Archive for May, 2012

For a number of reasons not directly related, I was put in the position to start Quit Money Day a bit early. Not a bad thing per-say, but I certainly would have wished to be more prepared and have a better game-plan. Alas there were many interesting as well as awe-inspiring experiences I am delighted to share with you all. All things happen for a reason as they say, and what better of a reason then to REALLY try my knowledge and capacity?

By tracking where the sun was setting in reference to where I stood, I made my way on foot to Downtown Mesa. My thinking was if anyone knew of where a squat or tent city was for me to lay low in general safety for the night, street folks that walk free near sun-set could point me in the right direction. Both unfortunately and fortunately I did not find such tour-guides.

I am ever-grateful for the valuable information Ian shared with me before beginning his journey out of state. I learned at least 4 edible, Foragable “weeds” or native plants that are abundant in our urban settings. I found much prickly lettuce (http://www.survival.org.au/bf_lactuca_serriola.php) all over. This plant is not the most tasty of the foragable native foods in urban settings, but it does satiate the appetite quite well! It tastes a bit like dandelion, but not nearly as strong and pungent however. I found one of the best places to find this plant and other edibles is in abandon business lots away from the street. Be sure to look for PH burns caused by dogs or humans urinating on plants, which will look like dried half-dead sections mainly near the base. Avoid foraging in or near streets or in those super-manicured yards. Unless of course you love toxic chemicals! Also do you research before eating a plant you are unfamiliar with, and test the juices of the plant on your wrist or neck and let it sit for 10 or so minutes before consuming it. It is not a full-proof technique, but just because something may be fine for human consumption does not mean that your body is not allergic to it.

DISCLAIMER: The spot test should only be done on plants you have research and are pretty sure are fine for human consumption, but wish to aid you in finding out the easy way if you are allergic to it or not. It is not for deciding if a plant new to you is fine for consumption.

Also do keep in mind that cops tend to make their rounds and shine their spot-lights in abandoned lots exactly because they are useful locations for vagabonds and free-spirits. Be aware of your surroundings and most importantly know your rights! The ACLU has great resources on “how to talk to cops” and other materials on your rights when confronted by law enforcement. I am very glad to report that during my entire adventure I did not have to speak to a single officer. Don’t want them to protect and serve the sh*t out of me! Luckily I have dealt with cops on many occasions and have it down to a science. I spoke with them in the past not because of crimes, but their assumptions that a free person is a criminal. Not all whom wander are lost.

Once again I was ill -prepared, and security was the base I had not covered at all, and knew I would have to spend some money to cover in my present position. Worry not! I spent this money last night, not today (Quit Money Day). Dollar store, purchase amounting just under $5.00. Utility knife, LED mini clip light, and a set of pantyhose. The utility knife/box cutter I knew I would need for cutting, and in a pressing situation to protect myself. The LED mini clip light is pretty self-explanatory. However the pantyhose probably has you all scratching your heads!

When asleep on the streets or in secluded locations remember your guard is down, making easy work for pick-picketers. Because I did not have my neck wallet on me I had to make one. If you are unfamiliar with them, you really should consider getting one especially for travel or if you are like me and carry large sums of cash on you at occasionally. Cash can be much more secure then using a card if you know how to protect yourself and think ahead of the curve.

So about the neck-pouch, I acquired the needle and thread to make the pouch the same way my Apache ancestors did. Ask permission and give a gift to a blue agave plant, pull the dark tip of the succulents leaf downward to pull out a bundle of threads. It takes a bit of practice to get it just right. No need to string these durable fibers, as the sharp tip makes a fantastic needle which is already attached. You will have to pound out most of the meat of the plant to produce solid thin fibers, and do know that it would seem the juices from raw blue agave is a slight skin irritant. The gift I gave was a few strands of hair pulled from my scalp to acknowledge the suffering the plant endures, and a few genuine words of thanks and hope for it’s future longevity.

Using the blue agave fibers I was able to craft a pouch, which was moderately functional. Ironically the fibers were too durable for the flimsy pantyhose materiel I was stitching into, but it was a temporary fix. With this pouch I attached some more fibers which tied around my neck to have the pouch tucked under my shirt. Inside the pouch I placed my cards, I.D. photographs, and anything from my wallet I would need or miss if it were to get stolen. All else I left in my wallet and placed it where it usually goes. This gave me a much higher sense of security as well as anonymity.

