Thursday, December 24, 2009

Driven to Tears

“How can you say you’re not responsible?’

There is no Christmas celebration here in the Z household this year. No cause for joy, beyond the love that sits in our hearts, trying to spread out and cover the reality that is right outside the door.

How can one sit in comfort, safe from the violent predation that is seemingly creeping into every corner of our planet, and ignore the fact that – even if you didn’t ask for it or support it – innocent people are being killed to “defend the American way of life”?

I said innocent, and there is no arguing that fact, no matter how you try and twist it to arrive at justification.

“What does it have to do with me?”

I can’t say what has changed, what has shifted internally, but the mask has been ripped off and I find myself sitting here alternating between despondency and rage over what is being perpetrated in my name, supported by my labor via taxation, and held up as a right and just action to defend us from the evil terrorists out there that hate us for our freedoms. I almost just threw up typing that piece of propaganda.

Our president has won the Nobel Peace Prize, as he sends more and more people to their death. He makes a speech that his supporters hail as some kind of Divine work, and tries to tell us why it is all good, perfectly fine, and entirely necessary. How is it that we can drop bombs on Somalia and launch cruise missiles into Yemen, and everyone seems cool with it? How does the rest of the world stand by and not stop this undeclared warfare? Who are these people around me that celebrate these actions and cheer on the continued march of our boots across the planet, now heating up in Africa big-time? I know that there are supposedly some “radical Islamic” types there – or is it because there is something else there that we maybe covet?

“What is my reaction, what should it be?
Confronted by this latest atrocity”

I read a report by Siebel Edmonds yesterday that linked to some commentary in the mainstream media about our intention to expand drone attacks into a large (850,000)Pakistani city in an effort to take out some Taliban or “Al Qaeda” leaders or fighters (or some such horseshit). The report also detailed the fact that the 60 previous drone engagements resulted in the of killing 687 civilians while claiming only 14 “bad guys”, but for some reason this doesn’t seem to be a big deal to a large portion of our leadership, and probably went unnoticed by the vast majority of my countrymen.

I don’t know about the “rules of war” or how much “honor” is actually involved when one group takes up arms and chooses to engage in the destruction of another country/society/culture, but I cannot imagine a more chickenshit way to go about waging war. My understanding of how this works is that it usually involves some guy sitting in a room in the American west somewhere, joystick in hand (probably listening to his iPod), watching a video feed from across the world showing the terrain his “Predator” is covering. At some point he gets the “go ahead”, pushes a button, and unleashes a Hellfire missile or 2 on his intended target. No risk to his physical being, no need for fear to enter into his mind. Hell, it’s just like playing a video game with the added bonus of getting a paycheck and the honor of bragging about the “Haji” he killed today.

“Hide my face in my hands, shame wells in my throat
My comfortable existence is reduced to a shallow meaningless party”

I have something to tell you. By any definition (and especially in the case of Pakistan) WE are the terrorists. Check out this definition and see if you can see who might fit the description when we tell the Pakistani government “deal with the problem or we will” after slaughtering several hundred civilians, women and children included:

Terrorism:

The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.

“Seems that when some innocent die
All we can offer them is a page in some magazine
Too many cameras and not enough food
'Cos this is what we've seen”

So then, what can be done about this? How about electing some leaders that will bring our troops home and stop the Empire building? Maybe work within the political system and change it from the bottom up? Or take to the streets in protest, demanding that these horrors be stopped and engagement with the world be done not with weapons and force, but with words and assistance where it is needed?

“Protest is futile, nothing seems to get through
What's to become of our world, who knows what to do”

I didn’t vote in the last elections. I will never vote again, and hope to find myself in a different locale sooner rather than later – hopefully on another continent, but where to go? I can’t keep pretending that I’m not partly to blame for all the things done by our “leadership”. I sit in a huge house with a fridge full of food, safe and secure from violence and bloodshed, and it feels wrong on so many levels. I don’t know why I was born here. Could I have just as easily been a child in one of the regions of the world currently being occupied or destroyed to “protect the American way of life”? How can this way of life be defended (or enjoyed) if it is only able to be perpetuated by violence and force? From the moment the white man landed here, we have been killing and stealing our way into the position we have, and it continues on a global scale to this very moment. We didn’t earn any of it. The notion of a noble American populace working harder and being smarter than the rest of the world to achieve what we have is a lie. In the time it took me to write this, I can guarantee that an innocent has been killed, maimed, made homeless or parentless, or thrown into a torture chamber just so I can live as I do. That’s something that negates any Holiday cheer that might have attempted to visit me this season. I can’t stop the tears, and have no desire to.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stripped, Whipped, and Ready To Be Clipped


Let me just start out by saying one thing here. The world we appear to be inhabiting is, by all accounts, totally fucked from one end to the other and from top to bottom. 6+ billion fragmented little entities all scurrying around hiding from debt collectors, death squads, their own transgressions and lies, the resulting fallout from other's lies, their inner self and each other. Prodded by some unknown and invisible stick, we feel a pressure building and this is coming out in all kinds of different ways. Wars are waged based on lies. Laws are passed in a vain attempt to keep the lid on the little guys, so that when something pops up that might create the momentum for change it gets stamped out and minimized. I'll bet lots and lots of drugs and alcohol are being consumed and many other things that I don't care to mention or even think about. And fear shows up with its good buddy anger in tow, looking for an opportunity to latch on and create a mess somewhere.

There is a void that needs filling. For a long time it seemed like things were pretty easy and straightforward. You do your work thing, socialize a bit, maybe create some art or just zone out and groove on someone else's creation. Then things got tricky. The ride got bumpy, and things got jarred and broken along the way. Eventually, questions creep in, like "What the fuck are we doing here?" and "How the hell do I get out of this mess?".

It is a mess. A big, stinky, expanding mess that threatens to engulf the whole world and cast us into any number of darker, more threatening conditions. Who is going to pull clean-up duty on this one? How can we recover as a species if we don't all take a deep breath and say "Do over!"? Is there really someone in charge that knows the outcome of all this and is doing these things for our own good? Are lessons being given so we have an opportunity to do better next time or down the road? I don't know. I just don't know.

