Drew T. Noll © 2021, all rights reserved

Thursday, February 25, 2021

My Megilah


Tumuli in a Canaanite Graveyard with a View towards the Smoke Stacks over Caesarea —

Tumuli in a Canaanite Graveyard with a View towards the Smoke Stacks over Caesarea —
Rubbing my eyes, using the knuckles of my hands, my vision exploded into purple irises blossoming between grains of sand. The moon, as we know, is full of this knowledge as it swings overhead. It fills my eyes with vision and laughs down on me, as in another new profession I stumble within. It’s seen it before, the moon overhead, full and boasting—and again it will no doubt occur. My mind hears the laughter often as the vibrations descend down, with smiles all around. This is my very own megilah, heard as of late, causing some angst but mostly most profound. The purple irises were meant for an oil painting that I’m currently making, but instead or at least inclusive of, the irises spilled out here if only to shed.

This place that I consider home is both small and once large, contained within a space no greater than a skull, but singing out praise vibrating room in which to tell. The telling goes like this: Upon a time once mentioned, the story unfolds in a pristine dimension. In the cradle of love expansion occurs, new professions keep moving forward and to each comes a wake; a moment of love of excitement that careens full force into a wall. And the pattern begins—born, lived, then died, then born again. In each cycle stems another, growth set in patterns and continuing to know. That’s why the irises spilled out now, no doubt a cycle of love caressing the sores developed from a new profession.

Last week I had had enough. I finished testing the sprouts growing down low, but other invigilators began to hit the same wall. We sparred briefly before all was deleted and we moved back to our corners, where neither was seen, or for that matter until now heard from again. All that I could come up with at the time and still now, is that this is the edge of the cycle as each tends to grow, circles in a pond, irises in my head, and all that it tells me has already gone. I can hear it grating at the edge of my mind still, my skull is vibrating with the patterns all around. I rub my eyes to try and see it again, but the edge only lets me hear—bur, a palindrome confusing my mind once again.

Purim sameakh!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Strange New Land

It’s a strange new land, having become quite small, but living in it … um, I just can’t put my finger on it. Is it shrinking, or am I growing? Like trying to hold a tiny pin-nail while hammering to connect one piece to the other, my thumb and forefinger, the extremities of me, always take the brunt of my exploits into the unknown. Seeking adventure in life doesn’t help either—walking and riding the desires I wish for with almost total abandon. So, it goes to reason that the far reaches of what I consider ‘me’ must take quite a beating. This is the fringe of my existence, this place where I begin to blend with my surroundings. Maybe it’s also why I keep changing my professional aspirations—my desire to be something more—or … yeah, it’s probably just me exploring something else.

I began teaching because I thought it would be a great way to connect with real people, and not just the social presences that haunt the internet. Then Corona hit. So, I scrambled to recover the path I’d been building, like everyone did, between bursts of anxiety and apathy. But, all we were left with was the facsimile of us, a picture on a screen with broken words intersecting across the internet, again—my students now all forced to stare at their crack dispensers, watching my talking head bobbing up and down, instead. Now the apathy is setting in, now the anxiety is spiking, and now I take a breath in order to recover myself from the inside out. I’ve got to get out!

With my left arm throbbing, having received my second shot, I walked into the woods to work it all out. I thought of my students, the ones onscreen and off. I thought of the school admin meeting with all the teachers as well. We were all isolated into tiny boxes with our personal environments in tow. Some sat in front of bookshelves, others with art on a wall. Some had fancy backgrounds showing their inner being, while others had a camera tilted away towards the shadows across the hall. I listened to their words, giving kavod to the leaders, and smiling as if we all didn’t know. I felt it too, you see, seeing each of their faces was something good—even though it was behind a screen. Seeing them all, even in some disjointed way, was a tiny light, an illusion filling my soul.

Blessings for a Healthy New Land soon... 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

BoZa - Book of Zombie Apocalypse

Chapter One: Black and White — 

Startling me every time, the alarm goes off and I think I must be dreaming. The thought of sleep rolls around in my head for a few breaths, then reality bites and I open my eyes with irritation searing at the morning darkness that permeates my tiny room. Clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, the alarm keeps blaring, waking me from repetitious dreams that grant me peace and control to my worldview-asleep. Grumbling and moaning, I get up just like every other day, peeling back the sheet as if coiling back the seal to expose yet another can of fish to daylight. Breakfast is served. It is monotonous, monotone, just like the slippers I slide my bunion toes and greying-feet into. 