If there is one major lesson I learned (or was able to re-confirm) from this whole adventure it is that the universe provides. On my walk down Main Street I came across two large boxes full of an assortment of sliced sandwich bread in great condition, and several bottles of water. With this experiment I knew I would be consuming mostly raw foraged plants, so I didn’t really need or intend on consuming the bread. However I did grab two loafs to give to street-folks I ran across. I also only grabbed one bottle of water, as it was all I desired to carry, and I felt I would be better off finding water then most. My intention is to give back to others and the earth more then I take. Oh how great it feels to be walking my talk! I practice gratitude and humility and left a short “Thank-you” note for the owners of the small church, which I sled under the door. Clearly they intended for this large box of bread and water to be consumed by those that need it most. Proof the gift economy does exist. It may be gasping for air, but if enough gratitude goes back to those practicing it, we may be able to resurrect it.

Another important lesson to learn from the universe is abundance is everywhere. You just have to know where to find it. Throughout my whole journey I would find myself asking for something I needed at the time, and it would either smack me in the face or take just a little searching. I never felt any severe hunger-pains, suffered from mild dehydration, had to sleep on a park-bench, or shivered. On the contrary through my scouting I found a number of locations I could settle down at with a number of options to making it happen. As exciting as the abundance was, I had to keep in mind that I had to be sensible and carry only what was easy to carry and that which is hardest to find. Again the universe provides to those deserving, so why horde? I found I need very little to thrive on my own, even in situations where I had little or no pre-planning.

A great find was a small stuffed-animal dolphin liberated from the edges of a trash compacter behind a thrift store. This served as an excellent pillow. One thing that was a bit difficult to find was something to cover my body with. I went to a few smaller hotels asking for sheets, and finally at the 4th location they were kind enough to give this street person in need a large towel. I will tell you, when the young woman handed me the rough hotel towel I teared up a bit while thanking her from the bottom of my heart. It was interesting to feel such gratitude for something as “simple” as a towel. Did you know small hotels don’t even own their sheets and towels? The Laundromat they pay to also clean the sheets has full ownership over them… A small family living the “American Dream” can’t even own their own towels? Please tell me I am not over-reacting.

We take so much for granted in this society that picks the haves from the have-nots so discriminately. A night on the street will set anyone straight about wants vs. needs really quick! In due time I feel each and every one of us is going to have to decide if we want to live on what we need and give others what we can with no limits, or live for what we want and take away what others need. Don’t just talk about love and compassion, practice and live it.

Now for my second crafts project. I realized real quickly that without a backpack carrying the towel, bread, bottle of water, and stuffed animal by hand was not working. Thus I crafted an old-school over-the-shoulder travelers pack! Using the blue agave thread I put the line through a few points, and tied it to itself. Next I pulled some palm frawn leaf near the top/neck of the bundle. Palm is also native (mostly), abundant, and makes for a great cording or tie. With my utility knife I carved a notch all the way around the circumference of the tip of a strong stick, and used the palm cording to tie the towel bag to the stick. There were a few sharp points along the stick where smaller branches were, so instead of dulling my blade more and cutting them off I found rough surfaces around the city such as the asphalt and brick to rub the notches out or to dull bumps. This can be done by taking any wood and rubbing it back and forth repeatedly against the rough surface. I call it urban sand-paper. A favorite technique of mine is to bring the stick down to the asphalt or sidewalk and apply pressure while walking. This made for a nice smooth end to the handle of my scavenged and wildcrafted travelers pack, and sharp points can also be made in this way when using the appropriate angle. I may create a tutorial and diagrams on how to make it in the future.

When sleeping anywhere, and especially in the desert it is important to plan ahead. The earth wants to suck the life out of you by absorbing your body-heat and giving you its cold. Therefore it is wise to have a surface between you and the ground. Also critters like to explore surfaces that are on the ground, as well as bodies that lay close to the ground. If you sleep on say a pallet instead of the raw-earth, you decrease the probability of critters such as say scorpions from visiting you as you sleep. If you also lay cardboard on-top of the pallet, it makes for another surface bugs have to crawl up to get to you. This does little for flying bugs, but do keep in mind that flying bugs will pick you out easier if you eat unhealthy/unnatural foods and wear a lot of chemicals on or in your skin. It is oh so worth it, as nothing beats sleeping under the stars surrounded by so much life!

As far as the location to sleep, it depends on what you are looking for. Personally I prefer to be under the stars and am not afraid of the wild, so a little hideaway between lots works well for me on the fly. Other options include squats or tent-cities. As unpleasant as squatting may sound, there are specific ways to make squatting like living anywhere else… without the rent bill. Even legal in some states, but sadly it is hard to do in Arizona. Tent cities (hidden-away homeless camp-grounds) can potentially be dangerous, but so is sleeping on a park or bus stop bench. In any case be aware of No Trespassing signs, and decide for yourself what risks you are and are not willing to take. I don’t know about you, but staking ownership and sole-rights to land is a hypocrisy and causes far more turmoil then the chaos it is intended to prevent. Just another way to keep us walking, talking, thinking, and writing on the lines and making it that much easier to oppress those in need. Again to each their own.

