Dear Guilt, I Quit!
Maybe I’ve finally reached an age where I just can’t be bothered by shit anymore. Maybe I’ve finally reached that magical place where the opinions of people—even my own inner bitch—just don’t matter to me. And believe me, I tell my inner voice to shut up all the time, although I never say that to people. With them, I just tune it out until I can walk away. See that vacuous little half-smile? That’s me thinking, “I really don’t care and I wish you’d shut up.”
I didn’t use to be like this. I’d grown accustomed to the voices of guilt haranguing me about nearly everything I did. All those little nagging accusations: you can’t, you should, you shouldn’t, you must, you mustn’t, etc.,etc. My biggest beef (pun intended) is the whole food obsession that plagues the country. Don’t eat meat, don’t eat gluten, don’t eat sugar, don’t drink, don’t, don’t, don’t. I’m over it! I quit! Look. I know I’ll never have the 105-pound figure I had until I was about 37. That’s not even reasonable and what’s more, it would be damned unhealthy at my age. Sure, I’ve gained a little weight, but it stabilized years ago. I eat healthily enough, but I don’t obsess.
Personally, I’m just sick and tired of all the labels. I don’t want to label myself by what I believe, eat, wear, drive, listen to, or who I love. I’m a human and I eat food, not nutrients. I like food, my diet is balanced, I’m not gaining weight, so leave me the hell alone. Go eat your tofurkey and have a happy life. Why is what I eat any of your business, anyway? I’m tired of food being a religion with all its sects and denominations, and the ensuing arguments and pontifications that always arise. If I want ribs, that’s my business and if I want that teaspoon of sugar in my coffee every morning, that’s my business as well.
The real issue is balance, of course. We’re surrounded by extremes and extremists on all sides. How about a little common sense? It’s a hell of a lot easier than reading every freaking label on every single item in the supermarket. No one gets out alive anyway, and life is meant to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, we live in a society where enjoyment is now defined by how exciting something is, how loud it can be, how big we can make it, and by how much adrenaline can be released. I’m too old for that shite. For me, enjoyment is about the gentle pleasing of each of the senses and the company of like-minded friends and family. So you and your selfie chums go make duck lips, strike the chicken arm pose, strive for the thigh gap and the 6-pack abs, and go deaf in your boom cars, from movie explosions and from concert PA systems. My friends and I shall be sitting here enjoying wine and these yummy bacon-wrapped shrimp.
Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge, takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and SKWaller.com.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Arroyo
Last weekend two outdoor-types drove a beat-up Subaru into the arroyo on the north side of our property. They came off of Camino Barranca down by the big culverts and made it about a half-mile up the wash before they were stuck in the sand.
“Was the access point into the open-space easement restricted by any warning signs?”
“I don’t think so, Your Honor, at least not any that we could see. My friend Jessie is a little crazy sometimes.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, Sir, it was kind of late at night. Jessie said she didn’t feel like driving back up to Santa Fe, and she suggested that maybe we could just camp in the arroyo.”
“Hold on; you are two young women alone on a Saturday night in an unfamiliar place, and you decided to camp?”
“Sure. We were going to sleep in the Forester.”
“With the rear window broken out?”
“We had a bag duct-taped over the door, and it wasn’t air-tight or anything, but people say fresh air is good for you when you sleep, right?”
“Please tell this court what happened next.”
“We were doing everything we could think of to get the car un-stuck, stacking rocks under the wheels, digging out with our hands and sticks, you know, trying to find some kind of traction, and that’s when we saw these two old perverts with their telephoto lenses having an eyeful.”
“Exactly. It was a sunny morning and we had worked up a pretty good sweat out there, so we peeled off our jerseys, not naked or anything, just trying to avoid getting over-heated. The two of them were maybe a hundred yards up the road, out on the front porch like they’re making some kind of movie, watching me and Jessie. About that time the Sheriff’s truck pulled up and he asked what we were doing in the arroyo, I think the way he said it was, ‘without any clothes on.’
“Jessie explained that we were making an effort to retrieve our vehicle, and how it seemed to us the geezers with the cameras were invading our privacy. The officer looks up toward the house, and we all see the dudes gathering their gear and running for the garage.”
“Something doesn’t feel right. You ladies stay right here.”
“He jumps in his truck and takes off, calling for backup like they do on Cops. Me and Jessie went back to digging, and twenty minutes later the officer returns with the two guys wearing handcuffs.”
“Are these the men what was bothering y’all?”
“That’s them, sure is. Hard to miss the one wearing the beret with a polka dot tee shirt.”
