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Entries in mixed up world (36)

Tuesday
Jan032012

Blogging in 2012

I'm looking at my calendar of 2012 and anticipating that I could blog myself silly this year, if I were only to retrace my steps of either of the years of 2007, 2002, 1997, 1992, and perhaps even 1987. All those years of course are moving back in fives, and as I consider them, they all have some juicy stuff to ponder and to revisit here. Even taking just two of those years is enough to bite off and try to chew; the year 2002 is the opening year of life with Kelli, but 1992—20 years ago now—was filled with various coming-of-age moments that just beg for some consideration now. 

In 2011 I blogged a lot about stuff happening in 1991 and 2001, each of those being years with a lot of pivotal stuff happening. I realize I didn't even write about one major piece of that year: my trip to Europe. I've written around it in other posts, but just about the time I would have written something, or maybe even transcribed my journal of the trip, I was really intimidated at it. My writing from that period, and on that particular trip, was insanely immature and distracted and therefore nearly impossible to imagine presenting here. So it sat and other things got worked on. Scanning and presenting some long-hidden documents that help illustrate some of the stories is very time consuming, but it did enrich the entries in some places. Even scanning choice items is rather labor intensive and really kind of ridiculous considering no one reads this blog anyway, but I've longed for an online scrapbook and now have done a lot to get the whole story out the best I can, considering I don't live in a vacuum.

So what might you see this year as those key years' anniversaries pile up this year? It could all of this and more, or maybe just a few highlights. I just don't know how I'll feel as a date comes around and begs of me a bit of my time to mull over.

1987

  • A bit far back but I'd like to assess that year as a year when the first major period of relations with my mom and family there was finally sent its first shocks and the distance started for the first time. Things did carry on into 1988, but the first cracks in the wall for me came in 1987.
  • Getting orthodontic braces was linked to the mom story in a pivotal instance, but otherwise was cause for teen confusion and identity issues. A talk with my pastor one day before that started, and weeks before starting 9th grade is also a major thing that shaped me for years to come.

1992

  • This one is pretty rich. It's the first full year after high school. Lots of emptiness and alienation as I tried to find out who I was after high school and in the midst of two major friends being out of my life. Even though Nirvana and Seattle was exploding musically, I was hunkering down into Genesis and Dire Straits, unable to really be part of my peer group at the same time as a whole new scene developed around me.
  • I reconnected with my step mom Eda after all the years since she left in mid 1983. We'd been writing for some years prior to our in-person reunion in January but this was the start of a new era, for better or for worse. In a lot of ways, the modifier word, "step-" is a lame thing to have to add to her title since in a lot of ways she did fill the role of mom better for me than my own mom has, even as she's been given her chances over the years.
  • Subway was my job and I was as close as I'd ever come to being a "company man." After a couple months of that, the store was sold to some really uptight New Yorkers who really spoiled things when they fired me and got legal on me.
  • Subway buddy Matt Zuniga and I were drummers on the run, or as we called ourselves for a few months, Drummers With Attitudes (original, eh?) and later on, Rhythmic Catharsis. DWA/RC was essentially my entry into being a "recording artist" and self publisher. In some ways, the drum-vocal-noise "music" was just secondary to the chance to do ridiculously antisocial and annoyingly self promotional nonsense. 
  • First girlfriend Melissa and the resulting carnal knowledge. And some insanely naive and embarrassing writings that accompanied that. 
  • I took my second trip to Germany during the summer and that was the fulfillment of a year's hopes and anticipation. Six weeks out of the nation on my own initiative was a huge step. Seeing my friend Stephan Rau in Germany was a vastly better closure to the time we enjoyed as friends in 1990-91 at school and for the few days I saw him in Germany just a month after graduation in 1991. 
  • Joblessness after the Subway era was frustrating to start with and was prolonged by the trip to Germany, and then prolonged more by starting another year at Mesa College while being rather distracted by my new girlfriend. Getting a job at Jack In The Box was hardly the answer to my prayers, but it sort of was.
  • Even my 16 year old girlfriend and her undying puppy love for me was no match for my first "adult" depressive episode that arose in the aftermath of my trip, knowing that what had held me together for a year—working like mad at Subway and putting up with the indignities there, and many indignities and frustrations that came from the general picture of being thrown into a new world that year. My first suicidal ideations came as a young 19 year old. Oddly, getting a job at Jack's helped me bail the water some at just the right moment. 
  • Chalk that up to one more great talk with my pastor Jerry and youth pastor Judy, who had both been instrumental in prior years.

