It was a Beautiful Morning

It was a beautiful morning. The crisp autumn air whispered into the last weekend of summer, and in the hills of the valley, James woke up, this time not too early, not too late. He walked through the small apartment that was lit not quite by dawn, not quite by night, but somewhere balanced in-between. In the morning silences, he carefully walked throughout his daily chores, enwrapped in the quiet promise of a new day. The sound of the coffee maker, the wind through the trees, the echoes of memory, from memory, to the beckoning of a season to come, tempered with hope tinged with anxiety, dream against fear, gentleness within the opening air. He walked to the window.

It wasn’t necessary, but he opened the screen door leading out into the forest, slightly, a small sliver of an opening, letting the cool air into the room, with a gentle fan pulling invisible air, as all air is, into the world around the objects and in between the objects, in all their spaces, each one like a memory of a solid object, a colour, a shape, a line, a space. “I can see this,” James thought. But it was all in his imagination. As we all know when the air is clear it can’t be seen. Do we all know? Did James? “I don’t know,” said James, almost as he could hear the percussion of the keys. dropping and clicking with a kind of softness, not an echo, but more like language, a conversation, the glyphs into words. 

After a while she had woken up, placing bowls of water for the cats, the sound of joyful laughter. With each rising and falling of her voice, James smiled, into a gentle peace. Then the time. 

“I’ve got to head out,” he said to her. She said something back. It was, like most moments with her, tender and beautiful, against the backdrop of music James had never heard before. It was always this way. James was happy, he stepped out into the morning, up the stairs, and up into the streetway. He was in a forest. That’s how their world was most days. when they were at home. Through the winding roads of the hillside, more like a mountain than not, James drove his small car, covered in dust from barely being used. 

Entering into the steadiness of ground in the valley, James found an open space in the parking lot, parked the car and moved toward the field, He had a small map telling him where to go, James thought, looking into at the small mainframe computer that was his phone. Once he arrived to the edge of the baseball field, because it was a baseball field, and that’s where the town picnic was, James quickly found where he was supposed to be: one of the small booths on the edge of the field, and James looked around the far distances of the outer field edge. There were at least tens of booths around, each dedicated to something, but James wouldn’t even know exactly what. He was working, and he didn’t have time to venture out into the distances. He was firmly planted in the ground. 

There was a large painting by an unknown artist behind them. The wind hit like waves, at times calm, but imperceptibly, rising, uncontrollably, he never know when, or why, but was always watching for. Not for a level of distraction, but calm, steady listening. James’ only job was to hold the canvas back from the rising winds so that it didn’t fall over. If James left his seat, the entire booth would be destroyed, and that couldn’t happen. Their booth (there were five of them) only existed to point the way toward the end of the California drought. That was the job, but in between the moments of action, they all talked, and there wasn’t a single subject that was ignored. Each conversation was a book, not restless, not calm, but a portal like a diamond, of the mind, of the heart, of the spirit, as they talked about the local politics, the possibility of future worlds, the balance of things as they are, the edges of consciousness. And in their view, out into the open field, was, as one of them said, life. And like life, moments in the booth were not easy, there was fear there, and they met each moment with an open heart, a cry like a question, the hope against fear. Five hours went by..

Suddenly, it was time to go. The crowds were running thin, the band had packed up, the games were over. There was a silence over the baseball field, the only sound the impossible shape of light. Only days ago James was almost killed. He forgot that in the afternoon. He tightened the baseball cap around his head, almost inseparable now from him. Sometimes he felt different, too different, indifferent, without it. He was given some food. He was grateful.

Walking back to the car seemed like a year. James scanned the environment constantly. The sound of birds was gone. All was gone, and James found his car quickly. Surprised that he did, he started the car, and within minutes had travelled up the mountain and back to the apartment. She was somewhere else. It was quiet, the air was cool, and James still listened for every change of sound. But all he heard this time were the sounds of his own footsteps, the turn of the handle, the sound of objects, the impossible sounds of peace. In the kitchen came a quick motion of metal against metal, water and steam, pressure and rumbling sounds, into the quiet space; and that was what making coffee was like. James listened to every moment as if a symphony, which, in a sense, it was.

It was a beautiful afternoon. The crisp autumn air whispered into the last weekend of summer, and in the hills of the valley, James woke up, this time not too early, not too late. He walked through the small apartment that was lit not quite by day, not quite by night, but, somewhere, balanced in-between. In the morning silences, he carefully walked throughout his daily chores, enwrapped in the quiet promise of a new day. The sound of the coffee maker, the wind through the trees, the echoes of memory, from memory to the beckoning of a season to come, tempered with hope tinged with anxiety, dream against fear, gentleness within the opening air. He walked to the window. The air was clear. He could see for miles, within and without, and somewhere in-between.

