Saturday, June 23, 2007


Subject met with me at his home which sat on a wooded hillside in a neighborhood on the fringes of Fayetteville. Born 1949 in Kansas City, Missouri.

I remember New Year’s Eve of 1959-60 -- a program called the "Fabulous Fifties," that was my first memory, and by 1962, I had discovered Bob Dylan’s first record. There were very few of them out then from Columbia. I was listening to that, I was listening to the folk sampler my folks got. I had read JD Salinger, specifically his Nine Stories, and in ‘62 I can remember being so interested in what aveda vedanta was because of the short story ‘Teddy’ and my mother sharing a news clipping with me from the Kansas City Star about a group of Vedantists of the Rama Krishna order who were meeting in Kansas City, and my beginning to go to meetings there reading the Upanishads at age 13, and starting to meditate and having out of the body experiences. By ‘65 I was subscribing to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, concerned about the nuclear issue.

By ‘66, at age 17, I had my first real mystical experience. They weren’t in any way associated with the use of drugs. I was practicing meditation and was experiencing these things through the agency of developing more lucidity in the hypnogogic -- the state between waking and sleeping when one’s guard is down, and typically people do have experiences. In ‘66, I was given peyote in capsules, which was a very nice way to be given it first, by an older friend, an artist in his 40s, and took that and experienced a more prolonged state of grace, or expanded consciousness. I’m really glad I had the experiences of infinite love that I had before that. I did not come from a religious background.

My parents were atheists, and all this was of great interest to me. I did not know people had psychic experiences. When I first left my body, saw auras, and experienced telekinesis a little later on, I didn’t know that people had those experiences, and it got me reading. By 17, I was president of the liberal religious Unitarian youth group in KC, and I was exploring a lot with old bohemians, old socialists, old nudists, people who were like really happening back in the ‘50s, some old beatniks and old intellectuals, hanging a lot with poets. I was writing a lot of poetry. All this stuff was wonderful to me.

I loved the development of the ‘60s. I had a real mistrust of drugs, because I felt there was a delicacy to my psychic and spiritual experiences that I didn’t want to tamper with. I had always, from age 17, been able to leave my body and travel fairly easily, and I was afraid that if I took acid that I might have trouble getting back in. That didn’t turn out to be a problem. I was given two massive doses of peyote, and I only ever used one, it was so sacred. It was many years before I had any real interest in drugs after that, seven years.

When I graduated high school in ‘67, [my goal in life] was basically what I’m doing. I’m a therapist. I had had a phobia from age 10 to 12, and I went to a very excellent and empathetic female therapist who used very conventional therapy, and I had the great joy of feeling cured of that phobia by the time I reached 13, so I could go on with my life. So the first thing I ever conceived of doing was being a therapist. Prior to that the only thing I ever remember wanting to be was a dog, because it looked to me like a really good situation.

I was writing poetry by age 13, and for four years in a row, I won a five-state poetry contest. But I never thought of trying to be an academician. It seemed like the poetry was such a wonderful thing to do that I didn’t want to mess it up, stake my identity on it, or anything. I never really liked studying psychology. It didn’t interest me. Things like C.G.Jung interested me. I ended up [in college] studying English.

I went to Scotland for a year in my Junior year. That was a very wonderful part of my life. Music was always quite important to me, and there was a ‘60s group called the Incredible String Band -- very ‘60s -- that I hung out with there a little bit, and another part of that experience - 1969, ‘70 -- there were 30 people at that time at the Findhorn Community in Scotland. I went and lived there off and on, got to know the people who started it, and when I moved to Fayetteville with my wife in ‘79, we brought one of the founders, Dorothy McClain, here to Fayetteville. That was a spiritual opener.

From ‘67 on, I had a spiritual teacher who was a lady who grew up in a farming community in Ohio who was very open to the light. She had written a marvelous book, and when I got to Oberlin, I found her book, wrote her, and used to, several times every semester, hitchhiked there and worked with her. It was very important to me to have a spiritual teacher who was more developed than I, and I still do. I would call them spiritual friends, rather than authority figures.

I didn’t think a lot about being a therapist while I was in college, because I was really interested in studying poetry and language. It was just that I didn’t intend to use it. What I did was become a school teacher. And I taught for two years in a free school in KC, from ‘72 to ‘74, after I got out of college. This was a school that the educational theorist John Holt helped some parents start, where we had no grades or classes. That was a wonderful experience. It was in ‘72, right when I joined the work force, and after a romantic disappointment in my life, that I started smoking marijuana. I think it was partly because of the, kind of, the shit hit the fan in terms of affairs of the heart, and I was starting to deal with the workaday world, and I started to deal with different ways of diminishing tension. I was living on Harrison St. in KC, a street fairly near the art institute, where there were just a lot of hippies -- Dennis Gian Grecko, who was the editor of the Westport Trucker at the time, and Steven Gaskin would come through town. It was in the air -- a pun, but true. And I started using it and feeling like, probably for me, and other people who are genuinely of a visionary turn of mind, that both used and abused it. For somebody like me, it shouldn’t be used as much. It’s like, the doors are already open, you know? But for both good and ill, for enjoyment and sort of a diminishing point of returns and feeling less sensitive, I think -- I started using it then.

You know, there’s another strand in all this. All my experiences being outdoors were so important to me. I remember these as a counterbalance to some of this urban -- trying to make my way and develop my independence in the early ‘70s. I would periodically get off and go to the mountains. Generally, it wouldn’t necessarily involve taking a psychedelic, but there was some psychedelic use during that time. I hoped it would further my psychic experience, but I don’t think it did. I think a few isolated psychedelic experiences had some value. My feeling was that there were always some peak moments and there was stress. My feeling was always kind of, humbly, that I had some emotional maturing to do, there was some emotional unfinished business, these things were amplifying that stuff. I didn’t always find it so easy. These agents amplify what’s there.

I’ve continued to use psychedelics. I will take peyote tea in a sweat lodge. I did about two years ago. One sip put me into a remarkably expanded state. There was a period in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when I wanted very much to go to some Native American church ceremonies, because I’ve always felt that one of the reasons it wasn’t so helpful to me was that I hadn’t been in a sort of structured, consensual situation, although I’d always paid close attention to set and setting, with a few exceptions that taught me to really do that. I did go to some Native American church ceremonies, and they were very beautiful, but it was pretty clear to me that I had some sort of more long, slow patient emotional work to do. I have experienced much higher states without psychedelics.

[My cosmic experiences] were mostly without the use of chemicals. And mostly not during meditation, but in that hypnogogic state, or going from a lucid dream. But sometimes, certainly moments of suchness -- I’m talking about experiences where there’s no H--, or there’s a H-- but he’s also appearing as the stars, as the environment, the joyful experiences where for weeks or months afterwards, after a couple of seconds of that, I’ll feel more like who I really am. [The joy that comes with that kind of experience] is titanic, it’s so hopeful. I’ve had a lot of feelings of vulnerability about being in a body. I’ve had a very good life and a very materially secure life. The first six weeks of my life weren’t so easy. I was born premature, put in an incubator, and not touched by my mom for six weeks. That happens to people. My first memory is of my great-grandfather, who died when I was 18 months old. He was a country doctor, and he was allowed, along with the family, to come in and touch me when I was in the incubator. That’s why I remember him. But I also feel that I left my body a lot during that period of time in order to cope and probably out of sheer dissociative trauma. I think that has rendered me somewhat more alert to my own mortality. It’s probably worked very much in my behalf, spiritually. I've had some arrogance, but that experience has always undercut that arrogance somehow.

I didn’t know about this experience in the incubator until about ten years ago, but the manifestation of whatever insecurity was there was the phobia. Then, being helped by this marvelous therapist, who for some reason used to talk with me about a psychic friend, the only person I ever remember talking with me about things like that, and at some length. She might have intuited that I was about to become intuitive, because that started to happen to me. It did not happen to me during my childhood. I wasn’t one of those who went around trailing clouds of glory from whence I came. I remember being a pretty solid, kind of unperturbed kid, for the most part, until about age 10. My grandfather died then -- he was the big guy in my life -- I think that pulled the rug out from under me.

