A MIDWESTERN CALIFORNIA WHITE GIRL
THEATER IN THE RAW
By VICTORIA BERDING
Uh-h-h-h, Where’s my robe? And my slippers?… as I stumble out of bed and down the hall to the kitchen to teaspoon out the last of the coffee grounds for maybe two mugs of espresso. I’ve woken up to the cry of hungry wild birds outside my bedroom window, along with Pauli, one lovable stubborn goat, loudly head banging on the back door for his crackers. I open the front door to warm sunshine and there’s Charli, my very own field cat usually not here until dusk, pushed up against the screen door meowing for crunchies. “O.K. guys, I’m heading down to the mail box.” and get followed by a gang of hummingbirds buzzing for nectar usually dangling from the eaves. Pinkles, our cocker spaniel, is dancing at my heels for jerky as I sort though the mail for my check but it’s not here. God, it’s not here and I’m wondering how the hell we’re going to make it through another day of automatic debits for the lights and gas with literally only one nickel left in my wallet. I’ve been able to ration one lone roll of toilet paper and enough food to last through this morning; we’ve got meat in the freezer but are running out of everything else. Oh the angst…..I have a knot in my stomach so big I’m sure I’m going to be constipated for a week and now just hearing on the radio that only 62 individuals hold the wealth of half this world’s population, I can no longer hold back a flood of pensive tears. Without the money you need, when you need it, you’re frozen mute, deaf, paralyzed to wait and think about the lack of it or what’s left to sell and what did I possibly do to deserve this?! Even if I do find a couple bucks, last night’s trip to the hospital ate up all the extra gas in the car. My partner, sick and disabled but with a Michigan boy’s will of steel, is finally resting comfortably in bed after yet another ordeal of waiting hours in ER only to be butchered, doped up and sent back home by Medicare’s version of health care. Having lived most of my life as a musician, I know what it’s like to live on the edge but this feels more like a slow tortuous death than simply running low on cash. Yeap, this is what it’s like living check to check. And this is what it’s like growing old, low income in America today. This is also November in southern California where frankly, since global warming, at least winter here in the high desert is the most beautifully tropical season I’ve experienced since arriving on Sunset Beach during the summer of 1978. But today, I’m slumped on my porch chair wondering how I got here?! Why do I feel like a victim with ever growing feelings of helplessness, anger and guilt, guilt about, “what if I’d only….. done this, did that, I’d have more money for……..” and man, that kind of thinking will drive you NUTS! But, here I go again, ‘falling’ into a wonderland of ‘what ifs’ and chasing that damn rabbit……
VICTORIA AND HER FATHER, LEFT, AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY, RIGHT
I was born and grew up in Meredith Wilson’s real ‘Music Man’s‘76 Trombones’ small Iowa town called River City, now Mason City, Iowa. We’re talking in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, when America was mostly white, clean, trusting, efficient, friendly and compared to now, truly like a Norman Rockwell painting. And yes, we really did host an annual Midwest marching band parade every summer. I still remember my boyfriend following me down the entire route shooting peas into my hair from the side lines as I tried to glockenspiel my way down the streets. My friends were mostly kids of stay at home moms and working dads who were farmers, ministers or worked at the brick & tile. I walked peacefully to and from school everyday with an occasional pit stop at grandma’s for her stories and her famous rice pudding. It was a quiet existence except for the occasional small town gossip of adulterous affairs, weekend parties, and oh, can’t forget all the excitement when the road asphalt crews came into town. We were a nose to the grindstone, budget minded kind of people. I believe the term today is ‘blue collar’ working class. My father, X-WWII air force, was his own man, a combination of white and blue collar, having inherited and worked my great grandfather’s to grandfather’s to his own construction company. A business owner, he gave our family an upper middle class life style but was gone with his crews on the road a lot which left my mother and me by her side to raise my brothers and sisters. Life in our little community was back porch easy and I still admire a silver with pearl bellied elephant on my charm bracelet symbolizing growing up a Young Republican. I have fond memories of hi-heeling to fashion shows and shopping Yonkers with mother and picking out lots of clothes for all of us, then eating Chinese at the Green Mill where I felt very special as mom and I sunk deep into soft leather booths and we ordered egg rolls to chow mein & fried rice to Kung Pow chicken and almond cookies with mint tea ice cream, and the jasmine tea, Wow! Stuffed, and with ‘to go’ boxes in hand, we’d head back to the car with a back seat full of packages for everybody at home, all except for dad who insisted on buying his bargain shirts from Holiday gas stations.