1997

  • The year kicked off with a breakup from Robin after nearly two and a half years. It felt like freedom even though I was a wreck inside and didn't realize it.
  • Kind of related to that, I also made a decision to avoid television and have generally kept true to that ever since, at least as far as owning one, paying for service, or scheduling my life in accordance with TV schedules.
  • The first full year out of my childhood home. I lived for the first time with total strangers. That was something that was clear, but in some ways, seeing what happened in the year or so after my grandfather died led me to see a side of my family in a way that made them seem like total strangers.
  • Coming off the tour with Mike Keneally in late December 1996, I was energized to play music, record like mad, and to trust my creative instinct. I recorded Hog Heaven early on and then redid parts of it for my first CD release using my new VS-880 recorder, which really ushered in the glory days of my recording era.
  • The Shelby matter was brought back (after a two and a half year silence) by a total chance meeting that sometimes I wish never happened, but at the time was the stuff of miracle.
  • Laboring at Pizza Hut was the first lucrative job I had. It was able to give me some idea that I could live on my own (with roommates, really) but I knew I was kidding myself that I could do it for long. Another job was more absurdly mismatched. At 24, I was rather in need of direction and was years from such a thing.

2002

  • Kelli and I got together. Duh! After five years of the single life and all the strife that went into that, Kelli and I got together in a way that surpasses Lennon and McCartney, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Peas and Carrots, or even peanut butter and chocolate!
  • Graduated from Art Institute of California with almost no skills and even less confidence. And with a new debt burden that irritates the fuck out of me even today, even as I paid it off five years ago or more.
  • I faced weak work prospects for much of the year, but was able to find that the depressed state of things in the audio world gave me time to explore my new relationship as something that gave me life and opened my eyes to a dimension of wonder again in a way that nothing else had. 
  • Work did open up at a senior center where Kelli worked. Lame pay, but it was a great lesson in regaining some humanity and compassion that a lot of years had diminished. It was a very humble position but a transformative one where it's clear God went to work on me.
  • Musically I was able to return to my project of trying to play within a band context. There was some neat stuff happening that year even as it started to seem like it was not the same me at work in that music and studio environment, which had peaked and started into a decline just as the year started off.
  • I also was in the first year of using a computer of my own, and was experiencing the technical and relationship difficulties that went with that: in some cases, losing a lot of data and in other cases, creating cyber-carnage wherever I went, it seemed.
  • TAPKAE.com came online with its first full site dedicated mainly to my musical identity in support of Receiving. It was self indulgent but in a real self indulgent way. I say that knowing this present site is rather much about me, but does that with a different aim than I had in 2002.

2007

  • Another year, another crappy job to deal with. This time I was trying to hold the fort for as long as possible while Kelli was at school. For my trouble, I got about six and a half months' worth of value from that job.
  • We set up our first garden at our new place—the third place we lived in less than two years. The garden was good for soothing our souls and learning lessons that can't be taught any other way.
  • Buber the Dog! Buber too continues to be one my one of my sprititual teachers. 
  • A good thing he was because I made a move I never really thought I'd have to make. One I didn't want to make. I left my church, and in doing so, it felt like even another family member was taken from me. It took eight months before I went to church again, and then that was at another church that had a transitional role before I got into the one I am at now, but with new ideas of what I needed from church, and how I might situate myself in that world again, according to who I am, and not according to who my family member was, or even that my wife is a clergyperson.
  • Dental hell. All the years of avoidance came down on me finally as I had to meet the enemy. Scaling. Gum surgery. Bone reshaping. It wasn't fun. But it was sort of theologically provocative as I began to recognize the resurrection after the death. God can teach that in any old way. I learned it in part from having to sit in the dental chair with my heart beating out of my chest.

So you see? I could spend some time unpacking all that and more. I reckon it's not really productive to live in the past, but from where I am at, it is productive to remind me of what it has to teach me. And, since my art is essentially the life I lead, it helps to know what has worked or felt good versus what has not worked or that has left me at odds with myself. No one else seems to keep this documentary of who I am, what has happened to me, or what I think of it all. What I've enjoyed seeing in the last year since the new TAPKAE.com (Squarespace era) has exploded into a completeness never before seen at this domain, has been to gather the scattered pieces together and enjoy the mosaic of it all. Some is nice fabric; some is shattered glass; some is mangled metal or broken drumsticks or guitar strings. In some ways, I consider this the long form of my epitaph. Maybe one day someone will be tasked with reading all this and distilling one snappy line suitable for engraving into rock.

