Category: Art & Literature


I’m sunburned and tired and it’s 10 PM on my Sunday (my Monday is Wednesday) and I have so few words and yet ALL OF THE WORDS for the things I have witnessed and participated in over the past 72 hours or so.

Sunday morning found me up and about at a relatively early hour. My goal was to find somewhere to hike between my house and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. I found Walter E. Long Metropolitan park, paid the $10 entrance fee, and found a picnic table under a tree to enjoy my breakfast.

I’m usually fine with paying entrance fees for parks, because my unconfirmed hope is that the money is being used for preservation and/or providing employment. I’m not so sure what I was paying for with this park. It appears that the main draw for the park was fishing, but in general, there was a lot of trash in the park, the roads weren’t kept up, and there were no walking trails that I could see…at least not initially.

Undaunted, I decided to walk the length of the allotted shoreline & I managed to find some nice things to look at, as well as friendly people enjoying the day. Mostly fishing. Some playing in the water.

When I reached the end of the shore, there was an area that was chained off, but there were no “No Trespassing” signs, so I manouvered around the chain and walked a ways towards the dam, then back down a path that led to another, wider path. It wasn’t so much of a trail as a grassy road, but I intended to get my $10 worth of walking, so I persisted…

I saw some pretty wildflowers…and then I spied a little alcove, and beyond it was a little lake, surrounded by wildflowers, weeds, and trees.

And I sat down to write in my journal:

Tiny little oasis at Walter Long Metropolitan Park. Listening to birdsong & enjoying solitude after another week of overtime. I’m sweating, but it’s delightful to be here among the wildflowers. And the leaves and branches on the trees leave shimmering, swimming shadows on the page & a tiny bird lights on a tree, regards me with avian curiosity – head cocked, feathers ruffled, tail twitch…hop…hop…then flutters off, peeping the story of me to those too intimidated to venture nearer.

I imagine they are speaking to me. Or trying to. My mono-species-lingual ears are not responsive. But they are encouraged by my relative quietude & continue trying to get through – progressively louder & with increasingly more enthusiastic accompaniment.

And then the frogs start in with their clicking. And I should probably think about moving on, but I’m in love with this moment & in love with the solitude. So I hesitate. Linger. Drink until my eyes, my ears, & my nose are sated.

And then I progressed. Got up and made my way back to the car. I heard crows caw, which I don’t usually hear in town…and I saw a HUGE hawk flying overhead, and I decided it was worth my $10 to be there for those things. For all of the things. Though when I return it will be on a weekday so I won’t have to pay quite so much.

I had no idea what to expect at Hutto. I had received an invitation from a friend to join a concert outside of the Hutto Detention Center, and I’d heard of these events before – where people gather to provide audible support and solidarity to those who are housed inside, awaiting release or deportation or asylum. On the ride up, I was thinking about how birds fly back and forth over borders without any concern. And how we are all, really, just intruders on this land. How I just paid $10 to go to a park, where a good many of the people there were likely fishing for food – so that $10 is definitely a relative cost.

I arrived late. The last band, Sonoita, was freaking AMAZING. I was grinning so huge listening to their radical punk lyrics and music…and the simple beauty of the whole idea of putting musicians, poets, and speaker right outside the detention center – with the sounds echoing loudly against the walls so there was no doubt those inside could hear…it was amazing. Whole hearted. Wonderful. And even though I was only there for 20 minutes or so, it was well worth the trip. Next time (and there will be a next time sometime in October) I will plan better and get there early to help set up. And I will help promote it better, so more people can be there to witness this perfect little act of resistance. Because sound also travels over borders and fences…just like birds.

I came home feeling full of thoughts and ideas and inspiration…and crashed in bed, exhausted.

Monday was spent running errands in preparation for summer semester for Buddha the Grouch. So I got to spend the morning in the car with his holy grouchness. I had been in a running discussion with my nephew about increasing the minimum wage and why we should indeed provide food and shelter and medical assistance to those who are living in poverty. Buddha the Grouch is a great foil for these conversations, because we DON’T always agree, and he’s a good litmus test for me to tell how far out on the political spectrum I’m being. So I asked him “Why do we provide food stamps and housing vouchers for poor people?”

He responded: Uh…because it’s disadvantageous to our government for people to be dying in the street.

I countered: But what if there are some people take advantage of the system and are just lazy?