The story was all over the television news this morning. Chanel 7 reported that the two film-makers were indeed putting together a documentary featuring female athletes. It was also revealed that the film was being produced with equipment that had been “sold” to them without a receipt, and that most of it had also been reported missing from the film school at CNM. There, as they say, goes the neighborhood.
Harpeth Rivers is a New Mexico transplant from all over who has in the last year written songs about isosceles triangles, played bass guitar in a band, and declared himself "Retro-eclectic." His novel-in-progress is entitled Last Year.
No Pants, No Speak
I attended my first town council meeting.
I got thrown out of my first town council meeting.
Monday evening, some of the residents of Guacimo de Atenas decided to register their displeasure with lack of action to repair the road from Atenas to Guacimo.
We decided that I should attend the meeting as a show of support for our neighbors. I wrote out a little speech to deliver in Spanish and everything.
They threw me out before I could deliver it.
I was wearing shorts.
The first order of business was to swear in newly elected officials.
They read their second order of business and voted.
Then the woman running the meeting (not the mayor) made a statement, looked at me, and every head in the room swiveled and looked RIGHT AT ME.
I made a goofy embarrassed face and stood. I said (in Spanish) that my Spanish was not very good and I didn’t understand. As per usual, she said the same thing – and everybody looked at me AGAIN. A woman in the back said
“El no comprendo.”
A young man caught my eye and said (in English) “You can’t be in the meeting wearing short pants.”
I would have been very happy if a sink hole would have opened beneath me and I disappeared forever.
It didn’t. I got thrown out.
I said in Spanish “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. It is my fault. Please excuse me.”
Getting thrown out is hyperbole of course. Everybody was very understanding. They said I was welcome to sit on the bench outside and listen through the windows. A woman soon followed me out and pointed to her knee length pants and did the circle-the-ear gesture and said. “Loco.”
After I took my place on the bench, Carmen, a council member who spoke english came out and explained the reason I was thrown out. She asked if I was with the Guacimo contingent to address the meeting. If so, she could be happy to stand with me in the doorway and translate. Very very nice gesture.
The meeting continued and I could not understand ONE. DAMN. WORD. A combination of amplified Spanish, cars, motos, and bus traffic, pretty much guaranteed that I was doomed.
BUT...As they say in the newspaper business, I’ve “buried the lead.”
Our road will be asphalted.
I’ll believe it when I see it. But everybody in the meeting seemed convinced that the road will be asphalt.
There were ideas for fiestas and a tope to celebrate.
I will be there -- in shorts.
Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.
Down On the Farm
A few hundred idealistic, mostly baby boomer souls leave San Francisco in brightly-painted school buses and vans on a caravan quest across America, searching for a spot to establish an utopian community. In 1971, after 7 months, the group plops on the promised land in the wilderness of Tennessee. It’s the height of the Viet-Nam war and youth rebellion.
Over the years, The Farm became a counterculture mecca, with over 4000 official members at one time or another. Some 100,000 were overnight visitors in the 1970s. It was the largest hippie establishment of its kind in North America. The Wall St. Journal called it the “General Motors of American Communes.”
Charismatic founder Stephen Gaskin’s vision was a mix of old and new. Believe it or not, baby boomers didn’t invent the commune or utopia. Special enclaves, usually in rural areas far from the maddening urban crowd, had long been a tradition in American culture, from Romantics to religious sects to socialists. Born in the rise and decline of the San Francisco hippie scene, Gaskin emerged as a new age prophet who was once described as “the Gandhi of the American Counterculture.”
Back to land was his clarion call, away from the distractions and corruptions of cities. It seemed to him “the natural progression of the whole hippy movement.” It represented nothing less than the creation a new, progressive human soul with heightened consciousness, or as one early member described it, “to decondition ourselves from our capitalist condition and recondition ourselves for a better society.”
The Farm required vows of poverty and selfless discipline to a clear code of conduct. It was a tribe,” a follower said. “That body is our church, or group soul.”
In 1983, financial problems and challenges to Gaskin’s leadership led to the “Changeover” or “Exodus.” Members left in droves and survivors were required to support themselves rather than donate all income to a central bank. Today, there are about 175 members, many of whom run their own small businesses at the Farm.
Stephen Gaskin’s last venture was a “Not-for-Profit Development and Intelligence Corporation” called Rocinante, a new age hippie retirement home, named after Don Quixote’s horse. Gaskin died in 2014.
In 2000, Gaskin ran for President in Green Party primaries, but lost the nomination. He describes his politics as “Beatnik” and his religion as “Hippy.”
Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.
10 - 10<>
Darlene Stamp is from Newfoundland and enjoys capturing the stark beauty of the landscape.
You can see more of her photos on flickr.