Step by Step, through the Darkness of an Afternoon.

James woke up. Where was he? In the still and silences, shattered by happiness and content, came a voice. “Are you ready?”  “Can we reschedule?” James asked. “He’s here.” She said. James put on his white shoes, begrudgingly, slowly, laboring through each movement. He was tired. The nights were so long, the days of doing research, all in the purpose of just finding out where he was, what he was, what would happen, how much time he had. He followed her out the door. On the ground outside, there were leaves everywhere. Almost placed. They reminded James of a warning, and perhaps even a threat. James moved up each step, just focusing on where his foot would rest, ignoring all else, just step by step, each moment, now, and then now. And then. The two met him outside and they walked down the street. He wasn’t listening. 

He remembered the birthday cards, and the cards unasked for he had given him. They were disturbing. Dancing naked portraits of him, so cruel and threatening. James accepted each of them, except for one day. The man gave him another card, a jumble of crude drawings, each one disturbing, while the man smiled. These he remembered. They stopped walking. There was a clearing, an entrance into a forest. There were three of them now. She said “If there’s three of us it’ll be like a horror movie,” she said. “Someone could be mauled by a bear.” 

Slowly, he heard his drawl, stretched out into silences, a mid shout. “Good.” He said, etched into the silences, like a knife through the chest. It was, to James, one of the worst moments of his life, the years he had suffered through this abuse, the constant torture. James just put one foot in front of the other, as the bicycles and cars wound by, staggered, not all at once, but the only thing James could think about. The trees were so tall, the birds seemed like a difference, yet he could still hear each bird call, lauging crows, yet bright sounds in the wind. It was like a war. Yet each one drifted away, one by one, step by step. 

James was always confused about this. “Why?” James thought to himself, but still, he watched each step, as they wrapped around the street. Then a moment, and they were back at the beginning, and said their good byes. The man tried to match each movement of Jame’s body language. 

James was shocked, and didn’t know quite what to do, so he held his pose, felt his body’s weight against the ground. Each moment was a sharp moment of pain. So much for someone he had helped, even in his quiet rage. Looking back, James watched his car drive away. the last thing the man said was “When you walk through the forest, try not to get scared.”, with a meancing, fearful call.

Later that night, he was overcome with fear, a deep panic, not sure what to do. All the torture, into one walk, that was supposed to be fun. “But enough is enough.” James said. And invisibly, a good friend appeared by his side. For a moment all was well, yet the deep scars remained. “Enough is enough,” James thought, and watched each step, as he walked away.

Sciences: Excerpt from I Remember Gaia II

This is an excerpt from the fist chapter of I Remember Gaia II. This is a good example of what I’m working on. This is a poetic parable of climate change, and the following is taken from my experiences in the forest around our home. This is the only chapter I’ll share here, and I’m working everyday on the plotline, but working in private. I promise to make this inspiring, and hope you enjoy this morning!

Sciences

The light hit the leaves of the canopy into bright shafts of radiant light, and R76-8723 walked in the clearing until arriving at the specific location. There was the work at hand. Her sensory vision called up the temporal display unit divider, she activated the visual display from a grid of images, from previous experiments. The data indicated that the green lower canopy had yet to be analyzed. Her reverse silver auxiliary six-armed grappling mechanism swung her to the lower branches: each arm grasped at the branches in the higher unit. Not that she could tell the differences between the facility and positive or negative aberrations. After all, she was a cybernetic being with little regard, if any, for any sense of fatigue, with the exception of what might require system maintenance. If she ever had any instances of disruption of the mobility mechanisms, she wouldn’t be able to repair them and would need to return immediately to the central repair unit, and she was very careful not to overload the system. The canopy had a light wind, her sensory mechanisms informed her. Taking samples of the plant forms at the green canopy form, in places, she could see through the leaves to the floor of the forest. It was a far drop, as tall as a deep canyon. If she fell she would break her system, and shut down from the power unit disruption, her memory databank informed her in a lower visual system. It was designed to assist her. 

