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Apocalyptic Conformism

Clones, stones, monotone drones.
Busted saxophones.
Infestations of militant catatonic uniformistic Lilliputians.

Drag their own salvation
behind themselves
Locked away in tiny secure cages.
Mindlessly staggering toward annihilation,
Blinders uniformly in place,

The caged ones,
forced to silence
forced to bear,
forced to witness
the entire apocalyptic procession
to its conclusion.

The asylums, now standing empty,
their former residents,
their pretty houses,
their perfect masks
just nameless, ever faceless masks,
never real to have been known, ,
never known to now be forgotten
just shells dissolving under harsh gaze of a reality of which they knew nothing.

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image

Maya Angelou’s quote, and this picture are so integral to the metaphor of my intrinsic nature!!  I thought it was just me, and although I am no doubt a special creature of God as we all are, I feel less “one-of-a-kind” in the lone survivor sense in  the world after seeing this, and that has always felt like a sharp two-edged sword to me-like being unique but can feel lonely at times.  Thanks, Maya..reminder I’m not the last of my kind, perhaps I have distant cousins in nature!!!

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Always knew WHO I was; knowing the WHAT was key to making sense of it, and my connections in life. That took longer; blind hookah-smoking doctors kept trying to feed me poisoned mushrooms and I, naively followed their lead, till one day I realized they were blind, and hadn’t a clue what an elephant was, much less a Mer-elephant!! Ha ha!!

After so many blind dates with a parade of Lilliputian medicine men that invariably ended badly, I paused in 2008/9, to consider how long ago I first suspected, and later confirmed, that I was, and have always been, an–if not THE–elephant in the room.

It took me much longer to realize just how many blind Lilliputians, all strangely named “Dr.” (vs THE DOCTOR), there are in the world. THE DOCTOR would have been a much more attractive adventure, to be sure, but mine was replete with spills, granted, but great thrills, as well!! How can I be disappointed about that??

The blind Dr. years were not such great moments in my history by some accounts, but not so for me. They were painful, yes, and some parts don’t work anymore because they couldn’t see what they were doing, but I gained and learned much from them, too, that became part of my strength and tenacity, and resilience, and passion for many great things.

I figured out, among other things, that it is not so bad to be an elephant of any variety, and I have no desire to try to be anything or anyone else ever again, however awkward that may be for the blind, or for “elephantophobes”! Trying to fit into others’ mirrors has never appealed to me, nor worked anyway, and the blind men taught me the folly of that while trying to convince me that elephants were broken by definition!! Try telling that to a free, grown, natural elephant and they’ll laugh loudly whilst they flatten your notions!!

I’ve survived it all, haven’t I? No lessis wonder, as all those naysayers, touting their blind opinions as taunts or whispers from the darkness as their “good times band wagon” pulled away from my house and out into their dark dusty paths, and all th while they just kept riding around in endless circles, so obsessed about an elephant that they forgot where they were trying to go!!.

I’m told that my survival was a miracle many times. Life is a miracle, so I’ll buy that, but there’s more to it, and no doubt more to come! I have gone on so many adventures, and am now an older but a wee bit wiser elephant now!

And not all of those called Dr. proved to be blind Lilliputians, or even men!! So life as an elephant, albeit more often the elephant in the room, is not such a bad thing, even though sometimes others may not quite know how to relate to me, and vice versa, but that’s okay. When necessary enough, and motivation is there, we have found ways to connect and build some kind of common dialogue. If not, it probably was not important enough for both of us to put in the effort, or else it was just not meant to be. Not all species are, after all, compatible.

And there have been great benefits to being an elephant, especially a Mer-elephant, though at times I imagine Mars to be a more hospitable and compatible place to call home vs here, but there’s such good stuff and peeps here and now here and there, and niches where I was welcome and accepted, and there will always be places, in a sense, for most any kind of elephant to be accepted! And there will be benefits and adventures in my future again, for myself and for the world. I am patiently waiting for my next adventure! Ok not always patient, but eager and ready to see what tomorrow has to show me!

After all, since I am, not just an elephant in some room, but a Mer – elephant, I am a very special kind of elephant! I have flowed in many ways in my life, touched many places, many things, and many people, sometimes for the benefit of many, or for a few, or for one, or for myself, or the effort, at least was there, however it played out. Sit gave me great pleasure to give and get benefit from flowing!!