He responded: That’s not statistically significant, and it’s not worth making some people go hungry just to punish those few people who are taking advantage

*phew*

That night, I went to an Austin CAN Community Council forum on Disabilities, where a panel of experts explained the challenges people with disabilities face in our community.

With all due respect to the people on the panel I left the meeting feeling frustrated. First, we were pretty much outright told by the representative from Goodwill that there are no local issues that impact people with disabilities, and we should focus our attention on national issues. Which is all well and good, but I’m sure there are some local things we can focus on, and I intend to inform the rest of the council once I figure out what they are.

The other thing that’s always frustrating when dealing with the non-profit industrial complex is…I just don’t think we’re getting all of the information. Granted, disabilities are not always visually evident, but I just didn’t get the sense that everyone on the panel was personally affected by the issues they were discussing. Not that you have to be in a certain demographic to advocate for the needs of that demographic, but in general I feel the social services crowd tends to invest a lot of time and money in developing people within their organizations to speak on behalf of the populations they serve, without taking the time to develop people in the communities they serve to do the same. Obviously, there are exceptions. But sometimes participating in these forums is like going to a badly-organized “community event to determine the needs of the community” where the only people present are those providing services to the community…which makes no sense to me, though I do understand the challenges in engaging people and encouraging participation.

Today, I woke up early and wrote letters…

And visited with some friends who are exploring an idea for a non-profit. I feel like I’m very blessed with people in my life who get excited about doing good things for others, and I’m especially happy when I can provide useful information and insight to help them help others. 🙂

I brought the Tao of Bird to his therapy appointment, where he spent yet another hour stonewalling his therapist and me, while we did our best to keep conversation going in order to make the environment more conducive to problem-solving. But that bird is a stubborn one! And so smart! And on to any tricks that would maybe encourage him to share his fears and possibly devise strategies for overcoming them.

And then I attended a forum on property taxes in Austin. I was blown away by the rage in the room. I mean, this crowd was one step away from pitchforks and torches. And for good reason. Did you know 90% of commercial building owners protest their property taxes annually, resulting in tax rates that are based on 60% of the value of the property? Meanwhile, I’m here in my home that’s falling apart because I’m spending all of the money I should be spending repairing it paying for the right to live here in the neighborhood I have lived in for 17 years…and the value of my home increases by 10% every year, in spite of the actual value of my home.

We were explained the weird formula they use to figure property taxes, and were told that, essentially, the tax assessor’s office can’t use actual home sales as a guide, since we’re a non-disclosure state. So, basically, we all get issued our ridiculous tax bills, and corporate entities spend a portion of the money they WOULD have spent on taxes paying lawyers to argue they’re property has been improperly valued until the tax assessor’s office has to cry uncle due to lack of resources for litigation and just settle.

Meanwhile, homeowners (and, likely, renters) are left bearing the burden of taxes. And this isn’t even addressing the tax breaks and incentives we give to businesses to move here. It’s freaking ridiculous. Here are some of my favorite quotes & notes of the evening:

-Large businesses employ lawyers to take advantage of the property tax appeals system. The appeals system can’t afford to litigate everyone, so they settle. Large businesses end up paying taxes on only 60% of the actual value of the property.

-The average home sale in my neighborhood is currently $347k

-The greatest increase in home value was in the downtown core, and East Austin <—

-The suggestion was made to advocate on a local/city level for a flat homestead exemption from the City of Austin

-Evidence that will help when filing a protest includes: Sales information, independent/certified appraisal, interior inspection, costs of repairs for large things like deadly mold and cracked slabs. (not sure if protesting will actually help me)

-Oh yay! Voting fixes EVERYTHING!

-Talk to taxing jurisdiction about services

-F1 is currently in litigation for property taxes

-Businesses filing appeals don’t have to show proof of revenue generation

-STATE INCOME TAX!!! (one of the audience members suggested this and everyone clapped…the presenter said that comment would have gotten him escorted out of the room in Houston)

-90% of county services are paid by property tax

-Robin Hood education taxes send 30% of Austin’s property taxes back to needier districts.

-Austin American Statesman has had 3 articles in the last few months about the commercial property tax loopholes.

-Research “Local Infrastructure Fee”

-Suggestions for improvement include: Close loopholes, end tax exemptions for commercial property, or sunset after 10 years.

-The City of Austin issued a senior citizen exemption & we should have fought for a homestead exemption.

