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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
 
   
 
 

Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Toolset for Reality

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Thich Nhat Hanh keeps coming to mind. I would like to write something fresh and encouraging and good and entertaining for my weekly walkingthinice.com blog. My state of mind is such that I am not sure if I am in the right or wrong by not doing a particular project. Sometimes I think that rightness depends partially on the process one goes through to do the particular thing that is being evaluated as being right or wrong. There’s a kind of hysteresis to many processes.

Another thing that comes to mind is that I am holding a bunch of concepts in my mental hands, my buffer, and sometimes the concepts slide in and around each other when I don’t mean for them to. At least sometimes it produces good and meaningful results anyways.

But I’m holding these concepts in my “hands” and I sigh. How do I explain it? I am a multi-threaded process?

Which reminds me of semaphores. I am not very familiar with the word but have used the concept in programming. The word “semaphore” keeps on occurring to my mind the past two weeks. Wikipedia says “In computer science, a semaphore is a variable or abstract data type that provides a simple but useful abstraction for controlling access by multiple processes to a common resource in a parallel programming or multi user environment.”

Reality is providing me with clues–Thich Nhat Hanh and semaphores.

I have been thinking for a long time about my brain and the knowledge that is made available to me, and wondering how much of it is stored locally in my brain tissue versus how much is encoded on a quantum level elsewhere and can float in to me. I really don’t believe that I am limited by skin anymore.

How much is steeping, and how much can be compartmentalized, made distinct? When I sit in a room it is like steeping in the room, and the attributes of the room become available to me. When I invest in a group of smart people, I become smart in the topic of their specialty, although sometimes this takes time. Or if I watch a violent movie, the movie impresses itself on me and my subsequent reality in a way that I don’t like unless I somehow negotiate the situation well. Thich Nhat Hanh says to consume mindfully and that one benefits by not watching violent media.

I have a toolset, a mental toolset that I use to negotiate and navigate reality. It is still in development, but it works somewhat. I’ve got a mirror in my toolset–that’s for sure. I have my computer–my computer is a good tool for my toolset. And I have my notepad. Oh, I’ve got Spotify. And I’ve got praying, and I’ve got meditation. I have my word.

There’s what I already have, and there’s what I would like to add to the toolset or know that I already have anyways. I would like some capacitors and filters and transformers and transistors. I would like seeds, especially heirloom seeds–I’d like to be an aunt and I would like to make sure that my nieces and nephews and my family (everyone is my family) has good food to eat, and their descendants for as long as the Mother Earth will do it, and that Mother Earth will do this for quite a long time. I would like the future in my toolbox, the good future. I would like Nature and Civilization coexisting wonderfully forever. And the good present. And compassion towards the past.

I would like to plunk parts of the set onto the template with the understanding that the set is very large, and that what I plunk onto it might not always be pithy. I would like to plunk pieces of the puzzle onto it, the n-dimensional puzzle such that reality can interpolate gently, understand with compassion, extrapolate beautifully, and coat irritants in metaphorical pearl to remove any harm without harming that which has irritated. I would like language to be useful but for those who don’t have precise voices to not be limited by lack of technical know-how; I would like for every good impulse to be augmented and every not so good impulse to be transformed or damped.

I am not sure if this relates to your particular threads of reality or not, but it is some helpful stuff for me, and I share it with the caveat that I wish for you to explicitly wish to “do no harm,” but even if this seems silly, I wish for it to not cause harm regardless, and rather, to cause blessings.

~ Lady

 

smithfeet

Monday, January 21st, 2013

smithfeetsmithfeet

 

 

Disclaimers to the Universe RE Stations of the Lost and Found

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

I know that the Universe is affected pretty profoundly by what one puts out. When I do an issue of the city poetry zine, a lot of poetic energy returns to me as payment. When I spend time learning stuff for work on my own time, more paid work comes back to us as payment. When I volunteer for an activist cause, frequently the next day there will be some court ruling in favor of my perspective. This is indeed a Reality of Mind, and the microcosm of one’s local environment affects the macrocosm profoundly.

