I'm sitting here in a mansion-like home in a gated community in a suburb of Austin, TX. That's my physical setting, at least. Yet, I'm also sitting here contemplating what else I'm sitting in, non-physically. I'm a miniscule part of an immense digital consciousness that I have very little understanding of. I'm sitting in an ego. To borrow words from another sentient being, Erica Goldson 'is like the coat an invisible person wears so that s/he can interact with other people without freaking them out.' Although I haven't directly experienced the no-self, I understand that it's there. Have I deduced myself down to it logically? I guess. Honestly, I don't know how it all makes sense to me, but it does. Usually it has to come from experience, the swimming into the depths, the stepping out of one's costume, but I'm just going to accept that I'm lucky to have been able to understand it all without getting burned. And eventually, I might have that flash of consciousness some people talk about, but I'm really not worried about it.
Again, I must suggest reading Thomas Campbell's My Big TOE. I'm pretty excited to start experiencing paranormal phenomena via meditation. It might not come quickly, heck, it might not come at all, but if I survive the length of time the average human lives, then I've got plenty of time to practice.
Referring back to my physical setting, I am here with a very nice family. I made a bracelet with Kandy's beads and jewelry supplies. She sells her creations, so I had access to a lot of professional pieces rather than my usual hemp twine and random beads. I also went swimming in a pool and basked in a hot tub that have lights that change colors at night. Groovy. The first two days here were beautiful, in the 70s and sunny, but overnight, it changed drastically, in a way I didn't think possible. I woke up to hail in the early morning, went back to sleep, and then stepped outside the bus into 17 degree weather and then into the heated house as quickly as possible. So, for the last two days I've been sitting inside with ears and eyes connected to my laptop. I've noticed how loud it can get with so many children around, and therefore I'm also practicing tuning noises out. The kids have all been having fun playing with Mambo, hopefully keeping her entertained.
We've been kicked out, though – not by the family we're staying with, but by the neighbors. Apparently, Lakeway has rules against mobile homes being parked anywhere but the police station. So, we will be finding a new place to sleep. No more easy access to Wifi, but I'm fine to move on. I'll get to see more than just the little boxes on the hillside. When I took a walk the other day, I did manage to find a serene spot of zen trees but the rest of the view consisted of suburbia.
I don't know why toddler boys tend to have crushes on me. Jeremiah is the youngest of the Wright family (the ones we're staying with in Lakeway), and every time I look at him, he gives me the cutest flirty smile I've seen. Nana K asked him if he thinks I'm pretty, and he smiled with a nod. Maybe it's my dreads in pigtails or my smile that I throw back at him. I try my best to interact with little kids telepathically. I like that they are still developing their mindset about the world and don't have a strong hold on language yet.
Jackie doesn't have a complete hold on language either. I was looking forward to meeting her when I heard that she's autistic. She's 14 and is the only one of the family that goes to school. She likes to listen to music and ask a lot of questions. She really enjoys my web cam because of all the special effects that distort image. However, it seems like her autism also leads her to have temper-tantrums and frustration. Sometimes, she has difficulty understanding sarcasm and humor. I was hoping to understand a different view of reality through her, but I think that she has been trained to interact in our socially-constructed reality quite well.
Hey, so guess what? I just found out that I'm enlightened. I just finished reading Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing, so I'd recommend it, except I realize it came to me quite randomly, and I think that anyone who is ready to/needs to read it will end up reading it. And it's not even the book that enlightened me. No book can do that. It's just that it let me know that I can now define myself in this way. It's basically a book that sums up enlightenment for what it really is. There's so many people that seek it, yet it's right there. The New-Age industry tries to dress it up like something it's not, which ultimately fools everyone and just causes more disappointment. So, it's just really cool that I've been seeking the wisdom I wanted and got it. Thanks universe, awesome present. Next stop: Love.
So, back to the unschooled life of Erica Goldson. That's what you're all here for, right? A little entertainment? A way to live vicariously through me (my ego's experience)? Well, you got it!
We are now back in the gated community that we were kicked out of. It's Super Bowl Sunday, so maybe the Mormon neighbors will be using this day of rest to not complain about us.
