How Las Vegas Changed My Life


That’s a lie.  The actual title of this blog is: Las Vegas— Heaven for Reducers, Hell for Augmenters. And what really changed my life was

LV Heaven. . . the James Turrell installation in the glamorous Aria Hotel.

LV Heaven. . . the James Turrell installation in the glamorous Aria Hotel.

learning about the Augmenter-Reducer Index in the 60’s. Although I would like to know what happened to the dirty, dangerous, forbidden fun place, the Las Vegas I remember from childhood when my uncle Irl was  a dealer at The Frontier?

Back to the Index. Doesn’t sound too interesting— but it  changed my life when I discovered where I fit on this fascinating scale and learned why I was so often overloaded with input. . . turn down the damn music!

You know if you’re on the other end of the scale when you feel you’re never getting enough. . . of whatever.

I heard about the index at Esalen, the retreat center south of San Francisco where the human potential movement was born. I don’t remember the name of the psychologist who wrote extensively about the index, doesn’t turn up when I Google it, but I’ll give you a nickel version and you’ll know why you love Las Vegas, or find it to be one of the circles of HELL.

Me freaking out in the casino at the Cosmopolitan, where we stayed.

Me freaking out in the casino at the Cosmopolitan, where we stayed.

The bottom line: reducers consistently reduce sensory input, augmenters consistently augment sensory input.

A simple example. Hand an extreme reducer a one pound weight, wait two minutes then hand the (blind-folded) reducer the weight again and he or she will report that the second weight is only half as heavy as the first one.

Exactly the opposite is true of an extreme augmenter. The second weight will feel twice as heavy. This scale cuts across all sensory information. Pain. Music. Wind in your face.

It’s also true that few of us are extreme on either side; we mostly fall somewhere around the middle on each, towards augmenting or reducing. Also interesting is that most women a day or two before their periods flip to the other side of the scale from their normal position. What was too much a day before is not enough now or what was not enough is too much. No wonder we get cranky.

The James Bondish lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. where Henry and  chef Frank Leake are attending the American Federation National Convention.

The James Bondish lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. where Henry and chef Frank Leake are attending the American Culinary Federation National Convention.

After 24 hours in Las Vegas  I knew if I had to walk though the casino area of even the most glamorous hotel again— The Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Aria— I would start screaming. Natch, I’m a moderately extreme augmenter. Of course I am. A psychic’s work requires a high level of sensitivity.

A solution, however, is close at hand. If you consume one ounce of alcohol you flip on the scale— no wonder so many psychics are drunks.

Henry and me in the limo having too much fun!

Henry and me in the limo having too much fun!

Back to Las Vegas: in deep caverns beneath Caesar’s Palace is a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s David, and a slightly less than life-size Trevi Fountain, with a surprisingly good cafe surrounding it.

April and I are waaaay underground even though the fake sky is blue above us. . . good chow, though.

April and I are waaaay underground even though the fake sky is blue above us. . . good chow, though.


The domed ceiling, high above, magically changes from dawn to full day, to dusk, and back around. Extremely elegant shops— Cartier, Louboutin, Balenciaga, Ferragamo, Valentino, line what appear to be illuminated Roman facades.

Hordes of people with small kids and strollers pack the thoroughfares, along with bevies of scantily clad teens in perilously platformed heels.

I am bewildered. These fabulous  shops are empty. When we stumble into DKNY, the salesperson falls on us like rare prey. None of the hordes enter any of these stores. It occurs to me that no one who seriously shops at Cartier or Balenciaga would be found dead in this fantastic pretend world.

So what’s up with this? Many of the vast stretches of payment are marble; there are charming copies of exquisite Roman floor mosaics, vast stretch of cobblestones, not hokey pretend cobblestones, but the real stuff.

Is this a safe version of the real world? Everyone knows about the purse snatchers who snag your handbag with your passport and ticket home in it from their vespas and scream away on the perilous streets of Rome. Is that it?

(I know that I used “perilous” above, but I wonder if the perilous shoes are more or less perilous than the streets in Rome?)

Our last night and we are dining at the wonderfully retro, rowdy Casa di Amore, far from the LV strip, an old Italian mafia hang-out.

We LOVE the Casa di Amore!

We LOVE the Casa di Amore!

The good, old Las Vegas. . . sigh. . . .

The good, old Las Vegas. . . sigh. . . .


We are so festive. . . already consumed a bottle of proseco. . . April and Yashi are beneath the pic of the boys. . .

