Kalemonster here, again. Been awhile since I posted. It's been difficult to feel settled enough to collect my thoughts into any sort of cohesive/coherent nugget. This trip is a whirlwind...sometimes a soft breeze tousling my hair....other times a violent tornado threatening to dash everything to pieces. It sure ain't all unicorns and rainbows. More like vultures and storm clouds some days. Raw and exposed....the carrion birds plucking and picking at the existential decay....broken/useless baggage....that until recently had been rotting in the basement of my soul, undisturbed and forgotten....yet still ominously looming in the dank, dark recesses of the mind. Well, I suppose it's been something like Spring cleaning (how nauseatingly appropriate)....the cellar door thrust open, releasing a Pandora's box of insecurities, unfulfilled dreams, self-loathing, confusion, heartache, fear, searing pain......The lid is off and each demon is rearing it's disfigured head....a fun house-mirrored image of self. I struggle to decide if I should decapitate or just set it all free. Wrestling with myself....what to prune away and what to let be. I am lost. A child in the dark.
So this is what happens when you forsake all that society deems worthy - security, financial stability, material excess, personal space, a home - and jump on a space bus with six crazy people, destination nowhere/everywhere. All of the things I sought to leave behind are clinging to my ankles, dragging me down. I am kicking it all away but it is clawing, creeping back up my legs...closer and closer to my throat...threatening to strangle. I find myself reaching back to what I left. Wanting a home, desiring personal space, longing to be alone. Knowing that I can't go back but unsure if I want to move forward. Not knowing what "forward" really is.
The unraveling process is painful. When you first step off the grid, break out of the matrix, there is an initial thrill. Freedom! But as you continue on the path less trodden, you find that you were more entangled, ensnared in the system than you thought. The products of a programmed existence....the ramifications of conditioning....so laced into our subconscious.....seep into our newly liberated state of being. The glitch in the program - the one that our awakening caused - sends the whole program into a frenzy. It wants to right itself...the glitch is a virus...one that threatens to collapse the whole damn thing....so the program goes into overdrive trying to correct itself....to bring you back into unconscious complacency. As the awakened being becomes more and more conscious, brings more light into the darkness of the sub/unconscious, there is the realization that each of these layers is oozing with the stench of conditioning. And there is a battle to be fought on each of these fronts. A fight for control of the mind!
For so long we have allowed someone/something else to dictate our lives. We have allowed society/the government/the media/our parents/etc..tell us what to do, where to go, what to eat, what to wear, what to learn, how to learn, how to raise our kids, how to heal ourselves. We have allowed them to dictate our values, morals, religious beliefs, hopes, dreams, desires. Why? Because it's easier to have someone else figure it out for you. Because it's what our parents did and their parents did and their parents did. Because if we follow the prescribed path we will get a reward - a big house, lots of money, fancy cars, blah, blah. Because if I do something different people will think I'm "weird" or "crazy." Because it's just too damn hard and terrifying to figure it out for ourselves. But that's just what they want you to believe. Because the system thrives on conformity and complacency. Because the government and big corporations NEED people to buy into it so they can keep filling their fat pockets and their fat asses. It's all about money and power. And if you think it's about anything else, you are a damn fool. And I don't give a damn if anyone out there thinks I'm paranoid or crazy or a conspiracy theorist.....because all those things are true and then some. And I'm not trying to be a pretentious asshole either. But I'm tired of being quiet and I want anyone who is reading this to know...because I care. I could go on and on....but I think I've ranted long enough. That felt good.
Anyway, what I'm getting at here is that currently I am in the place where I have been "awake" long enough to realize that it doesn't just stop when you get out of bed. You have to keep waking up everyday. Every moment. I am realizing that the reason I feel so crazy and lost is because I'm doing something that is in complete opposition with what I "should" be doing. And sure I'm not the only person who have ever lived on a bus or taken a crazy road trip or done any of the "unconventional" things I choose to do. But it's fresh for me. I am on the road without a map....because the map doesn't exist...we are making it up as we go along and hoping for the best. And really...I am not really even on the road....I am more wandering through the woods...enjoying the scenery and hoping...and manifesting....to stumble upon a magic faerie world. Which I believe exists. Because I can create it. I can create any reality I desire as long as I believe I can. I am gathering all the bits of string and clover and pixie dust I need to conjure my dream into reality. And you can too. You just have to believe you can. And take a few risks. It's not as scary as you think. Any even thought everything is insane and I feel like my world is breaking apart right now...it's okay. Because I know that this all needs to unravel. And once the unraveling is over I will have a clean slate to start on. How beautifully freeing to be able to always start anew!
