I Care What You Think

It was time for a change. I shaved off most of my beard yesterday. This has been 7 months or so of experimenting with facial hair. Mostly because of a woman.

So, ladies, what do you think?

old look

old look
new look

new look


Someone told me Mercury has been in retrograde for a long time. someone else 2 weeks ago said Scorpio was in retrograde, and that was even worse than Mercury. I don't usually believe in astrology but the Merucry in Retrograde thing always seems to be be pretty right on. everything has been going wrong. people, friends of friends, dying, getting really sick, and other personal stuff, communication stuff, just getting completely fucked up. i wish it would stop. of course there's pain and suffering everywhere all the time, maybe the curse of our information overloaded age is that we now can know really soon when something bad happens, anywhere to anyone.

The good news is I had a really nice afternoon yesterday having a long bike ride with a new friend and then getting ice cream. We rode along the Rio Rillito bike trail, which i haven't done in awhile, and we we had some really great conversations, talking the entire time about really interesting stuff. life stuff, relationship stuff. it was really good, just what i needed.

Then I went to an early party and that was fun but by 830 i was falling asleep, because i've been only getting 2 to 4 hours of sleep for the last few nights. I was literally nodding off in a chair while people were trying to talk to me about Joe Strummer and reggae. So I went home and went to bed at about 10. ended up getting about 4 1/2 hours last night. I just can't stop thinking about... about this bullshit i'm going through that I can't write about here. I need some sedatives. I need a therapist. Argh...

Mercury, please start going forward again. please.

The Struggle Between Evil and Good. Inside.

Why is it that when someone causes you emotional suffering, even if unintentional, the reflex is to respond, perhaps after initial grief, with anger?

Well, it's actually pretty easy to answer that, I think. It's just a simple defense mechanism, like with physical pain. You look around to see what caused it, like for instance, a car running over your foot, and your adrenalin rushes, fight or flight, and you respond, with rage. whether it's accidental or not, it's a matter of survival.

And anger turns to hate and hate turns to rash actions, evil things that people shouldn't do to each other.

I have been fighting that. The urge to respond, to intense feelings of sadness and loss and loneliness, with spite and vindictiveness and vengance is so strong in me this past 3 days. I have never ever felt so.... like on the verge of becoming an evil man. Like I am on a knife edge of ethical judgement, and I could fall that way and become a bad person, or the other way and remain good, like I have always considered myself to be. The past faith in goodness and compassion and giving people the benefit of the doubt is the only thing that pulls me back from the abyss.

But I realized today that it feels better to be nice to someone, to care for someone, to do them a favor, than to be vindicative and hateful and damaging.

I'm trying to use my novel for catharsis, having the characters act out the alternate worlds where I go out and do the wrong thing. It seems to be helping.

Sigh. Wish me luck.

Creativity Via Grief

Warning, Personal stuff alert!

Something bad and sad has happened in my life. Again. No more detail than that. Sorry.

But, I refuse to let it get to me as it has before. Because it's now just going to become grist for the rest of my novel! I have seen the overall metaplot of my novel now, because of this sad thing i've found out today, I know where the novel is really going now, and it is going to KICK ASS. It's already been going really really well. In fact this new idea just fits perfectly into the novel as it is so far already. As you can see from the meter over at the right side, I'm almost up to 17,000 words! only 33k to go... I just hope the sadness doesn't overwhelm my creative jolt and make me just stop writing the thing. Wish me luck. I'll need it. This novel may be the only thing that keeps me sane now.


Caught a cold last week but had been successfully fighting it, but it came on in full force while I was in Las Vegas this weekend. Have felt like crap from midday Saturday on.

However, it was a great conference. The national war tax resistance conferences always leave me re-inspired and re-invigorated. There is more and more interest and committment to the idea of using video more, to outreach about the movement. So that's promising. I also did go out and see The Strip, and was predictably repulsed by it, though in a way more just blah about the whole thing. It was almost disappointingly banal and boring despite the surreal excess of it. Vegas is like the USA times 100. It was interesting to hear from residents and others in the know that were at the conference that Vegas has given up on their efforts to make the place more family-friendly. Now the motto is "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," and it's drifting back to being meant for adults - and very high income adults.

