Love of My Life

I didn’t really know it the first time we met, but for the first time in my life I saw double rainbows that day. I figure my spirit guides were up to something. They have a way of bending light when they need me to pay attention.

At that juncture in my young adulthood, I was dating a handful of men, and was recently on the rebound from a failed love life at Kerista Community, a hippie tribe native to San Francisco in the 1980s. Keristans invented the words “Compersion” (the opposite of jealousy) and “Polyfidelity” (a good reason for compersion). What I left behind was an attempted group marriage, where men and women tried to cultivate a non-monogamous family life with a whole tribe of their lovers and friends. Embracing a “scientific utopian lifestyle,” and a different lover each night, the women and men in each family took turns sleeping together as couples on a rotating sleeping schedule. Imagine dating all your boyfriends or girlfriends at once instead of one at a time, and you all move in and do a silicon valley start up together. Talk about a leap of faith, idealism, gullibility… call it what you like. Young adults are very daring as they define themselves and their values while rejecting the idea of becoming their parents.

On a fateful camping trip with most of my partners, I find out one day that I am not a good fit for the group. After five and a half tumultuous years, I was out. While tearfully consulting my spirit guides about my failure to achieve true love in my life, their silence left me wondering. Did I make a big mistake when I made my big leap into the sexy alternative San Francisco scene…

Yet, despite the emotional setbacks from a ton of surprising – to me at least – rejections, I am still optimistic. I tell myself, “Right lifestyle, wrong people.” I pat myself on the back for my innocent trusting nature, and my commitment to ideals. After all, I learned many valuable lessons. No, a person cannot just force themselves to love another person by getting to know them and having total compassion. Compatible chemistry is mandatory for love that can last a lifetime. I have to Know what I want – but that can change over time. Affirmations, thats the secret… I Follow my queues and trust the loving universe. I am wisdom as it grows. I say no to the options that are not my heart’s desire.

When I graduate from Utopian Kerista with a PhD in complex relationships, I know there must be some real soul mates somewhere just for me. And I am ready to find them. I call it window shopping for new relationships… I am open and enthusiastic to try them on to see which ones are worth keeping.

Based on my Kerista experience, I have three rules for partners. 1) We must be totally honest and transparent about who we are dating and what we want in the relationship(s), just like monogamy but with more people. 2) Only Primary relationships allowed, meaning multiple primaries yes, but no secondary or open lifestyle relationships. And third, we want Love that Lasts A Lifetime, not hookups, seductions, scores and breakups. My guidance for interested applicants: Get to know me slowly. Stay for the long now. It should always feel like the best is yet to come. My bumper sticker for this reads: It’s a honeymoon or it’s over.

Then I met my husband. One of my six boyfriends took me to the premiere opening of a movie called SNEAKERS, hosted at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco by a cool art tech magazine called MONDO 2000. While schmoozing with a new acquaintance, this guy with a video camera comes up to me as I am getting to know someone who turns out to be his tantra teacher. He videotapes my new business card, FEM ENERGY, as I show it to our mutual friend. She introduces me to Mondo’s staff writer and techno shamanic editor, Allan Lundell. I find out that the two of them are planning to host a tantra workshop in a neighborhood that is walking distance from my house on Lake Merritt in Oakland. He then disappears to do more mingling at the party his magazine is hosting.

I walk up to him later and say “what are you going to do with that video?” Al has heard that question about a million times in his life. In the decades before I met him, and pretty much every day ever since, he is always videotaping important or interesting moments of his life, I assume for the benefit his future memory bot. At the time, his friends speculated that he was making the worlds longest autobiographical documentary video. Remember, this was in the era before cell phones, and long before camera’s were added to smart phones. Little did anyone suspect back then that our world would become a Selfie Surveillance State, where everyone videotapes everything all the time and hope to get social media ratings on YouTube. No, I was not the first person to ask him “what are you planning to do with that video?” But it was the first time for me to ask a man that question. I was curious about this handsome stranger. He answered “you must mean my brother.” I thought he was kidding, but no, I found out later it really was his brother. They look a lot alike.

Next time I saw Allan and his video camera, I was attending that tantra workshop on Lake Merritt. My first brush with the bay area “Tantra Scene” was a bit challenging for me. They want everyone to pass a giant strawberry around the circle using only their mouths. Yuck. I decline, and pass the strawberry with my hands to the next person. The night was not all bad, however, and I meet for the first time a bunch of new friends that become a very big part of my life. Playing music are some artisan instrument makers playing ocarina and flute as we close our eyes and listen to our German Tantrika guide our visualization into a pleasant meditation. Two circles are formed, women in the middle, men on the perimeter. We pair up with a partner for eye gazing. Two minutes later, change partners. Oh, I see. Tantra is like speed dating without the awkward conversation. After gazing into each person’s eyes around the circle, our next exercise is YAB YUM. That means sitting in each other’s laps. I don’t remember if this was a rotation around the ring, or if I just got lucky because Allan was my partner for this.

Its possible that this is the first moment that Al actually remembers meeting me. He often tells the tale of my first words to him, as he recalls, were something like “I don’t have time for any new boyfriends.” I guess he thought this meant I was thinking about when he and I could make a date. I remember seeing him, sitting on the white carpet with his legs crossed, I believe I saw a glamour of light in the auric field around him. I suspect my spirit guides were at it again, I can tell you, I was absolutely magnetized to his energy, and felt amazingly comfortable on his tantric lap. What I did not know until he told the story much later is that he had a discreet hardening of his boner the minute I Yabbed on his Yum.