These were generally joyful times for all of us except for one problem in my life; I’d been ‘diagnosed’ with a whole lot O’ talent, a rare four octave singing range and a natural propensity for music. This began agonizing years for me of growing up with a rigid discipline of practice & classical piano lessons, practice & singing lessons and competitions, performances and diva grooming first and foremost to anything else in my young life. And, I hated opera. So, in the midst of the entire town’s expectation of me some day being ‘a star’ and being mother’s loyal little helper I grew up a secret rebel at heart looking for a sense of freedom anywhere, anyhow. As wishes have it I met at the local dance club, The Surf, where Buddy Holly last played before his fatal plane crash, a young man doing the alligator on the dance floor who also had Rock ‘n Roll at heart, dated him through highschool and boy, he opened my eyes to a much bigger world out there. Upon graduation I took a music scholarship at our state university because it had the most underground political Anti-War activity of any other school around but unfortunately I discovered too late, also had the stodgiest music department i.e. not recognizing electric guitar as a legitimate instrument and ostracizing me for writing an arrangement of Mozart. So, I went to and aced my philosophy & creative writing classes but skipped the music classes and lost the scholarship. I married this same young man who took my virginity in high school, switched majors to anthropology/ psychology and together he and I continued undergraduate school by borrowing $5,000 from his grandfather to open up our own music retail business. With in the first year we’d turned that five thousand into a gross income of a million bucks( 1st year retail…only a net annual salary of $40,000) but that was more than enough to live comfortably in a horse and buggy Amish community on the outskirts of town. We’re talking a life style that rewarded hard work in a part time class and part time shop schedule with winter pheasant hunting as we walked with shotguns and Golden Retrievers down rows of dried corn stalks, summer trout fishing along clear clean rippling streams and the weekend Jack and Panama Red parties served with wild cooked game and loud Jimi Hendrix, B.B King and me on the baby grand improvising ala Keith Jarrett or George Winston. Looking back on this now, that was real heaven, but, about four years into this my husband and I watched the times drastically change (early/mid 70’s) when all of a sudden the manufacturers we’d been buying inventory from were changing our merchandise floor plans to less time to pay and less credit. We were no longer being treated as a good account but being squeezed out as a small business. As the corporate squeeze grew tighter and tighter, my wanderlust grew bigger and bigger and I found myself looking “West, Young Man” and decided to leave the shop, school, my marriage and the Midwest in search of California ‘gold’.
I had a friend and former employee/bass player from the music shop who had moved to Sunset Beach and he invited me to crash on a cot in his studio perched on top of a beach market maybe 25 steps from the water… raw beach living. He got us a lounge gig as a duo right away and that set me up to going solo playing piano bars and jazz clubs along the coast line of Orange County. This led to my first encounter with California ‘gold’. I was playing a club on Balboa Island, on break and I happened into a conversation with a very well dressed business man at the bar. He told me he was recently divorced and had left a life in suburbia rasing two kids he really misses but was very relieved to be rid of his X. He admitted he’s always wanted to live on the water and I agreed, tired of renting weekly motel rooms near the clubs I was playing. We made each other laugh and laugh a lot, so when my night was done, he was still there smiling at me from his bar stool and we walked along the beach and decided to move in together. He rented a lovely A-frame high on a Laguna bluff overlooking Betty Davis’s pink flamingo beach house. It had a beautiful view of turquoise ocean shimmering below our pool and sauna and that was just for starters. My weekend mornings began with an early morning swim before I’d head down the hill in my ‘65 Alpha Romero convertible sports coupe to meet my lover for Dom Perignon and Eggs Benedict cooked open pit on the white sands of a very private beach. These days were absolutely perfect with the top down, a full tank of gas, a suntanned belly and I’m thinking how great this lifestyle is….not a care in the world, only the feel of warm sand between my toes and a slight breeze in my hair as I spot him, walk up and softly lean in, press my bikini’d body against my lover’s warm torso and kiss him as we fall to the blanket he so carefully laid