Shuffling down the narrow hall, I can see the light staring through the door as the hollow orb of sun begins its slogging path across a vapid sky for the day. The light is also grey, even as I push back a spring-loaded screen-door and lower myself off the porch-step onto a crumbling concrete walk. Grey slippers shuffling through puddles of sprinkler-water are a reminder of life as I step forward intently, my bathrobe fluttering indistinctly in glistening, grey, soggy flops. Looking right and left I am greeted by neighbors exiting their paint and brick-clad hidey-holes as they shadow me exactly, walking to the end of their grey concrete walks. 

We each collect a bleeding wet newspaper thrown down by a boy riding a shiny green bicycle with a sparkling yellow banana seat … that glints back and reflects the grey sun. We try not to take notice, but can’t help it, as we all move together glancing away and back down to the grey concrete walk in front of our methodical steps forward. The last thing we hear before that day’s work begins is an echo reverberating down the street. Our screen-doors smack shut like black and white dominoes crashing one on top of the other, slamming closed each of our collectively unified interactions for the day. 

The drive to work is bland and auto-piloted. Once situated in my cubicle, I notice that the sun is a bit more than less grey, staring in from a plate-glass window, while I staple papers in the upper left corner for subsequent and further retrieval. Like scanning code for information relations, I notice the puncture marks made prior by someone else’s stapler through a portion of the pages. A thought bubble then appears, expectantly, as if I were in some kind of zombie comic; but, I wipe it clear with my apathy quickly in order to avoid thought plagiarism, black on white and in-between. I continue to staple methodically and deliberately. I’ll need to save strength for the copy machine later, I tell myself. I’ve always hated those things, demanding, repetitive, and opaque, communication at its worst. 

On our work-break we sneak up next to the water-cooler. That’s what we all look forward to, where maybe something will change and a spark of color might appear above a tattered corner of someone’s cubby-hole, maybe mine. But it’s rare and unusual, an event that flies into the face of our own presence, worn and hollow. We wear the same clothing; we listen to the same shows, radio, and media; we know each other as we know ourselves, or at least wish to. 

So, when the new girl said TV had shown her something unique, we lifted up our spirits with a tiny portion of available light. 

“A rapidly spreading disease was affecting multiple population centers across the country and maybe the globe,” she said. 

Reports on the TV were coming in saying that people were running insane, as if the entire world were becoming unglued at the envelope’s lickings. As she spoke I could hear a heartbeat slapping my eardrums momentarily, but then dripping down and dissipating into my chest as I realized that my cubicle was empty and stuff needed stapling. 

After work I followed protocol leaving the parking enclosure and sped home right through the rules of the road: speed limit, driving rubrics, pots signs. Mapping my thoughts from the day on the way, I ghost-drove home, turning the wheel this way and that. It was the same, all of it. 

Then … from out of a building’s corner, a man bolted and disappeared as I began my turn; then another man slipped and careened, out in front, and almost disappeared too. I followed the line he left, pitter-pattering the span of my hands over the wheel, steering rhythmically and sliding forth and back as the momentum of our turn caught up to the chasing-together men. 

An alarm blared. Clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang. A police car skidded as it flew past, and then turned the next corner following the running men. I felt relief as I drove straight, past the corner and the cops. They were on it, had it covered; so, I went home to watch TV ... the same old crap, all flake-news and overstatement, black and white in the extreme with nothing in-between. What the hell do they think they’re trying to pull? I changed the channel. At least my sitcoms are real and not just the same staged-shenanigans-to-get-viewers like the news shows are these days… 

The alarm goes off again: Clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang. Again it’s time to get up. I can’t even remember now what the hall looks like behind me as I step through the screen-door exiting my paint-clad hidey-hole to collect my soggy paper from the crumbling concrete walk, in schtuping chorus with all my neighbors. Left and right are walking too, robes flip-flapping and slippers slipping on thin pools of sprinkler water. I pick up my paper, bent-over, and grasp it by the fringe-and-band, which rings out in an echo as a snap-back flings grey droplets into the void. The black on white headline is blaring out to me, but all I can see is the day and date. It’s Saturday. We don’t have work to go to on Saturday. 

