Baruch's blog

 

 

Baruch's Blog

Email Baruch

Archived Blog 1

Blog Pix

Blog Pix II

Blog Pix III

Little Slocan & More

Chilko Lake

Archived Blog 2

Archived Blog 4

There's a lot about New Orleans in Archive 2.

Saturday 16 September 2006, 10:16 AM

Spending time atop this California mountain ridge, gardening, sitting quietly, eating and drinking from this land, interacting and learning. It continues to be my experience that when I am with people for more than a little time, dynamics arise from within us that require attention, care, awareness, patience. It’s like kindegarden, kids learning to share, what to share and what not, how and when. I’m being deliberately cryptic because the particulars aren’t the point. The point, as it appears to me this morning, is to do the work of allowing and encouraging making-whole of what is split, torn, broken, damaged.

“What was whole has been cut in half.” I spoke that line in ritual this summer as we worked through a death-like space, facing our shadows and allowing death itself to make space for the birth of life. That internal work, of overcoming the illusion of dichotomy, has been worked by humans for millenia, yet still it takes up a lot of space on the table. We keep working it! Much of “the world” of nations and governments and corporate entities embodies the split of shadow and light, seeming to completely overlook the inevitability of union, re-union. The more one fights it, the harder the fight and the more pain there will be to reckon with come the time when all veils are gone and we are faced with ourselves completely. “I would know myself in all my parts.”

Plans are looking like...California through September, Portland/Seattle briefly in the 2nd week of October, then back here. It looks like I’ll be gardening, making the yome dry and warm, and continuing to teach classes online, through the fall. There’s a good possibility of heading to Baja in November for 6 or 7 weeks, then back to CA to student teach at an EAT.

During this time I will decide whether to store or sell this truck and camper. Whichever I do will be done by late January when I head to the northeast to do some visiting, see if I can deal with some of the stuff I have stored in Vermont in various barns and basements, and then head to Europe for 6 months or so. Workshops to teach are materializing so far in Holland, Germany, and Israel. I’d also like to venture east in Europe to visit places where my ancestors lived and died. All this with a cat and a dog!

I’ve thought for some time that summer 2007 would be the latest time to really start to hunker down, so after Europe, all things permitting and feeling right, I’ll return to the US and do that hunkering down. Of course anything could happen between now and then, but that’s a sort of plan right now.

 

Saturday 2 September 2006, 1:52 PM

In this period of “down time” with friends on the mountain in California, I’m finally having time to just go through all the stuff in my mind. There’s a lot! There are many choices before me in terms of places to go, work to do, ways to live. I see a path through these choices, atrajectory defined by choices really. Among other things, it means continued embracing of change.

It’s pretty clear to anyone who’s looking that the united states is falling apart. The electoral system is a corrupt joke, the various administrations (...Johnson > Nixon > Carter > Reagan > Bush > Clinton > Bush > Clinton?) continue to proceed into more and more corrupt violent totalitarian greed-based dictatorships, and the populace is more and more distracted by the stress of indentured servitude, material “pie in the sky” lies, all fed by media (information mediators) in service to the corruption. It ain’t a pretty picture! What to do? Oh, and it’s not like the united states is the only place where this is happening. Global fascism, like the nazi-inspired Bush administration, is coalescing all over, in concert with each other, in service to the spiritually unevolved nature of the greedy “leaders.”

Last night I dreamt about nuclear attacks. There were two. Lasky and I survived by hiding behind a staircase, but everything else was hit by the fireball...twice. I can see how the dream is intrapsychic and relates to personal changes, and I can also see how the dream relates to my questions about how to proceed through and survive the violent changes which sure seem to be coming down the ‘pike.

A friend described to me their “visceral disconnect” from the american political lie machine. I find myself still getting riled up over the Bush obscenity, the congressional descent into corporate toadie stoogeness, but my friend described their visceral disconnection from it all, lack of emotional investment, and it was rather amazing to me. I had to consider my attachment to hoping that “democracy” (the lovely myth I was reared on) could/would “win out” over the cruel greedy nature of those who aspire to power-over. That attachment,that (last?) thread of connection to the dominant paradigm, is like a remnant of the false security I felt when I “owned” a home and had a “career” and all the trappings that went with that stuff.

 

Friday 25 August 2006, 12:18 PM

This is a short entry to let folks know that I am back in California after an amazing month;a few days of magic in New Hampshire, two weeks in Europe mostly teaching, a brief visit to New Orleans to participate in a psych conference, then teaching at Free Activist Witchcamp in Oregon, then camping for a few days with dear friends by a river near a hot springs.

I am doing laundry...yay! Soon I’ll be able to bathe and wear clean clothes! I’m excited.

I have made a decision not to return to New Orleans this fall, but to stay in California for a while longer, then see about possibly time in Baja, then go to Europe late in the winter for a while...open ended.

More news and ideas to come.

 

Friday 11 August 2006, 2:21 PM

Louis B. Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans two days after the London terrorist plot was exposed; it’s not busy here. I came early for my flight and went right through the ticketing line and security, no problem. I expected chaos, but instead found a fairly mellow scene.

Today I participated in a panel of local and non-local psychology practitioners discussing our responses and observations of mental health care post Katrina/Rita. This panel was sponsored by the Peace Society, Division 48 of the American Psychological Association at their conference. The conference was held at the Holton in New Orleans, and after spending the last few days in the upper 9th Ward, the Hilton was as alien an environment as I could imagine. From within that building you’d never know you were in a city that was half empty and half destroyed.

The panel was worthwhile in my opinion. There were three other practitioners, all local residents, and myself, as panelists. really it was a circle of a dozen or so people discussing, with the panelists providing most of the material. Also attending was a friend who is a nurse at the clinic. It was interesting to observe how the different panelists handled themselves. I knew two of them already, one only by phone, and felt really glad to see them both. The other person was someone I didn’t know.

We discussed personal responses, the way that professional boundaries change in a disaster situation becoming much less rigid, the experience of responding from our human hearts without the usual professional remove. Hopefully an article will come out of this gathering. It was clear that what would be most productive was to gather together ideas about how to go forward, as practitioners and peacemakers, both locally and nationally as a profession; to foster preparedness for disasters.

I continue to process the decision in front of me, which is...what comes next for me? Do I return to NOLA for a stretch? Montana? California? Europe? Do I keep traveling or settle somewhere for a while? I’m no closer to making a decision than I have been at anytime over the last few months. I do crave to live somewhere, to have a kitchen again, and a garden. I also keep finding that my work is in one place, then in another; the traveling priest or bard. So I will continue to hang out with not knowing. The fun exciting part is that all my options are interesting and exciting. The challenge is to make a choice and let go of the other things, at least for a while. Stay tuned! Eventually I’ll make a choice.

 

Wednesday 9 August 2006, 10:55 AM

New Orleans! Hot, humid, feels less chaotic than when I left (or maybe I’m just less chaotic?). It also feels good to be here. I’m staying on the eastbank, which I never did when I was here before, a couple of blocks from the industrial canal at a friend’s place.

Yesterday was a long day, over 30 hours, starting in Nederland and ending up here with hours of trains and train stations in Holland and Belgium, then the long flight. I sat next to a young man from Czech Republic on his way to Louisiana for a year of high school. He was very nice, and asked lots of questions about the states; food, humor, sports, politics...intelligent thoughtful questions. It was a good flight made better by that contact. I hope he does well.

There is always this surreal quality I experience when I travel that kind of distance quickly, and this time is no exception. It’s also such a marked contrast being here from being in Europe. The reality of Holland, Belgiuma nd France, and my experiences there, seem at once very far away, and very much close inside me.

There is a quality of decency I found in Holland that is not present here, like futons on the sidewalk if someone needs a nap, and 100% health coverage for everybody. There are also cameras watching on the streets, and similar kinds of consumtion of goods as one sees in the US, so it’s not a utopia, but a functioning civil society. I plan to spend more time there, and traveling in Europe, soon.

 

Sunday 6 August 2006, 11:43 PM

Amsterdam today. What fun! Lots of people, the day after Gay Pride; sunshine and friends. We saw paintings from the last 10 years of Van Gogh’s life. We ate and drank, I smoked.

The question that seems to me to be represented in every conflict, assumed dichotomy, perceived difference, boils down to this rejection of the shadow, this refusal to acknowledge one’s wholeness and behave responsibly within that wholeness. Wholeness is the totality of one’s being, which includes every instinct, thought, feeling, and the possibility for every act ever commited by any human. We are one. It’s not just an abstraction. I believe that we can make the transformation to a peaceful free world. I believe that beneath the rage, greed, cruelty and dishonesty of the biggest contemporary shadow figures there are people who want to be free and safe themselves. They just have no idea how to do this really, and they believe that their compulsively unloving emotions are the only basis on which to make decisions, so they make really stupid decisions that hurt us all.