We stayed in an RV Park last night, pulled down the awesome TV that Keith gave us from the straps holding it up on the ceiling of the bus and threw Despicable Me in the DVD player. Great movie. Hilarious and heart-warming. Yeah, I wanted to cry a little. I think children's movies are just getting better and better the older I get. My favorite, though, is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
In other news, I've been an innocent bystander to the family feuding of the Halldorsons. By no means should this discredit them because coming from a family, I understand that families fight, but this seat is so much better. Other than the few times that I'm asked to take sides, I enjoy watching all that goes down. It's like a TV show but better. C'est la vie!
We ended up doing some work at a caretaker home. Sana and Will started a house where five people now live that need extra assistance. I was exciting to hear about Nathan, who had been diagnosed with Asperger's as a child and is really interested in physics, space, and aliens. So, of course I had to hear his thoughts. He read me his essay about how he theorizes spaceships works. Most of it flew over my head, but he was kind enough to take the time to explain parts of it to me.
Sana and Will also have three kids, Elijah, 13, Elium, 11, and Ana, 3. It was actually Ana's birthday when we arrived, so as I was sitting at the table on my laptop, kids started strolling in with presents and cake. Maybe it wasn't a surprise party for her, but I certainly wasn't expecting such a happy event to appear right in front of me when I woke up that morning. Also, she had recently gotten a puppy for her birthday, so he was trailing around all excited and what not.
There was also an extra bedroom that I ended up sleeping in that night. It was nice to have that space to myself. I appreciated it so much more after sleeping on a bench in someone else's living room for the past three weeks or so. Also, Mambo really enjoyed exploring that area and not sleeping in the cold. Poor thing had to go through 20 degree nights without a blanket.
In the morning, donuts and fruits decorated the table. Sana and Will had been feeding us well. They treated us like part of the group. Totally made the home our home too.
Back at the Wrights', I began to eavesdrop on a conversation between Kelly and another unschooling mom, Pippa. They were talking about feminism and the flaws thereof. It reminded me of the Intro to Feminist Theory class that I audited last semester. Funny how I can learn what I learned at UB just by talking to them, or even just listening, rather than trying to memorize the classifications of what they were talking about for a midterm.
Because of this, I decided to stop sticking my face in my laptop and have some human interaction. We then got on the subject of technology and the information system that is now becoming to have a life of its own. If you're interested, here's a great piece:
I had a wicked cool dream last night. Lucid, too. I've been wanting to get back to lucid dreaming, but I've learned it's not really something you can “try” to do.
First let me start off by saying that yesterday (not in the dream) I was emptying my trash on my computer. I had put a binaural beat track in there that I didn't think I would use since I got the Hemi-Sync Gateway Experience. It was a half-hour piece I had downloaded a while back when I first got into lucid dreaming called "To Dreams Unsettled." But it was a little creepy sounding so I was scared to use it. So anyways, when I tried to empty my trash, a notification box appeared saying "Trash cannot empty 'To Dreams Unsettled.mp3' because it is in use." I was confused at first because my iTunes wasn't even open. I had put it in the trash a few days ago. But I didn't question it. I knew at that moment I had to use it.
So, I went to sleep last night with my headphones on playing that track on repeat. I really wasn't tired. My mind was everywhere, thinking in so many directions, so finally after maybe an hour and a half to two hours I finally got to sleep. Oh, but before I went to sleep I created for myself a clear intent, what I wanted to achieve in my lucid dream. I finally worded it right by saying to myself, "I want to EXPERIENCE truth." I don't remember much before the lucidity of my dream, so I assume the binaural beat helped me get right into it.