We are so festive. . . already consumed a bottle of proseco. . . April and Yashi are beneath the pic of the bad boys.

Above April and Yashi is a big poster of Frank, Dean, and Peter Lawford strolling down The Strip. And they are having FUN! They were all raised as good Catholic boys, weren’t they? Now here they are smoking cigars and drinking and gambling and they are having dirty, dangerous, forbidden fun, not safe, carefully restored pretend fun.

That’s my idea of Las Vegas. A place of forbidden fun. I imagine that if I had a glass of champagne for breakfast, magically transforming me from an augmenter to a reducer, I could get into that. Later on, if I started to revert, I could have another glass of champagne!

Picture Gallery: Our trip to Las Vegas!

The view of the really quite gorgeous fountains of the Bellagio Hotel from our 57th floor room.

The view of the   gorgeous fountains of the Bellagio Hotel from our 57th floor room next door.


Now we're sitting at a terrace at the Bellagio watching the fountains! Our three drinks (one martini, one wine spritzer, one soft drink and a tiny appetizer) cost $75! Worth it for the close up on the fab water show!

We’re sitting at an intimate terrace  overlooking the Bellagio  fountains. Our three drinks (one martini, one wine spritzer, one soft drink and a small appetizer) cost $75. Worth it for the close up of the fab water show! We were told the terrace was closed, but April finessed an entry. What a good girl.

Are these mafioso planning a hit at the Casa di Amore?

Are these mafioso planning a hit at the Casa di Amore?

Yashi about to SCORE at volleyball.

Yashi about to SCORE at volleyball.


Chef Henry, behind him the exquisite entry prepared by team Hawaii from  KCC.

Chef Henry, behind him the exquisite entry prepared by team Hawaii from KCC.

Au revoir Las Vegas!

Au revoir Las Vegas! (I will probably never come here again, although I might go back to see the Turrell installation, and maybe to eat some of the pastry at the Starbuck’s in the Aria—no kidding, it’s like Starbuck’s in heaven— see below. I think the pastry was done by the brilliant pastry chef at the hotel.)

The surprisingly chic Starbucks at the Aria Hotel.

The surprisingly chic Starbucks at the Aria Hotel.


The equally fabulous pastry. Starbucks in heaven.

The equally fabulous pastry. Starbucks in heaven.

Turrell illuminates the tram stop at the Aria.

Turrell illuminates the tram stop at the Aria.










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Suzuki Roshi, James Joyce, Richard Brautigan, a cow and Stravinsky

Is it possible that losing your mind is a very zen thing to do? I find the thought comforting. I order a new copy of Suzuki Roshi’s  obscure, perplexing, illuminating book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. I know I used to own it, but it’s migrated. I’m experiencing a new, unfamiliar state of unknowing, not-knowing, as in unknowing why I came downstairs once I get down there. Is that zen? I find something down there that I  need to bring upstairs, however, I don’t recognize that it’s not the thing I went down for. Things unfold in a more circular way. Go down library stairs for credit card record book. See clean purple water glass. purple glassFill it with cold water from the fridge and bring it upstairs, using the bedroom stairs on the other side of the house. Put water glass down (after drinking some) and start to make bed. Stop making bed and wander into Henry’s office to kiss his neck. Back to my office. No water glass or credit card record book. Go downstairs and open the fridge. Eat a few plugs of orange. Go up the bedroom stairs. Make the bed some more, if not completely, because I see the purple water glass and take it to my office. Still no credit card record book.


Where. . . I sit down and open Suzuki Roshi’s book. I didn’t ever meet him, although I did spend some time at the fabled Tasahara Zen Center that he founded in the mountains south of San Francisco. I heard two students there seriously discussing  what position Buddha’s hands were in as he slept. I thought this was dumb so I went out to my car. . . the lovely red Peugeot, Fried Egg, with such luscious caramel leather seats. I smoked a joint, thus achieving instant beginner’s mind, or so I thought.