I did not sleep too much, as this environment was new to me and I knew I would have to wake just before sunrise anyways to tidy up and get clear of my location before attracting too much attention to myself. I also knew I had a lot of walking to do, as my desired destination is a computer lab open to the community in downtown Chandler. Yes, a very long distance on foot.

Practicing humility I realized in order to be here now typing to all of you at this lab, I needed to ask for help from others. Ideally a sign to aid me in hitch-hiking. Although I knew it already, this process proved yet again AZ is atop the list of least hitching friendly states. I could have asked for cardboard and bold black marker from say a convenience store, but I want to practice what I preach and let my wild-child out! Therefore I found a nice mellow place to start a small fire, and burned a few sticks and small boards which would serve as my marker. Needless to say abandoned cardboard is also an abundant resource. I did save one of the burnt stick, as this is likely to aid me in the future.

It took a while, but after a few hours of walking backwards with my thumb erect and travelers pack slung over my shoulder I was able to get a ride. A nice gentlemen that also hitched and was a free spirit when he was younger. Granted his motivations was to indulge his addictions through pan-handling and not have a job all the while, but as I have said before to each their own. Who am I to judge. We had a fantastic conversation about how the universe provides as long as you give to others. I shared my philosophy of giving money to anyone that should ask for it, even if food is a better options and I have no idea how they will spend “my” dollar or two. Who am I to dictate lifestyle choices on others? If someone is suffering and medicates in ways I don’t like, that is their prerogative. If I walk around with a stick up my rear and a better-then-thou view of myself I am not likely to be experiencing the abundance I am now. My new friend agreed. I didn’t get homicidal on him, and he didn’t kill me either. Me and my new friend also agreed most Americans watch far too much T.V.

During my walk to Gangplank I did have to ask for directions when I needed to, took naps when my body asked it of me, and foraged only for what I needed at the time and only kept a small inventory in my cargo pants for the lesser-seen foods. In addition to the prickly lettuce I ate cactus buds, oranges, and figs right off the tree. Granted both the fruits could use another month or two, but scrumptious food with price-tags attached to it are wants. Not needs.

As worrisome as I knew it would make those that care most about me to not have my phone on, I knew it would be better to conserve energy in my battery when I have a cell-phone without the charger. In order to see all the abundance the world has to offer, feel the generosity of others, walk delicately and with purpose, and stay safe in the process one must always be aware of the immediate surroundings. Hard to do that with a techno-gadget attached to the ear. Once again I apologize to those I scared. My life’s calling is my life’s calling. I have been ignoring this call for far too long.

Thank you again to all my readers for your interest and support. Remember my intention is to work and make positive change on this journey, not leach off of the generosity of others. With that said please keep reading my “notes” which are linked near the top of this page. In which you will find the many ways you can help me, and I may help you in return. I can do this without the help of others and by taking what I need when I can (while compromising my ethics), but I would much rather work cooperatively with all of those near, dear, and distant alike. The only catch is when it comes to “payment” for my labor we will have to get creative. I will not be accepting Federal Reserve Notes, as they were worthless to me.

Used and fed-up no more!!!

 

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It is an interesting feeling to be stuck in a cell and have such strong convictions that you do not want to get out. Let time pass, violate more of my rights. See what that will bring in the end. I knew while I was shivering and trying to doze off that this would be an important case, and just may set a president for how we as a mass movement will start reclaiming a number of our rights. I had plenty of time to think on how to approach my case, and was feeling rather optimistic.

When I was placed in the room with two plain-clothes detectives, I had absolutely nothing to say to them. The only thing I told the judge on my second arrangement was that I will be doing an act of civil disobedience, that being a hunger strike. I was misidentified, and a number of my universal rights were being violated. It did not take too long for them to realize they had to get me out of that cell, and fast.

Pressure was mounting, and I knew on the other side of the thick walls that held me, there were others gathering in support of me. I was making a stand and did not want to be transferred to another facility. When the guards came to get me I remained in a meditative state and they physically removed me. It was good that I was in a meditative state as I am pretty sure one of the guards was attempting to break my wrist while carrying me. They laughed and joked while counting in unison “One, two three!” to toss me into the holding vehicle to bring me to the County Jail in Downtown Phoenix. One of a few stomping-grounds of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The conditions of this jail reflected his token human rights violating operation procedures. Once more I was put in a cell with no toilette paper, but this time it was with a number of other individuals being charged with a variety of crimes.

Much to my surprise the inmates got along with each other better then I anticipated. Although I did hear from multiple individuals that an entire floor of the jail was in lock-down due to a large race-related rivalry which apparently had been a major factor in a series of riots.

