Fine Art



road journal



illustration and design





Road Journal

I — XX















351 — 370

371 — 400

401 — 420

421 — 440

441 — 480

481 — 520

521 — 534

535 — 567
Road Trip

568 — 610

611 — 685

686 — 740

741 — 800

801 — 836

837 — 866

867 — 896
Western Lands
Road Trip part 1



Spiral Dance

Three Essays
Towards a

Towards an


RuralGay Artistry


podcast archives


At the prompting of friends, notably writer Michael Gause, I'm writing a road journal. Although setting off with an obvious and unavoidable nod to Kerouac, I have no intention of marking time with a daily diary blog of endless minutiae of life on the road in the early 21st Century. I regard this Journal as an open-ended series of essays, creative nonfiction, sometimes poetic, that I will add to regularly if not always daily, on topics and in styles that seem to appropriate at the time. I make no claims to literary merit. It is instead experimentation, exploration.

I have no idea where this road journey is ultimately going to lead me, or who and what I will encounter along the way. Uncertainty is surely the point. Wherever that leads me as a musician, poet, writer, and visual artist, I look forward to whatever's next.

Please feel free to bookmark this page and check back periodically for updates.

I am now podcasting excerpts from the Road Journal. This is a new project that will grow over time.

The podcast features original music and poetry, and readings of the ongoing Road Journal, by a nomadic visionary creative artist, musician, and writer. Each chapter is recorded in a different acoustic space, and treated with filters, processing, and editing, using chance methods. The process converts the written text into text/sound poetry.

CCLX. 24 August 2005, Pinole, CA

Well, I got laid off today from that small printing press I've been working at part-time for the past few months. Not too shocked, as their money management style leaves something to be desired. They spend too much time in feast or panic. Things seem cordial. Perhaps I can get a good recommendation out of them, if nothing else. I will go in tomorrow to clean off my hard drive, and also show them the status of their website updates that I have been working on. (And steal a copy for my own archives.)


I am doing my best, today, to stay in acceptance, trust, and viewing it a positive thing that will only lead to better things. That is a bit of a struggle. I have to trust the Powers That Be on this one, and that it will be a seamless transition to wherever I am supposed to go, and whatever I'm supposed to do, next. I am doing my best to not collapse into self-destructive behaviors of any kind, like drinking anything, or beating myself up, or crying myself to sleep. Granted, I have been a drama queen many times in life. I want to see how far I can go, this time, before I feel that urge. It really is a waste of energy, in the long run.

Ah well.

I saw an ad on Craigslist for a website designer for a gay porn outfit. Maybe I'll send them an application.

RobCo presents The Emotion Processor(TM)!!! Grinds small feelings exceedingly fine! Chases emotions down the smallest rabbit holes! No whim too small to be analyzed! It slices! It dices! It lays you on the analysis couch! It cuts you up and tears you apart! It leaves mounds of fish entrails!

CCLIX. 22 August 2005, Pinole, CA

Yesterday it was clear and hot and sunny, while the fog is back this morning. I spent most of yesterday in tasks for the upcoming desert time. Making lists. Looking for cooking gear for camping. Need a new nylon tent. I went and got a load of free firewood from someone in the Oakland Piedmont area, then spent some time in the parks on top of the hills there. Shirtless men wandering on the redwood-laned trails. Views of fog-covered San Mateo and partially fog-shrouded San Francisco. Tall trees in the heat. High above the Bay, seeing the microclimates in vivid illustration. I took several photos. I also had a fusion band practice last night; we played well, more sensitively, more listening than before, so there is hope for this band, and I’ll stick with it just a bit longer.

Looking for cheap pots and pans in the local Goodwills, I find a first edition hardcover of Thomas Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. One of the mid-period works after his change in 1960 that led him towards enlightenment. This book still has the official imprimatur of the Vatican, that all his early books had: nihil obstat, “free of doctrinal or moral error.” As Tom moved further and further down his new path, though, his later books were not submitted to the censors, they were just published; often to some controversy. His old, conservative abbot enforcing the rule of silence on him, which he constantly, irrepressibly broke. His new abbot, in his very last years, giving him more freedom to think widely, and to travel; his last voyages, seeking a more remote hermitage; then the final trip to Asia, where he died. Amidst my own writing and thinking about enlightenment, Zen, paganism, and so forth, I open Tom’s book at random to read:

In a Zen koan someone said that an enlightened man is not one who seeks Buddha or finds Buddha, but simply an ordinary man who has nothing left to do. Yet mere stopping is not arriving. To stop is to stay a million miles from it and to do nothing is to miss it by the whole width of the universe. As for arriving, when you arrive you are ruined. Yet how close the solution is: how simple it would be to have nothing more to do if only—one had really nothing more to do. But the ripe fruit falls out of the tree without even thinking about it. Why? The man who is ripe discovers that there was never anything to be done from the very beginning.

Of course, that’s it exactly: there never was anything to do. Waking up is just realizing that. There is no enlightenment separate from ordinary life. You just keep doing what you’ve been doing, which is nothing.

CCLVIII. 21 August 2005, Pinole, CA

This morning, after last night’s midnight wanderings, I slept in a few extra hours. At one point I felt the morning sunlight warming me as I huddled under the blankets; it had been a cold night, and the just past full moon out the window was a silver beacon in the night sky when I first went to bed.

This morning, when I woke, it was to write a Spiral Dance essay, one of a series I occasionally write. They are not essays I set out to write, but ones that come to me about once a year, or less often. The process of writing them often feels very like dictation, and there is usually little to edit afterwards. I might re-write a few sections, or clarify a point or two, add another example to illuminate a point; not much more. These are poetic essays, what some call creative nonfiction. They are also spiritual writings in nature; they could be called sutras, epistles, letters to the faithful, letters to the Mystery in appreciation of the Unknown. I write at a higher level than usual, during the writing of these pieces; or so it feels to me, usually.

This latest essay is Nothing Special; feel free to go read through it at your leisure.

CCLVII. 21 August 2005, Pinole, CA

It’s the middle of the night. I went to bed early, after blowing off a date because I felt like being alone rather than pretending to be having a good time. I’m not having a good time. I feel like shit. I’m upset and worried about money, about everything, about whether or not to go to Zuni gathering this year, about having to make the drive alone if I do go, since the person who was interested in going with me backed out. Fucking flaky Faeries. Feeling totally alone and isolated again, as usual. Cut off. Abandoned. Feel like curling up and hiding. Like there’s no point to anything I do.

Later (nightwatch hours):

I just spent a couple of hours researching the Southwest online, downloading dozens of regional and park maps. Even if I don’t go to Zuni, maybe I need to be in the desert, just traveling for awhile. Get a new tent to replace my beat up old hexagon hiker’s tent, hit the road, lots of bottled water, don’t look back. Silence and solitude. I miss the desert silence here; I doubt any of my city-dwelling friends even know what the stillness is like in the desert. To discover it, you just have to stop. Stop everything, stop doing, just be. Be still. The way the light changes in the distance, the heat shimmers on the playa and the flatlands between ranges. The great basins between ranges, there in the high desert where it can get colder than hell at night.

Time to visit the desert? Maybe so. What’s irritating me about not wanting to go to Zuni right now? I think it’s the problem of having to deal with city folk there, in the desert; and that creeping lack mentality that Zuni is infected with; and with flaky, drug-addled Faeries; I’m so very tired of flaky gay men and their drugs. Maybe it’s time to just take a desert trip, all by myself; no hurry, and no worries. If I don’t make it all the way to Grand Basin in a long day’s punishing drive, that’s okay. Take along a camera and a microphone. Photographs of the big nothing. Sound recordings of the vast stillness. Nothing happening. No drama. Just the Big Empty.

