Wild as the ocean, free as a mountain sitting motionless. Soft as a storm blooming in full.

Wild as the ocean. Free as a mountain sitting motionless. Soft as a storm blooming in full.

~Travels with the Wolfman~

This page…will be where I put my adventures, my travels and the things I experience while exploring the world.  Until then…go out and see the world!

Article 4-Cuba.

To Cuba With Love~

Article 3.

I have just stumbled across a journey I took many years ago and nearly forgot about.  I was thumbing through old emails, alas I have too many and they bog me down at times.  I haven't the heart to erase most of them, pathetically.  But sometimes I'm so glad I am that way when I find a lost treasure that I almost forgot about.
I found a story that was written for me in 2006, by a California native elder named Julie, who did work in organizing events and conferences of native culture and gatherings.  I met her at an auspicious time when I was desperately seeking guidance.  I was utterly lost at this time, having walked away from my dream career path vocation only to end up chronically ill and stymied by the financial crises that befalls an illness that takes away your ability to thrive. I was honestly miserably unhappy, angry too at the circumstances in my life that somehow had happened, or that I allowed to happen that were now taking over my soul to boot, not just my body.
I was up at an event called, Chaw'se at the grinding rock monument in Pine Grove near Yosemite in the mid-2000's.  It was a Native Miwok/Miwuk gathering that I had been introduced from my sister in law who has now passed on. She used to come and sell her jewelry here and I came once to help her set up and break down in the hot dry afternoons of mountainous air.  This place was magical, quiet in the truest sense.  One could take small walks around a loop while the gathering, or Big Time as it is known was going on.  Tribal members sold their wares, danced in the roundhouse and sold fry bread tacos at the concession stands.  You didn't have to be native to attend or even sell I think, so long as it was approved of by tribal members.  I remember having the space to just meander around to different vendors quietly, trying my best not to toy with anyone looking for a sale, I was clear I was just looking.  I didn't have the money to be buying anything I didn't really need at this point.  So I just looked and swallowed in the ambience of this gathering.  
I ended up at a man's booth on the east side of the area, kind of away from most other vendors and the roundhouse.  He sold hand drums and bone knives that he created himself with materials he harvested or hunted.  Richard I think was his name with his gravely laugh and missing teeth, I became acquainted with him in the utmost heartfelt way.  I kept in touch for several years after. 
I was drawn to his knives from some innate place I couldn't figure out why.  I kept going back to them several times, perhaps it was his open-hearted company I was drawn to. Either way, there was one in particular that I just could not pull myself away from.  It was the handle I most connected to, appropriately.  The solidity of it, the comfort and ease of holding it, the way it fit my hand.  And yet I was scared of it.  It conjured up this response in me that I didn't quite understand.  
Until now.  I wasn't ready for it.  
So Julie was at this conference and tooling around talking with many folks, organizing as she did.  I told her about this knife and she came to see it with me. We talked about it and the possible meanings of it.  I remember thinking, how much I'd love to have one of those spiritual experiences that many 'white' people do in books about native americans.  Why didn't I ever have teachers come down to me and offer to guide me?  Why couldn't I have a Don Juan experience? Unlucky me.  Or so I thought.  
After I showed her the knife, with it's sturdy antler handle and it's calf bone blade, we walked away to chat about why she thought I wasn't ready.  And here is what she wrote in an email later on after our conversation about how I was not ready to hold my own power:

The girl who was afraid of her knife.
A girl picked up a fine knife one day, she held it in her hand and drew it though the air, she made swooshing noises and the knife made her feel her own power.
She put the knife down and was afraid to take her power, so she went away and made an excuse for not wanting her own power.
 But she came back again to see the knife that gave her power, she wanted to keep it, but still afraid...
She did this several times, until she decided to leave the knife where she found it.
Her Grandmother asked her why she did not take this fine bone knife that she had seen her hold.
The girl, told her Grandmother that she was afraid of her power, she was afraid, that she would take the knife and do something that would make her forget who she was. She was afraid that the knife would give her too much power and she would not know what to do with it, she was afraid that the knife would change her and she would not know who she was.
Her Grandmother laughed gently and said, Granddaughter don’t you know the knife is the tool that will cut away your fear, the knife will help you cut the willow and tule so you can make a basket to hold your heart, the knife will cut the branches from the trees to make fire so you can stay warm. The knife will skin the rabbit so you can make a warm blanket to sleep on. The knife will give you power, because you will make the knife do what is in your power to create. Foolish girl, you are the power and the knife is just there to help you show how much power you already hold in your hands.
She was right.  I was afraid of my own power.  I knew it then, but only abstractly. On some deeper level, I knew I was afraid of what lived beneath the surface of my generally intense but chipper personality: rage, passion and pure power.  Many people in my life had known how much power I had in me but were usually afraid of it and did everything they could to stifle and whittle it away, at great damage to me.  People shamed me for my power, my intensity and my passion all of my life. So why would I be brave enough to embrace it?  What would that actually mean? 

Well, it has been 10 years since then and I have gone to hell and back twice, returning barely intact to come out and face myself and the world, in the deepest sense of that meaning.  I have swam to the deepest parts of my soul and sat quietly listening to what was there and what was missing.  I have been put through a ringer of tests both by the universe, my friends, my body and ultimately my soul because I was not listening well enough.  I met with challenges I did not yield from while falling into the dark night of the soul for many years.  I have learnt hard earned lessons, etched into my bones in case my mind forgets them someday. 
I have tools now.  Tools to help me remember what I learned while in the dark; tools to help me crawl back out quicker this time so I don't waste myself in the shadows.  I have begun to embrace my power in a quiet way, not in an aggressive or bossy way.  But in a deep amber-hued light of soft awareness that glows within me so I can carry it with me wherever I go in case I need it, way.  That's how real power is, quiet & wise.   So as I grow within, differently, I become quieter with more wisdom.  I don't see the point in asserting myself the way I used to even when I am right, especially when I am right. Gracefully. 
Thankfully, I am ready now to embrace my power.   It's time to fix my knife from when I broke it last while trying to embrace my power with wobbly hands and a weak heart, throwing it up in the air in an attempt at catching my power mid-flight.  Naive'.
I was nowhere near ready then and because so, the blade broke right off like a leaf falling from a dead tree: with no effort. So I had it fixed by Richard, the original maker of the knife got it back thinking I was ready, then I broke it again.  I was humbled by this display of silliness and clumsy-fingered excitement so I put it away until I was ready.  That was some time ago, many years in fact.  I recently remembered this knife after a long bout of personal and health crises nearly took me down, but didn't.  I survived it and have come through intact and essentially new again, but stronger than before. Wiser.  

Now, things have changed.  With a fortitude in my gut, a clarity in my heart of great desire burning strong and quietly within me, I am ready now to walk forward with knife in hand, power intact and whole.  
I had teachers with me all along.  Thank you Julie and Richard.  


Article 2. 

Tongues in Cheeks~

I've always loved to travel.  When I was younger even if all I could afford to do was to take small road trips around the Bay Area, I would as often as I could. I had big life plans to see the world; It was my life's goal.  
As I've grown older I have not found the money or health to travel like I've wanted to and it's been a source of disappointment for me.  Much of my life has honestly.  I hope I still can see as much of the world as I can, as I age. 
I crave far and dark dusty places where few go and spirits and soldiers lurk in the fog.  I crave different. Sad bars in the depths of Russia, sweaty jungles in Thailand filled with drug runners and machine guns, Baboons on the steps of stone walls in India and China, happy villages in Africa untouched by white man's hands.  I want no more of the same but at this point don't have a lot of options.  So I will bide my time until I can break free from my limitations to see the world the way I want to; the underside, the earthy, the lesser traveled path. 

