Saturday, May 20, 2017

Time Without Beginning - DTJ



We are always so aware of our ends. And so oblivious to our beginnings. Do our lives begin not at our births but at that moment we achieve a conscious memory? And is that memory always of this life? Can it be of the ones before?

And are our lives linear or cyclic? We talk of deja vu; that feeling of having been here before. What if we have?

I don't do dates. Dad died in August. I don't know the year. Mother on the day after Thanksgiving, very early some Friday morning. I can tell you my birth date because I memorized it to put on forms ad infinitum (again and again in the same way forever). These people lived, shared my life and moved on. What matters the exact dates?

Mother always said I lived too much in my head. Is there someplace else to live? My reality may not be your reality. I was ecstatic when I discovered philosophy high school. I am clearly an existentialist. And I know I have been this way before. More than once I believe.

But at the moment it is not so much about past lives as this one and whether it is a straight line or circles within circles. Anyone who was conscious in the Nixon years has to at least be feeling a deep sense of deja vu in this era of Trump. Doesn't mean we know how it will turn out. Life is not so much circles as spirals or loops. Are we advancing? Or receding?

If you are expecting an answer to any of these questions you will be disappointed. I am totally content to live in the question.

But for my doomsayer friends who think this might be the end of the world let me assure you it isn't. It will just morph into another stage for the conscious souls to act upon.

Okay, maybe I did re-read Alice in Wonderland to many times. Watched too much StarTrek. But both are good grounding for the bumpy road we are currently traveling.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Focus on the Positive - DTJ

First Summer for Deck
At least now there is sunshine and green and garden and vistas to divert my attention. But there is also meltdowns in the White House and totally non-functioning GOP congress, firing of the director of the FBI.

I try to focus on the positive in my life as the United States gets mired in a constitutional crisis. I keep YouTube news to the hours before dawn and in the evening when I am too tired to work outside. Yesterday I went to an Arts Council Round Table and got the news that funding for 2018 is currently save but who knows about 2019. If we still exist as a nation by then.

Meanwhile it has been a wet May which means no stress about wild fires in the neighboring forests. Course Thing One could sell it off to Exxon for oil exploration. But you have to take your fears one at a time. And with gardening season I can at least sandwich them between joys like moving out to my new deck from last fall. Today I plan to sit down and enjoy my efforts.

Well, after getting out with my camera and my dog for a walk.



If this is the end of days there is nothing we can do beyond enjoy the beauty around us while it lasts.



And definitely stop and smell the roses even if they are still just in the green house.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the Road to Raton - Escape the Dark News

On the road back
This was the week I largely divorced myself from the news; disconnected from the ethernet and drove the highways. No long road trip just several hops to neighboring towns. And of course Raton again. 

For me driving is meditative. I do not need a cell phone to make it interesting. It is along just for possible emergencies. And most of the places I drive the majority of the trip will be without a signal which is fine by me. I am willing to climb a hill if I must. And trust me OnStar is not available. I like it like that.

I don't even try the radio. Most stations I could get, when I can get them, are country western. My crying in my beer days are over. Both of my vehicles have radios I can plug my jump drives into and listen to my tunes. For entertainment I look for bison, pronghorns, elk, and that quality of light which turns the view to magic. If I see none of the above I just drive into another zone as it were.

Raton this week was a gift. As was the two days in Las Vegas. La La Land. Raton provided a hardware store. I really am still in withdrawal from the sale of RBS and the new owners making it not Harriet Homeowner friendly. Usually I drive to Taos for Ace (probably Monday). But the Ace in Raton provided me garden soil and some great vegetable starts and some nice pots in my price range. With a deck I can do more container gardening close to the studio door.

So the trip was more than an escape from world reality. It provided quiet time to plan and think and regain my center. To pause and see what is great around me. If and when the nuclear fall out from a war with Korea erases life as we know it. I will be grateful for the life I have lived. Even just the time on the road to Raton.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some Days Nothing Makes Sense - DTJ

The Gardner and the Plumber

"I weep for you,' the Walrus said: 
      I deeply sympathize.' 
With sobs and tears he sorted out 
      Those of the largest size, 
Holding his pocket-handkerchief 
      Before his streaming eyes. 

"O Oysters,' said the Carpenter, 
      You've had a pleasant run! 
Shall we be trotting home again?' 
      But answer came there none — 
And this was scarcely odd, because 
      They'd eaten every one."

From the Walrus and Carpenter
By
Lewis Carroll

I was always a strange child, or so my mother maintained. I totally understood Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I memorized the Walrus and the Carpenter and The Jabberwocky when others were learning their ABC's. I always rather got the middle of the alphabet mixed up. 

And if I had to find a letter in the latter half I had to begin in the middle. So as we approach the end of DT's first 100 days I want to go back to day 50 and start again. Or back to day one.

"So the time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things. Of shoes and ships and cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings." I was the elder child who could understand my sister's baby talk. I was the frequent translator for her. Mother asked once how I could make sense of her jabber. I told her I just didn't have expectations about it being English or making sense. I figured after reading the AP interview that might make sense with trying to understand the Trump. So I reread it. Nope, that doesn't help.