I used to sit in AA meetings years ago and listen to people tell their stories. Time after time I would hear someone recall all the horrors that visited them and their loved ones (or even strangers), and I would always say to myself "Man, I'm sure glad none of that shit ever happened to me!". Well, I guess things can happen that profoundly impact our lives and the lives of the ones around us without flashing lights or high drama. Bad shit has visited me in a very stealthy but persistent manner, and now I find myself at wit's end and wishing that I could just get off this rock. I hate to admit it, but since this is my blog and is essentially for my own consumption, I get to say exactly what I feel - I feel like death would be a blessing right now. Each time I feel that crushing pain in my chest or my arm goes numb, a small part of me hopes that this will be the moment of my demise. Sorry if anyone who cares about me sees this, but I would not be fighting for my life if the Reaper came calling. If that makes me selfish and a pussy for not taking this shit and forcing a smile on my face so I can "carry on", too bad.

I know that many people have it far tougher than I do. It seems silly to sit in my warm, spacious home with my toys and food on the shelf, bitching about how much my life sucks right now, but the thing that sits on my shoulders and convinces me that it is all a scam and a bad illusion is very persistent and quite cunning. Fear, uncertainty and anger are the order of my days, and it seems just as silly to take stock of the situation and say "It's all good". The things I once viewed as important parts of my existence have all been shown to be hollow and superficial. I once defined myself as a musician, but that is a lie. I thought I had a good head on my shoulders, but it has turned against me. It once appeared that I had many friends and was a valued part of a social structure, but no more. I am on my own with this one. Even my only remaining blood relative, my own brother, who lives just a few miles away, is a stranger.

And then there is pain. Real, constant, physical pain. I can usually manage most of the other things that gnaw at me from above my shoulders, but what to do about constant pain? I suppose prescription drugs are a way of mitigating it, but that has a set of challenges associated with it, too. I have found comfort in the use of marijuana, but that isn't something that I can do legally here in Minnesota (thanks, T-Paw - you fucking asshole) and it leads to other problems. It really wears on a person. I'm soooo ready to be beyond all this, but cannot bring myself to end my life in a dramatic way, so it seems I am doing it slowly? I don't know. This all seems too dramatic and self-serving even typing this and sending it out to the world, where someone might actually read it, but I don't care. The world can kiss my ass.

So I endure. I woke up again this morning. O.K., I didn't wake up as much as I just stopped tossing and turning in bed with visions of acts of rage and words of anger rolling around in my brain. Will this ever get better? Are these the "good old days" and even harsher tests are forthcoming? Is it really the job of the world to strip away all the things that we thought were important so we are forced to see the only thing that really is?

Even as I type this and roll around in all this self-pity, that small, glowing thing with the silly grin on its face is there, mocking me from the center of my body. It stays there, silent, but knowing something that can't be shared yet. I know that the raging, pitiful creature that I see in the mirror is not who I really am. I have been given a taste of what deep, enduring love looks like, and it is not here right now. It came and went like some kind of meteor streaking across the sky, making me gasp in awe, then burning up in an instant of intense light and heat, leaving me longing for its return.

Alright, enough of this shit. I just want to say one thing to the world as I see it currently. You can batter me, drag me around behind your pickup, deny me the things I need (or think I need), hold up examples of things to taunt me, or even twist my physical being into knots so I'm rendered totally lame. You will not extinguish my inner flame. Z is beyond your reach and doesn't buy into this game. If nothing else comes from this experience here, know that that thing that is the true part, the invincible part, carries on to the next step, and I will protect and care for it no matter what is thrown my way.

I just wish it didn't have to hurt so fucking bad.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Winter and Words That Rhyme


Man, it gets tough to just move sometimes. A rise, then a fall. Pleasure with a side of pain to follow. Ebb, flow - the cycle continues and on and on we go. Maybe this time...........

I'm not quitting. The game grows tiresome, but I think I can see the finish. I feel the rising of something that I asked for, but wasn't ready to receive. Be careful what you seek, for it may bee seeking you out as well.

It's hard to hold on to those feelings of freedom and simple joy that came with taking off and driving around experiencing new places and faces. It was heaven to be with my wife and kids all day every day, surrounded by the mind-boggling beauty that is Northern California. Back to the Bible Belt and the old routine, the dream of something better fades with the light of our shorter days, and hunkering down for winter is the order of the day. Returning to our home and finding dozens of tomatoes and peppers rotting in our garden ( I told the neighbors to please help themselves, but...) was a reminder of what we saw in Ukiah while visiting my Stepfather. Acre after acre of pears rotting in the field because the market was no longer there, and now these trees that had been planted and nurtured to produce their bounty were likely slated for destruction. Someone sought to create a field of produce and the Earth complied, but it seems that the fruit was more valuable as a "loss" than as an actual product, so let it rot. I don't get it. You'd likely get hassled if you tried to round up some for your own table, but I guess I don't know that for sure.

As winter closes in, the reminder of how severe our climate can be is very strong, especially when considering the possibility of disruption of utility service or food supply. Each region poses its unique challenges to the people living there, but here in Minnesota winter can easily take your life if you are not careful. 45 of these long, dark and cold spells have made the lure of warmer climes very attractive, and my lovely wife certainly has done her time here in the frozen tundra (native San Francisco Bay area girl). We'll see how all that might change soon enough, I guess.

Winter can be a great time for creative pursuits, and I'd like to devote a good deal of my time trying to produce some music that I can be proud of. If not my own, then as a sideman for someone else. Not looking to market anything or go on tour, just looking to unload some of the crap that has piled up around and inside me and a Strat into a cranked Boogie seems the best avenue towards that expression. This was how I first experienced Divinity working through me when I achieved that place of "no-mind" and was awed at the music that came through me from somewhere else. I know I could never play like that, so someone else must have been doing the work. It was ecstasy, even though typically these moments are brief and hard to sustain or even arrive at. Thank you so much for that gift.

I'm not a lyrics guy at all, and have had the pleasure of collaborating with folks much more skilled in that area. One of the greatest challenges where musical expression is concerned is the need to involve others to fully realize these songs. My own self-critic has trashed more takes than I care to admit, and sometimes it is critical to have another ear, another perspective, and honest support when trying to decide when you have "the one". I hope to find this again someday soon, and get some of this stuff off my chest. After all, collaborating means dealing other people and all that comes with it. We'll see. Winter is a blessing in this regard, as the trips to the cabin or a golf outing won't be a hindrance when trying to gather my posse together to make some noise.

I imagine this type of rambling is of less value to most folks than reporting on hidden agendas or delivering deep and profound insights into the world and its workings, but I'm a simple guy with opinions that are mostly reserved for those that ask for them, and I am quick to point out that I know very little so I'm sorry if this seems like self-absorbed fluff. So many people do such a great job of the other kind of blogging, that I figure it clears the way for folks like me to clear the air and share the little things - the daily struggles and triumphs that to me are what life is about. I can change the world, but in this case the world is not what one might first imagine when I say that word.

