Monday, April 25, 2016

Worldview, Privilege, Sleep

A young, indigenous woman confronts a logger who is poaching old-growth mahogany trees in Thailand. She and her community know that logging will turn their land into a desert. She is not so much a tree-hugging activist as she is desperate. Her back is up against the wall and she is making a last-ditch stand for survival. The corporate loggers don't care about that though, and, when they get a chance, they first intimidate her. When that doesn't work, they destroy her rice field. When that doesn't deter her, they find her alone one day on the trail and execute her. The Thai government benefits from the logging, so looks the other way. Another unexplained indigenous death in the forest. Another indigenous group mobilizes to block an open pit copper mine on their tribal land. Leaders end up beaten to death, bodies thrown into a river. The stories are legion. Big business goes on. The front lines of preserving delicate, endangered, and necessary eco-systems, more and more, is falling to those who can least afford to stand up to the biggest and most powerful forces on the planet, yet we first-worlders sit here in comfort, and comment on the beauty of the mahogany in the new entertainment center. Nothing is wrong in our little world. In fact things are pretty good. We are happy, a bit fat, and life is sweet, mostly, but something there is gnawing at our conscience beneath the gluttony. We just don't want to look too hard at where all our little goo-gahs and trinkets come from or who is holding our long term survival interests at heart when she stands up to power. Her story goes underground, draws strength from darkness, buried truth, and begins to coil, to whisper to a sleeping earth, and a living planet begins to stir, to shake off a parasite, a hungry ghost that can never get enough. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Desire on Speedway Boulevard, Thursday Night, In April, Under a Full Moon

The moon hung there, pinned to a fading lapis sky, between the glowing sign for Dirt Bags and the newly re-modeled neon high rise. Its prominence and reign over the valley was supreme as traffic pulsed through the intersection of Speedway and Campbell. Platinum disc, it swelled over the ridge, sending beams of desire through miles and millennia, photons pounding against the car doors and hearts beating inside a hundred thousand chests out driving on a Thursday night, oblivious to the commonality, the shared sky, the secret hunger to know each other. The light changed, and I too joined the broiling herd, heading east, toward the lover, toward the moon that now lifted out of her birth greatness, shrinking, growing harder, but brighter for the darkness that spread across the sky like a sheet pulled over a still warm corpse.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Things That Make Me Go Weak in the Knees (An Abridged List)

Bike tools
Bike tubes that don't go flat
So easily
Toe nail polish
Diamond knife sharpeners
Pancakes (with lots of butter and syrup)
White chocolate macadamia nut cookies
Lazuli buntings
The moon over New Mexico
The moon over Durango
Over Tucson
Over the Rincon Mountains
As I drive east on Speedway
Over Panama
Leonard Cohen
Berry Machine
Leg raisers
Pull ups
Push ups
Floppy hats
Wood working tools
Tile saws
Nimbus Monkeyshine
Hatch chilis
Pepper jack cheese
Rotisserie chicken
Stella Luna
Goodnight Moon
Good night 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Face Pushed Up Against the Envelope

Yes, friends, the limit has been reached.

My face is pressed against the edges of what I can do, like it would be against a plate-glass door with a cop bearing down on me, putting on handcuffs.

That's what it feels like too, I might add.

This envelope is my work life.

I can't do it anymore. I have cracked, broken, gone off the deep end, surrendered. I am one step from the raving homeless guy snorting sugar in front of the convenience store.


So, if you try to contact me, email me, or find me in my office, I won't be there. I have fallen through the crack, moved on, switched orbits, gone bonkers.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Best --


Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Don't Travel with a Laptop

I don't go to meetings with a laptop.

I don't drive with my laptop, or hike with one, or climb trees with one.

I used to drink coffee next to one, but that was before I dumped my red-eye on the keyboard.

I don't sleep with my laptop.

I don't take my laptop to bars, or meditation retreats, or bike rides (not that I try to meet women at this stage of life, which might work better if I did take a laptop).