Vegas was segregated till 1968, and even star black performers like Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. were required to enter through the back doors of clubs they were performing at, and then go to the west side afterward to sleep. The conference was held in this area, at the Catholic Worker compound, in a neighborhood that was like an urban ghost town. This is because after segregation ended, those that could moved out. Just a 5 minute drive from the glitz of the Strip, this neighborhood was deserted and filled with boarded up storefronts and churches. Amazing.

Despite being sick I have been keeeping on task with the novel, and am up to 10,000 words. We'll see if I can continue the pace and get healthy again this week.

Anti-War Weekend In Vegas

sitting at Tucson airport waiting for my flight. I'm off to Las Vegas for another semi-annual meeting of War Tax Resisters, which rotates around to different cities every time. This one is hosted by the local Catholic Worker chapter - btw i recently found out the Catholic Workers have a sort of anarchist political leaning, which is pretty coo - and I look forward to my first actual stay in Las Vegas being for an activist cause. I hope I also get to witness the Baudrillardian simulacra splendor of Sin City (actually I'm not sure if that's a nickname for Vegas or somewhere else) a little bit, just to say I've been there and seen it.

I'm bringing 2 cameras and a bunch of indymedia literature to distrubute at the conference and do a little video workshop. A significant part of the agenda is going to be about a new WTR documentary that a small committee has been talking about for over a year now. This is an exciting development, because this movement needs some modern, visionary video made about it and spread far and wide to new demographics.

In other news, I'm up to over 7000 words on my novel. It's flowing well, but everyone says the first week is relatively easy... have to keep plugging away and not rest on laurels, because it's supposed to get harder next week. Yesterday I also received the National Novel Writing Month 'handbook' that I ordered from Powell's, "No Plot? No Problem?" - I should have bought it a month ago, but I'm finding that most of the preparations and pre-month advice it gives are things I've already done or known about. A lot of the book is just emphasising that the Month is about giving yourself, 'normal' people, the 'permission' to be creative, to be a 'writer' or an 'artist'... i've been lucky enough to have been giving myself that permission, and getting that permission from family and friends, all my life, so a lot of the advice in the book is sort of unneccesary for me. I think the main danger for me is taking my novel too seriously, forgetting that this is not about writing a GREAT novel, just about writing SOME novel, and a first draft at that.

Tucson 1st Anniversary

As of today I have lived in Tucson for exactly 1 year.
here is the blog post i wrote when i first arrived, halloween night last year.

I should add that I really like Tucson and lately I've been feeling really happy about living here.

Zapatistas, Little Desert Towns, DJing

La Otra en Magdalena - 3Last weekend I went, along with 70 or so other Tucson gringos, to a stop on the Zapatista Other Campaign's tour, the closest point to Tucson that they will be, just outside of Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, about an hour south of the border. It was an amazing time. It felt like a historic moment, and also a bit like a Beatles concert. The photo on the right is the car that Subcommandante Marcos rides in. When he got out, he was immediately surrounded by a cloud of photographers and videographers and other media people.

I don't have the energy to write a whole lot about it. But there is plenty of journalism out there about it.

I met a really cool woman from Australia who's travelling with La Otra and who does pirate radio with Radio Pacheco in D.F. I saw them selling pirated activist DVDs and I gave them a copy of my DVD and told her she could copy and burn and sell it at will. I hope my label doesn't get mad about that. hah... I also gave her another copy to give to Marcos, along with a note that I wrote in completely crappy spanish (I realized later). oh well. Anyway she gave me a copy of her zine and it's an amazing piece of writing, relating her experiences being a white anglo woman radical activist in Mexico. It's called Fire with Fire.

Life has been personally very trying again but definite progress is being made by me, and I'm handling stuff a lot better than before because the response to the badness is something chosen mutually by me and her. I feel like things are going to work out. When I think about it I realise over and over that my life has been so much better, so deliriously better than I ever dreamed previously, over the last 7 months, only punctuated by a few days or a week here and there of sadness, but mostly just so awesome, that to be bummed and expect stuff is just stupid and arrogant and spoiled. How can one demand more when you've been given a gift like that? If it all goes away this second i'm still so much richer for the last 7 months.