I believe that in every soldier there is a longing to put the gun down, to not shoot the missile, to cross the line from following orders to being part of a necessary change. Many of them, maybe most, don’t know it, but it’s there.

 

Saturday 5 August 2006, 11:04 PM

Today I saw some of Holland driving from Alkmaar to Arnhem, and then spending the afternoon and evening seeing much of Arnhem. We walked in woods and fields where soldiers killed and died in WWII. We walked in woods like the forests of my childhood fairy tales. We traced ley lines from church to church. I am learning some Dutch language. It was a magical day. I am closer geographically to the bones of my ancestors, except for the past two generations, than I’ve ever been, and it feels different than to be in North America where only some of my most recent ancestors are buried. There is a feeling of connection I have never had, which I feel is nearby.

Dinner by the Rheine; delicious Turkish food. Watching people. Feeling the vibrations of WWII which are strongly present, from monuments and old artillary to the faces of the elders.

Tomorrow, art in Amsterdam!

 

Thursday 3 August 2006, 1:06 AM

The last 10 days have been pretty amazing, teaching at the Lorely Witchcamp. The work has been, as always, powerful, loving, magical. It’s such a pleasure to be among europeans, to hear different languages, to share across cultures and experience what we share in common. I’d love to spend more time in europe. Most of the people here are Dutch, with also some Germans, Norwegians, Belgians, as well as Australians and Americans. There is a wonderful sense of community among the campers, camp organizers and teachers. It makes me very happy. It’s a privilege to be invited here to offer my energy to the work.

Camp ends on Friday. I’ll then go to Holland for a few days to visit with people and see few sites. I’d really like to go to a couple of museums, and the old city. Then I’ll take the train back to Brussels and fly to New Orleans for a few days before heading back to Oregon for Free Activist Witchcamp...and then have a month or so in California before heading back to New Orleans for another stretch at the clinic.

I find myself continuing to reflect on how my life has changed in the last couple of years. I’ve never felt more alive, more connected with people wherever I am. I’m fully myself in ways I never was before. It’s really great. I feel fortunate, and I really like the choices I’ve been making. Getting older rocks!

It’s also good for me to be exploring more places on Earth, affirming what I’ve believed for so long, that what we share as humans far outstrips the differences we perceive. Of course there are many many cultures and places I’ve never experienced, and I’m sure that there are many differences I’ll perceive if I get to those places, but I bet the common humanity thing would be just as strong.

I haven’t seen or heard any news in almost two weeks, so I don’t know the details of how the insanity and fascism is progressing, but I assume it’s still on track. We seem to be on this track of massive auto-delusion and destruction, and I can’t imagine that any one or two events will derail this, only the gradual awakening of the humans, and this is a slow process. I don’t feel so sad about it these days. I accept more easily that this is the way it is, and that those “in power” (a huge illusion...we all have the power we choose to have) will continue to allow their immaturity to guide them in actions of greed, violence, dishonesty and hate. Ah, so, that’s how it is...and where it leads each of us depends on our individual and collective will. I will continue to learn, love, and share, until my time in this body is over.

I want to plug a friend’s book. “Earth Psalms” by Angela Magara. Check out her website. This is a gorgeous book of poems, written reclaimations of our birthright to love and be loved as part of life on Earth. I’ve never been so moved by a book of poems.

 

Wednesday 26 July 2006, 1:17 AM

My first night in France! The journey was as wonderful as it is to be here. I woke up over Ireland. For the first time I saw the British Isles, from high above. Seeing the patchwork below, the mountains and an occasional lake, the trees mostly in the few mountainous areas; a sense of how long people have been on that land. So few trees in the populated areas.

We landed in Brussels. I took a train to the city from the airport, then a train to Numer, and another to Dinant. Then a bus to Givet, and another train to Viruex-Molhain. Then I walked in the 90+ heat carrying a 40 lb. backpack, to the Chateau le Risdoux, following the Maas River. Beautiful! Blackberries to eat, sweating and loving every second of it, jet lag not withstanding.

My limited french turns out to be better than I thought it’d be. From arriving in Brussels to here I had occasion to ask directions, make sure I was on the right train etc., and amazingly I was able to be understood and to understand people’s replies. On the bus to Givet I sat across the aisle from a man who told me about the train to Viruex-Molhain (I thought I’d have to either take a taxi or most likely walk the 10 k), about his Belgian wife and his Algerian parents. We discussed, in his partial english and my partial french, crazy mean George Bush, the refugees that live in this part of France, from Africa and other places, how beautiful it is here.

Upon arrival at the chateau I met the woman who manages the place. She showed me to a room and set me up w/sheets etc. I showered, drank water, and slept for 7 hours. Now I’m awake, the night is starry. It’s quiet here since everyone has gone to sleep. I will sleep more soon, but I just had to go outside to say hello to the place.

The evening is cooling off, though still hot inside. I opened windows to get some air moving.

As has been my experience in Canada, one doesn’t see lots of police here. I exchanged many “bonjours” with people as I walked here. I’m in France! The history is in the air, ancient and modern. Occasionally the bus passed by a ruined old fort. We drove past a WWII tank on the side of the road. On the train from Givet we passed a nuclear power station, always a disturbing site to see.

I had this moment in Numer waiting for the train, seeing the platform sign for the train to Zurich, I could just get on a train and disappear into Europe. It would be so easy. There are so many places, all easy to get to by train, that I have heard about all my life. It’s all right here!

 

Monday 17 July 2006, 10:10 AM

The river is flowing past the house, tha banks are about 60 feet away. I’m in the living room looking out. It’s sunny, hot already, and I hear the sounds of work being done on the unfinished adjacent structure, the main house. I’m in the slightly smaller guest house which is serving as the residence while the rest is under construction. I’m visiting friends in central Oregon. It’s good to be here, to see what’s happening here and to be with these people. They’re very smart in the design and functionality of the place, and are using lots of recycled materials for beams, sheathing, siding, roofing, while building an aesthetically very beautiful place. The heat comes from a heat pump which takes a small amount of water from the river, gathers and concentrates the heat the water is carrying, and heats the house with it. Their septic is a set of filters that purifies the gray and black water 100%. The solar is coming. Very cool stuff! In terms of the aesthetic, for you architecture fans, think Frank Lloyd Wright meets Paolo Soleri.

My big month of traveling far and doing lots is almost here! I fly to NH on Wednesday morning and from there...it’s nonstop until the third week of August. I’ll log 15,000 air miles, be on two witchcamp teaching teams, sit on a panel at a psych conference in New Orleans, and spend some magical time with friends in NH. I’m smiling. All these things require me to be fully present, with others who are doing the same. I’m looking forward to it all with some glee.

I’m choosing to participate in the world with as much positive, forward, proactive, joyful energy as I can. I’m aware of the mess we’ve made/are making of the world, and the terrible ways people treat each other and the rest of life, and I’m also aware that there are so many doing what they can to be loving, to heal, to treat life with respect. The spectrum is broad and the extreme ends of it are intense, extreme, and antithetical to each other. The polarization is strong. I’m choosing to focus as much as I can on the part of the spectrum that’s pretty light. It feels good, and I think will allow me to be more effective in my work, whether it’s in ritual, in writing, counseling, whatever.

 

Thursday 13 July 2006, 5:11 PM

I’m in the south central mountains of Oregon. It’s hot. The valleys between mountain ranges are huge and golden in color. I’m near a river where I just cooled my heels.

Reflecting on how I feel sans Lasky and Chloe; it’s been sad to miss them. Everytime I camp or do anything really, I notice the absence of the tending I’d be giving them, and the tending they’d be giving me.

My last decade has seen a lot of change, losses, , deaths of loved ones. I process that stuff. I digest it. I emote. I philosophize. I imagine and experience mysterious happenings and awarenesses.

Loss, of course, implies attachment. You cannot lose that which you do not have, and having involves attachment. Or at least, it does for me. I think. I have learned a lot about the not “having” involved in healthy relationships, including with lovers, so I would say then that having can be like the flow of a river, the moving through of an experience.

Well I certainly notice my attachment to Chloe and Lasky because their absence is so noticeable, and evokes such emotion in me. It’s made me think about the people I know who have kids, and how concerned they sometimes are; times I’ve even thought it excessive. Ah how the worm turns. Good thing.

I do find Lasky hair in everything. I bet I’ll find Lasky jair in my stuff when I’m in Belgium.

Public gratitude to the folks who have answered my request for support to return to New Orleans. Thank you! You have contributed about 20% of what I need to volunteer for October - March at the clinic. I’m looking forward with both excitement and trepidation. It’s a pretty intense scene there. To the bone.