I'll close whatever this is with some words that came to me as I was slowly waking this morning. Could be a song, or maybe just words. I'm not going to call it poetry, but maybe someone will get a chuckle out of it.

They say that time is moving faster,
that change is due both slave and master,
heralded by Earth disaster,
thank God I have my Telecaster.

"Big Al" Gore the greenhouse punk,
kool-aid served and eagerly drunk,
climate science exposed as junk,
truth waves rise - who'da thunk?

We cast our gaze to heavens above,
we walk the Earth and search for love,
we kneel and pray, push and shove,
and carry on as Hawk and Dove.

In a moment's time we travel far,
accompanied by our warming star,
we're moving swiftly, yes we are,
spinning towards the Avatar.

The milky way is not our home,
our true birthplace as yet unknown,
on this voyage we have grown,
the truth of All soon will be shown

What thing inhabits your reactive mind?
In which direction are you inclined?
By thoughts and actions we are defined,
look inside, what will you find?

The age of Kali, the love of gold,
money is the measure, or so I'm told,
even people bought and sold,
man this shit is getting old.

Peace and love to All.

Z

Friday, October 2, 2009

GO

Greetings to all and any who happen by this little corner of the Blogosphere. Time for another little exercise in public expression designed to do something – what, I’m not sure of, but all the cool kids are doing it so in this case I’ll follow the herd.

I suppose blogging is somewhat dated, what with Twitter and such available to post up-to-the minute details of our lives for all to see, but that just proves that I am never as cool as the coolest, and always lagging behind the latest trends. That probably explains why my guitar rig is completely state-of-the-art circa 1985, and the car I just took halfway across the country just turned 16 years old (and turned over its 144,000th mile). Hey, if you find something that works, why rush to replace it?

Even the things that work great for awhile get old and maybe less functional, and we are seeing that trend in many ways all around us today. In the rush to replace things that work just fine with things that appear to work “better”, many things that had plenty of life left were replaced by things of greater complexity and now we see that with that increasing complexity comes a need for higher degrees of maintenance and vigilance. I remember when MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) first came around and all the cool guys were wiring up the refrigerator-sized racks with lots of blinking light and miles of cable, just so they could make sound changes with one stomp of a footswitch instead of 2 or 3. Yeah, it was convenient, but the amount of added complexity was staggering, and the cost was substantial. Plus, when you start chaining together lots and lots of electronic gear, stuff can (and will) go wrong. After a time, lots of guys who were NOT touring pros with technicians on staff went back to attaching individual pedals to plywood with Velcro, and that is where I stayed the whole time. Wait, does that make me a trend-setter? Ahead of the curve??

O.K., enough of the guitar geek stuff. Let’s talk about something that is always relevant – change, and how to know where and when to make it.

For many months now, the issue of how my family was to move toward a different way of living has been the focus of much thought, prayer, and angst. The idea that we were no longer able to simply continue on our current path was the easy part to arrive at. This brought about the question of what our next move was, and what, exactly, we were seeking to establish in this move. Some simple concepts came to the fore right away, and they all seemed to have a common denominator; rejection of the pursuit of material things in exchange for, well, our lives, and wanting to have more time together as a family in uncertain times. The question marks about my physical health, and the health of society in general pounded ever harder on the door. The other huge factors were a pressing desire to get closer to our natural state, and not wanting to contribute to the evil perpetuated by our “leaders” via taxation of our labor. All signs pointed towards getting simpler, smaller and lighter. I assumed that many of these things would happen whether we chose them or not, so it became another question of being “ahead of the curve”.

As described in an earlier post, we had done the best we could within the framework of the “get a job, buy a house, raise up some kids” model, and had our share of success and failure. While we find ourselves living in a very nice neighborhood with fabulous schools and my wife working in a secure job in a corporate legal environment, we have also gone through the process of a foreclosure and bankruptcy. Plus, there was the fact that we were living in a very nice neighborhood with fabulous schools and my wife was working in a corporate legal environment (see “greater complexity” reference above). The question became “how do we extract ourselves without having to lose everything and start over?”
That continues to be the big question.

One of the challenges of our situation is trying to plan everything and see into the future. I want to know what is in store so we can plan accordingly. I want to know that we will be safe and protected as we fumble towards our new ideal lifestyle. I want to know that we have allies and safety nets in place. I want to know that the pain I experience daily is not an indication that my body is about to quit and that I am strong enough to help guide my family forward out of our current model. I want guarantees and promises and cross-my-hearts that we are doing the right thing. These are the demands made by a certain part of my anatomy that seems to reside somewhere above my neck, sometimes feeling like nothing less than a foreign entity that seeks only to drown out that deeper, calmer part that is at my very core. There is a duality here, one I can no longer deny but one that seems to be changing as time passes and certain efforts are made to refine the contact with one and give less attention to the rants of the other. I am very late to this game, but the rewards of said effort only reinforce the notion that this is extremely important and the key to making the changes we seek to undertake.

At this point I feel I need to thank a man who I have never met, but who has played a big part in this progression over that past 2 years or so. I want to thank Les Visible for doing what he does, and for introducing me to so many other people (who I have never met) that comprise a virtual “community” of support and love that sustains and nourishes me while I fumble around and grasp at things. These others include Nina, Murph and Freeacre, Pangolin, Montana Freeman, Palooka, Psychegram, Publius, and the many other folks who comment at various blogs I visit. What happens in these places has a certain magic to it that I cannot deny, and while it will never replace the face-to-face relationships I have, many of these people I have never met are as dear to me as some in-the-flesh friends. I hope one day to make the rounds and at least shake these hands and let them all know in person how much I value them. I have done so on a few occasions and hope to expand that circle on my current road trip.

Oh yeah, the road trip. I was going to write about our current adventure but obviously got sidetracked here. I’ll do some of that in a few days, but the message I wanted to impart today can be summed up thusly; one can plan and hope and try to wrest full control of the wheel all we want, but sometimes things pop up in an unexpected fashion that simply dictate what the next right thing is. In this case, a sudden illness and the need to be close to aging parents forced our hand and made us put off any grand plans for a quick and hurried voyage across the country. Plan, try to anticipate and prognosticate all you want – sometimes you just have to listen to your guts and GO. So go we did. More soon.

Z

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Persuasion

Hey, it's back-to-school time, and what do we have on tap for young minds hungry for new information and tools of discernment? How about some skills that can be used to see the real purpose of the media and advertising? Oh, and a (not too) short bit about the holocaust. This came home yesterday for me to sign off on (not signing means points deducted from my kid's grade).