out for us. Thus begins an impromptu and dubious love affair with all the niceties of money to burn and burn it did. He insisted on spoiling me and living basically as a ‘kept woman’ involved bouncing from designers for fittings to weekly manicures & pedicures, hair salons, massage, weekend spas and other miscellaneous pampering like birthdays showered in jewelry of diamonds, rubies and pearls, (Oh my!), popping bottles of exquisite ‘bubbly’ I imported direct from Europe to my wine cellar;and darling, there’s something so sensual about the feel of fur against the skin, isn’t there? I truly wanted for nothing material but, the ‘adventure’ started wearing thin by the end of the first year because no amount of money could buy me the peace needed to ward off the tension of his vengeful X-wife holding my lover’s children ‘hostage’ until he came back to her. Despite his and my lovely beach rendezvouses and elegant dinners together, this stress drove us apart. And soon I was curious about a blond long haired surfer I’d often watch walking the beach with his dog. My lover, now roommate, instead of spending money to take his X back to court, was having regular morning walks and talks with a strange woman giving him “advice” on how to handle his domestic situation. Well, this chapter in my life ended as quickly as it started when I woke up one morning and discovered a hammered broken windshield on my convertible parked outside this blond’s beach bungalow and when I got home, found a note on the front door saying,’Gone for the weekend’’. Luckily, ‘my business man’ had been renting me a modest apartment in Hollywood’s classic Wilshire district behind the Ambassador Hotel for nights when either of us were too tired to drive home from business in L.A.. And that very weekend, I moved myself completely out from the beach and into the streets and a vintage studio of old Hollywood where I was about to try my hand at concrete and sky scrapers for a change. Oh……. shoot…..
That moon, that half way shape, that yellow fading form………….
that can hold a spell much longer than I can, swings………
below a deepening sky gently nudging fantasies from long forgotten births.
Oh to sail away, so far away that I cannot take you with me, no not today.
For a moment I am true to a vision of calm wonder,
And then the child slips from me as a street lamp shows me home.
And then the child slips from me as a street lamp shows me home, alone.
I did need to pay rent again so I called the first club my friend and I played in Newport Beach and booked myself a gig I commuted to. Just a few weekends playing there and I had enough rent for several months. This was an Italian restaurant/bar, a hang out for locals and tourists to yacht up and dine on some delicious Italian food and libations. While there a William Morris agent (thee top national talent agency then) and my 2nd encounter with ‘California gold’, approached me at the piano about contacting him at his office and so I did. When I got there, he said he wanted to fly me to an MGM Follies Bergere audition in Vegas. I agreed pretty much out of curiosity because at this time I was committed to writing a rock opera fusing heavy rock with classical but was going broke rehearsing a quartet of rock musicians to showcase my songs with. I probably should have gone East coast not West to do this but I was determined to first escape into an artist’s bohemian life style of warm sunshine and ocean and that I did. When the date came to fly out to what some call “the “entertainers graveyard” I was there and accompanied by half a dozen young hopefuls, men and women alike, on a private jet as we headed for the neon strip. We arrived to be chauffeured to the casino where I watched another half dozen dancers get called on stage as they were coldly fired like rejected livestock and sent away to probably end up being the next roaming cigarette girl or the floor slot machines cocktail waitress with too much makeup on. We new “hires” were put through an array of modeling poses, dance movements but no singing because we were told the entire show was lip-synced. I’m standing arms crossed and legs firmly placed ala military style in line with a group of women holding their breath with backs arched and tits pointed until being called down to confer with the producers. I was the last one standing and when finally called down the producer says to me, “Honey, ( I always hated being called ‘Honey’ by a perfect stranger) we’re concerned you really don’t want this and because your presence is so strong, as part of this show, I will have to write for and around you. I need to know how badly you want to be a part of this production.” I returned with a polite but quick, “Not very.” So they shook their heads and off I go relieved to fly back to L.A. and rejoin my band of merry heavy metal minstrels in booze drenched rehearsal halls.
