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Entries in correspondence (16)

Tuesday
Oct162012

Happy Birthday to Nikki, Chris' Response

Today is my sister's birthday. I'm talking about my younger sister Nikki, who turns 35 today. Yesterday I paid her a visit since one of my stops was almost across the street from her place. No one was home. I left a solitary business card (the one I created for my work with Jubilee Economics), and on the back I scrawled the briefest of notes wishing her a happy birthday. Just about seven hours later or so, my other sister, Chris, ten years my senior, and self-appointed guardian of all things on that side of the family (she's just insistent on being stubbornly unwilling to communicate in a civil manner), wrote the following and I indulged her in what is about the only kind of chatter we engage in anymore. She doesn't seem to understand I've been in touch with other members of the family for just over a year now, and from their perspective, they never agreed to Chris making pronouncements that "no one" wants to talk to me. Chris got caught in a lie here. Watch as she squirms. I wish she'd just calm down and be someone to talk to like in the old days. Somewhere along the line she decided to offload her baggage on me and to scapegoat. And Nikki, never having lived a day in "my life" in San Diego, has hardly a genuine complaint of her own about me. I could only reason she's absorbed the toxicity around her over the years and internalized others' emotions. Anyhow, here's what transpired.

Nikki and Chris blissful without me wishing them happy birthdayNikki and Chris, c. 2011?

Christina Marshall: I dont know how you found out Nikki's address, but it was down right STALKER behavior. I did advise her to contact the authorities 7:22 PM

Me: I wished her a happy birthday. How are you? 7:22 PM

Christina Marshall: You found her address? Which was NEVER given to YOU!! Thats rather odd and creepy 7:24 PM

Me: It was given to me. 7:25 PM

Christina Marshall: Not by her! So whomever gave it to you has NO respect for privacy 7:27 PM

Me: I hope she has a good birthday. 35 if I did my math right? 7:28 PM

Christina Marshall: Your approach is so Bill Lucas. How fucking creepy is that!! WoW 7:37 PM

Me: Approach? You mean stopping to wish a family member a happy birthday? He doesn't do that. Not even for me, and I live in the same town. You think I can afford to drive to HB just to drop a card and get a hostile response from someone else? 7:39 PM

Christina Marshall: Wellll considering that "family" hasnt had contacted you?? Yes it is rather disturbing, to say the least 7:43 PM

Me: I don't know why you bother to concern yourself with this. I didn't address you in the least this morning. I bothered to think of you for your birthday and you wrote "thanks!" back to me. A simple thanks from Nikki would do fine. It is a civilized thing to do. 7:45 PM

Christina Marshall: Dont hold your breath on that! Shes too freaked out by this to even feel over joyed! Im involved because i was told of your stalker behavior 7:50 PM

Me: You're involved because you think you hold the keys to the whole family. You don't. You just enjoy the idea. But others (that you can find out from your own research) have shared info with me and have absolutely and directly refuted words that you've put into their mouths (regarding who doesn't want to be in touch with me). 7:52 PM

Christina Marshall: Hahaha! do you honestly reallly think that this family has you in interest? Think about it? No one is looking for YOU, right? My FAMILY does involve me 7:55 PM

Me: Someone from your branch of the family decided to wish me happy birthday. It was a nice gesture. Actually, two did. Doubly nice. 7:55 PM

Me: Your family involves you, but if you are lying about what they say or don't say, wish or don't wish, you're just lying. And someone you probably love has told me that your efforts to block me were not their ideas whatsoever. So maybe you're concerned but it's not your place to speak for others. 7:58 PM

Christina Marshall: Yeah okay. Goodie goodie 7:58 PM

Christina Marshall: Well that wouldnt be my immediate family! 8:00 PM

Me: It would appear you admit to being caught in a lie. If was planning on being a stalker, I don't suppose I'd hand over my business card with plenty of info. It's hardly sneaking around in the shadows that way. I don't really have anything to hide, see? 8:00 PM

Me: I'll leave it to you to figure out who may be nice enough to keep me in the loop. 8:01 PM

Christina Marshall: Well i know its not my mom, brothers or nikki. And especially my kids! 8:04 PM

Me: Tell me one thing. I was just surprised when you responded to my birthday wish with what sounded like some appreciation. Just wondering. 8:04 PM

Christina Marshall: I honestly do not believe you have contact within my "loop", considering it only consist of my mom, siblings, my kids and grandkids 8:12 PM

Me: Your mind might explode at things you don't know. Wouldn't it be better to relax and just be civil? It's a far nicer life being nice to people. Maybe you could write all your issues down for me on paper. Text is so... impersonal. I mean, you probably don't want me to call you or anything, do you? Even if I have your number now? 8:14 PM

Me: You actually have pretty good handwriting. Better than mine. I can't even read my shopping lists. 8:18 PM

Christina Marshall: LMAO! yeah my issues! Go enjoy your wife and life! Just remember this Ed, if anyone ever had true interests in you, dont you believe they would have contacted 8:21 PM

Me: It happened. Last year. Maybe one day I could tell you about it. It was pretty surprising to me too. We should have lunch sometime. It'd be good to catch up. 8:23 PM

Me: Okay. Gotta go walk the dog. Worked 14 hours today. Tired. Tell Nikki happy birthday, even if you have to not say it's from me. You two are difficult to love but I'll try anyway. Be good. 8:29 PM

Wednesday
Oct122011

Bye Bye Black Sheep

It's my 38th birthday today. The blog post title, amusingly rendered in a Photoshopped birthday invitation to people, was indicative of a more powerful current in my life: that of finding identity even in the messy business that comes from being born to a rather dysfunctional set of people. A letter like this has been brewing for years. This is who I am as I make first steps into my 39th year: gaining clarity in how I can deal with family, and what I need from it (but know that I can't ever really expect it. Also, feeling the urge to move toward forgiveness while still holding people accountable. I am moving increasingly toward the needed letting go. I consider this part of the grief work. The title is in reference to my black sheep status, always being apart from a larger flock, relegated to another sector. But it also speaks of my own discarding of the boundaries that kept me there, and a kind of assertiveness and presence that has sort of been taking shape in the last several months within me. I am the dismissed black sheep of the family. But now I am dismissing that role itself with a new stance that is shaped by a deepening understanding of what Jesus' experience might teach about how to absorb pain, gracefully.

The following is addressed to my (half-) sister Christina Lyke, ten years my senior. It is perhaps the last thing I'll be saying to her for a few years, given the pattern of a really estranged relationship that is only punctuated every few years when I try to process the distance and the hurt with what I hope are a new set of tools and methods. It always turns out to be a one-sided effort that crashes and burns faster and faster each time.

On a drop in visit to my mom's house in Long Beach a few weeks ago I found out from Chris' son that our brother died—in March 2011! No one bothered to let me know. The longstanding estrangement is a hostile one, mainly from her side. I sent a handwritten card not to her, but to our mom (equally estranged), with a note of sympathy and an invitation to my birthday gathering this coming weekend. Mom didn't respond directly to that. Chris did the dirty work of replying via Facebook. This letter is part of a thread between she and I where I asked to be put in touch with either James' wife or his twin brother so that I might be able to do a bit of grief work. Chris has apparently appointed herself spokesperson for everyone and has been blocking any attempt to communicate with curt and increasingly testy responses. I asked her to let them speak in their own voices because I really don't believe her.

