Friday, March 27, 2015

Come on Spring!

Since I've last posted a great deal has happened, at least within the relatively dull frame of reference of my life.

Namely I ended up leaving my Southern Illinois job prematurely.  In short my reason for doing so was that I was put in a position where I was intended to be the crew leader in fact, while another, highly inexperienced guy had the official title.  They were forced to hire him into the position because he is a veteran.  I did not apply for or particularly want the responsibility, but the fact that he was told he would not actually be the leader, combined with territorial, entitled narcissism and a clear, potent and violent untreated case of PTSD, not to mention being a complete fuckhead and asshat, set him to slandering me and threatening me on completely phony grounds in order to "put me in my place" or whatever fucktards like this guy think they are doing.  Eventually he erred and threatened me with physical violence in front of witnesses and so I used that opportunity to expose him for the unhinged P.O.S. he is.  Unfortunately, my witnesses, for whatever reason, fear of the psycho they would have to work for perhaps, threw me under the bus in the investigation process with weak statements and I was called a liar by the District Ranger who is clearly of the fraternity that worships military veterans as infallible pillars of society...  Fuck the South.

Anyway, I decided that it would be best to duck out to avoid any additional political risk, with the God, Guns and 'Murica, crowd that had turned against me, as the cost of being terminated as a result of additional slander, or whatever would be steep leaving a stigma that would affect future job applications severely, whereas I could simply skip 3 paychecks and be outside of the risk altogether.  So I did.  And now I'm missing out on Southern Illinois Morel Mushroom season, which is heartbreaking, but I am also missing out on tick season, which is not.  And the control-freak asshat has been exposed, at least.  They will believe the next person who comes forward about his shit, and he will be done.  Integrity is expensive... uhg...

Anyway, life rolls on.

Ole Bessie rolls on, amazingly.

And it looks more and more each day like the Fates intend for me to return to Crater Lake.

Spring has been reluctant to ...spring.  But that may be on account of my being 400 some miles north of where I declared winter to be over.  It's a dreary transition phase, and as always, the uncertainty of the season with respect to work, and taxes and the annual barrage of bureaucracy has left me more anxious than I would like.  I am continually reminding myself to live in the moment.  To be here, now.  But I am experiencing some strange phenomena, namely a sort of hyper sensitivity to scents.  I'm not sure where that is coming from, a mechanistic cause, a subconscious one or perhaps something more mystical.  But never-the-less it is tweaking my experience of reality in a way that is confusing and difficult to navigate.  Particularly while dating.  Weird.

I am also heavily pondering my vehicle situation.  With well over a quarter million miles on Bessie the time is coming, although I have been saying that for the last 120,000 miles.  But a recent accosting by the Ohio State Police, when I was obeying traffic laws to the letter, and was very polite and forthcoming and respectful still landed me in the back of a cruiser with a drug dog sniffing my truck and me being questioned about drugs and other shit that is none of their damned business.  So I am weighing the pros and cons of acquiring a vehicle that makes it looks more like I am a regular dull wage slave to the debt society.  Depending upon Bessie's cooperation, of course, this will likely have to wait until this fall, but it is something weighing heavily on my mind.  My thoughts on strategy for this change often and right now I'm thinking a Les-mobile, aka Subaru Forester (33 mpg highway), which can be had new for a quite reasonable amount, and just going very minimalist with my tools and equipment and whatnot.  But perhaps Toyota will finally have gotten their shit together with the 2016 model year and made some reasonable fuel economy improvements in the Tacoma.  I'm really pretty damned sick of dealing with old car issues and would like to for a few years at least have a zero worries vehicle.  So as much as the economics of a new car are not always the best, it might just make sense for me.  Stress kills you, literally, and if you're not factoring it into the economics of life, you're making serious miscalculations.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Fall of Winter

Winter ends now.


It has exhausted itself, and I have outlasted it.

My sap is flowing.

And the snow is melting.

I felt The Death Card right itself as the Moon rose on a new lunar year.  And out spilled the last of my loose emotions.

