"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

24 August 2016

A Case of Mistake-Jem Identity

Sooo, at a meeting regarding county trail maintenance and interpretive signage, the executive assistant to the commissioners called me a jem. Me.
This is a true story as told by a preservationist of my acquaintance and admiration. I inclined my head respectively in thanks, the whole time thinking they've got me mixed up with some other tall lanky bastard who likes to play outside.

12 July 2016

Fun Facts About the Leadville Boneyard

We were speaking of roadtrips and fun places to go. Leadville came up, because we both think it's a funky little 'berg, because you gotta have the funk. I mentioned having picnics in the town's cemetery with a bottle of wine, which was lauded as a good idea. Although, when I mentioned people were just dying to get to the cemetery, I was greeted with a groan and an eyeroll, and I don't know why.

"Of course, the people across the street from the cemetery can't be buried there," I said.

"Really? Why?"

"Because they ain't dead yet," I replied.

"Goddamnit," She snorted, burying her face in her hands, "I have no words."

A sociopath, or, perhaps a sadistic man, would have found glee in her reaction. Of course I am neither. Aren't you thankful?

07 June 2016

Two Minutes

Jibril looked the age he would be now. His hair was long than he kept it around the time he died, but shorter than when we first met. Being two years my senior, the sandy blond had faded to a dusty Grey. His savagely intelligent eyes were framed by lines that read like esoteric charts to forgotten lands. His suit was not as tattered as the one I remember him wearing in his last days.

We were at some evening gathering where Tich Nhat Hanh was supposed to speak, but he did have that stroke, and, instead was on side-show display. His spasmed movements spoke of severed and damaged brain wires. There was no serenity to be offered by this. Outside, the world was starting to burn down.

"As you can see, I'm still alive," Jibril said as we attempted to look away from the spectacle before us. "But they're coming for me tonight, and then it will be the End of Days."

"You know I don't believe in that shit," I said with a bit of a snort. In the years since my mother's and the bruja's  respective deaths, my ability to take anything on anything other than analysis and inquiry had dropped drastically.

"The Universe doesn't care what you believe," Jibril said coldly. A mantra I've heard on both the science and religious sides of the aisle.

Two minutes left and the world is gonna end...

19 May 2016

Devotional

I have mentioned having encounters from cats from all across the planet. This sort of thing happens when you live where others come to vacation. Every so often I have someone ask me for a space in which show devotion because it's prayer time. I do not prey unless it is in context of the food chain, but I accommodate, finding a them a quiet place and pointing which direction is east. They're always polite, and, sometimes, frightened to ask, which is sad, but not unexpected given the sociopolitcal climate of the day. A year back, it was a couple of skiing students with a Call to Prayer app on their phone. Fantastic. Today, it was a couple.

I had a class to set up, and left them to their devotional with a fellow proletariat making sure they were not disturbed. Upon my return, I was given notations of the exact longitude and latitude of Mecca for the Qibla direction and many thanks. They had wanted to thank me in person, but so it goes.

It got me to smile...

10 May 2016

A Return to Serenity

I would say we're balls deep in mud, but the hummingbirds showed up a week ago, and that makes it spring. There are the subtle omens; the grass is becoming green and flowers are sprouting out of the beds. On some of the trees, you can see the hint of leaves and the river is running a little higher as the higher up snowpack begins to melt.

Slowly, we shed the Grey apathy of winter. Sometimes, there has been snow. Sometimes, it has stuck. It can snow up here any time of year. Mountains. Because of the higher angle of the sun, in strange and psychological ways, forty-five degrees with no wind seems so much nicer than a month or two ago. Back in January, forty-five with no wind would constitute a deep winter heatwave.

Perhaps it is the world waking up to its short warmer times, maybe it's been exploring new places, both on foot and otherwise, it could be that discussion we had, upon which we decided on a course of action, but perhaps not yet, but my restlessness has somewhat abated. There is still the urge for adventure, to go!, go!!, go!!!, but I as have a sense of serenity. Mountain zen, perhaps.

Come what may, the mountains have taught me things. An expansion of horizons I could not find in great libraries, cities, fields, or forests. For that I am grateful. There are other adventures and other eventualities, though not yet. Here and now, I take in the here and now. Here and now, I am serene.