The cybernetic beings of the science and ecology division relied on the visual system to process information data. It wasn’t visual, necessarily, but the original designers devised a system that would reflect the reality of the visual world. Since the identification of test samples required simultaneous analysis, it was imperative that the data would be visual. It was a way to compartmentalize and analyze multiple sensory units. R76-8723’s sensory mechanisms and camera unit were almost impossibly detailed. Simultaneously a stereoscopic sub atomic microscope and what, historically, could be called a telescopic lens that could detail the entire atmosphere and the nearest reaches of space, she could constantly see both the most subtle workings of the deepest levels of visual inquiry that could see a holistic view of the universe and the deepest workings of the atomic level. 

Focusing on the task at hand, R76-8723 focused on one part of one leaf in the canopy that had alarmed the science division. There was a strange colouration reflected in the morning light. The effect of the reflection of the transparent view across the green surface, with areas of gentle light from the light reflectors above the atmosphere of Gaia, was in a way, it’s own atmosphere. Cloud forms moved across the interior. She focused on that area, and the display recognition system shifted into subatomic mode. She was, in human terms, surprised. The data that came back indicated that there was a strange consistency within the cloud forms within the green and yellow color form reality. There was nothing there, and then it happened. A soft wind parted the ceiling of branches, and the reflector light shone directly, brightly onto the deepest reaches of the plant extensions deepest unit. It was a limitless sky. She had never indicated in any tests, as she rapidly searched all visual databases in a matter of less than a second, that there was any record of such an occurrence. Central informed her across the atmospheric communications system for her to retrieve a sample; she removed the sample from the branches and then it happened. The leaf immediately became a sky of colours, and then shattered in her hands, but there, in the interior what was left was like a subatomic glowing sun. This is what we came for, her division informed her in her communications system. Placing the sample in her storage compartment on her back, she swung across each branch until she was at the forest basin, and headed back toward the science division center. There was a soft blue colouration of the forest floor, like an impossibly clear visual indication system of the reflected light from the forest’s arching branches of soft, impenetrable light. 

Heading back over the forest basin and back into the central system, the life forms gave way to the chrome and pale white city as it reached toward the distances. It was so familiar that R76-8723 shut down the auxiliary visual systems and allowed the automatic drive systems to begin. The next moment R76 was awakened was in one of the storage and retrieval libraries, moving the compartment from her back, she placed the enclosure on a table. 

“What did you find?,” came a voice. R76 turned around. An identical unit walked toward the room, and R76 recognized that this was one of the interior scientist aberrationists, AB-782, and she opened the container. “I was surprised, I have no idea what I found. It was like a shattering glass of energy stored within one of the canopies. It was encapsulated into a kind of circular form. Could you take a look?” The aberrationist looked inside for the sample. “There’s nothing here,” the scientist said. R76 looked inside. “Maybe it was lost?” she said. “Maybe”, said AB-782 “Or possibly it didn’t exist.”. Lets shut you down for system repairs and I’ll look inside. The visual sensory displays went into a low hum, and within moments she fell asleep. When she regained visual system activation, and she realized she was inside the central systems consciousness. She heard a voice. “R76,” came the voice, “We’re temporarily gaining control of your consciousness simulator took look at the data you may have obtained,” this wont take long. Luckily you won’t be bored, we’ve removed the time simulation from your generation of science units. “Thanks, but the impatience simulation was left on by mistake,” she said. “No it hasn’t,” said central consciousness. “We just activated your sense of the absurd. You may find you need it.” 

In what seemed like moments, her eyes opened, and she saw the room around her. “We have your report,” said one of the assistant drones. “Central has detected an aberration of your power systems. You may not believe this, but you may never need to be recharged. Something has happened that has altered your electromagnetic sources. What was the sample you were retrieving? Central couldn’t detect a record of it in any of your auxilliary system controls.” “It was a bright light,” R76 replied. “From what we can tell,” said the assistant, “That may have been a source of pure energy. We don’t know where it came from. It’s not one of ours. It’s changed you.” “But what happened to it?”

“R76,” said the assistant. “That light is you.”

Gaia II

For the next month or so, I won’t be making any posts on reluctantblogger. I’m going into a deep writing journey that I can’t take my eyes away from, and most of my thoughts during the day surround it. It’s a climate story of science fiction and speculative writing, simultaneously about architecture, reclamation after colonialism , the natural world and space exploration, with themes of consciousness and artificial intelligence. I’m researching and planning most of the time, today that was about 12 hours.

I’m growing as I write this. It looks like I also may be continuing my art journey and possibly starting a six month class about advanced art training, building a body of work. I often post works in progress and work quickly, and sometimes that gets into situations of incomplete work, or rushed work in the need to finish things. I’m still going relatively fast, but slowing down to take a few moments for my own speed and pacing will be a real test for me, so I’m writing this to show, next time I post, that I need to go back and work. I may not be able to stay away, but I’ll do my best.