-A suggestion that we end tax giveaways and subsidies for corporations garnered ROBUST applause

-Someone whose land value has TRIPLED in the last 6 years asked how land is being appraised and whether we aren’t just footing the bill for speculative development. (at no time during this forum was the possibility that this is all an issue of speculative development explicitly refuted)

-BANKS get 3% when you pay for your taxes online by credit card, get x% on interest when you have to take out a loan to pay the escrow increase, get $$$$$ when they foreclose on a home for failure to pay taxes.

-KEEPING APPRAISED VALUES STATIC ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO STAY IN THEIR HOMES AND NEIGHBORHOODS, RATHER THAN ENCOURAGING TRANSIENCE

-Voting is not enough – stop telling us to vote when those we vot for sell out to special interests.

-A lot of state, city, county properties are not on the tax rolls.

-NOT ALL HOMEOWNERS ARE EQUAL

-Organize the State now in preparation for the 2015 legislature

-Homeowners/Commercial buildings used to have a 42/20 percent split of the tax burden, now it’s more like 52/less than 20

-One guy said he measured his home with laser measuring devices, and that he discovered the square footage is rounded up. 300 additional squre feet resulted in $1200 more in property taxes.

-“Responsible people who bought responsibly are now being priced out of their homes.”

-Legislators have not gotten a lot of heat about this.

-F1 stats:

  • $250 million tax break
  • Annual tax protest reductions that have amounted to about $250 million again
  • $14 million electricity plant that the taxpayers are paying for
  • $13 million water plant that the taxpayers are paying for
  • $16 million new entrance that the taxpayers are paying for
  • WTF1?

-Hyatt

  • Sold for $87 million
  • Appraised at $37 million when it was time to set the taxes.
  • Because lawyers….?

-Appraisal district budgets are being cut, so they have even fewer resources to litigate.

-Someone asked “Can I change my home from residential to commercial?”

-Many of these businesses were provided tax incentives because they were going to “widen the tax base” but we’re seeing lower services, higher taxes, and more traffic

-UNCONTROLLED GROWTH

-CITIZENS VS. DEVELOPERS

-How is growth being paid for & who is paying for it?

-90% of all commercial property taxes are appealed

-26% of residential property taxes are appealed

-Commercial property owners are writing non-disclosure riders in contracts for buyers AND sellers – because Texas is a non-disclosure state, the tax appraiser can’t get that information unless it’s provided, so there’s no way to value property according to actual market demand.

-Someone asked if we could support an appeal by putting our houses on the market at the price they are appraised at and proving they won’t sell.

-Some of the questions about how to cap increases were met with an accusation that just “shifts the tax burden” – so one guy responded “If you’ve lived here 20-30 years, why SHOULDN’T you shift the tax burden to the person who moved here 3 weeks ago & paid $750 k in cash for their house?”

-CAP EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION

-Some people were talking about organizing several people to hire a lawyer to appeal

-One guy was all “If we could only go to the state house with badly spelled signs like the tea party…you have to make them FEAR you!” (I was thinking “Uh…where the fuck were you when we actually DID that, only with perfectly-spelled signs – FOR YEARS!”)

-Someone mentioned that the 10% cap on increases is the MAXIMUM, but the taxing entities COULD choose to lower the percentage.

-Another person asserted that developers are buying properties, razing the houses on them, and rebuilding duplexes and triplexes that are then sold to rental agencies who make a huge profit and don’t pay as much in property taxes – she seemed to be saying that there’s some sort of loophole that causes the tax rate on duplexes/triplexes to be lower, and that non owner-occupied houses are taxed at a LOWER rate than owner-occupied houses.

-Two good resources: Austinaffordability.com and Realvaluesfortexas.org

It was an AMAZING meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing where all of this goes. In the meantime, I’m going to file my protest, even though I don’t feel very encouraged that it will get anywhere…

***

Phew! That was a very full weekend.

I just realized I never got around to writing about my return trip from Colorado. And, to me, that was almost the best part. I took the long way home, choosing to travel south through New Mexico, rather than angling southeast. My intention was to pop in on my friend Raymond before heading back to Austin. No big whoop, right?

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Well, I left Denver super early. It was gorgeous outside. I resumed my steady stream of “No fucking way” I had continually uttered at the sheer gorgeousness of everything in the universe. First, it was the moon that I began my journey beneath. I snuck out of the house before Pansy and Scott could wake up and drove south – hoping to drive as far up pike’s peak as possible. Unfortunately, Pike’s Peak tollway doesn’t open until after 9, and I got there well before.