Then a new beginning perhaps.  With the prophesied Warm and Buxom Mystery-ess in the North.   ...and if not, I suppose that is OK too.  But it was a very nice weekend in New York.  And I aim to return when the mud is thick and air is fresh with the first green of Spring.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Marching to the sea.

Not much new to report lately.  I've just been enjoying my work.  I've been rounding out my skills learning some advanced tree-felling techniques, fancy bore-cuts and all and have had the opportunity to set fire to hundreds of acres of the South.  hehe  Setting fire to a swamp is an interesting experience to say the least, running from your own fire while trying not to drown.  Fun stuff.

I've also been saving up bits of interesting hardwoods for craft projects lately and come march when my chisels and spokeshave arrive I plan to be very busy indeed.  Spring is almost here!  Morel season is almost here!  Making extra money in the heart of burn season overtime is almost here!  Winter hasn't been bad at all.  Being on my own has been pretty damned good really.  But man!  Am I ever ready for spring and all its busy richness and long day-light hours and campfires and fried mushrooms and sauteed mushrooms with shallots and heavy cream.  And the smell of sassafras leaves green on the trees.  And then lilacs and wisteria and all the scents of spring.

But it's snowing right now.  And that's alright too.  Just a few more weeks.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

In Defense of the Selfie

Not many people have been more critical of the narcissism that the smart phone era has enabled than I have, but it seems the rest of the world is catching up to me.  And now the term selfie, tied directly to that narcissism has arisen to ubiquity, thanks to Australia for the diminutive term... The word itself deeply implies shallowness and vanity.  And frankly that bothers me a bit, and only to a very limited extent because I take offense as a partial narcissist.

It bothers me because, really what the hell is wrong with taking a picture of yourself?  Sometimes we do it out of vanity, and I can see why culture might want to bring that down.  Hell I want to bring that down.  But I'm concerned we might be throwing the baby out with the bath-water.  No one takes pictures of me.  I guess I come off as too imposing, too stoic, as though it might upset me... I guess.  I have a gaze that takes a certain amount of courage to meet and hold if you haven't known me for long enough to appreciate my odd and dark sense of humor that is indeed always present, if maybe very well masked.  hehe  The result is that I don't end up in people's photos very often, and that people don't often share the photos back with me when I do.  And I am often alone.  Why can't I document myself?  What is wrong with capturing a moment of joy or a moment of struggle or a moment of contemplation or of comfort or a feeling of strength?

So many people speak of the value of having a mirror, a friend that can point out to you how you really are.  Well, you can be that friend to yourself if you are critical enough.  And taking photos helps.  I'm thinking of the Chariot.  Without having taken that selfie I don't know if I would have remembered my sense of victory that came upon the draw of it.  And thus I don't think that today I would be able to see the full depth of my situation in life at that time quite so clearly.  I would not be able to remember my trajectory as precisely.  The old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words is, IMO, an understatement.  It's worth far more, even a selfie.

The thing is, a picture can't lie.  The person taking the selfie may be trying to deceive you into believing they are beautiful or they are happy or they are... possessing whatever quality that they believe will improve your image of them.  But the motives of the photographer seem so transparent to me in the composition.  Why then should it bother us if it is so clear?  I don't have the answer.

But if loving ourselves is an integral part of being a loving person to others we shouldn't have any compunctions about sharing a photo of ourselves absent shame or even perhaps with a gentle pride.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Putrefaction Time - The Death Card

My favorite word in the German language is Verwesung; it means putrefaction.  Until today I haven't really thought about why that word appeals to me.  I suppose it is so direct and matter of fact and doesn't invoke in me the sort of emotional revilement at a natural and essential process that the musically precise Latin-French-English equivalent does.  It is a philosopher's word.

Now, I do not draw from the Tarot often.  I think maintaining limitations in its use sustain its magic.  But, on the morning of the Winter Solstice, I did draw a simple past present future spread in which The Devil featured prominently, and with the other two cards painted a picture of my aching discontent and promised good things in just a short while, ...patience was the message.  "Soon" was the message.