I need the heat and the light, and the big, vast, open distances. I need to feel the scorch of sun. I need lots of water, of course, on the journey. And probably the high altitudes will get to me, too, after months of living near sea level. But to be able to pull over to the side of the road, and turn off the engine, and just listen to the nothingness.

Alternatively, I could still plan to go to Zuni, but with no agenda, and no fixed arrival and departure times. Take my time getting there, travel ultra-light, no expectations, no fixed plans, leave when I feel like it, take my time getting back. Maybe visit the Grand Canyon again, and some other spots along the way.

I’m not going to decide this tonight, although just doing some travel research has helped settle my mind this sleepless night. I turned on the lava lamp again, and it sends flares up in my peripheral vision as I search online and write this out. A blue-green seascape.

Why does the deep ocean keep turning up lately? Tons of water images in my dreams; this orca stuffed animal; this aquatic lava-lamp; Ursula LeGuin’s novel The Lathe of Heaven, which I picked up recently at Goodwill and read for the third time, before giving it to Sage, now that he’s in Portland and it’s a novel set in Portland. All these undersea images and colors. The lamp sends up liquid flares, worlds separating into rock and water; sea turtles swimming a slow blue ballet; the end of a pillar of salt, turned towards dawn and the stars.

Desert and sea again: those constant Symbols around which I have revolved for the past year, ever since I came West. An ongoing journey.

CCLVI. 20 August 2005, Pinole, CA

Another cold and foggy August San Francisco morning. I read an article yesterday about the normal July and August fog cycle; it’s caused by the low pressure over the Sacramento Valley, created by the high summer heat there. The updraft pulls the marine layer through the gaps in the coastal range into the Bay and around certain locales, bringing the fog inland. I personally need some sunlight real soon, though, so I might get in the truck and head for the hills.

Yesterday I found at Goodwill a lava lamp. I always wanted a lava lamp. That makes for three unique lamps I’ve found at Goodwill this past month, all for around 6 bucks apiece. The lava lamp; a green-shaded desk lamp of the classic styling of the old Chicago newspaper editor’s desk lamps; this lamp also has wo nice extra features: extra height, which means it's great for sitting at the laptop, and also it's a touch-switch lamp, you just tap it to cycle through its light levels; I suppose I ought to get a green editor's eyeshade now, too; lastly, a spotlight lamp that mimics a theatrical key light. Life is good. Thrift stores in big metropolitan areas are good hunting.

I suppose I ought to get up and get dressed and get going. I have a concert to play this afternoon in the City, at an art gallery. The past couple of work days have been too stressful for me, and I want a little self-indulgence time this morning before saddling up again.

Simple things. Stop making plans. Stop living in the future. One day at a time is sufficient. Spend the daily time living; just living, and doing what we do. Let the day expand into its full length. Let it go. It will be taken care of, or it will take care of itself.

CCLV. 19 August 2005, on the morning train, CA

All I want right now is to be left alone. Solitude and silence. More vivid dreams last night, with a few symbols added to the repertoire.

Yesterday an intensely frustrating day, as system after system failed at work. I had thought about meeting someone for sex in the evening, but was in mood for it by then: too angry. So I watched some DVDs, and made dinner late, after cleaning out the kitchen and doing some dishes. I’m not even going to get into the frustration around that.

This morning, in my last dreams, feeling entirely warm and embraced in bed, and content, as I woke afterwards: an arrival of the Virgin Mary, the Goddess, in the place where I was. A feeling of warmth and compassion and love. She gave me a symbol for my self, just before I awoke.

What was so frustrating at work yesterday is that it felt like the godz were pushing at me, after this new level of Trust I’ve been focusing for a week now. It’s one of those things you just have to get through, that you won’t get an explanation for. I’m tired of testing and enduring. I want a seamless transition to wherever it is I’m supposed to go next. I am already feeling ready to go, in my heart, if not in my feet or head. I guess a little more time spent here, to recharge and refresh myself, won’t hurt. One thing I’ve learned here: I can get sex pretty much anytime I want it; that has been a big healing for me.

Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
Look how far the light came
to paint you this way

—Bruce Cockburn

The music I listen to lately, giving me permission to sing. To actually be a vocalist in a music setting. To be an uninhibited performer, whenever I feel like it. I have an okay voice, and more than okay for some purposes. I’ve had more voice lessons than the average. I sure as heck have more musical training than the average. Not that I want to spend a lot of time practicing, rather than just playing, but there is probably some way for me to learn to sing and play Stick at the same time. Not that anyone gives a fuck, or anything.

CCLIV. 18 August 2005, on the morning train, CA

A morning of what the Navajo call female rain: mist that dews, then coats, your windshield as you drive through it. These misty mornings followed by blaring hot afternoons are the basic summer pattern here. The time of mist and fog.

Intense, vivid dreams last night: I am traveling, leaving where I have been; I arrive on a bicycle at a Faerie sanctuary at dusk, with snow all around, grey clouds, rain in the distance; it’s late winter, early spring; it’s a big ramshackle wooden barn or cabin; I know I am welcome at any Fae sanctuary, so I just pull up; just as I arrive at the front door, it opens and there is my friend Silverfang, who is happy to see me; I go in, and it’s a big circle room, filled with throw pillows and chairs in a circle around the outer room; there will be a ritual happening soon; I talk with some new visitors who have never been in Faerie space before, telling them some of the history; as I lay on my back, talking, a naked woman walks past us, then stops, looks at me, then bends down and kisses me; it’s my friend Diedre, who I haven’t seen in a year or more; she welcomes me, and we catch up; later, the whole group moves towards the ritual space, which is in an underground room in another building, and time, carrying the things they carry to do ritual with; I help carry some kind of canopy or awning, as we go into a room to begin to gather; the room’s a mess, scattered children’s play toys everywhere, but everyone cheerfully gets to work clearing it up, and setting up the chairs in a circle again, so we can begin.

CCLIII. 17 August 2005, on the morning train, CA

Here’s the stats: it’s an 11 hour drive up to Portland from here, if you go on Highway 5 inland; which is not a bad drive, as you go through some pretty country near Mt. Shasta and up towards Eugene. The most boring parts of the Highway 5 drive are the Sacramento Valley, flat to the horizon, with just a hint of hills rising like haze to the west, the land around you looking like rural cropland anywhere, with rusting auto parts and small towns; you could be anywhere in rural farmland, Wisconsin or Colorado; and then the stretch between Eugene and Portland, driving up the Willamette Valley, it’s the same flat, fertile, farmed landscape. One beautiful wetlands stretch just north of Sacramento, though, where the road is on stilts overlooking marshes full of green leaf, punctuated by white egrets and flocks of little marsh finches.

Then, it’s a 14 hour drive if you go, as I did yesterday, from Portland to Grants Pass on 5, then cut over on Highway 199 through Redwoods National Park to Highway 101 down the California coast. It was a long day’s drive, through sun and fog and mist and sun and cloud again. Cloudy and misty by the coast, hit and sunny inland, hitting the low 90s again, as it has inland all this past month.

Highway 199 going southeast from Grants Pass takes you through the canyon of the middle fork of the Smith River, and into the Redwoods. I stopped a few times in the canyon to stretch my legs and take photos. In the heart of Redwoods, I pulled over to the side by a beautiful grove of trees, sunlight spotlighting down through the leaves to make dazzle spots on the ferns and tree trunks. A very peaceful, restful area.

I discovered only on the way out that I had stopped at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Grove; which I find synchronicitous, one traveler stopping to rest at the memorial grove of another traveler, one who has been an inspiration to me at various times, coming in and out of my life in various ways, at various times. Amelia is someone I’ve always to whom I’ve always felt an attachment.

Then to the coast, then inland. The mountains of the coastal range, as you thread through them in the failing light.