So if you feel shackled, if you feel enslaved, trapped, ensnared....if you don't feel free...then you should fucking do something about it! That's why I am on this bus. To be free and to help remind people that they can be too! And your freedom doesn't have to be as extreme as living on a bus and finding a space to start a sustainable community. It can be anything. If you have always wanted to learn how to play an instrument but never got around to it, then find a friend who knows how to play and have them teach you....or see if your local music shop offers classes. If you always wanted to travel but never had the time or money, then start saving NOW, or ask a close friend for a loan or do odd jobs for your neighbor to earn some extra cash.....take time off work/school/whatever and go! Because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow so you might as well be blissed out today. We are coming into a new era....and era in which we are in control of our destiny. We always have been. We just temporarily forgot that we did and let somebody else figure it out. But that is all ending. So I encourage every person in the world who might come across this blog to just be free today or take the first step towards freedom. True freedom. Not the false freedom that comes from living in a "free" country. But true personal freedom. It's yours. Just take it and be well! :)
I realized that I never gave myself a chance to outwardly (or publicly) reflect on Asheville because I was so caught up in it at the time. But I've found that I've not been able to stop thinking about all of the wonderful places and people that I experienced there since I've been here in Burnsville. So, I need to be sappy for a moment, because it's in my nature:
Firstly, being parked on Gaston Street, just down the Road from the 40 and 66 Congress Street houses basically made my visit. The 40 house is full of amazing people who all taught me a little bit about something. Clover taught us about making (and scrapping off) Earth paint, and we talked a lot about what it's taken to make that house what it is. He's been working on transforming it for 5 years, taking out walls, putting some up, making things more communal and sustainable, with the help of those that live there. Eli makes his own moonshine (one giant container of which tumbled over in his room and you could basically get drunk off the fumes just walking in there - it was great), it's delicious. He and Chynna are both amazing dancers. Chynna is like a ray of radiating sunshine; she is always smiling and it warmed my heart. Her and Nick always accompanied us on our nature visits, both of them pointing out edible plants (chickweed is so yummy!) and teaching me about the names of the vegetation surrounding us. Nick is amazing and compassionate, and we talked a lot about loving nature and sometimes feeling strange in cities. He's had some wild experiences farming in Costa Rica and traveling around, and goddamn that boy can basically run up a mountain, leaving us in the dust and panting. Tara is a midwife, and relaid to us some really crazy birthing experiences that happened while we were in town. Carly is extremely knowledgable about herbal medicine, her room is full of jarred herbs, and she is also a fellow basket weaver - sweet! We had some good nights in the 40 house with sing alongs, fires, dinners, and my new favorite game, Poop Smoothie.
The 66 house (aka the "animal house") is a handful of houses up the road. The non-homosapiens whom abide there include Sanora (min-pin/wippet), who is easily one of the sweetest and chillest dogs I've ever met, 3 rats: little Lily, so sweet, Taloum, and Pocket. I never knew how awesome rats were to hang out with, but I regularly enjoyed putting Lily down my shirt and letting her crawl around. They went on walks in people's shirts a lot, no biggy. Hannah is the creature whisperer; super in tune to energies and really warm and loving. Meeting her gave me the first feeling of home. Jojo is cute and hilarious, regularly cracking us up. Kate, aka "Miss Kate!" (when she's feeling sassy) is so sweet and adorable; we had a great drunken dance the last night in town when we went to see a show in West Asheville. It was definitely I who was stepping on feet. I never said I was graceful. Bullet suits her name; she is perceptive and thoughtful, and has one of the best giggles I've ever heard. Actually Bullet is coming to visit us at the farm tonight!
Others we met were Yoshi and Rebecca; we shared a nice dinner with them on the bus; they were our first dinner guests. Trey could go on for hours about really deep thoughts and ideas. He's definitely inquisitive and open to sharing. I went swimming at Warren Wilson with Kaleb, who works at Firestorm cafe with Chynna. He had me giggling and kept my brain cranking all day. Good soul. There is also, of course, Joe, who brought us here. Joe is full of energy and so positive it amazes me. There are so many wonderful people in Asheville, it's definitely the place to go if your looking for new friends to love.
Otherwise, Pisgah National forest that we visited once to hike, and another spot to camp was so beautiful. The wonderful thing about Asheville is its surrounded by natural beauty that made me feel a little less crazy being able to escape to when I had the chance. I didn't get to visit Hot Springs, but I hear bathing in some natural hot spring water along the river is wonderful, and I'd like to experience it some time.
I miss and love these places and these people, and I am grateful that they have touched my life. Their presence lingers on in me, and I am reminded that in this journey we will have to part from all the new things we come to love. That is a difficult lesson, but like everything I'm sure we'll grow from it. I know that I've already done a lot of growing in Asheville. We have already learned so much from new experiences. And hopefully it means we've always got places to come back to.