Dear 7th grade Parent or Guardian,


This year your student will have the opportunity to participate in a semester long course focusing on Media Literacy and Persuasion. We live in an ever-growing media and technology culture and there is increasing national concern that students of all ages are not trained to correctly interpret all of the media messages that are saturating our society. The Persuasion class is designed to teach students to analyze and evaluate a range of the different media and persuasion techniques so that they can learn to be more critical and thoughtful about the messages they encounter.


The study of Persuasion and Media Literacy is especially important in the middle school years. Middle school students change in these years more than ever before with the exception of their first year of life. They are in the process of discovering who they are and where they fit in. Developmentally, these children are not automatically able to distinguish what is real and not real and they often believe everything they hear. Media sells an image of what you have to do to fit in. It is important for middle school students to learn the skills to distinguish between what media says who you should be and who you really are.


Not only will we be exploring media literacy in modern times, we will be exploring persuasion and propaganda evidenced in our history, specifically the Holocaust. Although we will be using a text that is specifically written for 7th graders, due to the nature of this nonfiction study, some aspects are graphic unpleasant. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.


It is impossible to control your child’s access to all media and exposure to persuasion. However, it is possible to empower 7th grade students by teaching life-long skills so that they will be able to analyze, evaluate, and to make sense of the media information and persuasion techniques they encounter in our technological world.

Sincerely,


CA, Persuasion ILA teacher

PERSUASION

SEVENTH GRADE

COURSE DESCRIPTION


Unit 1: What is communication? Who created this message?

Overview, Media literacy terms

Pre and post test on media literacy terms, reading strategies on concepts not

mastered.

The world in 22 minutes: Constructing a TV News Lineup

History of advertising

Mini ad campaign

Core Concept #1: All Messages are “Constructed”.


Unit 2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Basic visual language: The three building blocks

Basic visual language: How to analyze a visual text

Basic persuasion Techniques

The power of editing

Pre and post test on persuasion terms

Create media wall

Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.


Unit 3: Do you see what I see? Interpreting Media Experiences

Silent symbols speak loudly: Brands, icons and you

Ads-R-Us: Understanding target marketing

Valuing different views: Taking a stand on media violence

Media survey

Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same media messages differently


Unit 4: What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or Omitted from, this message?

More than meets the eye: Embedded values in the news

Media stereotypes: How differences divide

Read “The Wave”, a play about influence and mind control

What’s missing? Making Room for Multiple Perspectives

Core Concept #4 Media have embedded values and points of view

Unit 5: Why is this message being sent?

Why we communicate: Three basic tasks: Inform, persuade, and entertain

The business of Media: Who is renting my eyeballs?

Hidden messages: The growth of product placement

Power persuasion, and propaganda: Exploring multiple motives

Core Concept #5 Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.


Unit 6: Propaganda

Definitions

Forms and types of propaganda

WWII propaganda discussion

Create propaganda posters


Unit 7: The Holocaust

Video clips, United streaming

Pioneer Press introduction article

Holocaust information survey

Read stories from “The Holocaust”, a historical reader

“All But My Life”, by Gerda Weissmann Klein

“Commanding a Concentration Camp” by Rudolph Hoss

“Liberation” by Lucille Eichengreen

Most Important Word excercises

Vocabulary quiz on each reading

Study guide for each reading

Discussion and critical thinking skills

Minnesota State Common Assessment implemented with these Readings

Computer lab, exploration, Holocaust victim testimony and related websites

Documentary, One Survivor remembers

Documentary, Paper Clips


Here's a quick line from Lucille Eichengreen;


"There was a man who had a knife in his hand, he must have weighed almost seventy pounds. And he was slicing away at a corpse and eating the raw flesh. It was unreal."


There was an additional WTF moment when I read the privacy policy. While going to great lengths to explain how carefully they guard any academic info, the following raised an eyebrow:


a. One exception which permits disclosure WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT (caps mine) is disclosure to school officials who have legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the school District as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement personnel); a person serving on the School Board; a person or company with whom the School District has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or greivance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.


That's the academic info. Surely PERSONAL info is kept closely under wraps, right?


From the privacy pages;


5. "Directory Information" concerning students is public information and may be disclosed by the School District without prior consent.


a. "Directory Information" includes the following information relating to a student: the student's name; address; telephone number; date of birth; sex; major field of study; dates enrolled in the Mounds View Public Schools; height and weight of members of athletic teams; extra-curricular activities, special acievements and honors. "Directory Information" does not include identifying information on a student's religion, race, color, social position or nationality.


A parent can opt to make the above information "private" simply by sending a letter to the building prinicipal within 30 days of the last publication of the notice. How one determines that time frame is unknown as it is not dated anywhere.


I wont go into the privacy policy regarding military recruiters, but they get access to your kids and their info unless you specifically tell them "no".


Anyone care speculate on what is going on here? I can't wrap my brain around it, but admittedly I'm seeing BS and agendas in many things these days. School sure isn't what it was when I was in 7th grade. I'm looking forward to hitting the road and giving my kids a different perspective and more honest educational tools. My head hurts.


Z


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gimme Shelter

If anyone truly admits the scale of our impending adjustment to themselves, then inaction turns into something worse than denial - one becomes an accomplice in their own hardship and possible demise. We need to recognize that fact and either go into further denial or take action OURSELVES, rather than wait for some "critical mass" to gather or just-the-right group to form to properly deal with all the challenges we face. Sure there is strength in numbers, but where are your allies? Where is the posse? I hate to say it, but while we're all in this together, we are also very much on our own, too! Going to work and paying taxes while still shopping and supporting the structure that threatens to topple and crush you doesn't make sense, at least to me. There is a certain lack of obvious (easy) alternatives and many obstacles to truly detaching from this Beast, but one has to ask why that is so and what you are trading for the "security" of the current system. Sure, it looks scary "out there", but is it any less scary where you stand? I use scary only to address a common reaction when I tell my friends and family of my own plans to change things, and the methods I am choosing to employ to do so. Fear has been told to stay out of my house, but it is a persistent foe and has some tricks up its sleeves for sure. I also have the benefit of a certain freedom that others might not have or see as a benefit, but this is only me using words to voice my own version of "truth" as it has presented itself to me.

