14 December 2012

A classroom of kindergarteners was murdered today

Tragedy is a word I've heard a lot today. Its not a very powerful word, comes standard in news broadcasts and political recognitions. Aside from its acquired vulgarity, it is an individual experience, as I understand it. There were twenty eight tragedies dealt quickly and countless following that. I am searching for a word, something that indicates the ragged gash that was torn.
An anguish. A cluster of anguishes.
I sobbed all day, the newsman reporting over the radio sobbed, the policeman in charge sobbed, the president addressing the nation did too. The sobs were an admission that it does not matter. It does not matter that the president stopped leading the world to recognize a local horror. It does not matter that the policemen were securing schools across the state and securing warrants. It does not matter that a reporter pried for details to deliver up to the minute about an event that was finished. It does not matter that a man's heart was broken for hearing it.
It does not matter because it is done. A roomful of the most magical brightness and promise has been snubbed out by one person who must surely have lost all that and been in so much pain. I hope that the poor young man gets to a heaven where each of his victims come to him to forgive him before they all melt back to the infinite.

As for the living, we remain. Twenty sets of limbless parents with impossible tomorrows. Classrooms full of miraculous brightnesses tarnished. Teachers returning to do what they do not know. A community grappling with shameful relief and clumsy support. Policemen searching cause for reasonlessness, seeking to punish a ghost. Politicians, perhaps honestly, expressing empathies doomed to course policy scufflings.  And even the killer, someone must have loved him and if not, someone surly should have.

A man across the nation, trying to bypass the bromides of sympathy, trying to find scope of an event that has affected him but that he cannot affect. A common man sharing common feelings. Trying to stop sobbing for a blip of horrors amongst horrors, knocking together a crude assemblage of words for what?

I have a message, and it is not mine but it is in my own words:  With compassion, you cannot know a person without loving them. It is our reason in this world, to seek that compassion always, to strive. And it is also our duty, good people, to strive to be more easily loved, but mostly to endeavor to love those who do not or maybe can not.

15 September 2012

What do you want from me? I'm the fucking God Of Spring

I am
 striding through ages, feet stalk and root into the fetid loam, wading upon death, fungal toes mingle worm and slug; legs column and sweat and bend at the knees to trample, buttocks shits out richness, ass quivers with effluent, cock runs wet with lust as a sword with blood, each testicle an army the hips thrust on every woman and man, navel plumbs the mysteries of Saturnine belly, rumbling and roaring in spiraling viscera spilling out as labyrinth, augured by melancholic spleen and sanguine heart, lungs bellowing with laughter at the trifles; ribs hold the whole of creation crack from within like thunder from two shoulders - orbiting planets from which two arms of lightning reach hands each in greedy possession of the earth and the sky. And my head is the head happily split like a melon by the ritual clubs of the sons of men

I am
A trifle
We are everyone
Gods beyond time
Fingers in the current of the present

19 August 2012


I can make a perfect omelet
perfect just for late morning
brunch alone and a cup
of coffee and a newspaper

three fresh eggs set aside
fry some bacon hot,
garlic, onion in the grease
perhaps red bell pepper

chop some greens chop
the bacon too, chop
everything so far in fact
plus three fat slices of cheddar

Now heat a pan more than
you think, less than too much -
olive oil and only just enough
to be too much unsalted butter

lightly scrambled, eggs.
cheese. bacon. garliconionredpepper
greens and give it some space
to let it be is always better

roll it over and note the mess
you have made, its great - just
roll it again then let it sit for a
bit on a plate, a dash of black pepper

take a breath take a dollop
of sour cream and sit down
coffee at right hand fork at left and enjoy
the perfection you've prepared

17 August 2012

A rare vent

Lately, when people ask me whats going on, I don't really have much to say. The days are slippery and the only action I have to refer to is work, constant and insufferable. I don't do much else. Lately.
I work in a field that is somehow filled with people devoted in a singular way to working away their lives.  I suppose there is some nobility in that, but I don't really see it and I really resent having that paradigm imposed upon me. Maybe they are doing what they love. Doesn't really seem like that type of career.
I am not doing what I love. Not really. That kind of feels like a class based luxury.
(What do I love to do?) I am maintaining corporate properties throughout the greater Bay area - Mall Stores, Banks, Extended Stay hotels.  Some observations involving gross generalizations:

