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some signposts [Dec. 27th, 2010|01:39 pm]

This is my personal blog, in which I write about whatever I want. Sometimes what I write concerns Zendik. But I've been gone from the farm more than three years now, and its presence has faded. So if you've come seeking information about everybody's favorite West Virginia cult (well, not everybody's--I suspect the Hare Krishnas prefer New Vrindaban), here are some signposts:

My writings about Zendik-as-cult are concentrated around December 2005/January 2006; that was when I discovered I'd been in a cult, and began investigating what that meant. Also, in October/November 2005 there are a few entries (private when I posted them, now public) in which I began to admit to myself that I had doubts about Zendik, and maybe didn't want to go back. Those entries afford a peek into the psyche of one who is still a believer, but beginning to break free.

There are, of course, references to Zendik throughout my three-plus years of blog entries, but if you want the concentrated download, feel free to head straight for it.

Now available on YouTube: "The Ballad of Zendik Farm," in which we learn the history of "Larry and Carol," and imagine an alternate universe in which (C)arol comes to her senses. I wrote this song in spring 2008.

Coming sometime, to a book store near you: "Mating in Captivity: A Memoir."
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Surveillance Song - Lyrics [Apr. 15th, 2010|04:58 pm]
(listen to a recording here)

I’m gonna wait till it’s me behind the wire
I’m gonna wait till I’m in the cattle car
I’m gonna shop till there’s nothing on the shelves
I’m gonna figure you won’t go that far

I know you watch me only ’cause you love me
I know you keep my best interests at heart
Without a chip in every wrist
How would you know who the bad guys are

I’ve heard the screaming and I’ve seen the warnings
Some of your children don’t love you like I do
They say your prisons will turn us into servants
I know they’ll hold us closer to you

I’m gonna wait till it’s me behind the wire
I’m gonna wait till I’m in the cattle car
I’m gonna shop till there’s nothing on the shelves
I’m gonna figure you won’t go that far

I don’t worry about food, air, or water
My only fear is the terror scare
We take what we want from the earth God gave us
I don’t see any danger there

So I’m gonna vote for John Obama
He’s gonna roast my demons whole
After he has done your bidding
For our country’s mortal soul

I’m gonna wait till it’s me behind the wire
I’m gonna wait till I’m in the cattle car
I’m gonna shop till there’s nothing on the shelves
I’m gonna figure you won’t go that far

Our soldiers are coming home from the war
To free us as Iraq was freed
Unless you’re a traitor, what’s to be afraid of?
Safety tastes like liberty

Life’s so much better here behind the wire
I didn’t mind riding in the cattle car
Food is cheap and gas is free
And you are watching over me
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When the Oil Runs Out - Lyrics [Apr. 15th, 2010|04:56 pm]
(listen to a recording here)

Oil runs down from Alaska
Oil runs up from the coast
Oil runs in from the desert
Oil runs out
What’ll we do
When the oil runs out

We’ve been throwing a party
For two hundred years
In a house that we borrowed
We drank all the beer
And we raided the pantry
And we wrecked every room
And oh my god our mother
Is about to come home
What’ll we do
When our mother comes home

Oil runs down from Alaska….

We can run for the hedges
We can hide in the swamp
We can claim we didn’t do it
We can fall down drunk
Or sleep till we’re sober
And rise in the morn
To the task of repairing
What we haven’t destroyed
What’ll we do
To repair these rooms

Oil runs down from Alaska….

We’ll plant trees in the bedrooms
We’ll hold hands on the hearth
We’ll leave logs for the lizards
Where the cars were parked
We’ll use the empty barrels
For catching the rain
And we’ll make this place a garden again
Yes in this ruined mansion we will garden again
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GMO Song - Lyrics [Apr. 15th, 2010|04:52 pm]
(sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques"; listen to a recording here)

These five crops are
Mostly grown from
GM seed
GM seed
Corn canola cotton soy
Corn canola cotton soy
Sugar beet
Sugar beet
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to believe in this living is just a hard way to go [Jan. 14th, 2010|07:17 pm]
So I did in fact get Girlfriend in a Coma out of the Mid-Manhattan library and I did in fact reread it. It didn't have much of an effect on me this time around - the story lost plausibility about two-thirds of the way through, and the characters did not engage my sympathies to the extent that they once did.

Ten years ago, when I was casing The Communities Directory for likely cults/communes, I was terrified of my own lethargy. I was wont to spend entire days in my bedroom, in my mother's apartment, reading books and escaping into sleep. I didn't know what to live for, and I detested the social strictures and bureaucratic tangles I feared might suffocate me. I was afraid there would come a day when I would find myself bereft of the will to rise from bed.