Back when I was a teen, one week I decided to goto Big Sur.  It was a thing in the 70's, 80's and even into the 90's.  There was something weird and magical about the place.  Lots of seekers and wanderers got lost there, up into the sides of the mountains, the hills and on the beaches searching for jade rock, themselves and answers to whatever they had questions to. I still have my jade somewhere.  Thankfully I didn't get sucked into that vortex of spiritual wandering and found my way home again. 
I don't know how I ended up at this particular house but somehow I did.  I was a guest, taken in and given the couch to sleep on while hanging out in Big Sur.  I was happy to have a place to sleep and learn and observe people. Check out the local folks and scene.  I must have met some people, chatted awhile and was then invited to stay at their place. Because I don't remember who I knew or how I got there.  The art of traveling.  While I don't remember much else about the trip, I do remember something quite amusing that stuck with me.  
One morning at the house while sleeping on the couch I was awakened by an announcement by one of the tenants.  I don't remember his name so I will make one up.  Marcel was a wiry older black man, probably only in his 40's but at the time I was still 20ish…so 40 was much older.  I was halfway napping when he whisked by me wrapped in a towel when he told me of his afternoon plans with glee.  He said he going to take a bath but not to worry if I heard strange sounds coming from the bathroom.  Huh?  'Ok…no worries man, have a good bath' I said. Nodding back off into a nap. 
A little while later, I was gently nudged out of my day sleep by the strange ramblings coming from Marcel, now emerged fully in tub water.  
I could hear the slushing of water and the echo of sounds coming from the bathroom now, in betwixt rantings which I could not discern.  All I could hear were strange words that didn't make sense and the occasional audible word of clarity coming from Marcel as he launched himself into a tirade of gibberish. 
But gibberish with intent!  So I sat up intently to listen!

When he got out of the tub, he told me what he was doing was part of a spiritual practice called Glossolalia. An old timey religious practice of speaking in tongues.  Connecting with the spirit through this act.  Wow.  Ok.  What?  My curiosity was piqued!  I think we talked about it for a few minutes and I being so young and open just listened with great joy, smiling at this experience.  

What a trip that was to be audio witness to!  While it was happening I just sat back and reveled at the oddity of humanity and all it's wondrous strange, inventiveness.  Especially in the face of fear and discomfort.  Man has created a LOT of things to quell himself, to quiet the inner turmoil and shadow of death from drugs to religion to politics to war to addiction to technology and so on. 
It's boundless the creativity of man and sometimes the dark depths he will go to avoid the mortal coil of life: The daily drudgery of our existence.  
The escapism that manifests out of our angst and turmoil never ceases to end so long as we feel so much.  The avoidance that becomes joy that becomes avoidance that becomes pain again is endless.  Ah so it be.  Fascinating!  
In the mean time…listen to this. This Mortal Coil.  

AND then this really great one!  Because honestly I have nothing more to say about Glossolalia except that maybe someday I'll see someone do it again at an actual underground church with snakes, flailing and all. Then I'll have more to write about, for now….this is WAY better than what I got….In fact it's epic. 
The Smiths.  
(ignore the corporate commercial of sell outs beforehand selling out, with artists formerly known as artists who like so many in our culture are embracing a culture of whoredom and calling it a living).  Bleh…
Carry on ~


Article 1.

So the story begins…

I thought this was a good place to begin, even though it is not the oldest of my travel stories…it's fitting as the title of the page.  

In 1989 I drove up to Eugene, Oregon to check out colleges; To be a real student and pursue something smart and logical, architecture.  I had barely graduated high school due to disinterest and partying too much.  I almost didn't graduate elementary school due to being under threat of violence from bullies and learning difficulties that had yet been addressed.  