26 March 2016

Outshone

She was maybe ten or eleven with striking red hair. She told me about learning about animals at a camp for dyslexics. Her voice was hushed, and a little hurried. It was obvious she felt a little awkward. At ten or eleven, who didn't? Even and especially when you have a learning disability that has fucked with some of the wires in your skull? I folded myself all but in half to lean down to her, and said with a slight smile;

"Hey, it's okay. I'm dyslexic too."

Her smile outshone the sun...

20 March 2016

Horizons

The second clear day after a multi-day snow. It is not without irony Sabina broke one of her toes, precluding a snowshoe. So, we intend to roadtrip. At least we'll be getting out.

I have been restless as of late. Wanting to wander far afield. Perhaps it has been the recent travel. Maybe it is simply the time of year, as temperatures warm and the world begins its thaw. I hunger for shorts and sandals and looking out at the night sky without wanting to be in goose down.

Many times, I have mentioned that concept of Kashmir; a mystical concept introduced by pothead during a Led Zeppelin song of the same name. At seventeen, I was obviously very impressionable, because I've carried around that idea ever since. One of the aspects of it was one's place in the world was a much a state of mind as a location of dirt and rock. The mental state aspect has figured greatly into the equations of the mathematics of my thoughts.

Back when Sabina and I were headed to the hills, I made some remark about being grateful for her company in the endeavor. She she could not imagine the mountains without me, because there was no Kashmir without me. Thinking about it, in the last near-decade, I have traveled more than I had since I was eighteen, when I had gone to North Carolina to find those adolescent friends in the small southern town with fuck all to do had moved on without me.

But that's another story...

It works both ways, there is no Kashmir with out Sabina. In the aspect of the mental state, she is my Kashmir, and isn't that about as romantic as piss? Love her as I do, in the typing of that, I think I may have vomited a little...in my mouth.

I find myself desirous of going to the island again. Blame it on the whales, because, you know, I'm the first mainlander to say that. I also think of the naturalistic aspects and the idea of the dynamic that the island is still being made has my attention.

Yet, I find my restlessness is expanding beyond the idea returning to the island. The last few days I've meditated on the concept of becoming a peregrinator. I've met more than a few up here. Some who have permanent homes up here they return to either seasonally or every few years, or ones who disappear for a couple years, then come back for another couple before disappearing points beyond once more.

I mean, fuck it. Why could we? Why shouldn't we? It means adventure and something to do. Were I ever to get bored enough to die, the last thing I would want anyone to try and say about me is I wanted to spend more time at the office. That is slow death.

Perhaps it's just the time of year. The world slowly thaws and transitions and I am craving change. Maybe it's that I've gone a bit further than one of our multi-mile walkabouts or day-long roadtrips of burning fuel, and I want to see what's on the other side of the horizon. It could be it doesn't really matter at all, but that I have had this feeling as of late.

Actually, it's more than a feeling...

Something will happen, I feel that all the way to my marrow. Whatever that something is, I'm fairly confident it'll be entertaining. And, no matter what, as long as I have that one particular traveling companion, it would seem Kashmir will follow me wherever I go.      

07 February 2016

Epilogue; Back to the World, or, Beyond its End


On a recent walkabout through the town cemetery, we witnessed a miracle of wind-loaded snow. We laughed ourselves sick...





Come down music...

It was the twentieth of January when we arrived home around five in the afternoon. How I maintained consciousness for another four hours still baffles me. The feeling of sleeping in my own bed was akin to the warm embrace of a long-lost lover.

Yes, I did ask my pillow the next day if it was good for it too, what of it?

Six days later, on my first real walkabout since returning from the island, I noted direct sunlight had returned to the house. I had a glass of wine out in the first soft daylight of two months in celebration. As far as I'm concerned, when the Long Dark ends, winter is halfway over. Then again, in my timekeeping, winter starts when the sun no longer rises above the ridge, and that's mid-November. Perhaps I function best in places where time is something of a dodgey concept.

Of course, I was back to a place I did have to keep better track of hours and minutes, rather than just whether or not it was night or day, what with professional obligations and all. Life slid back into familiar rhythms fairly quickly.

There were obligations and errands. Meals and walkabouts on the free days. We came across fresh cat tracks in fresh snow. It was glorious, but I am unsure if it was a mountain lion or bobcat. See, the fresh blood in the snow helped to talk us out of further investigation, despite the coolness of the National Geographic moment. Besides, it would have been a dick move to disturb the cat during its dinner, not to mention potentially fatally dangerous.