The moon rises, near full, over the shoulder of a mountain half-lit by the red-gold light of sunset; red white blue green gold, the colors of change.

I feel an urge to go faster near sunset, an urgent rush both to use up what’s left of the light to go as far as I can before dark, and also to drive with purpose into this liminality. The dusk right around sunset a threshold place, when doors between worlds open and you can, if you get distracted, take a turn onto a road that moves you between worlds, or into another world entirely. All those stories of the twilit lands.

I didn’t stop that much while driving, actually, which I can feel in my hips today. Just a few times for gas and food, to use the restroom at a rest stop, to get out and take a couple photos and stretch my back and legs. People ask me what I do; I tell them I’m a traveling artist, and there is truth to that. It’s not quite a living, not yet, but it’s a good cover for the real work, the spiritual work, and it’s something I love to do, combining two things I love to do.

This morning, sleeping in a little, moving slowly in the cold fog (literally) of morning in the Bay Area, I find myself wanting not to have to speak today: to keep silence, to extend the long journey’s solitude and silence. I haven’t been balanced in past weeks, haven’t been getting enough silence and solitude. I need to spend more time driving, or camping in the lonely places of the coast. Perhaps I’ll take some of these short work weeks, while they last, while I’m still here, and do a couple of days camping in the wilds, up or down the coast. A dinner campfire. Time for thinking, prayer, and writing. (Who do you pray to? The silence, the Mysteries. Every day is a prayer.)

On Monday, Alex and I slept in, then in the gathering heat of day, went shopping. He needed several things for his apartment, now that he’s moved here, and we pretty much filled up the truck with purchases from a few stores in Beaverton. Ended up at Goodwill, of course, where I found several books, and a display easel. Ale bought a big stuffed orca toy, which we played with in the evening, and I felt really bonded to. He ended up giving me the orca, and I now have it in my bedroom here. Everyone needs a predator plush toy animal in their lives; most of my friends have them, too. When we got out to the truck from Goodwill, I put the orca on the dashboard, but he was too big to see around. Sang a round of “I don’t wanna be no dashboard whale,” which is an old punk rock private joke I won’t bother to explain here and now.

CCLII. 15 August 2005, Portland, OR

It’s 7am and the construction across the street has already started with hammering and pounding and the sounds of power tools. They’re stripping the building’s guts to rebuild anew.

The eleven hour drive from San Francisco to here, where I’m visiting Alex and went to a music seminar yesterday, was the longest day’s drive I’d done in months. It gave me time to think. At first, during the initial departure, bad fantasies of things failing on the truck, none of which had the demanding resonance of the prescience of those days when I knew something bad was going to happen; the day the wheel fell off the camper, the day last week when my computer fell to the floor and broke; which is what caused a week’s silence here, but also what caused some serious re-thinking of my life’s journey this past week; there was none of this during the driving departure: it was all just fears and bad fantasies, which I deflected and cleared till they went away. I had gotten too settled in the Bay Area, and this was just fear, no more. This journey is not done, and may never be done. My job is still to live day to day, and trust that what I need for my living will be provided. Wherever the Powers That Be send me next, post me for awhile, tell me to be for awhile, that’s where I have to go.

Isn’t it obvious? A month of mold drama, then the bed breaking in the night, all telling me to get out of that room, all preventing me from living in there, from collapsing into some long-term sense of stability there. The computer crash, expensive as it was to repair, requiring almost a whole paycheck from the part-time dead-end job to repair, was just Them shouting, because I wasn’t listening, because I was resisting too much, because I was trying to set up a life where I can’t.

A week ago this evening the laptop fell and broke. I knew it would—I was given warning it would—and I couldn’t prevent it. It was just like the day I departed from Zuni, a year ago, to go to Taos: I envisioned the wheel falling off the camper as I set off that morning, and later in the day it did. Both events happened in that liminal time around sunset. Both were warnings that I could not deflect: more than fears, more than bad fantasies.

I’ve never been this far north in Oregon before. The land here in Portland feels verdant and welcoming, alive with veriditas, far more connected to the surface of life than in concrete-smothered Chicago. All these west coast cities are built on places where the energies gather, it’s true. Portland feels alive with greening and life-force

Yesterday was a seminar on rhythm section playing, which sort of became a de facto Stick and drums seminar, featuring Tom Griesgraber on Stick, and Jerry Marrotta on drums. Jerry is one of those drummers I have listened to with pleasure for years; his approach is very melodic and organic; he’s in the sound-painting tradition of the drummers I’ve been lucky to work with for several years. I found myself nodding head with almost everything the seminar had to reveal. Both Jerry and Tom emphasized the primacy of listening in ensemble work; listening to all the parts, not just one’s own. Jerry at one point gave several reasons why he thought the Stick and drums duo format is a perfect music ensemble format; among them, fewer people to lock in with; more portability as an ensemble; the pleasure of being able to sit back and collaborate one on one to create a musical experience; I kept thinking of Eddie and me, and the work we did for several years. I gave Jerry a Wind, Sand & Stars CD before the day was over. I also got to meet and chat with several of the Northwest Stick players who I’ve gotten to know previously via email. Everybody got a chance in the afternoon to play something, and have Jerry and Tom join in at some point. I played horse at breath, and son the whole room was in on it; got a lot of good comments later on about the composition. We also talked about looping gear in this seminar, which was fun; my Lexicon JamMan is sort of a grandfather piece of gear at this point; but everyone knows I love old tech, and working with what is at hand.

Last night, Alex gave me a long massage. I know I fell asleep on the table. I was so relaxed and felt so loved with his touch, that for hours afterwards, I was feeling very sensual and in my body. It was a great massage. The heat yesterday afternoon lingered into the evening, so that it was warm enough for me to be naked on the table, with no draping, and feel warm and relaxed throughout the whole experience. This morning I still feel lingeringly sensual, languorous, erotic. No hurry to the day; although we’ll probably go out to get away from the construction sounds for part of the day.

CCLII. 8 August 2005, Pinole, CA

A cool foggy morning, after a cold windy clear night. I am lingering in bed, wrapped in blankets, taking my time with getting going for the day. The past two days, J. and I attacked with feral blackberries and other weeds dominating the wild growth on the north side of he house. We cleared out a huge area, down to the dirt, and in the process discovered several pockets of mold that may have been the source of the mold getting under the house and creating the infestation in my room. I have repaired the bed, and slept in my own bed, in my own room, for two or three nights now, the first time in a month. It feels strange, like being back in the camper: mine, yet not mine; camping out, yet settled. A curious mix of familiar and unfamiliar. Last night, P. cooked up a big turkey dinner, which was devoured with glee. I almost went to bed early last night, I was tired enough. Now, I feel like lingering, taking a day off, not doing much. The yard work develops its own momentum, and you want to keep going, till it’s all done. So, I might dig in a bit more today; but not till it warms up. I get tired of these morning chills. I have a cough this morning, although my arms don’t feel as sore form the work as I thought they might. It was a good sweaty workout both days.

Perhaps that was the point of this recent sub-journey: to bring me back to this realization of innate instability, innate uncertainty. A return to those feelings of insecurity from my early days in the desert of New Mexico, when it all felt like it could have blown up at any time, any day. I still feel like a nomad, touching lightly where I lay, ready to pack up and move on, if necessary, on a day’s notice. What most people take as substantial and secure seems illusory. What are routines but habitual patterns? This break has disrupted any routines I had collapsed into, reminding me that I am to live now without routine, habit, or expectation. That I am supposed to sail the tides of change with non-attachment.

What little sense of stability I get comes from places of ubiquity yet constant flux like Goodwill stores: you can g o into any Goodwill in the country and see the same things over and over, but at the same time each one is constantly different, and varies from day to day, week to week. The same yet ephemeral. Constant yet always in motion.