This is my most recent but likely last hurrah to say what's on my mind. I've tried to keep my tone level and genuine, but she finds me unbearable and the last I saw of her four years ago was a time when she put on a display of absolutely ridiculous show value, yelling and shouting and waving hands and all that—quite a song and dance, and not something that spoke of her being ten years older than me. It also happened to be the very same time when Kelli met that branch of my family for the first time ever (except some phone calls with Chris in 2003 when I was in Halcyon). Anyhow, I am feeling differently than I used to, and from a place of recognition that the pain is so great and has had such a distorting effect, I sort of want to try another tact. For all my words and feelings, the precedent suggests that this will be met with nothing but hostility. The letter starts in protest, responding to her total disregard that maybe I too need to process James' death. Just dismissed me and told me to get over it on my own.

Chris—

Mourning is a community activity, not an individual one. I also don't usually mess around with "chit chat" either. [She said she wasn't writing her responses to engage in chit chat, and that she would thank me to go away and not write more.] I take things more seriously than that. You don't have the right to unilaterally set the terms of relationship for everyone. Besides, why would you want to? It seems more than you even want to be part of. I think it would be better to have your cooperation. If not, then I know well enough what to expect. But the stonewall approach might just leave me looking for whatever holes in the fence I can find. And over time, I plan to find them. I think it is sad that this state of things seems preferable.

I just don't understand why you've taken the path you have, keeping me at a distance, even as I dared trust you to tell me the truth. I never doubted that what you said was true. I wish it wasn't so. I wish there was a way to make that point clear, and that I've had my own kinds of hurts that has kept me from even talking to my old man for the last five years—and unheard of time of silence. I wrote an open letter to him on Father's Day this year that might be as pointless as trying to convince you of anything at this point, but I have kept my distance but under certain conditions welcome a change in the course. [I get a feeling he is in his lonely room snickering at me still trying to clean up a mess that he helped create for me. It might be the gift that keeps on giving for him.]

Chris, I was willing to share your life and its hurts in whatever way I could. There isn't much else I could have given you. I wish you could see that for that decision, I took a bigger hit than I anticipated. I gambled for the sake of having a relationship with you because I did feel that there would be a chance at recovering something we both felt was lost, and that doing so was worth a risk to my precious stability. And then you shut me out rather inexplicably. I'm trying not to be bitter, but really, what you did was buck-passing the hurt; scapegoating. And yet, from the tone you've had for the times I've been in any contact with you (for several years now), it doesn't seem like you're feeling any less conflicted or hurt. [The explosive response to my presence alone at mom's in 11/07 was a clear confirmation of that. Her Facebook profile says she's training to be a drug and alchohol counselor. The thought of her in a healing role kind of scares me, really.] I don't think your strategy has worked for you.

I'd love for our old stuff to be turned into the basis for something constructive. I really don't like strife. It sucks way more energy than it returns. But your cooperation is a key part of that. At one time I thought you wanted me to be your understanding little brother. I still am—as much as I can be. But the trend is that you don't don't want that. What changed? Why? You might have set your feelings aside but I still hurt for you, and the hurt that I think everyone lives with but has brushed under the carpet. It's plain to see it is still at work, from the few bits of exchange that I have to judge by.

I don't mind physical distance and that we don't play a great day to day role in each other's lives. I just wish it didn't bring with it the harsh tones and curt responses. Even being civil and cooperative, keeping me in the loop about who's getting born [she mentioned that she had a grandchild on the way, due today, but neglected to say which of her sons was about to become papa] or who's dying...that's about all I feel I should ask. One day mom will be gone too. Will I read about that on MySpace or Facebook, or hear about it years later? Put yourself in my shoes for a moment.

I don't know if this is intentional but when I am blocked out from even having civil discourse with the family, that is not just a matter of denying me (all of us really) a place at the dinner table or the photo albums, it also robs me in particular of a sense of history of who I am, be that the son of royalty or the son of saints or the son of thieves and murderers. It is a gross unfairness to take that much from me. I have a sketch of who is involved, but I don't know much when it comes to even tracing my own genealogy or the stories of who came from where and what they were like. Is that part of the strategy? Or just an unintended consequence of a hairtrigger avoidance of me? What this means is that as I am dealing with fragmentary memory of my own experience and an even more fragmentary second-hand memory, I could forget things or altogether choose to put my own story together. I could tell any story I want. I could make you a princess or a harlot according to how I feel. I could make it all up. But that is disingenuous. I would rather be reasonable, and to not place the blame out of unprocessed hurt, and not to inflate people larger than life. The real story is big enough, and tragic enough. I can tell it straight. But blocking me from having the facts does not do any good. I wish you'd not be so rigid about withholding the kinds of information that still instructs me on who I am, whether that is good, bad, or whatever.

In a similar way, I feel that it is wrong of you to play gatekeeper especially at this time, and to block the flow of legitimate emotional response to James' death. That is unfair of you.

I still love you Chris. I love you as a human being, and as a person with whom I know I share a troubled past at the hands of a troubled man. I have long said that I felt a closer bond with you than anyone else in mom's side of the family. It's a troubled bond, but those can be made into strong bonds under certain conditions. I don't love the strife. You're still a child of God the same as I am, or as even my old man is. [This one is pretty radical assertion for her. Be prepared to duck from whatever projectiles might come this way!] When you know that in your heart, when you know that to be true, I think something transformative will happen. People who know they are children of God and accept that message deep down inside don't have to play the games that divide people from one another. In a paradoxical way, in the way that spirituality is always paradoxical, I owe you a debt of gratitude for even your repeated rejection. It forced me into new areas of life that I probably never would have volunteered into. In the same way, I owe a similar debt of gratitude to my old man for a similar but unconventional way of teaching me. And mom too. And Nikki. (Don't you think it a bit odd that the bunch of you sit on the same bench in that regard?) That is the irony of the spiritual life—that all the hurts can instruct. I'm just glad I've had the right directors—pastors, spiritual directors, friends, therapists—who have generally moved me and my story toward something different than I was inclined.

But you didn't know that. You don't really know what my life has been for the last several years. You know only that I chime in once in a while, that I seem a speed bump on your path or a thorn in your roses. If that is all you hear from me, then I can understand. But that is not who I am the other times. Ask anyone. I explore life. I grapple with pain—mine, yours, my old man's, mom's, that of the world. I am creative and resourceful. I am a loving husband of seven years now. I do time consuming volunteer projects for non profit orgs. I have different and evolving roles at church, including facilitating a young adults group that in some ways is a surrogate for playing a responsible role in the lives of my nephews and nieces—something that I found myself willing to do a decade ago, but so far have been dismissed from.

I can't say to you that your perception of me is wrong. There are perfectly true things—even negative things—that you say that are true. But that is not the whole record. It is fragmentary at best. Incomplete. Outdated. The fact is, I am more than the little brother you lost some three and a half decades ago, or in the times since. When you want to pick up the phone and have a reasonable conversation, or when you want to come to my birthday, or to church on any Sunday, or to meet up on an unimportant Tuesday afternoon, then maybe there is a chance to integrate something new about me and the life I lead. There is plenty to find out. And that is just my side of things. Kelli has plenty of interesting stories too about her life. And you probably have too.

