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CL. 2 February 2005, Pinole, CA

The third night in a row of vivid, archetypal dreams. Last night, a Tantric assassin god to be evaded and avoided. Oddly, this eight-armed assassin god was under the control of a bad guy, and had no will of his own. He was a force to be unleashed to destroy. We found ways to trick him and escape, more than once.

The dream later morphed into a rehearsal/performance of Ladrang Wesmester, that Javanese gamelan slendro piece inspired by Big Ben. The chimes of the belltower played on the sarong. I was playing in the ensemble, not leading it. It was also an arrangement, not the pure original Javanese piece.

I plan to go into the City today, ride the BART, look around. Yesterday I got mired in mind-drama about money, work, etc., and today I need to change tactics, get a fresh look, a new perspective. Do some exploring, look around, test the waters. Whatever I find will be whatever I find.


We took BART in, and I walked up Nob Hill from the financial district. I wanted to walk the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral today, so that was my goal. I walked a long way around, to avoid the steepest hills. So, I arrived from the rear of the Cathedral, and entered on the south side. The weather this whole week has been clear and warm, around 70 today. From the high hills, you could see for miles in all directions. The city to the south, the coastal range to the east and north of the city itself. The vehicles moving across the Oakland Bay Bridge.

The light inside the Cathedral clear and bright. The usual hush in there. A man with his arm in a sling just finishing walking the indoor Labyrinth, and struggling to put his shoes back on. I spent time taking photos of the light coming through the stained glass windows and striking the columns and floors, then I went into the AIDS Interfaith Chapel off to the side. But my real goal was the outdoor Labyrinth.

Walking in, the process of clearing and releasing. This area in shadow, the sun bouncing off the taller buildings across the square.

The first close brush to the Center, then the long wind away. On the outermost ring: I’ve been here before, this distance, this isolation and outer dark. Then the spin inwards. It seems to be going so much faster than usual. I’m here, now, as You asked. I nee help from You. I can’t do it alone; I tried it that way, and it didn’t work. I need Your help to make this work. The turn away to the outermost ring: when you feel farthest away, you are only two turns from the Center, the Arrival, Union.

In the scalloped ring of the mind of god: I pray. I feel, however briefly, connected. I am heard, here. Peace, that unexpected, tremulous moment, enters my heart. There are things here too private to repeat. Agreements and consolations between me and the Powers That Be. My hands filled with power, heat, and light. This lasts a long, long time. Raising power, building light columns in places where they’re needed. Easy, now; effortless giving.

On the walk out, again, so quickly. The return to the mundane, the ordinary. You want it to linger, this suffused tranquility, this no-mind cessation.

I go into the gift store and drool over Labyrinth items I can’t afford right now. Get an ice cream bar and walk back down the hill towards the financial district. Down California St. to Chinatown on Grant St., then over to the gallery district and back to the Embarcadero. Everywhere bright sunlight reflecting off the tall Modernist glass and steel buildings. I take photos everywhere I go. Beyond the canyons of the skyscrapers, the open sky, the distant hills, the Bay, the ocean, bridges between.

A couple of other NAMM moments I remembered later:

• Giving directions on how to get to a booth to Ozzy Osbourne. Looking a little lost, there, Ozzy, Told him where to go, he thanked me, I wished him luck. (I later heard that Ozzy had sat in on one of the evening drum circles, and apparently had a good time.) Nice guy, actually.

• NAMM swag: those little giveaway items you get at trade shows, which can become great fun to hunt down, collect, and which can also become hot items during the show. The coolest swag I got was a little magnetic, battery-powered flashy-light thingie from Pignose. They make those cool little portable amps, the Pignose, the larger Hognose, a few other things. Some metal guitar picks from Icepix. My Viking raid on the software section. Bob Moog’s autograph. Yippie yi ki yay.

CXLIX. 31 January 2005, Pinole, CA

It’s wintermind settling in. I don’t care if I’m in sunny California, or that it’s in the mid-50s outside instead of snow-covered and ten below. I don’t care that the light here is brighter, the sun still hangs lower in the clear winter sky, and the days are still shorter.

I go through this every winter: this urge to huddle inside, and get introspective. I write about death, and reassess everything about life. Winter is the time I create a lot of new art, huddled by the digital campfire. It’s the time for going within, and searching the cave of the self. No wonder the arches and gates are calling this week. No wonder I feel like going back to the Grand Canyon, and jumping in.

Wintermind. The old adversary. Nothing new about it. Same old same old. I pull back to read an old poem or two I had written some time ago: and re-read. Things to match this wintermind mood.

Shadows move on the hill: the beating of crow’s wings. A turn into the cave depth, spelunking the soul’s course through sudden night.

I spent more time thinking about the dream today, plus got some feedback from friends: and determined it’s not hubris. It’s the work that matters, neither the accolades nor the vilification. Doing the work is what really matters, not caring what people think about you as you do it. In the end, even though listening to constructive criticism is useful, it is only we who can validate our own accomplishments and our own self-worth. Validation does not require vindication, as nice as it can be. I don’t need to be in the right about it all; being invisible when doing the work doesn’t require getting noticed enough to even be questioned as to right or wrong.

All along the shoreline, walking on the beach at Pescadero in the hot sun and chilling sea wind, gulls flying over me constantly, brushing me every one with their shadows. They all touched me with their shadows: shadow of flight. Let the soul take wing. Remember to fly. A tap on the shoulder about soaring above the fray. A reminder to release the bogged down cares of the daily grind, and fly up. Freedom in flight: the brush of wings.

CXLVIII. 31 January 2005, Pinole, CA

Intense and powerful dreams last night. I am part of a large crowd gathered in a building in a rural place to enact ritual. Except that in their eyes everything I do is wrong. I am constantly being mocked or attacked for my style of doing things, and told I don’t fit in and I’m weird. I take it calmly for awhile, but my anger is building. Eventually, some incident annoys me enough that I begin to gather my books and tools, ready to leave. It’s an incident in which I actually let my anger show briefly, and of course, expressing my anger is also seen as something to vilify. Two men confront me as I do this, wanting to take me aside and talk me out of it, but they are as condescending as everyone else. I have had enough. I let out the truth of my perceptions: that this is a gathering of snarling puppies with no conscious direction of power, and only shadow expressions.

I put up my shields, push the two men away–they were physically crowding me into a corner, and I shove them away with pure force–and grasp at all the power in the region. I take all the power in this entire area and damp it down, stream it back to the Source, lock it down. So, even if anyone here does do an effective ritual, which I doubt, they will have no power to draw on. It will just be words, no actions.

I am too angry to know who knows my power and purpose anymore. I need a pitcher for water: I teleport it away from someone’s hands, leaving the liquid in it hanging there in the air; later, I return the pitcher by walking up to the liquid still hanging in the air, letting it fall back into the pitcher, and handing the pitcher, now full, to the guy who had been holding it before. I step to the center of the space, push away everyone around me, and build a visible Column of Light. I set out to create the energetic form of abundance and benevolence that the ritual had been intended to do. Then I let it hang there, in its sublime beauty, for all to see, and stare around the circle, defiant. Without saying a word, I let them know that, this is how it’s done, folks, and so much for your expectations and mockeries of someone you really knew nothing about.