This small room, whether habitable or inhospitable, serves as a catalyst for change.

CCLI. 3 August 2005, on the morning train, CA

At Goodwill yesterday, I found four first editions: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets; John McPhee’s Coming into the Country, his book on Alaska; and two Aperture Monographs, on W. Eugene Smith (1969) and Jerry Uelsmann (1970). The Uelsmann is a treasure for me, of course, as I count him a direct influence on my own work; we have very similar processes, although I work digitally and he ahs always worked in the darkroom, assembling his images from many sub-elements on the enlarger. Smith is also influential on me, although less so, since I am in no way a photojournalist or essayist in the Life Magazine mold; but several of Smith’s most iconic images were in The Family of Man, that exhibition and book from the 1960s; which book as a youth I poured over many, many times; a book that must have had some influence on me, later, to become a photographer, even though my style and work are so very different from most of the images one sees in that book. The Eliot book, of course, is my favorite poetry of his, the late, questioning, spiritual Quartets; this is a first American edition, hardcover of these poems. The McPhee I add to my shelf of other McPhee titles, one of my big models as a writer of creative nonfiction. People ask me lately what I write, when they find out I do write; I don't really like saying poetry and essays, in response; saying you write poetry carries a lot of useless baggage; besides, I don't really write poems, I wait for them to come to me; and while essays are easier for me to write than poems, I prefer the term creative nonfiction because that's really what it is, because the term doesn't exclude literary writing styles within the essay form; people think essays have to be that newspaper or magazine "no-style" style, in all its annointed blandness, when they can be anything; the very name "essay" means exploratory attempt.

The stupid mold smell is back full-force. Tired of this shit. Tired of the stink; now I’ll have to launder everything again; tired of having to deal with it. I still haven’t slept in my own bed more than twice in the past full month. Still can barely do more than live day to day. No energy for much beyond that. I will try to get some artwork done at work today. Heavy clouds today. Thick, sodden air. Dew so heavy on the truck it looked like rain. Had to run for the Fremont train this morning, from the parking lot, the timing was so tight; got to the train, sat down and panted for awhile.

CCL. 2 August 2005, Pinole, CA

The mold smell in my room redoubled last night; have to spray underneath the house again; fucking vigilance. Tired of feeling sick all the time; tired of fighting this inhospitable room. But if I need to get anything done, as usual, I can’t rely on anybody else to care about it, or do it. Have to do it myself. I’m reduced by the past month of drama and bullshit to living day by day; I’ve let everything else fall by the wayside; this is a struggle to just survive. Thriving is something I remember in the dim, distant past, a vague memory that may never come to me again.

Yesterday I worked with another young man as a model for nudes in nature. Drove to San Gregorio. He was a lot harder to work with, and although I liked some of the images we made together, I won’t be working with him again. Too hesitant, too difficult, not worth ir. Too much work. Well, I’ve been lucky in one or two other models, so I can artistically afford to let this one go, and keep looking.

Struggling with relationships no less than with physical illness. One young man I wanted to pursue, who seems to have disappeared, and I no longer expect to ever call me back. He must have fallen out of love with me. It’s too bad: I thought maybe he was the one I’d been looking for, for some time. Now, another man is chasing me, and I find myself not in love with him; he’s nice, and the sex was good, and I predicted to myself that he would be this clingy, this pursuing, and I hate being right about that. It's not that bad, it's just more than I can deal with right now. An exercise in setting my boundaries. yes, I would like t see him again. But not every day, not two emails a day, not more than once a week. How to be polite about it. I hope I can be.

This past month a month of continuous, exhausting drama. Life lived at the edge. It’s no wonder that I can’t deal with anything more than a day ahead, right now; just surviving day to day is taking all my energy. I can’t even seem to follow through on the artistic front, and make phone calls. Marketing yourself as an artist is a full-time job. I hate this pattern, that every time I feel like I’m making an advance, something slams me down,, forces me away from that angle. I feel very blocked, and I feel ever more sure that it’s not me doing the blocking, but something else. tired of this, too.

CCXLIX. 28 July 2005, on the morning train, CA

What other time than this train ride, on work days, when I have a moment to sit and collect thoughts, and write? So I pull the laptop out amongst the other commuters, most of whom who board the Fremont train north of Oakland transfer to SF trains at Macarthur. Then the train empties out again, if I have had too give over the other half of my seat to a person rather than my backpack, and I get my space back. It can be a contemplative time, a quiet morning ride. Why do we all go to work in the morning? Cultural habit, and the need to earn money to be able to do the things we want to do. Jobs support life, they are not themselves any form of life. I am hoping today to do some photography this evening. I weary of these cold foggy early mornings, of not seeing the sun itself rise over the hills. Give me the warm clear afternoons. Even the coastal fog is better than this, because at least a the beach it’s still humid enough to keep you warm. Perhaps some photography this eventide, perhaps not. Have to connect with my model as yet, and see if it’s still on. I have confidence in this model; we’ve worked together twice to excellent effect, and look forward to more. He’s very beautiful, and very easy to work with. I am less poor than I was, and not yet solvent. I am only working part-time as yet, and it’s not enough to actually survive on, were I not living so cheaply courtesy of J. and P. Someday I need to find my own place, when I can afford it. The number of commuters with iPods these days is remarkable; a remarkably high percentage that I see here, these quiet, subtly frantic mornings. Would everyone here choose to live this way, if they did not have to, to earn some sort of living? I sense a mix of discontent and desire. Some would, definitely; their work is how they define themselves. I respect that, even as I am aware that my job is not my true work; the real work, the purpose of life, is the work on oneself, in solitude, in relationship, the practice of growth and change. Change. I thought to myself last night how habitual many people are, in their patterns; some only notice things if their patterns are broken. In the past year, I have learned to not only survive constant flux and change, but to welcome it. Change is freedom: every day is a new chance to do it differently, to progress, to get it right. Every day is a blank slate. Only fools think the past is more valuable than the future. It is the past that can destroy us, if we either don’t learn from past mistakes or ignore those lessons, but also if we cling to what is known and familiar, and refuse to evolve. The explosion outwards into new worlds, riding the waves of rapid change, is the hope for the species’ survival; staying stuck in what is already known will only, in the end, kill us.