Its been more than twenty seven years since we met, and Al has pretty much not left my side since then. He outlasted all of the other six boyfriends. At first, he gave lip service to the idea that we could create a non monogamous family together, but he always acted miserable when I dated another guy.

After the other boyfriends fell away, and other prospects opted to find their own soulmates (no us) instead, we let go of the idea of making it a group thing. We figured out that nobody could love us equally to the way we love each other,

After 14 years of practicing “Its a Honeymoon or Its Over” we bought a house and got married in Santa Cruz. Of course, many of you were there, as we invited everybody we knew via email on Thanksgiving, and got married on New Years Day, 2007. That email invite got us noticed in the newspaper, as people had not yet adopted email as an alternative to formal snail mail wedding invitations. It was an epic wedding, 200 of our favorite family and friends at one of the best Community Love Fests ever recorded. I do mean recorded… at least six of the guests were professional or really great amateur photographers and videographers, so we have one of the most documented weddings of the new millennium. Artists, Costumed Minstrels, Shamans, Portraits of dead Ancestors and real live family members who had never seen the like. Calling in the four directions, drinking from a sacred chalice, dawning masks and jewelry for the ritual, quotes read from Shakespear, the Bible, and our parents. All the artistic and ancient traditions of love came together on a gorgeous day that opened with double rainbows after the New Year’s eve rain.

I was actually surprised to find out that life could get any better after marriage, but it did. Something in Al relaxed after the wedding. Some deep fear of abandonment settled in to a cozy happiness that I did not even know was missing before. I believe he is a keeper. He is the love of my life.

Don’t give up people. You will never know until you give it a try. But if you are lucky like me, spirit guides are on your side.

The Amazing Mr Flanagan

Stephanie tells us that Pat is on his death bed. She is passing through the vigil one keeps at the side of their beloved who is coming to the end of this life. I can’t believe Pat could be anything but immortal. If it is true, he will be joining Gimele in the part of my soul where people I love are forever young, a place once visited by us and recorded on Al’s videos of our timeless days together.

I hover between overly full of words to share, and respectful silence, honoring my disbelief that time has taken its toll on friends I have not seen in a decade. The urgency of the moment is suspended in a wordless wholeness, and I remember where and what we have been to each other. I know he can read our thoughts from wherever he is now.

There is no one place to begin – so many worthy tales to tell about our friend, Pat Flanagan. He lives large in ways that have shifted our consciousness, and inspired deepening purpose, in us, and the many beloved members of our techno tantric tribe of mad scientists, shamans, inventors, healers and dreamers.

I love about Pat Flanagan is that he thinks and LIVES outside of the box of ordinary reality. When I remember him, it is for abundantly sharing from his stash of incredible mystery, surprising science, profound love and hidden meaning, always with a great sense of humor. Often he tells the story of his childhood encounters with aliens. Every night as he slept awake, they beat him up, urgently insisting that he not fail in his destiny to invent certain things and accomplish his earthly assignments. In the time I have known him, he never wastes a minute of his life, spending it either on science experiments, teaching some fascination he studied, or entertaining a klatch of friends with original comedy, music, impressions of John Wayne, laser lights and dance parties. He is so far out that serious people might not get how down to earth he really is. Never a wallflower, times with Pat are unforgettable.

We meet on a day mid 1990’s when he was giving a lecture in San Francisco. Al and I are there to record, as usual, a genius lecture in SF. On that day, there were two happening–one upstairs, and one downstairs in stacked conference rooms at the Marriot. The other one was a multi-incarnated Tibetan Lama, and what I remember from his talk is the teaching “Once a Buddha, always a Buddha, even in the lifetimes before you wake up and realize you are the Buddha.” Probably, Patrick Flanagan is a buddha, already awake. He told Allan and I when we first met that he remembers meeting us and his future wife Stephanie (our roommate at the time) in our future lives together. We all are friends then, and he tells us that we took a trip into time, travelling back together to appear in the current time line.

Long before our life together unfolds, he foretells that we will create amazing events together involving lightships and lasers. That is exactly what happened over the couple of decades bridging the new millennium. Our cosmic crew created the video fusion Swarm Blendo Station and brought hypnotic ecstatic visuals to light up bands, especially “Lost At Last” from Maui, and revelers at many festivals and dance parties over the years. Pat and his incredible multi-colored lasers supercharge up the festivities and rituals.

Pat and Steph always show up in amazing style, bringing with them such treasures as big green circus tents and giant inflated domes for dancing on the playa at Burning Man, and the awesome towers of Emerald City, which are beacons of light for burners finding their way home in the otherwise confusing darkness after the Man is burned. Pat shared his arts of phi frequencies and sacred geometries and sponsored many mystics to bring out their arts. Picture transformative festivals like the Mystic Beat Lounge and Garden Party, The Anon Salon, The Harmony Festival… There are too many epic adventures to list, but a few can be mentioned here for future embellishment.

Where did all these fireworks begin? Pat and Steph meet and fall in love in Boulder Creek, CA at the Goddess Temple International, a place curated and cultivated by that master of media and mystical arts, the wondrous Penny Slinger Hills.