Since being in this cage over the last few years, I’ve learned that I can flow from wherever I am, under the right circumstances! How very delightful!! I hate confinement, but then again, there is no cage yet whose walls could hold back this flow for long–only I, surrendering to what I could not control, chose that as necessity for a while to gather my strength, grow, and prepare to let loose a mighty storm!! I have always been considered a force to be reckoned with, whatever the reckoning might involve. I see no reason to suppress the force, just adjust the flow at times.

So I say, why stop now? Life is ahead! Elephants, and Mer– elephants: go ever forward! All of us! No matter what the blind men may say, we belong in the world, too , and the world needs the elephants!! Remember that!! :-).

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    A Poem for My Children

(A True Story)
by Donna Earley

When I was young, I yearned to be
More like my forest family.
Anchored, bowing toward the creek,
My roots, so strong, would reach so deep.
I asked my trees to show to me
What I could do to be a tree.

“Precious child, we love you so,
You do belong, but you must know
Because your nature is to flow,
You must be free to come and go.
And though so small you still may be,
Someday a river you can be.

Then, when you’ve grown to your full flow,
Into the ocean you may go!
Imagine all that you might see
And how connected you’d then be!
Sometimes, you can return again
When heavens bring you back with rain.

Though anchored here we must remain
The times that you come back again,
Then tell us all that you did see
While you were flowing wild and free!
We’ll feel as if we went along,
And here you’ll always have a home,

Looking back each time, I knew….that what they said was right and true.

But flowing free did have a price,
And many things were sacrificed.
For every time I came back home,
A few more precious trees were gone.
Then one day, I grieved to see,
Apartments where my trees should be!

Now, not a single sapling left,
Tears flooded every place I wept.
Bricks, concrete, and asphalt too
Had taken what I loved and knew.
With grief so great, for years I flowed
Not caring more of where I’d go.

But time did slow me for a while,
And twice gave me a precious child.
While each one carried parts from me,
Each also had some traits of trees.
While little, they did gladly go
Wherever Mother chose to flow.

But each, in turn, declared to me,
“I feel.. I need to be a tree.
Your flowing life, inland or sea
May be what you are meant to be,
But Mother, we are not the same;
At times your flowing gives me pain.

I am part tree, and so I need
A place where roots can grow and breathe.
A forest is where I belong,
Where future saplings can grow strong.
Oh, don’t be sad, and please don’t cry.
My love for you will never die.

Go-be the river that you are,
But just don’t drift away too far.
You’re part of us, as we are you,
There’s still important work for you.
No matter what we choose to be,
Our Mother you will always be.

Just one request we have of you,
If you would try your best to do:
Your flow feeds us in many ways,
But floods can wash the soil away!
A gentle flow would be so kind,
And give us all much peace of mind!”

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death of a hybridJust a storyline and yes, it’s another self-portrait (I’m the hybrid).  This is more or less a scene in a story, a medical examiner sent to pick up human remains, but finds instead a hybrid, part human, part… something else, they believe.  Ears like a sheep or goat, perceptual abilities that are unimaginable by ordinary human standards, extraordinary intelligence, yet quite vulnerable as extreme sensitive creatures, as well.  What they don’t yet recognize is that these are not hybrids at all, but another human species, highly evolved, but their extremely evolved mental capacities come at the cost of being unable to separate themselves from being severely bombarded by every aspect of their environment beyond human comprehension.  Of course, I’ve given visual form to the sensory sensitivities of hearing by incorporating the large ears, though this was just a 5 minute sketch with 2 cheap colored pencils from a dollar store pack (purple & blue). 

As is so typical of many humans when encountering a new life form or culture or race, the early hybrids faced persecution, even torture, were viewed with fear and treated as monsters because they couldn’t help but be themselves.  Out of fear, the early ones were hunted, eradicated, or locked up in institutions where they were warehoused with the rest of the society’s perceived “freaks.”  And predictably, this store turns on our eventual dependency upon these very creatures for human survival, because they have special gifts, abilities of perception that they can draw upon to find and expose the truth, the reality of situations, to be able to detect every nuance of what adds up to how a system is operating, whether the system is a multinational corporation doing business with other corporations, or the system is a single individual, and their behavior—speech, actions, believes, attitudes, condition, must be correctly understood individually, or when combined with other humans (systems).  To wrap your head around what life is like for these creatures, imagine what it would be actually like to be born able to actually talk to the dead.  Or to all kinds of animals via mental telepathy.  Or to see the future.  And you can’t turn it off, though you might take toxic, noxious substances to try to numb yourself to it sometimes, but that only makes you sick, and it’s worse for you after you get clean again. 