Capitalism is not an efficient system, or a system that seeks efficiency, contrary to some economic theories. I am a rotating cog in the wheel of this machine, the wrench who works where pointed. We have a guy in South Bay and I live in Richmond. Why are we working in each other's neighborhoods on the same day? Why are we employed at all. It cannot be more efficient to contract a company that contracts my company in Orange County (a subsidiary of a subsidiary of a New York City Company) that sends me to greater points of sitting in traffic for hours to charge $100 an hour to change light bulbs. Think of the local handy-people who would love to be called for that for half the price, a tenth of the drive and none of the overhead. Maybe its a hassle for stores or districts to field their own work, but it is certainly doesn't seem viable and efficient to cover all that bureaucracy and overhead. Also, we are using fax machine as our primary source of communication. How is that technology still alive?

Extended stay hotels are the most lifeless depressing places in the developed world. Really. Yes, more than abject poverty. Do yourself a favor and do not notice how many of them there are. They maintain two types of employees: the self-important martinet who must have a degree in hotel management and probably imagines they are on a track to something more important, but will make no better than bottom level corporate, and the junior college dropout with all the curiosity of an earthworm. Primarily the former, but they both could care less about the needs and desires of their customers (who are generally luckless miscreants or victims of some specific personal disaster). These are the people who I would fear in fascist states. If you work at an extended stay, or are related to someone who does, I am sorry.

There are two types of malls in the world. Rich Malls and Poor Malls. They are quite different in layout, store variety, food court, smell, employees and patronage. But under the two categories, they are all exactly the same. I can find my way around a mall immediately on entry. The french store employees are snooty and rude, the "natural" cosmetic store employees are generally pretty and mild, and the other cosmetic store girls are always having a party. Radio Shacks are staffed by affably awkward guys. I don't quite get the shoe stores.

Oddly enough, I prefer banks. But I have learned that office folks have a different understanding of labor than I do. They are always surprised by how much I accomplish and how quickly. I believe that is because they do not actually work very much, have many impromptu breaks and conversations and very rarely labor. 

I think I have that out of my system.

27 July 2012

Well, I was the Chappy

And I probably took it too seriously and not seriously enough. Not sure for whom - but that's my impression. I'm totally fine with that self -assessment.
I started by thinking about where I was  going and who would be there - the redwoods with a bunch of UU's. I am not a UU. UU's are interesting folk. It would be difficult to make many generalizations but there are definitely some broad impressions that I wont make here. UU's in the woods. The woods are gentle sentinels of a medium permanency and a solid hint of decay.
Day 1 - I have to do opening circle? Oh crud I forgot about that! Public speaking, round one, in the round, unprepared. You try it.
Day 2 -Well, work with what's on hand. Take comfort in trees' place of primacy in my personal metaphysicilology. Trees, each growing as it grows in its place and time, each its own potential perfection reached as each is able. As we should aspire.
Day 3 - And then they bend down and die, as we all do. What terror - we walk around on decay and consumption, we squander life on trivialities and avoid death like public speaking. To what end? What will be a reason in three or four generations, or planetary generations, galactic. I bet it doesn't even matter - shiver. The horror is our true place and mystery. What do we do with that? How the hell should I know, but we are not served by ignoring it.
I did a memorial service that day. It was easy to prepare for, as I recalled my grandmother's service from two weeks prior, at which I spoke briefly. I said similar things. I don't mean that flippantly.
That day was emotionally exhausting
Day 4 - Carnival - I take that meaning to heart. Speak on non-sense, as nonsensically as the attendants might tolerate. I would have produced some dada had I the moxy. Revel in the new moon, warm lodge, general feeling of abandon, and what I am going to just refer to here as a mythic. Self made Bull mask is well served and served well.
Day 5 - I missed service. Heard it was good. Dammit, had been laying in bed rewriting the entire thing and time got away from me.
Day 6 - Closing circle. Well prepared with new service from day before. Might have figured something out about Liberal UU and Faith. The word makes them uncomfortable but they have it. Its the response to the solitude of individuality, to the the awe and terror of indifferent nature, to the absurdity of things that is either comedy or tragedy. Faith that our actions matter. We are more than digestors, procreators and consumers. We are actors in a drama that may have no other audience than us, but us is enough and what we do matters and we know what to do. We do the best we can. Sometimes how is muddled but the what is pretty clear. Faith that we can do good and that it matters.