Tuesday
Apr122011

More Afternoon In America Pix

I just want to call attention to one of the galleries here on TAPKAE.com. I call it Afternoon In America. This gallery has a running commentary on life in this once-great nation. All my galleries have generous captions and in some cases, captions are different than the posts where some of these images first appear. The galleries are sort of blogs unto themselves, so be sure to check them out. Don't miss the ones that are music related and fall under the Music and Studio menu.

Here are a few of the newly posted images that have gathered up in recent months. See more (with captions and commentary, all in a spiffy lightbox presentation) at Afternoon In America.

Monday
Oct122009

Enlightenmental Illness

Oh wonder, wherefore?
Enlightenmental illness!

Monday
Oct122009

Birthday Haiku

Thirty six years old
Cursing my inheritance
Travel light, seeker!

Oh Wonder, where art?
Enlightenmental illness?
Reach inside for God!

The first shall be last
And the last shall be the first
He saw the future

Boys can kill by law,
Girls legally women
Kid's play, far removed

Friday
Jul312009

Beer Summit

I'm not so sure I wasn't invited to the Beer Summit yesterday. I have to be frank; I would have sided with the professor and his charges of overbearing cop authority. For you see, such an instance was sort of my story about this time 12 years ago in my old apartment complex where apparently some dude was flashing his parts before the unsuspecting tenants. Somehow, at the very same time as there were some cops in the neigborhood, I was mistaken briefly for the guy and was questioned for over half an hour by the curb, totally messing up my plans for the evening. Here is a slightly embellished version of the story as presented by Bryan Beller, Mike Keneally's bass player, who was told it by Toss Panos, Mike Keneally's drummer (both of whom I toured with in 1996). Toss, despite being a supporting character in the drama, was sort of an unreliable witness due to his amazing consumption of Greek ouzo liquor that night. They both had it out for me and my foibles, as both treated me like the pesky little brother on tour. So this story was ripe for exaggeration and some condescension. Read it and you might imagine how I'd feel more like Professor Gates than the officer... Here is the 1997 story on BryanBeller.com, quoted here since it is taken from a really long blog of Bryan's.

And that brings us to the story I know you've all been waiting for... the tale of Toss Panos and Ed Lucas out on the town in San Diego. Boy, is this a good one.

Apparently Toss had plans to visit his family down in San Diego for a weekend in early June. It was the Friday of this particular weekend, and Toss was just about to head out the door when the phone rang. It was our old friend Ed, a San Diego resident. Ed wanted to know when Mr. Panos would next be down San Diego way, and Toss gave him the standard "funny you should ask" response. It's not like Toss and Ed hang out every day (an arrangement that doesn't seem to bother Toss that much—I can't speak for Ed), but Toss was in a rush and basically said "what the fuck" and gave Ed directions to a place that he'd be hanging out with a couple of family members as well as Peter Schlacher, the European tour promoter for Waternoise (Toss' jazz project). Toss figured that Ed wouldn't show. He figured wrong.

By the time Ed showed up, Toss and friends/family had already consumed mass quantities of Ouzo, a particularly devastating brand of Greek liquor. Ed doesn't drink, and so he was apparently happy enough simply to be in the company of some very inebriated Greeks, plus one inebriated German (Peter Schlacher's nationality). Party on, dudes.

Toss, Ed and Peter then split from the family Panos and headed over to the Catamaran to take in a performance by The Steely Damned, a local band that covers the music of you-know-who (and a damned good job they do of it). One hour and many more drinks for Peter and Toss later, it became obvious that Ed was the only one in any condition to drive. And if you remember The Alternate Reality (and Ed's driving habits), then you're well aware that saying "Ed was the safest driver available" is saying something indeed. [This telling flatters Toss, who was driving his own car separate from me.]