As a person concerned with the material I put out and help with for the Universe, I’ve had a bit of a time understanding how to rationalize my role as co-writer of our new book, Stations of the Lost and Found.

I pick up the book, and sirens charge down the street. The air gets excited and the birds stir. The sun goes behind a cloud. I open it and read its words of crimes past, and I make disclaimers to the Universe. I wrangle.

But intuitively, there’s this ball of volition in me, a ball of understanding, and it feels that the book is a good thing. Not that I want people to do the actions in the book, but that Smith’s life is a life I might have wanted to have lived just to have seen it.

Hard life, for sure. Taking pictures of his penis for art. Armed robbery. Shooting himself up with cocaine. Seemingly countless injuries as he tore against the very edges of the fabric of reality. Talking matter-of-factly about masturbation. Showing his wounds from women and daring to write about crying. Oozing art and poetic dividends from the scars in his skin, the falls, the hemorrhaging, the cancer.

Strangely enough, even as his wife I am sympathetic to his character in the book as he moves through his twenties trying to figure out how to find love. Strangely enough, I want the character to find true satisfaction in his relationships with either Red or Maudlin. More sympathy for Red as she was his wife.

I want him to straighten out through that ordeal. I want for him to have not put himself in jail, but I love the stories of his experiences in jail. Love his story about his fear of Ringo but I wouldn’t want anyone to experience the situation:

For the first six months I was in the tiers. A tier is seven two man cells and a shower, all enclosed in bars. Each night we were locked into our cells, and each morning let out to wander the six by fifty foot communal area. Our tier had Ringo. He was big, black, brutal, and did not like me, not because I was white, but because I wouldn’t get out of his way when he walked. And he walked all day in a continuous oval with a short detour each loop around me. He was working towards hurting me, and said so. Ringo scared the shit out of me. But I scared me more because I wouldn’t give in. When I’m that afraid, I seem to go out of my way to piss off what I’m afraid of. And what I was afraid of was bigger, stronger, faster, meaner, and an admitted fatal fighter. I felt ill.

Then the odd backhand of salvation. I had smuggled one too many letters out of prison. This letter described a psycho guard and his abuse of prisoners and their families. The warden called me to his office, showed me the illegal letter and quietly said, “Smuggling is eighteen months. I wonder if you have anything to say about your charges against the guard?”

“What I’ve written is not only true,” I said, “but I haven’t even scratched the surface of Sarge’s verbal and physical abuse of visiting wives.”

Warden told Sarge to return me to my cell, and for me to think about the eighteen months and we’d finish tomorrow.

I went to my cage and I worried. I worried about tomorrow. I worried about Sarge’s retaliation. I worried about the eighteen months. I worried about my wife who was sleeping with an excon who was not me. And I really worried about Ringo.

Next day the warden called me into his office and casually told me, “You’re moving downstairs to the dorm. I’m making you head cook.” No mention of the letter, Sarge, or the eighteen months.

One thing every prisoner wanted was a job that got you out of the cells and into the dorm with its one locked gate, radio and TV. And of all the jobs, cook was cockerel’s walk.

Switching so quickly from such certain sorrow to overwhelming wealth fucks your mind, sends too many threads simultaneously in too many different directions. Yet I instantly flashed: I’m free from Ringo.

If you’re going to be in prison, the kitchen’s the place to be. The best thing about working in the kitchen was I could eat what I wanted when I wanted. And I could wander about and find places of privacy. The menu was pretty basic because a chunk of money allotted for prison food went to the warden’s house budget instead. Even though I had never cooked anything before, I’d cook things like fifty gallons of chicken soup. Once I was awakened in the middle of the night by the highway patrol who’d brought in a deer that’d been hit by a car. I’d never done it before, but I skinned and gutted that deer; did it two more times before I left. Whenever I felt like it, I’d fry myself a venison steak. Even when I fall into shit, I find roses around me.

There might have been ten of us in the dormitory, and over a hundred fifty in the prison. To be in the prison dorm, you had to have a prison job. There were dishwashers, food servers, people who fixed things inside prison, somebody who did lawn work and outside tasks and someone else who ran errands. There was no compensation to having a prison job other than getting to live in the dorm, having a little more freedom, and being treated a whole lot nicer. The dorm had a TV and radio and books to read. I always thought it weird to see prisoners sitting around the dorm watching cop shows on TV and rooting for the cops.