I was early involved with a group called Fellowship House in KC, as soon as I started going to the Unitarian Church, around age 13 or 14. It was meant for young black and white people to come together and work together. And then, coming through the Unitarian Church, I heard people come through who had been south in the early marches. I was interested in that, but I was a fairly apolitical person. Definitely more intellectual, interested in life of the mind. In terms of Vietnam, I did think a lot about being a conscientious objector. I had a friend or two who were. I didn’t feel that I could say that I was unconditionally against all war. I felt there would be some cases where I would want to defend my country or family. And that really hung me up, as far as becoming a CO. Also, I was scared, I was chicken. But I still feel a bit of self judgment about that, because I admired so much the people who stood their ground. I ended up trying for a psychological deferment, but I didn’t need it because I got a student deferment. And then I was 236 in the lottery, so it was cool, as far as I could see. I was against the war. I demonstrated against the war once. The reason I didn’t demonstrate against it more was that there was a violence in the demonstrations, and I was kind of aware of the fact that people who didn’t have as much money as I and couldn’t go to college were getting drafted, and now I’m really glad that I had that awareness, because for the last three and half years I’ve been working with Vietnam vets in the psychiatric unit as a music therapist at the Veteran’s Administration [hospital], and I mean, any little glimmer of compassion I might have had then has been magnified vastly. If I had been able to find a demonstration that seemed to have some love in it, I might have done it. But I didn’t.

What I always did do was hurt, when I heard about people hurting. There was significant consciousness raising that happened to me as a result of going to the Unitarian Church. Going to Oberlin, there were a lot of blacks. I identified some racial bigotry and bias in myself, a kind of distancing. That always disturbed me, because I didn’t want to have it. And in fact, we’d had a black maid in our house -- not a live-in -- and I had felt quite close to her, so I got it kind of osmotically. Every once in awhile, I’ll still encounter some of that conditioning inside myself. Something inside says ‘nigger’ and it’s like, ooh, that’s ugly. But I have some compassion for myself, too, that I’ve picked that one up, and every time I feel that, I’ll acknowledge it, and there it is, and try to look real close at the person. I’m still working on that one a bit.

[My recognition of environmental issues] was visceral, but I didn’t let myself think about it real deeply until the ‘70s. I just didn’t let it in. I knew about it. Then in ‘79, when Three Mile Island happened, it just came crashing in on me. I felt it so strong. I’d had that sense of concern about radiation and the environment from ‘65 on. I’ve been attempting to be a nuclear activist ever since. Just yesterday I was involved in some activities down in Russellville. I’ve been genuinely active -- this has been my chosen area of activity. I’m co-author of a book called "Fighting Radiation with Foods, Herbs, and Supplements" -- it’s not a book about cures or panaceas. It’s a book about all the organic ways in which people have been able to chelate, or create a normal amount of iodines so the body doesn’t take up iodine 131, or strengthen the immune system. Those three basic kinds of preventive dynamics were researched and discussed. I coordinated a group of eight people originally to research all of the abstracts -- chemical, nuclear, biological, up to about ‘81 or ‘82, and then we got into correspondence with people, a naturepath and I, and an editor of East -West Journal wrote the book. I worked for seven years on this project, and it’s in its third printing now. My hope was that we would do something that would lead to a better work, that we would do something that was credible enough that somebody would then take it a step further who had more sophistication, better chops than we do. I’m not especially scientific.

That was an exciting period for me. I would do therapy during the day and be a young father, and then I would stay up at night, smoke dope, and write and edit. I had fun with it. I remember the day the book came out and it was in my hands. I was alone when I received a copy of it. A beautiful fragrance filled the air and I felt spiritually thanked. The way that book was conceived was interesting. It sounds kind of ‘60ish, I suppose. I was living, homesteading with M-- in ‘79, and a neighbor gave me some peyote, which has always been, for me, the most important of the psychedelics. I took the peyote and towards the end of the trip -- it wasn’t a large amount -- I was in a place of white lights surrounded by spiritual beings, and they never say you have to do something, but they said you can work on a book on protection from radiation. I started to think about how I would do it. About 4 to 6 weeks later the author of the book showed upon my land telling me he was already working on something like that, and I just kept pushing him and pushing him to do better, helping him, supporting him, and finally, we put it out. That was an example of a valid use of psychedelic drugs, for me. I totally acknowledge that psychedelics have been important for a lot of people. For me, they’ve had some importance, but not key. I got blasted open in other ways. Kundalini experiences, and other ways. My folks, when I told them about out of the body travel, were remarkably tolerant. I think their concern was, is he happy. They had intelligence, but they were totally only believing in a material plane of existence. Totally. They’re atheistic. Towards to the end of his life, I’d have to say my dad was an agnostic. I just told them a little bit. They were very accepting. There were a few other people in my life who would give me some kind of feedback, yes, this happens to people, here’s a book.

I’m hoping this weekend to see my friend the landscape artist who’s almost 80 now. He’s one of the most important people in my life. He was born in Kansas in a small town in 1919, and says that he was always embarrassed as a small boy -- he was embarrassed for people, because it didn’t seem like they knew they were part of everything, that they were belonging to everything. He was, much more than I, established in a less separate sort of place. Terribly important person for me. He was interested in Buddhism, which is now central for me, and he was a strong Episcopalian, and he was deeply connected with nature, and he was in a happy family, and from ‘65 on, I regularly visited him in Lawrence KS. The reason I live in Fayetteville is because I saw the happy family in a small university town having a nice time, being close to nature, and I thought, that looks pretty good to me. And the only thing I ever really wanted to do was to marry, have kids, and do that kind of holy family thing that he was doing.

M-- and I did a little agonizing. I didn’t want to keep teaching school. I went back and got a social work degree from ‘76 to ‘78 in Athens GA. That was the wildest period of my life. That was the open marriage. Some of that I had to recuperate from. So did our marriage. That’s another topic. When we were on our honeymoon in Europe, thanks to my lovely and wealthy grandmother, we met some people who said, "we met these people named Gene and Ina O’Neal -- they wrote a book called "Open Marriage" -- well, we met them on Tormalinas, and they were just fighting like cats and dogs" -- I should have known. But when we ended up in Athens, everybody wanted to do everybody else, and I was a nice looking boy, and M-- is a nice-looking woman, and it was interesting what happened. I was questioning all of this, and a Zen priest I had written at Shasta Abbey -- I had spent a very small amount of time at this abbey -- it was said that he was going to go on the road and do some teaching, so I wrote him and said to come stay with us and teach a little in Fayetteville. He came, became our friend -- he’s still our friend -- he is an amazing man. His awareness is truly remarkable. And he encouraged us to get out and get around a little. He said, you know, I think a lot of couples, where they really are viable, have had some period like this. He can’t believe it now when I tell him he said that. But we did some experimentation, and it was ‘78 when I last felt the need to go outside of the marriage. But I would probably still be wondering to this day what the whole thing is, what’s in it for me and all, had I not. I don’t feel like it’s closed to me. I could do it. But the emotional pieces that had to be picked up in terms of trust level were more than we, and I think, more than a lot of people were willing or able to acknowledge to themselves. I think that some people are successful in doing that. I don’t feel I’m emotionally constructed in such a way that I would find it very easy to do it.

I finished my graduate education at Athens. That was one of the more intensive periods of drug use. I think whenever I’ve had extra stress on me I’ve thought I’ve needed it -- I think the lack of the oceanic experience in the womb and with mother afterwards made marijuana more seductive to me because it gave me some of that kind of electric, controllable experience, an experience that I could have when I wanted it. We did a fair amount of mushrooms in GA. We really enjoyed them. We’d go to the fields and pick them. I got a 4.0 average in school. I wrote my thesis on marijuana. I did a wonderful job. It was three times longer than I meant it to be. It didn’t need to be that long, but I was focused. I sat in the same chair for months writing that thing. A young woman sat down in that chair one night after I was finished -- I still have her note -- she says, I sat in the chair and I must tell you that I got the most remarkable feelings of energy all over my body.