I’ve been listening to national propaganda radio as I drive and hearing of the stuff going on with Israel. My question is, how come no one evers calls Israel on their escalations? One soldier is abducted in Gaza so they kill dozens and destroy neighborhoods. Six soldiers are killed and two are abducted into Lebanon so they close the airport and blockade the harbor.

Then of course Hamas and Hesbolah escalate further, and on it goes. Of course those murders and abductions are wrong. So is the fact that Israel holds 1500 Palestinian political prisoners. No one is right. Both sides need to knock it off, and the one with the bigger guns needs to be the one to call the cease fire, and that’s Israel. There’s my $.02

And of course there's the joke of Bush calling for the stopping of killing innocent civilians. Look in the mirror George.

OK so the Supreme court rules that the military tribunals are illegal, and the pentagon moves to comply with Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. And the administration is proposing legislation to make what they were doing legal.

The whole world knew it was illegal already, but the administration knew it would take years to wind through the courts and during that time they’d be able to do whatever they wanted. They’ve done that on many fronts; education, environment, Haliburton’s sweetheart deals. Disgusting. How it is that Bush isn’t under impeachment is just beyond me. I mean, I know why. The congress is owned by the corporations, just like the presidency, but it’s such a blatant display of corruption and hypocrisy. These people have no consciences, or few of them do and hardly anyone in congress ever steps out on a limb to defend what’s honest and real. It happens, but rarely, and it seems to be more tokenism than anything else.

Jeez what a rant. I didn’t see that coming.

I feel myself inhabiting many worlds at once. I’m the guy at the campground picnic table typing on his laptop. I’m a child of Earth roaming her surface loving her, appreciating the life and the beauty, mourning the damage we, I, do. I’m a person in community with many other people, albeit in many places, and in each of those communities I serve whatever functions I do there. And etc. I feel like on of those trans-dimensional beings in Star Trek.

It’s good. This whole journey, the last 16 months almost, has been really amazing, life changing, reality shifting, truly a gift. One of my brothers told me, when I sold my house, to let the house give me a gift by getting the best price I could. This gift comes from that money. That place I settled in Vermont, where I built and gardened and loved and lost and worked and learned...has given me this gift of traveling, of finding home in many places with many people. I don’t know what’s going to happen, whether I will live somewhere like that again...I hope so and I see myself going to places to do work differently than I did before, like New Orleans. There will be other situations, I’m sure, where I’ll be able to contribute.

OK, enough for today. No dog and cat to hang out with so I’m writing more than usual. Heh.

 

Tuesday 11 July 2006, 10:33 PM

This is the first night I will ever spend in the camper with neither Chloe or Lasky. They are in Denver and I’m in south western Wyoming camped out in the middle of nowhere by a big dirt hill a few miles over a very bumpy dirt road from the paved road. I met a guy in this little town called Mountain View and he told me this would be a good place to camp.

No critters. We are together so much, it’s as if parts of me were missing. Weird. It was very hard to leave them. I delayed my departure from Denver by a day because I just couldn't do it.

The land is so amazing. Today I was driving across Wyoming and there were these big clouds in the sky, and you could see where they were dumping rain. It looked like a water fall. And just as the person on the radio said something about a lightening strike (referring to today’s rail bombings in India) I saw a bolt of lightening streak through one of these rain dumps a few miles away. I took that to be an affirmation that I was right where I was supposed to be, right when I was supposed to be there.

 

Friday 7 June 2006, 9:08 PM

Yesterday I saw this vehicle...big black huge SUV with MONSTER tires. The CA license plate was GI JANE and the back of the vehicle was covered with army stickers, a medic/tech/surg sticker, first responder stuff etc. I felt a sort of kinship with this mysterious person, relative to my experiences in NOLA. She did turn off the road and I got to see her; short haircut, bleached hair, tank top, wiry and strong looking. Interesting.

Driving through California, Nevada and Utah I see prisons every couple of hundred miles or so. How many are there? How many people, over 2 million? How many of them are wrongly imprisoned? And how many of those “rightfully” imprisoned have spent their lives on the receiving end of one form of structural violence or another?

I listened to some evangelical radio today, all about the antichrist and as I was listening I thought...it’s George W. Bush they’re describing! A liar that many follow, the “bad shephard” referred to in the book of Daniel. If only these evangelicals would see that Bush fits the description of their antichrist to a T! So spread the word, refer to him as the “bad shephard” to your evangelical friends and neighbors, see what happens.

 

Wednesday 5 July 2006, 12:01 PM

Apparently mass arrests of american citizens are underway on US soil in Colorado at the Rainbow Gathering. I have called my congressional reps from Vermont and encourage you to call your reps, wherever you live.

The commercial press isn’t covering this much so for more information go to:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/06/27/18283162.php Read the comments on this story, some of which agree that these mass arrests are happening, some of which say there are justified fire prevention measures being taken.

I’ve tried to find info in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, here’s what I’ve found so far.

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3996162

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3999421

Allegations that the rainbows are cutting down trees and trashing the forest have been made. This story is worth following.

 

Sunday 2 July 2006, 1:42 PM

It’s funny how things work out. I had a plan to go to BC this summer and draw strength from the mountains, lakes, rivers, animals; the life there. I didn’t end up going to BC but instead Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California, which places have been nourishing for me. I’m feeling a flow that’s bringing me where I am to be, and is inspiring and feeding the work I am to do. I guess it’s faith. I’m able to trust the currents. That will be tested, most likely, but that’s ok.

I’m in touch with the unfolding universe in present time. It’s all happening...NOW. Our human dramas are reflected in, and reflections of, the whole of the unfolding cosmos. Think space, stars, galaxies, solar systems...us. You. Me. Here we are.

 

Tuesday 27 June 2006, 2:06 PM

It’s been great being really hot, without much to do except for water plants, stay cool, eat and sleep. I needed this. I did go into SF briefly on Sunday to give a presentation at New College about Katrina and the clinic, but other than that...just sweating.

I’ve been “on the road” since the beginning of April 2005. I’ve been across the continent, through Canada, met tons of really nice people, seen aspects of north american human culture that i needed to see. We’ve gotten to live by beautiful lakes, rivers, on mountains, in valleys, in driveways and backyards. I’ve enjoyed it immensly.

All through this time I’ve been grieving for my mother and other dear dead friends and relatives. Since 1995 at least 10 people I care about have died. I know that the longer you live, the more of your friends and family dies simply because...people die. Grappling with, and allowing to move through me, the emotions...recognizing my attachments, exploring my beliefs in what happens after death...it’s all been a big part of the journey.

Spending six months in New Orleans was a life changing, pivotal, experience. I'm still digesting it.

All of this continues to teach and inform and lead me to more questions about the nature of existance, of human existance, of human culture and societies, all in relation to the cosmos, to the life force itself; and what we humans have done with our minds, and our abilities to fashion tools. The way that humans have, for thousands of years at least, dominated each other and their surroundings; destructive, cruel, short sighted, foolish, greedy, and fearful.

Yet I continue to encounter people who have beating hearts, who are compassionate and generous.

I encounter my own ambivalence about being alive, and yet continue to discover my commitments and attachment to the living.

And this is just one person’s articulation of what humans are doing everyday, all over Earth. Think of the billions of minds and hearts, and hopefully souls, yearning for and reaching for and striving for peaceful loving sweet lives. Some experience it, some do not. Some for brief moments, some for years. Some experience mainly privation and suffering, usually at the hands of their fellow humans. And what of it? What does the future hold; the future which we are creating with our actions, our thoughts, our beliefs?

Here are a few photos I took today, especially for our friends who haven't seen us in a while.

Thursday 22 June 2006, 12:55 PM

Happy Solstice! Here we are at the top of another year. Wow, the wheel just keeps turning! This solstice finds Lasky, Chloe and me in northern California where it’s sunny and HOT. I’m glad to have a place to dry out my lungs and sinuses. The animals are keeping as cool as they can in the shade, with the occasional shpritzing from the hose.

I’ve been traveling all over the place it seems; Seattle, Montana, California...and it continues. From here I drive to Colorado to drop the critters off with a friend who has very generously offered to watch them while I fly off east to do a variety of things for three weeks before returning to Oregon to teach at Free Activist Witch Camp, where the animals and I will rejoin company.

Plans are forming for after this summer. I’m thinking we’ll return to New Orleans in October to offer counseling and bodywork at the clinic for 6 months. Last year I was pretty good for about three months, then stress got to me and I wasn’t able to do as much. My plan for this year is to actually rent a living space with a friend rather than live in the camper. I think this will give the animals and me all more sense of stability, and make it less stressful.