After I was down in the dorm a while, one of the trustees ratted out Ringo, who in punishment was supposed to be in a locked cell in a locked tier three floors up. We were all sitting around watching TV, and in walked Ringo, taller, stronger and larger than any of us. Rat was Woody Allen’s size.

Ringo said to Rat, “You ratted me out.”

Rat said no.

Ringo repeated, “You ratted me out.”

Rat really did rat out Ringo, and we all knew it. He had also ratted my letter. Rat started denying again but Ringo hit him hard in the face, knocked him to the concrete floor, and STOMPED five times on his head with his hard work boot. With each stomp, Rat’s head banged against the concrete and bounced up to meet the down-coming boot which smacked his head even harder into the concrete as Ringo said one word per stomp: “You. . shouldn’t. . have. . done. . that.”

None of us moved or spoke, not once. Ringo turned and looked at us to see if he had a problem, decided he didn’t, and left. Rat got up, stemmed the blood, and his head swelled to twice its size.

That’s when I knew I was not the me I thought was me, but the me I needed to be. It’s not my only lesson, but it is one that worked. Had I said or done something, one of two things would have occurred. I’d be dead, or the others would have rallied and we would have stopped Ringo. But had that second happy Hollywood scene occurred, at some time, at some place, Ringo would have found me and hurt me. I know now I did the right thing for me, but it did cost me my mirror mirror on the wall who’s the hero here of all view of myself.

I think the Universe has kept Smith alive because he has written his stories down and because he has pushed the boundaries as a kind of explorer. I’m hoping the Universe agrees and finds the story thrilling and interesting, but doesn’t let it cause harm.

~ Lady

~ ~ ~

The memoir Stations of the Lost & Found by Smith & Lady is available for $20 at https://www.createspace.com/3903652. We’ll have 20 physical copies in soon for first come first serve.

 

Walking on Thin Ice

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Walking on Thin Ice is not about the world losing polar ice caps. We’re going to stop that. We’re going to thicken those ice caps right back up. We’re going to populate the glaciers again. We’re going to make sure there’s an adequate head of snow on the Himalayas and everywhere else that its needed. Cool breezes bleeded.

This blog is named after the Yoko Ono and John Lennon song. It’s the first song by Yoko Ono I ever heard, and smith introduced me to it. In my opinion, it is one of the most far out yearning and tragic songs ever made. They were finishing up the song the day Lennon died. I only learned a long time after naming the blog that such sadness had happened around the generation of the song.

When I listen to it, it brings back the giddy creativity, the yearning sated, the ecstatic discovery I experienced when I hooked up with smith. I listened to it on “The Best of Yoko Ono” album over and over, spooling my Miata around, lost and found. It was novel, yet old. Like smith.

In the months after we hooked up, I’d collapse on his rocking chair sofa and poof into smoke. He told me the rest of his stories for his memoir. I tore down his cancer. I spackled the walls. I barfed as he was irradiated. We made art. Night time was Ono and Meat Beat Manifesto. Morning was Mingus, breakfast and golden sun.

Walking on Thin Ice, in the song, is about daring do on the edge.

Walking on Thin Ice is about adventure.

Walking on Thin Ice, in smith & lady’s lives, is about walking on water.

~ Lady

 

Dialogue to help create the change we want to see

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I’ve been thinking about getting more involved in the dialogues and projects on the Civic Commons. In my inbox today I received an e-newsletter inviting people to participate in a project by America Today. They want people to answer four questions: How did we as a nation get in trouble economically? Who do you blame? How do we as a nation solve our economic problems? What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?

What I really like about the Civic Commons is that the philosophy of the project involves polite dialogue oriented around making the change we want to see.

Here are my answers:

How did we as a nation get in trouble economically?

There are multiple factors. The situation that allowed the disparity of wealth to grow way out of balance was one major one. Military spending rather than focusing on developing our strengths through education and investment in people and small businesses was another one. The way Wall Street and the banks focused on nonproductive speculation was another.