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I took the opportunity to, instead, take a nice stroll through the garden of the gods. Excitedly trying to snap pictures of the (to me) pretty black and white birds I saw everywhere. I’m sure to people from Colorado, these birds are as interesting as grackels are to us Austinites, but I just adored them.

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Oh, and there were also some pretty rocks to look at.

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After wandering around for a bit, I got back into the car and drove around the little town until I found a restaurant with the word Omelette in its name. Hoping to get a decent omelette, but ended up getting this monstrosity stuffed with canned jalapenos and nothing else. It was pretty gross. Thankfully, I apparently have a stomach made of steel, because I suffered no after-affects of that culinary atrocity on the journey.

I spent much of the day traveling along what I perceived to be the Pacific-Coast Highway of the Rio Grande…I THINK it was 285, but I’m having difficulty mapping it now, and it might have been a smaller road than that. Snaking through Taos and Santa Fe alongside the river. I love and fear traveling near water. I get the same kind of feeling I always get when I’m in a high place. That feeling that I might just be overly tempted to throw myself over the edge or drive right into the water, and not be able to stop myself from doing so. I felt the same delight traveling next to that river as I did when I found myself accidentally driving through Clearwater National Forest, as well as the multiple times I’ve driven up and/or down the actual PCH. An approximation of the feeling I’ve had standing on the shore of Lake Michigan…coastal Florida…The Pacific Ocean…This. Is. Where. The. Land. Ends. What lies beyond is made of the stuff of drowning. You can walk to the edge of me, but once you cross that line, you are altered physically.

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And it’s these little surprises that happen along the way that make me prefer road trip travel (particularly when I am able to be loose about schedules and therefore choose (or not choose, and let randomness choose) the path I take. I tried to take as many obscure routes as I possibly could (which isn’t difficult to do with my meandery GPS system that seems to be programmed to send me off on the least direct route possible.) And while I didn’t have enough time to actually stop and enjoy the water, I did take the time to pull off the road a view times and take pictures, or write, or just sit in silence and wonder.

I was listening to the last half of Nick Cave’s _The Death of Bunny Munro_ on CD, having heard the first half on my way up, and trying to decide if I liked it because it was by (and read by) Nick Cave, or if it was because it was actually a good book (I’m still not sure what the answer is to that.) The day was perfectly temperate, clear, sunny. There was more traffic on the way home than there had been on the way up to Colorado, where I barely encountered a single car the whole time I was driving on open roads. And it took me a very long time to get to Albuquerque.20140316_174214

But I got there, and got a tour of the gallery from Raymond, and stayed a little longer than I should have but not even a fraction of the time I wanted to stay, picked up a gigantic pizza to feed the boys when I got home, and left just before dusk, determined to somehow drive the remaining 10 hours straight through, all the way home – losing an hour at the border, and getting me home at around 4 in the morning. hahaha.

I’m nothing if not ambitious. Particularly when it comes to driving.

But I’m also practical. And, after once again marveling at a fucking gorgeous full moon slowly emerging first as a giant plasmatic orb peeking just over the tops of distant landscape, and inching slowly to the top of sky – beaming triumphantly. It hypnotized me, and I realized I was getting tired already at 11 AM, and this is my VACATION, damnit…so I decided to stop at a hotel near the border of NM/TX and get some rest and enjoy the rest of the journey daylight even though, like regrettable sex, the drive through Texas is almost always best done in the dark of night.

And with that…I’m going to end this section and write the last leg another time.

snippets of springtime from random journal entries:

There is a tiny baby in polka dots here in the waiting room at the eye doctor. We are waiting for Buddha the Grouch’s pupils to dilate. The baby cris, is picked up by her mom. She (the baby) makes a motor boat sound with her tiny lips. I tell Buddga the Grouch “That baby is cute. I want to squish her.” Buddha the Grouch says “That baby wants me to be able to play M-rated video games.

***

End of day I’m off my feet

This cultivated silence, background noise & candle & a cuppa joe. Resounding non-sound a temporary respite from day’s dull roar & I sit in silence, let word overtake me silence bringing onrush of joy to temporary standstill silence & my crickets still sound like birds after all these years humidity brings it back to me that bedroom window the only place to press my face for cooler air to embrace. People drifting in and out of my picture view, bumbling like enormous mountains the size of ships. The traffic shifts my focus.