In order to do this I need to do some fund raising. The clinic may have some small stipend for me, but in addition to my income from teaching online I figure I need another $500 a month to live in a way that will support my work at the clinic. So, this blog entry contains a fund raising appeal. If you’re interested in offering some kind of financial support to me specifically for work at the Common Ground Health Clinic in New Orleans during the period from October to March, there are a number of ways to do this. One is through PayPal by sending funds to walter@walterzeichner.com. Another is to send funds directly to my bank account (email me for that info). I am also affiliated with a non-profit organization that can receive funds specifically to support my work at the clinic, making those donations tax deductible. Email me for that info as well.

If ten people gave $50 a month each for six months, I’d be all set. Thank you for considering supporting the work I can do at the clinic in New Orleans.

Other thoughts...I’ve been consuming very little media, so the specific news of the world is not so much in the fore of my mind. Traveling, meeting people, seeing how people live, seeing the american police state in action, seeing the land, smelling the pollution in some places and the clean air in others...all this informs my sense of being in a state of free fall. When one is told repeatedly that “thus and such” means safety and security, and then one discovers the lies and corruption involved in perpetuating/perpetrating the so-called safety and security, it changes the way one looks at the society. I see people struggling. I see that most people are so stressed out by their financial situations, they have little time or energy to look at the powers who are creating the financial squeeze. The increased militarization for the sake of protecting fabulously wealthy “private enterprises” like oil, high-tech, etc. is all portrayed as part of protecting us from the terrorists, but the actual terrorists are the ones who profit by keeping people scared and stressed.

I have many thoughts and feelings about all this and the broader implications for the planet. Sometimes I’m hopeful, sometimes despairing, sometimes pragmatic.

I’d love to hear from anyone reading this about what you’re perceiving and how it effects you.

 

Tuesday 6 June 2006, 3:56 PM

We’re camping in Montana with new friends, friends of friends. It’s so beautiful here. The mountains, the snowy peaks, the green slope down into the sparsley populated valley. Wow. Conversing with the folks here I am hearing about a forgotten Shangri-La that was discovered 15 years ago or so, and has been gradually growing. The struggle against sprawl is arriving, the moneyed out of staters building mcmansions on subdivisions have arrived in limited amount but more are planned - and face opposition. The world is here. And it’s one of the most gorgeous places. I feel, filtered through the haze of my personal state of psychological, physicial, spiritual and mental process, something like the way I felt when I first went to Vermont. I felt this last year in BC. I could live here. Big green mountains do it for me. There is so much life. Being around this strengthens my inspiration, my will.

I am having lots of thoughts about settling down here. I'm going to look at some land just to see it. Summer living here would be easy enough. Winter living requires a real structure of some sort, more than the camper and probably more than the yome, although I am considering what modifications might work to winter in the yome. I think it is doable.

This would entail generating more income. That’s doable. I wouldn’t need to make much. If I teach one more class per semester online or face to face, and do one day a week of clinical, I’d make enough money to live pretty simply by US standards, which is all I want.

It looks huge, like a big wave coming towards me, the idea of settling down somewhere and “starting over;” discovering/allowing/finding/manifesting my individual life in a place, making a nest for a while again on the body of Earth. I need to. I need the grounding of it to help me process what I’m learning.

I like this place. It’s slow. Summers are hot. Winters are cold, which I know how to deal with. Right now I am sitting out in a field next to the truck and a tent where a friend is staying. Just me, Lasky and Chloe. The owner of this place just helped me get my refrigerator working on propane, which hadn’t worked before. Yay!. I hear the stream on the other side of the truck, the occasional beating of ground birds’ wings, crickets or frogs can’t tell which. It’s overcast, probably 75 degrees. Town is 3 miles away. I don’t hear it at all. At night you can see the lights of town, but there is no glow in the sky. A large black and white dragonfly just scoped out Lasky and then me. This is good. I hear birdsong. There are some cows and a couple of bulls in the field a little ways away. You get the picture.

 

Thursday 1 June 2006, 10:47 AM

Wow. Being sick and dreaming has really opened some stuff up for me. Dreams about New Orleans, about friends from there, about Vermont. I finally started to experience grief about the home I sold and left in Vermont, dreaming about going there, the gardens, renting the house even. Yay fever!

These dreams do bring up questions about...what next for me? I have plans through August but then, what? I am running out of money, so I either need to find a way to make more money on the move or settle somewhere and work. Hmmm. I can always practice psychotherapy again, maybe in New Orleans? City living??! I dunno. I don’t want that really, and I don’t feel done with the unscheduled life. I’m open to suggestions...chuckle. There are people who have invited me to camp at their places in California, a few different places, all very wonderful and attractive with good folks. Maybe some other opportunities will present themselves too.

 

Tuesday 30 May 2006, 7:12 PM

The last few weeks have been pretty low key, visiting family, dealing with physical illness, and camping last weekend on the Okanogon National Forest with friends.

It’s always interesting being around people who are themselves fairly stressed, while processing and decompressing myself. The experiences of New Orleans continue to mostly fill my thoughts, along with continued observation of and huge disappointment in the actions of our species. It’s not just the politics (which are heartbreaking and infuriating, watching the idiot emperor continue his reign even though most of us know he’s incompetent and criminal and a mean bully. Congress gets full credit for allowing this nonsense to continue since it has collectively abandoned it’s legitimate mission instead embracing corporatism and fear mongering.) but seeing how people turn to materialism and jingoism for comfort.

Jeez I get going and it all just starts pouring out. Enough of that.

I have a head cold which will hopefully run it’s course soon and be done.

 

Sunday 12 May 2006, 10:54 AM

The knowledge that I (and many others) hold of the cruelty humans are acting out on each other in this world right now effects my ability to feel good about our species. Even though I meet such kind and amazing people all the time, I have seen and know of more acts of brutality that humans commit, and it weighs me down. I feel sad, angry, powerless, hopeless, at times. It comes in waves. It also subsides and I am able to see and participate in a more whole, relational, reality.

I think not having a home base in one place contributes to how much I experience these waves. There is no one place which I regard as my shelter from the storm, there are many such places but they are not “mine.”

I’ve been out of New Orleans for 7 weeks. I envision the place and people daily. It’s what many of my conversations come around to, I’m sure because I take it there. I’m still decompressing, and am in another phase of it I guess.

I am thinking I may not go to Chilco Lake. It’s far, gas is expensive (more so in Canada) and my cash flow is steady but quite thin right now, so I may stay with friends on the west coast for June. We’ll see.

Happy Mothers Day, a holiday co-opted out of a mothers day for peace protest action. Today we can honor our mothers, and The Mother, by being peaceful.

 

Wednesday 10 May 2006, 11:31 AM

We’re visiting Tryon Life Community Farm in Portland again. It’s such a beautiful place. If you’re ever in Portland Oregon, come check this place out. The story of how this farm has been saved from becoming a condo development is inspiring, and the fact that this farm is here in the city of Portland is really amazing. There are goats, chickens, people, cob buildings, a sauna, lots of beautiful gardens, and a community of humans (including little kids) living together, working through the human issues, loving, supporting, learning. It’s not a perfect place or a utopia but it’s a vision come to life, and one that many can learn from and be inspired by. Later this month the Village Building Convergence will be happening in Portland. I’ve never been but I hear it’s an amazing coming-together of people working to bring visions like Tryon Life Farm to life.

Tommorrow we’ll head north and west, spend another night or two camping by the ocean, and then on to Seattle to see family and friends.

The conversations I’ve been having for years seem to revolve around a specific question; how humans can learn to live together, in agreement and disagreement, in ways that are sustainable for the human relationships (including with Earth). Traveling from a nearly-destroyed city through “intact” cities, envisioning an overlay of destruction - what it could look like - is both disturbing and somehow comforting. After New Orleans, I have some sense of how people can come together in response to destruction, catastrophe, and human tragedy. So whatever does happen I know that the people left can pull together if they choose to. Then I look at the media and see how especially governments and corporations continue choosing to focus on profit rather than the well-being of the living (people, animals, land). The greed and shortsightedness of these people, let’s use George Bush as an example, indicates how unevolved, undeveloped, and deeply distorted they are. My question is, why does the population put up with this? Why hasn’t the Bush corporate killing machine been put out of business by popular demand? In the US people perceive themselves as having given over their power. A huge majority of the people in the US think Bush is a louse, incompetent, even criminal, but the power structures that have been developed over the decades now protect the imperial imbecile from being accountable. Unless and until people really seize their own power back, I fear this fascist murdurous state will continue.

How can we seize our power back? I’ve written about this before as have many others. First, choose where your money goes. If you buy gas, buy from the less evil of the gas companies. Exxon/Mobil is partly owned by the Bush family so I don’t buy from them. Likewise Chevron is a major despoiler of land. They all are, but for instance Citgo is Venezuelan gas, so buying there is supporting a government that is standing up to the bully US and saying no. It’s still a land and indiginous people despoiler though. Oil is exploitive, no way around that.