That was the beginning of my period of -- the cattle mutilation happened in ‘73. I didn’t know what that was. I began seeing the globes of light, which the Indians see in their sweat lodges, in ‘76 or ‘77. Other people with us saw them too, around this beach where we were living outside of town in GA. I had a night of vastly expanded consciousness in ‘77 where finally, the light approached me, I was respectful, it came onto my bowing hands and then entered my heart three times. I had a number of experiences with these floating lights that the Indians had known about for a long time. Nothing ever metallic, nothing that felt like it was anything other than interdimensional to me. These experiences in various ways have continued, occasionally. Because of my experience at Findhorn, I have known about the Davic, angelic and the elemental levels of life, and have always enjoyed tuning into those levels. Sometimes I’ve had the little being appear to me. Really, they’re not little, but they can appear that way. I’ve seen elves, fairies -- none of this as a child, which is uncharacteristic. That is one area where marijuana has sometimes been an aid to perception, but on Buddhist meditation retreats when I go to the woods, they’ll come around, when I’m more open.

This has been another aspect of my life, one that’s rarely discussed. I only can discuss it with people where there’s some kind of consensual reality to be shared. Cherokee Indians, say. And the Native America thing began when I met a Susquehanna chief in ‘69 or ‘70. He was so nice to me. He was really an amazing dude. That’s also continued. I’ve been a very energetic explorer. I don’t think I’ve been around compared to the people I admire the most -- like Sri Ramana or the great saints, or the unsung people who don’t have positions but who’ve really been around. But I’m a person who has a karma of a lot of meditation, a lot of inner work, that I’ve brought in on me. This is my take on it. It doesn’t mean I’m right. I’ve had some fortunate gifts, and also, I feel, I could classify myself as a young old soul. I have real areas where I just don’t get it yet. There are holes in my sense of stability, security. It’s kind of stupid to try to evaluate myself too much.

Part of the drift of the times, the zeitgeist -- I was there. I have some kind of an awareness -- how much it’s imagination I don’t know -- of hovering above the world prior to my conception or birth, with a number of other beings who had some degree of accomplishment and consciousness, and coming in at that time. Now, my daughter is much more evolved than I was. She’s already had a deep satori experience at age 13, and wrote a poem about what three rajayana teachers have said, that’s basically the essence of their teaching. I can’t tell you how proud I was. It wouldn’t have had to be that. I think there’s a new generation of children -- but I think they are heavily conditioned -- I wouldn’t want to be a young person right now. It looks pretty bad if you’re sensitive. I heard a lot about the environment. I don’t know what it would be like. My daughter is a very positive person.

We chose this area. We found magic in this land. I think that had something to do with bringing Dorothy here. In fact, she helped alert me to something magic in the land. She said, first tune into the formless spirit and then hold a very gentle intention to tune into any aspect of it. She gave us a key there, and we would practice it, tune into the dava of the insect that we would like to have leave our house, or one time M-- and I very dramatically demonstrated this attunement. We were on our land, sitting up in our field, and we say, let’s attune to the dava of the land, kind of the overlighting presence of the land. What the hey. So we just closed our eyes, did that, then opened our eyes, and standing in front of us was a ten or twelve foot tall whirlwind. So this was stuff that was very impressive to us. I call these things confirmatory experiences. They help one to see that there really is a spiritual side to life.

The UFO thing -- I was interested in that as a kid. I think a lot of kids were interested in the ‘60s with books like "Stranger than Fiction" -- Ripley’s -- I read the Hobbit -- I knew about UFOs. I did not know about cattle mutilations, but in ‘73, I came out of my door of the farmhouse where M-- and I were living, and there was half a bloodless, skinned calf. All I could think was that somebody was trying to scare me, so I put on some gloves, buried it, prayed, and put up a Tibetan prayer flag. This was in ‘74, near the Richards-Gabour AFB in KC, for what that’s worth. I do believe that in the annals of this stuff, ‘74 was a big year for Midwestern cattle mutilations. Later I found out about this. And then came one experience in Athens, where one of these globes of energy came down and kind of merged with me, and I felt a distinctly insect-like presence. I didn’t know what the hell to make of it. But since it wasn’t there on my ok, I kicked it out. And it left.

I was at times aware of black magic. Like the time that all four people in the house had bad dreams on the same night. I got up and walked around the house praying. They were just having bad dreams. I was, please, Great Spirit, -- it hasn’t been easy, that part of it. I have wondered whether that kind of uninsulated feeling that I have, that very naked feeling that premmies get, might not have contributed to making me feel vulnerable. And still can. But I began studying Vasnuyama Buddhism, at least in terms of doing a mantra that’s the one I still do now, partly because of a couple of these scary experiences. I thought I needed some big guns behind me. I needed some help. And I needed, basically, some mediating help. God was just a little too formless for me, and so I needed some saints. I’ve always had at least one or two saints that I could appeal to, so in that sense I’m very old fashioned.

Two episodes come to mind. One, in ‘79, on our land -- one night I was lying out on the deck when M-- had gone to sleep, and I was most definitely stoned on pot. You would have found me that way a lot of the time back then. I mean, I still smoke. I’m just more selective and careful about when I do it. Then, it was wake up in the morning and roll a doobie, you know. So anyway, I was lying on the deck and all of a sudden the whole woods were illuminated. There were no lights around. Every leaf on every tree was evenly illuminated by golden light. My first thought was, boy, is my third eye really open. And then I thought, wait a minute, it hasn’t turned into a head light. When it opens, I see the inner light, but I don’t see everything else lit up. Then I realized that there was a colossal light source behind me and it wasn’t a car. I felt like if I looked I’d be scared, I’d be shocked. I was pretty sure of that. M-- mentioned later on, ‘have you ever seen that light that travels through the woods at sunset?’ Well, I’d seen that, but I thought that was one of those nature manifestations. This could have been some dava coming on in all its glory. But I don’t think so.

A couple of years later when our son was born, conceived out in those woods very joyfully, we were in our new house and a feeling came into the room. I had been doing this mantra some, but what really got me more hooked on it was when this very bad feeling came into the room –I’ve always been quite analytic and willing to acknowledge that it might have been my bad feeling -- could be my projection -- I know how imaginative I am -- but in his sleep and without our touching him, he went ugghhh! So the feeling was hovering in the room. I started doing this mantra in my head -- it’s an intercessory mantra, the one I still do every day -- and my son in his sleep at one and a half years old, and I know wasn’t even subliminally saying it, said "Ahhh, buddha," There was this feeling of liquid light around us, total sweetness, and I’ve been doing that mantra ever since. I thought, well, since you’re sort of susceptible to both the good and the evil -- now I know something about evil -- also, from being a therapist, I know something about evil -- why don’t you go to some of the spiritually mature people on the planet, you know, make a connection to give yourself some insulation. So I’ve tried to do that. I’m a team player. I’ve tried to work with people who I felt were my contemporaries and peers, and they’re into these things. We’ve formed meditation groups, not just to protect myself, but to grow. But I’ve also reached out at times because of this labile, kind of diffuse, psychic quality in me.