I used to soothe my inner spazz by saying - "well, we are going down hard soon, but at least we're all in this together so we'll be forced to finally look into each other's eyes and figure it out as the community we are intended to be". While I believe that some of this may be true, I also looked around and saw who was comprising my immediate "community" and figured that my chances were better relying on different potential allies than what surrounded me. My fundie Christian neighbor scares the shit out of me and she and her son are armed and not afraid to display their weapons if they feel threatened, as they obviously did by the contractor who, while surveying roof damage last summer in our neighborhood, was unlucky enough to put his ladder up on the wrong roof and climb up (the ladder was taken down and the guns were drawn, leaving the guy stuck on the roof being told to "get down from there!"). There are kind and thoughtful folk all up and down my block, but you would never know that anything is different today than a decade ago. We have been spared, and all that bad stuff happens elsewhere to people that are not like us here in the "gooder part of town". Or so goes the attitude around these parts.

Solutions? Ways to save our system and tweak it a bit so it is just right his time?
The programming is DEEEEEP, so we wait for the email telling where to meet up and what we are going to be railing against that day, and maybe even get the chance to fill your name in on the end of that protesting Email that was already written for you outlining your deep concern. "Virtual" activism in every sense of the word. Congress got a whole bunch of Emails when they launched their TARP program - how did that work out for those with "strong feelings" that turned them into "activists"?

Why are we always "protesting" against things instead of promoting or implementing positive alternatives? Why does our energy get spent "fighting" things instead of creating better things and demonstrating their worth? Is it just easier to be reactive and to vent, and then hope that your indignation is recognized and your deep, passionate feelings about the thing will soon be transformed into the change you wish for by someone/something else?

I'm glad to be a simple minded person who deals in the way I do. It isn't easy, but it saves me from convincing myself that calm, rational thought, or just reading the right book or manual will get me anywhere I want to be. If I want to get somewhere, it has become obvious that it requires raising up from my seat and taking steps. And it is still a struggle to even do this consistently.

Change happens whether we are prepared for it or not. Things and systems break or become obsolete, and they get fixed, improved upon or discarded and replaced, hopefully by something better. I think it is most important to not let someone else determine what "something better" looks like for us as individuals. If we are as smart as we think we are, the dots connect and lead to a certain model of existence, and the best we can do I think is to start living that way RIGHT NOW to hopefully avoid the feeling that someone else made the choice for you once again, and gave a huge shove to get the momentum started. I don't like being pushed that way, and other things have pushed me to the point where I have nothing of any value left to lose, because none of it had any value to begin with it seems. The few thing I have left are worth saving, and I'm attracted to something that may accomplish just that if I am lucky and properly focus the intent behind it. We shall see how all this shakes out, sooner rather than later.

I can only speak for myself, however. But that's exactly how I want it these days. No more support for those who would presume to choose what is best for me and mine. I don't think they have our best interest in mind.

Z

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"It's not negotaible"










Veering further away from my usual frank, conversational approach to doing whatever it is that gets "done" here, I'd like to get some reaction to these gems I ran across. Some creative captioning, perhaps.

One of these is not like the others, and all 3 carried strong messages for me, enough so that they are taken as signs and kept as reminders. I am frankly just curious about the initial emotional reaction to any of these images. Thanks in advance for sharing should you be so inclined.

My best to all,

Z

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Check, please!


Wow, that was quite the spread. It was piled up as far as the eye could see, and it was all hot, fresh, and smelled yummy. If you couldn't find that certain item to satisfy your craving, well I contend you just didn't look hard enough. And thanks to the wonders of modern technology and good innovation spurred on by healthy competition, everyone can afford to join this party.

How could so much be laid out for so many different tastes, and sold so cheap? I mean, it was an endless parade of item after item all there for an amazingly low, low price, and it seemed to be limitless. The constant parading of the help from where it was all being cooked up for our enjoyment never seemed to stop, and it was all being replenished even before anything got half-empty. Man, what a deal! Whoever thought this angle up was certainly a very savvy business person, don't you think? (burp)

And look, it is for everyone! I look around and see all walks of life feeding here, no one is excluded from the benefits of this remarkable spectacle. I even started getting letters in the mail from others adopting this approach, and some even asked LESS for the privilege of strapping on the feed bag and rolling around in all its goodness. Just looking at the pictures of the obviously satisfied customers and the text reinforcing the idea that I did, in fact, deserve these riches confirmed my feelings of entitlement to them. Damn right, I earned it! It really makes one feel good to know that so many people are concerned enough about my needs to send me mail offering discounts and an ever-increasing selection just so I will never have to be left wanting. ("Could I get another Diet Coke over here?")

You know, there are just a few questions I have about this arrangement. How is it that I can come here daily and partake of this wonder, yet very shortly after doing so I always feel the urge to do it all over again? I mean, when they say "take all you want" I take that seriously and never hesitate to take it to the very limit, but it's amazing how fast the craving returns. Sure it gets uncomfortable sometimes (hang on a sec, I need to loosen my belt), but why would anyone not want to take full advantage of an offer like this and cram as much in as humanly possible? I just wish the feeling of satiation lasted a bit longer, that's all.

The other thing I have to wonder about is why none of the people tasked with facilitating all of this seemed to be enjoying the thing itself. I think they might be horribly uninformed, or just don't get how awesome it is to feel like the world has been laid out before you strictly for your own personal enjoyment. What is wrong with these small, quiet people who actually seem content to get by with the simplest of things, and never get in the long line to jostle and shove to get at the really good stuff. Poor, backwards creatures. If I choose to enjoy this limitless bounty, why do they not do the same? Can't they see how happy I am when my pile is taller than I can even handle, yet I can still come back for more if I want seemingly forever?(Ooh! Did you see THAT? Go save me a place in line so we can be the first to dig in) Are they avoiding it because they simply have yet to discover the joy of unlimited freedom to consume as much as you want without anyone ever saying "stop"? Losers. I think I now have a good idea of what it may feel like to be a King or Emperor, what with all these folk scurrying around just to make sure all my hungers are satisfied. It's good to be King! (Shit, I have another headache coming on)

O.K., I admit that sometimes it gets to be a little uncomfortable, trying to get all that I'm entitled to in every sitting (hang on a second, I need to loosen my belt). The discomfort is usually mild right after each visit, but being able to feel the glow for hours afterward takes some of that away, and really, it passes pretty quickly and I'm usually ready for another go pretty soon after. Sometimes the smells even linger on me and remind me of the joyous event. There are those occasional sleepless nights where the burden of what I had taken on hangs around and makes it tough to get comfy. I even have nightmares as a result sometimes, but that can all be minimized, too, with a couple pills or a quick purging. Even in those rare times when it seems the resulting load is poised to kill me, and I have to struggle mightily to pass the remnants on to make room for the next indulgence, I know that after the sweats and the waves hit me that this, too, will pass and I'll be set for another trip to that place of limitless joy and satisfaction. It's all worth it, and if you don't know these pleasures than there is something seriously wrong with you I fear.
C'mon, if I can afford it anyone can. It's practically your birthright.