Well, my merry band did manage to showcase at most of the Hollywood legend spots like the Whiskey, the Roxy. That was fun but led nowhere except for my 3rd encounter with California ‘gold’ in a one sided publishing offer I turned down on one of my songs Cher’s agent was interested in AND…….also waking up to a frantic call from my drummer’s parents who were flying in and asking me to meet with them and a prominent L.A. criminal attorney. They were trying to get Tom out of L.A. county jail with an $800,000.00 bond on his head…all from getting out of his cargo van, leaving the driver’s door open and walking up to and arguing with a Mexican family walking the crosswalk slowly after the light and he got slapped with hate crime/attempted kidnaping charges. (WHAT??) So, I figure this was as good a time as ever to also stop by my guitarist’s apartment, drag him out of bed and get him on his flight back to his mother’s in Chicago so he could sober up. Needless to say, this all pretty much ended the band and saga of the rock opera.
My vision shattered, I went through a hard long grieving process and found solace teaching private piano lessons. One of my students was a ballerina gone stripper and she had choreographed and was dancing to back tracks of one of my ballads at a kool avant garde Hollywood art club. Here I met and fell in love with (for the first time in my life) an L.A. born underground punk/techno rock music producer, who was importing and recording lots of cutting edge European bands here. I had big hopes of he and I producing a solo album for me and we got so far as using my four octave range to make bird sounds on the score of an animated video he was producing for Japanese release and then we recorded a dance version of the same song Cher’s people wanted and started shopping that. We soon got an offer from a small independent L.A. label and I was really hoping a door was opening but….. when Josh came back from negotiating that deal he was pacing and grumbling, “Baby, it just wasn’t a good enough offer” and my 4th California ‘gold’ encounter was over, finished, k’put. Feeling like I just got punched in the gut I lost all inclination to shop further and so I didn’t. (Oops!) Josh escaped back into a lifestyle of the 80’s wild music biz parties full of pure cocaine and pharmaceutical grade ecstasy. Did you know ecstasy was originally designed for and used in marriage counseling back then? So, if you knew a shrink, you had pure grade X. I escaped back to my own apartment and needless to say, though madly in love with each other, this lifestyle did not permit a lasting healthy relationship and I returned to my roots of blues & jazz piano bars from which I made a really comfortable living at for many years to come. I still wonder though how different my life would be if I’d taken that Vegas job. Hmm.. dating,‘desperate house wife’ and divorce settling from disgustingly rich ‘gang’stas, becoming that ‘star’ and having a big national agency promoting me inside the Hollywood film machine? Ah, the choices we make. Then, a girlfriend who was getting a lot of press because she’d written a book about touring and working with Frank Zappa, asked for my help attaching a C.D. of music with it. This compilation of some of our artiest songs ended up on rotation in Europe and South America but got no air play on the West Coast or made any royalty income so, I decide to go back to school and ended up graduating magna cum laude with a Multi Media degree of which I had no idea how to turn into a career. At that moment, life took me by the ear and tossed me into a direction I least expected by introducing me to a charming musician I’m still with who in turn introduced me to working with people with developmental disabilities. And yeap, what a shocker for me; I loved it! I loved working hands on with them and fell deeply in love with their healing innocence, honesty and excitement for life. Together they, a benefactor and my partner and I founded our own 501 (c)3 non-profit on a 5 acre Angeles Forest ranch where we’ve been teaching independent work and living skills for almost two decades through agriculture and art programs. It is through this work I found a real sense of creative freedom and realized all roads in my life, no matter how eclectic a mix, were leading to this juncture. Here I also learned that talent is not just one ability in only one area of one’s life but is a gift that can be shared with many choices, ah-h-h…