As I write, it is about ten minutes from the time when, 38 years ago, I was born. The stories I have received from you and mom and the twins about the old days have both broken my heart and led to my restoration in the ever-unfolding drama of my movie that is made in one conversation or letter or Facebook post at a time. I still have a flush of feeling when I consider that for a while you were acting as my caretaker while mom was at work, and that from that experience, you were linked to me in a profound way. You've said as much to me. You and the twins both told me of heartache from the separation and drama. I might never know your hurt at the level you do, and I might not even be able to articulate my own hurt that operates at a level I can't even tap into. In that, we are again brother and sister again, children of the same forces.

One thing you don't have control over is that I have the power to forgive you. I have the power to feel your hurt and not hold it against you. I have the power to receive even your rejection and to still see you as my sister, if not of the same mother, then of the same experience at the hands of a hurtful man. And if not that, then you're still my sister in God's grand family in which each of us is a beloved son or daughter. Neither you nor anyone else can shut me out of that.

It is now 4:25. My birthday all over again. Peace and love to you, my sister.

Tuesday
Jul262011

Letter to Katie

Katie,

This is your uncle Ed. I wrote a similar but far shorter letter to Cameron a couple years back. With the passing of a couple more years, I thought maybe I’d address the same general message to you but with another open approach. Now, I ordinarily don’t write young teen girls letters of this sort. But we are family and nothing can erase that. And I have to focus my thoughts quite carefully because I know that this will be scrutinized and criticized if it is read by anyone else. That is the pattern. I know it well. I have been on both sides of that kind of scrutiny. To avoid any such commentary that I have some agenda, I am posting this message to my website, where it can be seen publicly, and if need be, commented upon. I don’t have anything to hide here. I am going to reference earlier times but I plan to address you as an intelligent, articulate, compassionate young person moving toward adulthood.

I intend this for your eyes only, but I sort of anticipate that that won't be the case. I sincerely hope you’ll read it and try to understand where I’m coming from, and most of all to trust it comes from a genuine place in me, okay? Ultimately, this message is for you and you alone. If you do choose to show it to anyone, please do so after you have had a chance to understand what I am saying. That said, I guess I hope it will even reach you, and that I won’t be blocked on Facebook. Trust me, I hate doing things this way. But the message is more important than the family politics.

I only want to be clear with a central point that I don't know if I can make with others in the family. Trust me, I have tried to seek relationship with people that we both are related to. So far, it has not worked out. But I retain a glimmer of faith, even against the odds.

In 2000, at Thanksgiving time, I was reunited with the family for the third time. That is when I met you for first time. You were just shy of four years old then. I was at a time when I wanted to start a process of healing my life after plenty of hurt. When I first got in touch with your mom just a week before Thanksgiving, that was the first I heard of you. When I did meet you, and got to spend time with you on the big day, something in my chilled heart started to melt at the prospect of being an uncle to you, maybe in a way that I wasn’t able to be for Danny and Joey before you, or even Cameron. I saw new promise to be someone else, to think of someone else. I don’t know how that sounds to a person of your age, but at the age of 27, I was just beginning to think that it was my time to step into some new shoes for what was starting to seem a new period in life.

Let me be clear. There are books to read. There are lectures and sermons and advertisements that tell people what they can do to be better people who are better liked, more successful, richer, and all that. But none of that is what reached into my heart that cold gray November day. Spending a holiday with you did what nothing else did. We watched a movie. Played around. Went for a walk around the block. It wasn’t much at all. But it was something to start a long process of moving toward another kind of life that I needed to live. I don’t expect you to remember it. Your experience and mine were vastly different anyway. I am not even asking for another such experience, though I would welcome a chance to be in normal relations with you and the others. But again, this is about you and it is about me. What passed between you and me that day was just that you gave me a gift that was without foreknowledge, without discussion, without strings. It was only you being you, and me receiving that almost as if it were water after a long walk in the desert. Some call divine grace “unmerited favor.” It seems as good a way to describe my experience that weekend. At the time, I don’t know what qualified me to get that glimmer of optimism, meaning, hope. The fact is, nothing qualified me. Such is grace.

In this case, this wasn’t a matter of either of us living up to anything. Moments like these happen all the time but not everyone is ready to receive them, and if they are, it is still another stage to actually do something in response. For that moment, I was somehow open to it. For my part, I was struck with a new feeling that for once, life was not about me. I started finding my thoughts leading to what I could do for you and the others. For a while, I was advocating preserving a piano that Sofia (I hardly ever saw grandma’s name spelled out, maybe I got it wrong) had, just in case it might do you or anyone else some good.

A letter like this comes out of the blue. I know that. In other places and times, I’ve had similar letters come out of nowhere. It happens because life doesn’t fit into the containers people like to think it fits into. It is messy. Feelings are notoriously hard to settle down. The heart is an odd thing. It morphs, changes allegiances, develops. It is full of passion for some things and cold to others. My own mom might still tell stories about her driving past my house in San Diego, only to sob like all the painful separation stuff of old was happening at that moment. I never knew of these drive-bys until long after the fact. I think it is safe to say that there is too much pain for all involved. Not everything was painful though…

Your mom probably won’t tell you this but upon the few reunions we’ve had, she’s been quite excited to have me in the picture for a while. I have letters that clearly show this. Letters at the age of 8-9 that were covered with messages of love, hearts, and all that. A letter at the age of 16 suggested we go to her prom together (getting past the brother/sister thing on account of no one really knowing who I was). Some might think that odd. I did too, but was just happy to have my little sister back after some years of not being in each other’s lives. She’s a good person inside. I know it. I met that in her during less complicated times. I mean her no ill will. I never meant to hurt her, though apparently I have. I don’t know what, if anything, will put any of that straight. Less and less do I consider it my work to do. That’s God’s work, if it is going to happen at all. But again, I am addressing you now.

A fervent wish I have is that from your generation onward, things can be different. It was the wish I had after that Thanksgiving of 2000 started to sink in. It still is my wish. I still wish there was a simpler way (and frankly, less sneaky) to openly be in relationship. I don’t know if anyone else will listen or believe me when I do say that the distance I feel is terribly hard to cope with. You at least have a blank slate, and it is that clearer take on life I’d like to look at for a moment.

I know it’s a few years before you’re totally free to make decisions on your behalf. It’s too early to decide who to befriend without parental review and input, and at what price to other relationships in your life. I totally realize that my name is toxic in your setting—with others. But I don’t want for that to be your automatic and default position, and that is why I am writing this.

While in my high school years, I spent years writing in secret to my step mom Eda. We used my pastor’s house or the church as a go-between for the letters. It was because she was a vital person in my life up till about the age of 10 and took an interest in my well being. Once I turned 18 and she returned from Mexico, we reunited and have typically had an in-person relationship. She writes letters just the same as before, but above ground. Just to check in on me and the life I lead. It has been almost 20 years since we reunited in person.