Buying locally grown food and locally made products is a way to resist the corporatization of our lives. Not buying goods made by slaves is another. Speaking out, publicly and with friends, about the disaster of our criminal government is another. I used to think that voting was really important, now with the rigged voting machines in use I’m not so sure, but what the hell it’s still good to vote just in case it does really matter.

My personal wish is to see the entire Bush machine, including his parents, in orange jumpsuits for the rest of their lives. I know, it’s just a fantasy, but it’s such a satisfying one!

 

Friday 5 May 2006, 1:45 PM

Here’s the news on Lasky. No cancer. Bad right knee w/a bone chip in the joint, but apparently it’s been this way for a while. Low red blood cell count but not dangerously low. Fever. Most likely infection from so many tick bites so she’s on an antibiotic. Phew! Thanks for all the email and support!!

We’re in Laytonville CA right now heading north.

 

Thursday 4 May 2006, 12:46 PM

Lasky is at the vet’s. In the last two days suddenly she is lame in her right hip with tenderness in other parts of her body, and she’s running a fever. She’s having x-rays and blood work. I’m worried about her. She’s been listless and yelping in discomfort.

Any contributions towards her vet bill would be appreciated. I need to raise $250. If you want to help out, go to PayPal and send funds to walter@walterzeichner.com

Thank you!

 

Wednesday 3 May 2006, 9:42 AM

We’ve been in Hopland, CA all week. It’s so beautiful out in this valley, dirt roads, green hills, hot sun. There are a lot of ticks. I’ve pulled at least a few dozen off of Lasky in the last week, and a couple off of myself. Lasky is also showing her age some, favoring a back leg and not seeming particularly peppy. She’s going on 14 so it’s understandable, just sad. Bittersweet.

We’ll be heading north in a few days.

I keep checking the media on a limited basis, the NY Times, CommonDreams.org, stuff like that. I also get a lot of email from progressive organizations fundraising for candidates, news about towns and cities voting for impeachment; there is a lot going on in this country. I feel like one of those disaffected voters counted in the stats. With election machinery having become fraudulent, how can elections matter? And yet how can one turn one’s back on them? I know that there are a lot of law suits going on around the country about the rigged electronic voting machines, but will they prevail? And when? The stakes are so high. I spoke with a German friend the other day who was telling me that in Europe people just can’t believe that Americans are allowing this hitler-esque Bush scenario to unfold as it is. Me neither. It’s really hard to believe. And not. In this country it seems that TV rules, fantasy and escapism are the primary focii, and so we abdicate our power to a less evolved, power addicted elite group who just fuck everyone over repeatedly.

Enough of that.

It’s bittersweet, too, visiting people who live in these little paradises, remembering my home in Vermont which is such a beautiful place,, and a sweet home, and feeling through sadness about my choice to let it go. I still think it was a good choice, and I long for a little piece of ground again. I’m moving towards it.

I follow news of New Orleans. It sounds like it’s still a huge mess between storm damage and government/corporate corruption.greed/ineptitude.

 

Saturday 22 April 2006, 3:39 PM

Today is election day in New Orleans. I wonder what’s going to happen! So many people are not able to participate because they haven’t returned yet, and this election will effect what happens in New Orleans, so there’s a catch-22 here. I bet a lot of people are caught in it too. Good old american dream, eh?

Earlier this week I participated in a discussion with some other folks from the clinic in New Orleans. We were guests at a medical anthropology seminar at UC Berkeley. It was great to see people, and very interesting to be in the discussion. One thing I could see is how each of us who had been in NOLA are, in our own way, carrying something. Call it trauma, or experience, I don’t have a name for it presently, but I sensed it. We’re all in a state of recovery or decompression in some way as well.

My plans are proceeding. I’ll be heading north in a week to visit and spend the summer.

 

Thursday 20 April 2006, 7:32 PM
Here’s an interview which was conducted at KWMR in Point Reyes, CA on April 5, 2006.

 

Wednesday 12 April 2006, 4:42 PM

It’s been raining here in mid/northern California for months. The creeks are full. The trees are dripping. At night, in my camper, the rain pounds on the roof. It’s cool and damp and foggy.

We got here yesterday, to a friend’s ranch up in the western mountains of Sonoma County. I have to take down the yome - hoping for a couple of dry days - before heading north to Oregon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about New Orleans, following development in the news and working on the clinic’s web site. There’s so much to digest, in terms of local New Orleans stuff, the broader political and metaphysical implications, and just in terms of my own life. I look forward to the time when that bubbles out of me in the form of written word. I’m not quite there yet.

I have been paying attention to the protests over immigration law changes. It’s great that so many people have come out into the streets over the racist inhumane legislation that has been proposed.

I find it very interesting that this issue drew so many out into the streets while the illegal war, murder of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, and the illegal actions taken by an incompetent executive in the White House, have NOT drawn the same attention. I guess it’s all about self interest. the immigration issue speaks to the immediate material situation of millions of people in the US, while a war thousands of miles away just isn’t real enough for people to respond to with the same caring. It’s sad to me.

I support the protesters against the immigration changes, but I am disappointed that people, ultimately, are more concerned with self interest than with the rights of people in other countries to live. So with regards to these protests, I see them as being more of the same. People want “the american dream” and don’t realize that it’s a nightmare for much of the world.

That being said, if the connections could be made in people’s minds, between the importation of menial laborours paid substandard wages (sounds like slavery to me) and the occupation and colonialization of lands inhabited by dark skinned people elsewhere, then maybe people would take to the streets and oust this criminal bunch controlling the country now.

Another thought regarding the congressional elections coming soon. It is my belief that anyone running for congress whose agenda does not include impeachment of bush, cheney etc., should not run. That goes double for incumbents. The present congress has shown that it is unwilling to do it’s job, and they should all go, republicrats and democrublicans.

 

Thursday 6 April 2006, 11:38 AM

This last 10 days has been a comfortable break from traveling, and from driveway camping. I’m in Northern California, Marin County to be precise. I’ve been housesitting for friends, enjoying their lovely quiet west marin mountaintop home, watching the rain and clouds, the moon and the sun. It’s been the most physically comfortable interlude in quite a while.

I miss my New Orleans family; the folks I lived and worked with at the clinic, the friends I made in the community. Solitary comfort is nice but there’s something about being part of a community that feeds and enriches like nothing else. I look forward to my short trip to New Orleans scheduled for August 10 to sit on a panel of mental health practitioners at an APA disaster mental health conference. More details as they come. My involvement there stems from having written a call to action on the part of mental health workers. I hope you’ll read it and share it.

I was interviewed about the clinic on the local community radio station yesterday, KWMR. I’ll have a copy of that soon to share on this website.

The life I’m living continues to be an adventure. There’s a big piece I feel working through me as I approach my 46th birthday, a week from today; a letting go. I figured something out about the role of grief in my life, and I’m very interested in what I learned. Grieving, something I have always done, is a method of clearing psychic channels to make room for other work, healing work, hands-on and not. I’m thinking that I can learn for joy to be part of that process, not just grief. So I’m working with that.

 

Saturday 25 March 2006, 12:49 PM

The Common Ground Health Clinic, where I’ve been volunteering in New Orleans, is in dire financial need. Donations have been drying up, and we need funds to be able to stay open providing free health care to people who have had no access for years, lifetimes even. If you are looking for a worthy cause to make a donation to, please consider the clinic.

You can make donations (tax deductible or not) by sending a check to:

CGHC
1400 teche St.
Algiers New Orleans, LA 70114

or by using the links on the clinic’s website, http://cghc.org

Thank you!

 

Tuesday 21 March 2006, 8:22 PM

As I was driving today I became strongly aware of the turn my life has taken. I go from place to place, loving and being loved, my family growing all the time. It’s overwhelmingly sweet. Life, of course, presents many challenges but that doesn't take away from this goodness, in fact it makes it richer.

Thank you, family.

 

Monday 20 March 2006, 11:23 AM

Equinox! Balance between day and night, balance in ourselves; tenuous, precious, fleeting.

Springtime! It’s been a most unusual winter in my life, how about you, dear reader?

I’m in Baton Rouge, heading west. It’s hot and muggy, with an overcast sky. New Orleans, the northernmost Carribean city, with all of it’s beauty and ugliness, has changed me. Besides being a place I can call home, besides the wonderful people I’ve met and gotten close to and love, New Orleans is a magical place; layers of time and deep magic called and felt by people enduring pain and loss, oppression and privation, and yet finding depth of spirit to be sustaining. New Orleans is a city of survivors. Long before hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was all these things and more. In 5 months I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Now, leaving behind loved ones and friendships, we head west for the spring, north for the summer, and then...who knows?