I am doing shameless, show-offy displays of power, but I don’t care anymore: I’m too pissed off, and these idiots need to be taught a lesson. I can blame them by saying they pushed me into it with their earlier actions, but the truth is I’m just plain annoyed. I will do what needs to be dome, here and now, and not care if anyone sees it. I usually work invisibly, but on this occasion, I’m too angry.

Later, seen change, after taking all my books and tools and putting them in my pack, and after having left: it is at the end of a war, sometime later. I have just brought back my entire squad of 15 men, against orders, intact, having accomplished a mission with no losses, but having done it my way, against orders. So, I get my men settled in, then go to write in my journal. I get spiffed up in my tent and come back to present myself to the commanders, expecting to be arrested. Instead, I am made into some sort of hero. Faces in the crowd of enlisted men are those who were at that ritual gathering in the earlier dream sequence.

I am as suspicious of the accolades as I was of the mockery: I see these people as fickle, and untrustworthy. One day they vilify, the next they applaud. They can keep both, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want either. I did my job, albeit my own way, and I don’t care if they’re apparently on my side, or not. It’s all just bullshit.

I woke up, having slept longer than usual, washed clean of anger for the moment. This dream feels significant: some lesson was accomplished. It was more vivid, detailed, and precise than even my usual lucid dreams. A message-dream, perhaps. Not a warning: no, it had the emotional resonance of vindication. In the dream, instead of feeling frustrated as I sometimes do, all through it I felt the rightness of my convictions and my actions, against all odds and social pressures. I was right, and I knew it.

Now, I know it was only a dream. But one of the issues that has been up for me lately, in the words of a friend, is that I am often too humble, and lacking self-esteem. My birth Tribe would warn me against hubris if I even raised my hand to go to the bathroom. I’m still learning what self-worth and self-esteem are good for, in my waking life. So, I can take this dream and dismiss it as hubris, which is what I was taught to do. Or, instead, I can take it as validation. Sometimes I do know I am right, against all odds and social pressures; where I get into trouble is second-guessing my intuition and my convictions. Where we prostitute ourselves, where we sell ourselves, is where we need to watch out for this dynamic. In the dream, I never sold myself, I never gave up, and in the end, I was proven right. Being proven right is a much more rare experience in the muddle and chaos of daily, waking life. I choose to let the dream be a reminder, a support, a validation: not that I am hubristically Always Right, because I am not; rather, that when I trust my intuition I can work to make the world a finer place, regardless. A fine balance.


I've been in a no-bullshit mood all day. It's good for getting things done. I've spent most of the day prepping for job-hunting by doing file management and organizing my portfolio materials. I'll be at it till I got to bed, later. That pissed off mood lasted from the dream throughout the day: no surprise. Been listening today to mostly art-punk and industrial music, like Low Pop Suicide and Hanzel + Gretyl. Angry beats to fuel productivity.

I keep coming back to the spirit of the place, genius loci, of the archway at Pescadero. A touchstone place for me. How to make this part of my daily life. How to keep in dreamtime even while dealing with the mundane: all levels kept afloat, all chakras open, at the same time.

CXLVII. 30 January 2005, Pinole, CA

The last two days here glorious sunny weather, The nights clear and cool, with stars above. Laying naked in the hot tub tonight, soaking my sore calves and knees and feet, looking up at Orion, the Pleiades as clear as you ever see them in the city. I was feeling a little down earlier, till I talked some stuff out with Sage, and the stars were doing their usual thing of not staying in place, but moving around, making new constellations.

We drove down the coast to Pescadero for the afternoon today, and spent most of the afternoon walking on the beach. I climbed down alone, in the end, to the arch again. Every time I go down there, it’s magickal, and I always seem to be there alone.

The tide was very much in today. Waves bored and surged through the arch and slammed up the channel to where the slime-covered rocks met the river’s outflow. Waves curled around the side of the cliffs, and sometimes all three water surges met fiercely against the stone. The rocks wet and loose after the rain earlier this week. Climbing down, I knocked loose some soft chunks from the gully sides where I have climbed down each time. I walked carefully over the wet stones to where I could see the arch, not too close with the tide in, and stood only inches above the surging waves in the channel.

When the three water forces did their dance, the water lapped right up next to me, booming so loudly I was startled and felt the pound through the soles of my feet. I almost jumped, once or twice. A test of staying grounded and secure, and not letting the moment’s surge of fear unroot you, and cast you loose: the real test of it. Approximate climax of heartbeat and silence.

  dance of gull above cliff
and surge of wave below

arguing about the grass, the spin,
the tidewaters bloom against sun and sand

seals stalk sun on their rocks offshore,
lifting head and tail when wavesurge
overmatches their anchorages

I need to breathe this timelessness,
make it a place in my shoes
that I can always walk beside

constant winds make shouting
waves into spray that coats my skin, my hair,
my being, a layer of gypsum and silt

how did we achieve this dead reckoning,
the astrolabe of the sea, a sextant of gulls

I go back to the sea, I go in by this archway:
worlds open beneath my feet

CXLVI. 28 January 2005, Pinole, CA

I’ve been, today, well, not down, exactly, but rather introspective. I had a date last night that ended in sex in my truck in the parking lot outside the restaurant: not entirely satisfying, and contextually risky, and, well, he got off and I didn’t, which doesn’t satisfy me, overall. It wasn’t bad, it was good: but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, or envisioned, or hope for in the long term. There is no blame and no judgment, but I wonder if indeed I will hear from him again. Only time will tell. Only time.

I continue to think about what to do next. A little mind-drama about money, my usual thing when my account balance drops below a certain level. I am learning to trust that the next bit of money I need to survive will arrive, but I never know where it’s coming from, or when. Sometimes the timing sucks, and I get pointless overdraft charges on my checking account, which wastes time and resources. Not that anyone at the bank cares. Sometimes I get caught in a little familiar Victim drama about it. I am still learning how to deal with all that: it’s a lifetime project. I clear and release it, as it comes up, at least once a day.

Drove to the city dump today with a load of dead computer trash. Toxic mud everywhere after last night’s torrential rains, which I slept through but which left the ground wet all day. Not the best smelling place on earth, but a great view of the Bay from on top of the hill. Tall clouds building all around us, threatening more heavy rain tonight. Gulls everywhere: dirty rats with wings, feeding off dump scraps. Not the healthiest environment to live in: but this is a big-city Bay, after all, and environmental concerns are still relatively young. And we took the truck through an auto-wash afterwards, which wiped it clean of dust that was probably still clinging on it from New Mexico.

Physical aggression to take the edge off: moving boxes around, organizing. Beat the heck out of my long-abused old carpets, to get the dust of Minnesota camping and New Mexico out of them. Then vacuumed one of them and put on the floor of my room, to keep feet warm when walking barefoot at night. Lots of dust shaken loose to sow over my new pants and boots, red earth shed of past adventures. Knock the heck out of the past, leave it behind, move on: nothing but the Now exists. The past is as malleable as the future. Behind-memory and ahead-memory not really any different.