In a similar way, I am daring to write to you for the same reasons. Of course I invite your response. I invite it this week. Next year. Or if it takes till you’re 18 and free to do as you please, then so be it. Maybe longer. The point is that no one around you is prepared to tell you who I am, or what my interests are. What they can tell you is their perspective on my actions from times that were inherently awkward times (reunited with long lost family, facing deaths of family members, new girlfriends, depression, and so on). I won’t say their understanding of things is wrong. It is just woefully incomplete. If you are a person who fancies herself free of mind and heart, the door is open to one day seek me out and find out for yourself. Same for Cameron and the others, if so inclined. Maybe right now doesn’t make any sense or will be outright forbidden. Maybe right now it isn’t welcome of me to make the offer. It’s on your time if you want to pick up the threads and make something of this.

I suppose I want to run down a few things you almost certainly don’t know about me or the world I live in.

First off, my name, Edward, from the Old English means “wealthy (Ed) guardian (ward).” The name “Lucas” fairly certainly is a nod to St. Luke, or more simply, the writer of the Gospel of Luke—quite an excellent book of the Bible, and coincidentally my favorite of the Gospels. Lucas has been shaped by Greek, Spanish, English, and other European cultures and appears in various spellings, but all nations having a traditional tie to Christianity, it most clearly is rooted in “St. Luke.” As far as the wealthy goes, I don’t feel I’ve ever been wealthy in monetary terms. I might have had some money courtesy of family members here (leaving me modest inheritances) but really, I am not rich by any stretch. I am actually not working now. I am a bit more irresponsible than it takes to get rich. But maybe the guardian part applies in some way. But not a guardian with a weapon, stationed outside some place of perceived importance. If anything, I am a guardian of a kind of consciousness, of feelings, of narratives/stories. Writing a letter like this is my guardianship of a kind of inner flame that I know I can’t let go out. This flame has the power to burn or the power to warm. I guess I doggedly believe I can keep at the right distance to remain warm, not flame broiled!

My dog, Buber, is named after a philosopher, Martin Buber, who perhaps is best known by his book I and Thou. I rather pretentiously read it when I was 11th grade but didn’t really get it until I reread it with almost the same group at the age of 31 when it was something that helped articulate a life I already led. The basics of I and Thou is that the purest relationship happens between two beings with no foresight, no planning, and often only a flash of awareness. You might consider it a shot of total divine grace when two beings meet at the level Martin Buber was talking about. My dog is a patient dog with big eyes and a look that just melts the heart. He likes sitting. He has an intense gaze that is spellbinding if you meet it unsuspecting. Animals have a lot to teach us about our inner lives.

My wife Kelli and I have been married for nearly seven years. We have dated since the start of 2002. We met as teens in church youth group in 1990—21 years ago next month. Going back a bit further, her mom says we were in the Sunday School together as kids and that she was my teacher. Even I don’t remember that, though there are pictures to prove it. Kelli and I were married in the same church we attended at various times in life. Once upon a time my own parents were married there and I was baptized there. I was the first 16 year old elected to the board of deacons there and had a lot of great times there when I was just a little older than you. Most recently, Kelli was ordained to the ministry (ceremony held at the same church) after years of slogging it out at school, internships, and all that professional preparation. Now she is Rev. Kelli, and I am perfectly proud of her. She works as a hospice chaplain, but is aiming to be a pastor at a church. But pastor or not, she has been my angel by my side for a lot of years, and is as clear a sign of divine grace as I know. Again, nothing I did qualified me for her sticking by me. Grace, my dear. Grace.

I have since left that church but Kelli retains her membership there. My new church since 2008 has been a great place to grow and contribute. I was on the board of Christian Education for a couple years. I facilitate a young adults group (20-35) and sometimes directly teach bits of it, incorporating bible study when useful, but whatever else is handy for the cause. Other things include house parties here and elsewhere. I participated in a spiritual development group for two years.

Realizing that church can be valuable but not the last word in pursuing spiritual development, last year I attended an intensive ritual week for male initiation. Held in an utterly amazing area in Arizona, the great patterns of life and death were essentially written onto my heart in an indelible way. I wholeheartedly recommend such a thing for my nephews and brothers in their formation as complete men. A related opportunity for being in nature and having an ear open for the divine calling came this year when I went to New Mexico to be on a sheep ranch for a couple weeks, among other places in the state that I was interested in, all of which helped reiterate some great lessons in life in an unforgettable way that can only be lived, not really discussed.

My father and I have not talked in close to five years. I know that he is quite the divisive figure at your households, but I too am hurt by him and find his methods quite unbearable and after a huge amount of hard times with him finally had to peel away to preserve myself and move on. I don’t know if anyone will ever hear that with the fullness of heart that I intend, but that is the case. It puts me and my sisters and mother a little closer together than I think they realize. Kelli and I keep our distance but do concern ourselves with his human wellbeing. I think of him as a hurt person who never learned to do anything with his pain. It clearly does a lot of damage—to others, and to himself.

When I am not sneaking messages to you or other family members via the social media sites, I do productive work for an organization dedicated to helping people practice better economic choices with peaceful sustainability in mind. I do all the web work, record and post the podcasts and periodically write material myself. Another site I am shepherding is one for Kelli and some clergywomen buddies to be a community and educational resource. My own site is intensely personal and has been getting a lot of input lately based on my personal archive which I guess I serve as the guardian for. It is from some of this material that my feeling stirred to write this letter.

One thing that I have to note is that in 1994 my mom wrote me a letter that suggested I go to school to learn journalism, or photojournalism. She thought my writing was good enough to suggest I follow it. That letter, in its simplicity, is one of the purest forms of encouragement from her that I have to point to. It does not contain any of the conflict of other notes or talks. I found it again recently (though I always knew about it), and realized that my work with websites (particularly my own) was my own way of following up on that lead. I still shoot pictures. I write better. I tell a story. Journalism is a form of guardianship, after all. It guards the truth as one knows it.

I do not have a degree but I have attended a number of classes. Most have been basic college things but things that I have a particular interest in: art, music, history, humanities, psychology. For the last several years, despite being interested in working on my degree, I decided it was a better plan to support Kelli through seminary, which took over three years, but her longer education plan has taken about six. I do lament not having the focus to finish a degree in a far more reasonable time, but I have always sought to learn somehow. These days I have been far more moved to work on the part of me that no school can educate: my soul. And in that, everything is my teacher. The success or failure of this letter has the power to teach me. So I can dare to do this.

Katie, my niece, I only hope I can bend your ear toward me and whatever yet-unknown contributions I could make to your life. I know I can’t do it alone. Not by charm. Not by persuasion. Not by much of anything, really. I can really only play so that the ball gets to your court—all I can do it pitch to you. (I suppose I should use softball terms here!) I guess I only hope that you won’t shut me out. Not as an uncle, not as a man, not as a human. I’ve worked on the latter two: trying to learn something about being a man, and especially about being a human. The fact of the matter is that if I am to be an uncle, it will be possible by the interaction with you and your cousins.