I'm in the tiny ex-mining town of Bisbee tonite, because this stuff going on had me feeling the need to do something different and semi-impulsive and just get out of Tucson, even if for just a night and even if just alone. And there's a totally suitable cafe with wireless where i can work from just as well as if i was in Tucson. It's a cool little town. I've been here twice before. Kind of this weird bohemian pocket in the midst of desert mountains, tucked into a little canyon, the remnants of copper mining riches decorating the place - glorious old hotels and mansions and other public displays of wealth, now reduced to tourist attractions.

Tonite in my room I plan to do one more session of DJing practice, preparing for a dance party at Dry River I'm "spinning" for tommorrow night (I put that in quotes because i'll be all on laptop, nothing is spinning but the harddrives, i guess). It should be pretty fun. I'm going by the moniker of DJ Altermundista - literally "DJ Otherworlder"....

Why doesn't anyone know how to make a freaking cappuccino around here? Godammit. Even more annoying is nobody seems to think there's any difference between one and a latte around here. they give you the same thing, a substandard latte, whether you order a latte or a cappuccino. WTF?

Okay, on that note, I need to stop. good night.

Miscellaneous Personal Stuff

For some reason i'm blogging a lot today. hmm.

anyway, a list of random stuff that has happened this week:

  • I bought a bed. It was muy caro, but it's muy confortable. This is great becuz i've been sleeping on futons most of my adult life. I think my back will benefit soon.
  • I fasted for 3 days this week. Last night was the end of that. It went pretty well. Got easier each day. feel healthier.
  • My blog, personal stuff on it, got me in trouble again. I have already curtailed the amount of writing i do about other people here, but past entries are there tripping me up occasionally. Maybe it prompted some progress in some healing processes, though.
  • I feel lately like I'm really liking living in Tucson. Like, suddenly i realized things were at a new level for my enjoyment of being here. that's cool, even tho i don't rationally understand why this has happened. there's lots of stuff to complain about, actually. maybe i was lightheaded cuz of the fasting.
  • heading down to Madalena for the Zapatista Otra Campana gathering tommorrow. It's mostly so Marcos can meet with the Yaqui people there, I hear, but all us borachos are welcome too, to hang out and party, so i guess that's what we're going to do. does that sound cynical? sorry. i just am wondering if all these gringos should really go. why are we going, just to watch Marcos chew his pipe while some Yaqui tribespeople tell him what they're up to in Sonora and Arizona? I hope it turns out to be more meaningful and particpatory than that.
  • Honey On A Razor Blade

    I've been thinking about something for weeks. In the meditation class I've been taking, which i mentioned a couple posts back, Will, the teacher, has mentioned a few times a really compelling metaphor for behaviors or activities in our lives that we think are good for us, that we think are giving us pleasure, but in the long run are really bad for us. The metaphor is licking honey off of a razor blade. I like this idea and that image so much, I will probably name a film or an album or something after it. It's very true, that we have things in our lives that at the time seem so good, and then later we realize we were doing ourselves harm, that we've given ourselves a painful cut that we could not feel at the time.

    I've been wondering, trying to decide if a certain major feature of my life for the last 6 months, one addiction, if that qualifies as honey on a razor blade. The honey has been so sweet, but the time it takes for the cut to start hurting after each lick has started to decrease. I've been starting to wonder if the whole thing needs to stop, if the net pleasure, when accounting for the pain, the extreme pain, is not really large enough to make it a wise thing to be still doing.

    Meditation is supposed to bring much greater clarity to our awareness of this hidden blade in the honey; it brings closer together the realization of true reality, makes us see, without even using willpower or the intellect or moral rationalizing, that something is bad for us. Whereas before, one might say, oh, yeah, I know sugar isn't healthy, but i'll just have one more brownie, after a certain level of meditation, we just see the sugary foods for what they really are and are just not interested. No willpower required any more.

    Despite being in this class, I've found it difficult to meditate lately. My mind is so agitated. But i think I need to start doing it with more dedication, just to maintain a grip on sanity, and to get myself to stop licking that sweet, sweet, razor blade - or, perhaps, to realize that in fact it isn't a razor blade, but is just part of life, part of the hard work of being a human being that is around other human beings. Or maybe there's a totally different truth i haven't even thought of yet.

    Time will tell which conclusion is correct.

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