Shoot, I should go now. Gotta go lay down and rest so I can be fresh for our next trip. I heard they are going to be cutting down the options and raising the prices soon, so I need to get while the getting is good. I'd invite you all with me, but if there is to be a decrease in the options or a reduction in quality to be faced, I'd hate to have to hurt you for keeping me from what I am entitled to. I discovered this thing before you, and while you might be thinking you want some too, I'm a very big boy capable of kicking your ass all the way across town if need be, which proves God favors my right to keep at it at your expense. Nothing personal, you see, just simply evidence that I am entitled to all this and you need to get out of my way or suffer the cosequences. See you in the chow line! (just make sure you're behind me and don't even think about taking that last crab leg)


Z

Monday, June 1, 2009

Turning In My Free Pass


It seems unlikely that 2 months have passed since I last did whatever it is that I find myself doing at present, but the system by which we have agreed to mark our voyage insists that it is so. A great number of things have occurred here and everywhere it seems, and yet it feels much the same as it ever was, just further along and with better weather. My mentioning the weather in the first few sentences is probably very indicative of how much I have to say that has any substance, but there was something that compelled me to drop into this seat and I don't have the energy for argument right now.

I last wrote about the process of hacking away the shackles of the American Servitude System that I had become enmeshed with, and hopefully emerging with some sort of fresh start. That process, overall, is pretty cut-and-dried, and pretty impersonal unless one chooses to get caught up in the emotional aspects of losing "stuff". The past 2 months have been about another sort of "reset" that is needed, and this one is all about being personal. A choice had to be made, one that was going to shape everything that came after, and that probably would need to be reaffirmed on a moment-to-moment basis for the rest of my days. As I sit here searching for words that don't sound overly dramatic or cliche, I can only come up with this; I had to choose to value my life rather than sitting back and waiting to die.

Reading the following words today summed up my life for the past 7 or 8 years. This is exactly what happened to me that caused me to retreat and withdraw from my life and the world around me. Thank you, Nina, for this priceless reminder.

"Should you be caught up inside of it to the point of despair, you will lose sleep and sicken your immune system. When you cannot experience the beauty of the life you are leading and the joy abundant in interacting with your fellows, you might as well abandon Gaia in surrender to the Illusion's hollow legs."

I found "it" in the form of a series of events within a short period of time, and in daily reinforcement by seeking out reaffirmation of my conclusions made. The internet was a big part of all of it and the perfect tool for maintaining the vibe.

There are enough aspects of this that already feel self-indulgent, but talking about the things that have shaped who I am am today and where I hope to go (why am I writing this again? Oh yeah, we ditched the shrink and it's free!) must include some mention of a certain challenge I face, and will continue to face from here onward unless I can call on the resources of the Universe to show me how to make a correction. I can't pretend it isn't real, and I can no longer pretend that it doesn't profoundly impact most facets of my life.

As much as I try to kid myself and put on a brave face, I am not an entirely healthy individual. The blame for much of my current state is mine and mine alone due to a general disregard for common sense maintenance items like regular exercise and eating right. When I saw my doctor last week I joked about gaining a couple more pounds just so I can say I was 300#, but he didn't seem too amused by it. Much of the damage has been done in the last 5 years due to becoming almost totally sedentary and having an unchecked affair with cheese. I do, however, face an additional challenge in the form of a boutiqe ailment known as Fibrosing Mediastinitis. My doctor had never heard of it and I am in a rather exclusive club as a person being so diagnosed, so there is that whole exotic element that is cool, but otherwise it pretty much kicked me over the edge and gave me the excuse needed to sit back and await my demise (even though some put the mortality rate at only around 40%). So far it has rendered one lung basically useless and surrounded my heart with scar tissue along with assorted other symptoms, but the really big question mark with this disease is one never knows if it is done or not. Might progress, might not. The only way to know is to either do regular (expensive) scans or to wait until something goes amiss. It would be easier to KNOW what is going to happen, but what else might we apply that to in our experience here?

I'm not going to roll around in descriptions of the process, or how it has specifically affected my abilities, but I wanted to identify the thing that became my free pass - my shield against having to actually participate in my own life and the lives of those I share space with. I'll say it and move on; I quit on myself, my family, every one of you, and for that I am so very sorry. To those that I know will read this (or otherwise know my heart), I thank you for never discarding me or allowing me to go all the way over. Your patience and continued love have no limits and leave me speechless and in awe of your strength and capacity for compassion.

This aspect of my voyage needs to be addressed logically, but not allowed to become an excuse again. It is also a thing that needs to be carefully considered when planning for a different future - one that by its nature would likely involve much more physical labor and no insurance coverage. It also clearly points out how much need there is for community, because I can't do any of this all on my own.

Hey, I'm gonna die someday - don't know when or how exactly, but it is going to happen. That club is not very exclusive, however. Get over it, Z, there is work to be done.

This choice to try and reclaim my body and live up to my responsibilities as a husband, father, and friend finally became very easy. I got tired of waiting and fearing every new change in my body, and tired of being disappointed to wake up each morning. It is very much like the impatience my father showed when he asked me to help him leave this world after suffering enough with cancer, and I mixed up a cocktail using the slow-release instead of the fast-acting. He got a little cranky and said "What the hell, shouldn't I be dead by now??". Yeah, I guess things don't always work on the expected schedule now, do they? Sorry, Pop.

It is so easy to look around at the world and come to the conclusion that all hope is lost and death would be a welcome relief. A couple years of surfing WRH and other assorted websites of similar ilk 4-6 hours a day will get you exactly what Nina describes without a proper counterweight, and I soooo went there. And finally I had to ask, "What the hell, shouldn't I be dead by now??".

I guess not. Must mean there is something more to do here. Now, to find out what exactly that is.

This could be fun.

Somebody hit that button marked "RESET", wouldja?

Thanks.

Z

P.S. If you see the guy at the top of this posting around anywhere, tell him I'm looking for him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pulling the plug - part 1

Well, it's done. I have "officially" declared to the legal system and to the world that I am worth less than nothing. Papers were filed, documents signed - it was all very neat and impersonal. And a bit surreal as well. Oh, and it cost several thousand dollars, too. Funny how "going broke" can be quite costly.

