"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

02 April 2020

I am more solitary by nature, so being away from my fellow hominids is not terrible. Towns are for social experience, trails are for reflection, meditation, and reverence. Out there is what some may call holy or profane. Perhaps. What I know is it does not play favorites.
However, Homo sapiens are social animals. With the exception of Orangutans, all of the Great Apes are. Not that I'd call humans great. Somewhere between okay and fair to middling, perhaps. From a zoological, anthropological, and sociological standpoint, I am very interested to see how this pestilence changes the way we, as a species, interact. The coming months are going to be very telling of how we adapt.

25 March 2020

A little over twenty-nine years back, but not quite thirty, I was helping a buddy with his photography final. It involved me standing by his Scout as he took double exposure photographs, my hair and duster blowing in the wind. It was phantasmal, and artsy, oh so rock and/or roll.
Things got to taking longer than expected and I phoned home to give an update. I got my little brother. So I gave him the scoop and went about my business.
At the photo studio, we got the news; Operation Desert Shield had morphed into Operation Desert Storm. War was upon us. Via conversations and hanging out, as eighteen year old immortals are wont to do, it was again later. So I called home again, this time getting my mother.
"Where the fuck have been?!?" She demanded. Such a sweet and compassionate soul, my mother. One who had such a sense of lyrical language that I often wondered why she didn't follow in her parents' political footsteps.
Well, she did ask me a question and I did tell her. The fact my brother fucked up and neglected to deliver my initial message was irrelevant. This was somehow all my fault.
"You didn't check in and dinner's almost ready!" She said. "And there's a war on, you know?"
It was my turn to ask what the fuck...
I don't know that there's a point to this tale another than it has been rattling around in my skull all day...

22 February 2020

I have written the first draft of my father's requiem. There is symmetry, twisted, in its countenance, that his death was within ten years and change of my mother's. In late summer, we scatter his ashes under the bristle cone where we left my mother ten years back.

So it goes...

16 June 2019

A Father's Day Tale

It was many years ago, I was perhaps ten or eleven, that we all sat down for a Sunday dinner. There was roast, potatoes, broccoli, and salad. My mother, at the start of the meal, mentioned she was going on a diet and not to be served too much. My father, the compassionate soul he is, was more than happy to oblige. After all, he deeply loved my mother.

He cut the thinnest sliver of roast. A single wedge of potato. The very smallest floret of broccoli. Then he paused to look upon his beloved.

"Would you care for salad, dear?"

By this time my mother was not much caring about the presence of her three young children as her middle fingers flew fast and liberally...

Years later, but a few years back from today, I recounted this tale to a couple of pals. At the end, one looked up at me and said;

"So you're telling me it's genetic."

To this day I have no idea what she meant...

15 January 2019

Winter Hymn

There comes a point in September, when the streets of our towns and backroads are chocked with all manner of vehicle, and slack-jawed rubes the wide-world over want to know where the best place to see aspens are-they're fucking leaves, people!-that I catch myself all but preying for and upon the first of October. See, by then, the only leaves left are defiant scraps of rust and faded saffron. The last of the summer tourists  have scuttled back to their homeplaces and lives they seek to escape from by means of vacation, gone until either the snows of winter and spinning lifts or when it is green and warm here once more.

October is when it supposed to slow down up here, but that is not really true. This is when the hunters come; camo drag and money spent out of guilt for family left back home. There are still tourists too; Europeans and cats who know some things might be closed or are getting ready to close for the coming winter, but it is not as crowded. Some of us travel during October.

Well, how about November? Around here, not so much. We host the Sheep Festival, honoring one of the biggest herds of bighorn in the state. The non-profit, which runs my professional obligations, hosts a volunteer party of some to-do that a good portion of the community shows up for at least a cocktail or two. And, of course, Thanksgiving, when we must once more reunite with further-flung family with gluttony and professional sports to properly kick off the drinking season.