CCXLVIII. 26 July 2005, on the morning train, CA

Yesterday at the ocean, I sat for some time on the rocks, just listening and watching. I also made a couple of field recordings; nothing fancy. Just stuff for the podcast. I sat in the truck and read three Eiseley poems into the mic, then a couple of Road Journal entries, all for the podcast. The past couple of weeks, I’ve felt creatively stifled, everything lost under household drama. (The mold in the room is better now, but worse in the rest of the house. We think now that one source of it is the dead and rotting vegetation on the north side of the house; having sprayed under the house, it’s better there, but now the windows are an issue on that side.) Metajournal, metafiction. Stopped at Border’s in Emeryville last evening, to browse; the only things catching my attention at the moment were poetry and photography books. Borges’ Selected Poems, which I will acquire soon. It’s a free ride on BART this morning, a “Spare the Air” day where your morning commute by train is free till 9am. First one of those I’ve seen since I got here. At the ocean, the waves make a constant sound of roaring over the sands as they crash, and gurgling over the rocks. The tide was the highest I’ve seen it there, the archway unapproachable except from the high side, the water surging through it with a dangerous rip and pull. I stayed to the upper margins, closer to the cliff boundaries than usual. I made some stone arrangements, and the last touch was a single black driftwood pole; all to make another Waterline piece. Is this art, this arrangement of stones? Perhaps it’s not art till I photograph it. It changes even when I make it, the tide brushing over it and moving the stones placed there before I am done with the arrangement. The gunmetal gray sky. The air always filled with rotting vegetation, the smell of green and brown decay. The water’s lip and lisp. Boots off to arrange stones at the surfline, on half-buried boulders placing sentinels and menhirs. Not geometrically, but in holes in the pitted surface, places where they are cupped and held by the ancient spreading seafloor. Rounded boulders of the Franciscan overthrust, that messy mélange of many folded and shattered sedimentary layers, with the sharp discontinuity, visible here at the waterline, of the ophiolite, the serpentine laced with sheeted dikes. Dreamstones made of lacy chert from the overlaying conglomerates. Geology of the affirming landscape. Losing myself in the contemplation of geologic time. Had a long talk with Two Bears as I drove back, losing the cell signal occasionally as I drove along the coastal highway; areas uncovered, even this close to the metro, by cell reception; the most beautiful thrusts of coastline here, cliffs over the road, dep cuts into the banded schist and layered shales near Pacifica. Everywhere the fog tendrils moving across the road, choking the peaks of the low hills with moody gray cloudscapes. You could be in Scotland, up in the hills; or in the sheep-covered vales of the Cornish or Welsh countryside; and then there’s a palm tree. Some of my writer friends don’t think much of Borges, or Latin metafictions. I don’t mind; there’s an illusory prejudice against Latin surrealism and “magic realism” at times; I on the other hand feel that actual true flowering of surrealism happened only in the Latin writers, decades after the French originators, who, as is common with French movements, were overly purist about the theory and manifesto than about actually allowing the imagery to arise from the unconscious. There’s a point at which you have to let the theory go and follow wherever the manifest praxis leads you. The French intellectuals always put the theory before praxis; I always put theory afterwards. I go back to putting stones on top of other stones. I will just make things. Let others describe them, if they wish, or identify theories about my intentions, later. I don’t always know my intentions. The process of making is the process of discovery; you don’t always know what you’re doing until you’ve finished doing it, and sometimes not even then. Two Bears and I talked about everything that’s been bothering me lately. I had found myself driving down to Pescadero yesterday, and tears came to my eyes more than once; release, or something like release. Haven’t had a chance to deal with or integrate any of the craziness of the past weeks. (J.’s tendency, as much as I love her, to want to jump in and “fix” things, and caretake, when what I really need at times is total solitude and silence.) Time to integrate, to absorb, to do the mental filing necessary to clear up the mental clutter. Stones on top of other stones, arranged, broken, tumbled. Nothing there when next you return to this borderline, this edge, between sea and desert. My attraction to men in their twenties, as opposed to men my own age or older, partly because of physical beauty, yes, but also because they are less spoiled by experience, less rigid in their thinking, more open to adventure. I have spent much effort in recent years in shedding my inhibitions, my acquired beliefs about myself and my life, shedding all the baggage—we want to travel with luggage, not baggage—and I have met so many other men my same age who haven’t done that work; I’ve spent a lot of energy clearing out of my own shit, I’m not really interested in having to do it for others. The downside of the attraction to the twenty-somethings is the lack of stability—they barely know who they are as yet—and the lack of commitment. Well, I don’t really need commitment; although I do need communication,. (I have Alex, who I love. I guess Joe was a fling; a great fling; but it’s up to him at this point if he wants to continue; I would really like it if he wanted to; I think I’ve fallen for him, he’s a great guy with a lot of promise; but it seems like he doesn’t want to be see me anymore, although I don’t really know because of the lack of communication; I just wish he’d tell me either way.) Stones on top of other stones. In my mind and visual memory, I still sit silently at the lip of ocean where the river meets the surf, watching and listening to the green and white waters as they violently entangle, listening to the silence within, the solitude here where I can be only myself, no need to speak or do anything I am not moved to do, and I am arranging stones on top of other stones.

CCXLVII. 25 July 2005, Pescadero, CA

I’ve driven down here, to this only local place of power that I have access to, here in foggy coastline California. I feel like shit. I needed to get away from everything toxic at home, the mold, the chemical fumes, the emotional double-standards, the toxic vibes.

I feel like I’m back on that rollercoaster again. I guess I was numb for awhile. Well, now that I’ve fallen for somebody who I don't know if he loves me or not, my heart chakra ripped open again, I am stabbed through the heart over and over again. I feel incredibly vulnerable. It would be nice if he would just communicate with me, instead of this big nothing of no communication. I could even take rejection, because it least it would give me a clear message of where I stand.

I am hungering for the road, hungering to leave here, and drive and drive and drive. Nowhere to go, just the desire to escape this misery that’s all I have anymore. Where’s the fun in life? I can’t remember; it seems an ephemeral phantom, a mere memory. I know I can be intense, and passionate, and that’s probably hard to be around. Sex? I can get that anytime; I’ve proven that, now; proven it to myself, the only person I really had to prove it to. Not all the sex I’ve been involved with here has been good; one or two times I’ve even realized a boundary was violated—realized after the fact, when thinking about it, that is. Proof that the only thing that really makes it work for me is consensuality. No forcing, no dom/sub bullshit—and it is bullshit of the highest magnitude, a perversion of souls meeting as equals, and loaded with self-esteem imbalances—no pushing things without permission. Again, communication is necessary.

I haven’t written any poems in a long time, and I haven’t really wanted to. I’ve divorced myself from the online poetry groups—I won’t say community, because they prove themselves not to be a true community in so many ways—and don’t feel like there was anything there for me, anyway. That cycle is over. I felt more and more like an outsider; all the things they care about so intensely, so unquestioningly, are so many gnats on a horse's ass. Poetry is the least interesting of the creative arts that I pursue, although I keep hearing I'm good and original at it. But the originality is waht finally alienated me, in the end, from this online non-community.

Some people get into escapism with sex, food, video games, whatever. I’ve been escaping into books. I’ve been on a book binge for a week or so now, scouring the Goodwills and clearance shelves; and I’ve found a few treasures, too. Frank Herbert’s God-Emperor of Dune, my second time reading that one, and getting much more out of it now than when it was first published. John McPhee’s Irons in the Fire, a collection of diverse essays, all his usual brilliant writing; my favorite the long piece on forensic geology. Loren Eiseley’s book of poems, The Innocent Assassins; Eiseley is always worth reading, and re-reading.

People come and go here at this foggy beach. If it were sunny and hot I would have gone directly to the nude beach at San Gregorio. But I felt the call of the stones here, today. I need to be here, make art, maybe record some sea sounds. Get completely out of my verbal, left brain, logical mind, and into no-mind, wabi-sabi, wu wei, mu.

Here am I, then, amid the darkly pitted rock,
myself tectonic and drifting, spurned
                    by tide and sea
surrounded, enflamed, ineffectual,
a brace of stones at waterline,
toppled by wave surge into green depths,
sand buried, immaterialized.

I remain alone.

Even the gulls avoid this place of biting flies, where
stars turn in the sand sparkle and mirages
skate across encrusted feet.
An epitaph for crabs.

            The rocks stand, sentinels,
lines of driftwood, wet black of a dog’s nosing,
mark the boundaries, osmotic and permeable,
between this land and another
land made of water.

The cliffs scale in the mist, shedding
rough marks to become rounded
windstones, portals the wind rushes through
for solace.

This oceanside gloom suits my mood. It’s sunny and hot still, inland, but here it’s the north sea, the chill wind, the dark skies, the green sea, the white waves. It could be raining, and me sitting at the window, staring out at nothing.

I find a dead starfish stranded on the rocks; I throw it back into the waves. I make short recordings of the waves hitting the rocks; it’s high tide, and the surges reach within inches of the microphone. Strong pulses surge through the archway here; the waves so high I can’t get to it. Some people on the beach across the river mouth; then, I am alone.