 

Saturday 18 March 2006, 11:51 AM

Elections are approaching in the US. What with the rigged electronic voting machines and the racist and ideologically based blocked access to polling places, I don’t have much faith in the electoral process in the US. That being said, I found a very interesting website which allows you to enter your zip-code and see howmuch oil money your elected officials have taken in contribution. For instance Patrick Leahy of Vermont has accepted $9250 in contributions from oil companies since 1990, while Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has accepted $396,044 in contributions from oil companies since 1990. One has to wonder what Ms. Landrieu, a senator from an oil state, has done for the oil companies in return for all that money. What's Leahy done with the money he got? Whose interests are being served?? Well obviously we know whose interests aren't being served; those of the citizenry. The website is Democracy in Action

Infoshop also has an interesting story with links to the recently leaked "G8 Summit Communique on Energy Security" which is essentially a document that promotes the expansion of nuclear power on a global scale, while seeking to contain any nuclear weapons proliferation, which will of course mean more militarism. The report also promotes fascism by encouraging governments and corporations to become further entangled. You can find the report at Reclaim the Commons.

It’s a cool cloudy day in New Orleans; a nice break after yesterdays 90 degree heat.

 

Wednesday 15 March 2006, 7:38 AM

This coming Monday we’re heading west; the dog, the cat and myself. It’s been nearly 6 months since I first came to New Orleans to volunteer at the clinic. I knew once it started to get hot we’d have to go. No way the animals can handle it, expecially Lasky the dog. So, we’re heading west and then north; visiting family and friends along the way heading to BC for June.

New Orleans continues to recover slowly. The 9th ward is as it is, devastated; Chalmette, St. Bernard, the list goes on. The stress levels continue to be high, resources limited and allocated unequally, people essentially in survival mode.

I’ve had access to the internet at the place where I stay, for the last few weeks, so I’ve been reading the news online. It continues to blow my mind, the transparency of the lies that the Bush administration perpetrates on the world, and they go mostly unchallenged. Now there have been some criticisms even from republicans in Congress, but nothing with teeth. No accountability. Anyone wondering why this country is going to shit, just look to the government. The corruption is blatant, deep, and constant. The democrats are as corrupt as the republicans, with a spinelessness that is contemptible.

Since coming back from NM I’ve been experiencing a slower more relaxed pace than previously. I’ve done very little direct service throught he clinic, mostly working on counselor recruitment, and being a support and resource person for clinic volunteers. I’ve had a great time with friends. I’ve made friends here that I hope to be connected with for a long long time; wonderful people with vision, passion, comittment. I pondered, the other day, what I would have not experienced if I hadn’t come here; so much! I have absolutely no regrets about coming to New Orleans.

Many clinic volunteers, including myself, live in communal-type situations. I liv ein the camper in a driveway, but there are friends in the house. We’ve been cooking together, gardening together, watching movies on this computer at night...enjoying each other. I love it. I’ve lived in communal homes, lived alone, had roomates, and I really like living with people and sharing, the best. Being one of the elders in this group I find myself feeling protective of the young ones, and wanting to nurture them. I also encounter my “scarcity” impulse, i.e. asking myself if I have enough (food, money, time, etc.) to share. Of course the answer is yes, but I do have to face the part of me that wants to hoard and not share. When I do, generally, I share anyway. The point, though, is that I’m sure many people hit that “not enough” place when they are asked to share. It’s very human. The trick, I’m learning, is not to believe it. Everytime I share, I receive what I need too. I’m not being very articulate about this, but there is good learning going on; confirmation and affirmation that humanity can learn to live sustainably if we focus on loving each other and sharing what we have.

 

Wednesday 8 March 2006, 4:41 PM

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve actually been having a good time with people, getting some stuff done for the clinic. When I returned from NM the biggest motivation was to see people I’d gotten close to here. The woman who owns the house where I camp is just a great person and I didn’t want to just take off and not see folks. So I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot and it’s really great. Yes the situation is not an easy one in many ways, but there’s a lot of love and comradery, and those are things that there is no replacement for. And common vision, working towards something. I know that what’s happening here in New Orleans, and with Common Ground is another baby step in our evolution and learning to become a healthy self sustaining intelligent species. That’s comforting.

It’s warming up here, in more ways than one. The weather is changing, it’s March, the air is alot warmer, insects are hatching. More people keep returning to New Orleans and so the crime rate is rising. It’s not where it was preKatrina but it’s increasing. Lasky, Chloe and I will be departing somewhere around the end of the month, most likely to head west, then north.

My plans are becoming clearer. I will be spending most of June in BC...so friends, come camp with me at Chilko Lake! So between now and June I’ll finish stuff up here, head west, visit family, drive up the coast, do more visiting, and end up in BC. In July I’ll head south again. I have a few gigs in a few locations so I’ll be in New Hampshire at one point, Belgium, New Orleans again for a conference in August then back to Oregon for Free Activist Witch Camp. And then...who knows.

Things with the clinic are very interesting. The clinic is effectively offering health care. It’s also experiencing the growing pains of becoming more established and working towards sustainability. I think it’s fair to say that folks are learning as they go, to some extent, while still giving good quality in their volunteer work. I’ve been fixing up the website...take a look. http://cghc.org

The only thing that really sucks right now is that I have poison ivy in a number of locations on my body. Other than that I have to say...I’m well.

I did create a slideshow of New Orleans. Anyone can access it at http://cghc.org/cghcslideshow.mov Mac OS X users can also access it using these instructions:

1. Make sure you're connected to the Internet.
2. Open Systems Preferences and Click Desktop & Screen Saver. Select the Screen Saver tab. (Users of Mac OS X 10.2, open Systems Preferences and click Screen Effects.)
3. Select .Mac in the list of available screen savers.
4. Click Options and enter mtnmanvt13 in the Member Name box. Click OK. (Users of Mac OS X 10.2, click Configure and enter member name.)
If you find these images to be moving at all, please consider sending some support to New Orleans. If you want to support Common Ground Collective or Clinic.

 

Friday 25 February 2006, 2:25 AM

I was out for a late night stroll tonight under the bridge in Algiers. It was around 1:30 in the morning. As i was walking back to where I stay a cop pulled over, got out of his car, told me to put my hands on the car, frisked me, asking me “what’ve you been arrested for before dude?” and “why are you out here?” I told him I’d never been arrested, and that I was out taking a walk. He seemed skeptical. He went through every scrap of paper in my pockets. He said “there are a lot of drugs in this neighborhood, usually people don’t walk around late at night.” I said “I haven’t seen anything going on.” and he said “well I know there is.” He was done and looked like he was preparing to leave, so I asked him for his name and badge number. He asked me why. I said “because you just stopped me and searched me without my consent.” He had turned away by now and said “Alright dude” got into his car and drove off. Car 402.

 

Friday 17 February 2006, 10:59 AM

It’s a beautiful sunny day. There’s lots of moisture in the air. To my body, this feels like early summer in New England. It makes me feel festive and relaxed. I love it!

I am camped in my old spot on Belleville St. The house has peole in it now and has been fixed up some more, and for some reason there is a wireless high speed internet connection. A neighbor must have it...which is great since I no longer have a cell phone.

I got back yesterday and it was great to see people. It was also great to hear about how things are changing, progressing, with the clinic. I will see how I can help for the next few weeks in terms of getting more counseling staff in place, but am not going to stress myself out and take on tons of stuff. It feels much less intense than when I left in January.

The time away was good. I gained some perspective on life in general. All that quiet time in the desert, time to listen to the quiet, and to notice all the noise in my mind.

Hearing the corporate and state radio stations (NPR) I was again reminded of the state of fascism and unconsciousness in the usa. Amazing. What to say?

 

Thursday 9 February 2006, 9:08 AM

I’m sitting in the truck in the square of a small town called Monticello, about 20 miles nw oif T or C and about 10 miles from the campground where “.m staying, Luna. I did decide to go back and stay till the moonn starts to wane.

I met a guy in T or C on the morning when I found the broken window in the truck. He’s from Vermont, ironically, and we know lots of the same people. He’s in T or C living in his VW van with his 19 yr old dog who is in failing health. We made a plan to meet in this square this morning and go to a box canyon northwest of here that he has told me is very amazing. But it’s cold and cloudy, he’s not here at the appointed time and I suspect he’s not coming. I told him I’d wait an hour and not to come if he didn’t feel up to it. If he doesn’t come I’ll head back up to Luna.

My mind is pretty much made up to return to NOLA in 4 or 5 days. There are people there I want to see and spend time with. I can coordinate the counseling at the clinic and get it into a form that will self sustain when I leave, hopefully, providing I can find someone to take over that coordination. If not, then I will have done what I could. In any case my plan is to leave NOLA no later than my birthday in mid-April and then to carry on with other plans.

My friend did show up but we agreed that it’s too cold and overcast to do the trip to the canyon today, so I’m headed back to Luna and he back to T or C.