The alarm is still blaring from a car down the road. Clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang. My neighbor looks up to see someone running. It’s the paper-boy, and he’s running towards me, fast, his bike on its side sprawled across the street. Smoke is rising somewhere up ahead, somewhere; is there a fire? The paper-boy’s face gets closer to mine, as if motions have slowed, and I see the rage in his eyes tearing down the world. I stumble backwards, tripping on my grey slippers as they stick down stuck under the crumbled concrete walk. My newspaper flies into the air, the wetness, banded-again, snaps at the fringes of soggy newsprint, then flutters apart with its sheaves shape-shifting into floating demons tumbling skywards.

Awake now: With eyes wide, seeing newspaper wads littering the wet-green grass and building patchwork dots of color between sprinkler blasts: I’m wet, and I can’t explain the hunger for gut-clinging rectitude. Rainbows fade in and out as water evaporates into blue sky. It’s all gone so wrong; everyone’s asleep. I can see my neighbor’s eyes on me still, red and bloodshot, having watched the paper-boy run, but much, much bigger than they should be; now, breaking pattern and stumbling backwards through shimmering puddles of light, the sky blue morning is reflected while my neighbor’s slippers get stuck and stop in the crumbling grey concrete life from the walk. 

BoZa Herd Mentality
Boza - Chapter Two: 
Herd Mentality
Where’d the paper-boy go? He woke me up! Clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, clang-a-lang, the car alarm is still bleating. I see flashing red and police-blue lights up the street. My neighbor begins to walk and to run into his paint and brick-clad hidey hole. His newspaper never leaves his hand, flashing black and white against the green of the grass and the yellowish paint of his once monochrome home. He’s still looking at me, with eyes large and bulging, over his shoulder as he runs … stuttering something indiscernible. I know I need to wake him up; I have to wake everyone up! Running now, run. Catch, bite; wake up!

For chapter's 1-7, click here for a PDF download!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Khol haMoed Birthday

Why am I so fixated on Gan Eden? I mean, what is the significance of the ‘origin story,’ anyways? We’re born, we live, and we move on… or does it end there? Come to think of it, does it even begin before this so-called “origin story” began? Like a Petri dish, it could keep on giving, growing old like compost and again sprouting anew like tiny seeds cracking, exploding into growth from imminent decomposition and death-overcoming, mamesh Noakh-replacing, just another new growth bloom descending. From one dimension to the next, riding the wake of living, life is only a conversation occurring at the fringe of reality, no matter the realm. Tohu’uVohu, as they say, or the fringe of no-thing we can identify becoming all things relevant to being, a ‘satiation’ of living. Gan Eden could really just be the incubator before sprouting, a hiatus ‘then’ birthing, just an awakening into transition. We could all have lived before and once done, will again live, ad infinitum every time. 

When I bought into Jewish philosophy and thought, I was unaware that the biology-underlying could be part of the bones keeping it living. But I learned quickly … like a flood overwhelming. Born on the second of Mar Kheshvan, October the 30th stretched out to the beginning; surprised, I was then to find, I could ride a wave outside the life I was living. My mikveh emersion exploded a growth of phosphorescence and lore (mostly in my own head), as I coupled my own evolution-traditions into more and more. The roots began to sprout down, growing cyclones up into heavens, and my awareness of living bred ten-fold without even thinking. Like a splice or a graft, my center began singing. The trunk of my tree shrunk down to allow sap-flow all-encompassing. The warmth of the earth building life into soul, spreading entrails out into air and then space, and then just evaporating unto death and rebirth-reliving!