I make piles of rocks on rocks, right at the waterline, setting them up each time a wave knocks them down, until I find rocks that will stay there, at least for awhile. The tide has peaked, and the waves gradually retract; perhaps these sentinels will stay in place for another cycle of tides, or fall with the storm-heightened waves coming in from the sea tonight or tomorrow. Every so often, a wave surge high enough to swirl around the base of the standing stones, spinning them in place. In this way, I make grindings, accelerating the pitting of the dark stones hereabout. A lone pelican skates overhead. A find a single dreamstone for the day, amidst the rounded rubble falling off the cliffs, being ground to pebbles, boulders, sand. The gradual creation of doors to peer through.

I come back up the cliffs to the car, to write all this down, and maybe do some more recording. I have Eiseley’s book of poems with me; I read from it, savoring his slow cadence and deep, time-evoking meanings. The geologic sense of scale, made art, made poems, made hope.

I would trade hope, for a home in the heart.

CCXLVI. 22 July 2005, on the train, CA

As is the pattern, and I am still learning to remember this, bliss follows agony. The difficulty is that I don’t live in a monk’s cell, so, although I am a contemplative who periodically battles the dark night, it plays out in public, in social settings, in relationship. This is not always wise or welcome, and I am still figuring out how to manage it. (As usual, I resist the word control.)

I turned for comfort to the mystics again, yesterday, and began reading Susan Jaoudi’s Chrisitan Mysticism: East and West, which is actually very broad-ranging and quotes Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and shamanic wisdom traditions. It is a reminder that there are more things we all have in common than are differences.

Catherine of Siena, whose life was a model of social justice inspired directly by the mystical realization that God is present in all things. Gregory of Nyssa’s awareness of God in life and nature. The book’s final chapter is on spirituality and art, and how they have always been interconnected. I live this truth. The strands of my life that are definitive, being a creative artist, being gay, being intensely spiritual, being a shaman, are all wound together, separable only in theory or contemplation, not in actual fact. I am hardly unique in this, fo course. I see the tremendous spiritual creativity among the Radical Faeries, each and every self-actualized Fae a font of creative action. The real important defitiniton, here, as Jung affirms, is self-actualization, the expression of the integrated self, in action in the world. I affirm this, and repeast it continuously, a mantra, a prayer, a spiritual cliché, even, yet a true one.

I also called Joe last night, and had a good connecting talk. We’ll hopefully spend some time together this weekend. I make things worse, in my fears, than they really are. I’m still learning how to manage all that, too. Although I have no idea if anything will evolve from this; just have to wait and see. His turn to call me back.

The life-lesson we all face is the management of power: the right usage of our personal strength and force of personality. The contemplative definition of sin is not external, worldly, social; it consists of willful separation from God. Well, of course, I am recurrently guilty of this; in my willful anger; in my recurrent dark nights, which I make worse by dwelling on the fear and separation and abandonment. Does God go away from us? No. “It is we who go for a walk,” as Eckhart says. God is not capable of withdrawing love from anything, because that is what God is. It is I who reject love, and wallow in what I know to be false, this illusion of separation. That is my sin. Mea maxima culpa.

One lesson I really need to underline again, that I seem to have to keep re-learning, is that it’s not only okay, it’s best, that, when I have a dark night episode, to retreat to my cell, and not dramatize it, or share it with the world. I do not suppress or repress or hide, that’s not what I mean. I mean, rather, it’s inward, and can stay that way. Don’t drag my friends into my drama. Still learning that one, too.

CCXLV. 20 July 2005, San Leandro, CA

I’ve now spent around 200 dollars to deal with the mold infestation in the house. I’ve bought a dehumidifier, a fan, a shitload of cleaning supplies, and an Ionic Breeze. That last item alone was a hundred dollars—used, that is; new it would have cost four times that—and you know damn well, I bought it, I’m keeping it. And to what end, all this? None. I had the Ionic Breeze, the dehumidifier and the fan running all night, and when I went into the room this morning, the mold smell was the worst it’s ever been, even worse than before. It is clearly out of control at this stage. I got an instant headache, and lost my last hour of sleep. The mold now has to be dealt with on the fundamental cleanup level, because no patch or masking job is going to fix it anymore. It’s reached that stage where tearing down walls will be necessary, as I predicted it probably would, if allowed to get that far. Meanwhile, my room is completely uninhabitable, I’m sleeping, or trying to, on the floor elsewhere, and now the mold spores are probably into everything I own, so even if we solved the mold infestation this week, I would still have a week or more of cleanup to do before I could sleep in that room again. Have to clean all the books, have to wash everything I own, have to launder every piece of fabric I own.

Right now, I don’t care. I can’t deal with it anymore. I’m completely burned out. I haven’t slept well in almost two weeks; some nights I haven’t slept at all. The relaxing day off I was going to take this weekend, and go to the beach, or go on a photo trip, got buried under having to deal with the mold. I’m groggy at work, and I fell asleep on the train, and almost missed my stop this morning.

When this first got bad last week, and I said it would get this bad, no one believed me. In fact, everyone got mad at me for saying it probably go this way. But I know what mold problems are like: you can’t ignore them, they spread. It may be inconvenient, and it may be bad timing, and it may be money we’d all rather spend on other things, but if you have a mold problem in your house, you have to deal with it, or lose the house. It’s really that simple. I said so before, and got yelled at. I’m going to say, right now, something I never like to say: I told you so.

People never like to hear that. You can tell people, over and over again, that there are consequences to their actions as well as their inactions, and they will go into denial and ignore it all, until it’s too late, and then they get mad at the messenger. Well, I told you so. It’s the curse of accurate forecasting. It is no longer my problem, and my early attempt to ask for help last week caused nothing but relationship rifts. So, there’s nothing I can do anymore; it’s out of my hands. I am done with this. Do I expect anyone to listen to me next time something on this scale happens? No. I don’t. Especially when people say they’ll do something and then never get around to actually doing it. Denial is a sweet illusion, indeed. Meanwhile, the mold spreads, and will continue to spread. Hey, don’t mind me, I can just sleep on the floor for the indefinite future.

Maybe it’s time pack up everything and move on. I have to pack it all up anyway, and get it out of that room, now that it’s all filled with mold spores.

I am done with this. It is no longer my problem. I can contribute no more to its solution, because it takes all my energy right now to just fucking survive.

CCLIV. 18 July 2005, Pinole, CA

The unmanageable aspects of life. Things you can’t control. I wish I could say that it’s all better now, and leave it at that, and it’s not. It’s not all better now. The last few days have been harsh. They haven’t been without good moments, even a few quick joys, but they’ve mostly been harsh and demanding. My dreams last night were all positive, exciting, full of vibrancy and color; I didn’t want to wake up from them to this so-called waking life.

On Saturday spent literally all day scrubbing and cleaning, trying to get the mold smell out, locate it and kill the source. Yesterday it seemed like we got it, but today the smell’s back; not as bad, perhaps, but back. I want to live in this fucking room without being made sick by it. Maybe it’s just that the mold smell has lingered in the curtains and bed, and I need to disinfect those today. I don’t know, and I’m sick to death of having to deal with it. It’s cold and cloudy today, and I’m sick of all this useless, pointless activity that leads nowhere. I’m going to go seek the sun, I think.


A day spent doing more tasks, after all, and no down-time, after all. Finally, I am heading into the City around rush hour time (I’m on the train) to meet a friend for dinner. The fog burned off, and the sun came out, although it was windy most of the day. Changeable weather,, micro-climates, the usual. Parts of the Bay are hot and sunny, El Cerrito is covered by fog and remains cool and breezy.