Penny Slinger is known as “Europe’s Foremost Erotic Artist,” celebrated for her prolific work in many artistic media, film, theater, collage just to name a few. She paints with a photorealistic eye, and the soul of a goddess. Her subjects are sexy and shocking and feminist, historically accurate as they exault deities of all ages in all times. The revolutionary classic book “Sexual Secrets, The Alchemy of Ecstasy” is full of her drawings of tantric arts from the temples of India, which had never been seen in the western world until her talents revealed them on the page. Years after her mastery of all things KamaSutra, Penny is conjured to Boulder Creek around 199? by the famous Light Force Spirulina entrepreneur and wizard, (and Pat’s best friend), Christopher Hills. In a love letter invoking his “God-DESS”, which Penny embodies in every detail, Christopher summoned his soul mate Penny for a romance that continues forever into the future, even beyond the last three years of his life on earth which they enjoyed together. After the passing of her beloved Christopher, Penny devoted herself to hosting many evolutionary cultural events and amazing people at their home amid the redwoods. Artists the world over heard the epic tales of The Goddess Temple, the tantric arts, sacred costuming, dance, theater, music… all muses, goddesses, deities and myths of time were celebrated in wonderful gatherings where epic shamanic arts bubbled into being.

While Stephanie is at the Goddess Temple meeting Patrick, Al and I are home building a storage shed so we can clear out a room in our tiny house for Stephanie to live with us. I called it our “Stephanie Storage Shed,” because I like the alliteration. She was in transition after the death of her husband, a man she felt she had known for many lifetimes. Our place in Boulder Creek is gifted with beautiful nature, soothing and nurturing, and a good place to make new plans. After a few hours of the endless shed building project, Steph takes a break to visit Penny at the Goddess Temple. Days later, as we notice her absence in the completion of the project, we can feel the planets shifting their alignment. We soon learn of the birth of a great love affair between Patrick and Stephanie. They, like us, never left each other’s side much after the lightning struck (metaphorically). That day marks the beginning of the drama, comedy, tragedy, pain and glory of their epic story of forever lovers. For a little while, before their journey took them to the land of longevity in Equator. we got to witness what unfolded close up. For sure, this is not the usual rodeo. Whew, what a ride!

The story of Pat’s life is easy to find on the web, since he told it often, and he is a bit famous among his many admirers and scoffers. I reflect my own echoes of memory here to set the stage for folks who have for some reason not yet discovered. I hope Allan will pepper this text with links to the videos someday, and then you won’t have to imagine so much. We like to say, you can’t make this stuff up!

Some straight stiffs in suits might judge Patrick to be outrageous, a man who told tall tales, who looked like a leprechaun selling snake oil. IMHO, Patrick has mastery of many mystical skills, but primarily he is a scientist who devotes himself to learning the things that mystics of all ages have discovered. He started young, and stayed busy expanding what he knew. I am guessing a five on the enneagram, but jovial as a seven, and dramatic as a four.

As a youngster, for his seventh grade science project, he invents a “little missile detector” while making sense of radio signal patterns he discovered while probing the HAM radio waves. He won the class science fair, and also the attention of the men in black from the 1950’s Pentagon charged with spotting genius in young American scientists. Pat spent the prime of his youth and early adulthood as a researcher in the service of the US government and probably some covert military forces.

Pat’s self-educated wealth of knowledge draws upon the crossroads of an unusual multidisciplinary array of subjects. Over his life of constant study, he achieves mastery of physics, geometry, fluid dynamics, chemistry, anatomy, electrical and mechanical engineering, linguistics, history, and he especially collects insights from original source materials written by any historical or contemporary genius who attracts his attention. All this information, plus an Irish gift of blarney and gab, makes Patrick Flanagan an excellent story teller.

At the age of 14, he invents a device known as the Neurophone® that enabled deaf people to hear. Ultimately, he receives two patents for it after years of suing the US Government following their confiscation of the tech for “national security.” He works on military linguistics projects, teaching dolphins to understand a few instructions and help humans detect enemy submarines. More importantly, he also studies their linguistics and telepathic techniques. A bit of a dolphin himself, Pat sometimes speaks a few dolphin words for fun.

Animals love Patrick, as if they can see the extra light in his aura and his eyes. I once saw a bird meet him for the first time, and totally fall in love. She fluffed up her feathers and started singing, and while Patrick praised her for her beauty, she hopped proudly to sit on his shoulder as long as he liked. He and Steph always kept a beloved cat, a menagerie of birds, and an open channel to messages from wildlife they met at home and while traveling.

As a young man, Patrick is proud to be the apprentice and inheritor of the torch to research the pet projects of Dr Henry Coanda, known as the Father of Fluid Dynamics. “Water is the most important thing you put in your body, but not all water is equal”, said the legendary Romanian scientist as he told the young Dr Flanagan about his 60 year quest for the Fountain of Youth.

Dr Coanda notices that the people of the highest mountain regions of the world, including the Himalayan mountains in Kashmir, India/Pakistan/Tibet, experienced the longest life spans of any known humans. He observes that the unpolluted, highly mineralized water they drink is a common element among the cultures. His research ultimately focuses Patrick on the study H2O and mineral crystallization. Pat becomes an expert in the properties of hydrogen, and creates two nutritional supplements, Crystal Energy for water, and “MicroHydrin.” He manufactures them with a secret process that forms “bucky balls” to house and slowly release powerful alkalizing hydrogen ions for neutralization of free radicals. The original product is now renamed “MegaH” and sold on his Flantech website. Renaming his invention was required because the trademark name of his original formula was stolen and the formula corrupted by the multilevel marketing company who he first trusted to distribute the invention.

Employing his brilliance, Pat knows the highs of success in business, and with his generous and trusting nature, he has also experienced the lows. He is inventive, industrious, and entrepreneurial, so by the time we know him, he has developed quite the Midas touch. Pat loves to pass on lessons in the laws of abundance that he learned along the way. He says things like, “there is always room at the top.” He partnered with us to sell DVDs of his lectures in the early days of the new digital media platform, and our efforts were very successful from the start.

