  Don’t breathe.  Ever the gentleman, he retraces his movement toward ankles and feet, sliding oily fingers between happily titillated toes.  I can relax.  He will observe the bounds of decorum.

I smile, am safe, anointed in sacred oil and floating in sacred space.    He turns his back to me.  “Now, please lie on your stomach”, he requests.   I flip, gracefully as possible, given my slippery state and limited platform.  I rearrange the sheet and express readiness with appropriate reticence.  He returns to my side, gathers the top of the sheet and strips it away entire.  Yipes!  The shock of cold raises hair the length of my bare backside.  Again a poured stream of hot oil anoints my derriere entire.  Now he wastes no time.  His hands wipe the oiled flesh in broad strokes.  Up and down, across and back.  The rubbing is rough and insistent.  Strong fingers grasp and release, grasp and release, press and release, thump and release.  Fingers stretch, roll, and soften the steel cables that connect head to shoulder.  Pain screams but ultimately gives way to happy moans. Hands squeeze and release, squeeze and release.  The repetition consoles.  Please don’t stop.  Must not stop.  Cannot stop.  Don’t you dare stop! 

 But then he turns away, and asks that I lie again on my back.  The sheet, returned to cover my bare form is welcome, but not for long.  The upper hem folds back, is rolled over and over, baring breasts, nipples even now still pink and pretty, stand brazenly alert.  Long forgotten are the thoughtful employees, the envelope passed and filled.  These pale smooth breasts are all mine, both of them.  “Be here now”, Ram Dass often reminded his followers.  “Here I am!”  The old coot would be proud.

Then Indiana Jones demurely pulls from his pack a small golden horn.  He places the bell-shaped end on my sternum and softly blows a long low rumble, gentle, sustained and soothing.  Again, and again he moves the horn’s bell down my anterior center line toward my navel, my center, stopping to blow the horn at each new destination.  The pitch varies, sometimes low, sometimes higher, sometimes playing an arpeggio, sweeping up or down the scale.  I am an extension of this shaman’s instrument, drawn into his spell of pitch and vibration, that calls out to vast wastelands of feeling denied, anguish set aside, terrors long ago put away for some future remembering.

All those emotions, lost children of the heart, convene, answering his resonating summons and embrace me like a hundred hungry hugs.  I gasp, gag, shake in racking sobs, tears streaming down cheeks, off chin, no dainty dabbling with tissues here.  All unknowingly, I follow the direction of this simple commercial encounter into a holy place of deep healing and release.  A screaming volcano explodes in overflowing rivers of angst, streaming clear colorless magma of soul.

 *  *  *  *  *

 Indiana Jones folds his table, picks up his hat, passes me the box of Kleenex, and tells me to blow my nose.  He gives me a sweet brother hug, and is gone.

_Dorothy Jeanette Martin 5/17/2021

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Images of Christmastide

A candle lit

A table spread

A hearth aglow

The smell of bread

The sweet and gentle things of earth.


A battle cry

The shriek of lead

Screams of pain

A soldier dead

The spasm of a world insane.


Bethlehem’s cold

An ox’s stall

A babe newborn

A shepherd’s call

The promise of a world made new.


Light the candle

Break the bread

Fire the hearth

God is not dead

The gentle things of earth still live.


Dorothy Jeanette Martin ©

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