Suzuki Roshi

Suzuki Roshi

Does this mean losing your mind is like being stoned much of the time? I find that comforting as well. My few years of dope smoking reawakened me to the vast pleasures of being. Not achieving or striving, although things seemed to take form magically, almost on their own— movies I made, lectures I gave, class plans I formulated. During these drug years I was a Professor of Humanities at the San Francisco Art Institute. Many of my students were stoned much of the time as well. I had assigned Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man by James Joyce to my Freshman English Class. When I asked one of my students a question about the book he replied that he couldn’t read it because it had bad vibes. This seemed a reasonable objection to me and to  others in  class as well. I looked carefully at the copy resting on my desk to see if, indeed, it did have bad vibes. It seemed possible. Did James Joyce have beginner’s mind?


james joyce

James Joyce

William York Tindall, whose fabled seminar on Joyce at Columbia University I took in graduate school, treasured a pair of tiny pink doll panties he had been given by James Joyce. He said when Joyce became seriously oiled in a pub he would take the panties out of his breast pocket and wave them around, cheering. This seems a zen thing to do. I was not able to tell for sure if the book had bad vibes, but I did assign Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar to the student instead. I was certain Brautigan’s book would not bad vibe him.


When we had a fifties dinner party at my house in Corte Madera, Richard Brautigan and his girlfriend (you can remember who his girlfriends were as they usually appeared on the cover of his books with him), brought President Nixon’s favorite hors d’oeuvres,

Richard Brautigan and the girlfriend who came with him to the 50's dinner party.

Richard Brautigan and the girlfriend who came with him to the 50’s dinner party.

(I used to know how to spell that, but today I had to look it up),  lovely crisp saltine crackers spread with catsup, not as bad as it sounds because when Nixon was president catsup had sugar in it, not that nasty high fructose corn syrup.


However, Richard Brautigan, although a whimsical and charming wordsmith, must not have had beginner’s mind because he eventually shot himself, not a zen thing to do. Nixon committed political suicide, definitely not beginner’s mind. I’m following this chain of anecdotes and observations much as I make my way up one staircase and down another, weaving my way through tasks and chores, sitting down to write. . .  writing like wandering around a large, spacious meadow.

Susuki Roshi said meditation is like giving a cow a green, luscious meadow. The Dalai Lama said “sleep is the best meditation.”

A final note: the second time I went to see Eya Yellin, my first psychic, (see blog post March 30th)  I confessed my desire to become this thing,“a psychic.’ Eya instantly replied, “fine, stop using drugs.”

I stopped.

A final, final note.

I’m in Portland, Oregon, with our daughter April and granddaughter, Yashi. I hadn’t posted this blog  because my small writing group (Elsha Bonhert and Maja Clark. Susan Killeen and Jeanette Paulson weren’t there. Jeanette was traveling in Italy), didn’t like the ending; said it was weak and who was Richard Brautigan, anyway? I feel they should know who Brautigan was, for gods’ sake, forgetting once again that not everyone lived in the Bay Area in the ’60’s. I suspected they were right about the weak finish.

I’m confessing my fears about losing my mind to April and she asks me how old Mom was when she died. We calculate it, and both register shock when we realize she had just turned 79, five years older than me. In five years Mom had slid from the refuge of the mild dementia she sought after my dad died, to a sweet, if somewhat confused and very messy, early childhood.

Henry and my mom in Tahiti when my Tahiti.

Henry and my mom at our fare on Moorea in Tahiti when she was 75 years old and well into a sweetly childish dementia.


Most of my fear evaporates! No kidding. In comparison I seem to be doing fine.  But what about Igor Stravinsky? At age 83, when hospitalized in NYC, he would return from a few weeks of coma with total awareness. In fact, as Virgil Thomsun  remarked in a 1965 interview series published in The New York Review of Books,  Stravinsky seemed to be completely cognizant of significant events that took place while he was unconscious, and would comment on them in a cogent and witty way. The next time I am comatose, or coming out of general anesthesia, I will ask Henry to give me a quiz on current events, to see how I’m doing in comparison to the great Igor.

Igor Stravinsky. I didn't correct the color as I thought it suited him.

Igor Stravinsky. I didn’t correct the color as I thought the moire effect suited him.

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Zombies and Vampires and Consumers— the state of the (American) world


Zombies and vampires—they just keep coming—in movies, books and on TV shows. Why?  I want to know why so many people want to watch shows or read stories about flesh-eating zombies and blood-sucking vampires.

“Flesh-eating” and “blood-sucking.” A clue. My most useful book of dream images, Understand Your Dreams,  says if you dream of vampires an  association is “energy-draining fear.” Associations for zombies are “living death” and “unsatisfied hunger.”

Picture of a vampire in  front of a mirror. Notice that you can't see the vampire. There will be no picture of a zombie in this blog. I have seen too many lately.

Picture of a vampire in front of a mirror. Notice that you can’t see the vampire. There will be no picture of a zombie in this blog.