What is unmanageable is uncontrollable. And the myth of control, that we can control nature, ourselves, anything, really, is an illusion. It’s not true to experience. The best one can do is go with the flow. I have a Taoist and Zen attitude towards this, when I am centered: whatever happens is whatever happens, and the thing to do is accept what is there, the Is, and go from there. If you keep too much of your attention and power focused on the past, you can’t see what’s right in front of your nose. It creates filters, and you miss what’s really there.

CCXLIII. 15 July 2005, on the morning train, CA

So, over the last week or so, a growing smell of mold and mildew in my bedroom—that same smell that we had worked so hard to get out of the camper, back before I left on this journey—growing and getting worse till it was making me physically ill. Culminating in a loss of sleep, a night spent with the fan blowing on me from the window, just so I could breathe, and being late to work because I was so wiped out I overslept the alarm. Then, a bad drive to the office, a dead computer at the office, dealing with stupid clients, and canceling a massage I had been hoping to get so I could get home and clean. A couple of hours of scrubbing and cleaning, a shitload of laundry, and I was able to reduce the smell enough to be able to sleep in my own bed rather than have to sleep elsewhere, as possibly necessary. I can still smell the mildew smell, even after the cleaning; I can’t tell at this point if it’s still lodged in the floor or walls or wherever, or if we killed it. I could get to sleep without asphyxiating, so that’s an improvement. I can still smell it, though. I can’t tell at this point if it’s real or not anymore; or if I am smelling the memory of it, rather than the actual thing itself. I’ll do more cleaning tonight and tomorrow, and maybe I can kill off the actual smell, if not the illusory one.

I don’t feel I have anything to apologize for, not even for panicking. If there’s a mold problem in the house, better to know about it than not. Better to deal with it than be in some kind of lazy-ass denial about it. The irony of course is that if there’s anyone in this house who’s a clean freak, it’s me. Fine, so I pulled a Felix Unger. Bite me. I thought there might have been a serious problem, and I asked for help. Yes, I was upset at the time, and I asked for help; I also wanted to inform the householders that there might be a problem with their house, which you’d think they might want to do something about. I didn’t threaten, I didn’t demand, I asked for help. Somehow that got turned into a big drama scene, and everyone’s pissed at me still. Personally, if there was a problem with my house, I’d want to know, so I could something about it. Well, I don’t feel like I have anything to apologize for. Excuse me all to hell for being hypersensitive to something very toxic. I guess it’s okay for other people to demand I change my behaviors to alleviate their toxic attacks, but it’s not okay for me to do the same. Double standards, indeed. Some very offensive things were said to me later in the day, that I think makes us even. So, fuck any apologies I might have offered before now.

Shall we make a list of everything that pisses each other off? Shall we be detailed about it, and see who has more grievances, or a longer list of individual items? Shall we turn it into a real fight, rather than let it go and move on? That’s not my first choice, no.

I feel very alone today, very stripped down to the inner Warrior. I realized I was pacing the train platform this morning, like a dangerous warrior or predator. People were giving me my space. I didn’t stop, when I noticed what I was doing, and I didn’t change a thing. I have no problem with being considered dangerous this morning, because I feel dangerous.

People stupidly think that because you could be dangerous, you therefore will be. Such bullshit. People also stupidly mistake this for anger, when it isn’t. It’s Zero Tolerance for Wasteful Bullshit, is what it is. Laced with hostility, to be sure, but managed hostility. No warrior would actually initiate hostilities, because our biggest battles are always with ourselves; on the other hand, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy a chance to kick someone’s ass today, if they attacked me first.

The mind of light. It astounds me how un-alert to their surroundings most people are. I pace down the station, stalking the Self. Every sense heightened, hypered, and alert to the smallest change in the environment.

Maybe the real issue here is that I’m not used to California climate, and its unique semi-tropical issues. Back in the wintry north, everything dies off over winter: the molds, the hornet’s nests, the bees, the ants. Out here, and in the south, things don’t die off over winter; or at least, not every cycle. So, maybe I just need to learn to change habits, still, and be even more of a clean freak—not that I am a clean freak, I’m just one relative to the people I live with—and keep things spotless, and thus, less prone to mildew, etc. Oh, the joys of California, both the good and the stupid, of a state that can’t figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, geologically and climatologically as well as socially. Oh joy, oh rapture, oh bliss. I’ve never done this before; how the fuck am I supposed to know what to expect? There’s no way to know in advance.

Later, San Leandro:

sigh You know, whatever. It’s not worth it, so just let it go.

On much more interesting fronts, I played riq and bodhran for a soundtrack recording session earlier this week. I taught the recording engineer a couple tricks about micing frame drums—one back a ways for a room fill, one focused mic very close to pick up the low end frequencies—and I heard via email later that everyone was very pleased with both the performance and the sound quality of the instruments and the recording. Always nice to hear.

Actually, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the music front lately. Which may be why, again, I find poetry so uninteresting right now. Last night, I went onto that poetry critique site, The Critical Poets, and systematically removed every post I’d made in the last month. All the crap I get there, more rejection, from people who were supposedly my friends, and who invited me to post there to begin with, is a waste of time. My poetry is going in a direction labeled “experimental” by most, although to me it is a completely logical evolution of where I have always been going. But it’s obvious by now that I’m no longer welcome there, either my poetry or my critiques, so I choose to shrug and move on. I almost never get anything helpful or useful, in terms of critique, anyway, on these online poetry boards. They are too focused on the mainstream, the pedantic, the narrative, the normalized, the usual, the confessional, the everyday slice of life, and the poetry that sounds like everyone else’s. I find all of that, well. boring. Where’s the music? The ecstasy? The transcendent? The visionary? The extraordinary? As rare as it ever was, I gather.

CCXLII. 14 July 2005, Pinole, CA

Rejection, dejection, alienations, distancing, abandonment, isolation. Whatever. Brilliant. Just brilliant. I guess I’m in the wrong, or at least everyone tells me I am. And I don’t see it. For once, I don’t feel like immediately bowing down to everyone else’s truth, when they tell me I’m in the wrong. For once, I feel objective enough to say, I don’t see that I have anything to apologize for. Granted, I could be deluded, in denial, possessed by Shadow. Or, so could they.

I am apparently losing friends and companions right and left, apparently pissing them off, or not living up to their expectations. That’s right, I deliberately went out of my way to fuck you up and create trouble for you. That’s right, I deliberately created more drama than was necessary, just to piss you off.

Well, maybe at some point everyone will tell me exactly what I did that pissed them off, and how to avoid pissing them off again. In the meantime, I guess I have to go back to walking on eggshells around everyone in my life, and watching everything I do.

Well, fuck that. I am so sick of everyone I know always maneuvering to put me in the wrong, instead of looking the mirror at their own contributions towards events, misunderstandings, and related bullshit.

You know what else I’m tired of? Everybody just disappearing whenever I have a bad day and dare to express or talk about it, or just be fucking honest that life is not as peachy every fucking day as they would like to pretend it is. I always spend my dark nights alone, mostly because everyone disappears whenever they happen. Nobody wants to be around the darkness, I guess. Of course, this is rarely reciprocated, as everyone always feels free to tell me their sorrows and dramas; as long as they don’t have to listen to mine, in exchange. Nice. Good two-way street there. Nice fair exchange of energy. What the fuck ever.

Oh, victim, victim, victim, mea culpa, poor me, self-pity bullshit. Nobody gives a fuck, anyway. Just move on.

Life goes a lot better when you don’t take it so personally.

Unfortunately, that does not only apply to me. It applies to everyone else, too.