So that was that. I got all my books back - hopefully with some interesting notes.
I heard a podcast today that I thought did a much better job of everything except corporeally being in Mendocino at the appropriate time. I cant figure out how to link it up but its worth a listen. Its a speaker from the Personal Theology lectures held at UUCB (swear I'm not UU) from back in 2010. The speaker is Sam Keen and the title of the lecture was Elemental Sacred Emotions. I agree with every single word he said and would have said them if I could.

20 May 2012

You Can't Have It All (but you can have quite a lot)

My Daughter woke up crying this morning about five - maybe a nightmare. I had spent the evening prior with a bottle of wine attempting to revivify old vital fluids, so it was not the most welcome. It was redundant however. The wine had failed and I was already awake nursing the anxiety attack i went to bed with.

We had our morning together.

The anxiety was about my inability, so far, to find purchase in the material world, and to secure for my family their place and safety in it. There is a part of me that sees farther than that, that knows security is as illusory as survival is luck. But a broad perspective does not feed mouths. It was a growing anxiety as I realized I had to do something to make my day move foreword somehow toward something but could not grasp - grasping as I was - what I could do.

So, without direction we started our day.
It is astonishing how a two year old can focus you to the moment. The moment does not feed mouths either, but it keeps you going. 

Thank you my toddling little beacon of light

My sister called me early into that day. She sounded quite down as she often does and I am glad I did not make a crack about that. She was calling me because my mother was unable. My grandmother had died; my mother was shrouded in grief.

Thank you kid sister for your compassion and bravery.
Eventually I spoke with my mom. My grandmother, who had suffered a stroke a bit over a year ago, had run a bath and gone unconscious with the water running and had drowned. My grandfather found her. My mother expressed concern for my youngest brother who is finishing his last month of college and lives alone. You all, my mom said, have people who love you for support and he is all alone.

I offered to finish making calls to siblings and did so. Everyone loves each other. Everyone seems to be feeling the current of the inevitable and the helplessness to help each other.

I am grieving in such a subtle way I barely apprehend. My grandmother is gone. She was fortunate to have lived so flu and long and to have made such a big and loving family. I have been fortunate to have had all my grandparents with me into my thirties, to know my children in their first decade. I am being visited by memories and by my slight perception of her as a being. She danced on couches with my mom singing "step in time", she accompanied my grandfather on missions and trips all around the world, she took me up to her sewing room at every visit to see her magnificent quilts and jars of buttons and water colors and stained glass and whatever else she was tackling with the effortlessness of a savant, she played cards at the table andante on walks in the woods and had a little mountain garden and knew the frogs that would come out of the frost each year. She was the wry and round little (5'1") grandma with the drawer of sweets. The subtle feminine play and creation to my grandfather's masculine godhead.

We write our own myths with our own inhabitations

I am worried about my grandfather. They were married for over sixty-five years. I will not see him until the funeral and I fear he will be a different person. I fear he will not remain much longer. He has had his life as well, so that is my fear.

I worry about my mom, the baby of the family and the black sheep, losing her mother, one leg from under her and my little sixteen year old sister trying to shoulder that.

and my brothers and I wanting to be what we all imagine we should be, the steady bind, beside our own grief, support for everyone, not from machismo, but from love that everyone should be able to actually have their experience with abandon over the safety of a love. So not machismo, but the hubris that we can handle it so that others don't have to.

Thank you my daughter again and my wife for going on a bike ride with me because I don't know what could have been better.

Thank you wife for the poem -

You Can't Have It All
by Barbara Ras

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this.