I had a number of sociopolitical discussions with many of the inmates, and much to my delight there was little to no one there that did not express delight and surprise in hearing my story. I really focused on being in the moment as much as possible and connecting with others, as by now slight hunger pains had started to set-in. I had given all my food to the other inmates, as I stood by my hunger strike. At this point I had no idea how long I would be in, and was prepared for the worse if it came to that. I recall hearing the human body can survive nearly a full week without food, so long as the body remains well hydrated and active. My experience with fasts and detoxes was coming in handy greatly.

Much to my surprise, I was being shifted from room to room, and increasingly it was appearing as though I was being let free. Eventually I was released, and waiting directly outside were friends of mine from the event and other organizations I am a part of. My hypothesis was confirmed! They had been there for me at my first holding cell, as well as my new location once they found out I was transferred. Much to my shock, one of my friends had been arrested while he was waiting outside for me, due to some warrants which were also related to our collective activism.

One of the most interesting things I took note of was how much respect I received from those I was used to disagreeing with fundamentally. In-fact these individuals were the ones the lead the jail support initiative for me. When it is all said and done, we are all in this together, and it felt very good to have that notion proven. I have said this before, and I will say it again. The universe provides.

They organized a “getting out of jail” party for me, so we gathered to share stores over a few drinks. My wounds were finely tended to, and besides still not having a way to see well it was all a matter in the past. I was able to eat a little bit before finely sleeping at my friend and comrades house.

I started this day a little nervous, and with good reason as I would later find.

May 1st is known as a number of international holidays, but one of which is a struggle for workers rights. A day that has been known throughout history to mark a turning point, where workers struggles reach a new level of strength and achieve more rights or independence. A bit of research will come to all sorts of details on the events that have fallen on May 1st throughout history.

At any rate, individuals in the Phoenix area have been planning to have what is called a “general strike” on this day, where people are encouraged to not participate in the capitalistic system. This is done by refusing to work, do chores, or spend money. Instead they are encouraged to hit to streets and express their desire for more respect and rights for the producers, workers, and other people that make this commerce world go round.

This year the organizers decided it would be interesting to bring this message of workers’ rights and struggles to the “corridors of wealth”, that being Scottsdale Arizona. A place many residents of Arizona know is a concentration of wealthy and upper-middle class individuals. The whole city is also cleverly decorated and resembles an “old-western town”, with iconographic statues and images throughout the cityscape of cowboys and “Indians”. As a Native American myself I have always found this to be a bit demeaning, as in a subtle way Scottsdale seems to knowingly or otherwise portray a stereotype of Natives as savages and transients, whereas the Wranglers appear to illustrate independence, strength, integrity, and power.

At any rate, something interesting was bound to happen on this May 1st in Scottsdale, and being someone that is skeptical of the processes and practices of Capitalism as they relate to impact on humans and non-human life, I wished to be witness to whatever does happen. Little did I know I would be deeply entrenched in it regardless of my wishes or desires.

I arrived several hours early just to scout-out the area, and get a general feel for the cityscape and perhaps soak in the energy for things to come. I found myself quickly bored and rather annoyed by the general feel of this crystalline concrete jungle, so I asked around for a small local book-store. I was hoping for something similar to what I am used to in other cities I have lived in, but the only location available in close proximity to me at the time was a Western themed bookstore. By themed I mean all they carried were books on the west, southwest, warfare, prospector’s and Native’s lifestyles and history.

I made the best of it and found my way to the Native American sections, and came across a great book on the economics of the Republic of Lakotah as it relates to the modern global economic system. I read for a few hours, and learned a few revealing things about the history and internal structure of a place I always considered a very intriguing “Sovereign Land” within U.S. borders as we consider them. If this topic intrigues you in the least I encourage you to research about this place, and what they are in the process of building.

While reading I received a phone-call from one of my significant others, whom it was very good to hear from. Her and I have a very beautiful relationship when it comes to person-to-person interaction, but generally speaking when we are not in each other’s presence our relating is mainly in the form of text messaging. Because I was taking a break from screens during Screen Free Week, clearly that meant I was not using my phone for sending or replying to text messages. It is interesting to reflect on how dependant some relationships have become to this medium of communication. A lot can be discussed about this point, but for now I will return to the climax of this entry.

Individuals gather, and as the advertised time approaches everyone can feel an odd mix of calming tension grow. There was a lot of local media, as it is rare around 100+ rough-around-the-edges looking youth in mostly black assemble in Scottsdale. I am holding and on occasion revealing my “Corporate Flag”, which is a satirical USA flag with corporate logos where the white stars are typically. A bit of a commentary how corporations now control our individual states, and ultimately our government. One has to look twice at the flag to really catch the message stitched within this perhaps more honest red, white, and blue tapestry.