Welp, here we are. Mountain Edible Arts is amazing, vast, beautiful. Today is our first day off, and I am relishing in relaxation. I just ate some eggs from chickens down the road! Wow! (I'm usually a vegan rabbit, but I've decided that it's all about the context, and finally I am in one where I feel okay about eating some different things). The key here, folks, is sustainability. Also respect - for the Earth and the creatures on it. This is what is most important to me, and this is the way things are here. Yay!
I've been camping out in my tent in the middle of the field. It's a 360 degree view of mountains. Mount Celo, and the Black Mountains behind. This is all feeling rather luxurious. We have definitely been busting our butts as well, making a soak in the hot tub at the end of the day feel deserved.
This is the garden I've been working on a lot. We've been weeding, putting in stone paths and stepping stones, leveling out compost. Max made a new compost structure behind the garden that you can see in the distance here out of recycle wood pallets.
This is an old broken down house that some of us have been cleaning up and clearing, making a huge pile of wood to burn for the Equinox fire this Saturday. Some of the wood that can be salvaged will go into making raised plant beds and rabbit pens. Chickens arrive tomorrow! Bawk bawk!
Anyway, this experience so far has been really rewarding. I am lucky to be here, and I feel like I'm starting to make my dreams of farming come true in all that I'm learning. The addition of hugging a national forest and having hiking trails on the land makes it twice as exciting. While my body struggles to endure the labor, I know it is getting stronger, and my mind is feeling more at peace.
Hello from Celo, NC! Max's forever buddy from way back in high school, Joe, rolled into Asheville around the time Loki did (a month ago, already?!) and after a week was talking about introducing us to a family he WWOOFed for a year ago. Well, THAT turned out to be the best thing ever. Yesterday afternoon Joe rolled into the gravel lot on Patton Ave and changed out of his (studly, was the consensus) ranger uniform and said "follow me!" and Loki waved bye bye for now to Asheville. An hour or so Northwest, I woke up this morning looking out over a valley cloaked in fog, warm sunlight cutting through springtime woods, rhododendron forests all around, and a vibrant patch of green where the lower gardens are just above one of many gurgling creeks. We are staying on Jeff and Kelly (physicians) and daughters Catherine and Lilly's homestead for the next (two? three?) weeks, exchanging 12 hands for room, board, a kitchen and beautiful ingredients with which to nourish the household, and a serious education in small-scale agriculture. The projects we've heard about so far are some intense composting (the very science of it...they are serious about the pH balance and content from what I hear), turning the dying hemlocks (thanks to a new pest) into some rich mulch, growing flowers and veggies, fermenting, growing and foraging for mushrooms, raising a barn (also from the dying hemlocks) in the Amish tradition, building a yurt and a meditation platform, and making beehives and building a small apiary.
I already feel energized and focused at peace here. Woke up early, my clothes fresh in the dryer from the night before, clean from a late shower, and went upstairs to a bubbling Catherine (she was recently accepted into UC Santa Cruz!) and Lilly. Kelly and I finished a snack of bacon and coffee and went to the co-op for breakfast greens and bulk grains and beans for the week. When we returned Max and Joe and Jeff (doctor Jeff, not bus Jeff) had already been attempting to fell the first hemlock, though reported that they'd been bested. Joe's wedges were stuck in the tree still and they broke the axe. But a strong wind might finish the job. The rest of the bus crew had just made it up the road from the glass shop where Loki stayed the night and were finishing up their eggs. Kelly suggested sauteed radish greens (picked yesterday! so sweet!) with garlic and olive oil and lemon, and we ate ours with some beautiful poached eggs on top.
The whole crew is fed now and after Loki makes it down the road to her home for the next two weeks, we get the full tour of the property and details about everything that needs to be done. . Our hosts work hard during the week making people in the community feel good, so after the initial explanation it will be a self-directed education. Max and Joe are off to the tractor supply place finish a sign job for Jeff and Kelly...we haven't seen their design yet but today I heard stick welding was involved.
Pictures in the next post.
Oh! We finished our first issue of In the Belly of the Beast...Loki's cooking zine. There is a lot of original art in it, and recipes unique to each member of the crew, so we're thinking a donation of four dollars an issue to the pay pal account (under our donations section) would be fair, if you want a copy. This particular issue is for your breakfast needs...obviously the most important meal of the day! Email us if you donated so we can get your address and send you a copy!
I wish you the happiness, health and balance that found me with the spring. (OH MY GOSH THE SOUTH IN THE SPRINGTIME!)
Jeff declared at me with hilarious grandiosity two days ago, "It's an
onslaught of the universe, but don't worry! It's only a test!"
Walkabouts are not promenades. This is what we are learning.
Today I returned from a much needed camping trip with Jay and Brit and our new friends Chynna, Nick and Hannah. I was struggling with something of an energy drain when we left...emotionally exhausted and not so inspired. I left behind a Kaley that was in a similar spot, and those in my company said today, retrospectively, that they had been dealing with similar lows.