***

Dear You,

What have I learned this week? That you can’t force a banana into a peanut jar? That I don’t know why I keep ending up in the middle of crazy-ass relationships. It’s like the reverse instinct. Like when we were at the zoo & the people all ran TOWARDS the lion when he roared.

***

What I mean to say is this – I am forming sentences in a vacuum. A grave mistake. A simple misdirection and a hollow expression. This magic can interact transgressively. Regress into an open can. Trying to believe I can be liberated. B.B. King is free from the spell.

***

I ate popcorn for dinner tonight – and other tales of misguided adulthood.

The dog is outside, whining. Right now, I’m playing Sims. Enjoying peace and housematelessness and guestlessness. Soon there will be more guests and new guests and before that kids and back to work.

But at least the house is mostly clean, and the laundry is mostly done, and I have mostly exercised mostly every day. Mostly.

From here on out, I get to do what I want to do. Wander around in my pajamas all day.

Mostly.

***

 

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When did I allow my heart to get so fettered, not feathered,

Weathered. This is not love

by any approximation & yet

it is approximately the closest

I feel like I can get

 

One who gives me everything but

one who gives me nothing but

I divide myself into portions

Portions of me

Free

For the taking.

 

I should be satisfied

with

the dove in my hand, and

the hawk in my bush.

Instead,

I may go cold turkey.

***

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I wonder what I am half paying attention to now?

What am I?

I stopped caring

the minute I stopped

defining.

Steadfastly refuse to call myself

a poet

Though…pictures

paint words

in my mind.

**

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Walking in heat

Falling in love w/the you in everyone

& longing, which is the better part of love

The distance so tangible, it feels

like a touch

that keeps me from alone long not long alone. The

you in everyone I have never had had

never known no never. Will never know

& that’s ok b/c longing

is the better part

of love

***

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Listening to wind chime & bird chatter and cars going by. It sure feels good to be alive.

In a minutes, I’m going to wrap this up & take the kids out for ice cream. Maybe come back out on the porch later & write some more.

Oh, and – I got the job.

***

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Chirping, I hope like a cricket – w/out wings. I can only fall. Hop. Skip. You say it is not the way you planned things. I say Fuck Your Plans.

***

The Tao of Bird argued about not wanting to take a shower for about 30 minutes this morning. Including yelling and name calling and tantrum throwing and many many many “I HATE YOU”‘s. Now he is in the shower. Has been for about 15 minutes. Singing away. Apparently never planning to come out.

Meanwhile, Buddha the grouch is still sleeping, I am listening to an Animal Collective song called Bees. The birds are singing. The sun is shining.

“Please Take Your Time…”

The song entreaties me. Entices me. Pleads with me.

 

I want to write more about my vacation, but today was an exceptionally good day, and rather than write about the then, I’d prefer to gush about the now.

I’ve been struggling lately. I mean…I’ve actually been struggling for awhile, but I do a pretty good job of managing my own personal struggles I think (I hope!) – but lately I’ve been struggling in a positive way – overcoming, is the word. I’ve been overcoming some of the residual imprints of struggling.

Overcoming seems to involve a lot of self-reflection. A lot of heavily guarded alone time. Sometimes to an extent where I wonder if it might be unhealthy for me to spend so much time alone, without really desiring the company of anyone else in particular. Not that I don’t love and adore my friends and loved ones…it’s just lately I seem to adore spending time by myself an awful lot more.

I sometimes worry that I don’t have the ability to deal with ever surrendering any tiny scrap of my autonomy to be in a relationship with another person…but I’m too busy not caring to worry about that for very long. Though I do have a corollary worry that my inability to surrender any tiny scrap of my autonomy will cause me to end up being bitterly alone when I’m too old to find someone who wants to surrender a tiny scrap of their autonomy for me.

Who knows. Maybe it’s just a phase.

What I haven’t been struggling with lately is being ridiculously appreciative of the gentle rhythm of my days, which is possibly WHY I’m feeling reluctant to risk losing control over them. I notice that I really seem to enjoy my job on a soul-nourishing level. It’s nice to help people all day. To be able to talk to them as a human being and solve their technical issues. I really enjoy people treating me like an authority on something. One of the first things I had to learn to do to succeed at my job was to eliminate my tendency towards humility when helping people with technology. I’m used to approaching people in an exploratory way, which works pretty good for training, but generally when you are calling tech support, you want someone to be a bit more authoritative. I’m really enjoying mixing both so I don’t come across as a know-it-all and intimidate people who just need a little nurturing. It’s actually not a bad way to spend 10 hours a day.