I wish I was at the Grand Canyon today. It would only be a couple days’ drive. Tempting. Even a day at Pescadero would help this mood. Maybe Sunday, weather permitting, we could go to the ocean for the afternoon.


I talked some of my mood out with a good friend on the phone, then did some clearing and releasing. Then I went out to the hot tub and lay in the hot water and steam for some time. The sky is cloudless and clear tonight. Lying on my back, naked, floating in the jets of water, Orion and Sirius shone above, and other bright stars. Even the city glow cannot block these, my companions, my guides, my soul. I am never alone when I can see the stars.

CXLV. 28 January 2005, Pinole, CA

I just read an interesting article by Jody Diamond, titled There Is No They There. Jody is one of the founders of the American Gamelan Institute at Dartmouth, a composer as well as ethnomusicologist, and an acquaintance. This article starts with the premise that "world music" is a dangerous idea, and goes on from there. One of the conceptual holdovers from the colonial era, still found in academia, is the distinction between "us" and "them:" they are the people around the world that we go to study and write about. Jody's article takes on and subverts the whole practice of academic fieldwork. Fascinating to think about.

The article can be found at: There Is No They There

Other articles by Jody are at: Writings

Now, as a Stick player whose playing is heavily influenced by non-Western musics, this topic was important for me to be reminded of. It echoes a lot of the way I think about music, but goes further, to end with a manifesto, vis:

1. Extend the same rights to everyone that would be demanded or expected for oneself. Follow the Golden Rule.
2. Be aware of one's own depth of knowledge and skill. Assume that same depth in all people.
3. Accept the truth. See what is, not what might be in a romanticized cultural fantasy.
4. Identify and work with counterparts: musicians, scholars, writers, students.
5. Have an identity. Interact as well as observe.
6. Avoid the "they" words: primitive, authentic, traditional, untouched, exotic.
7. Name names. Ask for names. Give everyone the choice of being named.
8. Avoid distinctions and assumptions when they are not useful or relevant: West vs. East, traditional vs. contemporary, intellectual vs. spiritual, industrialized world vs. third world, art vs. craft, we vs. they.
9. Share and distribute information in a form that will be useful to all concerned. Publish in two languages whenever possible, that of the "gatherer" and the "gathered."
10. Seek opportunities for mutual benefit: share money, co-author articles, give credit whenever possible, lend out equipment, participate in local research projects.

I find points 6, 8 and 9 to be fascinatingly relevant. Having just been at NAMM, and thinking about all that I saw there–it will take me weeks to integrate all of it–I recall wandering over to the Remo booth, and tapping on some of the frame drums. (There's a Layne Redmond signature Remo riq I want to get someday.) The second time I wandered over there, there was a black woman with a Caribbean accent wailing away on the tambourines, looking for just the right one. One of the Remo dealers was helping her out, and I stopped to listen. I liked what she was doing, very forceful, and a style of playing I didn't know. One of the other Remo people with (I think) a Brazilian name, was also watching, and we traded appreciative smiles as we watched. So, who, in this instance, was "we" and who was "they"? It was a real moment of cultural blending, nothing at all hierarchical about it. Just musicians appreciating other musicians. NAMM was full of those sorts of moments.

The act at Stick Nite–which was full of brilliant musicianship and kept me listening deeply throughout–the act at Stick Nite that cleaned out my ears and blew me away, though, was Nima and Merge: Nima Rezai on Stick, with soprano/tenor sax and drums. They played originals and arrangements of East European and Middle-Eastern music, run through the blender of prog jazz/rock experimentation. Like nothing you've ever heard before. I highly recommend their Live in London CD. The closest to anything like this I've encountered before was Critters Buggin', from the Seattle area, or 3 Mustaphas 3, from London. I'm not interested in comparisons, just locating influences. Influences in this case come from (here are those "they" words) traditional, non-Western musical cultures.

One of those "dead white guy" academic professors, Harold Bloom, published a book of literary criticism in 1973 titled "The Anxiety of Influence." The premise of the book is that all poetry is influenced by older poetry. Thus, the search for literary originality is what causes extremist experimentalism, and poetic mannerism, in writing, which in the eyes of the writer, who is a very conservative canon-centered academic, creates nothing worth reading. Rather, he encourages us to embrace the influences of past literary giants, and feel less anxious about being totally original. (I am far from a Bloom fan or follower; usually I think he's a reactionary at best, and a curmudgeon at worst. For a perhaps more objective review of this book, by Dan Geddes, click here. For an article applying Bloom's ideas to modern concert music, click here.)

Although I tend to side with the progressives rather than the conservatives in creative fields, there is a valid point to be made here: the drive to be totally original can produce self-limiting creativity. If you're going to be an eccentric musician, let it emerge inherently from within, from your need to explore, not from a need just to be different or original. I find myself, often enough, being musically different whether I choose to be or not: a product, perhaps, of background as well as of interests.

How do we, as Stick players, search for originality? Arthur C. Clarke once said that eliminating long distance toll charges would change the world: and email has done that. I have email friends from many locations within the global community, and collaborated with a number of them to help create the Frames Without Borders CD (produced by the Yahoo FrameDrummers group, a double CD set of original music from literally everywhere)–one of whom I've ever met in person. (I contributed two tracks and some CD artwork.) Where is the "they" here, or are we not all "we"?

CXLIV. 26 January 2005, Pinole, CA

When I was at Pescadero a couple of days ago, climbing down the sandstone and siltstone and loose conglomerate cliffs to get to the Gateway there, I was all alone. No one else was around the whole time. I had subjective hours for my exploring. Time shifts in these places. An hour takes a day. Things move slower, and more smoothly. You get into that space where your mind clears and empties, and you lose your sense of self. Those chattering inner voices shut up, for awhile at least. It’s sacred space.

This is the portal to your inner self. Nothing here but Dragons and shaping sands. What rocks are carved from this sill, are the rocks that carve your name into the time of sands and shaping. The shaping of spirit into flesh, into spirit. Emptiness is light, is emptiness, is light. This is the poetry of sand, wind, surf, and time: erosion bringing out the sculpture intended to be arced into light and silence. The silence here of gull cry and wave, the silence of mind into water. The time it takes to shape this stone into air is the time it takes to reshape yourself into light: rebirth, reincarnate, resource, reanimation. What animates your life is what makes it worth living: passion, joy, terror, the numinous, the sacred. Little else to live for. I can’t go back to the mundane: I have to follow this track now, to wherever it leaves.

As I was walking up to the edge of the arch, taking many photos, just as I felt ready to leave–the tide was starting to come in, and it was time to find a way to climb out of there–I looked down and there, before me, a gift, was a dreamstone. A dreamstone is a stone that has a natural hole made in it by weathering. Folklore tells of how keeping a dreamstone hear your bedside helps you be safe at night, while wandering in the Dreaming. Your dreamw will change, and become both more powerful and more archetypal. They will also be protected. It’s like a Gateway itself. This dreamstone had one large hole bored through it, and a smaller hole in the side of the main hole. A double dreamstone. A stone of power. Of gifts and dreams and auguries and sacred places.