I won’t kid you. I live a bit far away in San Diego. I’m not in the neighborhood but I’m still a couple hours away which does constitute a day trip. We don’t really have much in common in terms of interests. I clearly am at a disadvantage when it comes to knowing what you’ve been up to. It looks like you’re doing well in softball and dancing. Probably better than I did in drumming as a kid, and clearly better than I did in my short two game soccer career at the age of eight! Sports aren’t my thing. Looking at life is. Examining relationships, community, love, pain, and all that are what I do. Maybe I’ve been called to it. Maybe I’ve clamored for it. Maybe I’ve been thrust there against my own will. Every one of us eventually gets older and eventually wants to do our part to light the way for the next person who might come stumbling by in the dark of life.

I only want you to know that I write this from a place of vulnerability, and any future letters of this sort will come from that same place. I perfectly well know that rejection and indifference or outright hostility greet my attempts at relationship. I can only tell you this is quite saddening, and does none of us any good. But the thing is, none of us are qualified to be family. We just are family. I know it hasn’t worked out with everyone else. That is why I am turning to you, as one human, one individual to another, to weigh whether that is really the way to go. From my viewpoint, it is a failure. A sad failure. But I was 14 once and people promised me that every decision could be made for the better or for the worse. History between you and me is quite minimal. It could be considered flimsy, or wide open for development. I am just extending a hand, advocating for the latter option.

You can see that this is a big letter. I only write big letters to people I care about. The rest of the world has Twitter to say their small ideas in small ways. I use Twitter too, but never to say anything of lasting value. Since I have tended to move house in recent years, I offer my church as a permanent address where you can ultimately reach me if all else fails. I hope anyone will see that I am not trying to mask my message behind any layers. If people must write their comments of criticism or praise, I welcome them to write to my pastor, Rev. Scott Landis. The church has been there 100 years this fall. I expect they’ll be there when you write.

I just want you to know…

Love,

uncle ed

Sunday
Jun192011

A Facebook Fathers Day

Kelli asked me if I was ready to come out of a four and a half year long silence between me and Willy, the man who used to be called my dad. Or maybe my father. But since one is too cozy for the kind of relationship we have, and the other is too formal for a guy who often acts in ways that a five year old might, I have to stick with Willy. Or "The Old Man." Or maybe like when both parents were giving me hell around 2005-7, the "Y-Unit."

Facebook readers out there can participate if you want. There is a guy on FB called Beemey Smith. It is his bogus account for doing some sneaky stuff. You can report him or block him, or if you think this is important enough, you can forward this to him by FB or even Snail Mail it anonymously to 

William Lucas 
5052 Artesian St. 
San Diego, CA, 92117 

Let your conscience be your guide.

Onward. Kelli dared me to keep to one page. That's a lot for me. A lot in its brevity, I mean! What would I say?

Stop being landlord. Stop being the builder. Stop being right. Stop being condescending to Kelli and blaming our trouble on her. Stop hating my mom for doing what a single mother has to do to take care of her kids in a world stacked against her. Stop obsessing about material shit and finances. Stop belittling me like I was 10 years old. Stop ignoring ideas I have that might actually do some good and make me feel like a partner in all this. Stop living like the whiny little boy you must have been when your dad and mom were willing to do anything to keep you around so they wouldn't lose you too. (Eldest son to drowning at 12, and a stillborn daughter.)

Start finding something to like about Kelli. Start thanking my mom for her share in giving you such a loving, smart, compassionate, articulate, handsome son. Start asking questions about timeless things. Start telling me about hurt and strife and pain like you lived it. Start sharing more. Start opening your house to people. Start trusting people. Start conversations that show you are interested in other people. Start taking accountability for your own misdeeds and shortcomings. Start taking God seriously as if your life was a gift from her.

My public offer for breaking out of nearly five years of estrangement is this: You go to at least one year of family therapy with me. Two might be better. Or more. There is plenty of work to do. You pay. You pay for the best qualified male therapist you can find (since you don't trust women to lead you, but I don't mind you facing that it isn't about what they do, it is about what you do in these situations). You'll pay because this is one way to start putting things back in order after your financial windfall from the house you sold out from under me and Kelli. Money isn't the issue for a guy who cashed in on a $515,000 house near the peak of the market. Will is. When the time is right for you to do this work, I'll know because you'll call me and ask for it. You know how to be in touch. Start with the right words and I might even respond. The right words will probably feel funny and hard to say. They won't roll off your tongue like the old lines did. This is a good thing. Trust it. Go with it.

The moment will come when you realize your method of dividing and conquering has failed. Your inability to relate to people normally has failed. Your loneliness has mounted. Your money and your house are meaningless in the realization that nothing else exists for you. Neither of them love you. You'll find yourself at the end of the line of that kind of life program. You won't know what to do with yourself. You might feel like I did in 2003: suicidal. Rage filled. Lost. Disconnected. Hurt. These are the signs that something good is about to come. On the verge of something big.

You SHOULD mourn the loss of relation. I do so every day. My answer was finally to start to build it up again, but I don't kid myself that I am not the sole architect of any renewal. Kelli has been invaluable in that regard, and even she is compelled by a larger force than she understands. She even asks about you. We talk about you like we care. But we just don't know what to do about you. This is why I am not going to stand for your badmouthing of our relationship, as if she was the wedge between us, as if she ushered in the end of a golden age. She has been the best thing to happen to this family in ages, returning a much needed feminine element to the balance. When you're ready, you can admit that and join the party. It will require getting over a whole host of long-held beliefs about women, about young people, about clergy, about wives. About relationship. Consider it a dare. Consider it the terms that will need to be met before you and I get very far, therapy sessions or none.

I do feel compassion for you and I sort of have an understanding for the situations I know you've been in. But I don't see the wisdom in your methods that so far have demonstrated an uncanny ability to drive people away from you. Or to prune things of beauty from the space you inhabit. It must be a lonely place in there. It's scary to look at from out here. All we have is your actions to judge by. When you eventually come around, we'll know because you'll be a lot more transparent and open. Generosity will flow. A smile won't be crooked. Laughter will be genuine and warm instead of self-conscious and cackling.

Becoming human can be scary. You're 67 now. Give up the old shit that hasn't worked. Give it up! No parents are here for you to either impress or to manipulate. All the shit that drove us apart is not working for you. All the ownership of property and even the selling of property has not helped either of us be part of any family. Maybe that isn't what matters after all. None of that matters. It is all dressing. Now it can be seen for being threadbare and bankrupt. It is not the relationship you need. The security you offered people was a good thing once, a long time ago. Now that same source of security has become a weapon and has scared people out of your life, bringing you to this day. It is a failed plan. So give it up. Give in to being someone who isn't defined by all that. Give in to someone who sees relationship in terms of quality of exchange of good will and time. When you're past doing the hard work you've done all your life, you need something else to get you by.

In the men's work that has done me good, that is the movement from living as your false self to being your true self. True self is creative, not destructive. Giving, not taking. Loving, not loathsome. It is already in you. But the outer layers have to come off. Better they can be peeled like onion skin, and not jackhammered like stone. You can't engineer your way into true self. It happens to people who get out of the way. That hasn't been your method as long as I can assess. You can only want it and be open to where that desire takes you. But almost invariably, you'll only want it on your worst day alive. I can't tell if you've gotten there yet.

The terms are at least a year of family therapy, once or twice a week. You pay. That will be your incentive to show up and stay the whole session. The rest follows.