After a brief welcoming speech and series of chants by some of the organizers, we find ourselves in-route through the side-streets of what is known as Downtown Scottsdale. What was interesting about this march and demonstration in particular, is there was only light to moderate police presence, whom were on bicycles escorting the individuals acting as a group exercising their 1st Amendment Rights. It may be hard for some to look back on history and notice, but some would argue that many events just like this throughout history is what makes up that which is all we claim to be proud of. People were taking a stand, and making their voice be heard. We make our way to a mall chanting “Out of the Mall, into the streets!”

This was a very non-violent “street party”, where no one was hurt and no notable damage was done. Some had silly string and were spraying metal statues depicting proud cowboys, and a few smoke bombs were also deployed by the peaceful demonstrators. The role I commonly find myself in these situations is to make sure no one gets hurt, split up, and hopefully to keep all aware of their surroundings so no one gets arrested and clashes with police can be avoided.

Much to my surprise, taking such a role somehow made me a target to the authorities, whom were using “snatch and grab” tactics in efforts to suppress this peaceful demonstration. Mind you which is highly illegal, as we are exercising our constitutional rights. So long as there is no violence this right supersedes any silly ordinances those in power try and suppress movements with. From my view and that of many historians, philosophers, community leaders, and teachers; true Democracy is the life-blood of free societies. If we don’t use it, we might lose it.

At any rate, those police officers that were escorting us around the city were discriminatively attempting to snatch some of us peaceful demonstrators, and ironically enough I happened to be the only one that was grabbed. I did not see it coming, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

The manner in which I was grabbed was rather brutal, and it was clear the same tactics used on me were the ones many see when reviewing police brutality in other cities around the world as the “Occupy Movement” continues to gain momentum. An officer will shout “Quit resisting arrest” to justify striking and brutalizing the peaceful individual they have clearly overpowered. I was pinned under the ground with officer’s hands in my hair, slamming my head down while striking my shoulder repeatedly. My glasses were broken, and I had a number of bruises and injuries from this excessive police force. I also never received some of my property, such as that flag I was carrying which just so happens to prove I was demonstrating not breaking laws. The video of my treatment speaks for its self.

I was extremely tightly hand-cuffed, and despite my requests to have the cuffs loosened the arresting officer only acted as if we was loosening them. Because my glasses were broken I was nearly blind while in custody, and all my possessions locked away into a plastic bag.

I could write a point-by-point account of my experience, but for continuity sake I will try and offer here a condensed version of my time in holding. First I was brought to a holding cell at the police station in Scottsdale. I knew not where I was, but I was pretty confident those that witnessed my arrest would eventually make it to where I was for jail support, which is common in some activist circles.

I willingly took their offer to “remain silent” very pointedly, and was not willing to have casual conversation or say anything at all. I was pretty confident any word I would say would get me closer to incriminating me. I knew full-well I had not committed a crime, but I would have to remain calm and centered in order to continue to make positive change in the world.

I often switched up my tactics dependant on the situation of either remaining in a vow of silence, doing deep TM meditation, and signing in the air that I wished for paper. By communicating carefully on paper I at least would have a written account of my statements instead of just heresy of my words by my captors. I also refused a number of their unconstitutional orders when they were in direct violation of my religion, which again is a human right which was repeatedly violated. I was eventually placed on one side of a steel door where a Judge read me my rights. I made it very clear to him I was going to do an additional act of civil disobedience, that being a hunger strike. I had no idea how long they would be keeping me, but I knew this demonstration is far from over in my heart.

Though night turned to day, I received very little if any sleep. I was locked in a cold concrete 9X9 room with nothing but a toilet to sit on and a sink to drink from and wash my wounds. Mind you there was no toilette paper or soft surface to sit on aside from the clothes off my back. I did all I could do to get some peace while trying to sleep by curling up behind the only spot a shadow was in my cell, that being beneath the toilette. One of the only things that kept me calm and centered was the love I feel for all living creatures, and the pulse of life and purpose I feel which reminded me this is much bigger then myself.

My own subconscious didn’t even give me a little bit of time to adjust to the digital detox and ease into this process. Right off the bat I was plunged into a labyrinth of self-analysis I had not anticipated at all, on April 30th 2012 which was the first day of the international “Screen Free Week”. The self-analysis and eventual guilt came in the form of facing my own demons as they relate to how I form some characters when hand-writing.

Let it be known that I know full-well that my parents have access to, and are likely to read this statement I make publicly on the internet. Yes my friends, this is a bit of a confession of past transgressions from years past. I feel it is necessary to take this step however, so again I might walk my talk and grow to become a better person.