From reading, clearly, some of the UFO experience is quite positive. Nobody really knows what the cattle mutilations are. I’m the only therapist in AR, as far as I know, who is a member of John Mack’s organization -- he’s a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School -- I generally have not worked very much with people on this -- I do hypnosis -- the reason is, it scares me. And I have a young girl child of childbearing age. When I started reading, say, Swami Wontananda’s book back in the early ‘70s,, the blue pearl that he wrote about would come and stand in front of me, or I would have visions of the things he talked about. When I read the Secret of the Golden Flower, my karma is such that started to experience the circulation of the light, the golden light -- so I felt that it was probably a good idea for me not to concentrate too much on this. Let other people who are more pragmatic than I -- now I can be very practical and pragmatic, but it’s an effort. I’m coming from an emotional more than an intellectual or physical moving center. They’re all nicely developed, but the emotional is kind of a lynch pin. So I have a number of books on the subject [of UFOs] but I don’t read them at night. It wouldn’t be any problem for a lot of people to do. Some of the other interesting books I’ve read on the subject, one of them is by Credo Mudwah, medicine chief of the Zulus. He has some very significant things to say about this subject. He’s been studying indigenous people and their perceptions, which is a very good idea. Jacques Valle’s work has influenced me. He draws connections between the fairy faith experiences of missing time, changling babies, etc. When I was in Ireland with M--, I had a number of visions that came easily in the British Isles. We had gone over the Knackmael Mountains to a bed and breakfast. Later on, I discovered -- last year -- in reading a book about Ireland, that exactly where we were was the region in which the queen of the fairies was supposed to have her stronghold under the mountain. But I didn’t know that at the time. I went to sleep and heard a rushing of winds, and found myself impelled down a long corridor under the earth, a stone corridor. I didn’t like it because I wasn’t in control. I got down to the bottom and I had my astral eyes closed. It was one of those deals where I went, here I am and my body’s back on the bed. I’ve had some experiences like that, which have allowed me to understand what psychosis might be like. I kept my eyes closed but then I got curious, so I opened them. There was an extremely complicated silver city there, all somewhat miniaturized, and a sense of being watched. It was kind of like the most populated empty place I’ve ever been. Except maybe Dacchau. Now my sense is that maybe I never saw a silver city, that maybe I was seeing stalactites and stalagmites that were enchanted. But I prayed. I had to pray like hell. And then got sucked back up into my body. And then I thought, boy for somebody who had been drunk or was just weak-willed or simple minded, they could have just found that person’s body there. And that exactly a template for all that. I became very open to the possibility that these may be pissed off subterranean entities who are just pissed because we’re screwing with the environment, or whatnot. Many possibilities. It’s a very small part of my experience. Many people have a few experiences like this, but they’re so far out of the context of their normal lives that they forget about them or discredit them.

I always sought out the weirdos, theosophists, beatniks, early ‘50s and ‘40s people who went to India, natural mystics. Not only did I seek them out, but they would somehow or another find me. There was recognition. And there were very beautiful encounters with each other. Very beautiful.

I’m a member of ORI, what Harold McCoy does - dowsing. I like what they’re doing. I think it’s very interesting. He’s a very altruistic person, doing good work. I love this community. It’s a wonderful community. People are being good to each other here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I met T-- at her home, and in the morning hours of a hot late June day, we sat in the shade of huge oaks which towered over her deck

I was aware that [my parents] were different because they were artistic. When I would compare them to my friends’ parents, I felt I was different, because I was exposed to creative things. They were first fine artists, and then used that ability to have jobs in society. My mother sold a lot of her stuff to an arts center. They were both very capable artists. They took us to dance -- you know, Balinese dancing, exotic stuff, not just going to Swan Lake or something. I knew this was different. I don’t know how this was conveyed to me, other than seeing what my friends and their parents did. And the art work hanging in the halls. A naked woman in the hallway, and I could relate to it as a piece of art, and my friends tittered over it. I was above that. I felt different, but I felt very good about it. Their lifestyle affected how I think.

[In high school] I was on the edge of the hippie movement. I was a folk singer with my boyfriend, and I listened to Joan Baez. I was an unusual dresser, you know, I wore textured hose, weird stuff, you know, a man’s watch, radical, pierced ears. I was going that way already. My mother brought that in to me too, to see things differently, to see that clothing is an extensive of art, jewelry, and what you do with your hair.

[My family] didn’t specifically talk about social issues. My brother was drafted, but we never talked about any of those issues. My parents voted for Nixon, for gods sake. We always accused my father of being a racist. He wasn’t overt at all. I think that’s a lot of his upbringing, the age he is. He said stuff sometimes, and when we became cognizant, my sister and I, we’d say ‘Dad!’ and he’d say, ‘well, I’m a racist, I can’t help it.’

My first year in college, I had one foot in what was happening, and I got high for the first time. People I met there allowed me to expand on those feelings in an acceptable way. Coming into to contact with people who were more aware than me. I had been cocooned in suburbia. We went to protests in Washington DC about the Vietnam War - we went to the Pentagon. When I went to this protest, it was half social, in a way. I wasn’t fully committed. I certainly believed in peace, and I couldn’t ‘get it’ why anyone was fighting, I still can’t get it. But I was still just’ in the crowd.’ Most of my focus was centered on the war. I was aware of women’s issues, but it didn’t grab me. I’ve always been very comfortable. I grew up with no blacks in the school, probably none in the community at the time -- it’s very different now. So I didn’t have interaction. It was always a rarified situation, and I think that carried over into college. I think I was still in that comfortable cocoon, of seeing things out there, but it wasn’t affecting me personally yet. So it wasn’t really catching my brain.

Defining my direction has been one of my problems. I go with the flow. After college, I went to Pittsburgh and worked. We smoked pot, listened to music, you know, that lifestyle -- I used to call it ‘weekend hippies’ -- and I was living a subsistence life, a ratty apartment. I was working for a newspaper in production work, layout. I had studied that at school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer or a doctor or any of that. Even when I had graduated with a degree in merchandising, it meant nothing to me. I was never so radical overtly that I wanted to drop out -- I did say, after I adjusted from living at school to being in Pittsburgh for about a year or two, I decided -- I visited my sister who was going to school at the Univ of Missouri in journalism, and I really enjoyed the pace there, it was slowed down from the east coast. A different head set. Plus, she was in the hippie thing, she had dropped out -- working at this alternative restaurant, working at a radio show. I wanted to get into her culture, I liked that. I liked the whole scene. So I moved to Missouri. And then I didn’t work, I did nothing. We got stuff out of dumpsters. We grew food. We lived a low key, group lifestyle. By the end of summer, I had run through what I had saved, so I became a model at the university, which is what my sister had been doing, modeling in the art department. I’d been in the other side, been there drawing nude models, so I said, yeah, it paid pretty good -- $2.50 an hour -- but that was minimum wage. But it was better than going mainstream. That’s what I did for years and years.

I didn’t have a real job until ‘76 -- and then I worked for the Grapevine, which was an alternative newspaper. Still not a ‘real’ job. I didn’t have full time work until ‘89.
Now my husband was a carpenter, so we had two incomes, so we had a decent lifestyle. I could back down from this [current] lifestyle so quick it would make my husband’s head spin. No problem. I don’t need all this -- the air conditioning, three cars -- you know. I don’t think my choices were conscious -- I always see myself as floating along, not making an effort to change my lifestyle, but I guess that is a choice. I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t like ‘I think that’s wrong so I’m not going to do it.’ It’s like, ‘who needs it?’ I just wasn’t interested in all that [material] stuff. I didn’t participate. I think a lot of that came out of my parents. It’s a family joke, but we were recycling long before it was thought to be chic. I pissed and moaned about washing out plastic bags and washing aluminum pans, but my parents had been through the Depression, and they passed that on to us, even tho we were in the 50s, and it was land ‘o plenty. We were frugal. Reuse. That filtered down into -- well, that car still runs, I don’t need anew car. This dress still fits. I knew what was happening out there, but I had this small insular world of friends around me and I wasn’t participating in that for many many years. I probably would be living like that -- and even now I’m contemplating getting out of the ‘rat race.’ Everything has been an evolution.