Since it keeps coming up all the time, everyone wanting to be In The Right, and stating either or covertly, that everyone else is wrong, is must be Shadow in operation. Is it mine? Perhaps. I feel more like I’ve been running into everyone else’s Shadow on this, lately. Maybe it’s because the times are so uncertain, so scary, so frightening; perhaps the uncertainty heightens the need to be In The Right. (And all of just opinions, little of it actually based on evidence.) The problem with everyone wanting to be in the right all the time is that no one stops to listen to viewpoints other than their own. Everyone ends up talking at each other, rather than to each other. At its worst, it devolves into pronouncements rather than dialogue.

I get rejected all the bloody time, it’s nothing new. I should just be used to it, by now. And, on some levels, in some arenas, I already am.

I just acquired:

Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse. It's the transcript of his Norton Lectures in 1967-68. Borges was approaching 70 at the time. He spoke without notes, being already almost blind, but from his great knowledge he was able to quote many things from his excellent memory. His six talks are all about poetry. The last talk is "A Poet's Creed," and in it Borges creates a sort of life testament to poetry, writing, reading, books, and so forth. He says some interesting things about the impetus to write, that I find very worthwhile thinking about:

When I am writing something, I try not to understand it. I do not think intelligence has much to do with the work of a writer. I think that one of the sins of modern literature is that it has become too self-conscious.

I began, as most young men do, by thinking that free verse is easier than the regular forms of verse. Today I am quite sure that free verse is far more difficult than the regular and classical forms. The proof—if proof be needed—is that literature begins with verse. I suppose the explanation would be that once a pattern is evolved—a pattern of rhymes, of assonances, of alliterations, of long and short syllables, and so on—you only have to repeat the pattern. While, if you attempt prose (and prose, of course, comes long after verse), then you need, as Stevenson pointed out, a more subtle pattern. Because the ear is led to expect something, and then it does get what it expects. Something else is given to it; and that something else should be, in a sense, a failure and also a satisfaction. So that unless you take the precaution of being Walt Whitman or Carl Sandburg, then free verse is more difficult. At least I have found, now when I am near my journey's end, that the classic forms of verse are easier. Another facility, another easiness, may lie in the fact that once you have written a certain line, once you have resigned yourself to a certain line, then you have committed yourself to a certain rhyme. And since rhymes are not infinite, your work is made easier for you.

Food for thought.

CCXLI. 10 July 2005, Pinole, CA

Dreamt this morning of playing Stick in a band with techno and rock musicians, and a wild mix that featured some experimental sound-painting. They were a well-known band, sort of like the Sonic Youth or Radiohead outside-rock fringe, that I had just been asked to join; we were playing a night concert outdoors; some sort of video projection on a huge screen beside us or behind us; playing music to it, or it accompanying us; before the show, some interviewer, walking around from rig to rig, musician to musician, said to me, “You’re the quiet one in the band,” and I said, well, I’m the oldest one in the band, too, and I’ve said it all before in the past, it’s their turn to say it now; I didn’t say that I was also the new guy; we were playing in such a way that we weren’t right onstage, and could still talk together while we played; I guess the focus was on the visuals; a couple of strings on my Stick broke, but I kept playing, making sounds, contributing, working around the limitations. I think of that NYC bass player I heard once, who played with only 3 strings. It’s not the limits you have. It’s what you do with them, how you respond to them, how you overcome them.

Long talk with Pam and David yesterday, visiting Mom and Dad this week from Holland; next week they’ll go on to Michigan to visit his parents for awhile. I got very emotional at some points; I still feel burned out from trying to help Dad with Mom’s Alzheimer’s, and all the turbulence from my departure out there last summer. It is not resolved, and probably won’t be. It’s ongoing. Mom’s emotional storms are going to happen, there’s noting anyone can do about it; you just have to remember that they’re rooted in her frustration with her own situation. Doesn’t make it much easier for the rest of us, though.

Holding hands with Joe in public, walking down the street as we did in San Francisco for fireworks last Monday, still has a dangerous thrill for me. People do look. But this is San Francisco. I grew up in a time and place where men holding hands in public would get them beat up; so, I still feel a frisson when we do it, or at the BART station, leaning against each other, holding on. I admire his public fearlessness. His openness is courageous. It’s the right thing, the right way to be, the right way to overcome years of fear: just hold hands. I like it, even with the frisson I still feel at times.


Lots of people wanting things from me, me dealing with what I can do for myself and for them at the same time. Trying to stay on balance, be available, yet not overwhelmed with requests. I have been squishy these past few weeks about returning emails, and I need to get back into integrity on that front. I find myself being a little passive; waiting for others to make up their minds; feeling either too tired to take the initiative all the damn time, or having to be the one who “manages” things.

I quit that one gay mystics e-list, about ready to quit the other. Too much ridiculous ego-based posturing and preachiness. I don’t feel like I need to be the lone voice of reason all the time, nor do I desire to. This one guy who is emailing me privately right now is acting like he wants me to be his guru, and is putting me on a pedestal, and making up expectations for my behavior towards him—and that sort of thing never goes well. Just being myself, I sooner or later walk into their expectations and jump off the pedestal, and they turn angry and their projections turn mean and vindictive. And it’s all projections. None of it is me. That’s the part that I find so crazy: people who want to live consciously, and say they do, and are working to do so, who get caught up their own unconscious projections, and resent it when you call them on it. I guess it’s true: nobody really wants to be told the truth. They’d rather keep their comfortable illusions.

Well, today we jammed in Palo Alto, which was pretty good: some good grooves, and I did some different kinds of bass lines on Stick. Then, dinner with a Vietnamese man I met on Craigslist: a very nice man, and I enjoyed our chat over dinner. And, in light of recent events with other people, one wonders if this, too, will not run afoul of fantasies and expectations. Me, I do my best to have none, or catch them when I start building them: a response to having been burned numerous times on peoples’ expectations of me.

I am exhausted at living up to others’ expectations, and I will no longer even try. They can project all they want to. If I don’t act the way they want me to, that is not my issue, it’s theirs. Cope with it as best you can, people. I’ll be sitting over here, making art, when you’re done with it all, and ready to meet the real me. Cheers.

Later still:

Almost midnight. Lying naked in the hot tub, looking at the night sky. The stars begin to whirl faster, hours compressed into seconds, and shimmer. A plane passes overhead, and a satellite much higher. Suddenly, the sky is sliced in two by a brilliant, long-tailed meteor, passing north to south, zippering the constellations.

More hedonism: Lying naked n the warm wool blankets, a cool night breeze seeping through the window, reading. Getting up naked and going out to the hot tub late at night. The warmth of the water jets moving on your skin; the cool breeze in your hair; looking up at the stars. Getting out and walking back in, letting the air dry your skin. A glass of cold, cold water.

I realize, while re-reading Erskine Lane’s 1978 book Game-Texts, that the origin and source and structure of this Road Journal, as well as of his book, is the ancient Japanese form of zuihitsu, the traditional form of random composition. Encompassing everything, leaving out nothing; at the heart of it, an inward journey. This style and form suits me very well, as it is open-ended without requiring formal structure. You can pretty much let yourself wander wherever your heart and mind want to go.

Erskine Lane writes, and I see myself reflected in so much of his book:

The whole question of love and sex, it occurs to me, is probably the test, the means whereby I’ll work out or fail to work out the crucial problem of accepting That Is with no interference from any fixed idea of What Should Be. Everything works for our good; reality contrives to teach us and free us. It is in the realm of human relations that we insist most stubbornly on having our way. If we can learn to let people come and go, not holding onto them after they’ve gone, then all the lesser demands of the ego should pose no problem at all.

The ideal: to be in the mood for sex and closeness when they are available and to have no particular desire for them when there is none around.

The same with ice cream, avocados, sunshine, rain, noise, silence, happiness, sadness. To take is as it comes, if and when it comes, some inner wholeness always undisturbed.



Entire Contents of this Website
© 1992–2010 Arthur Durkee/Black Dragon Productions (TM).
All Rights Reserved.