In the scheme of the world the loss of a grandparent is not so much, and it is a gift that it is not, because I am not in a wailing tomb of despair. I am seeing the little lens that I have of this one life in my life and the magnificence of it and I am seeing in the little lens of my loss, the great losses of others and can shed that love on them. There is not so much to grieve for me - a well lived life, long and full of losses and regrets and love and creation and many many people to grieve her. Thats quite a lot from our meagre grant of time

Thank you grandma for being the only person you could have been. It was pretty amazing

Also, she loved John Denver. i have been listening to that all day and also rediscovered eels album I lost in the fire.

27 April 2012

family camp 2012, prologue

Going to only one week of camp this year. Just too damn expensive.
Volunteering for rate as always. This year rather than sanitation engineer, I will be chaplain.
That's right. I don't even really believe it myself - a chaplaincy.

Will I endeavor to illuminate the grandeur ever present, with the redwoods as my backdrop, the soil as my pulpit, the sky my sermon? Will I share my personal feelings of a constructive nihilism - a shaky and lonely place of wonder? Will I mostly silent, guide each through their own reveries on anything that seeks reverence.

Any of those will honestly suffice compared to the likely stiff and board probability I will present. The monosyllabic and slightly pedantic and likely condescending thing of me I will present.
That is my fear I guess. I hope not

I hope I can offer myself unique and shepherd each attendant which the least intrusion to their new days.

04 April 2012

I was a fool I am a fool I have been fooled

Books. I love books.
I have been reading books for thirty years. I like the way they look on shelves. I like the smell. i like the feel. ( I hate dust covers). I started young, engaging Peanuts Encyclopedias in preschool, off in the corner and forgotten. I read the real encyclopedia en toto - 1963 Britannica. I was a devourer of books. Books are holy. A good book, a really good book is as important to me as any Bible and just as sacrosanct but when I read them I destroy them, broken spines and dog-ears. They are not relics, but the living Word. Books!
I keep them on my shelf. I am not so nearly omnivorous as a younger me was, but they are there. Books are patient. I haven't read most of them but they are there waiting, and I'll flip one open sometime and read and make a serious and non-binding commitment to keep that one around. I have not paid for many of them, and when I have its second hand. Books seek me out but I am not possessive of them, come over and talk and ill give you a couple you might like.
The great books raised me, fathered me. To be a man and then to be human I read Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Miller, London, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Heller, Nabokov, Laozi, Euripides, Dostoyevski, Steinbek, Marquez, Spark, Roth, Vonnegut, Mushima, de Saint-Exupéry, Murakami. I read Mann, Conrad, Whitman, Atwood, Baudelair, Blake, Valery, Sebald, Bellow, Lawrence, Durell, Murakami. And not just read, not just enjoyed, or critiqued. I have believed them! What is shown not what is said. Starting with the Bible and working foreword then back again to Homer, I have held books as volumes of truth - literate art.

"Reading is absurd, isn’t it? Page after page of symbols. Voices in our heads that aren’t our own. Why persist? We may read for entertainment, to pass the time, to visit other worlds, to expand our sense of what is possible. We hunt for treasure, rarely satisfied, but seeking new things to which we can aspire, clues and answers to what our lives are meant to be. At best, perhaps, we read to challenge ourselves and to be changed." Chris Dodge 2005 Utne Reader.

Let me tell you something about all that reading I have done. It has seriously fucked up my life.

This dawned on me as I was watching television. Why am I watching this, I asked myself. Then I answered: I am watching an imagined form wherein nobody is working, or paying bills, or standing in lines to windows that redirect them to other windows. Television and Film - multi sensory expansion on the basic story. Yes, people in stories do have jobs and often struggle with the banalities of life, but they are not engaged in those when we read or watch them, and they are struggling with the banality itself rather than the actual banal processes of life. What wonders that does for these characters. It frees up their time and energy to struggle with the bigger questions or to protagonize against the banalities, or to totally engage their emotions on love,hate, futility, confusion, grandeur, etc.
If you are an astute reader you are ahead of me already. It seems that I have let myself believe that that is how life truly is. Obviously we can ignore that humming truth and live in the sphere of the mundane and vulgar like the other schmucks, but why - when the truth is right there so rich and pure? And what if the truth is a painful burden. It is the burden of the privileged, the illuminated!
I tell you that way is rule the way of the privileged. The privileged patricians and madmen. The real burden is the common one, unshedable and insufferable.