Hybrids, especially “seers” are exquisitely sensitive, and are super perceptive far above the range of human perception in multiple ways.  And while it is possible to find non-hybrid humans who have one sensory perceptiveness close to a hybrid level, you don’t ever find non-hybrids with multiple sensory awareness, much less a global sensitive.  Humans often will reject what they do not understand, and prefer to rely on what they already know and use that to label or categorize hybrids.  When people first became aware of hybrids, not as an isolated freak accident, but when trends in their numbers began to be evident, when the powers of that time got wind of this, what happened next looked like they took a chapter out of Frankenstein, rounding them up like animals and slaughtering them, as they were deemed non-human and needed to be culled before it spread like some infectious plague.

There were survivors, and they pulled away to themselves to avoid capture.  Eventually, though, their gifts were noticed and someone realized that they could be exploited as “seers” or “truthsayers”, and they could investigate any kind of system in the world, build a 3D working model in their heads, tell you what is wrong with the system and how to fix it.  They could “read” systems, provided they had access to information.  Seers were indispensible to world leaders, and they had a constant presence on the court.  But they were not free to come and go as they wished, because of the risk that someone would steal them or harm them thereby disadvantaging the government who relied on them.  So they lived in the most lavish palaces in the world, confined to cage—a gilded cage most of the time, but a cage nonetheless.

And now they have started dying off, and no one seems to know why that is happening.  Even the ancient ones like this one, with no apparent connection to the others, has died.  And that is where this story begins, with a mystery—the death of a seer, specifically MY death.  Not that I am suicidal or anything, but it seemed apt.

The background is done in acrylic, with the scene’s dialogue written in white gel pen in my cheap, $.25 lab notebook from Walmart.  You can do more in these things that I imagined!  Having the pages sewn in, versus perforated is a sturdier option if you abuse these notebooks as much as I do.  This one, started just over 2 months ago, has almost all of the 100 pages filled with journaling now.  My next journal will be an actual sketchbook, and I’ll do the writing as I’ve been doing, but it will be interesting to see how it holds up compared to this option.  My hope is that at least I won’t have the bleeding that sometimes happens when I work with markers in these thin pages, though I’ve managed to work with them and incorporated them into that pages entries.

It might seem morbid to write about one’s death, but death is a part of life, after all, and writing stories that reflect my views and insights about the world and myself, as self-portraits, isn’t at all troubling to me.  It doesn’t make me think of hastening my death, or worrying about death or any such; it is simply part of my story, but told via a fictional character. 

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journal page 080610 So much has been happening, and I’ve been happening to so much, as well!   Change and transition and uncertainty and obstacles/threats, and both anger and fear, triggered by the present, but often with fuel from the past, leaves me somedays feeling positively beaten about the head and neck!  But it passes.  That’s the cool thing, and also the not cool thing.  It’s cool, because I know that even in the throes of pain, confusion, anxiety, depression at times, not knowing what exactly to do/how to cope, I also know that I am experiencing this pain right NOW, and the time of suffering will pass, the fog will clear, the mood will lift, and I will emerge from those moments with something more than I had before—more insight, more relief, more control over the experience (not so much restrictive, as experiencing it intentionally, mindfully, as the process unfolds).  I am keenly aware, as I never have been before, of how I have been shaped by experiences that I didn’t even remember, that telling the story of what I learn along the way, including detailed scrutiny of processes at work, both passive and active/proactively, is itself a multitude of lessons.  It gives me insight into how my own thought processes work—very differently from most of the world, I might add, and why it’s always been so difficult for me to fully connect with others effectively. 

The image is of me, approximately in my 20’s, but connected to me is this elephant.  The elephant represents the fact, unbekownst to myself or my family, that I was, since birth, the “elephant-in-the-room” born autistic (Aspergers), with all the cognitive, functional, and medical potential that Aspies are shaped by, even before they are born.  And this little Aspie “elephant” spent the better part of the first two years of her life, being forcefed toxic pollutants while living next door to a coal burning power plant, years before the Clean Air Act even existed, and decades before they managed to effectively enforce restrictions on coal-fueled electricity.  The damage was already done to this autistic girl who already had a compromised immune system to begin with.