After leaving the Catamaran, the next agreed upon destination was a strip club. This brought our drunken heroes to a somewhat seedy part of town [my place in Clairemont, later to be found out as a place where one of the 9/11 terrorists did his flight training while just two miles from Montgomery Field]. Ed suddenly turned right into a dark street and declared, "Hey you guys, I'm gonna go change my shirt." Ed then ran out of the car and up into his (apparent) dwelling, leaving the car parked awkwardly in the middle of the street [my car was in my driveway, a tad sloppy, but not in the street]. Toss, realizing that the car was in a bad spot [his car, out in the middle of the street], was forced to jump into the driver's seat and get the car turned around and parked properly. As Toss performed some kind of illegal maneuver to get the car pointed in the right direction, a cop car came up from behind them, lights flashing and sirens wailing [yes lights but no sirens]. Toss stopped. The cop got out of the car and asked, "What are you guys doing here?" It was a D.U.I. waiting to happen. But wait—it gets better.

Toss tried to explain to the nice officer (without breathing in his general direction) that they were merely waiting for a friend who went upstairs to "go change his shirt". The cop, understandably, was skeptical. He asked what their "friend" looked like. Peter replied, "Well, he's kind of big, with glasses and a military haircut. "Really?" the cop answered curiously. All of a sudden, down came Ed with his fresh shirt on. "What's going on?" he asked. The cop scowled. "Come here," he said to Ed. The next thing Ed knew, he was in handcuffs and in the back of the cop car [not really but I was held near the car across the street from my place, and questioned at length]. Two other cop cars arrived in a matter of minutes. Toss and Peter were held there for more than 30 minutes before the cops finally explained why Ed was being detained.

It seems that in that section of San Diego, there had been reports of a man matching Ed's description who was running around flashing little kids and masturbating in front of them for their viewing pleasure [one woman seemed to have complained of some dude exposing himself, and I think I know who these two were]. Toss and Peter meekly tried to explain that, although Ed was not the brightest bulb in the light store, he certainly wasn't capable of such a heinous act. The cops held them anyway.

Finally, one hour after Ed went to go change his shirt, the cops let Peter and Toss go about their business. When the two of them left, Ed was still in the back of the cop car in handcuffs [not cuffed, but those bastards did get to leave. It spoiled my evening]. Was it possible that Ed could have been The San Diego Stroker? Personally I doubt it, but you never know. None of us have heard from him since.

It's always a family affair in The Life Of Bryan, isn't it? As I said earlier, it's been a bit boring 'round these parts, so I figured I could do worse than tell you that little story.

Monday
Jun232008

What Happened?

It has been almost a week since the world was supposed to end, and I still have to go to work today. I guess those religious nutjobs were wrong again!

Tuesday
Mar132007

Jesus Camp

the apocalypse now poster. a custom thing with intense explosive imagery and mangled shapes seemingly stemming from a nuclear explosion. all with the dorky face of George W. Bush looking like he just pressed the red button in a bunker somewhere.Kelli and I just watched this movie and thought it was pretty much scarier than anything Hollywood can come up with, particularly with its implications for the future of our nation. Consolation comes in the form of my reading of American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips, who said that no European empire of the last 500 years or so has successfully withstood the religio-nationalistic partnership of church and state (speaking of the experience of the Dutch, Spanish, and British) without collapsing, followed by the church hemorrhaging membership because of all the broken promises of "God on our side" sorts of sentiments. It is hard to get enthusiastic about the solution to all our problems because Phillips also speaks of the other death knells of failing and failed empires: movement from a manufacturing economy into one built on increasingly abstract financial manipulations; the inability of an empire built on one energy source to move successfully to another energy source and carry on as before, and finally, the religious and nationalistic fervor mentioned above.

So, here we are today in America. The housing bubble is blowing out partially because it made loans to people who have no business getting them; we have an economy that is founded more and more on information and service (on the whole, not making anything of real worth); we have peak oil and no real prospects for an alternative to oil, but war mongering to capture access to the remaining supplies is now our primary national export product; and then, the utter nutjobbery of what this film portrays. Raising kids to believe in creationism at the expense of scientific education, to idolize George Bush and his project of deconstructing the classic liberal (in the true sense of the word—free minded) American beliefs and progressive policies that helped more people enjoy liberty, at least socially. This generation of kids and others of that mind will be the ones who strip America of its essence and replace it with reckless and narrow minded policies meant to exclude and limit. I agree with Bill Moyers that it wouldn't be so scary if they were the fringe, but they have growing power behind their mission to "claim back America for Jesus", and are driven to gain actual political power, media power, cultural sway. How can you argue that the world should be preserved when they think they are doing right by Jesus, driving the world to chaos so that the end times will be put into motion? I find it disgusting. Phillips' book reminds us that religion never had the power it once had in Holland after that empire collapsed, or after the Spanish Inquisition, or after Britain finally retreated from its claim of being the empire over which the sun never set. I guess we can hope that this religious radicalism will be brought to an end and put in its context. The problem with wishing for such a thing is that it will mean the end of the nation as we know it. But maybe that is just growing up.