“Unsatisfied hunger” leads me to another related term that troubles me. Consumers, who could also be called, “those-whose-hunger-will-never-be-satisfied-no-matter-how-many-hot cars/tools-good shoes-or-expensive-anythings-they-acquire.”

My aversion to being called a consumer is easy to track. To consume is to destroy.

When things are consumed they are no more. There’s more than a hint of addiction in consumption. Eating until all food is gone. Americans are stars at consuming. So many things passing away before the advancing hoard. We believe there is always more, so why not consume?

Shopping is not necessarily consuming. It’s a sport, even a treasure hunt, frequently satisfying even if nothing is acquired.  It may not appeal to some, but it doesn’t  necessarily involve consuming. . . even if you buy the same thing in several different colors. (Caveat: I suppose shopping could be seen as disciplined consuming, like someone who stays on a modest diet in the face of chocolate, or in my case, marzipan, craving. You love it and want it, but you don’t indulge in it too often.)

I diverge. Back to zombies. Zombies eat people. Consuming consumers. Buried here may be some deep chthonic fear. (Chthonic fear = a buried drive, from the Greek word meaning beneath the earth.) In our  hearts we know that consumption inevitably leads to self-destruction. If we consume we are like the un-dead. . . not completely dead for ever, but toward the dead, too busy consuming to be living.

Movies and television are our group dreams. We watch movies or TV like we dream, to review and safely experience the things that frighten us and sometimes the things that are too dangerous to experience in our waking lives. Of course both dreams and media represent many other things as well.

The Twilight series broke new ground when it divided the vampire world into the good and bad. Good vamps no longer sucked people dry, just animals. They, of course, were the enemies of the bad vamps who wouldn’t give up the good human juice. This may  be evidence of a subtle, gradual healing of group consciousness.

I have no conclusion. I remember in the 60’s buying only second-hand clothes, except for  underwear, no one really wants used underwear, and those fabulous studded shoes from J. Magnin with the stacked heels and I still have them and they still fit. I digress.

Worn and tired, but still beautiful.

Worn and tired, but still beautiful.

Side view, note stacked heel.

Side view, note stacked heel.






I optimistically believe there is a strange unconscious ground-swell going on with all this zombie-vampire thing. I suspect we are befriending our fears— perhaps the first step coming to terms with the loathsome self-destruct consumer identity.



I own a painting of Elsha’s titled, “How I Plan to Become a Saint,”— a saint of poetry, I think.  Elsha, master of the miraculous, writes of a life that would make most of us quiver with terror— of war, of rape, of abandonment, of pain and terrible dangers flying around her like black angels across the page. The result: a gentle peace of memorable images. Her poems always seem effortless, as if something inevitable had happened, words coming together to tell us it’s all really alright. Saints convert suffering into beauty.

Her plan is working.

Here’s one of my favorites. Actually, I don’t have a favorite I open the book at random and read. . .

Phil Bonhert, Elsha, and Kris Barry with prize-winning sculpture at Honolulu Pen Women Art Show. (photo courtesy of Hawkins Biggins)

Phil Bonhert, Elsha, and Kris Barry with prize-winning sculpture at Honolulu Pen Women Art Show. (photo courtesy of Hawkins Biggins)


One moment an earthquake the next a tsunami

your bunker of knowledge breaks apart

twisted rebar in chunks of concrete

sweep past you

taking along your baby photos



designer shoes

Throw your wallet after it

your brand new iPhone

hike up the mountain naked and young

someone asks for your arm?

give it

your leg? give it

you’re a rose dropping your petals

with no thought

BUY THIS BOOK! (my wordpress won’t let me add a link to amazon today, so you’ll have to go there on your own—sorry)



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My First Psychic



My First Psychic

— excerpted from my unpublished memoir, How I Became a Psychic— and learned to survive the completely gorgeous insanity of this place

It’s 1970 and I’m going to see Eya Yellin, the psychic— she with the big breasts, the harlequin glasses, and the terrible taste, rivaling even my mom’s.

Eya being silly with her favorite nephew, Oakland, CA, c 1970.

And here I am, a snotty little briefcase-toting clothes horse, filled with self-regard and pseudo- intellectual snobbery, and worse, now I’m cool, making movies, that hot young teacher at the hottest school in town. Eya takes me down so fast. She goes through my façade like a chainsaw through cheese. Then she takes the whole building of my carefully constructed self, not a brick or a board at a time, one blow, one well-placed blow and the entire house collapses.