I’m also really happy with the habits I’ve formed around preparing and eating healthy, homemade meals all week, reading, getting some sort of exercise, and writing in my journal every day. It’s been awesome to have time to spend on myself. And while I have had weeks of getting sucked in to one TV series or another (most recently, Eureka, which actually gave me some of the most amazing dreams and, in spite of the fact that it was a pretty damn cheesy show (or maybe because of that) has me mourning the little world I lived in with all of those characters for a month or so.

I guess this is all sort of related to my vacation, because part of all of this is the fact that I’ve also been able to travel more – take more road trips – get out of town more. It’s something I feel I’ve been somewhat deprived of over the past few years. It’s really nice to be able to pick up and leave town for a bit. The endless rhythm of the tires on asphalt with trees and signs and other cars whishing by. The places my mind goes when there’s endless novel monotony all around me. My face focused forward, but watching the world peel by on either side. Tracking time by moon and sun and moon again. Driving. Driving. Driving. Being driven.

I want to dance…I want to write…I need to dance…I need to write. I know! I’ll do the dance/write/dance ritual. Perhaps that will bring forth the words I’ve been meaning to write.

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I can’t think of a non-cliche way to start a blog post about road trips. Do I talk about how my family used to drive around in our big blue van, and I fell in love with the rubber-to-the-road endless airplane runway sound, and the dreamy haze of entire towns whisking by windows on either side? Do I mention the long-distance trips to visit friends across the country…road trips within road trips…about taking my young children on the road across country and seeing them begin to understand the vastness of the country, much less the world in which they live…the feelings of invincibility after my newly-single self traveled across the entire west/northwest/southwest in a gigantic loop that began in Texas, peaked in Portland, swooped through Los Angeles, and drifted through sleepy southwestern deserts with two young children in tow…over lonely railroad crossings blinking mutely in the middle of the night as I pass through yet another 1 stoplight city in the middle of a vast nameless field on either side of some forgotten highway?

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This particular journey began with this Radiolab broadcast – most notably, “Goo and  You.” Most MOST notably, this closing quote:

“It’s not just what of me carries forward into the future, it’s like – what of my future self is in me right now.”

Give yourself 14 straight hours of travel time, with no one else in the car or, really, on the highway, but you, to ponder that. As you drive through parched Texas/Eastern New Mexico flatland by day, and only approach the mountains as invisible barriers to your destination at night…then wake up to find yourself surrounded by them and the thin, nipping air that accompanies them. It was one hell of a way to kick off a road trip. Perfectly timed, and not timed at all.

Like conversations about giving too much and not giving at all, and about art and the art of paying attention. In my silences, I replayed these thoughts in this context. I have observed that all things transpire in context with the things that transpire adjacent, with a little help from throwback memories. I am interested in how things interplay to form a new thing out of the combined things and a dash of timing. Like two books you read at the same time that have nothing to do with each other, but somehow end up syncing up. Like seeing the same car at multiple gas stations along the journey, and never interacting. The lives of the people in both cars intersect at that moment, then continue on in meaningful meaninglessness. Unintentional intention.

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In the car, I play road games with the navigation system. First, I use both Google Maps on my phone, and the navigation system in the car. I sync them up as much as I can, and make decisions as I go. It keeps me awake, and leaves me open to adventure, or curtailment thereof…depending on my mood and/or level of energy. As I travel, I focus only on the next leg of the journey – only recalculating the total time of the journey and ETA when I embark on a new leg.

This keeps me alert.

Also, math.

(Not meth, you weirdo. Math.)

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Some road notes:

this charming man

tears of a clown
baby it’s you by the Beatles
Shanghai shuffle by fletcher Anderson
give it to you by Blackalicious

I believe in me by trenchmouth

radian by air

boil by the handsome family oil by the handsome familyI’ll buy the family

wagon wheel restaurant Red Bud inn and everything’s fucked by dirty 3

Christianity is not a religion it’s a relationship with God

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153 to 7o there’s like a 20 square-mile wind farm. I don’t even know how fucking huge is is, but it’s beautiful.

so beautiful

it’s so beautiful I burst into tears and had to pull over.