When I was in elementary and middle school and so on, I had a unique way of scribing certain characters. No matter how much protesting my math teachers would make, I intentionally designed each number from 0 to 10 in a unique way with sharp peaks and low dips. I did not realize it at the time, but it was an early form of my own self-expression. I am sure writing analysts would have a field day with my earlier work, that is for sure.

Another character besides numbers I had a unique style when scribing was the question mark. In a similar fashion, there were peaks and dips where “normal” question marks did not have them. I was living in So. Lake Tahoe CA. at the time as J.R., and we had a beautiful middle-class home with a nice large back yard. I spend much time outside as a child, and had a pretty stable upbringing.

However like most kids growing up, I had a strong sense of curiosity and tended to do things “just because”. One of those offenses I committed was defacing the door of a shed in our back yard. Yes I confess! The odd looking question-mark that was spray-painted on the shed door was in fact done by me. Reflecting back I am fairly confident this was one of the only major offenses I committed as a child of which I blatantly lied about to my parents. We had a Doberman-pincer for crying out loud, so my parents knew the probability was very low some random vandal hopped our 8 ft. backyard fence to paint a single character on a wooden door. I have no idea why I did it, but I must have thought it would be interesting there and look neat. It did infect, but little did I know with that simple act, the lie, and the constant reminder of it growing up in that home and seeing the shed when I peaked out the kitchen window I was reminded of my crime and subsequent lie to my parents.

I am sorry Mom and Dad…

The reason I bring this all up is because on the 1st day of Screen Free Week I was forced to once again face the skeleton in the closet when I wrote a simple character in my lined note-book. Ever since then I NEVER drew my question marks the same again, clearly out of fear of being caught in my own lie and web of deception. Little did I know until I sat on this notion and reflected, but I have been carrying an ever-so slight amount of guilt for my past each and every time I hand-write a sentence on paper which ends in a question. After all these years I have been carrying it, and by habitually avoiding detection with the way I form my question-marks, I am feeding that skeleton in the closet.

Here is to letting go, and learning lessons. I know that is a small and simple one most will shrug their shoulders at, but nonetheless it says a lot about the subconscious. Or at-least my subconscious that is. I never related my question-marks of today to the guilt I endured in the past until I was afforded a bit of mental clarity and time to reflect and do some self analysis. My guess would be a similar subconscious avoidance or inner turmoil will occur with others if they lie to or cause harm upon another and go out of their way to avoid detection for years afterwards. Your past will always catch up to you if you want to grow and learn from your mistakes. I know it is one of the sillier things from my past, but perhaps one of the ones I have been carrying the most guilt about since.

Clearly this realization put me into a state of self-awareness and more mindfulness on my surroundings. With that came the reflection that making this commitment of no digital screens for an entire week, I am really biting off something big and I hope my mouth is really as big as I think it is, and my esophageal muscles as strong as I assume they are. I could offer myself an excuse and say life is too chaotic right now and I “need” the internet that badly that going further down this trip is a “bad” idea, but I realize I am throwing all caution to the wind and realizing I made a commitment to myself. No matter how many projects which relies on social media, no matter how many messages of concern I may get, no matter how much I should be looking for a “job”… The most important thing is I be true to myself. I could see it as the “worse” timing for a time-out from the digital world, or take signs from the universe which are challenging me and roll my sleeves up.

Well here we go!

With that I got the first of many signs from the Universe that I am on the right path. I did my best to deny signs of misfortune when the local print-shop down the street was closed. It is true that most Mom & Pop operations have odd days-off, and in this case my local printer is closed on Mondays. So be it, to a big-box store I go. Who knows, maybe there is a reason I have to go to Staples to print some important papers for 4 Elements Phoenix, but perhaps I will find out. Then there she was. The manager noticed she had not registered my presence behind the printing kiosk, but soon she came to attention and nervously came to aid me with my printing.

She was short with long dark straight hair, big eyes, and slight scent of mischief haloing her being. I was slightly out of character dressed professional-like, as I had a meeting later that afternoon. However in the moment we locked eyes she knew that I knew what she knows. Those moments of awareness, subtext, foreshadowing, and primal instinct that can’t justly be described. We wanted each other.

She nervously aids me with my documents, and I request she hold them until I have had a chance to finish shopping. After all, while I am here I may as well pick up presentation laminates, which I was unable to find at the house but knew I had at one point. No matter how far away I walk that tense strand of sexual chemistry was already anchored. We come together again for my purchase, the line condenses and glows.

Eyes idly surveying her surrounding; “Would you like some M&Ms?” as she gestures to the package near the register.

With humor in my eyes; “No thank you”

Nervously “Do you need anything else?”

With further amusement; “No thank you”

Persistently yet cautiously; “Do  you have any questions?”

Hesitantly; “No… Actually do you live around here?” picking up on her interest to treat each other as humans instead of cashier and customer.