I cry for two weeks.

I can do this myself now, the one transforming blow, all the time. Well, sometimes. Not once a day, certainly, or even once a week.

Me, the snotty little clothes horse, at The San Francisco Art Institute, embracing my colleague Ray Mondini, 1970.

When it happens it’s sublime. It’s easier than it sounds. All it takes is the right question, sometimes one word, even a one- syllable word can do it. Homeopathic. I first learned the game from her. A couple of hookers. I’ve always thought being a psychic is a lot like hooking. You become very close to someone in a very short time and then they give you money. Oh Eya— once I saw you, I just wanted to do it too.

I sit down across from her at a little table in her crummy apartment in Oakland— the small side window facing a dirty brick wall, a feeble geranium on the sill. She lights a cigarette, gives me a look, a flicker of surprise. “You are so open,” she says. Then my face is wet. I don’t seem to be crying. She’s so nonchalant. Then blah, blah, blah and I’m crumbling, melting, the room is going too, and her face is all faces, but hey, I’ve done drugs, nothing white, nothing involving the nose or sharp objects, but hallucinogens, yes, the psychedelics, LSD, psilocybin, mescalin, DMT, not good, too white, what else is there?, no ketamin, and a good thing it wasn’t around then, because I have held a vial of it and it is the best— so I’m cool with this. I’ve seen my lover’s flesh melt from his face, leaving only the beautiful bare bones, and I know this territory, I can find my way in and back out of these realms. . . I think.


She is taking me somewhere else, and I haven’t been here before. When we come back and the ground settles, she blows some more smoke in my face. “You know, you’ve always thought you were so smart.” Well yeah, I’m thinking. That’s been my main trick. “Well, you’re not that smart,” Eya says, “but you’re very, very psychic.”

Isn’t that silly. Such a simple statement, but it does it for me. Everything is over now. All my plans shattered. I’m done for. Destroyed. My mother isn’t going to like this, I think. I have to put up a little dam inside now. Not a wall, nothing like that, but I’ve got to hold this off for awhile. She is watching me. The phrase “like a hawk” takes on new meaning. I can’t even summon up the phrase. She will hold me in that gaze until I really get it.

And I do.

Then we come back. “Do you have any questions?” Is that what she said? “Are you kidding,” might have been a sensible reply, but I can’t even get there. New job description. Is that what it is? I don’t even know what a psychic is. Do I want to be a psychic? To be honest, I am attracted by certain aspects of the work. Eya just sits there, puffing away on a cigarette while the room gets hazy, not from the smoke, but from something that was happening between us, and then she says things. Looks easy, doesn’t it? No research to do. No prep. No lectures or classes. You just sit there. You just sit there and say anything you feel like saying.

And I am basically a lazy person.

Anyway, being a psychic looks pretty good to me. But it’s not a choice I get to make. Once again a sudden, inexorable change has occurred. I know that this lovely life I have been living is soon to be over and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. There isn’t a choice for me to make. She has seen me. What could I do? Nothing. What will I do now? How do I do or be this new thing? I have absolutely no idea. But in less than an hour my identity has been completely dismantled, and I have no idea what it means.

I do have a slip of paper someone else who looked like me took out of my purse a million years ago. There it is, amazingly, lying in front of me. Here’s a question, “Eya, there’s a man. . . I love him, will we stay together?”

Such a throaty laugh she gives. I am relieved. Forget all that stuff before. Forget about being a psychic, whatever that means. I remember that this is the man I love and he’s breaking my already wounded heart. We’re getting back to some kind of normal now, thank goodness, and she’s laughing, smiling. “Oh, no problem, he’s great, just great—“ she pauses for effect, “as long as you don’t mind having to tit and diaper him.” Crash, tinkle, tinkle. She walks serenely across the wreckage of my heart, it’s lying there in the rubble along with everything else about me.

When my dad died in 1988 my mom dove into senile dementia with  surprising speed, losing a few more marbles every day. As a consequence of this rapid decline she would move back and forth in time; sometimes she was a little girl, living on a ranch in Oregon, a sentence later, she’d be her rapidly declining self. She also told me fascinating stories about our family, stories that were certainly not part of the family canon, and I learned that my beloved great- grandmother, Ganny, did readings for people.

Grandma Seavey holding baby AA, Grandpa Seavey next to her, then grandma's no-s0-pretty sister, Aunt Lil. My mom sits on the other side. My beloved great-grandmother, Ganny at the head of the table.

