March 27, 2013

March 27

Praying to “Pachamama and Yage” to protect me during the night. My hair is receding at the temples and falling out in huge amounts when I comb my hair.

I haven’t had a shower for a week, and boy can I feel it. Smoking pot every afternoon at my camp. Today, I also smoked in the early morning (6:30 or 7 am) before leaving camp. I love waking up and just dressing and leaving my tent (with nothing irreplaceable in it) quickly. Off onto the open road, picking oranges off the trees and eating them as I walk toward town. Then, hitching, and often getting rides from remarkable (kind, interesting, sweet, etc.) people. Getting into town and making straight for a place to have coffee or tea and lounge around with other people in a cozy environment.

Ojai Coffee Roasters: intellectuals. I read the newspapers or a book and THINK. (They have internet.) Rainbow Bridge: sweethearts (or those trying to become sweethearts). I read a book or watch something online. (No internet.) Java and Joe: not sure yet. My Mexican-American friend, Evangelina’s panaderia (bakery): the usual immigrant struggles. (Example: her husband hates a.) Caucasians; b.) liberated women; c.) intellectuals.) Bohemia (newest downtown Ojai cafe): not sure yet. Meiners’ Oaks Farmer and the Cook: pretentious. Meiners’ Oaks’ cafe (name?): OK; too small in size and size of customer base.

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Made my way (in bits and pieces) through Robert Coles’ Privileged Ones: The Well-Off and the Rich in America (Vol. V of Children of Crisis, his series on education and children in the US).

On pg. 50, Coles writes:

“…(the very rich) are much harder to count or interview than other Americans, and even government economists with access to Internal revenue Service data have a tough time figuring out the share of the nation’s wealth held by the very rich.”

“Not only the ‘very rich,’ but the well-to-do, those who belong to the 5 percent mentioned in the article,* are not used to being scrutinized the way the poor are–no social workers, welfare workers, police, sheriffs who knock on the door and, if resisted, push it open.”

(*The article and info in both paragraphs [above] is in Business Week [August 5, 1972] and entitled “Who Has the Wealth in America,” as Coles states on pg. 49.)

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On pg. 25, Coles writes about travel among the children of the privileged social class:

“No preliminary sketch of the physical ‘ground-being’ (as both Heidegger and Tillich put it) of upper-middle-class life, or of the habits of the rich, ought to fail to mention travel as a strong influence on a select number of children.”

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More about travel among the upper-middle-class children on pg. 525-527:

“No matter what their parents’ attitude toward their own money, these are children privileged to have a quite distinct and extraordinary sense of spaced and time… A boy or who has, at ten or twelve, seen the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Caribbean, maybe; who has heard French, German, and Spanish spoken; and who has become familiar with distant places, customs, habits, is likely not only to be rather hopeful about the prospect of future trips but sophisticated about the world’s problems and shrewd or imaginative about what might be done by an American who wants to work or study abroad. Countries whose names mean very little or nothing to many, if not the majority, of American children become objects of anticipation to certain privileged children–who have every expectation that this year or next year or two years hence will see them here or there.

“That notion of ‘next year’ is somewhat unusual for other elementary school children, who tend to live in the present and consider the next day quite enough time ahead. For a lucky few, however, there is an apparently limitless supply of places to visit, each of which has to be matched up with a spell of time–and done so, mentally, well in advance. In fact, for a number of these privileged children time is just that–a benefactor, a source of wonder, amusement, excitement, and mysteries that soon become casually amassed memories.

“Richard Halliburton’s idiosyncratic, even eccentric, adventures of the 1930s have become for the children of the well-to-do the assumed, the required. “you just have to travel, even if it’s hard,” said the young daughter of a New England insurance executive and a stockbroker.”

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The manners of economically-privileged children “actually amount to a complicated and tenacious defensive network of words, gestures, rituals. With manners (they) feel reasonably secure, able to respect (themselves) and come to terms with others.” (pg. 532)

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On pg. 543, Coles writes:

“It may well be that from a cultural critic’s point of view these privileged children are ‘growing up absurd”…; it may be too that their ‘moral development’ is restricted, constrained–or, at the very least, limited by various social, cultural, and educational forces.” Of course, Coles doesn’t support this slanted perspective which smacks of being “cannon fodder for a particular ideological or psychiatric theory. ”

I want to add that I think many very creative, privileged people (being over-achievers and workaholics) probably are autistic (have Asperger Syndrome). They–we–are thus often judged/perceived as being “morally” lacking (I was just told last week that I am certainly “not a lady” because I used the word “fuck” online) and socially “rude.” We are also called “cold” and “socially inadequate.” 90% of this criticism is incorrect and the result of neuro-typicals (non-autistics0 misunderstanding us.

On pg. 527-528, Coles writes about the childhoods of built-in isolation:

“The children of such (privileged) men and women get to feel at a remove in some psychological or spiritual way…as if seclusion has prompted some pervasive and unregenerate notion of difference.”