Pat first gains epic financial success after publishing his book, “Pyramid Power.” By this time, we might think of him as a fringe scientist because he embraced the belief that geometrical forms could create physical qualities such as harmony. He taught new agers that placing a fruit under a pyramid could keep it fresh, and many have found the experiment repeatable. More profound for me is his study of the audio harmonics of PHI. Phi is the frequency of the perfect octave, which can be scaled infinitely up or down. Patrick loves to demonstrate this frequency at lectures, resulting in a subtle but noticeable effect. Everyone in the room becomes elevated, experiencing an ineffable and rarified state of well being.

In the early years with Stephanie, we and all the Dreamspell kin are invited to celebrate the “Day Out of Time” at their home in Sedona. Michael Moore, Kelly D,, Allan and I write a play as we caravan from California to Arizona, which we cast and perform at the weekend gathering. “Entering Paradise” is a fiction with the main characters loosely inspired by our hosts, Patrick and Stephanie. Brett Leonard plays the almighty God, sporting a female persona for the new fashions of time. The main characters just died in a car crash, and they have angels on their shoulders trying to coach them on the right thing to say in order to be let in at the pearly gates. After the curtain falls on the performance, many other scenes from the party play out through the night. Stephanie swims bravely and naked through the pond on the hill. Next, she and Pat offer words in a casual wisdom ceremony. Later on the party guests gather around the vanishing pool and look for starships in the sky. We warm ourselves in the giant hot tub with a luscious waterfall that keeps the water clean. As we soak and marvel ancient mysteries and living legends, we reassure ourselves that life is but a dream.

One of our best adventures together transpires in the years 1999 and 2000. Allan and I decide to celebrate the New Year with our tribe on Maui. We offer lightshow visuals and videography for the big NYE event at the Wailuku country club, planning to capture great memories from the parade of old friends and colorful characters celebrating not only the new year, but the new century and new millennium.

1999 NYE kicks off with a Dance of the Seven Veils. Seven rainbow costumed goddesses each dance a color to life, the Green Veil belonging to the hypnotic performer, our friend, Veronica Sandor. Our favorite musicians, LOST AT LAST, play a few sets of familiar trippy trance-dance favorites. We video and blendo and light the ecstatic. After the show inside is over, the tribe moves outside for digeree doos and drumming. Either naked, or dressed in our best millennial fashions, we line up single file just at midnight to dance our way forward in time to the beats, and pass under a flaming arch into the new time frequency. Fire dancers light yin and yang in the air, and magical people like Celestine “Golden” Star and Micheal “Lake” Crowley bless us with poetry, rhythm and myth.

Where were Patrick and Stephanie for this amazing cultural event? Well, they opted out of the Maui celebration. Why? Well a little background sets the scene. The end of the 20th century, coming to completion on December 31, 1999 was famously known as Y2K, Year 2000. A popular myth was circulating among the cultural creatives. People in the know were expecting our world to come to a halt because some programming glitch in the computers we all had so recently become dependent upon would cause a catastrophic crash of the electrical and financial grid,. Such folk believed there would be havoc and mayhem. So, in preparation for this potentiality, Pat and Steph decided to spend the epic holiday safe at their home in Cornville, Arizona.

When nothing happened, we sent a message from Maui to Cornville, and awaited their reply, which did not come immediately. We hoped for the best and feared the worst, but really we had such a great time, we just felt sorry that our buddies were missing it. Our Crew, including LawnMower Man Director Brett Leonard, and his baby mama Kelly D, created a little “Fringe News” web video report about our efforts to survive the prophesied Y2K disaster at our epic gathering on Maui.

We sent the message to Pat and Steph as a holiday greeting, teasing them about their choice to stay safe on the mainland. When we got back from Maui, Al and I visited Pat and Steph to see how they fared, still safe in Arizona.. We made another “Fringe News” report, interviewing Stephanie about their state of the art survival shelter, and Pat’s native Texan skills with a six-shooter. As you can see from the video, we made a great effort to answer this question: Wouldn’t YOU rather spend the doom days at the end of time in a ten by twelve foot dugout with a composting toilet, defending yourself from mutant neighbors who are pissed that you are not sharing your survival stash with them, instead of dancing under the Maui moon to a tribal shamanic beat? That’s why we love you guys! Keeping us focused on how bad things can get!

By the following New Year’s Eve in 2001, we light up the Clock Tower on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz together. While he prepares a laser lightshow for the occasion, Pat sponsors us to create a countdown animation for the Santa Cruz First Night celebration. For the last seven minutes of NYE2000, the First Night crowd cuddles and watches our “history of time” video count down to the very stroke of midnight, at which time Pat’s bright green lasers bathe the New Year’s clock tower in prophetic sacred geometries for the new year, 2001. The Future is so bright, we gotta wear shades! The lasers hit a disco ball, and actually burn a small hole in our camera sensor! It was truly a show of Art and Shamanism at their finest hour, at a time we were ready for a bright new future to begin. It was an innocent time, and hopes ran high.