WHAT? Why was I not TOLD of THIS? But what can I do now? I couldn’t yell at my poor demented mother or plead for more information. She offered up a few more crumbs. Mom said that Ganny became quite ill one summer when I was little, which must have been during the period when my dad was overseas during WWII, so I would have been four years old. Ganny told Grandpa that she needed to sleep outside in order to heal, so he built a little house with a wooden floor and tent walls for her in the front yard of the Cook House out at the ranch. By this time my grandparents and the rest of the extended family spent winters in town, but returned to the ranch each summer.

Mom said that people drove out to the ranch where Ganny would do readings for them in her little house. She also said that I liked to be there when she was doing this, that I would hide behind the sofa and listen. I asked if Ganny did readings when we moved back into town, but mom said grandma and grandpa— no doubt full of illusions about their social position in town— were embarrassed by it, so she didn’t. She added that Ganny liked to go visiting, and she thought Ganny probably did the readings when she visited people.

Would it have made a difference in my life if these abilities had been recognized, acknowledged and talked about? How could I tell? Was it too late for me? I had no idea what it meant to be psychic. I’d spent years getting a good education. I always thought I was smart.



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Let’s start with Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti was once thought by many thousands of people to be the World Teacher, meaning the reincarnation of Christ, until one day he announced to his startled followers that everyone was wrong, and he wasn’t Jesus. Still, I knew him to be a great teacher.

It’s 1977, and my English movie star boyfriend is taking me to meet K, as he’s
called by his circle of intimates. I am so excited! We’re driving down to Brockwood
Park in Hampshire, passing through fields of ripe hops hanging like little green
bells from the vines strung up on high poles. It’s the annual summer lecture series.

Hops in Hampshire.

I remember that I can never understand a word K says,
although I have read and loved his books. But that’s
not important. We listen to the lecture, which I fail
to understand, and then head for the big house where
we’ll have lunch with K and some of his inner circle.

We’re walking across a wide meadow toward the house when
my MSBF points— “there he is.” K is walking towards us
with three other people. He waves us over to them and we
all stand together in a loose circle. My MSBF introduces me to the other people
and then to Krishnamurti, who’s standing directly across from me. He says how
do you do. We shake hands, but his eyes look down, fixed on the ground. I am so
disappointed. I want to look into his eyes.

I start to turn away, but before I can move, his eyes begin very slowly to raise. I feel his long dark lashes softly brushing against my skin as if they are sweeping up my body. His eyes reach mine. He looks into my eyes, into me, whatever it is, the shock. . . impact. . . is so profound that I’m thrown backwards—

Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus by Caravaggio

like those paintings of St Paul on the road to Damascus. My MSBF catches me and holds me upright, otherwise I would have fallen flat on the ground. No one else comments or seems to notice this event. Later I think it was a kindness of Krishnamurti not to hit me with those eyes right off— to keep them lowered, and then, so slowly, so gently, to raise them to meet mine.


So what about Tina Turner?

In 1968 I’m teaching English and Humanities at the San Francisco Art Institute, but I fly down to LA from time to time to stay with my old friends from New York, Judy and Steve Harris. Later Steve will be the producer of Mash, then of the Roseanne show, but in the sixties he’s producing Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters, a musical variety show. I love Jimmy Durante. Judy says come on down, we can hang out backstage and you can meet him.

I don’t get to meet Jimmy. But I’m so excited because the guest stars this week turn out to be Ike and Tina Turner! Tina Turner is sensational!

Tina Turner

Tina Turner

Judy and I are standing in the wings
while Jimmy is introducing her. . . the
music is up. . . it’s Proud Mary— “uh uh
uh uh, uh uh uh uh. . .” and Tina’s
standing behind the curtain and she’s
already doing that quickquick step Mick Jagger learned it from her and her arms are churning and sparks are flying off of her and BAM! she explodes through the curtains onto the stage at FULLFORCE!

And now I’m wondering. Was Krishnamurti doing the Tina Turner thing? While he was looking down. Powering up up up up up, (repeat) before he dropped me with the big whammy, the full-force of those meltingly beautiful eyes? Because once I saw them, saw him, it seemed to me that he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

(The oddest thing about this may be the appearance of Jimmy Durante, The Lennon Sisters and Ike and Tina Turner on the same tv show!)



The Lennon Sisters


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So HAPPY NEW. . . new year, new life, new world! (and we are having such a good time with Patrick ONeill and Consolina Wong!)