Wednesday
May172006

The Gamble—Losing To Win

Last weekend I did a gig as monitor mixer for a Vietnamese concert out at Barona Casino east of San Diego. The nature of the event was so that the casino could woo some Vietnamese high rollers into the casino, and to urge them to bring their friends. I'm told this sort of thing happens a lot—casinos will butter anyone up to get them to come play. Gotcha. I just never found it myself, being staunchly anti-gambling. Anyhow, here are some reflections.

As you approach Barona, after a few miles driving in the mountainous region that surrounds the valley, you see the casino in all its glory. In the valley, it appears just outsized and huge, almost like a cartoon image drawn into a picture. All around its periphery is a white ranch fence, gleamingly pure. The campus is sprawling—it has a hotel which grabs your eye first, and a casino, and a convention center, as well as several outbuildings. And the parking garage? Oh, the parking garage—bound to be nearly useless within a few years as people lose their love of driving due to skyrocketing gas prices, and furthermore as they lose any money they would have to gamble, unless of course, they gambled with more determination because its their last hope for getting something for nothing in America! At any rate, the garage is huge, maybe five levels tall, and could not be more out of place in that valley.

I have long joked that the wealth of the white man was once the wealth of the Indian (native American, of course), and now the greed of the white man, once the destroyer of the Indian, will now be the Indian's best hope for restoring any of their previous prestige and control over the affairs of this land. Yup, Barona is one instrument of such a transfer of wealth back to the Indian population. But the Indian tribes have to adopt the European-modeled ways. And it appears that some of them put them at cross-odds with their own history!

Back to the fence. First off, wasn't it the natives that had no idea of enclosure of the commons? The land could not be owned, only revered and shared? Figure A here in my commentary is this: the fence surely is a white person's creation, especially this design—post after post, with 3 levels of horizontal slats ringing the whole place! And, to deepen the irony, the fence itself is made of plastic! And, going even further, on the inside of the white fence is a barbed wire fence! Two fences to protect the private property of the native American tribe? Whatever happened to the commons?

Going inside, into the casino and further into the buffet, rather hungry after the hours of work on each night, I got another idea of how the Indian adopted the white man just enough to separate him from his money, but in doing so sold out his own cultural values again. In the buffet restaurant, there are all sorts of old timey signs and advertisements that pretty much date from about 1880-1920 or so—the heyday of Americans closing the gap between the coasts, expanding west and pressing the natives out of the land, giving them these little postage stamp sized reservations, such as Barona has now. All these ads glorify the white man's work in agriculture, domestic conveniences, automobiles, and other things that were the hallmark of the time. They had farm and forestry implements hung on the wall (a huge two man saw for cutting down old growth forests), and more such instances which declared the white man's arrival on Indian land, and the submission that resulted. And, the buffet itself is contrary to the communal and conservative (in the real sense of the word—to ensure sustainability) ethic that governed life before the white men arrived—eat as much as possible until you explode and don't worry about how it will be provided in the future. Just think about how much energy and land it takes to ensure that just one casino can keep providing all-you-can-eat food for thousands of people each day. It's hardly the economics of "enough" that indigenous people have to live by when their resources are few and dear. It doesn't even retain an echo of the ethic of concern for how future generations would live.

So the Indian tribes now adopt the white man's corporate style of enclosing property, declaring it as owned and worthy of fences, security cameras and guards. They buy machines from the white men so that they might let the white men's greed fuel their attempts to preserve their culture. They adopt parking garages with no aesthetic appeal and let them be placed next to buildings that clearly come from the design sensibilities of the white man. They allow themselves to forget the sustainable ethic by having enough food to feed already fat people, and yet there is so much that gets thrown away still. They sacrificed their reverence for the natural world by laying down acres of asphalt to park on and widening roads to drive on.