When I arrived to go on the tour the school offered, I felt so good, normal for me and with purpose.  The campus was covered in brick and had this feel of an old school, much older than the gray boring stone of San Francisco schools I went to.  This was a real college and pretty to boot.  
I had no idea what to expect on a tour of the architecture program.  When I found out that the program entailed 5 years of math, high level math I was flattened.  You see, I had barely made it through school with any math skills, including never getting past pre-algebra.  In those days, due to the dysfunctional nature of schools at the time, kids could get by with anything. We used to smoke cigarettes in the 3rd quarter bathroom until we got caught. Mary only made us throw them out and go back to class. Nowadays kids would be written up and punished severely. Back then we owned the school.  
Thing is, it didn't do us any good to run the roost like that.  We missed out on a real education.  I know our culture doesn't value education much, nor did I at the time; or value smart people and often condescends to intellectuals whenever they can.  But getting something out of your years spent somewhere is more important than a degree.  It means you took advantage of the time you spent struggling anywhere, rather than just struggling and coming out empty. 

So here I was all ready to sign up to architecture school when I find out it required 5 years of advanced math.  The reality hit me like a ton of bricks, apropos, cracking me over the head with real life.  I think I left the tour early knowing full well I couldn't pull that off, not at that time at that age.  I hadn't grown up yet.  

I decided while there I would tool around the town for a bit, take in the sights. So I went to a dead show of all things. And I went to a beer garden and had a beer at a pretty nice outdoor cafe thing.  I was impressed by this place, it seemed different than Bay Area cafe's at the time.  It was really nice and coulda told you the name in the 90's but have since forgotten it.  
I also found this incredible local spot called Skinner's Butte.  A local outcropping for rock climbing where people would hook in and ballet themselves and their friends up for an afternoon climb.  Very easy.  I stopped by to check it out and immediately was invited to climb up.  'Yea!! Absolutely', I said.  I got the harness on and made the calls, 'on ballet…'(ballet on)…climbing…(climb on)'.  And so it goes.  The rock was a smooth and chippy basalt that could crumble away in softer spots at any given moment.  
Still it was fun climbing it with long vertical cracks up the sides, perfect places to put your hands in and volley yourself up with legs filling out the crevasses in the rock.  After I was done I actually met the people who harnessed me in when they invited me over and gave me a beer.  I could barely open the damn thing because my hands were shaking.  I guess even then as fit as I was,  I wasn't that strong!!  We all laughed and chatted a bit.  
One of the men, Luke was a strapping fit and strong young man with curly tight blond hair.  Like some Greek god but humble.  We kind of hit it off. 

Later on Luke and I decided to go on a hike to Spencer's Butte.  He wanted to show me some of the area.  Another Butte, it's an Oregon thing I guess.  A small hiking mountain full of lush rich greens.  We went off trail onto rugged terrain, clamoring down the mountain, veering completely away from any trail and right through the bush.  It was terrible fun but as a result we scraped up our calves pretty bad and were covered in Poison Oak within the hour. 

In my life I had rarely ever reacted to Poison Oak.  If so it would swell and itch for an hour or two and then go away.  I was lucky.  I once tested myself with a leaf and walked home from jr. high to see how I would react.  Barely a blip on the radar that lasted an hour or two, then vanished.  Yay!!  
But this time, due to the fact that we had scraped ourselves up pretty bad with brush and sharp plants, there was raw open flesh to infect us with.  My legs were covered with true serious Poison Oak wounds for the first time ever.  It even got crusty and painful.  His too.  

We went back to his trailer that was parked on someone's property where he was living for the time being.  He too was on a journey of self-discovery.  He had been a competitive swimmer, as one could see by his broad chest and arms.  But due to a heart condition that made his heart an abnormally large size, he had to quit.  It was too dangerous for him.  I thought it fitting that his heart was too big.  What a metaphor for his character.  

As night drew on we drew closer.  We began to grow physically intimate with each other, laying clothed on his bed in the darkness of the night.  There was some moonlight cascading in from the left side of the trailer, just enough to see him a little.  But still most of the trailer was dark as it was past midnight.  
We stared into each other's eyes.  Something I did less and less of later in my life as sex took too much preoccupation over intimacy and life sped up.  It's not what I wanted all the time, but what I was forced to contend with while engaging with men.  