This was a gift I can only say I am grateful for: because I don’t have enough words to say what I feel. There is more here, more history, more myth, than I can get into right now. Too many layers of significance.

The godz continue to give me tools, even after I have so many. I accept. My only worry is my own worthiness, which I continue to have doubts about. (Working on that, folks.) All I can say here is: Thank You. So mote it be.

symmetries of air and sandstone: weathered fringe of timelessness.
great hawks of restless wandering. tall whisper in the cylinder of aspect.
scintillation of silent questions: warnings before the taking of choice.
you wander again: that empty place, filling with breath and pained light.
a roadside rest: dim memory of clearings, under siege. advancement of destined.

I fill it with soul: waves of gulls rise
to skyfather, attitude of sun on sea.

nothing to be done: this portal, opened,
alight, filled with nothing but stars
and acceleration. I had a dream;

it burnt in my hand. two holes in what once
was seafloor to guide my dreaming.
the dream was of broken teeth and wasted effort.
it filled me, and the portal

across an envelope of tunnel vision
pelicans fly, small dots in the wiry firmament:
too close to lean into, too far to snow from the air.
symbols of freedom, bird wings and sunlight.

I had every intention of dying here.
instead: liberation.

CXLIII. 26 January 2005, Pinole, CA

How’s this for decadence: You’ve heard of breakfast in bed? We have WiFi here at this house in Pinole, so I’m lying bed naked, still wrapped in warm blankets, writing. I don’t even have to get up to write. Talk about sybaritic luxuriousness!


I slept in late, for the first time in recent memory. I woke up at dawn, as usual, then went back to bed and slept long a interval more.

I plan to post some personal ads, now that I’m here. But they’ll be different, more literary, a little unusual. One will be a list of sexual preferences. Another will be that Borgesian piece I wrote here before. Another a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred piece of who I am and what I am looking for. Personal ads are usually such lies: I intend to be honest. See whatever that gets me.

However do two adult men, both all grown up now, both set in their ways, and at least one of them usually still full of the guilt and shame that most gay men carry throughout their lives, ever get together? How do they make it work? Is it even possible? We all carry such internalized self-hatreds, from all the shame and hatred of our upbringings. Maybe that will be alleviated in a generation or two–although that battle to deny us and suppress is still going on–that it will someday be a non-issue. That’s all I work for: to make all of this crap into No Big Deal.

In truth, boys: liberation begins with self-acceptance, against all odds. Just when I think I’ve achieved a measure of that, I discover another layer to clear and release. Things still there from my childhood to undo. There is an undo button. You can make it never happened. Dragons are all about memory, and its transformation; both ahead-memory and past-memory. They are equally malleable. That is the truth.

Even here, I am camping out. Things remain turbulent, in transition. I will move things off the truck and into the garage, temporarily. It’s a stage, not a home. I commit to being here in California. I commit to making it work. Every day, if I have to, I will re-commit. I want it to work. So far, contrary to Taos, all the signs and portents have been welcoming and supportive, so far. I remove the roadblocks of own creation, and things happen smoothly and easily. I May have to keep shedding those roadb locks that I cause to manifest, but I am detemined, so shed them I will. So mote it be.

Later still:

Spent much of the day cleaning the room, and emptying out the truck, and doing electrical stuff around the house. A productive day, actually. I have moved a lot of my stuff into the room already. It won’t take more than another day or two to arrange things to my satisfaction, at least for now. The room here is more than twice the size of the camper, so space is not an issue. Lots of storage. A little chilly at night, but I still have all my wool blankets. They need a visit to the laundromat in some cases, but that’s easily remedied.

To be continued.

CXLII. 25 January 2005, Pinole, CA

I’ve come home.

That was what I was thinking as I drove up coastal Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco today. The day began in fog, and ended in fog. There was thick soup in the central valley, where I had stopped for the night, sleeping in the truck at a rest stop on Highway 5. We had finished up with NAMM, then gone out for dinner, and I felt like driving out of the LA metro area before stopping for the night. Full moonlight and stars in the hills became a curtain of fog coming into the valley. This morning, I woke up, and it was still thick fog. As I drove towards Paso Robles and the coast, though, the fog rolled back like a curtain and there was clear blue sky most of the day.

I stopped once to take a nap near Big Sur, and have an emotional meltdown, by the way, but I mostly drove all day. The sunlight felt good. I bought some groceries in Paso Robles, then ate out of the cooler once or twice while driving. The only long stop I did was at Pescadero State Park, just south of Half Moon Bay, to take some time for myself. Time to heal.

I had been feeling wonderful all during NAMM and dinner and everything else, and horrible after I started driving, and my mood most of the day was dark. At Pescadero, which is becoming a favorite place, I stopped to feel the wind. There were sea lions basking on an island just offshore, away from the high surf, and gulls working the beach. I risked life and limb to climb over slicked rocks and barnacles and seagrass, to take photos of that archway under the promontory. A very magical place. The tide was out, and the winter storms had scoured away the sand that had been present last time I was here, leaving rivulet channels running through seagrass-slick boulders weathered smooth and dangerous to walk on. I only almost fell once, although my knees and ankles and complaining tonight. (To the hot tub, Batman!)

Thinking about the archetypes of survival: saboteur, prostitute, child, victim: and the messages they give us, and how they give us the messages. I saw a total of ten hawks in trees by the roadside this morning, before I hit the emotional wall and started crying. Ten is the most I’ve ever seen in one day’s drive: They were shouting, I guess. I feel wrung out, now, but cleaner, and more determined than ever to grow up and get on with life.

It’s still not just about getting a job, though. It’s about right livelihood. It’s also about more than just a job, as I’ve said: it’s about creating a life worth living again, something beyond mere survival or simply paying the bills. It could still take months. It could all come to fruition instantly. I have no idea, and I killed several expectations today. Temporarily, at least; sometimes they re-emerge when you least expect them.

NAMM was intense. It was wonderful, and terrific, and inspiring, and overwhelming, and overstimulating, and exhausting and excellent. I got to play Stick in the SE booth a little on Sunday, which I only realized had intimidated me afterwards: serious exposure there, folks. I got many excellent photos of some top-flight Stick players at the booth, and in concert at Stick Nite in Hollywood on Friday. Some of those will eventually be up on the SE website, perhaps.

I also wandered over to the synthesizer and software area of the convention on Saturday, and there was Robert Moog signing autographs. So, I got in line, and I now have a signed photo of Bob Moog. This will get framed and up on the wall very soon. One of my heroes. Speaking of which, I also became semi-official photographer for SE for this year’s NAMM, and was pleased to be able to take literally hundreds of photos. Tony Levin dropped by the booth to be photographed with Emmett, and the rest of the gang, too.