At the Grapevine, I was the art department, you know, put together all the ads, and even sold some, even though I loathed that. It was a little extra money to do that. I did Dickson Street, so half the time we’d be in the back room, there, you know, and that worked, and I’d pick up aluminum cans as I walked down the street. One of the people who came to be editor there was C. C--, and we became friends, and when he left, he started a business with his brother, called C, C-- and Asso., an advertising agency, and after a few years, they needed somebody else to do some paste-up work, so C asked if I wanted to work parttime. I started at five hours a week in 1982, and it just grew and I learned, until it evolved into a ‘real’ job, a position with a title of graphic artist, and the money started to come in, which was nice, and we could do things with the house, so finally, they got big enough, and they said, look, we need a fulltime person, do you want to be that person? By that time, S-- [my husband] had bought the store and he had his nose to the grindstone. No more three month vacations for us. We weren’t going anywhere. Why did I need all this time, then. You can only do so much with the garden and the house before you get a little wiggy, so I said sure, and went full time. I like the work, I like the people, you know, it’s not been very painful at all. Even now, I have my own niche. I defined my job position there. I’m not an art director, nor did I ever want to be. I feel now that I couldn’t be an art director. That’s fine with me. I was never motivated to be in that kind of position. I just wanted to be a little worker bee, and I liked it. Little projects, small goals, go on to the next step. I’m not saying that’s not worth the same as being an art director -- this business of pay variance because of your title and my title, I’m worth that much. But I don’t care enough to get my nose bent out of shape about it. I make a good wage, I’ve got good benefits, it’s great. I think I’m doing great, even tho some people say, you’re living on what? But it’s combined with my husband’s income, which makes it comfortable. Because it’s the kind of work atmosphere where I don’t have to act straight, I can wear whatever I want, I don’t have to act grown up. God, I’m fifty and I’m still waiting to feel grown up.

I do feel out of touch when I see kids and listen to their music, but I’m supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be 18. And they amuse me. S-- says, ‘these kids’ -- and I say, ‘god, you sound like your mother.’ I say thank goodness we don’t have children because if my kid wanted to shave his head and dye it purple, that’d be fine with me. You know, if everything else is going ok, who cares if his head is purple. I have no children, and I find that alters one’s perception of everything. I’m still ‘27' -- there’s nothing showing me, tangibly, like a human being growing up in front of you -- like when I see other peoples’ kids, it’s like when did this happen? I don’t see time passing, so here I am.

I have a sense of progress [on social issues], although sometimes I think things will never be right. Yes, we’ve made a difference, but it’s not done. It will never be done, unless we evolve somehow. But we’ve really made a difference. But maybe I should be more involved. I don’t know why I think that. I see my world and say, this is how it is, because that’s how it is without any effort, and I’m not putting in any effort. But then I fluctuate between thinking it’s good and that it’s bad, that I am doing something, or I’m not doing enough. It depends on my mood, how I perceive things. Really, all you have to do is look around and make comparisons -- still we’re grumbling about everything. I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have utopia, and then I have to say, yes that’s true, and then I have to set that aside so I can deal with daily life, not keep beating myself up, like why did that person throw that in the trash?! Then I have to say, calm down, reining myself in, which makes me depressed, that everybody isn’t embracing all these wonderful things that they could be doing to make our society a perfect world, which it could be. We’ve got it all. We’re smart enough. It’s just that people are not conscious.

Then I look at what I’m doing, and I say ADVERTISING? I hate advertising. I hate consuming. What am I doing? Why am I not spending -- I mean, I know I’m a good worker, dedicated, loyal, -- why am I not putting this toward something else -- please. But I’m very comfortable, so I have this internal war. I do what I can. I’ve started a recycling project at the office, raising their consciousness, making them recycle, tracking down resources, getting us involved in the city recycling programs. I do that, and I think that’s good, but it’s such a tiny bit. But then I keep telling myself that it’s valuable.

I went through this big thing, I call it my mid-life crisis, when I kept saying, what am I doing with this job? I should go work for the humane society -- something -- I felt like my abilities were not being spent in the right quarter. But then I throw my money at things, because my job gives me money, so I give money. It’s not a lot, but $20 here, and $20 there, and then you’re on the mailing list, and everybody is writing you. I send money to all these nature things -- Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Newton County Wildlife -- environmental stuff -- and women’s issues -- I donate to Choice, out of LR, and the humane society, I mean, all these issues -- and it’s heartfelt. In most instances, I feel I can give money and make a difference. And I volunteer, like picking up trash with the local environmental group, and plan to volunteer at the new gardens that are developing, so I do like the hands-on stuff, too, although I don’t do as much as I would like. And I pay attention to community issues. I vote on small issues as well as presidential elections. I am a good citizen, even when people aren’t watching. I should give myself that credit. But I’m always pushing, like ‘I could do more, I could do more.’

Sometimes I feel like I’ve pushed the limits at work, pulling people’s sleeves. I’ve sent memos, I’ve gone through their trash -- and about other things. I put Habitat for Humanity info on the bulletin board, you know, things that are going on. I don’t want to get in their faces. Every now and then I’ll come through with a petition. If you become a pain in the ass to somebody, they won’t listen to you and they may even get their nose out of kilter about whatever it is you’re talking about. So I’m not pushy in seeking out people. If something happens that I can say something, then I’ll add it into the conversation. I’m increasing their level of awareness as painlessly as I can. I want to hit people over the head, don’t get me wrong -- ‘you idiot!!’ I feel like if I can be an example, maybe someone will notice that. People have said to me -- oh, you’re so calm, so relaxed all the time, they admire that. Even when I doubt myself and think I’m taking the easy way out, they think I’m making an intelligent choice. Because they’re all on antacids and going out of their minds.

What the alternatives were when I was coming out of school, I don’t think we were as hit over the head with making a living and worrying about old age, about retirement. I mean, these kids are worried about their retirement when they get out of college. It’s like, whoa, I feel so sorry for them. I have co-workers who are in their 30s who say, god, I’m so sorry I missed all the drugs and being laid back -- I got out of college and went right to work and here I am. And they miss out. They feel they’ve been put on the treadmill, and now they’re wondering, what am I doing here? They are very driven, and I feel they are missing so much by not having goof-off time. If I have a chance, I recommend if someone if coming out of high school and they don’t know what they want, they should take some time, go to Europe, hitchhike around Europe -- why go and spend daddy’s money getting drunk on weekends? Go out there and spend some time with yourself. I am so disgusted with all of that, that the system belittled who and what we were, and pushed this 30s generation into this kind of life. I’m not worried about our generation. I know us. We’ll get whatever damn thing we want. We’re not afraid to make things happen. Now we’ve made our loop. Now we’re going to reflect and have our lifestyle, what we want, what we want from the government. I’m counting on the go-getters among us to make things happen, and I’ll support them.

I had hopes, like when Clinton got in, but now, it’s BILL! Maybe people reach a point and then it’s like a trap. And then they won’t be any good to us. I don’t keep up on everything that’s going on -- but some of the things that have disappointed me with this administration are like mass transit, seriously addressing waste disposal on a national level -- I mean, just get behind some of this stuff. Really concern yourself with environment, and not all this posturing and meanwhile we’re selling timber for a dime an acre or whatever the hell we’re doing. I mean, I’m like trivial pursuit. I know a little about everything but feel very inadequate discussing issues, but he’s not really taking the bully pulpit. Environmental issues, human rights issues -- I want these addressed. But I understand that politics is a horrible web, and here you come very idealistic into it, and just get ground under the heel. I always admired Bumpers not running for President, because he was up front, said he could get a lot more done right here in the Senate -- and he could! If you’re President, everybody is watching and you have to make everybody happy. And old Bill is trying to make everybody happy, and he’s gotten distracted. And there’s all this other horseshit, which is like -- oh my god.

Our generation makes a difference when it really matters. I have to keep being hopeful. I can’t give up. When I really get low, I have to just back off. I can go to the grand scale, and say we’re just a blip on the screen. Or else I come down to my little world -- in between, it’s a no man’s land. I try to stay out of the middle, which is why I don’t feel really knowledgeable, just enough to go off emotionally on whatever it is and do what I can. That’s all I can do, affecting my immediate periphery in some small way. I hope everybody else is making their small circle, and then all the circles will connect. It is happening.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


First job I ever had was working for the FBI. I went to Wash DC and I was a fingerprint technician. At that time, if you got arrested and they couldn’t find your name as having been arrested before, somebody like me would search for your fingerprints. I was very proud of it, until I found out what J. Edgar Hoover was like. I went there straight out of high school. I wanted to go to Ark State Teacher’s school,, but my mother’s husband was afraid I’d end up needing money, so I decided to go work some first. While I was at that job, I married one of the millions of Washington DC secretaries -- she got pregnant, we got married. We moved to western Pennsylvania for a couple of years. Got out of that marriage, went back to Little Rock, decided I wanted to come here and go to school and live in Fayetteville -- about the time the Beatles got popular.