Whom do you blame?

I blame lack of citizen involvement and lack of transparency and too much corruption in the system–people not using it properly. I blame the Supreme Court a bit. I blame apathy a lot.

How do we as a nation solve our economic problems?

1) Stop killing people–defund the military and instead get those soldiers working at home on infrastructure building for a green economy.

2) Believe in a better future–the power of belief is amazing.

3) Follow up words with action. Don’t just protest–do community projects to help change the situation for the better.

4) Work on making sure our business actions follow our ideals more and stop the cynicism.

What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?

1) I’m working on better business practices–making sure our business is doing business well, ethically, honestly. This does translate into more opportunities. Our business is actually growing through this period, and the latest news shows Ohio is recovering as well.

2) I’m investing time in educating myself on current trends in my business and also am reading books on how to grow the business.

3) I buy locally whenever possible–“vote with your dollars.”

You can post your own answers to their four questions here…

 

Lady in perpetual bliss

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Sometimes I feel like I’m in bliss, in perpetual heaven. I mean, I am personally so very lucky. I have good health, I love my companion, I have work, I have a brain, I have at least a modicum of talent. And there are all kinds of projects to do and times are very interesting and my work is very creative.

But I look around and I see evidence that some people are suffering and so even though my own personal circumstances are pretty awesome, I really can’t see that it’s heaven for everyone else.

Another thing about this place–if it really is heaven–is that there’s a heck of a lot of stuff to do in it. I mean, wouldn’t the ultimate heaven kind of give me a lot of time if needed to do the things I want to do? Maybe Earth is a half-way house to Heaven.

So Friday night there’s a poetry reading down the street and it’s being held by one of our friends, and it’s in a bookstore we want to support and we haven’t been there in two months.

But I just got this call from IRTF and this young activist just got back from El Salvador, has a bunch of pictures and wants to share his experience Friday night at 8.

IRTF stands for the Interreligious Task Force and they do a lot of awesome projects working on improving human rights in Central America.

I yearn to see these pictures because I think about our traveling times and the amazingness of those experiences and to see someone else’s experience in a country in which we haven’t yet been… well, that’s very appealing. It’s even more interesting because the young man is coupling his traveling with activism, so the travel not only expands his horizons but is of some utility in the world.

We’re committed to our poetry night Friday, but if you’d like to see the presentation, it’s at 4241 Lorain Avenue at 8 p.m., and there will be food. And it’s free!

Or if you’d rather do the poetry, it’s at 7 p.m. at Zion Church in the basement, 2716 West 14th, also free. Lots of stuff to do in this heaven.

~ Lady

 

smith’s Wake-up Dream – Dec. 14, 2011

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

smith relaying his dream to Lady this morning:

it was a big old house, many many floors. all the people had been turned against each other, so they were misusing each other, abusing each other. and we convinced them to work together.

one bad guy even apologized to the rest of us for bullying. then the people who had turned everybody against each other–the controllers–came, and we pretended that it was discordant like before, and we fooled them.

but somebody had left a note on the banister on one of the stairwells that would have given us away. the bad people stopped by and were checking us out. we fooled them; they thought everything was normal.

but they were walking up the stairs and we were afraid they were going to see the note and find out, and that’s when I woke up. it’s the wake up dreams you remember the easiest.

– smith & Lady

Personal disclaimer by Lady: I do not believe that bad people exist. I believe that the situations have sometimes been such that we sometimes have perceived some people as bad.

 

A Real Letter from Me to You

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I attended a moveon.org meeting last weekend about the “American Dream” movement they are building. Although associated with Democrats, I think this movement also encompasses progressive ideals. Everyone in the room was concerned about sustainability, the environment, peace, universal health care, good work, etc. Several people were very discouraged with some of the things President Obama has done, so there was a lot of conscientiousness and self-examination in the room.

Here’s some bit of news about the Gang of Six in the Senate: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/20-4

They are trying to raise taxes on us and cut taxes on the rich, and cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But we aren’t going to let them.