Another one of my heroes, Emmett Chapman, who invented the instrument I play, the Stick, is someone to whom I feel a great deal of gratitude, along with his wife Yuta, for letting me be part of all this at NAMM this year. I am also grateful to Greg Howard, Jim Reilly, Vance Gloster, Bob Culbertson, Don Schiff, Tom Griesgraber, Steve and Fran Adelson, Mark Smart, and literally dozens of others, for this experience. Old friends, new friends. Thanks to each and every one for fun and merriment, and excellent music.

One thing you notice about NAMM. It’s not just commercialism and networking, it’s also community-building. I had several great talks with people, both friends and strangers, both at the convention center, and over dinner, as well as just wandering around. People come to the Stick booth more than once, and you get to know them, talking to them over several days. I also went off to search out fun new musical technology, and made some pleasant discoveries. On Sunday afternoon, I also staged a Viking raid on the software section, acquiring every software demo CD or sampler of music software I could get my hands on. Not all of them will become useful to me, but some of them are very cool indeed.

Lots of other good stuff. Too much to relate right now, but almost all of it extremely good. It will take awhile to integrate it all.

Just added 4 February 2005: The latest issue of Stick Enterprises' StickNews on the web features numerous photos and videos from the 2005 NAMM show in Los Angeles, in late January 2005. This is a highlight of the year for Stick players in general, and was a major thrill for me to be there. The following StickNews items, by Jim Reilly, are laced through with photos and videos by yours truly. Thanks to SE and everyone involved for letting me be there to capture it all!


NAMM 2005

Stick Nite in Hollywood

CXLI. 20 January 2005, Anaheim, CA

Drove across the Mojave Desert yesterday, through Barstow and down to the Los Angeles metro. Just as I was running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, Ludlow appeared, with a couple of gas stations and a Dairy Queen, twenty or more miles from anywhere. The miles can seem a lot longer than they are, when you’re running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

The Mojave is the southern end of the Basin & Range, and almost as isolated as central Nevada. Driving up the ranges, and down again, a little less amplitude this time, but my ears hurt again by the end of the day, from all the ups and down. Joshua trees and yucca in some terrains. A piebald mountain, two very different strata colors titled on end in the fault block that makes up these ranges: dark brown above, light tan below. I stopped at a rest stop, and again Raven was there, chatting. I walked around a little, took photos of the distant jagged hills.

This is the southern tip of the Big Empty. Death Valley just to the north of here, Joshua Tree National Monument over the hills to the south. Highway 40 is a lot busier road, though: I never felt as alone as on Highway 50, a few hundred miles to the north. Trucks going by constantly. The landscape vast and empty and beautiful, but the road far less isolated. The little towns along the way here thrive on the business of strangers, unlike those little places in Nevada which see mostly local business. Desert tourism: what a concept.

I arrived in the LA metro, and followed the highways till arrived in Anaheim. Finding the Convention Center was easy, the hotel almost as easy. Things are laid out in a big grid here. This is the Disney Zone: everything here is dominated by it. The sidewalks and streets along the Disney routes are wild with flowering greenery, a lush sub-tropical efflorescence. The hotel is about 3 miles from the Convention Center, though, so this morning I am contemplating walking or paying for parking; I hesitate to park on the street with the truck so fully loaded down. Nothing too valuable is exposed, and this hotel parking lot, since it’s enclosed, like a plaza, with just one access, and video monitored, feels safer than street parking. I think I might walk today, just to say I can, and then drive and park tomorrow.

I arrived early yesterday, having got such an early start. When I sleep outdoors, or in the truck, the sun always wakes me at dawn. Sometimes I can go back to sleep for awhile, sometimes I can’t. So, I got here between 2 and 3pm, drove around for awhile locating things, then checked into the hotel. I did some laundry here at the hotel, a little shopping at the dollar store across the street, and found a Goodwill a block away. Later, had dinner with friends here.

I need to burn off some of my CDs, and do some promo material. I wish now I had finished the DVD labels before leaving Chicago, but I’ll get to that soon. Worse comes to worse, I will design and print some promo materials tonight.

CXL. 19 January 2005, south of Kingman, AZ

Spent the night sleeping in the truck, in the last rest stop in AZ along Highway 40. No money for an inn. Happy fucking birthday. Actually, I slept pretty well, all things considered.

In the dawn light, revealed around me are high desert vistas with low hills in the distance and Joshua trees and tall ocotillo cactus all around me. This is high desert landscape still, like that around Joshua Tree National Monument. The air and light is erotic this morning: enlivening, upstanding, fantastic.

Onward to Los Angeles. Driving across the true desert today, the Mojave, south of Death Valley, through Barstow, and into LA. I have water, I’ll get gas at the first town I see: so, let’s hit the fucking road.

CXXXIX. 18 January 2005, Grand Canyon National Park AZ

Ravens everywhere. Dozens of them, talking to me all day. Perching on lampposts, croaking, till I talk back, then they fly away.

Near one overlook, down the road ahead of me, q coyote runs across the road and into the trees. Yellow bottle-brush tail sweeping high as it vanishes. A fleeting forest spirit.

Surrounded by the Kaibab National Forest on the southeast side, the Park’s southern area is heavily forested: alpine trees, scrub, pines everywhere. I drove into the Park from the east, passing through the southwest corner of the Navajo Rez. Up highway 89 from Flagstaff, which is a little alpine town, nestled against the foot of tall alpine mountains, snow-covered and stark white peaks, you drive over a mountain pass, then sweep down past a volcanic cinder cone–are all these peaks volcanic?–and back onto the desert floor. It’s a sudden transition, like leaving an oasis behind. The land gets gradually more dramatic and colorful, as you approach the Painted Desert again–the archetype of the Coyote vs. Roadrunner cartoons–and then turn onto Highway 64 to go to the Park. Along the roadside, at every pull-off or scenic overlook, stands where the Navajo sell their crafts. Mostly empty in winter, but there are some sellers there even now. I guess enough tourists still visit the Park in winter to make it worthwhile.

The Canyon is so immense. It’s unfathomable. You can’t take it all in: it’s too big. Literally awe-inspiring. I spend all afternoon pulling over and staring, taking pictures, and sometimes feeling a religious feeling. There are spirits here, active and powerful. Such beauty is beyond words. Angels in the architecture; every angel is terrifying.

You think of this place as high desert, but it’s not. It’s just as much alpine forest. The tall peaks over Flagstaff dominate the landscape on the drive into the Park, and also on the drive out. Those peaks. They were visible yesterday, from as far away as Petrified Forest. I saw them over the horizon hours before arriving in Flag. Then, driving out of the Park, at sunset, I see them again, blue in the southwest failing light. They are the landmark, the compass of this area.

In one of the Park bookstores, I buy a geologic map. I have a conversation with the employee there about how only geologists buy that particular map, or the two or three others I am interested in. I guess you can transfer the boy from geology to music, but you can’t take the geologists out of the boy.

