The Umaverse: Photographic Art and Tarot Readings

For your rooms and walls: Photographic Art

For your inner spaces and growth: Tarot Readings

After years of daydreaming and night dreaming, talking and musing, dipping in and retreating, it’s official. Today I hang out the “open for business” sign. Come on in and look around at my new store, The Umaverse.

Welcome!

Notwithstanding that I am not a lover of long-term plans (because I tend to not stick to them), the basic idea is that UmaBode.com (where you are now) will come back to life as a blog of all things Uma, while the new site, TheUmaverse.com, is for commerce of all things Uma. That’s right, you can now buy Uma goods and services!

As for this blog – I really need to get back on that horse. I have so much to say and it’s not really fair to my lunch dates that they have to listen to me go on and on about every damn topic I care about. That’s what you-all are supposed to be for!

So, have a look at the new site and get yourself something for your walls and something for your soul. Either or both—I’m happy to help.

Meeting Bruce Springsteen

The impossible happened. I met Bruce.

The entire circumstance of how it happened seems incredibly random and completely perfect. Here’s the story.

I live in Asheville, NC, which is about 9 hours from St. Louis. I had been thinking about adding the Sunday, March 6 show to my itinerary, but I fluctuated a lot. Finally, I woke up Saturday morning and thought, what the hell?! Of course I’m going! So, in a whirlwind, I found a GA ticket on the BTX ticket exchange site, arranged for friends to come stay with my cat, and hit the road.

I lucked out and got in the pit through the wristband lottery. I was not one of the first ones in, but because I was on my own, I managed to get up pretty close. In the line before we got in, I met some great fans, including Scott Williams, the guy who danced with Bruce in Cleveland.

As usual, it was a great show. You might have heard some about it, like the guy, Tom England, who got to go up and play and sing Working on the Highway with Bruce and the E Street Band. Which was REALLY AWESOME! I met some cool folks around me and had a fine time. I’ll have a post with just pics pretty soon, but let’s get on with the important part now.

After the show, I took my time leaving. I had been thinking about maybe trying to hang out where Bruce would be leaving from and catch a glimpse of him as he left. I bought some (yet more) merch (they have these cool fabric patches now) and was literally one of the last people to wander out of the building.

There was a driveway right next to the venue, which I had seen before the show and which seemed likely to be the way in and out for artists. I wandered over and one lone guy was standing there. Who? None other than the infamous and aforementioned Scott Williams. I joined him and he told me he had been down below and that Bruce’s security guy told him to wait at the top of the driveway and that Bruce would be coming out soon. GREAT, I thought. Maybe I will see him!

As we waited and chatted, a family joined us also. Mom, Dad and two daughters. One black SUV came up and as they waited to turn out of the driveway, we saw it was Max in the front passenger seat and Garry in the back. It was confirmed because there was a piece of paper taped to the side of the vehicle that said “MAX and GARRY.” I stepped forward and grabbed it.

IMG_7864

A few minutes went by, and we saw another SUV leave and in that one we caught a glimpse of Bruce’s guitar tech, Kevin.

Another minute or two. And then…the magic started. The security guy directing traffic in front of the driveway into the main street called over to us, “HE’S COMING!” Which alone was pretty cool, right?!

We looked down and saw two more black SUV’s coming up the driveway. The first one passed us by and made a quick turn into the street. We couldn’t see who it was, and they were turned away from the window. But who cared, because the second SUV was pulling up next to us, the passenger window rolled down and Bruce just sitting there with his arm resting on the door, waving to us. The backseat passenger window was also down, and Bruce’s security guy was there.

And now, things get pretty fuzzy for me. What happened next was SOMETHING like this…

He says, “Hi guys. How you doing?”

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

OMG!!!!!!!!!

We surge forward, but I hang back behind Scott because he’d been there first, and besides I have always felt (as I’ve written before on this blog) that I’m invisible to Bruce and that even when I’ve been at the front of the stage, I’m not one of the ones he ever notices. So even as this amazing thing is happening and Bruce Springsteen is RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I’m thinking I’m not going to get to talk to him, he’s going to talk to the other people and then drive off and I’ll be invisible as usual.

So the family talks to him and Bruce sees Scott, and says, “Hey, it’s the dancing man!”

The family does the selfies. Then Scott gives Bruce some gifts he had brought for him (nice job, Scott!) and they do the selfies.

And then I’m holding my breath, is this my moment? I’m restraining myself from lunging at him, wondering what to do, sort of realizing  that I’ve got no idea what the hell to say anyways, and

and

and

Bruce Springsteen looks right at me, reaches out his hand toward me and motions me forward. Are you kidding me? HE SEES ME!

So any kind of self-restraint is over. I ungracefully spring forward, grab his hand and his arm and lean part way into the window and the babbling commences:

Ohmygod Bruce Ihavelovedyou FOREVER

(Bruce: Well thank you)

Ican’tbelieveI’mmeetingyou

(Bruce: You are)

Thank you thank you thank you

(Bruce: You’re welcome)

Can I take a selfie?