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken"

And I don't even buy this, even as I type it. No matter how much life shows otherwise. No matter how often the things I have let myself believe make my life and relationships untenable, I still won't let go.
Thank you books. I wish I could quit you.

01 April 2012

Life of Birds, random thoughts.

Gyokei Mochizuki

Birds fly.
Who has not dreamed this or wondered? What is shared in us that marvels at this potentiality we divested ourselves of so many millions of years ago. There were birds and there were mammals, and we have mostly gone our separate ways. We on the mundane ground, rational and plodding. They, in the heavens, climbing, soaring, diving, gliding.
The birds have an entire other force of nature to deal with, one that affects us only mundanely or in extremes. The cost to them is high. The must have hollow bones and feathers, must always maintain the flight systems - pruning, and most importantly must somehow strike balance between the energy needed to lose the earth and the weigh limits of doing so.
They do pay that cost and they are successful.

We live on a razor's edge of cost and benefit. I have always considered that 'the dismal science' was a suitable epithet for economics. Economists were pecuniary men struggling to understand and measure the ghost in the machine of our own making. Then there are economic philosophers reducing our experience to supply and demand, labor and production. Perhaps their limitation, or more likely my limitation, is assuming economics is a human driven affair.

There is much science lately on the connections between low caloric intake and longevity. Low calorie diet seems to blocks the enzymes that enhance cell death during metabolic stress. Cells, like engines, acquire energy by oxidizing fuels. It follows, somewhat, that a higher rate of consumption, through a complex system over time, will wear more quickly than a lower rate.

There is much debate over clean fuels and green energy. The reality is, if we wish to move fast and far, to fly and drive around, to lay wires and roads, then we will consume - burn and exhaust, like any engine. No amount of efficiency will eliminate that truth.

I am not saying we should not seek life and health, nor should we run rampant over the earth with our magnificent machines. I am only saying that we should know that everything, every movement, comes with cost. Then we will be able to measure the costs. We can be rapacious adventuring economists, we can be technologically wise economists. We can be glorious flying economists, we can be gentle restrained economists.

We will pass
birds will fly
the sun will burn

Anther opinion: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Jack London

12 March 2012


There's a bare spot in my yard
Where the weeds used to be
If you'd ask then I'd tell you
It looks pretty dead to me

Over Coffee today I looked out on my plot
Some things, they say, need to be pulled
I put in a long hard day, broke a sweat
and a couple of shovels along the way

At least it was a place of pure live things
They fought their fights and served their gods
Striving in chaos bent and sharp
I must admit I miss the green

In the raw soil chickens scratch around
Well now those hens have a place to feed
Though they take more care than those old weeds
I do love fresh eggs - warm and brown

09 February 2012

Things no one ever says when they are dying

It is typical for a person's thirties to be a period of labor and careerism. A period where the curse of Adam is experienced in full before mellowing into the more comfortable or less hope-full decade that follows. I am not atypical in that regard. What I have done differently is to try to live on the wisdom of my elders - not as advised but as collated and perceived.I have, over the years, internalized the aphorism: No one ever says, on their deathbed, "I wish I had spent more time at the office." Rather they say, "I wish I had spent more time with my family." Aside from the occasional exception, who can argue with that?

I have tried to take this deathbed wisdom and live my life accordingly. As in so many other things, it turns out I am a bit naive. Life is showing me that yes, I must prioritize labor and earning and collecting, as this serves my family who need the security and stability that I personally do not value so much.

So what gives with all those dying utterances? I don't doubt their veracity.

What has me pondering is the idea that you cannot learn a lesson early or without experience (my own idea or if not copyright, then independently arrived at). I have had this idea gnawing at me in the other direction as I have mourned the carefree young adulthood I did not experience as I set about early in family-making. That I know the vapid pleasures of the immediate, of the passion, of the appetite and of flesh will prove empty in their unsustainability and narcissism. That the short goals of the young and independent pale to the long goals of the more experienced who have wrapped their lives in the comfortable difficulties of a family. That art is the dull and impotent imitation of the recreation of self in a living lambent lineage (please don't attempt to convince otherwise - a lot of personal scaffolding rests on those assumptions). Though I know these things, it is knowledge without experience driving it, form without substance. Feels like paper knowledge.

