A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.

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Inanna and Gilgamesh: Me and My Lover

Inanna, the goddess who survived many ordeals, knelt by a tree longing for a bed. It was her spirit-friend tree, her solace, the sanctuary to which she escaped when life was too much. Yet the Queen of the Underworld (her dark sister) had taken over the tree, embedding herself comfortably in the trunk. And a serpent lazily twined around, up and down Inanna’s previous source of hope. As she despaired, a friend appeared. Gilgamesh and Inanna had had hard times and would have more. But they cared for and respected each other, and now he was there to help. Now, Gilgamesh was no saint. He was king of Uruk, and we all know that...
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The Finnish Word for Grit, Determination, Unending Patience

I found the word reading Philip Caputo’s early novel, Indian Country. Sisu. The story is set in Upper Peninsula Michigan, whose longer term residents include Indians and Scandinavians. It’s the story of a Vietnam vet who begins reliving key moments of his war terrors a good 15 years after he returns home. As a woman who has experienced flashbacks, body memories, trauma-related vaginismus and other symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I appreciate Caputo’s portrayal of the main character’s psychological perspectives of life with PTSD. I’ve heard that Caputo lives locally part of the year. His uncanningly realistic novel Crossers is an outstanding, gripping and educational look at life within a few miles from...
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Conclusion: Are You Immune? (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part IV)

Every human might suffer more in the future than they have in the past. If it happens to you, be compassionate with yourself. PART IV: Are You Immune? Empathy is born of suffering. Political activism can be born of suffering (and of guilt and of many other factors — does it really matter which as long as the outcome is laudable?) Spiritual awakenings, life purposes, historic events, meaningful relationships, political coalitions — many great things are born of suffering. We rob ourselves of the potential for greatness by denigrating suffering and the sufferer, whether in ourselves or others, just as much as we rob ourselves of balance and perspective when we fail to cultivate...
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Is Suffering Contagious? (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part III)

Avoid suffering, avoid life. PART III: Is Suffering Contagious? It is possible to literally feel other people’s emotions. Sometimes vicariously, through mental anguish. Other times we literally feel people’s emotions in our bodies; as an empath that happens frequently to me. So, yes, it is possible to “catch” another person’s anger, grief or melancholy. What we do with it says a great deal about who we are. “When I am tempted to judge others for their suffering, I try to remember that the boundaries between disaster and good fortune are thin and unstable.” — Deborah, writing in 1999. Many of us avoid people who suffer, partially because we fear their suffering is contagious. Some...
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“Stop Whining!” (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part II)

Are you charitable? PART II: “Stop Whining” I feel gratitude because I have suffered. The greater my suffering, the greater my ability to appreciate that which I have. I am keenly aware of those factors in my life that have held me separate from greater misery and created positive experiences and emotions. So when I hear someone speak of someone else who is suffering by saying, “They should count their blessings and stop whining,” I experience it as what is sometimes called a “mind-fuck.” A mind-fuck is something that postulates one thing without acknowledging another factor that is also true and contradicts the first postulation. A mind-fuck twists logic, and often presumes multiple false...
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There but for the Grace of God (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part I)

I wrote this essay in 1999 while living in upstate New York. These reflections, from a time in my life that many things were working well, seem relevant to “Living in My Car, With Dogs.” I have broken the essay into four parts. PART I: There but for the Grace of God I have so much to be grateful for. So many people who have had the experiences of abuse, violence, loss, and mental health challenges that I have had are on the streets, or in a brothel, or dead of suicide like two of my childhood friends, or living the life of the dead see-sawing between heroin-induced haze and prison-imposed regret like another...
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I’ve been sitting in this room full of my furniture for 3-1/2 hours waiting for customers. One came in but won’t have cash until Monday (and I can only take cash or Paypal). Three cars came into the small plaza’s parking lot, slowly turned around and left. I’m not sure why, unless my car’s disarray scared them off. I put a wooden filing cabinet outside and a few other pretty things to encourage people to shop. My neck/lower skull/upper back hurts constantly now. I need a chiropractic adjustment but without a major sale or other miracle it’s not going to happen. Once again I’m hungry and broke; I finished the last of the rice...
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Yesterday morning, after a good sleep in a real bed with clean sheets in a room by myself, I rummaged through S’s fridge for breakfast. Much to my great temptation, I discovered a bin of cheese. I love cheese. That and yoghurt were staples in my 20s. But dairy was among the first foods I cut out when I developed digestive problems just before turning 30. Candida was the first suspect, and I remain convinced that that conclusion was as correct then as it is now when I eat foods I shouldn’t. I especially love the sharp tang of cheddar cheese. I had cheddar cheese on a rice cake for breakfast, and savored every...
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Moonbow and Purple Light

I have never caught a spiritual artifact on film until tonight. I have told few people this: After I first started doing psychic readings in early 2009, I started seeing roundish purple dots at night. I noticed it first when my eyes were closed in bed. By then, I had seen colors floating “behind my eyelids” countless times and for many years. But this time, I still saw it when I opened my eyes. The purple, which sometimes morphed into white, moved around. Its location remained the same with eyes closed and open. It happened only in the dark and inside. While settling in to tonight’s camp site, I noticed that the moon was...
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Instant Response? Creating My Reality?

I tell you what, I am not sure life gets much better than this: Sitting outside, topless in the waning light, under a cloudless sky and in perfect temperature. Two critters who love, obey, and adore me lying next to me, gazing up at me like I’m the center of their universe, which of course I am. Mountains behind me, mountains before me, mountains beside me, meadow around me. Trees gifting shade and beauty. Grass – well… The dogs bark. Carlos actually looks at me as he bounds away, expecting me to tell him to stop but knowing he won’t. “Stay! Come!” I put the laptop aside, jump up, lean into the car and...
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