December? Ha! I say. The first two weekends of that month up here are the Christmas Market. There is the attendant brain-damage of the holidays, and December houses some fourteen or fifteen of them, aside from Christmas. For someone of a more solitary nature, it can be a bit of a psychic maelstrom.

Then it is full on winter. January and February. Oh, fuck yes.

It is dark. It is cold. At professional obligations, time is suspended in agonizing amber. If one goes out, it is in layers-no bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

However , it is quiet...

This is when I wander the snow and ice sculptured landscape in meditative contemplation, recharging from the rigors of summer and autumn. I watch the winter stars with small smiles. The music I listen to has a more introspective countenance. As January ends, I watch the slow creep of direct sunlight back upon my house, telling me the Long Dark is over and it is now mid-winter.

Here and now, the dawning of direct sunlight is about two weeks away. I anxiously watch the far valley wall, as I do this time of year. At my professional obligations, Senpai complains about the state of things, but, if he didn't, I'd be digging a hole, or, at least contacting the paramedics. I wander, listening to the rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos. It is winter. Here and now, I rejuvenate.

23 December 2018

Mountain Moonlight

There is something about a full moon night in the mountains in winter; the silence, the way the refracted light illuminates in the countenance of diamonds in dragon's hoard. I stood out back to look at the moon. There was someone I once knew whom of which we'd excitedly call each other over the state of the moon we were seeing, but that was long, long ago. Another story for another time.
And perhaps a bottle of whiskey...
I looked at the moon through a set of ancient binoculars my father got for us to see Halley's Comet, back when I was thirteen, some fifteen hundred years back now. The view of the moon was as good as through my telescope without the time of set up, scope, and focus. Even here, away from city lights, there were few stars this night.
There was a breeze. Gales, up higher. Looking to the high peaks, glowing phantasmal in the moonlight, were the snow devils; their orographic bones being blown across the ridge lines. I smiled silently at the zen excellence of it all.
If you ever need to ask me why I love it here, you'll never know...

25 July 2018

Stand

So, let's talk about rock and/or roll...

Okay, maybe not. How about instead we talk about a sense of place? About that, which is intangible? About the price of admission? About lines in the sand?

It was not too long ago I spoke down from the mount about being presented with a grand opportunity. One, which would be outright folly to pass by. We opted to make it work. Word has gotten around. Here in the mountains, in these small places, secrets are a very hard thing to keep, and I am adept at keeping secrets. Like being both a masked vigilante and an esoteric porn star.

Oh! Did I just say too much?

The thing is the price of admission. Everything has a price. That is the very nature of the Deal. Only cheap things are purchased with bits of folding paper and jingling coins.

I have found myself afflicted with a crippling sense of grief. Look out my front door, I see a twelve-thousand two-hundred eighty-seven foot peak with no distinct trail that I have summited three times. Go out back, I spy, with my too-big-for-the-rest-of-my-face eyes, a twelve-thousand two-hundred-seventy-five foot peak that catches the first light of day, and, in its bosom, cradles the bones of an aerial tramway that operated in the early years of the twentieth century, which I have yet to get to. I live where others come to vacation.

When I first came here, I felt, head, heart, and gut I had found my place in the world. Though I am not given to the nuance of such things as romance, I find I can only describing it was when one first falls in love; you know what has happened, but trying to make logical sense of it, or, put it into coherent words, is another animal. Sometimes, I wonder if it is a similar sensation my sister-in-law gets when she steps into her megachurch and is delivered scripture.

A few days back, a preservationist of my acquaintance and admiration asked me when I was leaving. This was a practicality, in a sense, given my involvements in my community, one such thing is a land use commission with her. With a bit of flippancy, I told her I was sorry to disappoint, but it may be a bit. Sabina would say it's because we're in the throes of summer, and it's the sweet time when it's almost perfect here, but it's more than that.

As we spoke, the preservationist of my acquaintance and admiration mentioned she can go somewhere for months-of course because of who she is-and immerse herself in a place, but there is an intangible that draws her back and keeps her here. I totally get it. The intangibility has been the source of my bouts of melancholy.