I was constantly sick, and had even been hospitalized once in 1963 with severe dehydration.  I got every virus that came my way, and, as my father later reported to a pediatric neurologist in 1971, “allergic to everything.” 

The third major developmental “insult” occurred when I fell from the upper floor fire landing of a local gymnasium, head first onto solid concrete. It was a very bad head injury, 3” skull fracture, intracranial hypertension and secondary brain injury, also referred to as “diffuse axonal injury.”  The secondary injury, caused by swelling and increased pressures on the brain, caused a lot of the connections between nerves to “shear” or tear apart, while at the same time the brain has trying to heal itself and keep me alive.  This went on for so long, that how it healed, and the rewiring to do it, took the hard wiring in my brain another huge step further away from “normal”.  From the outside, one could observe that the swelling and bruising finally went down, I did not die, and about 9 months after I came home, I was able to sit up in bed without head pressure problems. 

But there was not only no understanding whatsoever of Aspergers Syndrome back then, but also doctors had no idea what such an injury might do to a brain that survived such a fall.  No therapies or medications were administered, no tests for functional damage was done, and I, being only 5 years old at the time, had no idea that I had even less in common with neurotypical humans in how I would interact with my world going forward.  I had a strong sense that I was different from other children as early as 3 years old, but I had no idea why, nor any ability to understand the minds of others. 

Bridging the communication gap has been a lifelong struggle for me, both to understand and to be understood.   I want to be able to relate to other people, to connect with them in ways that are valuable and mutually beneficial.   It’s been agonizingly difficult, cumbersome, time consuming, and exhausting for all parties when I am trying to explain, to clarify my thoughts, feelings, overall perspective on a thing, yet know that I have failed, based on the reaction of those on the receiving end.  I fail for a number of reasons. I have gotten quite expert at being able to profile others, to analyze their behaviors, provided that I am not interacting with them at the time, or at least interacting where I have to be concerned about their perception of me.  This became a huge strength for me in my former job, and as it turns out, is a manifestation of one of many savant abilties.  The way that I journal now helps me really give glimpses into my own mind.  While I do my journaling totally for myself (as I do all of my art these days), I’m open to sharing parts that may be  of interest or benefit to others, or where it illuminates where my head and heart were, on some past event that may have gone totally awry. 

It’s interesting to me how varied my self-portraits are—the images are relative to time, heavily symbolic, even iconic at times.  This was done in my cheap standard lined lab-type notebook, in whic the pages are stitched into a cheap cardboard cover, typically imprinted with some sort of marbled effect, in various covers.  My thoughts that day are about my present situation, but the connections to past events…looking back and experiencing the connections more than the details, how I am represented depends upon what I am experiencing as the most important aspects of the connections in that moment.  Here, I am in my early 20’s.  The elephant part of me, has existed and endured the onslaught of many “insults” that have altered my brain to render me something almost other-humanly in how I think and process input from the world.  With the exception of autism, which I was born with, most of it was caused by the decisions by others act or fail to act—some were family, others including teachers, judges, police, school official, and it developed its own momentum after a while, with the blind following the blind, being slapped with labels/definitions that came to be accepted because the path was well worn, and, neuro-typical humans of all ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, being naturally susceptible to their own attributional and cognitive biases, unique creatures like myself more often will not be able to sustain acceptance when I come up against those biases.  They used to think people like me were schizophrenic, and often spent their whole lives in institutions.  I was kept in one as a child for 2.5 years, records show that I was orderly, compliant, a good student, and remained there only because there was no stable place for me to live who would accept me.  No one.