Who then is really making the ultimate gamble? The white men who are going on as being white men, with their rampant lust for cheap gains? Or the natives who had to play by the white man's rules, even when they did so to ostensibly do damage control to limit the earlier damage of centuries past? What will become of the natives when their best hope for being autonomous and culturally relevant again means they must play by the white man's rules, and to be more cutthroat while doing so? And then of course, what is their economy going to amount to when their land has been paved over, their people trained in the ways of white economics models, and then the corporate/industrialized white world finally sputters out due to the centuries of greed and exploitation that will finally bring everyone down with the decline of reliable energy and resources? Unless the Indian populations are bracing for the fall of the economic infrastructure of the white man's world, they are in the same boat! Right now, they depend on greed for their economic power. Same as the white man. It reminds me of the end of Animal Farm when the pigs and the humans could not be told from one another because the pigs learned how to walk on two legs, like humans, once their sworn enemies, a far cry from when the motto of the farm was "four legs good, two legs bad!!!"

Sunday
Jan012006

2005—Weaving A Fabric

There is so much I want to say about 2005.

It could be the misery of the ordeal of moving from a place I called home. It could be activist/educator stance I took regarding energy related matters and a culture of materialism. It could be that Glenn and I connected musically, and that he became a new best friend. It could be that I turned 32. It could be that even before my first anniversary, my marriage seemed ready to fall apart. It could be that I rejoined the world of event production. It could be that I lost my studio of seven years. It could be that I regularly went to counseling sessions for self and couple. It could be that I drove up to northern California twice in two weeks. It could be that I was laid off from my favorite job and spent six months unemployed. It could be that I didn't wash my truck once in the calendar year of 2005. It could be that I went to Florida for Christmas.

It could be a lot of things because a lot of things happened to me. But what really resonated for me across all this and more is that I have come to know love more and more, and have come to find I really like the things that can't be weighed, measured, or counted. I've been utterly savoring being married. I love my dear wife like nothing before. She keeps astounding me in ways I hardly imagined possible. But so does our relationship, because for our relationship to amaze me as much as it does means that maybe I have something to do with it, and frankly, it feels good that maybe I've contributed something.

Kelli has always been a light in the window for me. My return to church activities after about a decade off in my personal wilderness fell about two weeks after we started up the relationship we now have, and that date began in earnest on the first of January, 2002—exactly four years ago now. But for years before that, she had been one of a few people who was there to remind me that the church existed and that I would be welcome when it was time to come around. So, my relationship with Kelli and my relationship with my church is really intertwined. They feed off each other. Both of us fill different roles within the church. This year, she started seminary after almost 20 years of pondering such a move. Her grandfather was a minister in our denomination, and she drew a lot of inspiration from him early on. Right now, just standing in her shadow as she goes to seminary is amazing to me. Part of it is just that she is in her Masters program, but by far it is so much more inspiring that she is on her way to self actualization in a very noble field, and one which she has envisioned herself in for more than half her life.

But it's more than that. For me, being in her "zone" of influence, it's really amazing to absorb a lot of things from her studies, either as I am one of her proofreaders or that we just hunger for a lot of the same things and find ourselves in fabulous discussions about a great range of topics, theological and not. Just yesterday and today we sat and watched DVDs that just struck to the core of what we both want to be a part of. We watched films on The Underground Railroad and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We also watched one on Miguel Pinero. The common theme really was something that we find ever more irresistable: redemptive action in a complicated and harsh world. The Underground Railroad and the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer of course are almost the same: struggles to do justice at any and all costs because justice is just what needs to be done. The Pinero story is one of defying pain and injustice and maintaining a sense of self in the hardest times, and the redemptive quality of art to lift the soul out of prison, either the concrete one or the abstract ones.

Kelli and I are fueling up on the start of a journey. We are filling up our reserves with all manner of stories of people who stand in defiance of injustice so that dignity and humanity can reenter the world. They take all forms and come from all walks of life. In fact, our role models come almost exponentially to us; we follow a few we know of and find more, which leads to many more. Bonhoeffer is one tremendous model. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are huge. But the master is by far Jesus. The more I find out about him, the more amazed I am at what a radical he was, and how necessary it is for him to haunt modern hearts. Bonhoeffer called him the "man for others" and established that Christ was really community itself. And, in this fractured world, I find it hard to believe that we can fix the mess with anything less.