Our daughter April and Granddaughter Yashi were here for ten days at Christmas and we spent most of one day going through old photos… what fun we were having, how good we looked (and why didn’t we know it at the time?), what an exciting life we had lived in so many places— Oregon, the Bay Area, New York, outside Brill-near-Aylesbury, London, the Dordogne in France, Italy, India, Hawaii. And did we enjoy it enough? Did we know when it was happening how good it all was? It’s true in some photos we are not celebrating. We were recording times of high-drama and intensity as well. But even the hard times look good to us now.

Yashi and April on the beach at Turtle Bay, Christmas 2012

But on December 20th I’m not feeling well. It’s too familiar, the nausea, ground not solid under my feet, pre-fluish feeling that often happens before an earthquake strikes. Oh no, not a tsunami before we open our Christmas presents! But then, on the 21st, it’s completely gone. Something has changed. Really changed. It’s so slight, such a small slick thing, but everything is different. I am different. I am here in a new way and I don’t exactly know what shifted, but it feels good, very good.

“I haven’t ever bought into the Mayan calendar thing,” I say, attempting to explain to April what has changed. She reminds me that we were in a cult in England that predicted the end of the world in 2012. Well, yes, we were, but even then I thought the idea was dumb. But this isn’t dumb and nothing has ended, except it’s all different. Well, good. Finally, I think. And about time. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for years. But how to explain this subtle, but undeniably real new reality?

As Anne Bonney comments to Calico Jack Rackham about their shared life of piracy: “The life is good, but there’s no future in it.” Jack replies— “There’s no future in nothing by my way of thinking, for when it’s here we’re in it, same as now.” I agree with Jack. We no longer have a future to worry about. We’re here in it, same as now… and now is just fine.

My apologies for the long space between blogs. I’ve been transforming Bare Breasts and Cannon Balls, my story of the two 18th century women pirates, Anne Bonney and Mary Read, into a screenplay with the collaboration of the formidably talented writer and editor, Lana Griffin, may she be honored and praised.

Our gynormous 30th anniversary cake cloaked in marzipan with marzipan pearls! (I LOVE marzipan1)

We were married December 26th, 1982. Thirty years of wedded (mostly) bliss!

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Achieve Spontaneously

The many-limbed Bodhi tree, granddaughter of the tree under which Buddha was enlightened, at Buddha Buddha. (note the small Buddha face at the bottom of limbs... )

“This is where they buried the crystal,” Ann says. I’m walking around our property with an old friend. . . she lived here before we bought Buddha-Buddha and she’s filling me in on the history of the place, telling me about the Medicine Wheel created by the Chippewa Medicine Man, Sun Bear, Kalu Rinpoche, and a Hawaiian Kahuna, whose name she can’t remember. It’s also the day of Sun Bear’s death, although we don’t know it at the time, and Ann has brought me a copy of one of his books.

Henry and I didn’t know our place had been a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center

Pond House with big pond in foreground

when we bought it— it was just an overpriced, overgrown acre with a hideous mess of a house on it— layers of shag carpet, one room filled with cages in which wild birds were held captive (there was a sheer net strung across the yard to trap them), and a dead rat rotting in the intricate electronics of the kitchen stove. But there were also two ponds, the larger obscured by waist-high weeds, two streams, and some other indefinable something. It was way out of our price range and we’d have no money left for improvements, or tools, or even paint to cover the nasty red trim on everything. (I’m exaggerating. . . the first thing I did was buy paint to cover the red trim.)

But the shed filled with junk next to the big pond? I opened the door and brushed my way through cobwebs. This was a good space. I could live in here, I thought. How peaceful this big room is. Lloyd, the owner, told me the monks meditated there. Monks? What monks? Gradually the story unfolded. Ann told me the Dalai Lama felt the Karma family of Buddhism should be present in Hawaii, so Kalu Rinpoche came to establish a center. She also told me the Dalai Lama lived in the little apartment attached to the house for six weeks, although that story has been disputed by others who were involved with Situ Choling around the same time.

—a prettier picture of the Pond House

“I know nothing about Tibetan Buddhism, Ann. What characterizes the Karma family?”

“Each family has a strength and an associated flaw,” she says. This gets my attention. I’m certain it’s no accident we’re living here.

“And. . . ?”

“I believe the weakness of the Karma family is obsessive activity.”