Seeing those tracks served as perspective. On the island, upon land, the most vicious predator was a species of primate that had figured out how to manipulate fire. All the scary beasties were out in the ocean. Here in the mountains, things with tooth and claw walk the same same trails we do.

Because I live in a smaller community, people I didn't even tell, but were acquainted with, would ask me how my trip was. With a fair amount of glibness, I would say it was okay, which was meant with a chuckle at me being a card. Many of these cats are used to me saying the mountains are okay if you're into sweeping views and juxtaposed geography.

Every so often, I catch myself missing the backbeat of the tropics; the chatter of the local wildlife at night and the surf against the lava rocks. Other than alpine breezes, it can be rather silent in the mountains at night. It was a jarring lesson I had to relearn.

I do dream of the island. I dream of whales, which is kind of fantastic. Part of me would love to have the skull of one. Then I catch myself wondering where I'd hang such a thing.

The superstitious sort might see my whale dreams as portents. Lifetimes ago, I might have, but these days, I know a little better. A Pagan's spell may not work. A prayer to a deity may go unanswered. An omen can be misconstrued.

So it goes...

I started to meditate on how the trip has changed me, and immediately realized how absurd that was. Sure, how oh so romantic to say x place changed you, but I haven't got a romantic bone in my body. The reality is you're changed the moment you walk out your door, even if it's just to run down to the store for ice cream. On some level every walkabout has left me changed.

There is a term for those who are not changed by experiences; dead...

I am happy to be home, make no mistake. There are the peaks and being in my own house. It's nice to see the familiars again and not to be tripping over six other people to refill one of my water bottles. When I look out a landscape, I remember that sleep-deprived catharsis of the first night back. This is Kashmir. My place in the world. A preservationist of my acquaintance has a similar experience when she comes back from traveling, and she wanders the globe for want of something to do. I think of her as something of a mentor, so the fact she shares that experience is something I find infinitely comforting.     

04 February 2016

There and Back Again


On the morning of the last full day...




Eventually...





Some traveling music. One, because of the mention of tidal pools, the other because it's Faith No More...

Kona;

Somehow, it was fitting we had to wait two hours to check in. The airline sends its employees home between the early and late flights. Sabina's parents dropped us off by four in the afternoon in order to get back to Pahoa before dark. Not a fan of night driving these days, I can empathize. The days on the island, no matter the time of year because of its proximity to the equator, are never much more than twelve hours. Having to wait, I utter a new mantra I learned over a ten day stretch;

Hawaii...

I had more trouble with security this time than coming out, but it actually was my fault. See, I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket, and, the lack-of-a-filter/pathologically caustic honesty, got me to point this out, which led to an extended search. To his credit, the TSA agent offered me privacy for this, but it was my fuck up and I had nothing to hide, so I stood my ground.

 Since we had time to kill, I said to fuckery with it and got us beers. I'd rather not discuss the bar tab for two rounds of not even stout beer. It was sad that there were so few dark beers offered on the island. Another traveler in the bar postulated it was because of the warm environment, to which I called bullshit. My favorite beer on the planet is a stout out of Sri Lanka, which is lovely with spicy curries, and that place is not known for being cool in the sense of temperature.

Part of me hoped the beers would help with sleep. Or, at the very least, I wanted to be a little less high strung for the flight. Hip-hop was the backbeat, which made me contemplate a third round in favor of outright homicide.

It was obvious I was preparing for Colorado. My t-shirt, a Colorado company, read; If you're not already here, you're lost. Perhaps I was making a ham-handed attempt to be provocative. Maybe I was showing some state pride. I found curious symmetry that Colorado and Hawaii are sister states.

On the way to the airport, I zipped the legs onto my hiking pants. After security, I changed from sandals to my hiking boots. The air conditioner in the bar inspired me to put on my flannel, sleeves down. As we head further back, my vest and jacket will appear. The beanie I wore down from home will replace my cap.

The night before and earlier in the morning, Sabina waxed fatalistic about our return; back to obligations and bills and having to pay for laundry and groceries. I have been-baselessly!-accused of being cynical, but I just cannot lament like that. Within the mathematics of my thoughts is a party being tossed for the volunteers at my professional obligations on my first full day back and hopes of snowshoeing. The sun should almost be back on the house after the Long Dark.

Leaving Hawaii is not the end of the journey, just another leg of it. My journey ends when the lights go out, and I have absolutely no time to die. There is the auspice of living a life that does not require a vacation, because your life is a vacation. Some woo-woo love and light Iwanttopunchyouinthefuckingthroattowatchyourexpressionasyouhyperventilate types seem to have been recently trying to push that. I could say with a fair amount of certainty I have been living it for years, if not decades.