 

Wednesday 8 February 2006, 10:20 AM

The process of renewal is amazing. Each day I feel clearer. Last night I dreamt a lot, waking briefly to notice each dream, then going back for more. Lots of old scenarios, past lovers, loose ends, tying themselves up. I woke up this morning feeling good. I’ve packed up the camper and shortly will head south to T or C, do an email check, update this blog, check in with my online class, probably have a soak in the hot springs and then...maybe head out, maybe come back here, I’m not sure. I was thinking I’d stay here through the full moon, which is Sunday. This is the Luna Campground, after all, and I’ve been here since the moon was new, so there’s something to staying ‘till it’s full. But then again, maybe not. We’ll see.

I am thinking I’ll return to NOLA for a bit then head to the Appalachians to garden with friends for part of the spring, then head west again for various doings; summer in BC, Free Witch Camp in Oregon in August.

I just read a book called “God is Red” by Vine Deloria. I highly recommend it.

 

Sunday 5 February 2006, 4:54 PM

It’s windy and dusty. The animals and I are in the camper. I’m making food. This is my second day in a row where I felt basically pretty good, almost normal. What’s missing is I don’t feel strong. In my limbs, in my resolve, I feel like things are evening out, but at a lesser strength than I felt a few months ago. I think that strength will continue to grow as I do this relaxing, hot springs, sunshine, quiet uneventful time.

Time alone allows me space to think about people and events from the past, recent and not so recent. I have a pattern of becoming involved in a group and then finding some great worm at the core of the apple, a flaw in the leaders or elders. Sometimes it’s been big lies that I discovered, sometimes lesser ones. The point is that I become disillusioned by what I perceive to be a lack of integrity, and I move on usually after exposing the lie and being targeted for bringing the unpleasant message. I’ve played out this scenario quite a few times in the last 30 years.

I’m not continuing that pattern in my relationship with the clinic in NOLA. I chose, while there, to focus on the work I could do to serve people, and not on the economics and/or politics of the clinic or Common Ground. I’m glad I did that. It helped me to be more neutral when being asked for counsel from a number of people from within the clinic and CG. It also kept me out of the position I’ve described above. I’m glad. This was a good choice.

Now I’m considering a return to NOLA for a limited amount of time with a limited set of expectations of what I’ll be doing. I’m digesting this idea. I realize that I need alternative ideas in order for this to be really making a choice. I could go to a number of places where there are friends who’ve invited me. Those places are all in winter still but not for much longer. The truth is I feel both drawn and repelled to New Orleans. I want to see the people there that I love. I don’t want to stay for too long. I can’t commit to busting my ass anymore. I feel repelled by the pollution, the cruel “neglect” by government which is apparent in the streets for all to see.

Etc. etc. etc.

 

Friday 3 February 2006, 5:11 PM

It’s quiet, sunny, a bit chilly. I’ve been napping. I feel exhausted still. My dreams at night are restless, but afternoon naps are peaceful. Nights are also very windy which keeps me awake until late when the wind dies down.

Today I’ve been sorting through images, faces,memories, stories, sadness. Yesterday I was sorting through rage at the dehumanization people endure as they work in their jobs, are “governed” by the crooks who steal land, water, children, culture, all for the sake of money. I wonder how much money the Bush family has made off of the war in Iraq, off of the gasoline rip-off of the nation.

I often fall back to the question of how it is that some people can treat others like things to be exploited, not like people. But there is no satisfying answer, no matter how much psychology one understands, or history. There is just a deep wrongness that is like a sour note in a symphony. Something goes against the grain of the goodness of nature. But then human nature is not only kind and compassionate, it’s petty and greedy and cruel.

So, what is before me is...how do I respond? How can I respond? What energy do I have, and what/where’re the best ways for me to focus that energy?

I’d like to be warm, quiet, with a garden to work in, people to share with, time to just be.

Sorting through my mind I came to the realization that I would benefit from someone listening to me tell my story of New Orleans. Writing it down isn’t the same. It’ll do me a world of good to sit with someone and for them to just listen while I free associate. I haven’t found people receptive yet on this trip. The folks I’ve engaged with have mostly wanted to talk and be listened to. Everyone seems to have a story to tell and a need to be heard. With so many people on Earth you’d think there’d be enough people to listen to each other, but it doesn’t seem to be so.

Yesterday evening, when I’d returned to this campsite after a day in T or C dealing with money, mail, the VT DMV, buying food, etc. a guy stopped here in his car. He wanted very much to tell me his life story, especially about his religion and christianity. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin if I had to listen to him. I didn’t exist except as someone for him to talk at. I told him that I’d just spent 3 months in NOLA and was here for quiet. He kept talking. I explained that I’d heard hundreds of peoples’ stories and didn’t really have room for any more. He kept talking. “I just want to say this one more thing...” about five times. Finally I agreed that yes I knew I had a friend in Jesus and he left me alone. Man, was that obnoxious. Had he actually seen me, and been willing to relate, that might have been OK, but it was the epitome of male lecturing no matter who’s there, no matter what they’re going through, that pissed me off. Anyone really looking at my face these days can see that I’m tired and stressed. Why is it so hard for people to really look and see each other? Plus I find that kind of religiousity to be scary. The need for someone else to believe as you do has been the basis for a lot of killing, especially (but not only) by christians, over the last 2000 years. It freaks me out. I steer clear to the best of my ability.

I met a guy yesterday at the laundromat, a native guy in his 60’s. We talked, and he asked me how things were going, and I told him that since coming to T or C things just kept going wrong. He laughed and said “The name of this town is Truth or Consequences. Everyone has to face that choice when they come here.” He also told me that the town used to be called Warm Springs before being renamed after the TV show as part of a publicity stunt. He knows people who are working to get some local native people trained as counselors so they can work on the res, and other native folks will utilize them. I’m going to go meet with him next week to discuss wheter or not there is a way I can contribute to this, seeing as how I’ve been a counselor for 25+ years and have helped train new counselors. We’ll see what happens.

One thing I can say I’ve learned in NOLA is that anything can happen, and does, and is happening now somewhere. The illusions of safety that I’ve had, that I think most white people in the united states have, are false. There are people who don’t have the luxury of that set of delusions.

 

Tuesday 31 January 2006, 5:24 PM

It’s quiet here. I hear the wind, Lasky and Chloe, myself, that’s it. The sun’s just gone behind the hill. I’m inside the camper parked west-east about 8 feet from a rock wall to the north.

I’m in New Mexico about 30 miles from Truth or Consequences, at a National Forest primitive campground out in the desert.

I drove through Louisiana and Texas last weekend, spending Friday night at a campground outside of San Antonio and arriving T or C on Saturday night. What I found was that the place I’d made reservations was going to involve being camped out in a parking lot with lots of other cars and people, no space. When I saw that I felt a surge of panic. I decided I’d leave the next day and find a quiet place, like the one where I am.

During that night in the parking lot of the hot springs I heard something impact my truck in a muffled sort of way, and some kids run off laughing. The next morning I discovered that they’d smashed the window in the passenger door of the truck. That added to my already uneasy feeling being in T or C.

I filed a police report. People at the hot springs were very sympathetic, refunded me what I’d paid for nights in advance, and one man in particular was very helpful and kind, and he told me about this campground and how to get here so I came here on Sunday. I spent that afternoon sitting in the sun on a picnic table, quietly listening to the outside world and to the tumult inside my mind. Monday morning Lasky and I went for a hike and saw more of this place. It’s spectacularly beautiful. One can see no signs of people except for the dirt road and the sign to the campground. Other than that it’s wild. The campground itself is shielded from the north wind by an outcropping of rock, with caves and niches and towers.

Monday afternoon I slept. It felt so good to just nap, sunlight coming into the camper through the windows, cat and dog snoozing, snoring. The nights are clear and starry. Last night there was a sliver of a new moon. I made wishes.

Today I went to T or C. the registration for the truck turned up missing after the window smashing incident so I had to go to the library, download a form from the VT DMV, mail it with a return express mailer postage paid to the DMV in Montpelier, along with a money order. There is no way to do this via fax, email, credit card, or anything, even if going through the local police. The VT DMV will only produce a duplicate registration certificate in a specific way no matter how much easier it could be using other methods which are just as secure. My patience is thin these days. It’s never been my strongest suit, but right now it’s thinner than usual, and this rigamarole nonsense with the DMV was another opportunity to breathe, not lose it with the person on the phone who couldn’t explain why the duplicate registration forms are under Licenses and IDs on the web site and not under Registration.

I found a place in Las Cruces, 80 miles south of T or C, that will replace the window for $129.99. I can just afford that luckily, funny how things work out, so tomorrow I am going to L C to get the window. My plan after that is to return here to this campground and stay for 5 to 7 days or so without going out to town. I crave the quiet. I’d love it if a few friends were with me, but just being in T or C today I felt that rising panic, get me out of here! Got PTSS?

