In the end, I fell ill and had to leave Green Gulch a couple of days early. I've spent the last two days laid up in luxury at a friend's place in San Francisco, and now I am back to my regularly scheduled adventures although maybe still slightly a little worse for the wear. Mostly, I need to chillax for a while and walk around and let the sun shine on my face and not worry about anything and so that's what I've been doing. I have been cheered up by some awesome emails-- my favorite nomad sent me a stunning photo from the Faroe Islands this morning, where he is at the moment. How he emails me (or calls!!) every few days from increasingly remote locations (rural Maine, Nova Scotia, Iceland, etc.) is beyond me, but he sets the standard. Anyway, at the retreat, there were some real highs, like my very first morning zazen (meditation), which was a special ritual for the full moon wherein all of the monks renew their vows, and then a few days later, a bodhisattva initiation ceremony for a young woman my age. It was magical then, and the rest of the time I tried to cultivate a sense of equanimity, which feels important to me now. My favorite overall quote is from a friend of mine there, a devoted young zen monk-in-training (I can't say that without thinking of Claude Cahun!) from New Orleans who captivated me with his stories of living in Alaska to pursue a childhood dream of running the Iditarod while we pitted wild plums for hours in the kitchen one morning; regarding the zen center, "I love it and hate it at the same time." If you're interested in checking out Zen Buddhism, I'd recommend first going to a local zendo for an orientation to meditation (in New York, I've heard good things about Village Zendo and Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn. In San Francisco, there's the SF Zen Center, of course, which Green Gulch is one branch of, along with the Tassajara monastery). It's probably a better idea than jumping right in, although as you know, I always advocate going for it, whatever it is. Right now I'm in a cafe on Clement Street, which is kind of a second Chinatown in San Francisco, or was when I lived here for a summer seven years ago, and feeling increasingly chuffed, which is a nice change of pace. Earlier today I stepped out for a stroll and almost instantly ran into one of my favorite people, Stephen Elliott, who was riding his bike down my street, which as it turns out, is also his street. I recognized him by this adorable tattoo he has on his arm and I guess he just recognized me because people do. As it turns out we are living just steps from each other! The day after next we're going to have dinner and then I am going to go over to his place and hang out while he writes a collaborative novel with some McSweeney's types. After that I went to Japantown to read Vogue Nippon and eat tonkatsu, which is basically my idea of heaven. That's really all I'm about right now: my idea of heaven.