It seems almost every turn I’ve made, there’s been ‘Big Gold’ knocking at my door, but…. just didn’t “pan” out. And now I’m wondering where the truth is in that old adage, “Do what you love and the money will follow”?! The media says it’s not only drought but that I’m living class warfare and at the political peak of economic thievery by the corporate rich and today I can’t even afford a new electric can opener! Nobody’s receiving grants. The only government money I’ve seen going out is to private for profit war contractors. Add that to Bush & Cheney’s garage sale of America to globalization and corporate’s ‘Great Recession’ and our little nonprofit got dumped out of our 5 acre forest retreat into a slum lord 1 acre 3+2 rental house and just as I’m starting to feel pangs of arthritis and noticing memory loss. I now live 45 minutes out of L.A., 3500 ft. up in the high desert, surrounded by green onion and alfalfa fields smack dab in the middle of Angeles Forest valley on what used to be a huge prehistoric lake. Rumor has it we farm the sweetest onions in the world in this irrigated desert ghetto. Our local ski slopes are 20 minutes straight up from the back yard and in winter there’s snow capped foothills surrounding this entire valley. Thanksgiving is close and I have $10.00 left in my food budget to splurge on two frozen pie crusts, a can of pumpkin, evaporated milk and whipped cream. Now, at my shopping destination, I take a deep breath and get out of my car to push carts with black ghetto brethren and illegal Mexicans in some of the lowest end grocery stores I’ve always avoided and find it all within budget. Then, Holy Moses, I find 10 more dollars and recyclables to last me another week, got a fire crackling in my studio and pumpkin pie and quiche wafting down the hall. Ah, home sweet home. Christmas is just around the corner and I discover a large fryer chicken with mild freezer burn in the freezer that I think I’ll cut up and brandy braise instead of stuffing a turkey this year. Don’t turkeys taste weird anymore? The commercial frozen ones don’t even taste like meat but something all together mutant and plastic and who can afford a free range turkey? (Time to lean vegetarian maybe.)
As the holidays pass, February/March usually begin spring and spring lasts maybe 2 to 3 weeks and then it’s seven months of summer. Summer is hot, hot, hot and today it’s 105 degrees outside and is forecast to be like this all week. Now it’s a routine of waking up and rising pre-dawn to feed and water all the critters and tidy up the house a bit. I set the thermostat to turn the air on mid morning so Pinkles and I can head out to the Little Rock tourist shop with more tie dyed sun dress and hat sets I’ve made for sale. We’re usually there only enough time to chit chat with the shop keeper, rotate the display and then we’re off to the markets making sure we’re parked back on our driveway by noon at the latest. By then it’s reaching peak heat and we’re both feeling like we’ve just escaped a brutal death from the rise of the double suns on planet Xerces (one of my favorite Vin Diesel movies). It’s time to water the potted vegetables out front ( no garden this year) and turn on the soaker hose in the backyard of tall prairie grass, cactus and wild flowers. Then its back into the house for a ham & Swiss sandwich stuffed with a ripe sliced tomato picked from the front porch before settling in to my office where I get caught up on paperwork, phone calls and texts for clients. Then I move into the studio for my favorite time of day when I’m painting more canvas and fabrics and sipping mellow locally grown Chardonnay to classic Miles Davis. Once I’ve gotten a piece to the point of setting, it’s time to turn on another fan and head into ‘movie land’ watching a Hallmark country Christmas story ( in July) “full of snow in my bedroom” and gently slide into a mind over matter cool afternoon siesta. Funny thing, out here in the summer as the sun sets, an amazing transformation takes place and a beautiful cool western breeze starts blowing up across the desert floor and continues all through the night. The house can be opened back up, swinging the inside wooden doors wide open and pulling back the windows to a breeze gently puffing at the curtains. Then, my household sleeps like a baby full of warm milk and gently rocking in its mother’s cradled arms while outside……….
Night stalking at midnight and a silent sliver of harvest moon shadows lots of critter activity……
Dogs bark at….
Covens of coyotes creeping around…..
Broken fences impersonating protection from infinite blackness reaching far and deep into echoing shafts of abandoned gold mines.
A restless night, chilly but warm enough to warrant……..
Night stalking by so many on the prowl and me, sitting again on my front porch waiting……
Waiting for the neighbor’s sleepy bedroom light to turn off and…….
Disappear into spiraling ghosts of nightmares and dreams.