So many photographs. I can’t stop taking pictures. There are a few photographers around today, some looking professional. I feel a kinship, but I also feel a distancing: their gear is obvious, their attitude superior. I prefer to be invisible, just looking like a tourist, as I capture images just as good as anyone else’s, and from angles and viewpoints I see others miss. When you look at the obvious vistas, like a photographer, sometimes you forget beginner’s mind, and miss what the amateur mind sees: don’t be so professional you can’t learn from serendipity. My little camera, not as powerful as theirs, but far more portable, and no ostentatious tripod required, can go where they don’t think to go. I don’t want to feel superior about this, I’m not saying I do: rather, I’m talking about taking that oblique approach that can get you around the obvious.

CXXXVIII. 18 January 2005, Flagstaff, AZ

I am writing a difficult letter, late this night, by now this morning, that I do not think I can send. It is about setting boundaries, something that many families have a hard time with. It is an essay to put into words things that need to be said, for the sake of my mental health, that I doubt he is able or willing to hear.

Do I send it? Or do I continue to suppress my feelings around my family? I think that, for now, I will not be going back to WI to visit anytime soon. It has been just too painful, this past visit.

The gist is: it’s not about getting a job anymore. It’s about getting a life. Or, it’s not just about a job.

It’s about recovering and rebuilding, or creating for the first time, a life that I want to live, for its own sake, for my own sake, rather than to meet the expectations of my family, or anyone else. It is about finding right livelihood–inn the Buddhist sense, right livelihood is the work that serves your soul, and your soul’s progress. It is not just about a job.

I’m staying up way too late to write all this, if I intend to get an early morning start. I need to get it out of my system before sleep, though. It is negativity I have to turn into blessing, or I risk another car incident manifesting as another form of negative self-sabotage.

The things we prostitute ourselves for: Respect. Love. Esteem in the eyes of others. (Instead of self-esteem, which at core is about being at peace. And being willing to be invisible: not needing acclaim or positive reinforcement.) Money. Money is the obvious thing we prostitute ourselves for: financial stability, a roof over our heads, the illusion of security. It’s all about fear, ennit? It’s all really about fear.

Why can’t I send such a letter to my family? Because I fear their anger. Because they might not love me anymore. And if there is something in life I have learned about as a gay man, it’s rejection, self-loathing (internalized homophobia), and not being loved anymore. Sexuality and finance are intimately intertwined. They are both second chakra issues. Prostitution and self-sabotage show up in both areas, too–not just for me, it’s a common problem for lots of folk. I also can’t send it because it might hurt their feelings. I am constantly editing myself so that I don’t hurt others’ feelings. I talk to other people about maintaining their boundaries, and I have no ability to maintain my own–especially not with regard to my birth family. I was starting to be able to do that,, but now with my mother’s illness, a lot of that has gone by the wayside.

I am still discovering (and clearing and releasing as it appears) anger and resentment from this recent visit to WI. Some of that was the stress of moving the last of my Things from St. Paul to Beloit. Some of it, though, was added to by being blamed for not doing it perfectly, flawlessly, invisibly, or painlessly. That’s just the reality of the situation. Mom has Alzheimer’s, and anything disrupting her routine stirs her up. When she gets stirred up, Dad gets rude to me. That’s the new rules by which home visits seem to be played, now. And: I, it seems, can never do anything right.

I am not blaming anyone here. It is no one’s fault. Not even mine, although I own my part in creating drama around it. To use geological language, it is a transform fault: a rupture in the earth’s crust that raises new land into view. Moving things around is what happens, not what we intend.

And moving around the globe is exactly what I am doing now, myself. I need distance from this particular soap opera. I need space away from it. Driving across the Big Empty out here is soothing, in that there is nothing I have to do to fulfill any expectations. Just keep your hands on the wheel, aim at the horizon, and let the tires hum. Watch out for ditches. Transform faults. The occasional cattle guard. Rocks in the trees. The occasional inattentively homicidal fellow roadster. It’s soothing. It’s just space you have to cross, and it takes a long time to cross it. Your mind expands along with the vistas.

CXXXVII. 17 January 2005, Flagstaff, AZ

Why I am not a nerd:

I have a social life. Not much of one, to be sure. But my best friends are not other nerds. A few geeks, one or two weirdoes, a nice collection of different thinkers.

Technology is not my primary concern. I only know a couple of programming languages, not tens of them. I mostly use computer technology in the service of making art. Not for its own sake. I pursue eros more than technos. I know enough technology to be creative. A painter knows her brushes and paints; in the same way, I know my computers. Come to think of it, the programming I know is mostly things like TeX and HTML, things useful for designers to know.

Okay, there’s probably more to this, but that’s all I had to say for now.

I woke up with flu symptoms, which are more likely to be Reiki flu. I spent at least 9 hours doing energy clearing and releasing work yesterday. A continuous prayer. That’s a very long time to be doing that sort of work, so physical symptoms of toxic dumping are not too surprising. I did more this morning, on the drive out of New Mexico.

I did it.

I escaped. I made it to Arizona with no car trouble. I noticed I had low pressure for no reason in one of my tires this morning. I filled it up and it seems okay now. Maybe that was why I had all those negative visions of breakdowns and flat tires all day yesterday: not a threat, but a warning.

Touching into the Navajo Reservation felt comfortable and familiar. I’ve been interested in Navajo culture since I was a boy; to actually touch the land felt like a homecoming. Perhaps that sounds trite, I don’t claim to be an expert, but I feel an affinity here. I always have.

This part of Arizona, between Gallup and Flagstaff, with the Painted Desert to the north, Petrified Forest National Monument in the center of the area, is Very Empty. The high desert plain stretches away under the sun for miles with hardly any change in the terrain. Then suddenly there are redbed mesas, scattered boulders, the last memories of outcrops of the overbedding strata, and miniature moonscapes as dramatic as anything I’ve seen in Utah or Nevada. It’s another part of the Big Empty, south of the Basin & Range, but just as lonely, just as beautiful.

Flagstaff was as far as I could drive today. I was tired, and even though I had the ambition to drive up to the Grand Canyon tonight and camp there, I realized, in a rare moment of sanity, that I didn’t feel healthy enough to spend the night outdoors. So I’m in a hotel again. All out of money, though. Still plan on going up to the Canyon tomorrow, as I have two full days till I need to get to LA.

Shut up and take more pictures.

CXXXVI. 16 January 2005, Taos, NM

I forgive and bless every inch of this road.

This my mantra for today, as I drove up to the wounded camper in Dixon, from Santa Fe where I had FedEx shipped 8 boxes of belongings forward to California. A thing of beauty. It is finished in beauty. All day chanting it under my breath, no matter whether driving or on the phone. Driving listening to Caroline Myss’ Self-Esteem CDs, a new set with a message most timely for me.

I release all the negativity I have created in the past month, around my visit home to Wisconsin, and about New Mexico and leaving, and moving on. I release my fears, my self-sabotaging, and my self-loathing.

I thought some very dark things in the past few days, so dark and painful that I hesitate to share them here. So, rather than giving them their own voice, and spread more negativity around, I will talk around them below, in between another narrative, as though they were spoken by another person. Which, in some ways, they were.