So this wisdom from the future. Can I not live on this wisdom without the experience that drives it?

Well I spooled this thought out and wound it back in and then suddenly a new gold thread. Though the conditions of this statement are universal, the statement itself is not. Yes, folks do have to work more than they would like and spend time they would rather spend with their loved ones at tasks often mundane and in dull unnecessary competition. Yes economics is the dismal science, the study of the mud in the menial system we were born into. The people who speak of it are as dull as brick layers to me, but it is the system we are born into and good luck extricating yourself.
So work, labor, the indenture to capital is really just a vulgar tool for the actual job at hand, which is the taking care of and nurturing human life. Everyone must use this tool and with a family the more so. The lesson is already lived and therefore the pill not be taken less the bitterness proceed it. The bitterness and then the lesson are reserved for the people who follow certain worldly cues and supplant the motivation with undue ambition. The phrase is not for the person who must work when they would rather mete that time to the people they love. The phrase is for the people who confuse the tool with the task.
This is an aphorism I would have to experience to learn, because i have not yet created a need for the lesson, and hopefully never will.

note: I am not averse to working or careers, but the maintenance of certain comforts above what I require for the sake of normalcy, and also I resist systems I have no choice but to be a subject of (except physics).

Finally some quotes on work and money:

"Eating can be wonderful, but you also must digest and you must shit. There is nothing glamorous about shitting but good luck eating without it" - Me

"To desire money is much nobler than to desire success. Desiring money may mean desiring to return to your country, or marry the woman you love, or ransom your father from brigands. But desiring success must mean that you take an abstract pleasure in the unbrotherly act of distancing and disgracing other men." -G. K. Chesterton

21 January 2012

"I am losing the precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men." John Muir

Sometimes you really have to get out

I was watching the documentary on the National Parks which I highly recommend - primarily the first one. It really made a national hero of John Muir, in the way Whitman and Melville might be. It also made me tear up a whole unmentionable bunch. These are sensitive times.

It fed as a tributary into my larger flow of thought - examining my history in a random schema - collective the higher moments of my life, the moments laced with the sublime and fissured with the dazzling paralysis of the immediate.
Nature a recurrent theme in these times of me. I thought I might put a few of these places together and hopefully soon, the other moments - less about place perhaps and then more evanescent.
For now these:

Bahia de Conception, Baja de Sur, Mexico

When I was younger and May parents still together, we spent a few summers roadtripping down the Baja peninsula. There was no black ribbon of a highway then, and no spring break. Cabo San Lucas was a fishing town that drew only sports-fisherman and my uncle, who expatriated after the death of my Aunt and Cousin in a boating accident. My family, five of us at that time, would drive down in the VW camper and leisurely drive and camp down through the campesinos, deserts, checkpoints and oasis, spend some time at Land's End and speed back up in a straight twenty hours in time for some urgency of life. I could include any of countless places, but this was always a special place for my dad - and a bit of a secret for a while. The island would become an isthmus at low tide. The bay was warm and walkable for half a mile and filled with crabs and stingray and evening luminescence. Around the island was on a small reef where we snorkeled with sharks, angelfish and manta-rays.

Joshua Tree National Park, CA
I grew up in deserts and vacationed in deserts. I lived in the Sonora in my very youth (know for the Saguaro cactus)and then the Mojave (known for the Joshua Tree). We spent a lot of time at Joshua Tree National Park doing inexplicably dangerous things on the rocks out there. I was never a climber as such but we did pursue what we called boldering. It had two incarnations. The first is the traditional understanding of the term: making short technical ascents on the small faces of boulders - climbing where a fall doesn't kill you. The second was our own term for running at reckless speeds across the tops of boulder fields sightlessly finding the next step like hopped up mountain goats. I don't know how may parents allowed this. Nothing compares to a sunrise at Joshua Tree.