Today, after yesterday's post about stepping off the Chariot, a card linked to Cancer, my sun sign, and about that hardened time of self protection and plowing through the onslaughts of life protected, I saw a need to draw another card.

As I sat shuffling the cards I thought about The Devil card and the story of patience and "soon" that I witnessed on the Solstice.  But I kept calling it The Death Card in my head, even though I knew very consciously that that was not correct.  I was visualizing The Devil but saying Death.  And at that moment I flipped out a card, with the question, "What now?" in mind.

Death reversed.

The card of Verwesung.  The card of Scorpio, my moon sign.  The 13th card, the number of the moons.  And the card of the final stage before a new beginning.  But the reversal indicates to me that a kick in the ass is required and required like right the fuck now! to fully decay, to finish my putrefaction, my Verwesung so that I can proceed without carrying forward the filth of that which is long dead and useless into a new beginning.

This card is why I have come to this Monk's Retreat.  This card is why I have chosen this isolated place and why it has been chosen for me-- to do this.  Not to clean house exactly, but to decay the filth of my heart into the "thick warm humus" of which I spoke in November such that when the cotyledon unfurls it's promise of springtime flowers that promise might be fulfilled.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dreams and Stepping Off The Chariot

I took the above photo in April of 2013.  It is The Chariot card in the Tarot.  And among other things it's about becoming impervious to harm, hence the whole suit of armor imagery.

This is one of the reasons I continue this blog and Instagram photos and whatnot.  For the ability to go back and examine what the hell was going on in my life and to try to learn from it in a more objective manner than just choosing a comfortable story to be my history.

Today I was thinking about dreams.  There have been a few big chunks of time in my life where I haven't had many.  And there have been a few big chunks of time when I haven't blogged anything.  Some of those chunks of time are the same.  Now there are a number of reasons and possible reasons for why I become active on-line.  Sometimes I'm hurt and trying to reach out and scraping through the confusion to make some sense, to take something out of the darkness (e.g. late 2012, early 2013, a very foggy, and in retrospect embarrassing time).  Sometimes I'm excited and want to share (brag).  And sometimes I just have some good ideas or somewhat significant events that I want to plot out there in a record of my evolution.  But why is it really that I am not blogging at times?

Looking back I see an interesting trajectory after the fallout of 2012.  Basically four months passed and I hardened up (and stopped blogging as much).  I may have thought of it as a recovery at the time, hence the smile above, but in reality I was just calloused.  And excepting for a month in March and April after a very special sort of ~ehem~ spirit journey involving a snow cave and a wild cold glassy and sparkling night over Tahoe that helped me to dream vividly for a while, I dreamed very rarely for the next 20 months or so. I suppose since I felt both bruised and under continued assault and way too much negatively foreboding uncertainty my mind kept certain things on lock-down.   Coincidentally, this period of time was also the one during which I flirted most with nihilism...

Now, over four months into being on my own, and after a lot of healthy distance in the summer leading up to it, I'm starting to dream again.  Good healthy, normal dreams with some wild visuals on the edges of asleep and awake and awake and asleep.  And I think the reason that I'm starting to dream again ties into being able to be vulnerable again.  My mind is finding that it is safe to dream again.

And it feels weird.  It's exhilarating and a little scary.  Like boarding a plane to a country where you don't speak the language and have no idea what to expect.  And being all the more excited to go and surrender oneself to the flow of destined life.  Nihilism is the last thing on my mind.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Burl, Porn, and Resolutions

I don't really do new years resolutions, but I do tend to focus on some things in particular years.  This year it's health, both physical and mental.