Happy Father's Day.

ed

Sunday
Jun202010

Fathers Day

Pig,

From over here, I don't know what to make of your delayed response. But I always knew that I make you squirm when I talk about much else than our usual fare. So I'm gonna be a bit more provocative and throw caution to the wind. If I don't hear from you for a few years, I'll understand. Happy fucking fathers day.

Okay, now the shoe is moving to the other foot for you in particular since you're someone's Old Krunk in the making! Already old, but how Krunky will you become? Seriously though, what is gonna be your great advancement over all the frustration and disappointment with your dad and Larry [step dad] that you grew up resenting and dodging? And how or when are you going to make (or better, allow) that happen? Maybe you're already thinking about this, but what I can't tell from such thin communication is what you're doing. What good will that lifetime of lessons of how not to do things ever turn out to be?

You've missed the joy of hanging out with me in a real formative time since about 2003. Maybe I touched on a few things of concern back when we hung out in 2007 but really I think we were on other topics, and even since then, things have continued to evolve for me. My understanding of the world of the future is rather different than most people. I am neither utopian nor am I apocalyptic. But I do come down on the side of a lot of disappointment according to our typical expectations, but one that holds promise that mostly people don't see. I come down on the great need to mend relationships where possible or create new ones that hopefully don't bring the same dynamics that ruined things to begin with. Among the aspects of my concern is how men relate, since that has been a real formative thing for me. But unfortunately, few men our age have much to learn from people of our parents' age, with some exceptions. Obviously, I don't turn to my old man for guidance in life and love. I've had to turn to a few other figures over the last several years to move to another place where he could not possibly lead me.

Now I know a lot of years have passed and you and I have not been in touch, but I've never known you to be a guy to do this kind of work. I've heard you say therapy wasn't for you. That is one way to do things, but clearly not the only way, and I can't tell if you even did it "right" or long enough, or whatever. (Kelli and I went to couples' therapy for over two years, such was our need, and despite both of us going to solo therapy for a couple years parallel to that, I contend all the breakthroughs were in the couples' setting where I was not in control. That said, we were already long time friends and were rather committed or even married, so we were determined to do the really hard work.) I've never known you to take on other types of relations that I've had with mentors or pastors or spiritual directors, or even to really spend time with people who awaken and cultivate that part of yourself.

You'll notice that I don't have kids yet, even at my advancing age (!). Only in the last seven years—since I was about 30—have I felt that I've turned a corner and begun to grow up and ask bigger questions than the shit that I once concerned myself with. And only in the last 2 years has there been a kind of clarity, even in the midst of total family loss, loss of identity as a musician, heartbroken departure from my home church (an extension of my family via my grandmother), long delayed gum surgery, et cetera. But that is how this goes—that self had to all die so another one can be given life. That, in a nutshell is the transformation that Christians talk about as death and resurrection. You may not like that language, but it is addressed in every kind of honest spiritual discipline, so central an experience in human life. Obviously I didn't engineer this whole string of events, but I sort of intuited that I'd need for that to happen before I got on with the kid program. I still prefer the idea of not having kids anyway, for other reasons, but one thing I promised myself after the whole Robin thing was to not get caught in that bind again, but really because I had really no idea who I was or what the fuck I had to offer any kid. There is some focusing, but still no interest in the kid program.

I've had a few nephews that got taken out of the picture when things with my sisters came to naught. Those are kids I won't be able to either teach nor learn from. My family on my mom's side is nearly completely fatherless. My family on my father's side is dead but was clearly too slanted in the heavy handed patriarchal approach to male modeling. I am in the middle, able to witness all their failures. One side has too little male influence and the other too much. One distorts the idea of what it means to be a man by looking at things through the eyes of numerous hurt women who take on bad masculine qualities, and the other is equally warped by the absence of women, or the old style submissiveness of women. Despite all this has to teach me, that setting is not the place for me to ever practice anything I may have learned. So pardon me if I take my mission to you. Even at the distance you keep me, you're still a far more willing conversation partner than all of them, even on this type of stuff.

In a couple months, I will have known Kelli for 20 years, been romantically linked for almost nine, married for six, and in that accomplishment, we both will have eclipsed the durations of all our parents' marriages and relationships. Obviously we didn't just watch our folks grow old and content in happy marriages. We didn't learn any of this type of stuff from them, not by example anyway. I realize I can't expect that someone else asking my thoughts on relationships will have a decade long friendship to launch them or our particular interests or motivations, but in some ways, that didn't do much more than introduce us. We still had to do the hard work in therapy—balancing power and roles, learning compromise and hearing what the other is trying to say. We've incorporated that where useful and shrugged off some that wasn't. But that we have decided that all the dysfunction we were presented was not the lives we wanted to live was a great motivator. When we realized that we had a true ally in each other, then we started moving forward. But that of course, in the last 5 years since our eviction, was not so easy, and it asked a lot of change for us.

The Ed you knew up till 2003 or so was quite an unmotivated, uncertain, unfocused fuck. Asleep. Often, I think of that time and don't know the character involved. My options were to die to flesh and be all done with it (just about went for it one day), or to die to false self and let something else happen in me. It wasn't a "moment" or a conversion; it was a process that still is at work. I'd been prepared to expect something of that sort around 30, but I was dreading it up till then, and have only by degrees left that life behind. A larger life is what I now lead. Better grounded. Awakened. (The Buddha was so named because he was "one who is awake.")

I dunno, Pig. Resist or delay at your own peril. One thing I can say for certain is that I know not one of my family has done any personal work that paves the way for this type of transformation. Little surprise they can't bear the one among them that has made some strides. But for them there is stagnation and spiritual death. Then the big one—feeding the worms. So I guess I am now recruiting the people who, like Marty Eldridge of Rockola said in one of his mentoring moments in 1995, "will be the people who help you live" (instead of the ones who suck all your life energy and "help you to die.") The ones who we deem great in this world are the ones who have undergone some type of internal transformation and come out the other end, renewed, made whole, reconnected somehow to a larger source of life, and thereby made more able to generate life for others. Ideally this is what should happen between generations; but obviously our parents were not conditioned to have that type of growth experience and journey. It is not even their fault; this is the type of learning that has been pushed aside in pursuit of other goals like money, fame, status, and so on. But for those of us who know that and are disgusted with the fruits that those things bring (and I know you are), we need to pick up the threads and try to make something new. We need to claim our brokenness and make it an asset, and help other people recognize the same, so maybe, just maybe, there is a hope that this isn't all just a futile waste of oxygen and carbon molecules. Consider it the recovery of meaning in life. You in?

Just a little thing to think about... Happy Father's Day, Bradder.

Sunday
May282006

Memorial Day

I wrote this on the weekend as a response to a posting on Craig's List. I won't hold it up as my finest work because it really is sarcasm and doesn't really answer the woman's question (I wasn't really attempting to, but such is the nature of the rants and raves section of CL—anonymous polemics), but it does get to the heart of the matter as I see it. There was one response that said it was the finest piece of anti-war writing that s/he has seen. Dunno bout that, but it comes from a real place in me. The initial post goes like so:

I'm embarassed to say, but as an adult woman, I have no idea the different parts of the military. I don't know which group has admirals and which has generals. I can't look at a man in uniform and distinguish if he's a Marine, Navy or Army. I don't know what those Lego-looking buttons mean or their symbolic meaning. I know they aren't Legos, but they are small, colorful and square. I am totally ignorant. No, I am not from San Diego, but I am a Californian. There are no bases where I live or they were closed by the time I was born. I know dates in history of various wars and battles, but have no idea seeing men in uniform which branch they represent in the military.