I remember my youthful wish of wanting to live in either a nature reserve or a museum. Making the intangible tangible, I got that. A friend of mine once said Heaven grants all its gifts with a righteous fury. I do not believe in Heaven, unless I say that is what I have. Nor do I believe in righteous fury, because if you are right, there is no need for fury, and, if you are wrong, you cannot afford it. However, brass tacks and bedposts, I got that wish I made so many years and lifetimes ago. I know that down into my marrow.

How can I sacrifice this for that? I have meditated and agonized over it. In the end, I find I am unwilling to contemplate the option of all or nothing.

Will the opportunity be taken? Certainly. However, it will be on my terms and no one else's. Not the whims or pressures of friends, family, acquaintances, or even the Department of Transportation trying to manipulate travel routes to get more tourists to the resorts. Should you try, muster all the armies of the heavens, earth, and the hellscapes, but, make sure to pack your white flag of surrender lest I march through all of you, but not before taking out my ire upon three generations of all of your families, for I am possessed of glacial patience and a fertile imagination.

Be careful...

I figured out living in the middle of a city. I figured out the love and affection of a quirky blond x-goth/metal girl. I have figured out the mountains as they continue to surprise and amaze me. I will figure out this opportunity, but not at the sacrifice of somewhere I intangibly see as my place in the world.

This is my line in the sand. Here is where I will make my stand. 
   

28 January 2018

The Price and the Prize


Here and now; What I see when I walk out my front door...

Oh, where did the trouble start? A question I sometimes ask myself at the outset of a long story. A riddle I inevitably solve.

It was probably three years back, this coming summer. That is when Sabina's parents, after telling me I was good for their daughter-something no parent had ever said unto me-told me they were going to pay for us to come and visit them at their place in Hawaii come that winter. I couldn't have been more reticent. See, I didn't lose anything on the Island. I was rocking the mountain love. Here, I was still exploring and there was not enough time in a single human lifetime too uncover all the secrets and treasures contained therein.

Fast forward to mid-January of two years back, and I ended up on the muthafuckingIsland, and, it was not even a fraction of how horrific as I imagined it to be. I found myself fascinated by the fact the landscape was still being made, as opposed to my wonderful mountains, which were being worn down ever so slowly. The flora and fauna were intriguing, as well as the aspect of pictographs, which were carved into lava rock so many thousands of years ago. Colorado, for as much as I still will say it has everything, does not have whales. I saw my first one my first day there, and that image in my mind's eye is as vivid as the second I beheld the sight.

There was also the fact Sabina's parents had purchased some quarter acre lots, not but a block from their place, and two from the mighty Pacific Ocean itself. Those were for Sabina and I, as well as her sister and brother-in-law. Free and clear. All we have to do is pay the property tax. Were I to believe in such a thing, I would call it an interesting twist of fate, but I am far to much a fan of chaos to be so suckered.

None of this was enough to make me want to pull up stakes and move. Unlike the the greater metroplex when we first came to the mountains, I was not done with the mountains. I was dug in. This place still gets me to fall in love daily, if not by the moment. However, the seeds of restlessness began to germinate, and, like stubborn weeds through concrete walks, made their presence know.

Fast forward again; Colorado has seen growth in terms of population and tourists. Sabina's father, at almost eighty-two, has been sentenced to a pacemaker. We used to speak of places we could go if the crush of humanity became too much. I have always said my compass pointed west, but I always figured it would just be somewhere deeper into the mountains. At the most extreme, around the Four Corners region.

But I know better than to plan anything. There is the notion of the story, and then there is the way the story goes. Back in my roaring twenties, I threw my lot to the winds of chaos, and, the night my mother died, eight years back now, I reaffirmed that.

I love this place. I always will. When we closed on the house, I told my mother if I got bored enough to die, to bury me out back. End of chat. This was home and I was not going to leave it.

Then the muthafuckingIsland went and happened. Sabina's parents have made it plain they want us to be their Island neighbors, if for no other reason than to help look after them as they grow older. We have land and the opportunity for a new phase in our adventures. I liken it to being handed a winning lottery ticket.