Havasupai Falls Indian Reservation, AZ
This is a trip I did with my Church Group that I think was ostensibly a father-son event, though not strictly. My father was not present at the time so my mom came on my first backpacking trip. We had an amazing time of it. Down into the red stoned ravine, a close relative of the Grand Canyon then a forced march to base camp along the gathering streams and pass the Indian Reservation Center. Following day a hike to the falls. There is, under the falls an underwater cavern that holds air called the Blue Room. It is not, however, under the falls pictured, but under some smaller ones further downriver. We made the same mistake and spent an hour trying to spelunk under that water in a human chain. The march out was a challenge and some of us went back and assisted the slower and older with their packs like hopped up mountain goats. It was a small coming of age for me.

Mendocino Woodlands State Park, CA
Family Camp! My wife took me here when we started dating and we have not stopped going each year and now My boys have grown up here and the joy of joys is how they just vanish in the woodline as kids are intended, emerging grubby and hungry and maybe see them, but probably not. Fierce in their independence.
Redwoods, creek swims, dorky songs, cold nights. warm days.
Most people who go are like a second extended family and I wish the people I love who have not gone would come.

Big Sur, CA
I convinced my wife to get married here, at the Henry Miller library. Our wedding was actually enjoyable and filled with meanings of our choosing. The after-party was legendary. This has that memory and an earlier one. Some rare unburdened time in my life as I road tripped as I moved to the Bay from the desert without constraint of time or other. I took my VW bug all highways and turned the drive from seven hours to fourteen. It was as a drive that spanned time and gave me California through a chalice of memories - Bakersfield oil derricks, abandoned PCH mansions, and my then literary hero's final abode.
Listen To Beach Boys' Holland.

National Elk Refuge & the Grand Tetons
This photo is pretty much (but not as nice as) the view from out campsite. On our honeymoon we drove through Jackson during the annual chili cook-off and the antler festival. We went through the elk-refuse and camped out on a bluff in National Forest land. There was still snow on the ground. The view is it.

Yellowstone National Park, WY
Can you believe this is the picture I used? Go find your own awesome picture of Yellowstone. There are too many to choose. This is Gardener River Bridge. Under this side of the bridge on the far side of the river are two locks locked together and to the bridge. I put them there and if you see them you might recognize the initials.
Yellowstone was mind-altering. No photo does it justice. The colors are just more intense. The greens are different than greens should be. The animals have a contentment of living in a geothermal basin. We went hunting for wolves before dawn. We grew bored with bison and elk and then amazed and fascinated again. I am aquiver in reminiscence.

Tressel Bridge, Henry Cowell State Park, CA
This coming weekend, My eldest son an I are going on his first backpacking trip. Looking for good photos, I found this one and realized I had been there before on a Church trip that included SF and Alcatraz, Hearst Castle and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk!
The train was not running but we climbed this bridge. I am sure I will be able to include our coming trip to this list

It is also worth noting that military bases act as kinds of reserves. They are generally far flung and the regulations regarding their treatment are pretty severe. The following are places my enlistment has had me see:

Fort Jackson, South Carolina
Basic Training in a Southern August. At least I've seen a carolina Pine forest!+

Mubarak Military City, Egypt
Operation Brightstar 2008 held literally in BFE. See the pyramids. I did, in Cairo - a cosmopolitan city for four thousand years.

Puget Sound as seen from Fort Lewis WA
At NCO school this was the sight I got to see during my Land Navigation test. It actually surprised me to almost fall in it through some brush. I passed the test.

Fort Bliss TX (at New Mexico and Mexico Border), Near Franklin Mountain State Park
Sky for miles, blue on red. And thunderstorms like they should be. We were conducting pipeline training with Jet Fuel so the storm put the kibosh on that.

Spangdahlem Air Base Germany - Black forest
Brief layover returning from Egypt. Got some chance to wander about like a fairy tale creature. Do you know the route from Europe to the US goes over Greenland? We did it in the unpressurized cargo section of a C130. cold man.