The main characters in Girlfriend in a Coma are wastrels. After being delivered from a fatal sleeping sickness that kills every other human on the planet, the protagonistic group of friends - already dissatisfied with their lives - descend into lackluster misery. They don't cannibalize, or otherwise turn against each other (they don't need to, since there's still more than enough canned food in abandoned supermarkets to go around), but they also don't treat their reprieve as a spiritual kick in the pants, a spur to peer deeply into their lives, circumstances, second chances. At the center of their psyches is a vast gap, an embarrassing emptiness.

As a twenty-two-year-old recent college graduate, I identified with this fictional gang of ne'er-do-wells. My life, like their lives, lacked a backbone.

That, thank god, has changed. I don't claim to have been visited by the Angel Gabriel, or to have seen the face of eternity. I have built a certain steady belief in the worth of living. This world - this world as it is, not this world as we wish it would be - is endlessly fascinating, for all its faults. Beneath the surface of every seemingly monolithic industry - banking, insurance, retail, real estate - is an intricate organism one must live inside for years, if one wishes to gain anything approaching complete understanding. There's healing, drama, heroism, wonder...in the current and the aftermath of earthquake, hurricane, collapse, disaster. Here we are. Here I am. Yesterday I read part of a book on the bitter history of chocolate, and dreamed the name of William Blake. Today I walked 6.2 miles and puzzled over a volume-based pricing scheme for delivering CSA shares. I look with longing towards the blooming future - and, when I remember, treasure the incomparable gift of the ever-regenerating mazes I navigate each day.
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books of my youth [Dec. 16th, 2009|06:40 pm]
I've been rewriting Chapter 2 - the chapter in which I arrive at Zendik - and in order to do so I'm having to revisit some books that influenced me in high school, and right before I moved to the farm. One of these books - Girlfriend in a Coma - I just borrowed from the Mid-Manhattan library. I have no idea what it meant to me when I read it, but I know it must be relevant because I wrote in my journal, after I'd been at Zendik for about twenty-four hours, that being there was like "the Girlfriend in a Coma vacuum, filled." What the hell was that vacuum? How did I think Zendik was filling it? The book's in my backpack. I'm about to find out.

Another book I need to find forthwith is A Crown of Fire, by Pierre Van Paassen, which chronicles the life and death of fifteenth-century fanatic, martyr, and "Bonfire of the Vanities" originator Girolamo Savonarola. I remember getting high off that book. I also remember that the author loved to use the word "puerperal." I finally looked the word up - seventeen years later - and discovered that it means "relating to parturition." "Parturition" is a fancy word for birth.

And the third book on the forthwith list is The Rule of St. Benedict. God, when I was fifteen, I so wanted to be a medieval monk! I used to read about this band of cenobites and that dispersal of hermits and wish I'd been born about a millennium earlier. Of course, almost all those monks were men. If I had in fact lived then I probably would have pumped out a passel of brats and then croaked in childbirth before reaching thirty. But anyway.
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The more the Zendiks "change," the more they stay the same.... [Sep. 11th, 2009|07:19 pm]
The official Zendik line these days seems to be: "We've changed! We're no longer a commune, we're an arts foundation! Never mind the bad old days!" (Um, excuse me, the correct term is "cult," not "commune," but maybe that goes without saying.)

A few thoughts:

For years, those Zendiks sent out onto the Internet to stab at conciliation have been disowning the bad old days - saying yes, bad shit happened in the past, what can you do, nobody's perfect, let's all be bigger than that and move on. In the early 2000s Zendiks were saying yeah, we did some harsh therapies in the '90s, we're not like that anymore. Meanwhile members were still being psychologically obliterated in group "therapy" sessions, mothers were still being separated from their children, etc. So yes, the outward forms had changed, but the essentially coercive and destructive nature of the place was very much intact. You'll excuse me if I take the current protestations of conversion with a shaker - no, make that an entire mine - full of salt.

What would make me believe the Zendiks had actually changed, not just in form but in essence?

Evidence. Cold, hard evidence. A property deed with every current Zendik's name on it. Photographs or photocopies of checks signed by a whole passel of different people. Debit cards issued - and used - in the names of the many. Confirmation - maybe five, ten years down the road - that a Zendik woman other than Fawn had given birth to a child and never endured a forced separation from that child.