Well, as a rule of thumb, the guys with lots of "fruit salad" (as I've heard the so-called Legos called) are the ones who send guys off to war because they themselves have aged out of war, and wanted to share the joy of being shot at and maimed with the younger generation. How benevolent. You can be sure it does not work in the opposite direction: the guys with no fruit salad do not send the old men to war.

Sometimes there is no war to actually fight. So then the services need to look busy until elite and powerful men from Ivy League schools and secret societies and corporations get together and decide to make a new war to keep society arranged in just the right pyramidal form. Between wars is a good time to dream up solutions to the last war that was fought (we still invest in massive aircraft carriers and fighter jets but can't seem to keep a Hummer safe in Iraq). All the while, those soldiers not blessed with a chest of fruit salad are trained to protect the pyramid of social structure (that primarily is upon their shoulders), and the best way they can do it is to work for too little money while mostly not being able to go home for the night to their wives, kids, and whatever else they would do if they worked a "regular job" at KFC or Best Buy. The difference between their roles at such jobs and their role in the military is that they serve different components of the corporate-military complex in the nation. The guy or gal at Best Buy has a shitty job that they can quit at will, then can mooch off the public dole as a "loser". The soldier does not, despite having one of the most truly shitty jobs out there. However, if he does suffer with the program, or get sufficiently hacked to pieces, he can leave service as a "hero" while being paid once again, on the public dole. Either way, they are rewarded in a grossly unfair way, and the taxpayer still foots the bill somehow. Some will lose arms or legs, and the guy at Best Buy or Wal Mart will have his soul sucked out of him.

the dead heroes in flag draped coffins that get flown in discreetly in the middle of the night so people can't really keep too close an eye on the price of the war.As a rule, our military has some of the finest young people around, in that they have some physical prowess and some wild belief they are doing something noble. But you see, the guys with lots of fruit salad are ready to throw them away first. They are so-called heroes, as Gore Vidal would say. Or, as Vidal would elaborate, they are heroes because they are dead. If they were alive, their combat pay would be cut, and their medical support would be lacking were they to need it. And need it they do now. See, more and more soldiers are surviving the sorts of injuries that used to kill men in the field. Now we can somehow get these men saved enough so that they can carry on life as partial-humans who are somehow supposed to feel good that suburban moms put a yellow ribbon magnet on their SUVs to show support for the troops. Somehow its okay that while we can save lives, we can actually return more partially functioning men and women back to the civilian life. More amputees, more brain damage, more of everything that robs young people of a quality of life that they would have coming to them were they not ever taken off to war.

inverted color image of a ford expedition parked at the gravesites in Fort Rosecrans. captioned, some don't see the connection.So does it really matter what all the fruit salad means? Does a soldier with half a leg really make a hero? Or just a guy who took the Kool-aid from some higherups on the pyramid who need a war fought by the poor eschelons of society? Oh, sure, liberty, democracy, and freedom, blah, blah, blah. It's all bullshit in this country. Maybe my grandfather fought for such a thing, but even on the eve of his war (WW2), Dalton Trumbo had already called the score—it's all a bunch of abstract nonsense that is used to get people to fight wars that will gain them nothing, and lose them most everything. Dead men don't know freedom, liberty, nor can they vote assholes like Bush (and company) out of office. Dead men don't enjoy the love from their wives and kids. They don't do much for us except give us some sorry sentimentality for their loss, but never enough to drive us to demand that war become a thing of the past, and that the systems of war be dismantled forever.

"Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." —Dwight Eisenhower

Friday
Apr072006

Men

Lee,

I would like it if we could meet up sometime soon, and possibly on some ongoing basis. I'm doing some searching for something. I think I'm needed somehow, for something, but don't really know what just yet. I've been feeding my soul a little better lately, and things are basically good, but I want to have some other guidance toward whatever it is I should be.

The short intro is that I'm really getting fed up with material stuff and want to somehow break my habit, or to put it in its place. I talk about selling all my stuff so I can get clarity, maybe for the first time. Computers, musical gear, all this extra stuff is not what the brochure said it would be. On the other hand, I own it, I can do something with it, but what would I do for it to do the most good?

I'd just like to have some good talks that leave me feeling charged, and I get the sense you are at least one of the people who would have that effect.

I will tell you this. In the past six months, there have been three different occasions that I've found myself in, and each was to commemorate someone's life. The first was a memorial service for one of the elders at our church whom I knew a little when I was younger and less so when I returned in 2002. But his memorial brought him to life for me as many folks got up and told their stories, and the reception continued to bring more stories, and when his children sang a couple songs on that cool and cloudy fall afternoon, they literally sang the sun out from behind the clouds! I kid you not. The songs were "Blue Skies (Nothing But Blue Skies)" and "I Can See Clearly." The sun actually came out for the few minutes they sang these songs and then it retreated afterwards. The next event was your birthday party a few weeks later where some similar magic happened. I was sort of a wallflower that day because I didn't know anyone, but I felt at home, like among people who would be great friends. And again, hearing what your kids had to say to you just hit me where it counts. And most recently, Jerry Lawritson just marked 20 years at our church, and there was a bash just two weeks ago where people I've known and some I did not know got up and put in their reflections on Jerry's ministry and friendship. Again, this whole event just got into me where it counts. This time I was at least able to put my two cents in, and nodded to Jerry's huge role in my life, being the one who talked me down from some ledges.

So I've taken a little joie de vivre from these events—birthday, anniversary, memorial—they all just resonate for me. Though, to be honest, in each case, I wonder about something tremendously personal and how I can confront it when the time comes. In each of these events, a good sized crowd gathered around some men of integrity, passion, and other admirable qualities. And in each case, their kids got up and spoke or otherwise added to the choir of voices that gathered around to help make the day special. And in each case, the nagging voice in my mind provoked me to wonder if such a thing would ever happen not for me and my good, but for my father. My father is a few years shy of 65, probably many more years shy of his memorial service, and the same age as Jerry, sans professional tenure. Men of his age begin to reach the significant milestones of age, profession, character development, etc. I find myself wondering what I can do, or even if I can do anything for my father. He is a man who has done everything within his power to alienate people from him. He has successfully done that to everyone in his life. I was the last one to be chased from a stucco and wood box that he owns. I was the last one to be reduced to a hindrance to his financial life, or a fly in the ointment of his conscience. The man is a product of the same generation as you, but turned out so vastly different. He refutes God. He refutes all the things I want in life, mainly because what I want is a life that he can't weigh, measure, and otherwise quantify. This is more than the 29 year generational gap. This is a paradigm gap between he and I. I've already been married longer than he was to my mother (and I haven't been married two years yet). I've made some progress to being unlike him, and still have more to do. But what concerns me is how to separate from him without totally abandoning him, which would seem to be an unChristian thing to do. Still, I can barely tolerate five minutes of talk with him, even months apart. His mind is one of materialism, quantification, sarcasm, inflated ego, selfishness, and a host of other things that are generally dehumanizing, at least to me. I'm sure he has other qualities that maybe are so dormant as to appear dead, but they hardly register anymore and who knows what it would take to awaken them. I was thinking the awful conflict we had last summer would have jostled something. Nope, he hunkered down.