The pain we've been feeling, in our own ways and for whatever individual reason, corresponds to immense growth that is taking place. When I am in it, it feels so bad, and I often forget to look for the lesson I am learning and suspect instead that I am regressing into old habits, cycles, issues. It feels dark, and is hard to see clearly, and impaired vision is frustrating. (How to appreciate and recognize clarity without occasional confusion?) But then, at some point, I feel the warmth from the sun seep in, watch it illuminate a beautiful spiraling pattern of moss ringing the circumference of a stump, and let the moment reflect inward. We remember, in the moments that we feel love for a person or a place, love for ourselves. It is something very good within us that allows us to absorb and appreciate the good outside of us.
Then what of the times we feel cut off from the good outside ourselves? If I cannot break through my own nearsightedness to fully take in the intensity of the blue of the mountain horizon, or feel the love of a warm community sharing and laughing a room with me, or find energy to leave my blankets in the morning though I am awake and can see that the morning is sunny, am I not worthy of these things? Have I become someone different? Am I a negative impact on the good around me? Maybe temporarily so, to the last question, but I think these times signify necessary exorcisms, or as Kaley put it today, purges, of the stuff that is not allowing us our full potential of love, perception, strength, courage, or positive intentions. Exorcisms are painful, as is any test of our education. When we are presented with a circumstance that forces us to choose a path, we become aware of all the options, not only the one that is truest to who we want to be or where we want to go. Often, we find our gaze lingering upon a path that no longer serves our best intentions; this can be an ugly reminder of past selves or experiences, bad habits, anything familiar because it doesn't scare us as much as the thing we haven't tried yet that all signs point to...kind of like not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because the covers at least promise warmth. But eventually, when we decide to stop making ourselves nauseous dwelling on what we already know doesn't work, and take the leap of faith onto the right path, we find light there. And our present, living self--one deserving of love--rather than the ghostly selves we knew to let go.
When we returned to the bus, woodsmoke still ripe in our clothes, Kaley and Jeff and our good friend visiting from home emerged, mirroring our smiles and newfound energy. Everyone did the work they needed to do in the past twenty-four hours, and radiated fresh energy, self-doubt, ego, pessimism, exhaustion gone for the time being. Creative energy flowed as a testament to the progress. When I finish this post, I will go absorb some local bluegrass music to celebrate. Perhaps the bus crew will converge there, though we have not planned beyond what we all need this evening for ourselves.
Jay reminded me a few days ago that the answers, the positivity, is not in a place or a thing or another person. He said the place or thing or person are there to remind us of, to reflect, the answers we possess in ourselves. I emerged from a feeling of weakness while I was climbing a ridge, looking at sunlit, growing things, but the strength that I affirmed through physical exercise, the beauty I woke to in the textures and life around me, and the love for that space and that moment, all existed inside all along.
Love yourself! Especially when you hurt! It means you're learning, and why would you want to stop learning?
They waited and waited for the sun to come out, and when it did, it snowed. A cold chill amOngst warm insides, penetrating wool right down to the very bone. Couldn't you please turn on the warmth, Mother? Silence fell.
Inside the gypsy caravan huddled under blankets and amongst candle light, cards flip, unknowingly so. The floor showed itself- a small crack, and through it something more. Yes, it was the tiniest little glimpse of a deeper, yes, much deeper, abyss. Indeed. This was of no surprise to the gypsies, for they were always attuned to magic. Each one carried crystals, specific to each, and took from it whatever particular energies the rocks engendered. They, themselves, we're of no Particular gender and so engendered arbitrary attributes of oneself. That is to say, the gypsies were free.
It is known to some that the gift of freedom comes at a heavy cost, but these handful were strong and could carry any load. On their backs they carried a thousand and one possibilities. Delicate, of course, and needing to be responsible about such things. What they really wanted to do was share their baskets with the world, and feed each hungry mind with love. All one, all one. The soap said so.
Enveloped by painted vines adorning the ceiling's nest, a place for each.
Yesterday we headed for the mountains; 2 cars. One car was following the other and ended up getting lost and landing in Tennessee. But they managed to find a nice spot for a picnic and a hike and made it a nice day! Our car, however, made it to Pisgah National Forest, it was beautiful. We swam naked in the river and warmed in the sun, played with rocks and dug our toes in the sand. it was very purifying. Then we went for a long, upward hike up the mountains, nearly to the top of one. I was winded as hell, my asthma persisting, but when I stopped it felt so good to breathe.
These are some cairns made by Trey.
I made this one. Naked and squatting. Lots of sparkly mica in these rocks.
How high we hiked!
Chynna and Trey takin' a breather.
We ended our day with a fire while we waited for our friend Nick to come back from his hike. We thought we'd lost him there for a while! But eventually he showed, just as we were warming and singing our thanks to the Earth. A wonderfully exhausting day.