As Burning Man buddies for many years, we treasure our memories of Pat and Steph’s Wizard of Oz theme camp, Emerald City, where we are cast as the wicked witch and the scare crow. Of course, Steoh and Pat play Dorothy and the Wizard. , Our cast of characters also includes Glynda the Good Witch (Rowan Gabrielle), the Tin Man(?), the Cowardly Lion (Sensai Richard Van Donk), flying monkeys, plus Michael Moore as greeter/gatekeeper at the entrance to Emerald City. During the first year the green tent landed on the playa, our crew endures a fierce dust storm that threatened to whisk the tent away. All bodies in our cast of characters each grab a canvas wall and hold the tent to the ground with sheer will and the weight of our bodies while the hurricane rages. Afterwards, as we all unbury ourselves, we realize we are not on the Playa any more, but rather truly in OZ! We are all covered with a healthy coat of Playa dust. And so is everytihing inside the rescued green tent. Patrick grabs a can of Dustoff, which we always brought to keep our screens clean, and starts blasting dust off of our tables and our faces – about as effective as emptying a swimming pool with a teaspoon, as Allan likes to say. We laugh hard and pat ourselves off, kicking up new dust clouds, grateful for surviving the storm.

These precious memories are but a few, and we have survived many other storms, as well. Those tales will rest for anther day. The sun sets as the Sphyx watches, looking to the west. The lion who lurks in that Sphynx’s heart guards the portals of the afterlife, preventing any KA from re-entering through that gate. We have danced together under these eternal mysteries, of Egypt and all time. Thank you once again, my friend, for the many memories this time around.

Seduction, Addiction & Video Games

I am unapologetically a lifetime computer geek, although dated in terms of the fast moving world of internet inventions. As a throwback infomaniac to the time of digital innocence, I am one of the best and brightest minds of a utopian generation, a time traveller who put my footsteps down in a sandbox during the earliest emergent era of the information superhighway. Creatives like me were called to “Think Different” and discover our amazing future selves in a brave new world by inventing every new nuance of computers and digital media. We did it. It was our dream, and we sped up at least a few generations of humans in their predestined race to the end of time.

The addiction of screens came easy to me, a sort of love at first sight. There was something awakening and exciting. I felt a satisfying sense of clairvoyance while testing out all the menus of a new computer program, and learning what the programmer was thinking when they made it.

Over the years, so many new ways to learn and spend time became a blur in what I celebrated as a love of lifetime learning. I fancied my purpose in life was to make jobs for artists by teaching them to be literate in the computer arts. I cheered as computers ate the book industry, the music industry, the movie industry, the shopping industry, the financial industry. I still live among icons to the past, surrounded by books, paintings, art and physical workout equipment. But I love knowing how huge is the size of the digital universe contained on my countless hard drives and on the other side of a connected web browser.

Did anything really great come of it, this era introducing smartphones, meet ups and social media? Were we ready for all this accelerated new power, at the cost of the slow and grow aspects of nature and our higher natures? By reinventing ourselves, did we abandon our stewardship of life and tip the balance of survival toward the next great planetary extinction? Or is it true that divinity only delivers the lessons that we are ready for, pilgrims?

What I have found to be true for myself is that, despite loving screens and all the time I spend in front of them, I feel an overwhelm that zaps my curiosity sometimes. I am a computer game addict. By the way I squander my screen time, I must admit that apparently, unconsciously, I much prefer the type of dopamine hit carefully planted by programmers devoted to computer game addiction than the more cultured accomplishments of reading, tweeting, painting, animating, video editing, researching… all the great things an intelligent person can do if they follow their prefs while clicking through and posting to the digital universe.

I am antisocial in an age social media, which I shun in dislike of too many distractions from strangers and even friends embracing the skills of constant demand for attention. Wanting more control of the type of attention I engage, I lurk on facebook more than I post. I neglect my websites and social profiles for years, disregard hundreds of requests for following or friending. Instead, I crush blocks, sort aces through kings, or of late, create characters in role playing games. I love it, but in terms of creating, we are talking major waste of time. Eye candy, light show, bells and music loops… there is something temporarily pleasant that is free of trolls, money sucks, and con artists.

Now, I have done my writing assignment for this morning, Back to another game of solitaire before breakfast. Hmmm. Why do I love thee? Why?

JUD – Justice Under Democracy

If you lived in San Francisco between 1971 and 1991, you might find a free newspaper around town called the Utopian Classroom, which was published by a group of Haight/Asbury artists called Keristans. I was one of the last generation of the Kerista tribe for the final five years it existed. A very big man, and a very big influence on a very big chapter of my life, meet the late JUD Presmont, the Founder of Kerista Commune.

I joined Kerista, a group living experiment affectionately known by the members as a “hippie sex cult” in 1986. JUD was 63. There is much to say about Kerista, thus the link above, but for now my focus is on a few stories about me and JUD. My father was one of many men both pissed and fascinated by the way this aging hippie/swinger/ “cult leader” was able to seduce young women well into his senior years. As we would lie in bed after an orgasm, he liked to say that sex was the greatest mystery. At the time, I thought he meant something cosmic, but now I suspect he was marveling at his own ability to sleep with a new twenty something woman as fat old man over sixty. He described our “intentional community” as a “scene” that did the work to bring in the right people. He described many a person and their pet beliefs and theories as spouting “a rap to get laid.” He meant it as both a dismissal and a compliment.