I’m working hard on this. It’s going to take some time. Who knows, it may take me a year. Not sure yet, but I’ll be on twitter every now and then to post occasionally, but I probably won’t have much to say until my research, writing, and art is complete. It’s an experiment for me. The climate crisis is too much for me to ignore, and so far, I’m learning more through this than in any project I’ve done. Wish me luck, we all do what we can for the planet. And right now, this project is the best I can do.

9/11

Watched some of the rememberance of the victims of 9/11 today, as much as I could. I don’t know what to say, the mix of anger, grief, disbelief and fear went though me. How did this happen? If you have the time today, please watch some of the rememberances of this day. You can find it easily. I wanted to watch it all, but I I couldn’t believe what I didn’t know before. 2,996 people were lost on 9/11.

Seeing the stories of so many, listening to their rememberances and stories. I want to stay and listen to them all, but it’s impossible. I don’t know how long this will be going on today, but please take the time and listen to these stories. It’s a bright light in the darkness, as we can heal, and find some way to continue through all this. The memorial can be found here. I’m taking the day to be in silence and communion with the deep, impeneterable love, through so many voices. Listen, remember, and never forget.

Labor Day

I spent the last two days of labor day weekend like I always do, doing research, keeping up with events, and working on climate outreach like I usually do. I’m OK financially but I’ve been working on designs for a local climate outreach commitee. Life’s more or less OK here in the hills. I have some good days and some bad days, sometimes both at the same time, but I still do everything I can, which brings me to labor day.

I don’t know why I work like I do. Of course I do it to get by. I have very little extra to spend on even giving to political donations and even local food shelters. I love to help things in any way I can. Whenever I have any kind of outside funding to my art projects I end up helping out other people, or helping my nonprofit get a donation directly from me. I do it because I love it. I love waking up at 3AM, and just trying everything I can. I post and make art, and today I did it for almost 14 hours. It’s been like this for weeks. I finally had my first bid on an NFT that would give me some extra to put aside in savings, or even give that one $1 donation to a nonprofit cause.

I do very little to spend on entertainment. My favorite thing to do is just look, to just see. I’ve been looking deeply at objects in the room in the early mornings, which seems like staring into space, which it is, but not in the way you might think. If you look at anything long enough, it’s like seeing without seeing. You just begin to feel some kind of presence. When it’s still and quiet in the forest you can feel it all around you. And in the early hours of the day, or even night, I’m just there with it, and it is somtimes all I want to do. It’s not even spiritual or religous. It just is.

I wish I had known this when I was in my most desperate circumstances in my work life. The long hours not knowing if I’d someday be homeless. Just the day to day. I wish sometimes those struggles and moments had given me time to stop and listen, to remember to just be. Maybe this isn’t easy to see. Maybe I’m ignoring the fact that it took 15 years of meditation for me to get to this point. But I wish in my work life, which was pretty difficult at times, to say the least, that I had known.

I still work that hard, sometimes even harder. I don’t take weekends. I work all the time, just because that’s how my Mom was, and it’s been ingrained in me. But for anyone who feels that way, the desperation of those moments, we’re sometimes granted the holiday or two where we just have a day to sit, and honestly that may be better for most people that waking up at 3am gives me. It’s not something I would advise. It’s not even good for my health, but an hour or two just to sit, and so many different people have different way to do that. Maybe it’s all the same. I don’t know. I wish I could work less. I wish we all could. I wish our hours were better, even when we absoutely love what we do. And I don’t know why even when I’m OK, I just keep working.

Even when I’m writing this I know, that when I really stop and feel it, and I feel it right now, it just is. It’s beautiful. It’s love you can’t describe. And it’s always there, no matter what we’re going through, it’s always there, and that will always give me the deepest peace. I should stop writing now. I want to try and find the best answer, but it’s there already. It doen’t need an answer. It just is. It’s love you can’t describe.

Best Painting of the Year?

I looked though all my work, and so far this is the best painting I made this year, the multiplicity of color, the soft detail, the pinks, greens, deep blues and yellows, orange, yet muted into a sense of memory. I’m so excited to begin a new pallette and prepare for Fall. More soon. I hope this brings some peace to your day.