For young people reading this, these things might seem like things that don’t immediately matter or that it is useless, but they do, and there is hope that we can change things. I’ve seen the standard of living deteriorate and expectations deteriorate significantly over the past ten years. It is not unreasonable to see this turn around and become healthier. We have the resources and talent to turn things around. I had the pleasure of seeing a Democrat in Wisconsin get reelected last night after having made phone calls to do this; I’ve seen us raise over a million signatures for putting Ohio’s anti-collective bargaining SB-5 bill on the ballot so we can overturn it when we only needed to raise 230,000… I have been involved in these campaigns and it does help and it does matter.

One of the action items of last week’s meeting moveon.org is to find five friends who will also participate in the movement to a small or large extent. As we are in such a time of flux, I think this is an important opportunity for people to engage and thus am providing this information with the thought that you’ll consider this and participate if you can. You can sign up for some information here: http://ourfuture.org/blog (newsletter signup on the right column of the screen.)

I understand that we live in a fast-paced society, but I think in this time of flux it is especially important to help ensure programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

I think also we’d seen a kind of deterioration in community life over the past twenty years, and now people are rebuilding community with local food movements, poetry, music… and activism is another way to rebuild and heal and socialize. I think that many have felt apathetic, estranged and horrified by the insanity of some of the stuff going on in the political realm. A way through this is to step into it and be part of healing via activism.

Lady

 

REBUILD THE DREAM

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

This is a response to a the above video featuring Van Jones for the campaign rebuildthedream.com. I first watched the video here: http://www.commondreams.org/video/2011/06/24-0

I appreciate the headline name, “Rebuild the Dream.” I think we need to rebuild the dream and I am glad that commondreams.org is focusing more on positive action rather than despair in this headline.

In the video, Van Jones said, “We are being lied to.” I can sympathize with where I think he is coming from. I think he means well. But I think the phrase “we are being lied to” is a phrase that seems to arouse anger. I can understand why one might wish to feel anger. And I can understand that people seem to want to strike back at injustices.

On a spiritual level, I wish for anger to not be aroused, but instead, cooperation, healing, transcending labels and fixing the situations in this country and the world. I also think that it is appropriate to discuss things in a more complete manner and have sound “bits” rather than “bites.”

I understand the challenges of communicating in a more complete manner though! So, I wish for Van Jones to be successful in engaging people to focus on dreaming, and I wish for these people to be able to transcend anger and feel compassion so that they can engage even more people and help heal our country and the world. I am also not sure that Jones’s points are entirely accurate, but I know he has good intent.

It is understandable why many would perceive the words, “America is broke” as accurate considering the deficit and debt of the United States. On a spiritual and fundamentally practical level, though, the United States has the ability to heal its situation–I believe fairly quickly–by stopping funding of the military and military contractors and/or transforming the military and military contractors into agencies and businesses that implement sustainable infrastructure in an ethical manner inside the United States.

Also, were the United States government to make reparation payments to the countries of the world it has invaded, these countries could also develop sustainable infrastructures for themselves.

There are more complications to the phrase, “America is broke” when one considers the history of actions, debt and deficit in terms of parties that are in power in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, and the particular institutions and corporations and areas that the parties seem to want to invest in and/or fund. However, I am reasonably sure that most reading this particular page are aware of this history so I will not go into it now.

On a metaphorical level and practically implementable level, I love the phrase, “America is not broke.” Jones goes on to point out that were the rich to pay a fair share of taxes, this would help the economy. I believe this to be true and good within a practical threshold of understanding.

The second “lie” Van Jones addressed is the sentence, “Asking the super-rich to pay taxes hurts America’s economy.” Based on the history of economics worldwide, I agree with Van Jones in that that sentence about the super-rich is not accurate. The disparity of wealth that the United States is experiencing has harmed the vast majority of people living in the United States, and has had a significant harmful impact on the people living in other countries as well. I ask for the extreme disparity to be removed. I also ask for free trade agreements between countries to be removed, and instead for fair trade to be implemented. But I ask that the fair trade is implemented in such a way that the biosphere can survive, heal and thrive–in other words, for sustainability.