Keristans were in the business of selling their utopian lifestyle to people who thought they might be a good fit. Group living, lots of sex, high ideals, voluntary surplus income sharing, all laid out in their social contract, the “Blueprint for Heaven on Earth.” These ideas had been honed over 40 years of lifestyle experimentation by JUD and various incarnations of the Kerista tribe by the time I discovered them in 1986. Robert Anton Wilson had written a piece on Kerista in the sixties in New York when Jud was a bohemian in Soho, and came again to interview JUD and the Keristans while I was a member in San Francisco in the eighties. This scene had roots! There were chapters before my time that connected with other well known icons, scenes/cults, including Dau Free John and Ishvara of Harbin Hot Springs, the much beloved clothing optional resort in Middletown, Ca.  Keristans loved to have naked dance parties at Harbin, and JUD had supported Ishvara in early legal challenges involving the ownership rights of the Harbin volunteers and stakeholders.

As younger men living on Dominica Island, JUD and Dau were peers and friends, both interested in better living through intentional community. As happened often in his life, Jud’s cantankerous personality ultimately led to a breakdown in the friendship. He liked to tell the story of their last heated encounter.  “If you are actually a divine guru, then you don’t need me to believe in you, and if you are not, then go fuck yourself” is a quote I heard many times as brother JUD reminisced.

In five years of life with Brother JUD and the Keristans, I mastered the martial art of bullshit detection, and that has often served me well in life. The tribe practiced a flavor of confrontational conflict resolution called “Gestalt-O-Rama” which might pass for abuse in the molly-coddled modern era. At the time, however, it seemed very Yiddish to me, well intentioned if not polite, and compatible with the brutally honest, angry and acerbic Italian culture of my family. I embraced the power of direct psychological probing with a passion, and learned to cut to the chase when issues came up.

I remember the feeling of having my beliefs challenged the first time I met with Keristans. When I was invited to meet a group of commune members at the weekly “Growth Coop” rap group, I faced questions that urged me to take a stand and define my values. A physical sensation which I usually describe as cottage cheese in my forehead revealed to me that my thoughts were unclear, and full of contradictions. In a  fog brained encounter I can partly remember, it seemed like a friendly conversation became awkward, but I did not understand why.  This was the beginning of a life full of lessons in self actualization, as I began  to identify my own patterns of defensiveness in a situation designed to test my confidence and challenge  my beliefs.

Long story short, at the Growth Coop, the routine was to ask people to read the social contract, and if they agreed with everything, then offer  a chance to give the Keristan lifestyle a try. If there were no “contradictions” then there should be no problems, and we could all celebrate finding that rarest of treasures, a new member of the commune.

When quizzed by the members of what would become my very own sex cult, I thought the ideal life for me would be as a single mom in a collective lifestyle that included other single moms, and as an afterthought, also a community of people of all ages. The fog started rolling into my brain when I said something about people of all ages. Agism was one of the taboos in the Keristan social contract. Looking back, I imagine it was JUD’s idea to make Agism taboo, so he could benefit from the natural horniness of the new young members interested in the tribe.

But inside my cranium, the real reason for the fog was the many competing and contradictory beliefs in my young mind about serious subjects like sex, parenting, love, abandonment, and a host of other submerged passions, fears, and disappointments. Lots of unconscious thoughts and their associated sub-personalities woke up when a few polite beliefs were challenged.

I was interested in Kerista because I was wounded in the traditional family values department. My parents divorce had left me sour on the idea of lifetime marriage, and my encounters with boyfriends left me feeling I would be better off on my own than partnering with a man to start my family.  As a woman, I felt destined to have a child… especially since getting pregnant was pretty much the main reason for sex, biologically that is. Catholic roots, as well as scientific surrender to the facts still leads me to this belief.

One of Kerista’s bumper stickers bragged that we were “Horny as a Keristan.”  There was no shame about enjoying a good orgasm in this cult. I liked to call it the “Church of the Big O.” We were “Monks and/or Nuns in Paradise” and our religion was expressed in the Far Out West comics drawn by the amazing and wonderful Keristan artist, Even Eve. Perfect for me, a cult of genuine idealists with a rye sense of humor.

Polyfidelity and Compersion are two words invented by the commune to explain that the new family structure was both non-monogamous, and committed. My era in the commune was at the dawn of the aids crisis, which more than anything can be credited with putting brakes on the post sixties free love revolution. In the confusing aftermath of the sixties, women my age thought they could “have it all.” The sexual freedom and independence enjoyed by men, plus the economic status and financial equality of a well paid full time job.

Women of my generation received the gift of RoeVWade and legal birth control at the blossoming of their age of consent. They delayed becoming young mothers so the could “have it all.” We had not quite realized yet that raising children was a full time job, and that money was something people could never get enough of, and would soak up all time not otherwise committed.

At Jud’s suggestion, the Keristans were willing to grant me an exception to the “voluntary childlessness” item in the social contract if I joined and remained a member for five years. Ironic how the whole thing fell apart just as I met the five year mark.

In short, it was a very confusing time. Personal independence, self worth and self expression, sexual identity, partnership, and ideas of future parenting were all deeply intertwined, and poorly understood. I secretly believed that society was offering me a raw deal, with too little incentive to carry the lion’s share of the burden of raising the next generation without enough security or rewards. Thus, the appeal of communal living with kindred single moms!

Lets unpack that young woman’s belief system a little more.

As a liberated, self-supporting woman, I embraced my sexuality as freedom, adulthood, and self expression. Having all sisters and no brothers growing up, and a dad who divorced and practically disappeared from my life when I was 15, I did not know much of the world of men. I lacked preconceptions and experience regarding their agenda’s, wiring, cliches—all things I have many more opinions about today.

At that time, I was all about discovering my own inner landscape, my own sexual identity. It did not occur to me that I was an innocent, and that my inexperience would be easy for a more mature person to manipulate. I felt like I was in charge, except for the fact that I had no experience to anticipate the consequences of my choices.