You see, I had made it. Despite being a high-school dropout stoner loser malcontent who much preferred playing my guitar with friends to attending school or following up on my commitment to the military (a fine tale of intrigue for another day), I found myself living the American Dream!
Had the house in the 'burbs (on a cul du sac even!!), the 2 cars, the motorcycles and the cell phone with a cool ring tone (I switch between Jimi Hendrix doing "Machine Gun" and SRV's "Lenny"). My incredible wife, who also bailed on school early, set her sights on a position with a major corporation headquartered in town and wound up landing a gig within Corporate Legal that had great pay and benefits, so I could stay home with the kids and maybe create something in my spare time. O. K., so we drove 15 year old cars and didn't watch T.V. or go on vacations, but we lived in one of the best neighborhoods in the state and our kids would be going to school with the children of our politicians and Captains of industry. Man, I had it going on!

Then I didn't. You see, it was all a mirage. Illusion, even. All predicated on the assumption that everything would not only stay the same, but continue to get better and better as we went along. Good times were here, baby! And then they weren't.

And it is all my fault. Not because I am one of those losers who continually used their home as an ATM ( I didn't until the very end, and only to bridge a gap while carrying 2 mortgages until our first house sold), or because I engaged in an orgy of materialistic indulgence (not much, anyway - I admit I bought some shit I didn't "need", but whatever). It is my fault because I ignored the advice I was getting. Not the advice from the bankers or realty people or my relatives, but from that part located somewhere deep inside my guts that never, EVER bullshits me. I knew better on some level, but went ahead and ignored my intuition.

We were living in the 'hood. We had been there for 10 years and had watched all the old blue-collar folks who had been our neighbors move on or die off, and had seen the influx of property management run shitholes and real- estate flippers. Our kids were vulnerable, the gunfire was intensifying and getting nearer, and a rich relative was willing to help us make a transition to a better neighborhood. It was all laid out nice and neat so off we went, assured that all would be well and that we'd do better than break even after it all settled out.

The 140K that our previous home was valued at when the HELOC was initiated quickly went down to the 60K that that the bank bought it for (from themselves) when the foreclosure auction was held. This took less than 2 years. The approximately 80k represented in that swing is only about 5k less than the amount of debt that the bankruptcy will erase, so I guess it all washes out in the end somehow, but it was amazing to watch our old neighborhood crash hard. Houses on my block that had been 175K 3 years prior were not moving for way less than 1/2 that amount. A nice home on my block sold for 20k the summer we were foreclosed on. And then the copper bandits moved in and the boards started going up. But why did this happen? What mechanism can make such radical changes in "value" take place within such a short span? Must be all those low-income losers who got in over their heads after the Democrats forced the poor banks to lower their lending standards and allowed the poor folks to play the real estate game. That'll teach us to never let poor people, and especially minority poor people, play the game. The poor banks never had a chance, did they? All I know is that lots of rationally sized, well-built homes 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis got snatched up for pennies on the dollar, and are sitting empty waiting for.......................

Yeah, I'm part of the problem. The debt collectors liked to remind me of that all the time. They'd remind me that I had an obligation to Citibank (or Wells Fargo, or B of A and whoever else was hiring these clowns to call me up and offer me all kinds of impossible solutions to my problem), and that I was a loser for not being able to keep my end of the deal. There was little understanding of how it was that I was unable or unwilling to commit to a "new" repayment plan authorized by the creditor to settle for 1/2 of the total amount - as long as it was forked over in the next 10 days. "Gee, I'm sorry I can't make the minimum payment, but I'll just reach into my back pocket and pay you several thousand dollars (or at least promise to do so) to get this settled. You guys are sooo understanding and cool!".

When you see your credit card rates go up, that's my fault. When your taxes are raised to restore the health of the financial entities who were kind enough to lend a deadbeat like me $$, that would also be my doing. I fucked up the whole thing for ALL of us, and now I'm going to walk away from it all wearing the shame of a foreclosure, a bankruptcy, and tattered credit for years to come.

And frankly, I really don't give a shit anymore. Nothing I have that is of any "value" in the conventional sense was going to stay with me anyhow. Take it all! It's only stuff. Most of the really cool stuff I have was given to me anyways - it almost literally fell from the sky. That '72 Les Paul Goldtop that is the most expensive thing I own? A gift from my dad on my 18th birthday. My Triumph? My wife's Harley? Gifts via inheritance. I didn't earn it, I just had a birthday or someone died and left me something. Easy come, easy go. I know I needed to get a better grip on my guitar collection, and now that will be done for me. Hey, everyone knows that motorcycles are dangerous, so when they come to take them away I should be thankful. Can't exempt the kid's musical instruments so they will be taken, too? Hell, they don't need to mess with that stuff anyways, right? They might end up like ME!

I'm not bitter. Really. Honestly. I'm blowing off steam today, but I knew today was coming. Much of the change coming at me is needed, and I figure if I don't initiate change myself, it will be seen to eventually by other means. Coming out the other side of this means that my next moves will not be determined by the potential exposure to the vultures that have been circling overhead for a couple years now. By saying to the world, "I messed up bad and violated your rules, so come punish me for it so I can get on with things", the future opens up with unlimited potential. If we are stripped down to the basic means of day-to-day survival (which in this case is pretty silly - I'll still live in a big house in the 'burbs and have my tools at hand), then maybe we will learn where real wealth lies. And I contend that I am still a very wealthy man. Love is still here, and it does not appear to be affected by the size of my bank account, or any other measures that American society uses to size a man up. I am faithful. I am as honest as I can possibly be. I played the game by the rules and lost on a technicality. But it is not game over. I didn't know the rules and ignored the advice of my best coach, and got battered a bit, in a manner that many would see as a horrible blow. I am left grateful.

Because now I see. I see how the game is rigged. I see that NONE of this is an accident, and that by participating in this system I help feed it and allow it to continue to rule my life and by extension, the lives of people all over the world. Now that the mask has been ripped off, it is my mission to unplug completely from this crappy excuse for an existence and do what people keep telling me is foolish, irresponsible, and possible abusive to my kids. Self-determination leads only to self destruction, or so I'm told. You can't do it on your own, they say ( I agree. I will find my tribe. Count on it). You don't want to give up the safety and security of that great job! (what a fucking joke). By telling me I'm a loser and that I can't play the game anymore, you have set me free to create my own, or at least see clearly the consequences of trying to "get ahead" here.

Look, I've made it once and I can do it again. My wife and I, 2 dropout dreamers with no college degrees or trust funds, have become completely average Americans. We live in an average house price-wise, our income is just about exactly average, we have average debt and a couple kids that, when evaluated by prevailing means and balanced against each other end up........average. I know this drill, now. I have been there, done that. And if my next plan (or the one after that, or after however many tries it takes) fails, I have proven that I can jump in and become quite average all over again should the desire to do so arise.