Yeh, I'm that kind of punk-rock in the Dali sense of keeping it surreal...

***

Between;

A late-night redeye to the mainland and I can't sleep. I watch The Martian, which was fairly faithful to the book. I flip through other bits of video media for background noise. Everyone else around me is asleep and it would be rude of me to click on the light to read.

This time, I set the timer on my phone. As these words find their way from the maggot's nest I call my mind to the page to dry in black India ink, there is an hour and a half left before we land. The last of the Star Wars prequels is on and I am not very excited about it-Thank you, oh so much for turning Darth Vader, my childhood hero, into a fucking whiny bitch-but it's background noise. I envy my fellow passengers their slumber. Insomnia and travel are twin aggravations.

***

San Fransisco;

Still no gentle people. And no one with flowers in their hair. What's this noise?

And I thought the music was bad in the Kona airport bar. In the pre-dawn small hours waiting at the gate, the music permeating the air is some fangless R&B tripe somewhat reminiscent of Sade, and the fact I even recognize the genre makes me want to scrub my scant flesh from my pronounced bones. Needless to say, I find this auditory circumstance disturbing.

The gate is right by a security checkpoint. There is the chitter-chatter of early morning travelers and the beeping and buzzing of scanners. If I close my eyes I can almost think it sounds like a casino. Every so often, a coldly automated female voice comes over unseen speakers to proselytize the paranoia of air travel in the post 9/11 world.

Nothing else is open yet. I'm down to a couple energy bars and a dubious amount of energy to hunt for anything else. Part of me craves coffee, but, after being wide awake nearly twenty-four hours, I figure that might be counterproductive. As it stands, I take a big slug of water from my bottle and try closing my eyes.

Hoping...

***

Portland;

It hardly counts as a layover. Get off one plane and walk to the next door gate to board another. This is only the second smallest plane I have ever been on. Constantly, people make note of our cozy quarters. I find myself intrigued by the craft; it seems more fitting for island-hopping or the greater metroplex to a mountain STOL port than the flight we're about to undertake.

Although, given the journey started in Hawaii and will end at my mountain home, perhaps it all makes sense...

I managed to catnap for an hour. My vest and beanie are now on my person. As we landed I saw my first snow-capped mountains in ten days. It got me to smile.

Just a few hours left to go...

***

DIA to The House of Owls and Bats;

There was catharsis in steeping into an eighteen degree mountain night as the waxing gibbous moon illuminated the snow on the valleys high peaks. I love nearly and full moon nights in winter in my mountains for that very reason. There was the crispness of the air and the silence. It was in that moment of zen I realized I was home.

To backflash, a friend picked us up under a sky of broken clouds with rumors of storms further up. I was told I could never leave again, my place of professional obligations barely managed to function without me. Apparently, at the very least, no one else can reach the antique clock. I guess that's flattering.

The clouds thickened as we drove into the mountains, and there were flurries, but nothing significant. Part of me was sorry I was so busy talking to our friend and trying to stay awake that I didn't take note of my first sight of the Roof of the World. I figure it's okay. The realization I was back in my mountains got me to smile a grin of wicked joy and to whisper made-up mantras of thanksgiving.

The familiars were happy to see us. We unpack and our friend gave us soup so we'd not have to make any efforts for a dinner. We're home, happy, and now it's okay to be throughly exhausted. Soon we will sleep like larva morphing into butterflies.



In getting home, how could this not be my jam?

02 February 2016

Notes from Camp 1 II; Meditations



Because who doesn't have Mozart as their jam when being all contemplative like?



Mauna Loa. There are holes where I live, and, some of them belch steam in the winter. Difference being this wasn't dug by Cornish miners looking for silver and we don't tend to get lava flows up here...



What for my heresy, my initial reaction to the spirit that pervaded the island. There's a story in it...




Some local wildlife...

The vibe here is different. That much is unmistakable. Me being me, someone who dissects, looking for answers, tries to discern the difference.

I live in a paradise. A place where people come to vacation. So, I wonder if it's a simple matter of traveler versus local. Or perhaps tropical island verses mountains. I am never completely sure.

Like where I live, this place something of the poor relations of the posher resorts. Both places are a little behind the population in terms of infrastructure. Sabina's brother in law-does that make him my second brother in law or great brother in law twice removed?- sometimes says Hawaii the way I'll say mountains.