I haven’t even begun to unravel the tangle of experiences of the last few months. I figure that will all happen organically. I’ve felt peaceful and connected on this trip, as well as the panic I mentioned and rage & frustration with beaurocracy, with teenage vandals, with the world humans have created. I count myself among the frustrations; my own patterns, the flaring of anger I feel these days.

If I had any illusions about the world being kind to me for the work I’ve done in NOLA, those illusions are gone. The wheel just keeps turning, no matter what.

 

Sunday 22 January 2006, 12:07 PM

It’s been foggy here in New Orleans for the last couple of days, just adding to the surreal quality of life here.

My mind is full with stories, sights, sounds. My heart is full. Sadness and rage are what I feel. Sadness at the suffering which is everywhere, and rage at the injustice, the greed, the selfishness and lack of caring that is so prevalent in our species.

Self preservation is kicking in. It’s time for a break...at least a week or two to let things settle a bit within me. Then I’ll be clearer about what comes next, whether a return to NOLA or somewhere else.

Try as I may to find more to say, there isn’t more. Just please, readers, remember what’s going on in New Orleans, and learn what you can so when it happens near you, you’ll be at least somewhat prepared.

 

Friday 13 January 2006, 5:18 PM

There’s a pile of debris burning in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans. It started last night sometime and has been allowed to keep burning all day. Was it set? What is it spewing into the already polluted air of New Orleans? Does anyone in the city government give a rat’s ass?

I just ate my first meal of the day. This was supposed to be a day off. Instead, I met with a local grad school professor about having counseling interns at 2 of the 3 sites I’m working on. I also did a home visit with a man in the 9th ward, checked up on a man I’ve been doing some case management with, and am now doing laundry.

Bush was in New Orleans yesterday, brokering some more deals for the wealthy. I’d like to see him turned loose with nothing but some jeans and a t shirt in any city in the US and see how he fares. There’s a reality TV show for ya!

I feel pretty wiped out, but am heartened to know that I am making progress towards the goals I set, which will allow me to leave in late April leaving a functional mental health team at the clinic and satellites. I need mountains, woods, quiet, to drink water coming from the earth instead of a plastic bottle. I need to sleep until I’m done, for days and days in a row.

 

Sunday 8 January 2006, 4:53 PM

The restful weekend has been good, although the afternoon after I wrote my last entry there were gunshots in the woods where wer were camped, which was unsettling and put Lasky and me both on edge for a while. There were more the next morning, but the plan was to leave then anyway. I came back to NOLA, had some more down time doing laundry and relaxing. Over this weekend I have managed to read a book...first one in a while. That felt good. I’ve also been sleeping alot, dreaming a lot, and engaged in ceremony last night, out of which came some very clear specific teachings. They are definitely things for me to work with,but they may be helpful to others so I am sharing them here.

I made offering of tobacco smoke to the six directions, and at each turn there was a clear instruction in my mind. The north said...listen more than you speak. The east said...hear what people are really saying. The south said...transform your attitudes which do not work. The west said...flow more. Skyward said...remember where you come from. Earthward said...remember what you’re made of.

I am seeing more clearly my path here in New Orleans. I see that I have specific tasks which I am working on, which I intend to have ready to hand off completely by mid April. Once it gets hot here Lasky won’t be able to handle it, so we’ll need to go. By then I want to have the following accomplished.

Local counselors for: algiers clinic, women’s center, 9th ward clinic, halfway house,on call rotation, supervision,interns

Belleville house: repairs, garden:

I may not be able to get all these projects to the point I’d like, but I do think it’s reasonable (even in this environment) to get these things well enough underway that they’ll sustain beyond my being here.

I imagine I’ll come back when the hot weather abates, but I have no idea what the rest of 2006 holds for me. I know it’s important for me and for the animals to be in the wilderness for a substantial part of the summer.

 

Thursday 5 January 2006 8:18 PM

I’m camped a bit west of Baton Rouge at the edge of the Atchafalaya Swamp, about 50 feet from the Atchafalaya River. A friend of a friend “owns” this land. There are a few electric lights across the river, and a dirt road with the occasional vehicle, and some air traffic, but it’s relatively quiet compared to New Orleans.

The first thing I did once the camper was all set up, around 2 pm, was to go to sleep. I’ve got the crud; sinus, coughing, low energy. I’m really tired, and glad to have some quiet time. I’m dosing myself with every vitamin and herb that seems appropriate, as well as a lot of pro-biotic. I’m sure with some rest I’ll be fine. I go back to NOLA on saturday morning, so I have tomorrow to rest.

I was exposed to black mold spores (which is the reason for taking the pro-biotic) in the lower ninth ward the other day when I was driving around looking for a woman who’d been reported to me as having just seen her house (flattened) and was “catatonic.” I never found her but I felt sick after being there. Exposure to the mold is guaranteed if you go to the lower ninth ward because it’s in the air. There was some blood in my nose today, just a little. I had minor exposure. There are people staying in their houses down there, some of the few left standing. They’re heavily exposed to this stuff. There are people gutting houses wearing tyvek suits with respirators, very sci-fi. They’re working their asses off, it’s hot, and there’s the emotional impact of the backfrop, this ruined place where people used to live.

The last week has been really hectic what with the clinic moving and all the clinical flow changing, as well as intensified emotional tone relative to the holidays and the ongoing disaster in NOLA. As more people return to see what happened to their homes they become more traumatized, so there are waves of newly retraumatized people coming to the clinic.

My speculation as to how the feds got the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana to stop blaming the feds after Katrina, is this. Louisiana announced in November that they’d be the next state to receive the new electronic voting machines, the kind Bush used to steal the 2004 election. I figure the feds promised Blanco and Nagin that they’d be re-elected a la those machines if they’d stop making public statements about the deliberate failure of the feds to respond to Katrina and Rita with credible effective disaster relief. Louisiana politics are so historically corrupt that this is pretty much maintaining the status quo. Sick, eh?

I’m hoping that a good night’s sleep will make me feel better, and that tomorrow I’ll actually be able to relax.

 

Monday 2 January 2006, 8:14 AM

A small group of clinic staff and neighbors just blessed the new clinic space. It was serendipitous and sweet. The clinic opens at 10 this morning for the first time in the new space across the street from the Mosque.

New year’s eve was stressful for me personally, and whacky as all get out in New Orleans on this part of the west bank. It was as surreal as anything I’ve experienced. I’d spent the afternoon relaxing alone in a friend’s apartment; doing laundry, showering, napping, emptying out my brain of thoughts. It was great.

The evening was foggy as it often is on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. I went with friends, and Lasky, up onto the levee to watch fireworks and hang out. Lasky had a really hard time with the fireworks and took off running at around 9 pm. She was there one moment, then gone, in a flash. So we all went looking for her. At around 10:30 it seemed clear that she was probably hunkering down somewhere and would come out when the noises stopped.

The noises. I must have heard hundreds of thousands of explosions on new year’s eve. I walked and drove through most of the streets in Algiers Point and the adjacent part of Algiers and everywhere there were people in the street setting off fireworks. These were rockets and m-80’s, and sparkly things and LOUD things, lots of loud things. There was thick fog, tons of smoke from the explosives, loud noises, bright lights, people on their porches or in the street...no wonder Lasky went off and hid! It was like a Fellini war zone movie.

At around 12:30 we went out looking for Lasky again but didn’t find her, so I went back to the camper to try to sleep for a little while. At 3:30 the cell phone rang. Lasky had showed up at the friend’s apartment, barking to be let in. I went and fetched her right away.

New Year’s day was my day to hit the wall. I’d held it together with the missing dog, but by the time I was into the clinic meeting (in mid move to the new location across the street) one could see that this was a typical scene of well intentioned human chaos, but I had no patience left so I hit the wall, splat, and spent the rest of the day in a friend’s back yard thinking about what I’m doing here, how it’s going, what is and is not working, what changes I might need to make. I came up with a few things.

1. I will benefit greatly (and so will the critters) from some time in a quiet wooded place. That can happen next weekend or the weekend after.

2. It would be sustainable if I were not the only mental health practitioner who’s on call 24/7. For this one I need to find a local mental health practitioner to share the position with.

3. Along the lines of #2, it will be healthier and more sustainable if there are other people working with me on the overview of mental health programming since I have never done this before, and I can’t be putting out individual fires and working on programs development at the same time.

4. I retired from being a therapist, and yet here I am doing this. What do I really want to be doing, where and with who?

That’s an update. Look for an article about the clinic in Common Ground Magazine (unrelated to the Common Ground Collective or clinic)some time in the next few months.

 

2004, 2005, 2006 Walter I. Zeichner

  You are visitor #

since the 11th of April 2005