“Hating on America’s government – and wrecking America’s infrastructure – is patriotic” is the third idea Van Jones calls a lie. I can understand where he is coming from. From a peace perspective, though, I have seen that criticizing the government and wishing for peace has been called “unpatriotic” and “hateful to the United States” as well. I do not believe that criticism of the government and wishing for peace are hateful or unpatriotic.

I do believe that wrecking infrastructure can be hateful, but also can clear the way for a new, sustainable infrastructure that we need. We need an infrastructure for public transportation that has a negligible impact on the environment. We need a new and/or revitalized infrastructure for affordable healthcare for all people. We need for the disparity of wealth between the CEOs of insurance companies and the people who need healthcare to be reduced.

I would prefer it were the health insurance companies disbanded, but with a transition plan for the people who are employed by the companies so that they can obtain more ethical, sustainable work. I want for the CEOs of all companies who are rich to just decide to opt out, retire at a reasonable income, and stop exploiting people. So basically, I want a graceful, gentle parachute for the CEOs so that they and their families are not frightened. Preferably Gaia would provide this naturally for these people so that it just happens without a hitch.

I wish Van Jones success in getting people to engage in rebuilding the American Dream in a sustainable manner and with the goal of long term sustainability, and I ask that this vision include kindness, forgiveness, and that rebuilding include sustainability in terms of wages, health, and especially the environment.

I have sympathy for many of the organizations that Van Jones mentions: AFL-CIO, SEIU, MoveOn.org, etc. I have volunteered for an effort that SEIU has helped with, and have contributed to moveon.org even though I’d seen moveon.org as being aligned with the Democratic Party. I have great sympathy for many who vote for the Democratic Party but I also have a lot of criticism for the corporate funding and militarism promoted by the Democratic Party. However, I realize that the heart of progressives is still represented in many ways within the Democratic Party, and that the heart of good people is also represented in the Republican Party albeit manifested in unfortunate ways within both. We must recognize common ground, and in a way that is beneficial to the health of most, if not all people and the environment!

On July 5th, Van Jones invites us to go to rebuildthedream.com and share ideas. I think this is good.

There is criticism based on the history of political campaigns and parties, and this is mentioned in the threads of comments below this video but I think we also have to recognize that opportunites are born in mixed circumstance, and that action and progress can transcend circumstance.

Spiritually I like the words, “Contract for the American Dream.” I can see it as a way of making a covenant with a dream, a process similar to “making a covenant with God.” And I also see “reality” as a long dream, one that needs to be repaired, one that can be repaired.

I would like us to transcend “they” and “our” in the phrases “their turn” and “our turn” that Van Jones says. I would like “them” to be “us” and “us” to be “them.” I know this is so in so many ways. “We’re going to rebuild the movement that stands for liberty and justice for all,” Van Roy says at the end, and I think the “all” part if this is good and the intent is good. I’d also like for us to consider mercy. 🙂

So this is my long, yet brief analysis of this video!

Lady

 

Dear President Obama

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Dear President Obama:

I had greater hopes for you and am very disappointed and saddened by your policies and actions. I don’t know that I can really take anything you say seriously or in good faith anymore, and you have severely impacted my desire to vote for Democrats in the future. I’ve even canvassed for Democratic candidates but I don’t know that I can do this anymore.

I wish I had something positive to say about closure, etc. I wish for peace. But I wish people wouldn’t celebrate bin Ladin’s assassination with joy, and I wish you didn’t send me an email proudly touting celebrating the assassination. In the context of how the U.S. is so much more murderous to people in other countries than bin Ladin, this is difficult to tolerate, and I find this disingenuous.

I do understand that people of the U.S. wish to see our country as one that is on the moral high ground, and therefore great. This is a good wish. I wish it were true. I want it be true. Unfortunately, we are a perpetrator of aggression, aggression that suits U.S. and transnational corporations and the IMF’s deliberately oppressive financial policies.

So here is what I propose: if there is any true closure brought with bin Ladin’s death, I propose that it come in the form of dismantling these “wars on terror.”

Please withdraw troops and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop supporting the bombing of Libya. Please close the School of the Americas and Guantanamo Bay.

Peace.

Lady

 

 
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