(Bruce: Yep)

Fumble fumble with phone, drop my poster tube, Scott picks it up, I’m still babbling:

Bruce, you sound horse, I’m worried about you

(Bruce: Well I really appreciate that)

Bruce, take care of yourself

(Bruce: OK, thank you, I will)

I’m slightly aware that people are smiling at my complete goofiness, possibly even laughing, but it’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to regain any composure or presence whatsoever and I’m laughing at myself also.

I get the phone in place and we look at the camera, I’m pretty much out of my body by this time, but I’ve got some awareness that his arm is against my arm, I’m freaking TOUCHING BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I snap the picture.

And then I say, “Can I kiss you on the cheek?”

Bruce leans the side of his head slightly towards me, motions at his cheek and says, “Yep, there it is, go ahead.”

Seriously. I’m not making this shit up. That is what happened. He said that. I started cracking up, it was SO FUNNY! And SO AWESOME!

So I kissed him on the cheek.

And then he waved to us all, said goodbye, and off they drove.

I started twirling around the grass on the side of the driveway and screaming and shouting OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED! and the sweet family and Scott and I just were laughing and talking to each other and it was so amazing.

Turns out the family are the O’Connors from Chicago: Ben, Julie and daughters Brennan and Delany. Here’s all of us (Scott, too).

FullSizeRender 8

And here’s the super cool amazing pic that Ben snapped of me and Bruce.

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Holy Shit. It happened. I’ve got the photo evidence.

How do I feel? Still amazed and blessed and super grateful. Also, I feel only more determined to manage to meet him again and this time I’m going to be more prepared. Let me tell you, if you want to meet someone who seems unreachable, whether it’s Bruce or someone else, get ready. Think about what you want to say or ask, what you’d like to have with you to give to them, what you want to be sure to not miss. Because I was so absolutely positive I could never meet him that I never put any time into preparing and although I have no regrets, I do sort of have that one regret. That I wasn’t more ready.

For one thing, I’d love to tell him about this blog. I’d love to give him a bit of my writing about what he’s meant to me. I’d love to be better practiced with the camera phone. All that shit. I don’t even know what-all. But, my friend, I’ll tell you this for sure—I’m gonna be putting some serious energy into preparing for the next time the impossible happens, and I get to meet Bruce Springsteen.

 

Bruuuuuuce is baaaaack. And so am I.

Hello everyone!

Long time, no write. But Bruce is back now and it’s time to pick up the pen. Or the keyboard, as it were. (BTW, try clicking the photo above to see all of Bruce.)

I sit at this very moment in The Coffee Tree Roasters coffee shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. I am staying in an Airbnb nearby. And we are T-minus 6.75 hours til official showtime for the tour opener. By the time I post this, obviously, it will be less! (And if you reading in the future…well, it’s T-plus, I guess.) I will be there – if all goes according to my evil plan, I will be elbows on the stage, but even if not, I’ll be pretty damn close.

So. What have I been up to for the past forever time since I last posted? And even before that (because Goddess knows I have still not made this blog what I wanted it to be)? My original vision for blog was a place for me to write about following Bruce, yes. But also to write about anything in the entire universe that matters to me: what I think and what I feel and what might somehow reach out and touch someone else. YOU.

Well, I tell myself: no worries. As many wise ones have said, the past is dead, the future unwritten, and all we have is the present. Here and now, in the present, my heart still beats and my mind still thinks and my hands still type and this old macbook still works, SO, here I go.

Quick recap. My recent life in a bullet list:

  • I am a healer, writer, photographer and good friend. At least, I want to be those, and occasionally I manage to actually do the actions that would make them manifest. That was the impetus behind creating this blog/website.
  • I’m also a plant ecologist by training with an absurd amount of experience in the world of environmental consulting, and I have tended to go back to that work because it is 1) interesting and 2) financially rewarding.
  • When I started this blog, I was working P/T for a consulting firm in the SF Bay Area, and living in Austin, TX.
  • Bruce Springsteen inspires the bejeezus out of me. It is hard to completely explain this. So in early 2014, I decide to follow him and blog about it. That experience was so inspiring and amazing and incredible and awesome and uplifting and FUN. But the blogging didn’t quite go as well as planned. Turns out that seeing 8 shows means spending a LOT of time driving, sleeping, eating and standing in line. And ROCKING OUT. Not very much time for  blogging. (excuses, excuses) I still have all my notes from talking to people at the shows and all the photos, but very few blog posts came out of it.
  • After tour, I found out that a dear friend of mine in California who had brain cancer was close to the end, and he and his wife decided to move to Kauai for his passing and for her to start her life there. Something she had always wanted to do. So I, for reasons that are complex and beyond the scope of this post, went with them: I sublet my place in Austin to someone who could take care of my cat (who, by the way, deserves an entire blog post of her own and will get one someday), drove to the Bay Area, shipped my car to Kauai, and flew over.
  • He died. That was very very very very sad.
  • I realized I didn’t want to live in Kauai, so in November (2014) I shipped the car BACK to the Bay Area, and accepted a big promotion at my company. I got the cat, gave up the apartment in Austin and settled into a little cottage.
  • By July 2015, I was totally burned out on the new job (because I’m really a healer/writer/photographer and not a full time high stress business manager). I was also synchronously on a vacation to New York and New Jersey when the word went out that Bruce was in APNJ and likely to show up at the Wonder Bar to jam with his old friends, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. I changed my plans in a heartbeat and drove to Asbury Park, got like the last hotel room in town, showed up at the bar, scored a ticket…he showed up. Game changer. Another post on that entire experience may come someday.
  • Thus inspired, I went back to California and quit the job, took the money and ran. All the way to Asheville, NC.
  • Within a week of arriving there, I was under contract on a sweet sweet SWEET country cabin, with a separate apartment that I could make into an Airbnb, located about 25 minutes southeast of Asheville.
  • On October 29 I closed. On November 11 I moved in. On November 22 the first Airbnb guest stayed. On November 26 I started driving for Uber. And coming up, I’m going to get my realtor license and maybe start a little vacation rental property management biz. Plans to write, photograph and heal are also in the works.
  • In December, Bruce released The River Box Set, announced The River Tour, and me and my Bruce Bud, Britt, bought General Admission tickets to January 29th DC show and 3 February southeast shows.
  • The holidays were a rough time, and I was slogging through the usual January deep blues (yes, depression). Then on this past Monday, I realized that the best thing I could do for myself was see Bruce. I made an Airbnb reservation and signed up for the so-cool ticket drop notification service (i.e. ticket drones) and decided to go to Pittsburgh. With some kind of amazing ticket karma, I scored a GA ticket during a Ticketmaster ticket drop the next day.
  • And, here we are. Well, here I am. I don’t know where YOU are.

And that about brings us up to date.

I will see you tomorrow, with photos from the front of the stage, if lady luck is with me.

Rock on.

Thinking About God

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about God.

The Beloved.

All that is, and all that animates all that is.

The One and The Way.

The fragmented fullness of your path unfolding.

The Living Map.

Trust it.

Headed Straight Into the Storm

There’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I’m headed straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
~ The Promised Land

As I prepare to leave Austin this morning and embark upon this Odyssey, the sky is pouring rain. Thunder and lightening flash and crash around my little home. Strong winds bend tree branches and drive hard drops against the windows. It’s loud. So loud, I turned off the music.

I’m finishing my last tasks with only the sounds of the storm around me.

There’s a rightness in this. I can hear the silence within the storm, like the heartbeat of all existence. It was that which brought me to this moment. Something called me, and has been calling me all my life. I can listen for it, and respond. Or I can give a million excuses why not.

After 50 turns round the sun, and however many nights and days that I’ve been alive, I am done turning away. Finished with it. I’m claiming my freedom, which also means surrendering to the Way that life will move me.

Following Bruce is much more than a rock-n-roll adventure. It’s beyond being a fan. It is easy to get caught up in the “form” of this journey. But my deepest wish is that I will focus ever more deeply on what this adventure really is: a voyage home, to deeper and deeper interiors of my heart. And that through this blog I will find some way to bring you along on that journey.

This past weekend I had the great good fortune to retreat for 2 days and nights with a group of people similarly dedicated to a journey such as mine. Led by Vanessa Stone, a beautiful sister and teacher on my path, we spent our time in circle and alone on the land, in silence and in talk and laughter, making new friendships and strengthening old ones. Vanessa reminded me, as time with her always does, that this life is a precious opportunity and perfectly perfect as it is.

As I wrote that, thunder crashed, punctuating the power of this truth. As a great poet once wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And I realize, this Odyssey is perfectly prescribed for me.

Threshold

I am moving rapidly but easily through layers that feel like gauze, but also like water. The light is shining and I see it above me through a kind of shimmering surface.

Movement is effortless and more graceful than the ungainly paddle of arms and legs. My body and mind are synchronized; forward motion happens just because I want it to.

Every day it gets easier, even as my tasks grow more numerous and endless ideas bubble up so fast I can barely contain them…things to do, art to create, topics to write about, more concepts for the Following Bruce adventure, visions for this website, for the journeys ahead, for my whole entire life.

I am fast approaching some threshold. It is approaching me. We are each on a locked trajectory, precisely aimed to crash into one another.

What this threshold is, I’m not sure. I think it may be the edge of the only atmosphere I’ve breathed in this life so far. An outgrown gravity that I’m escaping. An ancient boundary condition that I’m exceeding.

All I know is, nothing is going to stop us from coming together, this edge and me…

The
brink
verge
limit
frontier
border
perimeter
precipice

and me,

we are lovers.

My destiny is that edge.
Falling off it
is the home I’ve longed for.

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