Ah, to dance and join celebration of the hunt
When my non profit co-founders with diagnosed schizophrenia, fetal alcohol syndrome, aspergers and retardation asked me to pull them out from under the state’s jurisdiction, the state used every excuse to hold that up. The way it works is, the state gets federal subsidy for each “head” count they’ve got so regardless if people are getting the right support towards independent lives, they are ‘warehoused’ where they remain dependent and the system doesn’t lose money. These same individuals I did manage to free and who then helped create our programs are now living and working in society today and are paying taxes instead of living off yours and mine. It can be done with simple focused routines in nature, quality time, work, exercise, friendship & love of animals…just plain fun. www.healinggaia.org. ( In the slide show, I’m the one driving the boat) As president of a non-profit corporation, I stopped working directly for the state after they drastically cut back my gas budget. Working in the field for them requires a lot of driving through California pulling people & families together to actually communicate. This ended up costing ME money to work for them! In these crazy times, meetings can go ballistic very easily. But, today they went well and I’m finally home and toss some ice cubes into a glass, grab a pitcher of fresh wild spearmint tea, pour myself a tall glass and plop outside on my trusty lounge chair. I’m here early tonight, anxious, but there’s no moon or maybe it’s just taunting me and lollygagging over the back side of the roof? Damn, without the moonlight, all I’m aware of is how intrusively bright the neighbor’s outside house lights are screaming “Security, security”. But, what’s this? I can feel the slight tug of a lone gentle breeze kissing my skin and hear a faint horse whiney in the distant butte as they, like me, are simply calling for the moon’s arrival. Odd though, this breeze abruptly disappears into air that seems frozen, an uneasy feeling like the still anxiousness one feels just before an earthquake. Defeated, I go back inside, self exiled to only watch the night through my bedroom curtains and remind myself to next time wait, wait until midnight to return to the moon. Living in the sticks, I need to make sure I maintain the 2000 Chevy Impala inherited from my mother’s estate but, as mundane as this sounds it’s not that easy anymore, at least not here in sunny southern California. I buy a good used tire and then end up burning up a quarter tank of gas going back & forth between oil change places trying to find one that will also reboot my sensor light. My regular service center who normally reboot it has a new Hispanic manager who’s playing dumb to any such request. The guys I talk to in other facilities don’t have much English under their belt either and keep thinking…… ”Huh?! Lady, we don’t boot no stink’n tires here!?” Wondering if I got lost over the Mexican border, I drive back to my regular place and tell the new manager they have the best priced oil change with carwash in town. They do, although, I’m not quite sure how much of that he understood. So that gets done but then I’m left to my own feminine know how to open up the manual and figure out how to reboot my sensor light and I also learn how to reboot my security so that the horn honks slightly now as I key trigger lock it from a distance and I feel so proud.
Now, this ordeal brings up a nagging thorn in my side. As a child of a long line of Anglo-Saxon Americans and to quote a gentle old man in the cash out line of my favorite dollar store, “ There’s just too many people here!” Let me share another experience with you? A few months ago I spent an entire day, even with an appointment, waiting and meeting with my partner’s MEDI CAL worker because while he was critically sick in the hospital his MEDI CAL was shut off. What?! Yeap. This hasn’t just happened to him but to many other aging Americans I know who, another, a 65 year old white woman, was physically turned away at the front desk from her first chemo appointment for breast cancer because unbeknownst to her, her MEDI CAL was shut off. When I finally sat across the table from his worker I was made keenly aware that no matter how well intentioned, O’bama’s Immigration and Health Care reforms literally dumped an enormous overload of people into our existing social systems. Today, our social workers are even working sick, trying to keep their jobs that now require they personally interview and make eligible triple the amount of people they’re used to handling. The computer system is down so much for modifications, the workers are a year behind in data entering into case files of existing recipients in need or crisis, hence the system shut offs. And, now, several months later MEDI CAL still isn’t back on for some of them and, this woman, my friend with breast cancer, died. Indulge me one more minute? There are 3 and a half million mentally ill Americans walking our streets and this is not even including today’s college meth epidemic. And, if we talk Los Angeles, Skid Row, for example, predominantly mentally ill, instead of helping the homeless with appropriate housing they can afford on GR, the homeless are being arrested for something like an illegal