Suddenly I shuddered and pulled away.  I was stunned at what I had seen, thinking oh I must be hallucinating.  It's not possible and shaking my head. 
He asked me what was wrong, what happened?   
For the record, I was totally sober, so was he. Historically, I was not prone to hallucinate, even when on drugs.  I only did once while on acid but I still knew what reality was.  I had that ability to always know what reality was and wasn't which kept me out of a lot of trouble in my life, except with men.  
But this night brought it all into question.  

While looking up at this magnificent specimen of a human being, I saw half of his face was wolf and the other half, Luke.  I told Luke what I had seen because he was alarmed at my reaction.  I figured he would think I was nuts and want to end the night.  But I was wrong, he was quite blown away. 
He then proceeded to tell me a story of a friend who lived up in the mountains nearby.  His friend was a mountain man of sorts, didn't like most people and lived alone save for his wolf pet who also didn't like most people.  But he and his wolf liked Luke, the owner proudly announced, 'That's rare my friend'. The animal allowed Luke to love him and after Luke would get up and leave, the wolf would sit in his spot as though still connected to him.  He then told me of all these weird dreams and incidents in his life as of late that had to do with wolves. So this vision I had wasn't entirely an oddity in this man's life after recent events. 

We laid there stunned at what had just happened, what we just shared. 
Later on we parted in good spirit and hoped to reconnect in the future.  
The rest of the trip was equally poignant for me.  
I decided to goto a Dead show a few days later.  It wasn't normally my thing, and I had a hard time with what I saw, the way so many of those people were disconnected while high at those shows. Totally out to lunch.  I always related to the punk scene more for many reasons even if we drank and smoked as much as the hippies did…it was different:  More energy, fighting corrupt politics in conversation and in real life and people were very present and grounded…. angry but present.  I felt the opposite at a Dead show.  Nice people but airy. 
Still I was getting out, expanding my horizons as they say. 

I met a wonderful sled dog or wolf mix or something who was the pet of these travelers.  Up till then,  I had been afraid of dogs and would avoid them like the plague. I just didn't know their behavior.  For example, I once crossed the street from a barking golden retriever.  Now I know dogs more so I'd probably cross the street to pet it, but back then I was afraid of a barking dog, so I went out of my way to avoid them. 

This dog at the Dead show was the first dog I'd ever connected to.  The first dog I didn't feel afraid of and instantly fell in love.  We connected.  And on such a auspicious weekend having met and connected with Luke, the wolf man.  
This new dog and I totally connected, even the owners remarked about this.  Then they said I had eyes like a wolf.  Ok. Most of my life up till then, I usually had gotten cat because they slant upwards a bit and I have a rounded nose…just like a lion.  But a wolf or sled dog?  Never, until this week, and then I heard it a few more times, interestingly enough.  
The whole thing threw me a bit, I never did know what to make of it but was kind of in awe of it all.  I was being open to the spirit world or whatever, something other than here and now, tactile reality.  
I was grateful of having met Luke and been able to see a side to him that many might not have.  Not just the animal side but the gentle man that he was. For he was a truly gentle man despite his physical prowess and strength.  His heart made him humble, vulnerable even.  
Later on at the Dead show I saw Luke, getting high and was kind of turned off by what I saw.  Rather, I was more worried about him and his big heart on all those drugs than anything.  He wasn't and brushed off my concern.  I think he was casting off the shackles of responsibility and playing a bit after having been a star athlete and good boy.  He was sowing his wild oats, as they say.  

I never did see him again but have thought of him a few times since, always hoping for the best still with a little concern in my heart for his.  I genuinely hope that he didn't fall down a bad path and eventually found himself in a good place.  I hope he figured more of himself out and drew higher in a brighter direction than just Dead shows and drugs.  

I wonder if he ever pursued the wolf connection anymore or was that the extent of it?  Either way, I will always remember meeting this man and seeing his shadow side.  



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