What would you do. Jump? Or would it be no thank you, I'm good?

Yeh, I though so...

And all I have to do is walk away from what I believed was Kashmir, and the price of admission is enough to bring me close to melancholy. All things for a price is but the very nature of the Deal. Only cheap things get purchased with pieces of green paper and jingling coins.

Yet, we will do this. By the time I'm fifty, at the latest. That gives us four years and change here and now. A goal to work toward.

But I cannot help but sense it will be sooner. It's nothing rational I can pinpoint. Just a feeling. Well, more than a feeling. Like when I hear that old song, babe.

I will continue to rock the mountain love as long as I am here. This landscape means too much to me to do otherwise. Another set of adventures looms upon the event horizon. As Sabina says to me in comforting tones when the melancholy of leaving the mountains seizes me, we are going to conquer an island chain. Despite the price of admission, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't the least bit excited about it.


Soon enough; the future site of the Owl and Bat Island Wellness Center...   

18 January 2018

Grace

When I first met you, you were so much larger than life that the term rockstar would have been an insult. You were my hero and guru. Somewhere along the line, our roles got reversed and I was never sure of how to approach the subject.

Twenty-four years we knew one another. In that time you watched me grow into the person I am now. I saw you be diminished slowly, like sandstone whittled away by desert winds. Your death, whilst it elicited an emotional reaction from me, was, in the end, not shocking. Sadly, I saw it coming.

After I learned of your death and its cause, one question still remained; when did you lose your grace? I am not one to leave such a mystery unsolved. I began to dissect. It is my nature to do so. Were I to give it a date in clumsy timekeeping of Man it would be June twenty-first, two-thousand seven. That was the day you told me you were getting divorced.

She was your high school sweetheart. The one who got away. When you told me you found her again, that you were going to marry her, your smile threatened to swallow the rest of your head. When the end came to your love story, it broke you.

That is when you gave up...

First you lost the home your father left you. Once the divorce was done you were sentenced to a one-bedroom apartment with barely a couple coins to rub together. Somewhere in there, you decided to stop taking your insulin. To say your health suffered because of it is as blindingly obvious as the direction of the rising sun. Your body began to betray you, soon making it that you could not earn a livelihood.

There were the amputations. First, a finger. Then, a toe. Your foot. A leg. They were going to take the other leg when you had your septic stumble and all fall down. It was as if that deity you so zealously believed in, to the point of being born again-because the first time didn't work out so great?-was taking you a piece at a time.

I watched you move from one toxic situation to another. When you moved down to Arizona, I though you might get things turned around, but you fell into your pattern pretty quickly. Almost like habit. You once told me you saw yourself as a knight, owing to your time in law enforcement and security work. Did you really think you were going to save any of those cats you fell in with?

"The fact you have fallen is interesting. The time you remain down is important."

You said that to me once. I was going through my divorce, sitting in coffeehouses scribbling bad poetry to a backbeat of Nine Inch Nails. I was in pain, certainly, but I got up. That was when I decided nothing would break me. That is when I decided not to bare my jugular to anyone.

No matter how many times I said that to you, you never got up. You never even tried. I am not a saint or a superhero, but you showed you cannot save someone who had no desire to be saved. You lost your grace.

The last time I spoke to you was shortly after the leg amputation. Whilst you glibly said you were glad you did not have access to a firearm, you sounded relatively cheerful. That was the thing; no matter the drama or tale of woe, you knew there was no one to blame for it than yourself. You may have been beyond grace, but you knew how you got there.

You left rehab in anger, without medications of any kind. Without crutches. You stopped talking to everyone; your  sister, your favorite cousin, even me, supposedly one of your best friends. The mental image of you crawling on your hands and knees in a manure lagoon is seared into my mind's eye. I would rather remember that picture of you when you got your Harley, your smile threatening to swallow the rest of your head, or any other moment in the twenty-four years we knew one another, but that's what I keep seeing.