(…to be continued…)

Me: The birds look like apostrophes

Him: What are the words if the birds are apostrophes?

Several of us gathered today to say goodbye to a friend who passed away. We met at City Hall, where most of us originally entered one another’s lives. And we walked together to the tree on the other side of the river on which little medallions were pinned to mark the deaths of  others who, like our friend Chris, were houseless but not without friends in life or in death.

Several people told stories of their friendship with Chris. Universally, we agreed he was a gentle man. A quiet man. A man who forced us to slow down and think. And rethink. And as I listened, I realized I was not only mourning the loss of Chris, but also the loss of that time. That time when we all gathered several times a week to slow down, sit down…and talk. And listen. And plan together. And just to gather with a group of people from disparate backgrounds and experiences – a group of people who, under normal circumstances, might never get a chance to meet – and become aware of each other as fellow humans…and struggle together. And learn from each other. And totally fuck up in the presence of each other. And forgive each other. And try again.

I didn’t tell any stories today. Today, I listened. The truth is, I didn’t have a lot of stories to tell about Chris. I cared about him. I tried to look out for him the best I could. I respected his growth and his journey. I remember him.  I will miss him. But it’s not enough to miss someone like Chris. It’s not enough to mourn and be sad and go on living and forgetting all that I have learned through my friendship with Chris, and through all of the other unlikely companions I’ve been blessed to come to know over the past few years. There were so many lessons learned. So many I forgot. It’s time to remember them now. It’s time to come out of hibernation and be present in the world again, and open to listening and sharing and relating.

The things I have learned as an occupier are lessons I have needed to learn my whole life. And I’m not merely talking about social and economic justice. I’m talking about taking the time to really see people. To see AND hear them. Taking the time to be present in public spaces and share with people. I don’t think I’m done learning those lessons yet. I don’t think I’ve learned them well enough, and I think they are too easily forgotten. I still have a too-frequent tendency to hide myself away. To hurry from one thing to the next without stopping and giving time to appreciate the unexpected. I still frequently neglect the things that are most important while freely frittering time on things that have no soul-nutritional value.

This is how I know that Occupy is not dead. Because we haven’t learned these lessons yet. We are too easily distracted and divided. And until we can learn to come together and be present, we will continue to Occupy where we should be Living.

Rest in Peace, dear Chris. I hardly knew you, but I certainly loved you. In honor of your memory, I plan to spend at least an hour every Sunday occupying the steps of City Hall with my sketchbook and journal. People watching, and hopefully conversing. Maybe I’ll bring a sign…maybe I’ll go incognito. It’s not 3 General Assemblies a day, every day…but it’s something. Maybe I’ll see you there.

(by Cole: Age 13)

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Today’s Mantra, while taking my second Eucalyptus-infused shower in less than 24 hours in hopes of clearing my allergy-ridden nose:

Ritual abandon, chaotically enacted with surgical precision.

I am engaging in a project-based mini, semi-vacation within a tiny bit more of a vacation. Otherwise Known As 24 entire hours (plus!) without having to be in the presence of another human being. But my time is drawing to a close. Soon, ruckus will once again descend upon the house, but it will dissipate and a quieter ruckus will ensue. And just that near silent-hum that exists as a background noise whenever there is another person in the house with you, capable of interrupting the quiet at any given moment. Most of a time that is a pleasent hum. Sometime – it’s just nice to muffle it for a day.

I spent my time well. Forced, as I was, to succumb to a mostly horizontal plane of existence due to aforementioned leaky nose and the irresistible allure of lethargy. I’ve been organizing my data. Pushing around bits and bytes from one storage format to another. Sifting through images, music, writing – things of my past that have been stored in various formats throughout my life. Organizing it. Analyzing it. Contemplating it. This life in pixels.

I create systems while I work. Systems of efficiency. Systems of reward. Systems to prevent me from becoming bored. And, while working, I watch – or listen – or create in between bouts of “productivity.” Appreciating the progress. Enjoying the process. Knowing there is a beginning, middle, and forseeable end to this project…makes for a very satisfying few days of laze and precious solitudinous haze.

What are you waiting for?

Dispatches from old journals – various years and locations in the January New Year/Birthdayish time frame…

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” -e. e. cummings

***

Him: Are you still in love with the universe?

Me: Quite

Him: I think you are in love with ME.