So back to the Walrus and the Carpenter that makes sense though the Walrus looks a lot like #45 the walrus. Do we look like oysters? And Ryan like the Carpenter?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Show Up - Dark Times Journal

Stand up

I went to a Carson National Forest Planning meeting yesterday. I confess it has been a long time since I participated in this sort of meeting. Twenty-Five years ago I was deeply involved in saving our forests from clear cutting by logging companies. I lived in Questa and the logging trucks roared down our rural road. One day the brakes failed on one and it tumbled over into my front yard. There is nothing like that to wake you up to where the trucks were coming from and if they even should be on our road.

The election of Donald Trump is a bit like that logging truck. It had no brakes, it was suppose to be taking the logs out by another route which was not lined with houses, he was driving too fast. And as it turned out he was clear cutting an area of the forest when his contract said specifically he was suppose to be leaving old growth islands. It was all about making the most money with the minimum amount of effort. I joined an organization called Carson Watch and we watched everything the Mayor of Questa's logging company did.

So what happened to that forest stalker and environmentalist? There was the Hondo Fire which came within 1/2 mile of my house, and the divorce, and the move over the mountain to get away from the Mayor of Questa, as well as my husband. A house of my own to obsess over, sometimes three jobs, and a head injury. An art studio to occupy my energies.

Then the election. And the resistance. And the notification of the planning session at the Carson National Forest. In the almost one hundred days since the inauguration of DT I have learned I cannot do it all. You have to pick your fights. I live within a half mile of the Carson National Forest. I am a photographer who goes there often. When I walked into the meeting room yesterday it seemed like coming home. A few of the same people in Carson Watch were there.

Plus about 50 more. You could see the amazement on the faces of the presenters/planners. They scrambled to put out chairs and move tables to accommodate us all. And they welcomed input from all of us living either side of the Carson. Very different from a town hall meeting with a GOP elected official. These people wanted our input. Wrote down the things we said. Answered our questions which were many and varied.

It is nice to be a forest stalker again. Great to be involved. Wonderful to be heard.




Monday, April 10, 2017

Too Busy to Cry - DTJ

Through the Tears

In my midlife crisis, now long past, I contemplated a career change. Well, multiple career changes. The career change du jour at one time was going into counselling. Like many who contemplate this path I was in counselling. So much in my life had gone wrong all at one. I used to stand in the basement lobby of a neighborhood church which served as a location for multiple 12 step groups from AA to ACOA to Alanon to Over-Eaters Anonymous and try to decide which one on that particular day I needed the most. My extended silences at the beginning of any counselling session centered around having to pick what I needed to talk about most.

I survived that period of my life by being overly busy. In addition to the 12 step meetings, and the counselling sessions, work, and classes in mental health toward the new career. I watched movies in dark theaters until I had them memorized. Star Wars was just out. I will not admit to how many times I watched it. Before the binging days on Netflix. I had to pay for every ticket.

I know about the various stages of grief intimately. I lost a husband, a father, a mother, a cat, a dog, a direction, my perfect childhood belief, and was transferred to a new location by the company I worked for in the middle of it all. Thank god, the theory of Post Traumatic Stress was not yet on the diagnostic books. 

"You seem to do things in bunches," a 12 step friend said one day at the coffee machine while I debated which meeting shortly after my mother died, "Wouldn't it be easier to take one issue at a time?"

"Takes up too much time," I replied, as I toyed with giving up caffeine. 

I did learn a few things through the chaos years of my life.  Grief isn't done just once. Nor is it necessarily in the order the counselling courses state. There is no upper limit on how much you can cry. Mixed with PTSD you can feel like a ping pong ball in one of those demonstrations about the nuclear chain reaction. Been there, done that does not apply to either problem. And very empathetic people shouldn't be in the mental health professions. I was, however, a great inspirational speaker.

And if you stay busy enough you can at least delay the tears until you are alone before your computer, out in the wilderness with your camera or binging Netflix. Busy helps you avoid doomsday predictions from friends and what stupid end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thing the orange man in the white house just did. But grief and PTSD are patient. And depression can be good for your creative goals.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Aaah, Spring -- Dark Times Journal

Have a Seat

A Facebook friend of long standing asked me today where was my outrage for the people of St. Petersburg on Monday. Monday? This week?

Yes. I was running to Raton, racing the approaching spring storm in an effort to reclaim some of the normalcy of my life as an artist. I had four photographs to enter in an annual show. I wanted to support a non-profit gallery in a country which wants to unfund all art programs. I also desperately needed some windshield time (i.e. down time). 

I am suffering from compassion fatigue: indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals. Also called vicarious traumatization by the American Institute of Stress. 

Yes, I am not in the counseling field but I am living in the dark days of the USA, and maybe the world at large. I confess to pulling in my empathy antenna just so I can continue to cope. Cope with my business, my resistance to what is happening in Washington, D.C., my victimization by a local official And spring in the Sangre de Cristos. 

Remember the approaching storm I was racing on that Monday road trip to Raton? I almost didn't go. I have been caught on the high plains in a blizzard before. I kept asking myself how important was it to take four photographs to a gallery two hours away.

Very important. For me to focus on something normal in my previous life. And there was the snow coming. And it came. A total of 12 inches. The good news is I did not lose power. 

Lawn Chairs

But I did not get around to looking up the suicide bombing in St. Petersburg until today. Fourteen dead. But now it has been eclipsed by the Syrian gas attack and whether it is real or fake.

I just want to escape to my garden. Or tune in to April the Giraffe for extended periods. Denial can be a survival tool. So can avoidance.