I did not have to account to anyone except myself for my choices. I did not share my unconventional beliefs with my mother, which in hindsight led to many avoidable tragedies. Yet, at the time, it was my parent’s and their discarded catholic programming of my conscience that I did not trust, because it was formed by my someone else’s expectations. I had committed myself to taking responsibility in a world I believed my parents did not understand. . I suspended self judgment in order to surrender to new experiences, to gain my own experience and awareness. In the end, I can say that was a valuable journey, though in hindsight, there are bridges I would have crossed instead of burned, and that might have made the journey easier and less painful for myself and others.

OK, so I guess this is not quite about JUD yet. It’s still all about me. The thing is, that JUD was not afraid to point out contradictions in one’s beliefs, and that very fact could unravel years of personality accumulation. As people met their disconnected subpersonalities, they might become defensive, combatant, teary, or any combination of unstable and vulnerable. So, needless to say, it could be dicey. The journey did have its own rewards however. As JUD often liked to say, The Truth will set you free… but first it will make you squirm. I would say, that is the secret of bullshit detection. When you feel that foggy head from all those competing beliefs, its time to admit there are obstacles to knowing the truth. And slow down. There is time…take it step by step, and make choices that will clear up the confusion. Just aim for the high ground, and surrender what you don’t really want to bring with you.

That’s all for now. Lots to unpack.

Day One – A Writer Writes

Just yesterday we began the challenge. My beloved and I started to make a list of all the stories we could tell about ourselves, our friends, our past, and so much unknown history about the weird new normal times we live. The challenge was posed by Nick Almighty, arguably the most famous of our besties. He was pondering Jack Kerouac as one of the great writers of his age because he wrote true tales about the most interesting icons of his personal history. We and our friends are way more interesting, and way more involved in living and shaping the evolutionary history of the pre-millenium. We are old enough to look back on our years, and note the unexpected changes that defined our lifetimes…We sowed and hoed the fertile ground of cultural, techno, sexual, and shamanic experiences that shifted the California people of the left coast, and eventually the whole planet earth, to the new mutated history of life that we now leave for future generations to inherit and interpret.

Where to begin?

There are too many characters to introduce all at once.
Perhaps a definition:
synectics[ si-nek-tiks ]
noun (used with a singular verb)
the study of creative processes, especially as applied to the solution of problems by a group of diverse individuals.

That’s nerdy enough. Interesting, but not quite the romantic tragic comedy I am looking to describe.
People of my kind have been called many things during this age of branding and marketing. Too late to be a Boomer, too early for GenX, I am officially a “Lostie” from that generation between the Vietnam draft dodgers and the Me Generation of Latchkey kids with career and “liberated” single Moms. My peers span the WWII “Best Generation” of my husband’s parents era to the late blooming moms who chose to have kids in their forties, most of them living with or married to “second wife” dads.

Nerds and feminists, yuppies, rainbows, and LGBTQX all gained visibility and respect on my watch, but I still don’t know how to label myself. New Age Goddess, Evolutionary Agent, TechnoShaman, Cyberhippie, Cultural Creative… these are some of the monikers I might consider printing on a round of my conscious entrepreneur business cards, or Computer Graphic Artist, Video Producer, Radio Talk Host if I hope to appeal to people with wallets. As 2020 approaches, thought leaders say that Activism is the defining quality of youth today, but I hardly keep up with that chapter of political activism, being a victim of white priveledge that damages my progressive credentials, despite my empathetic and fair minded heart.

I am a throwback since I retired because I am not a slave to my smart phone, my calendar, or my social network. This does tend to be a bit isolating, however, since my friends live lives that scream “Be Here Now” on a psychedelic book cover which disguises their calendar of commitments for the next three to six months. For me, except for a handful of family birthdays and Thanksgiving holidays, the year is basically clear of saved dates. The only pulse in my week is the FUTURE TUESDAY radio show I do with my husband. And the days are pulsed with inefficiently enjoyed reading and online games, meals, housework, shopping, and cooking. So far, we have savings, investments and income that brings in more than we need to pay the modest bills, but the stats on inflation make it impossible to relax and assume this will always be true in the future. For the most part, finances, taxes and insurance are on autopilot, requiring the monthly tally and annual overview at year end. We live healthy and plan to live quite a few more decades, if not somehow making through to the promised singularity where everyone lives as long as they like, which has always been predicted to be in about thirty years by that sage of longevity, Ray Kurzweil.

So, there should be time to write a little chapter of look back everyday. That is the challenge. Here we begin.

 

Stillness

What my friend Ashoka says is true. STILLNESS is underrated.