crate or tent and run through the penal/justice system at a taxpayer cost of $45,000 to $100.000 per person while the handful of owners of our recently privatized prisons are raking in record profits. It would cost us a fifth of that to subsidize simple rooms to rent for their self respect, protection and recovery but, this isn’t being done because the police are being used to serve the requests of developers who want that property and simply want them out. I believe we call this corporate / political greed? At the same time, I’m watching our government inundating our own old, disabled and poor receiving social security with repeated swarms of the same confusing eligibility renewal paperwork demanding action from them they don’t understand. (Isn’t this WHY we designate them disabled, old and under educated?) Then, they’re being threatened with letters of termination if not done within a deadline. This is giving the government control to manipulate ways of cutting off their eligibility for future assistance or suspend it and move that money elsewhere suspicious like maybe funding a war started by foreign occupation in a grab for oil; ya’ think?! Everywhere I turn I see too many living off the backs of struggling American tax payers and I still see so much collateral damage in wasted talent..so many skilled Americans sitting at home or forced to work stupid jobs with no benefits. for what, to give away money to more foreign politically correct eligible incoming “weak, tired and the poor” who, instead of fixing problems in their own homelands are rushing HERE to my homeland and are getting away with making demands upon ME to accommodate the culture they’re leaving. And most I’ve known, often come with seemingly little desire or sophisticated skills to actually assimilate into our society. I listen to them parrot and demand my civil rights in my backyard while I watch my standard of living (they try to imitate but haven’t a clue) take it up the ass and going down the toilet. My heart is breaking every day this social worker meets yet another American who’s worked all his/her life, along with generations of family lineage, paid taxes and into social security and is now made to emotionally & physically hurt with inadequate service in medical and government assistance FOR THEM. We are only as strong as our weakest link and it’s obvious to me we simply are not handling well even those of us already here who are “the weak, the tired and the poor”. And, common sense tells me we can’t continue to increase the output of free money that isn’t balanced with an equal input without running out of it, especially while our upper economic tier is hoarding oodles of tax money! I don’t have a clue how this will settle as we watch systems and what looks like moral integrity continue to crumble around us but I’m hoping what’s trying to be revealed and rebuilt is better than what’s disappearing. I truly believe if we hold steady in common sense a balanced middle class rebirth is possible, hard work, yes, but maybe we got lazy and already caught “with our pants down”. I mean, isn’t it the inability to resist temptation of power and wealth the corrupting factor here? And can you tell me why so many are rushing to be “King of NOTHING” because that’s what’s going to be left if we keep on like this. Perhaps we can start with those we’ve elected into power by giving them a reality check restricting their vacation time, health benefits and expense accounts? Maybe then they’ll stop behaving like 10 dollar whores. We may be a middle class oppressed and repressed but I truly believe our work and moral ethic, this country’s true grit and backbone and all ‘round constitution we’re born and raised with is still strong among us. Speaking of constitution, I was recently informed that the way the ‘United States of corporate America’ has been able to manipulate so much catastrophic economic repression on the rest of us is through their lawyers working around the constitution with what’s called ‘codifying’ it. Don’t ask me the specifics but have you too been curious how it feels like so many constitutionally protected rights seem to have disappeared? Look for a used copy of ‘Vultures in Eagle’s Clothing’ to find out more. It is indeed eye opening and mind blowing. I hope you are sensing as well am I that this is an important time to keep our heads out of the sand, keep our minds sharp, our bodies strong, take out the element of panic& melo-drama and breathe in the idea of building us back into balance to concentrate on ourselves. Then, and only then, can we possibly share a pipe dream America again with others panicking towards us instead of immediately spreading our legs and drawing them, ourselves and our children into today’s missionary zeal of a spiraling sink hole. How about just slowing down and drawing some smart ‘tough love’ lines? Remember ‘tough love’ and how it does work? We are finally waking up in this country, learning how to just say “NO!” and reconnecting with hard lessons of living simpler and smarter with nature, consuming less and conserving more, relying on resiliency, resourcefulness and each other again. This can only be good for others all over the world running scared, right… to hold steady for the Natural Order to manifest heaven not hell on Earth?