Four Eyes

Made long before I started keeping this journal, Four Eyes, which I made in 2016, is redesigned and posted here:

The way I made this work is complex. It accurately predicts my current environment, yet makes more sense now than it did years ago. I was surprised. It’s almost like magic. One of my friends likened it to Kiki’s Delivery service, and it’s surreality definitely reflects the creation of a waking dream. This graphic novel means so much to me. In many way’s it’s my life’s work, and like all great art, I believe it reaches to all people, as a place of recognition, love and security, even in the greatest difficulties we face.

The story follows Tam and Polly: a cyclops and someone with an awakened third eye, that in my mind is both my partner and I, and also my non binary perspective of being an ace queer artist. No one can take that reality from me. It’s the reality of how this work was created, yet I hope it inspires all people to take this story into their own hearts, apply it to their greatest difficulties, and discover the magic inherent in our world. I was so suprised how this story predicts what’s going on in my life, at one time just a daydream. The world is mysterious and wonderful. I hope this short story allows anyone who reads it this hope. Our dreams are important, the world is mysterious and beautiful, and we can always find a place of calm and hope, if we just let go and see the world for what it is, and why it’s worth saving.

Voting Experiment

I held a vote today on twitter to get some of my friends, collaborators, and community a chance to help me make some decisions on what to do next. It was fun, and a little stressful. In my mind I thought it was the most important thing I could have done for the day. The post consisted of four possible options: music, painting, writing, and activism. I watched the poll transfixed, and took additional votes from what I could perceive, and on other social channels. It was fun and invigorating. What I found is that people really are impacted in my work, and that gives me pause and a feeling of responsiblity. I wrapped up my summer series yesterday, and it was a stressful year, but I hope the paintings are a record of overcoming fear even in the most dire circumstances. As the poll grew it was hard to keep track of everything, it was so evenly spread out among all the options. But then I saw an email about graphic novels, and I realized that I could combine them all, yet mostly focused on visual art. Since all of my plans are focused on the climate, I intend to make a new pledge: seasonal showings. I think this will give me enough time to really do something I haven’t had a chance to do yet: just take more time and not be so hasty.

It was virtually impossible for me to not share work in progress, and I realized this yesterday when I was putting together the summer series. The series actually did take eight weeks, non linearly. Some paintings needed only one improvised pass, some took multiple days, spread across weeks. Some were discarded. Yet, for autumn, I’m going to try to do something new: working slowly and methodically, pay attention to detail, and really go deeper into the work that I make. In many ways the summer series was a kind of digital painting bootcamp. It definitely has some of my favorite pieces, but it was all experimental. The next work will not be so frantic. Perhaps it was this speed that reflected the summer season, the paintings had electric strokes replacing even tones, in a combination of sketch and graffiti techniques. On my desk to my left I have all the books I will need for the next series of works, and I’m taking the day to just get organized and prepared. I have the color swatches in my head, and for the most part I know exactly what I’ll be doing. I can’t wait. I’ll do my best for everyone. I’ll make sure I stay focused on my core beliefs and friendships. And as far as direct climate action goes, I’ll be at Climate Changemakers every Thursday night, for an hour of direct action about climate issues.

This was a great day of solidarity, getting to take a break, and I’m really excited for Fall. I can already feel it coming in the weather around us. The leaves have started to fall, with green inflections and life still glowing radiantly through the falling leaves. I know the responsiblity we all have as artists, and I promise I will not waver from that understanding. Here’s to more creation, and to a calmer flow. Thanks for being here for my journey. I’m still listening, but just trust that I have only the best intentions, and we all get a little scared sometimes, but there’s always hope in the arts, and that’s where my heart lies right now. Let’s save this planet everyone, with whatever our talents are. We’re together in this. 🙂

I Don’t Pretend to Understand

I don’t pretend to understand the situation in Afghanistan, I know there are historians and peoples who have lived there for centuries, yet I pray for peace. So many of us know what it’s like to live in fear, and I will always do all I can to offer peace in my art. It was so important to me that I took the day off, saying very little, and just allowing my presence to be in the service of others. To hear voices and all that they feel. Tomorrow I’m getting back to work on my projects, but giving a day of silence to all wars, to just be a part of humanity, just in the ability to listen, I found an uneasy peace. Not everyone can feel that way, yet I will tirelessly do whatever I can, which is through the arts, to imagine a better world. I hope all are able to get a bit of rest from the weariness of the struggles we face, and today will be with me for a long time. It’s made me more aware of each step, each part of the way, as I move through the days of my life. I’m sure we’re all a little tired. Rest easy tonight, if you can. I’ll light a candle tonight, for even when the night sky is cloudy, there is a bright star in each light.