It was dark and some long piece of wood with a sharp point was poking into my hand. It was almost piercing it, but turned out to be just a dent. I realized I was dreaming and thought to myself where I should set up the scene of my dream so I could start practicing flying or what not. I thought of the beach at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, but when I tried to swipe that scene in, I just ended up in what seemed to be a dark living room. Nothing really in it except maybe a fireplace in front of me and a carpet below me. Then, I was like, “Hmm, okay, the beach isn't working. I guess I'll think of Hippie Hill instead (another part of Golden Gate Park).” I just really wanted a positive, non-threatening scenario. So, I was sitting in this meditation-like position envisioning it, and then I moved a bit, and all of a sudden my feet were being pulled by an invisible force toward the wall in front of me. I looked to my left and my older brother was sitting there on the computer. I thought he might see me and notice my panic, but he didn't, just kept staring at the screen. Then, I was pulled again. This time I was on my stomach, kind of like a cat being pulled by her tail, clawing at the floor to try and stay where I was. Finally, by the force, my feet were pulled so now I was standing up, wall no longer there, looking over the edge of the end of the floor into what seemed like a big river. It was nighttime, and I was extremely high. There were lights around, like, maybe, it was the Hudson River near the city, and there were also some boats in the river too. I realized what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to jump, dive right into what I had been seeking - truth. So, I did. I dove and since it was so high I figured I'd do some flips for fun. That was pretty cool, and then I landed into the water. I didn't feel anything though. I just passed right through and then was in this blackness surrounding me, with black sheets on top and below me that I could stick my hands and feet through and no longer see them. An electric/digital-like blue light would appear around the parts of my limbs being stuck through the sheets. I probably could've stuck my body through but I was definitely freaked out a bit. My friend, Eliott, who has gone through all this crazy shit before told me that I can always say hi and ask questions if I want. So, I just let out a good, "Hellllooooo?!" And what I got back was one voice that said "Hi there." Another voice said, "How are you?" I replied, "I'm great." and then a whole bunch of voices laughed a cheerful laugh. I was silent. Then they laughed again, but this time, it was more of a snicker, like they were laughing AT me. I became frightened, so I just said, "Let me back to unconsciousness!" I don't know if that was the right wording. I was afraid I might've just put myself in a coma or something. But they understood, and I awoke to a computer screen with many little notification boxes open with words. Some looked like four-line stanzas. Others contained more than 20 lines. It all varied. I was trying to read it and understand it, but after the first one (which I don't remember what it said), I was awoken again, into another false awakening. However, I thought that this was reality because I was back on the bus in Texas. I had a non-lucid dream after that (which I could tell you about but really is just another banal dream) and finally woke up ("for real") to where I am now.
I'm going to go back there again, to the blackness, and ask better questions than just "Hello?!"
I finally got some crayons for my sketchbook. I plan on experimenting with color more than actually drawing. It's relaxing for me to just put my headphones on and move a crayon in my hand. While this was happening, there was a blow-up. Money always seems to be the factor that will inevitably create stress. The Halldorsons had to go all the way to the Bank of America downtown, which was a bit farther than they wanted to drive, but I was the lucky one that got to see all of the sites – a man in a pig costume standing on the side of the street with a sign that read, “LAWYERS ARE PIGS,” a man playing his steering wheel with drumsticks at a red light, and a road sign that read “ROAD HUMPS AHEAD.” Apparently, down here, they don't call them speed bumps. We passed all the college kids, the stores that sell their hipster clothes, and the capitol buildings. It reminded me of Albany, except bigger and browner. Hey, it's Texas.
I met a long-distance cousin for the first time at the Highball. There was a free improv show, but since it was 18+, I had a night off from the fam. I understood the age minimum since the theme was “Best Sex Position Ever.” But as my cousin said, it certainly would've been an education.
Pace Bend Park – what a beaut – a peninsula surrounded by a lake that slightly smelled of salt. Got pricked by a cactus, shocked by a cold cliff jump, and stung by two wasps, but it was all worth it to see the Texas flora and mountain bikers on the intriguing hiking path and feel the awesome rush of gravity acting as acceleration as I jump from the rock separating me and the waters. Didn't taste like salt, but all I remember was focusing on getting out as soon as possible. Had to do it again, though.
Movie nights under the stars decorated our nights. The TV seemed to float in mid-air, although it was hanging by a cord Jeff had hung between two trees. I snuggled up in my sleeping bag with Mambo and some popcorn and enjoyed the magic behind kid's flicks.
At the Wrights' again, I find myself folding clothing. Jeff reminded me of proper laundry etiquette. After removing clothes from the dryer to put yours in, fold them for the owner. My imagination was sparked by what seemed to be doll-sized jeans in my hands. How adorable. However, children are certainly not in my immediate future, except for others' kids.
I just received an incredible massage...from a machine! How do I end up in such wondrous situations?