It dovetails nicely with my peak oil and consumerism concerns. Really. I came a long way in settling my heart about the traumatic future peak oil will probably bring us when I realized that community relations are what will be the answer if one exists at all. Not divisiveness. Not more individualism. Not escaping to the country to live as hermits with a stockpile and a 12-guage. No, the secret to the worst problems that could ever come is in community. And Jesus exemplifies the notion. Bonhoeffer was a modern echo of that sentiment. Peak oil activist (and my hero) Richard Heinberg provides an even more modern refrain of that theme. As I flew to Florida for my Christmas holiday, I read Joseph Campbell's interview with Bill Moyers The Power of Myth and had this reinforced still more. Humanity knows better than to split itself off from itself—we've failed miserably when we've done so. The themes in our various mythologies all speak to the benefits of community, self-restraint, and giving. These notions span clear across eons of human history, but we still insist on trying to live outside these parameters, only to find their truth magnified in our failures.

It's said that marriage is the cornerstone of society, and I am starting to know what it all means in a very personal way. I find that marriage is just that. I come from a small family that fell apart in a big way such that I feel little or no relation to anyone to whom I am related by blood. Not one of my blood relatives attended my wedding. I've known pain. I've been suicidal. I've feared. I've hated. I've tried to solve problems by creating more. I've lied. I've stolen. I've lived out of balance. I've tried to justify all this, rather erroneously. I've missed the mark. In religious language, missing the mark is known as sinning—in fact, that is what it really means. Fine, then I've done that. But my relationship with Kelli is one that has provided me with a chance to be redeemed, and to work to build community in its smallest unit: between two people. Kelli has been a catalyst for growth and redemption for almost all of the time I've known her, which this year will be 16 years, and as I said, four years in our current relationship. From the practice I get in relating to another human being, accepting failure on both our parts, and revelling in success, it's the stuff that prepares us to take that sort of thing to the world. We consider the Bonhoeffers, Gandhis, Tubmans, Kings, and others of their sort as saints and prophets who lead the way for what will eventually be our world to make better in any way we can. Kelli will find her way in ministry as an ordained minister one day; I find that my work to change minds about consumerism and to prescribe community effort in the face of our energy crisis in the making is where I must be right now. Those are our lofty big goals, but we also try to do the smaller things that matter as often as we can, given that we must still struggle to make a living, and must conduct our lives in a world that would just as soon leave us dead by the road if we let it.

One of our favorite biblical quotes (and one of the very few that I can rattle off at will) is Micah 6:8 where we are told what is asked of us by God: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. All else is subservient, really. It foreshadows what Jesus would come to model for us. It speaks to me like few other things in this age of confusion, dissonance, tumult, pain and suffering. It's a recipe for stewardship of society and environment alike. It strikes out hatred and greed. It demolishes egotism and brutality. This is the basis for community living and success in the face of everything. It's love of self and neighbor. It's the anti-war statement of anti-war statements. It's a prescription for success of the human project. It comes for free but not without a price. Bonhoeffer made a distinction between cheap grace and expensive grace. The expensive variety is demanding. My heroes are people who speak truth to power, who are spanners in the works of corrupt and unbalanced society who speak what they speak or sing what they sing so that redemption may occur.

The things I endured in 2005 are pretty insignificant in their own way. I don't think any of it is unique. I guess I can only hope that what I do with these experiences is somehow for the good. It's hard to hang on to hatred and fear. It is terribly unhealthy. In 2003, the experiences of 2005 might have snuffed me out or would have called out the worst in me. But this year it's been easier to take it in stride while I've decided that all of it must happen for some reason, and that it's all easier to cope with if Kelli is there to help with the load, and the same in reverse. The mission of marriage as one to redeem and heal old wounds is one that we've been working on because I think we both know the world will be a demanding place that needs people who have enough of whatever it takes to cope, and I think we are both just savoring the things we have to draw on, either in the stories of the saints and prophets, or the great thinkers, or the people around us.

On reflection, this is the stuff that mattered in 2005, no matter what the details were. I feel compelled that 2006 will be an improvement upon all that.

Thursday
Oct202005

Epiphany

target store dooway with one door having two stickers on it: do not enter, and enter only.Things are just too confusing these days. Something has to give.I've come to the conclusion that civilization is just one big tail-chasing exercise, and one day the old dog is going to lay down, tired, and won't get back up for some time to come.