I was ambitious -- wanted to be right in the bosom of society -- a lawyer in fact. Started to school, and it was the first time in my life that had ever been around anyone I had anything in common with. Very quickly I moved to the absolute edge of everything -- society. The people I knew were fringe dwellers -- that was in ‘65 -- and then in ‘66 everybody started to be completely crazy about the hippies. I can remember the day that I first heard the word ‘hippie’ - a guy from Memphis. People would come to town who were hipper than anybody in Fayetteville, and we would all wish we were like them. This band came from New York City -- at that time, I drove to San Antonio to buy one ounce of marijuana -- and had about 10 people who had chipped in money, and it was an actual lid -- a Prince Albert can -- nobody had it -- one guy was able to get some in Tulsa -- and so this guy from New York City said he was a hippie, and that was the highest accolade he knew.

That year it started to be on all the TV stations, little documentaries about San Francisco, and Haight-Ashbury -- I actually knew a guy who had lived in Haight-Ashbury the year before, and I wanted to go. Everybody I knew wanted to go to Haight-Ashbury. That was coming up on the Summer of Love. I went -- everybody I knew went out there. I couldn’t walk down a street in San Francisco without seeing someone I knew from Fayetteville. Literally, everybody I knew was out there. For about two years it was just back and forth to San Francisco - I drove that Route 66 from here to SF so many times. A strange thing that happened though -- I was about 24 at that time and had just married -- the only time I ever married for love -- I had a bad year where I got obsessed with dying. I happened across the book The Way of Zen by Allen Watts, and that changed my life completely. By the time I got out to San Francisco, although I was doing all the stuff -- I lived in Haight-Ashbury, lived right behind the garage store cafĂ© at Masonic and Haight - I lived right across from Buena Vista Park on Haight -- lived all around there, and everybody I knew was a hippie and had hair down to their ass. Within months of when I got there, I heard about this Zen master, Suzuki Roshi over in Japan town and I went over there and got involved with the Zen center. So then I was a fringe dweller on the whole hippie thing. Everyone was doing dope, and I was getting up at 5 am to sit cross legged. I ended up going to Tassajara - a Zen monastery near Big Sur -- a real isolated place -- it’s still going on.

I spent a lot of time trying to like pot, but I never did really like it very much. I drank beer. Everybody did diet pills. I liked to feel good. It seemed like there was a period where it was spring for about 3 years. I really thought things were going to change. Everybody I knew thought things were going to change. I knew people who didn’t think the cities would last another six months. Everybody had some version of the shit hitting the fan. I really thought the hippies were a good thing. I did LSD quite a few times.

But when I got into meditation and mysticism, I tried to not identify with anything. I lost all ambition and never had a shred of it since. I stopped being interested in politics. From that time til this, I’ve considered politics to be none of my business. I’ve never been involved with any movement or cause. Of course, I’m sympathetic.

Zen is very austere and doesn’t sanction drug use, but everybody who showed up there had done drugs. I thought about dying for one solid year, and in the way of Zen, I found that there were people widely separated by years and geography, who had experiences that transcended life. Before that I didn’t believe in any religion. I read every single book I could find on mysticism. Zen was the only people who actively -- the religion was based on getting that experience for yourself -- an experience of no self. It’s really hard to put into words. Christian mystics have described it as the experience that God exists, or that everything is God. And there have been Islamic mystics, who have their own way of describing it. But the people who had that ‘experience’ were no longer afraid of death, and I was plenty afraid of death. I thought all the time about the fact that there had been an absolutely infinite amount of emptiness and void before I was born and after I died there was going to be another one. I could not stand the thought of that. Zen was presented to me as something absolutely real. There was something that that man -- Suzuku Roshi - wanted me to see. It was very obvious that he saw it. And I wanted to see it too. I never did. But doing nothing with your back straight is still about the best thing I’ve ever found to do. It’s as physical as dance. There’s no mental side to it. Zen meditation is a practice of the body. Putting your body in an alert position. They don’t go at it as if there is a difference between mind and body.

Ren-zi-zen encourages people to strive really hard, and you could say there’s a mental side to that. They give you these problems called ‘coans’ that are problems that can’t be solved with the intellect, and they encourage you to try to solve those problems. I was into a Zen called Sodo, and they don’t do that. You can’t do anything right and you can’t do anything wrong. The fact is, if you really sit and really concentrate on that posture, and don’t slump or wobble or fidget, then the mind will become calmer and tend to follow the breath, and become clarified. I came there wanting a big enlightenment experience. Suzuki Roshi’s whole deal was to disabuse people of that and get them to give up attachment altogether. He said if you’re trying to attain enlightenment, you’re not doing Za-zen. When you sit with no gain-seeking in mind, you have enlightenment. There is nothing to attain, no higher state of mind. But if you try it yourself, you’ll find it very hard. The main aspect of it is physical pain. People cry out loud.

For a couple of years, I was in and out of the Zen center and back and forth to Fayetteville. One time, we stayed in Fayetteville less than a day. We would get the idea out there that it was time to be rid of San Francisco and go back and take up our lives again. For about a year, I thought I was going to go back to school. I’d been in college 3 years. But after that I never wanted to go back to school again. But we would come back -- a huge amount of partying -- it wasn’t like I was good, because the sexual revolution was going on, and I drank - everybody drank. I took all the drugs I could get my hands on. But I didn’t have long hair, in fact it was practically shaved. One time I was walking down town and I passed this huge elementary school with all these black kids, and one of the kids yelled "look at that head," and every kid on that playground pressed up against that fence, laughed at me for the whole block, ear splitting - slapping their legs, throwing their arms up -- I got some humility that day. I was trying to look like a Zen monk.

Most of my friends were junkies and ne’er do wells, and horrible people. I knew people who went to Selma, people who rode buses - freedom riders, went down there and stood in picket lines -- I admired that a lot, but it never occurred to me to do it. I really didn’t understand how dangerous it was. I didn’t know what they were risking. And they were kind of nerdy people. I have to admit I kind of looked down on all of them and thought they were just assuming a way to be. Of course, I never suspected myself.

The hippies I knew in San Francisco could have cared less about any political issue. But within that, mainly in Berkeley, there were some people who were very political. And they’d come around and do stuff, and people would go, well, yeah, there’s that. But my best friend was a junkie. He didn’t even know who was president. Then also during that time, the war was looming. I was the age to have gone, and just barely missed that. When I dropped out of college, I went to the school psychiatrist and told her that I was dropped out because of stress and asked her to write a letter to my draft board. She didn’t say that she would. When it was time -- when I got my draft notice -- I sat down, they gave me a folder, and right on top of it was a letter from that psychiatrist, and it got me an automatic referral to their psychiatrist. This was in Oakland California, where people showed up in loin cloths. The guy in front of me told me he was going to tell the psychiatrist he couldn’t relate to the Army - I didn’t think that would do him any good -- but when I went in there, I had an inspiration. He didn’t even look up -- he said - what’s your story? and I said, I can’t make it without psychiatric drugs. and he said what do you mean by psychiatric drugs and I said, Stonzine, Thorazine -- and that was our entire conversation. It was a complete lie. That got me a six month deferment from him, and then I got back to Arkansas and they never wrote to me again.

I was going to go if they told me to go. Knowing what I know now, I would not have gone under any circumstances. I would have gone to Canada. I knew a lot of people who went to Canada because they couldn’t get out any other way. but I was going to go, even though I did not have one shred of belief in that war. I don’t know why I was going to go. At Oakland, there was a sergeant who said, "All those who are going to refuse induction, over to this side." That was the flavor of it.