“Yes, right near Thisstreet and Thatstreet”

I reply; “Look at that, we are basically neighbors. I live on Otherstreet and Similarstreet”.

I gently take my purchase from her small trembling hands, and take my leave.

Slowly, confidently.

Sure the probability is there we will meet once more as we live in close proximity in the same city and I know where she works, but that is not the point. A simple yet important fact remains. I made a much-needed connection with another living creature which made both of us feel fantastic. It was one of the purest most intoxicating forms of energy exchange there is. We gave and received simultaneously. Silence swirled around us, but the subtle whispers of our minds and bodies spoke volumes. I was desired and validated, she was desired and validated. Magic happened in that short moment, but a casual onlooker would see nothing extraordinary unless they were in someway tangled in that same web.

-Sigh- This is what life feels like.

Thank you Universe, and thank you short electric beauty in the Staples shirt whom started off my Screen Free Week magically. Life is a mirror, and what I put out to the pulse of life I will see reflected back at me. Who knows how crabby the clerk would have been if I walked in the Big-box with a toxic cloud around me. Instead I remained a piece of driftwood on this ride called life. And what a ride it can be if you let it take hold!

Back to my current dwelling to tend to non-human life that decided to come into being for me voluntarily. By that I mean the “weeds” That sprouted from my compost pile. One of which I have identified as a tomato plant, and another may be a cucumber or squash of some sort. A few days prior I liberated them from my compost pile and gave them a home of their own in a pot. They were looking good on that day, but regardless I came and gave them some verbal and aquatic T.L.C. while they bathed in the sun. Did you know that many scientific experiments have “proved” that talking to, praising, and genuinely caring for plants stimulates growth and vitality. This may be a simple notion to some, but mind-boggling to others. For those that challenge this notion, thank you. Do your own research and let me know what you find.

I was brought back to another moment of omniscience after tending to my plants, and that is I feel a number of people closest to me misunderstand what I am doing when I say I am rejecting money. Some that care deeply for me must think I am not going to use money at all, starting at this point and live in a gutter etc. In fact what I am proposing to myself and those reading this entry is a “USD diet”. Slowly cutting out what I feel does not nourish me, and replacing what was there with more substance. It is a gradual process, and can be graceful if done correctly. Quite simply in my eyes the Federal Reserve Note hold little value in my mind, and in fact it has devalued significantly and is becoming increasingly unstable. What I am doing is making subtle changes in my lifestyle over a gradual period of time, to more towards more sustainable means of sustenance then purchasing everything I need and think I need.

(Little did I know the Universe had a different plan in store for me…)

For those of you that want to at least entertain what I am talking about, but know for a fact you are not willing or able to take it as far as I am, there is a fantastic book I would recommend to you. It is called “Your money or your life”, by: Joe Dominguez. Let me know what you think!

I must confess that In that moment of reflection I realized one of the biggest things I will have to overcome or possibly cope-with. That is possibly loosing friends, or even lovers and those closest to me. This notion is far more debilitating to me then loosing a car, or perhaps being hungry for parts of days, or perhaps not having steady internet access. Loosing those I love and care most for is a good possibility, but with more reflection I realize it is inevitable and ultimately healthy.

People that come into and go out of our life are not separate, but they become a part of our lives and ultimately ourselves. However after a certain point a person has served their purpose in your path to growth (if that is in fact the path you choose), and you must shed  your skin. Like a snake coiled around a branch, forced to wrench free from their dead skin only to expose tender young skin below. I am not saying that those I love and care for now are nothing short of dead skin, rather I am saying they were protective armor that has stick with me and was a huge part of me. The largest organ of my body in fact. However sometimes we must gracefully let go of those we love the most. No matter how difficult and painful that process may be. This I know from many personal experiences, and undoubtedly you my reader do as well. I am proposing that it is part of a design, of which we may not have full understanding of now, but of which I hope to find out and share with as many as possible.

My 4EP/Black & Blue Bills meeting went pretty well. Though the attendance was low we were able to get to know each other better and come up with some great ideas. I feel very optimistic about this start. I very much so appreciate the enthusiasm and creativity those are lending to me thus-far. If this is an early reflection of things to come, these may be some of the most successful projects I have every founded.

As the first of many steps to clearing out the junk that is in our current house, I pulled out the bags and manila envelopes which serve as the collectors for mail and junk-mail which has addresses and personal information on it. Little do most know that one of the simplest ways to commit identity theft or other such crimes is to pick through recycling and trash-cans of people that don’t take a few simple steps ahead of time. I could shred these documents, but instead I offer this process and solution which involves nearly zero waste and costs nothing as well.