The filters are a kind of lazy rule-based system that assumes that I should think and act in a certain way because I look like I belong to a certain group, and when I violate the social rules—spoken and unspoken, the belief is that I knew, or should have known about the rule, and that the violated social rule is something that I can and should conform to, without question.   What

I don’t feel invested in the “blame and shame” game, at least when it comes to my own family’s roles in that damage.  I am less forgiving of societal institutions that participated or turned a blind eye, when they could have taken some simple steps to help.  I understand the things that motivated their choices, their biases at the time as society existed.  That does not mean that I am prepared to forgive.  I still feel that I am owed a debt, at a minimum for the many intentional harms (ie., rapes), looking the other way when abuse was staring them in the face and I was complaining of being molested and raped (which they chose not to even report), noticing, documenting irregularities provided them in reports that they never questioned, never investigated, and never told me about, and leaving it for this brain-damaged woman who happened to have certain gifts, to discover from their own records, piece together the connections, and discover the truth, and even then, only after becoming totally disabled by the ravages of all the mistakes and abuses that had accumulated.  No one is willing to take responsibility.  That is wrong.  I am accustomed to that, but that doesn’t mean that it is right to just accept that nothing should be done to right the wrongs that can be righted, and at least recognize these human-made perfect storms. 

Is it any wonder that I feel safer far away from civilization?  Disasters happen in nature, as well, but nature operates by rules, at least, and they may have undesirable outcomes, but at least they make sense.  That is something I can live with.  I can accept death by tsunami, however tragic.  I’m not yet prepared to accept “that’s just the way things are” when the way things are is entirely constructed by humans motivated by personal agendae, that may or may not have anything to do with justice or even equity.  That is my issue.  And if it can happen to me then, and still happens to me now (except that I fight back), it can happen to others, so it’s not just in the past.  I feel a deep sense of personal responsibility to do something before I die to prevent similar harm from befalling others.  I need to become an advocate.

But first, I need to become an effective advocate for myself, and that means going through this right now.  My art enables me to communicate with others, and to get them to be more open through the way I approach presenting the principles, getting acceptance of possible situations like mine, and only then, telling them my story.  It is becoming easier to have dialogues that are more receptive to understanding my perspective, suspending disbelief long enough to consider the reality, and build bridges of understanding. 

I think in pictures, not words.  I learned many languages, trying to discover the key to communicate with others, but it was woefully inadequate.  Now that I can draw, can do art (since almost one year ago for the first time), I am finding ways to bridge the gaps and find opportunities to improve things.  I hope I can live long enough to do something with it that will help others.  Then it will have been worthwhile.

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beaautiful creature s-p 052010 small file-1

This began as an elaborate graphite sketch in my small sketchbook, and I transferred the sketch to a notebook cover, then drew it out some more, and painted it in acrylic.    The image was not something that I thought about drawing; it sort of arose on the paper.  I later realized that it was very much a self-portrait, not perhaps in the literal sense, but maybe spiritually?  Everything about it says beautiful, natural, authentic, what I feel coming from it.  I think that I am perhaps more connected to this painting than many others, yet where is it?  Hanging on some wall of pride?  Nope.  It’s painted directly onto the soft cover of one of my notebooks.  You can see the curves on the edges, and lots of scratches.  I’ve recoated it a couple of times as it picked up stain and scratches.  I’ll have to put something a bit more durable, I suppose.

Does it make you think about beauty?  What sort of creature this is?  If it’s a self-portrait, what sort of creature am I?  Indeed, that is the question, is it not?  If you understand this creature, you will also understand how it is a mirror of me inside….

I’ll say this much, if you haven’t picked up from other posts:  I find creatures much more comfortable than people to be around.  They have an inner consistency and logic that I can understand and relate to.  Trying to play human rules is just plain stressful to me.  The rules they claim are broken more than followed.  Their social *intuition* usually gets them quicker conclusions about things, but wrong much more often than they will ever realize, and probably mostly won’t have to discover.  Their social intuition are more like blinders than wisdom, shorthand that they treat as if it’s longhand, and forget that when they fill in the blanks later, their shorthand may show that they missed it.  You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I am not socially intuitive with people, because people are filled with contradictions.  I “read” them, “read” the environment, “read” all the details, and do the math and figure out what things mean.  The rest of the creatures of the universe?  Social intuition is a fine thing, because they operate within their own logic, their own rules, and those can be understood.  They make sense in the context of the creatures.  But humans?  Not so much.  But when the intuitive process yields disaster, they call in creatures like me, to tell them what went wrong, and build a better working model, if possible.

When creatures like myself get themselves born, but they have a limited set of things in common with humans around them beyond what they actually look like, it can be tough sometimes to find a truly “familiar” face, a “kindred” soul.  But I do look for them sometimes, or at least keep my radar on, in case one shows up someday.  I’ll settle for a few humans who can accommodate a gentle creature like myself, who can leave me to be me and that’s just great for us all! 

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