I find myself pondering what sort of 65th birthday he'd have if I didn't make any effort. Would it be him, the TV, and a day spent in the garage making some recycled engine cough and sputter? Who would fill a room to celebrate him, whether he was alive and well, or a memory? I don't think he has quite the life giving presence that would invoke such a response. I would feel bad totally abandoning him, but as such, I know its just a leech on my energy to try to maintain much with him. Even a small batch of real honest and heartfelt letters to him have seemingly disregarded. He says he didn't even read the most essential piece I wrote to him. Or maybe he was lying to avoid facing truth that I was born to him, I am not of him.

Anyhow, this is something that resonates in me now, as you see. There are other things that I'd love to just explore with you. I've sort of shelved my peak oil awareness effort for now while I indulge life this way. Peak oil is a crisis to be dealt with, sure, but right now, I am getting off on the "why" to deal with it. If you can find some time, I would be greatly appreciative. The quieter the better. I have rather large chunks of the next two weeks off from work.

I hope you are well.

Shalom,

ed

Friday
Nov252005

Letter to MoveOn.org

I think it is time that MoveOn finally be the hero in the progressive movement that picks up the matter of Peak Oil and what its effects on our oil dependent society really will be, unflattering as they might be. Can we finally be straight with ourselves that our relationship to energy use is not unlike a heroin addict and his junk, and that we are doing ever more desperate things to stave off the obvious?

We need to break the addiction before it finally kills us.

What we've been seeing here in America is the desperate attempts to lie to ourselves despite so much evidence that the time has come to give it a rest. If you don't think our war and 9/11 are symptoms of all this, it's time to wake up. There has been plenty of pussyfooting around on blood-for-oil issue. Can we finally admit that Peak Oil is here whether we like it or not, and that the only way to move on is to be straight with ourselves? Peak Oil is not a partisan issue; it's just that the Dems and progressives are closer to confessing the truth than the other side, but still hold back.

There are a few congressmen who are quietly meeting to discuss this stuff. It's a start. But it's too little too late. Yesterday (Thanksgiving) brought one of the first dates offered as an oil peak date. This is real, folks. It is now. We need to stop the silly battles that the other side picks. Forget the guns, God, and gay battles. They are just distractions to keep you and me from being able to get Peak Oil on the table for discussion. It's the only topic that truly matters, and it's already at work in our world, and America has a lot to lose by not understanding it. The current administration doesn't want the cat out of the bag.

We need a leadership who can tell it to us straight, and who can lead Americans to a life with less overall consumption, while still retaining our political ideals we all cherish.

Monday
Jun062005

Online Chatter

I refuse to entertain Creationists who deny evolution when it seems that people of this mind also tend to be the ones who shrug their shoulders at the degredation of the world by leaps and bounds.

Sorry, but

Preach Creation,
Administer Destruction

is not a theology worth getting behind. If in fact God wants to ever destroy the world, that is God’s business, not ours. And since we don’t operate on God’s clock, we have no business being such idiots about letting the earth go to its grave. One day people will appreciate this, but by then it will be wayyytoofuckinglate.

The thing is, science and religion cover two wholly different things. Science is about measuring thing, religion about inspiring people to be better people through love and action to better the world and human relations, and does not really concern itself in precise measurements because the wisdom is meant to be timeless, on the whole. I just don’t get why people think it's an issue. I know a tremendously brilliant few scientists who are also very dedicated to either their Christian and/or Urantia Book inspired beliefs. I’m talking of one guy who is at the level of trying to debunk and develop upon Einstein. High caliber stuff here. He is very dedicated to the religious and mystical element of his life, as was Einstein himself. I don’t see what part of seeking to understand the universe and all its workings makes a person love God any less. This man I am speaking of walks the walk too as a Christian, doing the good things that really constitute the essentials of the faith. That is a whole lot better sounding to me than someone who can preach Creationism and then go cheat on his wife or be blind enough to add to the environmental destruction around us.

If you are going to preach that God’s earth is a centerpiece of God’s work, then by God, I hope preservation of that world is a part of your plan, else you don’t have a leg to stand on. You can’t invoke God’s greatness as creator and humanity being formed in God’s likeness and then go out and destroy it too, even from negligence and ignorance. The creationists should be the ones out there with the signs demanding environmental protection. Arguments that God has a plan for wiping out the world again are immaterial, and do not let us off the hook for loving the planet and its systems, and science provides one way to peek into how it all works and deepen the experience by showing how magnificently it does work, and that no matter how it came to be, it's our home now, and we really should stop shitting in our bed.

Monday
Apr252005

Letter To Barbara Boxer

The following was a response to an email sent out by our senator regarding the matter of commuters in California spending something like ten days of their lives each year sitting in commuter traffic. For my impassioned argument, I got a form letter a few weeks later, no doubt generated by a keyword and database driven autoresponder.

Livin' the good life in suburbiaDear Senator,

I appreciate your concern for how much time commuters spend in traffic, and applaud the incentive to make something work. However, I positively do not expect any improvement if we use the same methods for addressing the problem as we have used for the last 50 years. Namely, the idea of using more freeway construction to supposedly alleviate congestion is ludicrous. It isn't your idea, and I don't mean to slight your efforts, but seriously, when did adding any freeways or other significantly large roads ever alleviate the traffic problem for more than a few days or weeks?

The problem, as I see it, lies in the fact that our entire manmade landscape is constructed so as to force us to be dependent on cars. This is the central disaster from which all others spring. I live in San Diego and frankly there isn't much that can be done that doesn't demand the use of cars. I know that this was an intentional arrangement that was created by automotive and oil industries in the post war period. At the same time, public light rail was abolished in most places. The suburban scheme is a disaster, because of the way it makes human life unlivable unless somehow there is a car involved, and then again, having a car isn't necessarily the ticket to living a satisfying human life, as your email confesses.

So when will we talk not only about making a too-little-too-late rail and bus solution work, but also about forcing development patterns that concentrate on high density, mixed use designs? We need to rebuild our man made landscape to honor the lives of humans and not those of cars. Cars are not going to be with us a lot longer, given the state of global oil supplies going down with the coming of the global oil peak. We should stop catering to cars as the centerpieces of our designs, and get back to making spaces that are livable without the dependence on cars. We need a revolution in our habits. We need the mindset of the New Urbanists to take over in our civic design and a total rethinking of most of our zoning laws. The less people need to be segregated from their jobs, their churches, friends, and other amenities and human relations, the better our lives can be, and we can get back far more than the ten days we now spend sitting in traffic. We need to consult the classic living spaces of older US cities, and most of Europe's living spaces. We need to stop the forced separation of the places and institutions that make our lives what they are. We need to make our cities and towns into places that serve our needs and are worth caring about. So many of our problems today can be traced to prioritizing the automobile over the human. This must stop. Can you help make this reality?

Thank you.