I loved Haight-Ashbury. Before I went to Haight-Ashbury, my apartment was raided by the Fayetteville police on the rumor that I had a matchbox of marijuana. I had gotten married and moved out 3 weeks before. Next scene, Haight-Ashbury. At Haight-Ashbury, people were yelling on the street corners: "acid, grass, speed, Berkeley Barb" -- it was like going to the candy store. You couldn’t get arrested. You could call a cop up and tell him you were smoking pot and he wouldn’t care. I don’t think they cared. In Haight-Ashbury, there was a church, or elementary school, it had steps that went to a porch that was right above -- even with the 2nd story, and there were a bunch of guys passing a joint around up there, and a cop car stopped on the street and said, "hey, get down" and drove off. I loved it that anything went. I had been a weirdo in Fayetteville. Out there, I couldn’t get noticed as a weirdo. I didn’t even get started being the slightest bit strange in San Francisco. There were beautiful people everywhere you looked. And a lot of really smart people were hippies then, and there were the runaways, and people on the lam from the law -- tie-dyed, Rastafarian -- rainbow people -- intelligent faces -- I had a kind of philosophical point of view that being stoned was a higher state of mind -- higher than being a Republican -- and I still think that.

I got back here and found a place to live on Markham Hill. I wanted to live in the country. ‘I shall go no more among men’ -- that type thing. I hated society. Most of the people I knew in San Francisco thought the world was insane and they were all moving to the country. Very quickly I discovered that there was a huge difference between city hippies and country hippies. The ones in the country were almost always on an whole other level - actively living in a positive way, whereas the ones in town were fringe dwellers, very cynical and big dopers. I fell in with a bunch of people who wanted to go the country. Practically everybody I knew wanted to go to the country, and we were looking for land. Then I heard about these people -- K-- and some others -- and I got in with them and we looked at places.

Eventually we found this place down near Brentwood, 137 acres and a ranch style house. We polled the room to find out how much money we had and we didn’t have anywhere near the down payment, and we didn’t think we were going to be able to get it, but they liked K-- so much that they split the place up into 120 acres in one part, and then their house on the remaining 17. We bought just the land. We needed $3000 for that, and still with a whole room full of hippies, we could not come up with more than $1000. But I had a friend who had won a bunch of money on the "Who, What, and Where" game on tv, and I called him, and he put in $2000, so we could get that land. We formed a trust and the trust bought the land.

There were about 30 people living out there when we first got it. It’s a beautiful piece of land. The timber hasn’t been cut since the 40s, so there are mature trees. One creek, two big draws. There was never a good well there, so water was always a problem. Most everybody else we knew wanted to start a commune, where everybody had the same ideas and would work together, share things, slept together. The only part of that that we did was sleeping together, which caused a huge amount of trouble. Everybody there got divorced.

Everything done was voluntary. It worked out really well. In fact, all the communes split, and even tho some of us ended up enemies, we’ve still got that land. Everybody could do what they wanted to do, as long as it didn’t interfere with somebody else. That was about the only rule. Besides coming up with the money each month for the payments, which was really only about $10 or $15 apiece. It didn’t take much.

A big bunch of people came from Texas -- a bunch from California, a bunch from Bentonville, a few from other places. A lot of the people who helped pay for the place never lived there. Some came, started to build, then went back to town. The people who were the happiest came out there and lived in tipis and Volkswagen buses and stuff. The people who were the most miserable built very ambitious, really good houses -- inspiring. I really don’t know why they were miserable. K-- was the best carpenter, and he built a beautiful place, but he and his wife fought all the time and eventually got this incredibly acrimonious divorce, and kept on fighting after the divorce for another ten years. Maybe it didn’t have anything to do with the land. The ones with the least expectations had more fun -- they didn’t have steady jobs, didn’t need any money to live the way they were living. It was a gypsy lifestyle -- they’d go until they were absolutely hungry, and then figure out how to get food stamps or a few more bucks, then forget all about making money again for awhile.

There were a few gardens, but the land is really rough -- not many places to grow stuff. And people had jobs. One of the guys from Texas started a band that ended up being pretty famous. At first, he was playing at a place in Fayetteville called the Swinging Door -- well, we all started going to that bar, and I’d never gone to bars in my life. Suddenly, we’d all jump in cars and go to the bar. That was a big part of the last few years at the land -- the people were down on Dickson Street, drinking, partying a lot. And we weren’t the worst -- some people we knew on land over on Mt. Gaylor -- they would get a keg and camp out by the keg until it was dry -- real drinking people.

Eventually, I went back to town. I was the last one to live there. I went back and lived there for about 10 years after nobody else lived there. In fact, I lived there until just a few years ago. My dog lived there for a year after that, and I’d go out every day to feed my dog. She’d never seen a street -- couldn’t make it in town. A free dog from birth til death -- a lonely, hermit dog at the last. I’d like to go back.

We would feel guilty about cutting a tree, if it was a good tree, and we tried not to mess up the land. Still, we did. Nobody worked on any causes. At first, there was a thing -- it was so free to live out in the country, it was like living on another planet. To live where nobody else could go -- you can’t get through the place. People would hear about us, and for awhile, 25 or 30 people would come out there and walk all over the place, and we felt like were in a zoo. All kinds of people -- they wanted to see the weirdos who were living out on the land in geodesic domes and such. And everybody thought we were a commune.

I still believe in the good life. I think everybody did, but they each had different images of it. I’ve spent a lot of years trying to find the good life. Trying to live very simply, without a bunch of dread. I’ve whittled my beliefs down to nothing over the years. Now I don’t believe in the good life at all.

I’ve been getting rid of ideas. I’ve had a lot of things I thought were conclusions, but they never were. I’ve tried to seek pleasure and avoid pain and at the same, figure out what’s going on. I don’t think those two things go together at all, but I’ve tried to make them go together. As an ideal, I think that a person needs to quit thinking about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain -- I think that causes almost all the suffering that a human is subject to. It’s a kind of a Buddhist view. But I don’t think it’s really possible to avoid it. Doing absolutely nothing tends to -- your understanding of that tends to get deeper and deeper -- anything you say about it would be obsolete in a few days, because it’s not taking some action. People always start out seeing it as taking some action, but you can’t maintain that, because it’s just stillness with the tension. That leads to disillusion of the things you think are true -- the conditioned mind. Everybody has a conditioned mind.. You learn how to think. To become aware of that is essential because not to become aware that your mind is conditioned, that you’ve learned to think a certain way, have a certain point of view, not to know that -- ‘sleep of reason brings forth monsters’ -- if there’s somebody that you can’t put up with who drives you crazy, do they ever have any self knowledge? Do they ever know that they’re doing that? No.

I think that acid showed a lot of people that the way they thought was just one way to think. Before, they had seen it as reality itself. After that, they see it just ‘a’ way of seeing things among a myriad others. In that sense, I think LSD was pretty good. Marijuana too. Those two drugs are unique in that almost everybody who has ever taken them considers it to be a beneficial experience. Whereas people who take heroin or cocaine tends to not think that. The government war on marijuana is evil -- I hate them. I’ve never made peace with the fact that there are these people who are just ambition in the form of humans who have so much to do with our lives. I hate the United States of America. Probably some of it is ignorance, because I’ve never lived anywhere else. Maybe if I lived in Mexico for awhile, I might just love it to death. But my feeling is I’d like to live in Scandinavia. I think it would be nice to live around people who are not happy clappy shit kicker religious nuts and have to have their egos and belief systems coddled along and nursed through every situation or they’ll kill you. It would be a big relief, it seems to me, to get away from that. The way I’ve always tried to do that is to live in the country, but right now I’m living in town. So now I try to be anonymous, which is a tactic. This day and age you can get away with that. I’ve lived in the same place for a couple of years, and I only know the name of one neighbor.

I build decks for a living, and work at the store where my companion works. I do work that I’m too old to do. I had a little heart attack in December, which turned out to be real nice, because they went inside my heart and now I know I don’t have big cholesterol deposits.