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In the main, I was not a privileged child. I was adopted by people who were not at all part of the American mainstream or even the American middle class until they were in their late 30s/early 40s. It was then that they adopted me.

My family and I traveled to Europe and took frequent (usually summer) vacations because Dad worked hard and happened to be very good at his trade. And also because Dad was an immigrant (and Mom first generation German-American) and he wanted to see his struggling family in Berlin, Germany after WW II. (Dad helped to financially support his German family all during WW II and afterward.)

My genetic- (or birth-) parents were closer to the American mainstream, and, in my birth-father’s case, right in the upper-middle-class. My grandfather, Fredrick Page Boswell of Kentucky and then Montgomery, Alabama was a medical doctor and he raised his family of four sons in an exclusive part of Montgomery (before sending them all away at a young age to board at a military academy). Brown Hill Boswell, my birth-father, also became a medical doctor. My birth-mother, Jeanne Hawes Whitney of Braintree, Massachusetts had humble beginnings (I don’t know exactly what), but she married a Whitney, took up residence in rather exclusive Scituate, Mass. Her oldest son, John, later taught economics at Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. (That’s where I went to meet him–Surprise!–at his office. It was the first and last time we met.)

So, genetically, I have roots in the upper-middle-class. That’s my natural inclination. The adoptive parents are considered within adoption circles to be the “social” parents, or the ones who teach one how to behave socially (what one’s social position is). I learned from working class parents how to behave as part of the middle class (into which they had moved). I learned from my best friend, Jane Britton, how to be upper-middle-class in behavior. This is how I see myself now, as a combination of genetics and adoption, a combination of both working- and immigrant-class values and behavior and upper-middle-class values and behavior.

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March 28

Abuse of disabled: CONTROL of the disabled is one part of the abuse. The disabled are not RECOGNIZED as having potential that’s not respected by the (American) social mainstream. Very, very little freedom is allowed to the disabled, whether physical or mental. In my experience of a California public mental institution (in 1975), many of the people who care for the disabled (who work for the organization ARC, etc.) are very uneducated,  people who look down upon disabled people.

In public, I can quickly recognize the people who bully disabled people like me. They are scared and ready to make fun of anyone who is different. I act different in public, and I’m used to be teased and derided for it. This is done very subtly, very secretly; bullying is a hidden vice of weak people who fear others’ judgements of THEMSELVES.

In Aspies (persons with autism/Asperger Syndrome), depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are consistent problems that hamper social interactions. I believe these symptoms are much less common or even absent in people who know they are Aspies, have socialized well with other Aspies, respect themselves, and considers autism A GIFT. I know that’s how it has worked with me.

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Seth came yesterday. We had a really wonderful few hours together. We went up to Meditation Mount and then to the barns at Thacher and out to the gymkhana fields.

He gave me the idea to study the Horn Canyon birds as not only a good pursuit (I need a new focus!), but also as a good reason to be living in my tent up in the Canyon. I am going to start a blog about my bird studies (amateur naturalist, specializing in field studies in ornithology).

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I had one chance to rebel and liberate myself. It came in the early 1970s, and by 1974, I had left my husband and struck out on my own (with one of my two children; Anya wanted to stay home in Ojai). It seemed like almost everyone my age was doing the same thing at that time. Those were the years of the Hippies (actually, they were in the ’60s: I was a little late for all these movements), the Women’s Movement, and the Free Love movement. The social controls had lessened and that left lots of room for individual liberation. Wonderful time in that respect. All that came on the heels of the years when Black Americans went through (continued) hell in the liberation years and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (In 1963, President John Kennedy was killed, and that was an early shock to the US social system.)

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Now, in my life, goodwill equals growth. To choose consciousness (awareness) over trying to fit in or “be cool” socially is a big change; it’s the beginning of Old Age or perhaps (on the positive side) becoming one of the wise Old Ones. Less social posturing means I often look like a bungling, geeky fool. It’s OK.

I am not brave; I am just oblivious to a lot of dangers. I know they are there. I just don’t get too freaked out about it. I think that in some ways, my life has always felt edgy and a bit risky.

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I am camped where the woods end and settlement begins. Since the Ojai Valley goes from East to West (unusual) and, since where I am camped is also the end of the woods riding along the sides of the hills east of Ojai, I am at the center of the X where the woods end and town begins. It’s a heavy place for wildlife IF they care to come down out of the hills and the woods and venture into settlements. This, I think, usually happens in the winter when food is short and it’s cold (and even snowy) up in the mountains around Ojai.

I am meeting local, Southern California (and Colorado) men–nice men–named Wade, Darren, and Clay. Western names. Cowboy names. Clay named his son Jessie James (a famous American outlaw). You won’t find these names so much east of the Mississippi River; they are very typical SoCal names.

I have a birth-brother in Florida who our dad named James Brown Boswell. Yeah. Rather than an outlaw tradition, in my birth-family we have a musical tradition: James Brown, as everybody knows, was a famous American blues singer. He died just a few years ago.

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