Well, Sonya is an old girlfriend of Jeff that Kelly befriended, so now Xoey, Kelly, and I are spending the day at Sonya's while Jeff, Wolfgang, and Griffin work hard on someone's roof. Boy, do I love being a girl. So, walking into Sonya's, I instantly knew I would love this place. How? Spotting her bookshelves. World Poetry, anyone? So, I find myself picking off Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings. Maybe, I'll go on to Whitman next. But there's more than just poetry. Lots of spiritual mumbo jumbo about femininity, some good books about death, an Everything book of alternative careers, etc. Wish I could stay here for more than a day. Lots of periwinkle blue along with darker blues, beiges, whites, various woods, greys, and browns. Good artwork, some buddhist pieces, yummy tea for my sore throat. Yes, I'm sick. Ehk, =P but I figure I need to have a stuffy nose every now and then to keep my immune system strong. Plus, sneezing can feel really good. But then there are those sneezes that you think are going to happen, but for some reason decide to stay in your nose and annoy you, like right now. Oh well.
So, I got a message on Facebook this morning from my friend, Lowell, from UBuffalo. He's like, "You're in Austin? You should hang out with my friend, Liz!" So, I called her up and she turned out to be pretty awesome. Short dark hair with striped feathers as decorations, thin build, bathing suit top on with jean shorts, tattoos decorating the body, and a septum piercing. Got to her place, met Abby. House decorated with color, art, music, bowls. Alex and Michael were there too. We smoked a blunt, went swimming. Trekked down to a creek that turned out to be dried up, then went to one of those chemical-filled pools. Everyone jumped in. By the time I was back from the bathroom, everyone had jumped out. I didn't care. I'm going to jump in. I slipped on my way to a cannonball. After an embarrassing move and shriek, I got out, then showed the water who's really boss. Floated on my back, staring at the clouds and birds. Did some little mermaid moves and got out to get in the minds of the girls. Abby is studying to be a social worker. She had such delight in her eyes when I would talk about children. She told me about her DMT experience; there was a baby carriage. She compared it to her friend who saw a baby carriage and had a baby, but I told her that you know your mind better than anyone else, so it could've as much been a symbol of where her path is going into social work.
After swimming, we checked out a sub shop. It was exactly the lifestyle I left in Albany, except more hipster, more new, upward boom. These people were my friends, just in different bodies.
Went back to the house, Abby had to do homework. Liz had to clean. Dub step show tonight, but I'll just relax at Sonya's. Alex asked me to listen to some records at his place. I knew what was going to happen. He's going to smoke me up and try to get with me. I picked at his mind, but couldn't find anything special. Still, I had a good time. He was showing me pictures of fishing in Alaska as iTunes magically put on "Fish" by Mr. Scruff. It's fun to picture what a fish is thinking of us humans, or, shall I say, frogmen. Like a gentleman, he drove me back to Sonya's.
I need to get a more portable way to carry Mambo rather than her cage. I wanted to bring her, but knew she needed a place to chill while I swam, instead of my shoulder. But, allegedly, rats can swim? Anyways, Laure, a penpal from France, told me that she was a little worried upon hearing I got a pet, saying it might tie me down. I felt that feeling today, like she's a child, and more than that, a neurotic child, so scared of new environments, and I don't have the time to show her around. I need to settle this issue.
What a wonderful morning – off to the airport for a conference in Duluth. The bus ride was a long one, but I always like looking out the window during a drive, rather than being the one driving. At the transfer bus stop, I was sitting across from a nice hotel in downtown Austin, looking at all the people in their suits and name tags, making up stories about them in my head. I imagined myself, how three years ago I would've pictured myself as one of them. Someone feeling more important than the average individual because of nice clothes and a certain professional etiquette entangled within personality. After thinking about it for no longer than five minutes, I'm glad I've chosen not to take that path. If it gets boring to think about, I'm sure it gets boring to actually live it. Then along came a woman with an Eastern European accent. She stopped to tell me about the power women hold, how she told her son to always respect women, not get caught up in beauty, but rather intelligence, and that I can never let anyone suppress me. It was refreshing. Here, this woman doesn't know anything about me, but perhaps because of my dreads and face clean of makeup, she assumes certain things about my mind, and probably from my age, she assumes I still let people get to me. I'd say she may be right. I'm working on my sense of ego. In that dream where the voices laughed AT me, I became insecure. The children sometimes call me crazy, weird, stupid for my lifestyle choices, but I can't let it get to me. I have to embrace it. I have to love my choices, so that a wall can form absorbing all that negative energy and converting it into something useful. I'm working on it. And this bus is a good place for that. Not everyone is going to like me, but I can sure love them.
But, as way to show you the oftentimes good side of the Unschool Bus, check out the music video we made! Since we are in the live music capital of the world, it makes a little bit of sense to virtually release the non-live music under this Austin blog post.