Recycling everything you can is not exactly the best solution, but it is slightly better then trashing everything. Thus it is alright to recycle as much as you can, but check that junk-mail! If it has addresses, names, account numbers etc. then DO NOT just throw it in the trash or recycling. Better to be safe then sorry.

Consider giving junk-mailers a taste of their own medicine if you have the time and desire to do so, and/or rip the addresses, account numbers, and address portions of the mail off and collect it for proper cleansing. Sure you can pay to have things shredded, or buy a shredder and do it yourself. I used to take these documents to my place of employment to have it shredded, which is a little bit of a risk if you think about it as you are leaving that sensitive task up to strangers. At least in the case of a company being paid to pick up our documents to be shredded. However consider then where does that shredded paper go? You can look it up yourself to find the answer to that question if you like of course, but I am not going to go into that too much. I would rather illustrate my micro-version of that same process (in a way).

Those clippings and sheets of paper, burn them. Consider an alternate use for the fire such as roasting something or boiling water to maximize resource use, or at least in my case, enjoy the warmth from the heat on the cold windy night. Dig the proper bonfire and observe the usual safety protocols such as having water and/or soil available to extinguish rogue or out of control flames. Try and burn as much of it as possible, and put the fire out when done. This burned matter can then be added to your compost pile, which will add great minerals and nutrients for the plants you use the compost for. No worries if there is still some paper in there, it will eventually break-down in a healthy compost. Do keep in mind however that ash and burnt matter changes the PH balance of a compost, so you want to not over-saturate a compost with too much ash or burnt matter.

The sad fact of the matter is we live in a wasteful society here in the U.S., and most of which is avoidable. All doing our part individually is not exactly the “solution” if you ask me, but in our present system I feel that you should at least take those first important steps before pushing our civilization into more sustainable systems and practices, which is likely to be a tough and radical process.

Another simple thing we all can do is do the research to find the companies and firms that sell your private information on lists, and metaphorically kick them in the teeth! Alright, it isn’t very simple, but it can be done. For those of us that do not have the time, resources, and know-how to make sure we don’t get the junk-mail in the first place (which is waste, a security risk, and a general haste), consider supporting this Arizona business! They help dwindle down the amount of junk-mail you receive in the first-place. Think of it like a spam filter for your mailing address. In my eyes that is a very practical solution worth investing in.

While we are on the topic of waste, here is another simple practice to add to your life if you don’t like spending a lot of money. You know all those note-pads and sticky-notes you purchase (or rip off from your employer right?). Well you can make your own vary simply. When you have a full page 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper that doesn’t have personal info and only printed materiel on one side, fold then rip them into 4 pieces. Paperclip these and put them near your pencils and pens to write on the blank side. I have no memory, so I constantly have to write my ideas, directions to locations, love-letters, etc. on these little scrap pieces of paper. After you are done with the piece of paper, you can then recycle it. Again double-check the page to make sure there is no personal information on it. That is if you value your privacy and want to avoid being a potential victim of crimes of desperation. Our artificial scarcity civilization make these crimes a “fact” of life, so take the simple steps such as those mentioned above to avoid it all.

Another sign from the universe, as I was deep in contemplation about the above points and processes, I look down to the little paper flag on the end of my tea bag string, and staring back at me are the words “Your choices will change the world”. Thank you for the reminder.

Back into the house for more reading and contemplation. Reading my Nick Sagan book Everfree, I come across an interesting phrase. “Quae Nocent, docent”. Which translates to “Things that injure, teach”. Thing propels my gray-matter into a number of ways this could be applied to natures response to civilization.

For example the last few weeks a theme in my life has been weeds. Either I am identifying them, learning which ones are edible, or much to my reluctance pulling them up for others that are allergic to them as a form of “employment” that is far more humbling and rewarding then working for some jerk with little long-term security.

Consider for a moment life without us. Our roadways would begin to sprout plants which fracture the urbanite, building become overtaken by vines, and even our skyscrapers would tumble and be reclaimed by The Mother. You may agree or disagree with me on this point, but regardless it is interesting to consider. I personally feel it is part of a design, and that The Mother has a plan and process for everything. If she is being injured, she knows how to heal herself.

Take for instance weeds that cause allergies in humans. I know it is a far-out notion, but what if say such weeds exist for the sole purpose of discouraging our inhabitants in urban and wild environments alike? All life has purpose, and perhaps such allergens are more then a coincidence. Rather an attempt to reclaim a site which we have selfishly put concrete and electronic gadgets that in the grand scheme of things matter little, and harm a lot.

“Quae Nocent, docent”.

Eventually after this notion dissipates from my mind and my arms tire from holding my book, I drift off concluding my first day of Screen Free Week.

I recently got out of jail. Oh how interesting this is going to be! Much love and respect to all my readers and supporters!

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