Even so. I have to write fragments for now. I cannot do a simple narrative, just snapshots. Too much has happened, too quickly, for me to be coherent about it. So.


At 4pm on Friday the 14th, no more than 20 miles south of Taos, after all day packing and loading, the Scamp camper-trailer broke off its hitch, broke its chains, and plunged over a roadside cliff. I immediately braked, and so the camper rear-ended me on the way over. Cracked a taillight and dented the truck’s back hatch, but not badly. Thank god it went over the edge, and not into the other lane. Thank all the gods no one was hurt, including me. It could have been a lot worse than it was. It was bad enough, and it took me a day or two to get past that, but I’m grateful it wasn’t worse. I wasn’t hurt, though I felt shook up for a long time. The camper was not even destroyed as, fortunately, it didn’t roll. But it sustained some shell and under-carriage damage, and things inside got mightily rearranged.

The state cops were there, as was a local Volunteer Fire Marshall named Bob, from St. Paul, who was very solicitous of my well-being. Eventually, after dark, a tow truck came, and skillfully dragged and pulled the Scamp back up to the road. It now resides on Bob’s stead, about a quarter mile south of the accident site. Bob and I talked for a long time that evening, as he wanted to be sure I was mellowed out before trying to sleep. It was good to hang out and talk about the northern Midwest; later, though, it all came over me and I sort of had a meltdown.

I was in mental and emotional shock for two days. I could not believe it. I felt as if my world had ended: again. All my belongings, thrown away by the hand of fate. Well, not all; but enough.

Last night in Santa Fe, I stayed at the Thunderbird Inn on Cerrillos, a surprisingly pleasant little motel. Tonight I am in Grants, NM, at the Desert Sun Motel, after deciding not to drive on to Gallup, my original goal for the day, in another pleasant 20 dollar room off the main road, near the train tracks. The earth rumbled, and I forget about the train at first. Trains go by every few minutes, shaking the room, but this is a desert sound: the sound of lonely solitude and For the third day, I have made myself a cold supper of beef sausage, hummus, good bread, and cheese, which I bought in Taos for the journey, the day I left. Got sort of a headache tonight, and I want to rest and not risk my health. That physical edge.

I forgive myself for judging as if New Mexico had become, for me, a place of entrapment, rather than the Land of Enchantment. Today, driving, I was able to see the land’s beauty again. And not judge, but bless. I forgive myself for vowing, cursing, and damning everything here in NM that has caused me pain. I did a lot of blaming and crying the past two nights. I release that now, and replace it with blessing.

I drove up to Fire Marshall Bob's place today, after senfing off the FedEx packages, and loaded up the truck again. I took pretty much

I have used up all my money with the tow-truck and the hotels, so I have to stay in very cheap places for now. But it’s a journey of small charms and little graces. I am going to make it to NAMM in LA, regardless. I have made a commitment to be there, and then to be in SF. No equivocation, a full commitment. Now, asking for help to get there safely. To have the rest of this journey be free of roadblocks, dangers, accidents, and difficulties of any kind, or of any magnitude.

The Road goes ever on and on….

CXXXV. 14 January 2005, Taos, NM

I am in such pain right now, I can’t even find words for it. I hate it here. I am so angry I could trash this hotel room without a second thought. I hate everything about my life, or non-life, or crap. I’m angry, and I’m too tired to be angry. I can’t even summon up a good rage. I’m out of steam. I’m dying.

Go ahead and think I’m a just being overdramatic, I don’t care. I can’t find my way out of this vortex that keeps sucking me down. Nothing but roadblocks. No one seems able to help, or they’re clueless and don’t care. Coming here was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. You want me to stay here and suffer, is that it? What DO you want? I surely don’t know.

I can distract myself with TV in this hotel room, but it all comes boiling up again when I try to go to sleep. I am cried out, there’s nothing left. I feel so numb, and paralyzed, and afraid. I can’t move, I don’t want to move. I’m tired of moving, of always being in transition. I want a day or so of rest, which I am denied, probably only because I want it.

I think I’ve found the cheapest hotel in Taos, but it’s also noisy. Last night was better, even though the hotel was dingier. I never should have gotten out of bed today. Nothing went right today, everything sucked. People here can be so cold and hostile. Everywhere you go, you’re a pariah if you need help.

I’ve GOT to get out of here tomorrow. I only hope I can get the camper working, and everything loaded, and go. I can’t stay here another night. It’s killing me just to feel trapped here by needing to repair the camper first. I can’t even to hit the road, I can’t afford to travel anywhere, I can’t stay here. I’m dying.

None of this makes sense. Not even anything I’m writing makes sense, or will ever make sense to anyone else. Why bother? Well, I guess it’s because I’ve come to an edge I can’t get over: it’s write it out, or die. I don’t really care, either way. I dream of not waking up in the morning. Everything settled. An end to it.

CXXXIV. 12 January 2005, Chicago, IL

Sitting in Midway Airport, waiting for the plane to depart. Got through security okay again, although they looked through my bag this time. No one bats an eye at my Stick going through the x-ray machine. Well, next time, hardshell case for sure; or a real gig bag, no more of this duffel bag shite.

Worked all day yesterday and last night and today on finishing my DVD. Got four little movies done: slide-shows, really, of my photographs. We also ripped web-ready versions that people can download from my website. I will get those up and on there before starting the drive West, in the next day or so, I’m sure. How cool is this? We even had time to burn me off 5 DVD copies on the way out the door. Driving to the airport, we left late, and traffic was pretty okay, but I still got through check-in and security with an hour to spare. Flying these smaller airports that Southwest goes to makes this all a lot calmer and smoother.

I am tired, and I have been stressed out. As usual, not much sleep the night before travel, last night. I always get excited to moving. It’s not a bad stressor, it’s just a stressor. Have laptop and musical instrument, will travel.

There have been some real hard moments on this leg of the journey. Yet, somehow, it has all worked out. I got everything but the DVD labels done; which is amazing, if you think about it. That we can create a DVD on the desktop is mind-blowing.

Next: Get to Taos, gather my belongings, do my goodbyes, for now, if not for good, and drive further West. I have a week to get to LA. Based on the what the weather has been doing in the Southwest for the past several weeks, it might take a full week. Or it might be easy. I vote for the latter, given an option. I won’t have time to get to Austin, TX, this time. I need all my time to get to LA before NAMM.

I have a DVD! How cool is that?

Later: Somewhere over the central USA

I felt sad and upset to be leaving Chicago. I could stay there. It’s hard to fly away from a place where people care about me, and provide me with opportunities, to go back to a place where I have to make it on my own. It feels like departing the friendly for the unfriendly. Fears come up again: of failure, of loss, of whatever. Some of this is purely exhaustion. Why am I leaving? I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go.

But I can’t rest yet. I have miles to go before I sleep. And even if I stayed in a hotel tonight, I would still have to face the things that need to be done in NM. Even after landing there, another exhausting day traveling, I won’t be done. Taos is apparently socked in by weather, some several inches of snow since this morning, but I guess I need to drive at least as far as Santa Fe. Find a hotel. Start immediately spending that travel money that won’t last. Fears: will I even make it all the way to SF on what few resources I have? Nothing is certain.