Gan Eden could be only a transition to seeing… Like the day I was born into the world of the living, with mother grieving the loss of our union, a decomposing placenta, washed away like the scraps left from life only being. My birth into life was filled with hope, but tainted with life already shifting. The Petri dish encompassing the planet I was born upon infected my every attempt; at every turn being rebuffed from actual existing. I grew old then and fell into patterns; I grew young and set sail to find transition. Each turn around the system my planet carried me spinning. Time dilating out into thought and then sinking; the roots of my birth went down into earth, feeling their way along into dirt, singing. A world anew, another spin around the time we have left, each new cycle giving hope and each new death anew sprouting. Birth is creation, and life is only the connection between… every ‘other’ time the beginning. Happy birthday, singing…

*All photographs created by my father, Kenneth Tracy Noll, of blessed memory, during my young lifetime.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Corona Implosion

The Promised Land is a strange and difficult term. When moving half-way around the planet to Israel, I told myself that I was deserving of it, a life-change and midlife crisis all rolled up into one. Having converted to Judaism while living in Los Angeles, I was still trying to find my own Jewish roots after 15 years of raising my little Jewish family in Colorado. I had fled from the city when my first son was born, and became a member of Jewish Renewal in Boulder, but never really melded into the fold, I always felt. At least that is what I told myself to explain the difficulties I seemed to be having feeling normal, but really just feeling Jewish. At the time I felt that I needed to understand, more in depth, the roots of the tradition, or religion, or culture, or place of origin, or language, or … any and all of the missing pieces of who I destined myself to be; so, I searched. 

I searched for many years to find a path in life that fit my own vision; a vision of the answers compiled together, addressing the question of the universe—and what it all revealed to me—and what, ultimately for me, ongoingly ... it all really meant. This search caused me to change directions many times in life. And traversed I did, from Hare Krishna to tribal surfers, from indigenous culture to the second Number One holding court on the beaches of Laguna, mimicking the Greeter, Eiler Larsen, who, when I was a child, had been an inspiration to me. I witnessed Eiler often, but only when quite young, driving by in the backseat of my parent’s automobile, with my mother exclaiming, always, for us to wave back as we passed. He had long stringy hair, I remember, and an even longer beard dripping down over his stooped European frame as he waved and pointed his index finger out, as if saying, “Give me a ride, I too am on my way to where you’re going…” And, echoing through time, like a promise delivered, I see today that he was not altogether unhinged. I have carried Eiler with me in this life, remembering the good ole’ times from days ongoing and then passing by; all the while: with isolation currently rocking the planet and a pandemic of biblical proportions waving its hand out with greetings, not so gently. Like pointing a finger towards a future mostly known but entirely unbelieved, we, like infants cast into a pond, pass over altogether its meaning and flounder about in order to find the new norm. 

Passover hit me over the head this year. I’ve been living the dream for 13 consecutive years, building my presence in the Land of Israel via ‘anyway possible.’ I started with cabinet making, as that is what I had known, but moved on eventually to the Internet and all the blessings and curses that have evolved since from that realm. Once parting with my employ for 7 years: the Christian German Zionist Kibbutz situated down the street, I began to paint. From there I spawned a gallery, an art school, a center for community, and then began to teach – woodworking, painting, drawing, and ceramics, with creative writing hugging the aisle; then came teaching English in public school. In the summers I traveled the globe from the center of the world, exploring my backyard in Israel to Europe, Malaysia, Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, and beyond. I may have converted my nefesh back in L.A., but my neshama became Jewish here in the Promised Land. Since then I’ve been selling my khumetz to the folk I once had been; and this year was no different. But, Passover this year, as opposed to before, has sent cracks out and into the world. It was spent with my tiny pod, our family of two grown boys with lives of their own. We isolated together, virtually embracing, as the world covered its face with masks of disbelief. I wrote our own Haggadah, and then read it together with my pod of four humans, two dogs, and two cats prowling ... somewhere on their own. Passover, really, just hit me over the head this year. 

There’s a world lurking above our heads, always, in this modern age. The air is filled to the brim with signals blinking and pinging off reality as we go about our business day-in and day-out. Due to the circumstances of corona-isolation parameters, I began teaching online, and discovered that right above our heads lays a network of blessings in a time gone aslant; the world created has growth-potential beyond. We’ve always thought of the virtual world as just that, ‘almost reality.’ But, what this particular reality has ushered-in is the understanding of belief. We can travel anywhere, anytime, virtually, and it absolutely exists. Our minds, in the end, allow it to be. Reality has become the plaything of philosophy, not the other way ‘round. We have become independent of our realm. Rome conquered the known world with roads, we know, but that evolution led us to planetary decay. Physically binding, our bio-eco-growth has propelled us, and has thus physically connected all reality that seemingly matters. Physically we have reached the paramount of ascent, but have not really understood it, yet. Like free-falling with gravity-understood, a primordial sea splitting, we breathe in one last time—the essence of what we’ve built, the age of knowing about to decline. Turning the page now, we anticipate what our minds will build next, what the new reality tells us will become. And, turning over the next falling leaf, we may discover that we knew of a grand-plan all along. 