Your sister told me, like an animal, you chose to die alone. That you gave up. I know that. We just have different idea of when you gave up.

And, oh, how she raged. After the two of you buried your father, that was supposed to be it. She didn't want to be the last one. Part way through, she stopped herself and apologized to me for unloading.

"No, you need to do this. You may need do it a few more times before you truly work through this," I said, not out of empathy, but honesty.

Once, when relating a bit of trauma, you said your life should serve as a cautionary tale to others. You may have gotten your wish. There was this one last lesson for you to teach me; never lose your grace. Never, ever, give up. Once you do, although it might take years, it's lights out, and it will be lonely, and cold, and disgraceful. You must keep raging.

Keep raging...



You loved to quote this jam when we would speak;

"No one told you when to run
you missed the starting gun..."

27 November 2017

Decades

My father turned seventy a week back. The year before, there was question whether he'd make it past sixty-nine. It was good to call him and wish him a happy birthday.

When we spoke, he mused how each new decade is a new adventure. A new lesson to be learned. My father was glad to be out of his sixties finally. His sixties were about sickness; my mother's and his own. About loss and learning to live with it. About death; my mother's and his own, although, his was a brief and he got back to this side of the grave with some quick medical intervention. My mother was not so lucky.

This got me thinking. Well, I'm always thinking, the penance of a mind that never quiets. I caught myself meditating upon the decades of my adult life, and the lessons contained therein.

My roaring twenties, as I so poetically call them, was where I learned, as if there was any doubt, that I was not like the other boys. The idea of a suburban house, a lobotomized wife, two-point-five kids, a dog and a career was not success, but perdition. Team sports were phallocentric soap operas for morons and the social construct of reality was for squares. I needed to find my own way.

I knew my end-all be-all was not to be a parent, any more than whatever it was I was doing for money at the time. I do love my daughter beyond measure and believe I have done things for her, but I did not put my existence on hold for her. She was just a new factor in the equation of me finding my own way, and, most likely, that way of thinking was a contributing factor in my divorce from her mother.

That's not to say I don't have regrets. Everyone regrets. I like to believe my daughter understands, or at least, accepts, what came to pass, but I don't pry. We have our relationship in which we get along and have our moments. Sometimes I wish for more, sometimes it's just enough.

So it goes...

Here and now, I theorize my thirties were about a sense of place. I rocked living near downtown in the big bad city in that little historical district. There were the other places I wandered through the greater metroplex, like uptown, Little Asia, Capital Hill, and the Highlands. Downtown itself, where I would go to monkeywatch, was neon magic and mystery and koo-koo-kachu.

Then the mountains happened...

Oh, the mountains. Kashmir. I am now five years and change away from anywhere in my thirties and this landscape sings to me upon esoteric tongues. I live in the mountains of Colorado! I live where other people come to vacation

To get here, I was relentless. I all but created a myth around it, if  you believe the words of others. Here, I put down roots and found my Homeplace. Here, forever and a day later, this place does not fail to fascinate. To resonate. I fall in love daily, if not moment by moment in ways language cannot articulate.

Five years and change into my forties, perhaps I am learning about community. About being involved in something rather than passively being a part or observing with that cold reptilian detachment. I am on the board of a historical society, a museum committee, a stewardship group for a historical structure out in the Backcountry, two land-use commissions, and I've counted ballots in a few elections along with the other random bits of volunteerisum.

Me. Yeh, the not a joiner for fear of lynch-mob mentality. Me. Yeh, the solitary one. How the world has turned and isn't it funny how it's all played out? And, no, I do not bring up my involvements to whip it out on the table and have the live studio audience marvel at the magnificence of my genitalia. That's rude.

By fifty, there is something I have intended to accomplish, although, the price is admission is something, which pains me grievously. However, when I look that now four years and change ahead, I wonder what lesson, what adventure awaits me at the half-century decade. As intriguing a mystery as that is, I am not in too big a hurry. After all, I still have the rest of my forties to play out, and, that lesson, that adventure is far from over.