Will I ever get a chance to rest?

Yes, I got everything done, almost, that I set out to do in the Midwest this past month. Almost everything. Right down to the wire, as usual, with some of it. I’m so tired I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up a few minutes later, feeling wiped out, too tired to want to read or do much but

I feel emotionally bruised. This has all been so hard. I’ve left a wake of bad feelings in my wake, some of it my drama, some of it. Leaving from Alex’ place yesterday I really hit the wall, and it wasn’t the best goodbye we have ever done. I’m still upset about it. I don’t know what to do, or how to apologize. I guess I don’t know how to deal with love, or pain, or loss. Strike that last: loss at least is something I’ve had practice with lately. Gaagh. Makes me crazy.

I lose myself in projects, getting work done, this past day, and the instant I have a moment of non-activity, here on the plane, I go all gooey and turn into mush.

How am I supposed to do all this? I can’t go on, I must go on.

CXXXIII. 11 January 2005, Chicago, IL

Here’s another pattern that you can get tired of: People only seem to realize how much they value you when you’re about to leave. They tempt you to stay. The gods tease you with “are you sure?” messages.

Today I get an email from someone in Albuquerque who wants me to play music with him sometime. Would have been nice to get this earlier on. Too late now. And when I get these sorts of messages, which I do every time I plan to leave a place for good, they just irritate me. Where are you folks when I really need you? Why do you always try to contact me after it’s all too late? Right now, it’s a struggle to be polite about it. Yesterday’s irritation blooms into an unwillingness to be at the beck and call of other people. I keep having to say it over and over again: my time is just as valuable as yours. If you really want me for something, accept that or shut up.

Boundary keeping is serious work. Sometimes you have to get pissed off about it, just to get the energy to do it.

Yesterday morning, making tea, I managed to pour boiling water all over my left hand. I immediately ran my hand under cold water, and did Reiki on it. It stung like wasps or hornets. That was just the harbinger of a challenging day. All day, walking across town, in the shower, it stung at the least touch. When I got too Al’s yesterday to work on the computer, it hurt worse than ever. It was hot to the touch. But between repeated soaking under the cold faucet and Reiki, it stopped hurting eventually. Today, my burned fingers have some red skin patches, but no blistering. They twinged under the hot shower this morning, but I expected them to be sensitive to heat and cold. Overall, though, they should be healed in a day or two. Reiki is a wonderful thing.


Got stuck in drama when leaving Alex’ place, so my departure was less than perfectly wonderful and loving. My own drama has been up lately, of course, and I am too wretched tired to be able to deflect it today. I just feel so wiped out. I’m so tired of things never working out the way you plan or expect–I know that expectations are a trap, and I still get stuck in them.

But this is why I don’t believe in “hope” anymore, why, for me, at least, it is a trap and an illusion. Every time I get my hopes about something, it never works out. I can’t afford to hope for a job, for an income, for a gallery, for even a relationship. I need a love to be emotionally available to me, at least some of the time. I’m wretched tired of being caught in these traps. I’m so sick of it all I don’t even give a fuck, right now, if I ever make it to California. Dying in the middle of the desert would at least be a relief. I don’t even care if I’m, at the moment, over-dramatizing everything. Right now, I just don’t care. I’m tired!

CXXXII. 10 January 2005, Chicago, IL

Well, it sure would be nice if you could count on people to be there when they say they’re going to be there. Had a meeting with a gallery owner today, but when I showed up there was no one there. I left a polite voicemail message about it, and just about the time I reached Al’s place, a mile or two of snow walking later, the owner called, very apologetic. I was polite again, but I was in no mood to turn around at the moment and walk back. We left it that I would try again tomorrow, but that I would call first to make sure someone would be there. Maybe. Hours later, I’m still pissed off: I do not like being stood up. I do my best to meet all my appointments, and I want the same courtesy in return, which I think is only the bare minimum of politeness.

What pisses me off is that everyone assumes their lives have more value, and purpose, and necessity, than everyone else’s. I wonder sometimes about artists, I really do: how they can go through life so self-absorbed that they neglect to be disciplines about appointments? It’s so very common in the art world. Am I guilty of this, too? Sure. And yet, I never give my word unless I’m sure I can keep it. I don’t give my word easily, because I choose to be responsible: if I say I’ll be there, I will be.

I know no one can be perfect about this, and “acts of god” do get in the way sometimes. But I am sick to death of it. It feels sometimes like this whole trip has been about waiting for other people to get their shit together, when I’m ready to get going all along. I hate being blown off, and I hate waiting for other people: life is too short to waste my time, like that. If anyone thinks their time is more valuable than mine, or anyone else’s for that matter, they’re delusional.

Why is this bothering me today? Because I am venting for all manner of similar blow-offs and miscommunications and screw-ups that have been the pattern of my life for days and weeks now. Event after event after event, till I’m sick of it all. One wonders, sometimes, why one even bothers.

Vent, vent, vent. Whatever.

At Al’s, at least, I got all the files prepped for making a few short DVD movies in Vegas. (The video and audio multitrack recording and editing software.) I ran all the files I’d chosen last night for the project through Photoshop, to correct the color-balance and lightness where necessary. Then I got one of the movies completely tracked and edited, except for the voiceover.

I’m making these movies as self-promo pieces, both for DVD distribution and so I can stream them on my website. It’s a brand new medium for me, but it’s made simple by the software itself. The movies consist of my still photographs, which in some cases are panned and zoomed, and my music as soundtrack. They are not meant to be anything fantastic, but they’re good enough for marketing, promotion, and networking.

Now that I have to go attempt to see the gallery again tomorrow, I’m under a severe time crunch trying to get all these short movies done, pack, make boxes to ship myself some more stuff via FedEx, and get to the airport by 3pm Wednesday, when I fly back to Albuquerque. And the joyride that will follow.

Am noticing that I ma feeling rootless, in this way: Wherever I am is my favorite place to be. I don’t miss being anywhere I’m not at the moment. And whether or not I ever return to a place again, I won’t miss it when I’m not there anymore.

CXXXI. 9 January 2005, Chicago, IL

More resting today. Had a meeting with a new friend, a Chicago freelance designer, getting to know one another and one another’s work. I really liked seeing his work, and he seemed to like mine. He’s done a lot for non-profits, while I’ve done a lot for the music and book publishing industry. Hopefully, we can collaborate and bounce ideas off each other in future. It feels good to make a connection like this, no matter where it leads.

After dinner with Alex and Betsy at a terrific Mexican restaurant–I had lime-rubbed chicken with rice, but I also tasted Alex’ chicken chimichanga, which was excellent–we went to the local Walgreen’s. I didn’t like the energy in there, and afterwards I felt drained and edgy. So, I took a shower, and zapped the place: build a column of Light around it, and in it, and shut down whatever psi drainage was going in there. Should help. Everywhere I go, there I am. Work is work is work.



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