I mean, what is the SOUND of one hand clapping? Ever thought about that?
All you lovely people are paying attention to this person at the microphone, and you are expecting something, right? You are expecting me to tell a story, or share a song so you can sing along. Something we can do together, that makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.
You are out there, I am up here, and we are all … ANTICIPATING…
And I know that if I say NOTHING… WAIT FOR IT…
That is going to create a reaction in each of you. At first you might not notice, but then you WILL notice.
Your head is FULL of thoughts!
That is the POWER of STILLNESS. It fills an empty space.
It’s the sound of WAITING, and WATCHING
For A WHALE on the horizon where the sky meets the line of the sea
And that vast empty ocean is full of life
But it’s invisible. It’s out of sight. But we know it is there, we just have to
WAIT FOR IT…
Thank you, Thank you all you backstage drivers. You hecklers and want to be movie stars… 
Thank you for filling that empty void. We all felt relief when you broke the silence. It was uncomfortable.
Thank you all so much for being so anxious to fill the empty space with some vibration other than…
A PREGNANT PAUSE…
You saved us all from having those loud annoying questions rattling around in our brains
Is it my turn to speak? Is it time to clap? With one hand maybe? What’s next? 
I know it was uncomfortable. I’m sorry. I took you by surprise. So this time I will warn you.
There is a WHOLE LOT OF STILLNESS coming up fast. I want you to WAIT FOR IT…
What do you think is the longest time that we can go in STILLNESS?
It is underrated because It’s a waste of time, right?
Do you feel trapped? Do you want to check your cell phone now that there is some free time?
Do you find your checklist filling up your mind?
Just stay with me a little bit longer, ok? Let’s all take a deep breath. MIME
[POINT TO CHIN AND LOOK UP, QUESTIONING]
[POINT TO EAR AND INVITE ALL TO LISTEN]
[POINT TO MEMBERS OF AUDIENCE AND ASK QUESTIONS WITH SILENT EXPRESSIONS]
[SMILE TO ASK “HAPPY” THEN FROWN TO ASK “SAD”]
[WIPE BROW IN RELIEF]
[SMELL SOMETHING WONDERFUL]
Did you like that? 
Have we lost something beautiful here in 2019?
Do you remember to enjoy the peace of an unscheduled moment?
Can you hear a quiet thought all by yourself in a busy room full of strangers?
The secret is STILLNESS. It’s always right there. Right here. Everywhere!
It is the default, the autopilot unfolding perfectly as it should,
unhurried and unworried. And all you have to do…
is (All together now)
WAIT FOR IT!

Wordless Vision

I suddenly understand the nature of being, the secret of consciousness, the story of time. So there is nothing left to say and no one to say it to.

And yet, each day for more than 50 years I awoke not knowing this, and lived my life full of feelings, emotions, memories, and stories.

Just this morning, I noticed my mind dreaming, making stories. I noticed the stories came from my feelings. My feelings came from my thoughts. My thoughts came from all over the universe. They came from the past, as early as yesterday and as long ago as infinity, with many many mini lives lived by me in between. They came from the last dream I had just before this first moment of awakening, where I, still the silent witness of fast flowing consciousness sensed for the first time my own eye, so shy, so humble, so ubiquitous, so invisible. So free, cannot even be captured by the loving self of memory. Who is this DIVINE EYE?

This invisible watcher I now know, and just met, is always probing the known universe, reaching with senses into a vastness of creation, the treasures of reality created before this first moment.

The all is everywhere, but when you look back at everything, it isn’t there. I can’t see the forest in the tree. That is the smallness of being me.

A gift that doesn’t fit

Only keep the things that Spark JOY! I tell myself as I stare at my cluttered closet. It’s time for spring cleaning. Where to begin?

(Blow the dust off and cough! Then smell the scented soap.)

This scented soap is from my friends who got married. It is Engraved with their names and given away at their wedding. I missed the wedding, so they gave it to me for Christmas. I guess they had extras. I am going to SPARK SOME JOY and pass this gift on to my friend who Always gifts people with scented soap.  THANK YOU Scented soaps!

What else can I get rid of here. What about this RugDoctor? This HUGE BOX was a present from my husband.  I ASKED him to clean up after he spilled a Kombucha on the white carpet. He tells ME this “ROBOT” will take care of it. I am STILL waiting for him to take it out of the box and use it. HE is still waiting for ME to train his ROBOT to clean up the MESS! This does NOT SPARK MY JOY, honey.  I want you and your robot to finish the job. I am taking it out of the closet. THANK YOU Rug Doctor!

Oh boy. Look at this coat. Let me tell you about this gift from my StepMom. It was a Christmas present that arrived in February. She transposed the zip code, so it arrived for Chinese New Year instead. I have heard that Chinese people believe you should never open a present in front of the person who gave it to you. It’s a good thing she was’t here when I opened the box, because I took one look at it and  I wanted to put it back in the box and wrap it up for someone else. REALLY? Is THIS how I DRESS? Is this how you think I dress?

There  was a time when I might have been delighted to go out in public dressed like this.  Right now, it is definitely a test for my comfort zone. These bright colors feel like they are calling attention to my grey hairs, and wrinkles, and the twenty extra pounds I have gained since I was a teenager. When I opened this gift, it made me feel like I am getting too old for presents!

I did NOT feel any spark of joy, at first. But then, I noticed another gift my friends got for me, these batik pants I am wearing.  It took me awhile to notice, but  I held the coat up with the pants…and Voila. A perfect match!  Wow. Hmm.

I am seeing a pattern here. Instead of giving the trippy coat away, I decide to stroll around town all dressed up this way. I am feeling a full range of emotions now, from proud to paranoid, and from guilt to gutsy.

I guess people really see me this way… kind of colorful, young at heart, with the fashion sense of a flower child! It’s sweet. I am definitely getting some personal growth out of these gifts.People smile when they see me wearing this. Strangers stop me as they open the door and tell me how much they appreciate this coat, and I see them imagine themselves wearing something just as wacky.  The security check guard at Cirq du Soleil forgot to check my bag for a firearm and just waved me thru!

You know what, I think I actually Love these clothes. You know why? Because  I love the way people respond to me when I wear them. I love the way I feel very loved in these duds, and I love the people who gave me these gifts, and the zany happy way they must be SEEING me.

Spark of Joy,! I guess I can wear this and feel like I am the gift! THANK YOU happy coat! I am GLAD to keep you!