Now the challenge is greater, because we venture into unknown territory. Some would say hostile territory even. We will try to swim against the current, and ignore the rules that prevail (or at least try). Hell, I have always thought of myself as a bit out of place here, and railed against convention for as long as I can recall. Let's see how truly "out there" we can get. And maybe by sharing this process and all the challenges and triumphs, others will see another way to do it. It begins in earnest, or to quote G.W. Bush, "Bring it on"

Z

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's in a name?





Greetings, fellow travellers. Thanks for joining me on this sunny day as we ponder the vast potential in each passing moment, or actually do something about it. I hope this is the first in a regularly occurring exercise that will allow me to formally observe my antics and share the same with anyone interested in what I might be up to. Several of you have indicated a desire to ride along and I am not one to intentionally disappoint anyone, so off we go. With that in mind, I promise to keep things as interesting as possible, up to the point of any obviously self-destructive behavior or blatant cheap thrills (or rest assured you certainly wont have to hear of any such nonsense, anyhow - unless it is vital to the story as a consequence) .

I guess it all starts with a naming of a thing, doesn't it. If we are going to keep insisting that we are all these separate parts of what then eventually constitutes all, then we have to get out the label-making apparatus and start tossing out points of delineation. It is amazing how far we can take this game, this distillation of our reality into bits and pieces all with a convenient label to mark each break and calling it something different. "Continent". "Assembly". "Quark". "Zoner". Works for me, I guess. All though in all honesty, once I get past "I am", it gets a little iffy sometimes, know what I mean?

My first use of Zoner and the short "Z" was borne of necessity, due to my discomfort scratching "Chris Neet" on the bottom of my 4th grade pottery projects. My mom had just married this guy with a goofy last name and I was getting pressured to use it in school. He was brand new on our scene, and a big hairy brute who talked funny (he was from Oklahoma, and a true "good 'ol boy" I guess). And it was not going too well. This was also about the same time he was trying to "toughen me up" for football season (something I had zero interest in doing) by having me line up and rush him from 3 yards away, always resulting in his driving me into the ground with a hearty shove from his position standing upright. No harsh words or ridicule, just a dirt sandwich each time (I knew exactly how Charlie Brown felt with Lucy and the placekick that never occurred - where is the RELEASE?). I was getting tougher, apparently. But I wasn't going to let him re-name me.

I asked the art teacher if it really mattered what it said on the underside of my work, and she said no, as long as it was easily recognized as mine. Well, a quick "Z" was about as simple as it could be so I adopted it on the spot. O.K., actually my very first alter-ego was "OTTO", but it was for only a day or so. I thought it was cool that it was spelled the same backwards, but it was more fun to lay down a "Z" as opposed to a "O", and it could also be construed as "Zero" (which I also briefly considered) or be pronounced "Oddo" much to my brother's delight. Ahh, the life-altering choices of a 10 year old!

It was around this time that I became aware of something that also required a name. My 4th grade days, as many before and since, being relatively unencumbered by outside interference or interaction, became long stretches of silence and reflection, and general farting around doing whatever I pleased. As a classic example of a "free spirit", as my mom used to call me(and my younger brother), I was well fed, provided with adequate clothing and shelter, and was generally well tended emotionally and kept from any abuse. I knew I was loved and valued within our little "unit". I was also trusted to go and do pretty much whatever I wanted, with certain time constraints and with the understanding that no one got hurt too badly. The only component lacking was parental supervision and instruction. You know, life skills like keeping your space clean and flossing the teeth - otherwise we managed fine and there was endless time for exploring both the natural world and the world of imagination and creativity.

The summer that I was 11, there was a huge interstate project going on just a 1/2 mile from our place. Huge hillsides were being excavated, and it was all very near the current Mississippi riverbed The tons of material they pulled out of the hillsides was ancient seabed and each handfull overturned would reveal some form of fossilized sea life or remnants of later civilization. Many, many wagons went home filled to overflowing with this treasure, and it was my first experience finding something "of value" and immediately trying to accumulate and hoard as much as possible. I actually sold some stuff to the local science museum and donated more. This kicked open the door to discover the natural world and how it all worked. It still keeps my attention to this very moment.

The majority of my time was spent either reading books, engaging in outdoor play, or building plastic models by myself. There was also much time spent simply daydreaming, and this became what was known as "being in the zone" or "zoning out". Interstate travel and lots of camping trips into the Northern Minnesota wilderness kept me keenly aware of the power of natural surroundings and what they offered to a curious kid who enjoyed solitude and quiet reflection. These were wonderful, effortless times spent lost lightly in the world.

At some point along this path it was indicated to me that the "me" doing the playing, the reading and the "zoning" was not where it stopped. It was obvious to me that within what I was experiencing, there was also an "observer". I was not, in fact, alone here! This was akin to someone looking over my shoulder, but never rendering judgement or attempting to influence my decision-making process. Someone else was using me as an observational "tool", and I was just along for the ride and in charge of "experiencing" the experiences. I was, in effect, off the hook! But constantly under surveillance. Hmm.

It was quite a trip to consider that my actions were under observation, and it wouldn't surprise anyone to know that as I encountered more and more complex situations and interactions, there became a strong awareness of a reactionary component to this "observer" that could provide faultless (and much needed) guidance if allowed to operate correctly and be heard. As intuition became more known to me and my youthful imagination had time to carry me off with the implications of having it all figured out and finally getting the guidance I needed, it was time to give my guide a name, and the "Z"came to the fore again, quickly mated to the "zoning out" that my mother and teachers were so fond of accusing me of (daydream? meditation? Those sound kinder, but don't make for cool nicknames I guess), and thus creating the "Zoner"moniker for the portion of me that truly "knows", and is hopefully fully in charge of guiding this trip I'm still on - because I'm certainly not gonna attempt to drive!

So, a name has been long selected as the chronicler and true guide and reporter for this journey. I am honored to be here at this place in this time, and am further honored if any of you might stop in and take notice of our story as it unfolds. I truly believe that it is a shared story, and that beyond the attempts to use names to "break it down" it all comes back to the original "I am" and moves out from there.

And we're still moving. I'll report here along the path, and look forward to seeing you along the way, and I'll tell you all about everything when we get back. If you know what I mean.

Z


"This is the relationship I seek to strengthen as we move ahead. There have been enough trials and tests, the simulations have been run, it is time to place the bets and roll for the big prizes, baby."

3/29

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Enough said.

Testing, one, two.

And all that.

Badge

Road trip indicated.

See you soon!


Z