10 January 2012

Zeno's second paradox or my $60 cup of coffee

"anything but the bottom step of the ladder, it keeps getting higher and higher. Dawn comes soon enough for the working class, it keeps getting sooner or later. This is the game that moves as you play. How does it feel, how does it feel?" - X

I got a traffic ticket a while back. Nothing important, failure to yield and registration. Scheduled a date to appear - show proof. Correction cuts the fine in half. Well that appointment got lost in the shuffle, which apparently upsets the court to the tune of three hundred. I thought I might go on down and plea for lenience since no one was interested in hearing me through the phone. Of course they are only available through business hours, but I am fortunate to have a malleable schedule. The fellow in front of me has a similar problem, yet more exaggerated - a $25 dollar ticket has somehow managed to inflate to $1200. We both figure we can make an honest presentation to the court and pay more reasonable fees. Turns out, the court will not see you until you pay the fee in its entirety...got that. Then what are they going to do? Give it back?
I'm making installments.

Previous to this bucolic bureaucratic experience, I had though to splurge on a cup of coffee (get that - splurge). So I get through my first cup and figure its about time to feed the meter, but first the bathroom and when I return, lo and amazement - a parking ticket. 58 dollars.

Thats all prologue, because as much as all this inconveniences me and my family in our effort to climb out of our socioeconomic status, to surmount that lip of stability that comes from our particular circumstance, ability and life-choices - as much as it helps us maintain the current uncomfortable state of our finances - how is this system engaging those less fortunate. Or even those less able to make the wise life choices which I am so capable?
Consider someone making minimum wage, not to mention those making a more reasonable wage (say $15 an hour, working regular business hours full time as some of my former college educated coworkers did) What can this type of situation do to them?
What if you cannot get off work. What if you can and you lose that pay? What if you cant afford to pay and lose your privilege to drive? What if that's how you earn your income, or now you have to take public transit which adds an hour to your commute both ways? What if you have children in childcare and now have no practical way to pick them up and what does it matter because those extra two hours a day just pushed the cost benefit of childcare/work below water? et.al.

Zeno's second paradox is a situation where Hercules, starting after the tortoise, will never be able to catch it, as he must always travel 1/2 the distance before he can travel the whole, and each half will have its own half unto infinity.
The working person at the bottom, looking up, will find the incline forever and increasingly precipitous as they approach that point of stabilty.

08 January 2012

Bible - the return

About two thirds of the way through the old testament, which could use some judicious editing, for content and redundancy.
According to my New American Bible: Catholic Mission Edition, Job is the first of the "wisdom books: which will also include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Wisdom and Sirach. (the last two are excluded in protestant bibles so I have not read them, same as the two Maccabees)

It is interesting that I randomly pick it up again after a bit of a hiatus - the Maccabees were like an overly violent film with unlikeable protagonists. I had to take a break.

Interesting because of the following day's Melvillian tone. Moby Dick concludes with Ishmael quoting of the book of Job to describe himself.


Sunday with Melville

My wife left this morning. The baby and I roused ourselves early and went to get the children from my ex. Her partner was outside loading their car. He is a big guy. He knows this and uses it. I am directed inside. Its not my weekend. It’s the wrong day. I am not supposed to be there - a healthy interaction. I drove away directionless. Empty plan-less home. I drive us to church.
She left on a retreat, nothing official, just her and a friend. She planned this trip and then I was informed. Of course I don’t have a problem with it. It is a healthy idea. We have been having our problems. That happens, right? Normal. I didn’t think having a partner would be this difficult. Maybe partner is the wrong word. I should think of a different word, one that works.
My ex has been friendlier than I am accustomed. I get two days a week with the boys. Or they get two days a week with me. It is about their experience rather than mine. Except, they do not spend the first weekend of the month with me. It was decided they required a full weekend with their mom. I would rather they spend more time with us. I have to pay her support for the discrepancy.
We get to church and I take the baby to Sunday school. I walk into a lecture underway on Moby Dick. Captain Ahab represents totalitarianism. Is totalitarianism immortal or not? The preacher in the book sermonizes on spiritual subjectivism. He is played by Orson Wells in the film. He takes questions. Is subjectivism of myth antagonistic to the objectivism of subjective history as agreed upon? Is Melville a Jungian profit of modern geopolitical upheaval? I am disoriented and cannot find the thread of the conversation. I read Moby Dick last year. We leave quickly.

We went on a bike ride with the baby in the trailer. Bring the dog. Pick up some groceries and beer. The full moon rises over the peak. The sun sets over the bridge. We are going to dinner tonight. We are representing our family.