My work is hard.  I carry around stone and logs and swing hammers and axes and saws all day every day.  And that develops strength, but not a balanced strength, and that has been causing me injuries and a lot of pain for the last several years.  Carrying of heavy things in front of the body for example tends to cause upper trapezius dominance where the upper portion of those muscles become stronger than the lower and it ends up messing up the alignment of your scapula and then your shoulder leading to impingement of nerves and tendons and then bursitis and more pain, and so on.  It's ugly.  And for years I've had the incorrect attitude about strength.  "I'll just get it through work and I'll never have to go to the gym."  Well, wrong.  Things need to be balanced out and good body mechanics through the work is not enough.  Though I'm still trying to do the exercises I need at home, because you know, fuck those gym guys, I do need to do them, and much more so than someone who is sedentary.  And so learning about physiology and exercises and doing them has become a focus for me this new year.

Also I bought myself a Vitamix 5200 for Christmas and have been making smoothies everyday.  If you're not familiar, this is sort of the G650 of blenders, though my refurbished one bought on a coupon code saved me some dough with no loss in quality at all.  Anyway I've been drinking over a liter of fruits, vegetables, and greens everyday.  It's costing me a bit of money in food, but living sans girlfriend that's a non-issue.  Combined with a meaty dinner, my work and the aforementioned balancing exercises the result has been enormous amounts of energy and rapid recovery and muscle development and a lot less shoulder and back pain.  Why the hell didn't I do this years ago?  Cutting down to minimal caffeine and having a very low stress lifestyle has also helped a lot.

Mentally I've been trying to do an overhaul as well.  The first and key aspect of the overhaul being to remain present.  Eckhart Tolle put it best:
"All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past and not enough presence."
And I aim to practice this as much as possible.

Secondly to read a lot more.  I'm not sure I even read a dozen books last year.  I'm not OK with that.

And Third, a difficult but very important resolution to share in this puritanical world.  To quit, completely, my ...ehem, consumption, of porn.  Some explanation of course is in order.  And I have several extremely important points to make on this   First and foremost.  For men today it is a drug, pure and simple of the opiate variety.  Never before could this be delivered with the rapidity, exaggeration, and volume as it can with the Internet now.  It hyper-stimulates your dopamine system for a prolonged period of time and as any drug abused it will over time damage that system.  You require more and more stimulation and the sort of stimulation you require becomes more and more "Gonzo" which is to say typically abusive media.  And the end game is impotence with actual other people, first unless you are yourself engaging in "gonzo" (abusive) acts and then impotence in entirety.  This is more common than you might think.  See:

Men won't talk about this.  But I've spoken to women who have suffered the consequences of this in a variety of ways from their porn-addicted boyfriends.  Erectile Dysfunction, abusive sexual interests, etc.  That is where this leads.   I myself am fortunate to be naturally highly resistant to addiction, but even so I could see where my own consumption might have led given a failure to identify these unspoken risks...  Being sexually open and being sexually crippled look from an uncritical viewpoint very similar, but the latter is very dangerous and destructive to yourself and your partners.  And it is very often the result of overconsumption of porn.

Additionally porn equates directly to human trafficking (and drug abuse).  Not always, but typically.  And consuming porn, even if no money ever leaves your pocket (ad revenues, hello?!) is supporting human trafficking.  I won't bother making the argument, look it up, it's a thing.

These are things I've known and / or intuited for years, and being a believer in moderation  in all things I have tapered down my consumption for years.  Less extreme, less volume, less video, then to stuff depicting more loving acts etc., and less and less often.  But some things, even in moderation are still bad ideas.  Heroin for example, rape for another, human trafficking for a third, and porn IS all these things.  Literally.

I've heard all the arguments in favor of porn and I agree with many of those arguments as isolated points but taken in totality the larger picture is as I have described and porn is in my opinion morally indefensible.

There are hundreds of millions of people who are sexually, neurochemically, and philosophically damaged by this invention of the last 20 years.  It is high time we start talking about the consequences of it.

Don't mistake me as some kind of goddamned prude either.  I deeply believe that one of our critical failings as a civilization is that our life schedule doesn't provide nearly enough time for fucking.  And I am for myriad forms of sexual openness, but not abuse, and porn is abuse.  And though I have been mostly done with it for some time now, I am completely done with it now.  And you should be too.