O.K., so we managed through summer and it’s autumn again and ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ but this winter, tonight the winds are gushing a tsunami cloud dance fast across a small hiding moon. As I get the courage up to peek out the front door I can’t even see the neighbor’s house but a wall of dense reddish black farmland swirls down the street instead. The canvas shade cloths that are normally hanging leisure over my office and bedroom windows are whipping around so loud and furious it sounds like they’ll crash right through the glass. Wow, this is something. It makes me truly appreciate the protection of a sturdy home (built in the 80’s) and all my critters, trusting me, sleeping snug inside their shelters. Alrighty then, I surrender; I’ll burrow in for the night too.
The day after Thanksgiving I’m out and about finding clearance grocery bargains for the Christmas holiday upon us. Splurging like I usually don’t do, I have a full tank of gas and now a kitchen stocked with everything from brisket to scallops, oysters & crab in the freezer, champagne, wine and whiskey in my liquor cabinet, tortillas, salami & cheese, fresh vegetables and desserts in the frig and a bowlful of nuts to crack on the kitchen table. Ah-h-h, feels like a whole lot of comfort and love lives here.
Love, huh. You know, Sigmund Freud psycho-analyzed that “Love is a physiological phenomena forcing us to create the illusion of romantic attachments that will ensure the longevity of the species.” OK, but, so many in our species are also propagating at such a religiously irresponsible rate we’re burning out any chance of longevity anywhere no matter what we do. With so many issues today it feels so right to me to draw some tough lines helping people everywhere to hold steady and remember that life is the here and now of what we’ve each created where we’ve created it. You can try to run but eventually you realize you brought with you into the where & what you’ve run to, the same things you were running from. The end all to all problems is NOT what’s left of money; that’s only a band aid. It’s a much Bigger Picture. Do you think if we all get on that rocket ship and move through the galaxy we’ll not destroy other planets with the same patterns of behavior that is looking like our demise of a beautiful life on Earth? That’s ludicrous self denial to think we wont. Living through the deep dark moments of low income in a world where capitalism “REIGNS”(and is also eating itself) and the high times of lush extravagance, it’s not hard to imagine the power grab by the rich. When stripped naked, it looks like fear…..fear of looking down at a hard inevitable fall they all can see coming from a fat ‘need to eat’. With so much desperation created in this world from rich to poor, our contemporary gurus are telling us that in order to survive requires a big shift in what they call our “collective consciousness” uplifting into a higher spiritual attitude & a reality more peacefully functional. (That’s a head full, huh.) I sense too I am living at a major turning point in our species’ history. And, finding myself once again in a new year on planet Earth, I see you and I are still standing, beat up but standing and definitely due for an evolutionary upswing, wouldn’t you agree? And speaking of upswing, thanks for the hand holding while I wrestled with guilt. I see my biggest mistake was not appreciating the ‘here & now’ of having made a dependable comfortable life with my voice and hands on the keys of a piano and that’s my real ‘gold’. Chasing ‘Big Gold’ is as illusive as time, here today & gone tomorrow. I find it ironic that now much older, ‘Big Gold’ still lurks around the corner and you might, one cool evening, catch my and Pinkle’s silhouette in the setting sun still, “panning” for it in the abandoned gold mines. Hey, it’s incredible living simple up here in the wild, (yet only a 45 minute drive to the ocean), surrounded by wide blue skies, snow capped forest foothills, my amazing enduring animals and with the trust of a man who I’ve also truly trusted for over a quarter of a long, century. Granted, after I’ve seen him through the worst and we’re back to a wheel chair and more pain pills turning him into a plant, sometimes I do wish for a prince on a white horse to come and carry me away to the land of milk & honey but wait, this IS the land of milk & honey, isn’t it, wasn’t it?? I’m so eager …….For my country, our world, to find balance. For our species to slow down and br-e-a-t-h-e…………….and
For this crap, angst, desperation and greed to fall off us like wind through desert sand. Luv V.