Me: You ARE part of the universe

Last night, I dreamed about a zombie apocalypse. Lots of running & hiding. I found J in my dream, and we teamed up and found a way out.

I called J today to tell him. He thought it was funny. What I didn’t tell him is that we made out in the dream. Towards the end, I remember what his kisses felt like. They were hard and thin of lip.

Discuss, discuss, DIS-GUS. Discusting.

I’m living in an alternate reality. An alternating duality, fresh from free modality. Sensitive in its design, by nature. Designed. Maligned by creature comforted by none. Rewire. Rewire. Retire.

So chaos comes rolling in. Roiling. A haphazard retrofit toiling. Group gorilla going. Left hand albatross flowing. Supine supine never mind realign.

I am crossing over, crossing back. Redesigning, keeping slack. Semi-automatic, semiotic plague. Plaguing me. Reprobating me. <Sending Leave intimidating me.> I am rock, flowing, water. I am rock of disaster. I am missed opportunity. I am endless hegemony. Instituting harmony. Refill refine ignominy. Endless ever after.

This journey I have traveled. Will require. Will require. Will require…and equation. Forming mandibled collusion. Replace heaven with contusion. Inevitable confusion.

Pistachios in bed and Cherry Dr. Pepper. My hands are covered w/eggplant paint. I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my toilet. And it’s a new year. I hope it’s a good one.

“I’m in love with my walls” -Lester Bangs

He said one day all the walls will fall & it will be just us.

One day all the walls will fall & it will be justice.

~One day. Falling walls. Just us.~

One. Falling Us.

Just Us.

Justice.

Us.

The 1st hr of my

kid & housemate independence,

I made a plan to be productive

The 2nd hour was spent buying

“supplies”

Which began w/organizing

furniture and ended

in potato chips & soda pop

The 3rd hour was spent

laughing w/a friend

The 4th spent @ home

eating an extra cheesy

grilled chz sandwich

and watching yesterday’s

PBS News Hour,

and writing in my journal

in sharpie marker

w/out first having had to

tell anyone, “I’m writing in

my journal…please don’t

disturb me

for 30 minutes

and retreating to my

room

And locking the door

And flopping on the bed

And beginning to write

And…

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

*MOM!!!!*

(being interrupted.)

I scratch daily words on paper. How trite to describe my life the way I have. A million pages of reverie – just to see what sticks. Last year was the year of meta. The overarching. Sans details, nuances tell a story. This year will be the year of micro vs. macro. I will take small things. I will practice the art of magnification. I can’t be contained.

The thing is

that it is such a

long rope

and such a

velvet noose

You don’t even realize

you are choking

until you are

well, well, well, well

Hung.

****

I know what I want for my birthday and I will never get it and the worst thing is that it’s probably best that I not.

***

The way the world turns bokeh when I’m lying in bed staring at a sunlit tree until it breaks down to the smallest elements. Dots and lines and bark and vibrations.

***

My boyfriend knows the Dewey Decimal system. He tells me to stop watching television and go to the library. He says to go to the 811 section & find a random book of poetry. He recites to me with sweet voice and joy-brimmed eyes while his strong hands bring me to the edges of lucidity.

***

There’s something about the deconstruction and the reconstruction. The pulling things apart, re-mapping, and putting back together. My mind wants to hurry through process and get to product as quickly as possible. Counting minutes even still as the days linger into one another, leaning casually back into the day before as they tiptoe forward.

***

“Sociability is a big smile, and a big smile is nothing but teeth.” -Jack Kerouac

(Dispatches from an unwritten novel…)IMG_0473

SHE’S NOT THERE

Well no one told me about her…

I am laying on my back in my bed and I am surrounded by thoughts of you, only they dance around my head like notes on a staff. Sharps and flats whole notes & halves. No one told me it could be like this – to meet someone who causes chords and melodies to spill out of every crack & crevice – every indentation – each and every ideation. This approximation of love. Once wanted, then wounded, then wound and unwound. Reaching for something never to be found. She’s not there, but she is. In every thought. Every plucked string. Every beat of the drum. I am lying in this bed full of no words to describe only music. Each touch splinters into sonata. Every tremble a tremolo.

 

I go to sleep these days, my guitar next to me like her body should be. I strum her as I slumber. I stumble out of bed in the morning, temporarily displaced. Disconnected from my amplifier. I find notes from her, strewn in out of the way places. She’s here. She’s not there. She is everywhere.

***