There's a little more of the woo-woo love and light new ageness than I even pretend to tolerate as a steady diet. Everywhere are signs speaking of the spirit of aloha or drive with aloha. It didn't take long for me to get a little caustic about it. Must have been the jet lag.

"The fuck?" I snarled. "The spirit of 'hello'?"

"It's a little more than that, you know," Sabina said.

"Well, it also means 'goodbye'. Goodbye, hello, hello, goodbye," I said. "John and Paul had something to say about that, and I don't mean the biblical prophets."

"So why didn't they call that song Aloha?" Sabina's nephew, who was with us at the time, inquired.

I might have been taking a huge gulp of water from my bottle when he said that. That water may have almost come up through my nose and any other openings upon my head, given my reaction. I might have deserved that, but I do not believe in the concept of deserve.

***

Almost immediately, I fell out of time. Attuned myself to the rising and the setting of the sun. Like legendary zen masters, sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, and getting up upon waking, instead of just laying there.

There is the notion of the story and there is the way the story goes. One would think I know that fact like the direction the sun rises and sets; the preconceived versus the actuality. Yet, I have sometimes found myself suckered by the baited trap.

In my skull, half the trip had been written out. The gypsy once told me characters do not always do what you want them to. It was one of the first lessons I found myself relearning on the island. I once more learned to let go.

I meditated upon Africa. From the tropical jungles and rugged savannas of my childhood zoological curiosities, to the Moroccan mountains and deserts of adult wonderings. I used to say the stories all began in Africa. From the standpoint of the human animal, I am fairly correct.

I meditated upon Tibet. A place made more mystical by ancient travelogues, despite the fact of its rocky loneliness. Once I threatened to move there and grow a beard. Many years later, after reading some of those travelogues and their accompanying deconstructions I found myself feeling like a poseur suckered by a passing fad.

The mountains happened at an interesting time in our lives. There we were in a budding relationship sloughing the tattered skins of previous social dynamics and searching for something of a cosmic reset, perhaps. Kashmir happens, I can imagine the gypsy saying. It makes me wonder if we'd gone to the Arizonan desert or to the island instead of to the Colorado High Country that one day in late May what might have crystallized within our skulls.

There I go; Kashmir, deconstructed. Me dissecting, cracking open a shell and poking at what lies beneath to watch it squirm and acquire my answers. I can remember Pagan acquaintances being driven nuts by that...quirk...of mine. Then again, they were more into that love and light, and I appreciate chaos and the unyielding forces of nature too much to swallow that.

Contrary to what you might think, such analysis does not demystify a concept for me. Far from it, actually. In some ways, it just deepens the mystery. Making it so much more profound.

***

Days into our trip, Sabina's father asked me what I thought of the island. I wondered if he knew of my misgivings when the trip was first suggested. How I was a little reluctant to go. If he had caught me fresh off the plane, he may have heard a diatribe of  displeasure sponsored by the letter fuck, but it was days later and I'd had time to decompress. I offered him a wry smile.

"I am intrigued."

It is funky-gotta have that funk!-and interesting enough to invite further exploration. By the end of the first day, I knew I'd be back. There were things I would not see. Experiences I've yet to have.

Like the mountains, I felt drawn in. Not to the point of dismantling years of living in a place and full time moving, as I did on that fateful mountain afternoon, but something that definitely piqued my curiosity. It is as though there is something on the island for us, sort of like up in the mountains. Like the mountains, it may take years to truly find the shape of it.

Sabina asked if I could even envision being a part time islander. More likely. Here and now, I am not sure I could cope without distinct seasons, and I'd miss snowshoeing. My answer was during March and April; the height of mud. That time when the snow is too crappy for snowshoeing, but too deep for hiking, the resorts are closing down for the winter and not ready for summer and people are snarly because of seasonal burnout. There would still be whales and trade winds on the island then.

Like the initial trip, I know we'd be fools to pass up the opportunity. The full demonic details just need to be worked out. This is something I do not worry about. There is time and my patience is formidable. We figured out the mountains, we'll figure out this. As has happened a bit throughout the course of my life. The last time I saw my sister, as we discussed one of the happenstances in my life she said it must have happened organically, which I took as a tarted-up way of me saying it just kinda happened.

I may not be love and light, and I might dissect things past the marrow because I do not believe in fate, but I do know that...



Somewhere I shall further explore...