What is a promise? Well, integrity is important to understand, as well as hearing the truth of the reality spoken in the first place, but it’s more than just that. My mom, insistent upon asking us to look at the Laguna Greeter greeting and pointing the way, may have known. She was ill in her mind, at least certified by the standards set in motion by the ‘real world,’ but also had some underpinning of awareness of a place unknown. We dwell day-in and day-out waiting for the next landing, the next place, a land only dreamt of, the next awareness of what will be, but in the end all we keep wondering is only from which way it will come. Together we wait. Together we isolate. In gatherings we settle. And, we wait. Sometimes we adjust our own thinking, and influence others in our pod, as isolation waivers and the future reveals its possibilities. Sometimes we just inhabit within the influence of others. And, we wait. For what, we cannot tell. For, if we do tell, we ignite growth and decay all together. If we engage we risk chaos, uncertainty, and cracking the shell. There is, however, a quiet place that exists in us all, in our minds, deep at the back, that can guide us and help. In each of our bio-ships, our suits, there exists a node deep at the core, a place we remember from before. Like a world revolving above, a sword unseen, unbelieved, the promise from before sprouts up in our own backyards. Like a fountain of inner peace from our isolated souls, we reach out to connect to others, all others; we can reach out with our ingenuity and intuition, we can reach out and greet one-another as we pass over, and only then can we truly settle — and only then can we, in truth, dwell.

Photographs taken in Ramat Hanadiv Nature Reserve near Zikhron Yaakov.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Masking a Future Distant

The Distance Among Us — 

Creating distance is as easy as stepping into your own private dream-liner, fully stocked with aspirations on hold for a time not demanded by regular life. The same is true of actually dreaming, in the sense that the life we live over in that world is always on hold for later, sometime in the future of ‘my’ perception of ‘me.’ Like a vacation that has been had, almost, not stacking up, but nevertheless over, a reflection on the past that happened before the last little bit determines the energies to be spent on the next little bit, and into the future. Breathe … it’ll be okay. The masks we all wear protect us from many things, and they isolate us from others. Covering the face can cover the window to our inner-being, while protecting us from the bio-terrors around and unseen. This also prepares us for a launch into the next generation of us. Just like sleeping and dreaming, we store up our energies and breathe in to our souls, just enough, to light up a future that is mostly paramount to none.

Sitting here, eating matzah with matbukha, I’m trying to remember how I felt during the year gone by. The last Pesakh I was in school to learn a new profession, in order to add it all up in the end of a life well spent. But, the end seems to have launched earlier than previously understood, or known. And … now we are all wearing masks and gloves like in an Asian sci-fi, or something. Was that racist to say? Is it even relevant today? It’s so hard to know anymore what is real, what is important, or … what is ‘me,’ with a capital ‘I.’ Do we continue down the path we began, is it even possible, or do we change course and fly into the eye of the squall, and … um … WTF does that even mean?! I mean, IT’S THE DAMN APOCALYPSE, right? (I usually refrain from profanity, but, circumstances oblige…) The whole world seems to agree, that the end is near, and that our pomposity of human dominance on the land is disowned, disheveled, dishonored, and drowned.

Next week I begin to teach, once again. My 9th grade classes have been returned to me, while my 10th languish with others. I miss seeing my students, maybe 150 in total, and my life is on hold like are their lives, and others. During kholamoed I built lessons for distant learning, from the comfort of my studio, where I’ll teach my students English, at least from grade nine. Using my tiny laptop I’ll try, with a window unto the world that is separate, mostly a dream, to build a connection to each of my students, and to tie bonds to our futures. From my studio I’ll try. With the blessing of the Internet, I’ll wear my mask and not complain, from my tiny imprint on our planet … I’ll try. The future is blooming, just on the other side, I can see it, not in a dream, I can see it shine, waver and shine! I can see it learning, I can see it grow, I see that it wants to, and with the help of others, I’ll see it mature, bisrat Hashem, you can be sure.

The beginning