Art. Introspective, honest art. Writing by Zendiks about the Zendik experience that admits of the contradictions within it, the pain & fear inherent in it, the degradation & sacrifice of dignity that has certainly been and most likely still is a huge part of living there. Writing that includes real, deep questioning of what the group is doing & why, and why that individual cleaves to this Zendik path & rejects all others. Writing that explores doubts about what Zendik is & does, doubts about what the writer is doing there. Show me a piece in the Zendik magazine describing the immolating fear of being demolished by one's peers - and there will be change I can believe in.

Apology. Humble inquiry. Arol has never humbly & precisely apologized to the people she's hurt & humiliated. Instead she rails against those who persecute her on the Internet. I'll believe Arol's changed when I read an account of her life that matches up with the account given by many outside the farm who've known her for decades. I'll believe Arol's changed when the Zendik website no longer portrays Wulf as a hero and her as a heroine. I'll believe she's changed when she can humbly write, or say, to specific individuals, "This is how I've wronged you. And this is why I'm sorry. What can I do to make things right between us?"

I do not say there is no agreement between follower and leader; I do not claim that we who took Arol as our mistress had no part in the carnage that followed. I do say she's never admitted her contribution to the ruins. I do say she raves.

Some seed the rumor that Arol's power over her minions has dwindled. This may or may not be true. What's certain: Her delusions remain.
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in the shadow of the rock rose [Aug. 9th, 2009|04:37 pm]
Sunday afternoon in the office...we need to massage our lists in QuickBooks, as we are at the dawn of a new era of responsibility in record-keeping. Also we need to finish clearing out & cleaning the indoor part of the depot. It will be a place of spacious & immaculate comfort, once we're done.

A week from yesterday we leave for Maine. Which means this is the week of getting things done. The apartment must be cleaned & ordered, as must our affairs here at work. That way we'll be able to enjoy our first vacation in forever, hallelujah. I look forward to crickets at night & berry-picking in sunlight. Here the traffic roars outside our door and the Rock Rose building pants without ceasing. Who would have thought a behemoth of brick & metal would be capable of such ardent speech & heavy breathing?
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heavy loads & extra strength [Jul. 25th, 2009|10:30 am]
Stuck on Carmine between 7th & Bedford, waiting for Gregg to arrive with a replacement for the Lynch's flat front tire. Thank goodness it waited till after my last drop to blow--I'll be glad to get the flat fixed and get home, but in the meantime I can enjoy this time out of time without worrying about being late.

I was afraid of the pizza run for a while--I feared I might be unequal to a quarter-ton load, after months of doing trike deliveries only sporadically. It seems, however, that my native strength is greater than I was thinking. The load's no problem, even with the added weight of the eighty-pound battery. (Most of us at RR have a love-hate relationship with the Lynch, our only cargo trike boasting an electric assist: On the one hand it helps you up the hills with heavy loads; on the other hands when you've no load at all it's still so danged heavy!) Also I've learned that if I stand up on the pedals I can haul like a superhero with no assist at all.
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digging in dirt [Jul. 20th, 2009|06:57 pm]
A moment to myself, after months in a whirlwind. Is it settling now? Perhaps. I'm looking to buy a computer, finally, having come to terms with the fact that I will not be hand-writing the final draft of my book on pristine moleskine. For better or worse, I am a creature of the keyboard generation, accustomed to cutting, pasting and saving as. The good news is I can take the purchase off my taxes.

New York City is, as always, a blessing and a curse. My boyfriend and I have moved to a one-bedroom apartment a few blocks from Penn Station. Thanks to the real estate bust we're only paying a few dollars more for articulated space plus backyard than we were paying for one-room studio plus fire escape. The yard is paved, save for a slight strip of highly suspect soil along the back wall. But that doesn't mean I can't grow food: A couple weeks after moving in I built two 3' x 6' raised beds for all manner of vegetables, and a couple weeks later I sheet-mulched the dirt strip and sowed it with blue potatoes and sunflowers. Who knows whether I'll end up growing enough this year to offset the costs of installation (which I also plan to take off my taxes)--even if I don't, though, I'll be gaining invaluable knowledge. I'd much rather learn--really learn, through trial and error--to grow food now, with truck-hauled sustenance as cushion, than wait in uneasy ignorance for the last seconds of ancient sunlight.

These are the days of miracle and wonder, yes? I have work that draws me into the bustling world and a boyfriend who's the soul of adventure. I wasn't planning on becoming a responsible adult, or paying rent, or juggling giant trikes for a living...but here I am, possessed, at last, of a place to stand.
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