I don't get lap dances with a laptop, or any other device, or lack of device.

I don't tie my shoes with a laptop.

But I am the only person at the meeting who doesn't have a laptop, isn't glued to the laptop, on some Google Doc that I don't even have permission to see.

Now you might do all of these things with a laptop, and you will be glad to know that I think that is great.

Just don't ask me to wear my laptop or hunker down in my grave with one.

It's just one of those things that never worked out for me, no matter how much I wanted it to.

I'll see you at the meeting.

I'll be the one, listening and ready, with notebook, planner, and pen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Words As Contraband (No Names. No Fingers. Yet)

The Arizona Department of Corrections has a long list of banned reading material. I have known that for quite a while. I am asked when I go through security whether or not I am carrying any banned books, magazines or other form of discourse. I say no, but I don't know exactly what is on the list, or why. The inmates, however, taste the bans firsthand. They are glad to tell me about the recent flurry of bannings. The DOC recently banned a garden magazine because it had ads for gardening tools that included shovels and hoes. Now these tools, in the wrong hands, wielded in a bad mood, could, theoretically, be used as weapons. Yes, weapons. (Doesn't matter that inmates have no access to gardens or tools...) Because of this, the magazines have been banned. Even with a subscription paid for by family, an inmate won't receive the banned Home and Gardens. A book about a mountain man describes a scene in which he "takes off his pants" before he crawls into his sleeping bag after a long day hunting elk and trapping beaver (no double entendre intended). This was seen as lewd and lascivious behavior, so that book got banned too. Another book that I know well, one that deals with prison writing workshops mentions a scene where a prison staff member and an inmate are caught in an intimate act. That book got banned too. In fact, if the book and magazine banning were applied to the prison library, according to the inmates, a good portion of the available material would disappear. And it's not only books that are going away. Educational programs have lost funding. Inmates that serve as tutors and teaching assistants have lost their jobs. Never mind the overwhelming evidence that education, reading, and writing can transform a life (as it did mine). If anyone speaks up about this, he gets a one way bus ticket to the hole in Yuma. That is the word from the inmates, the word that I have to pass on, dig into. Prisons have no accountability or transparency when it comes to which texts are banned or providing a rationale for those decisions. Here's a link to an article with a partial list of banned reading: 

Requesting information can get volunteers like me banned from volunteering, thrown into the dustbin of persona non grata. Oh well, gotta be somewhere. Just sent in the request. We'll see. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Disconnected (draft)

I can tell when Simone has a mouse on the bed because she works to wake me up. She stands, with her substantial bulk, on my chest and meows with her mouth full of the draped body of the mouse. The mouse, by the way, is usually unharmed, and the moment I turn on my headlamp, Simone will drop it and it will flee. Then Simone, her prize, and my lack of sleep are off to the races.

Last night the mouse wasn't a mouse but a pack rat -- a plump, white-bellied, big-eared denizen of the chicken coop. Simone was extra proud as she stood on my chest and did her best to wake me with the insistent, muffled "mrr," "mrrr," "mrrrr."

I'll leave what followed up your imagination, but will tell you that it took a while to capture our reluctant hostage/visitor, put in the cat door so Simone could not follow it to the back yard, and then shake the little guy out of my best biking T-shirt. He sprung for cover behind the cactus garden.

Simone kept looking for the missing prize long after I was back in bed.

She is far more connected to the back yard than I am. She sits back there for hours, unmoving, watchful. She sees birds, bugs, spiders, animals, and more subtle things like seasons far better than I do. She seems happier for it, and is tolerant of my lack of situational awareness. She still talks to me and tries to explain the wonders back there.

Sometimes, though, she runs in to the house and bolts behind the couch. When I go check to see what scared her, I sometimes catch the elusive glimpse of a bobcat jumping over the fence.

There is a price to pay for connection, for residence in the web that is life, and there is a price to be paid for its lack.