I don’t have an ideal of making the world a better place. I’m not sure it can be a better place. People who are doing that -- I sincerely wish them well. I figure people do the things that look right for them to do. It’s never seemed like something for me to do. Ever since I left school and gave up the idea of being a lawyer, I’ve wanted to know what’s going on. I’ve thought about it extensively. What’s going on here? -- that’s the name of my book. It’s a real interior thing. I doubt if it would be good for anybody else. I really hasn’t even been good for me. I’ve had tons of depression in my life, but it’s the thing that means the most to me. I would like to know what’s going on -- on a metaphysical level. All levels are metaphysical. I would like to feel alright about dying, I’d like to -- words -- I heard that Japanese is a very good language to talk about things that are not essentially dual. The things that have interested me for 20 years I’ve known are almost impossible to talk about. The Japanese language is nowhere near as egocentric -- they don’t have articles -- completely different consciousness behind the language. I always said I’d do the next thing that’s in front of me, whatever that is, but I don’t have any kind of feeling that I’m doing something. People say -- what do you do? And I never have an answer for that. You mean, what do I do for money? I mean, I do such and such for money, but I don’t ever think about it, once I leave it. I don’t identify with it. I’ve tried for over thirty years to find detachment.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Subject met to talk in Fayetteville in order to avoid the long drive to her rural home. Born 1954, New York City.

There was a lot of political activity and discussion in my high school. For instance, my social studies teacher in high school had us read an anthology of women’s liberation readings before the term was being used, which was real unusual. There was a lot of progressive thinking, a lot of people being active in my high school. There were student organizations, although we were too young to be doing a lot of the college protesting.

While I was in high school I was working for the Vietnam War moratorium. I left New York after that. We stood on street corners with bumper stickers, passing out petitions, that kind of stuff. I did that in downtown Manhattan. There were a lot of us doing it, but it wasn’t a majority. My neighborhood was very mixed -- my parents were Jewish, but there were blacks, Puerto Ricans, Irish and Italians in the neighborhood, so I never felt like a minority there. I worked against the war because it seemed normal to me at the time. All the people I hung out with were feeling the same way and doing the same thing. Part of the scene with that group was getting high, but I did have another group of friends who lived in my neighborhood but did not go to my high school and that wasn’t part of the scene with them.

It was an eye opener, people calling me names [about the war protest]. I was incredulous that people could feel that about us.

I wanted to leave home, and the most acceptable way to leave home at that point was to go to college. So I did that, about 200 miles away, because I didn’t want to be anywhere near my parents. My pursuit in college was academic and social. We talked about stuff, but I wasn’t an activist. I liked where I was and stayed there even when I found out they didn’t offer a degree in the field I wanted. I knew I’d go on to graduate school. I got high on social occasions, but never when I was by myself. I never had much interest in it. I did LSD once and it was fun, but I never did it again. I did mescaline a few times, and I’ve enjoyed mushrooms a few times since, but it was never a big focus for me.

When you get out of school in New York, everyone’s goal is to drive a VW van to California. So that was the plan. That’s what you did. I graduated December ‘74. I remember -- I was going to do it with a friend, and she copped out on me, she decided to stay in New York for graduate school -- I went with a friend who was headed to Berkeley. He had a job but he had no money to travel. I had the money, so we put our stuff together and the two of us headed out at the end of January. By the time we got to Tucson, it was pretty clear we shouldn’t be traveling together any more. So I stayed with someone I knew there and he went on.

I ended up going to Colorado, where I proceeded to live for about seven years. I got my residency and did my master’s at Boulder, a dual certification in educationally handicapped, working with learning disabled and emotionally disturbed kids. My major as an undergraduate was elementary education with a concentration in educational psychology.

I’ve always worked with kids. When I was growing up, we would go away from the summer, and after I was old enough not to be a camper anymore, I was a counselor. But I wanted the special ed kids. I worked there for five years, teaching emotionally disturbed kids. And when I left there, I wanted nothing to do with education ever again. I was burnt out on special ed, the paperwork, the work was extremely draining. I was exhausted. There was too much, and it’s a hundred times worse now. At lot of it is for a good reason, for the rights of the kids, but it takes an incredible amount of energy and time away from working with the kids. I couldn’t deal with it. That’s when S-- and I met, at a conference for emotionally disturbed kids.

We came here. S-- had bought the property before. It was very different, culture shock. The first time we came, we camped out and I discovered that 78 of the 80 acres was poison ivy, and it was mosquitos -- met a few of his friends who were absolutely nuts, and I was like, what am I getting myself into. But I checked out what was going on, the bulletin boards, the coop. As long as I could get the food I wanted and there was some good public stuff going on, I thought, well, sure, I’ll try it and if we didn’t like it, we were going to leave.

I stopped eating meat as a freshman in college, which has been about 25 years. The reason was the food on campus. It was awful. I realized I felt a whole lot better from that. Then that summer I was working at camp in upstate NY for emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded -- you name it -- reject kids from the city, as well as adults -- a weird combination of people, but it was also institutional food and it was terrible, so I continued not eating meat, and I felt all right. Then I took a natural foods and nutrition class and went to the local health food store and started learning a bunch of stuff, and slowly dropped [foods]-- after red meat, it was poultry, then when I got to Colorado, I stopped eating fish. A friend of mine went out and caught us some trout for breakfast one morning, and I just looked at it and said, well, if I can’t decapitate it and clean it and do everything that should be done with it, I have no business eating it. So haven’t eaten fish any more. By then it was much more an ethical thing. Then I stopped eating dairy when we got here. It was a continuation of that, plus health reasons. It’s been real easy. Now I try really hard to use zero leather products. Shoes are still tough sometimes. But pretty much everything is non-animal product.

Sometimes I advocate my ethics, if the audience is right. People at school certainly know my diet. The non-leather goods things has come up in conversation, but I don’t preach about it. But yeah, I get in jabs all the time, like somebody today was saying something about the food they were eating that grossed them out, and I said, well, why is dead fried cow any better? I do that a lot, if the opportunity arises.

I have paid dues and written checks supporting activist groups. But more of my focus has been what I can do with my issues that are important, and to teach that to the kids. The focus of my work in terms of prevention with kids is conflict resolution. Those kids live and breathe it with me. My second graders can talk with you about win-win situations, and how conflicts escalate, and first graders are starting to learn about the word "prejudice" and my third graders can tell you what a stereotype is. The bulk of work with kids is conflict resolution and prejudice reduction. I started a peer mediation class this year, where kids go out and mediate kids on the playground if they have problems. So the things that are important to me, I’ve put my energy into teaching those skills to kids. I feel like that’s the most beneficial thing I can do. It works for me. I feel like I’m doing something, plus I just feel like it’s really important.

The kids will say, this issue is really stupid, and how can anybody be prejudiced, and how can anybody be like that? The kids don’t care about the stuff that adults are hung up on, obviously, and I say, well, that’s why we talk about it while you’re kids, because when you’re grown up, you’re going to know how stupid it is and you’re going to teach your kids it’s not ok, and maybe one day, you know, we talk about conflicts in the news, and wouldn’t it be cool if they knew how to deal with that stuff in better ways and they never got to learn about that stuff -- this is prevention, I hope.

Kids love to talk about conflict, with brothers and sisters, with parents -- we could spend all day brainstorming all the different areas. I teach them that conflict is part of life and there’s nothing wrong with conflict, it’s what you do with it that makes it productive or destructive.
I can infuse my activism into what I do every day, so it’s not an add-on.

I’ve been doing some reading in the last six to eight months about Buddhist beliefs, and there’s always been an attraction there, but I’ve never really studied it. I was bound and determined to start meditating this year -- it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, something I’ve always felt would be beneficial to me. Being still is the hardest thing for me, physically as well as mentally. It is something I plan to pursue. So far I haven’t had the self control to stick with it. My goal this year is to slow down. I think I need to work on patience sometimes. But I don’t think it’s coming from anxiety, I think it’s just my mode of operation and I don’t like moving a hundred miles an hour.

But at the same time I embrace simplicity in my personal life, I book myself in. Even extracurricular activities, I’m doing this this and this -- it’s all really fun, it’s stuff I want to do, I don’t want to give any of it up, but at the same time I have no time for me. If I had a half hour of meditation, it would be me doing nothing but being with me. If I could build in just fifteen minutes a day, just to sit still, it would be really nice.