Ouch. I’ve noticed that every day Henry and I tell each other with gusto what we’ve accomplished during our day. . . “I certainly got a lot of things done today,” or “I took care of so much stuff.” I know that flaw too well. What would it be like to not keep doing things, to not track the day’s success in terms of jobs done— to not value oneself on the basis of what’s been completed?

“So what’s the associated strength?” I think the answer may change my life. Here we are smack in the middle of the mana of this increasingly beautiful place (due to our obsessive labor), and I NEED to know about the better choice.

“Spontaneous achievement,” Ann says.

“SPONTANEOUS ACHIEVEMENT!” I am ecstatic. That’s my goal. Wait. Can it be a goal if it has to be spontaneous? Forget goals. Achieve spontaneously. YES!

A couple of months later Henry and I are preparing to meet Tai Situ Rinpoche, who also spent time at Buddha-Buddha. We are very excited as we plan to ask him to give us refuge, which means we will become Buddhists. Seems the right thing to do. We are given exact instructions on how to approach him— step inside, genuflect, a few steps more, more genuflecting. But when we enter and begin the ritual he laughs, “oh, don’t bother with that,” he gestures, “come here and sit down.”

He’s a beautiful joyful brown man, emanating good humor and grace. We sit on either side of him, basking in his presence. He makes us feels as if we are old friends, glad to see each other after long separation. “Why are you here?” Tai Situ asks. Or maybe he said, “what can I do for you?”

Henry and I explain that we wish to become Buddhists. Tai Situ wants to know why. We tell him that we were married in a Buddhist ceremony. . . by accident actually, as we’d gone to request permission from a Japanese Buddhist priest at Valley of the Temples to be married there, but he misunderstood— his English wasn’t so good— and he thought we were asking him to marry us. We didn’t want to hurt his feelings so we had a Buddhist wedding. Tai Situ roars with laughter.

House, lotus pond, one of the two Buddhas left by the Tibetans, and my thumb in foreground.

“You’re already Buddhists,” he chortles, “you took refuge when you were married!” Well, good, then. That’s taken care of. We talk about Buddha-Buddha a little. He says he was given the room at the end of the house because it was the worst space. I tell him that it’s now my office and it’s not the worst space anymore because I replaced the entire front wall with a big window which overlooks the lotus pond and the Ko’olau Mountains. He finds this funny as well.

Then we remember that we have a question; we’re having a relationship problem and we hope he will give us some guidance. I tell my side of the issue in some detail. Then Henry explains how he feels. Tai Situ is listening to each of us attentively, nodding thoughtfully. When we have finished he looks at me for a moment, then at Henry. . . we wait expectantly.

“I don’t think there’s really any problem,” he says.

Henry and I look at each other. It’s true. The problem has disappeared.

On the way home I realize we’d experienced spontaneous achievement in action. The funny thing is that neither Henry nor I can even remember what the big-deal problem was.

(Please note: this blog has been achieved spontaneously, no kidding. I just sat down and out it popped.)

Lotus pond (early in the season, no lotus blossoms yet) as viewed from house.

HAPPY AUTUMN EQUINOX! May the next three months be filled with SPONTANEOUS
ACHIEVEMENT for each of us!

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Good Days and Bad Days. . . and Mercury Retrograde

Good Days and Bad Days. . . and Mercury retrograde

Last night I dream I’m driving my 1955 Morris Mini through miles and miles of crowded streets in England. I need to get to London to do something— I’m lost. I finally pull to the side and go into a store where a girl looks at my map and tells me I’m heading north— the wrong direction! I realize I have to turn around and go back (I also wonder if there’s someway I can ship this baby, my darling Buffalo Princess that I’ve written about here before, to Hawaii).

Mercury is retrograde until August 9th ( more or less, stations direct on the 7th). Mercury retro is when you turn around and go back, you re-do, re-think, re-charge, re-work, re-new, re-member even. I spent some time this morning thinking about where I was headed in the wrong direction and needed to turn around. I also thought about the BP: she was sturdy, very cute, didn’t use much petrol. . . and had she aged well. . . cars in dreams, as in life, symbolize your power, how you get where you’re going. BP was not exactly up to speed with modern accessories. . . she had little


Me taking a picture of me on computer while iPad takes a picture of computer and iPhone takes a picture of iPad taking a picture. Who says I haven't mastered this complex tech stuff?

flippers on each side that raised as turn signals. Today I struggle with my new Iphone, Ipad. BP didn’t do so well when it snowed. I get paranoid when I’m cold, can feel myself shutting down, energetic body pulling in. Nice to live in Hawaii.

A long parenthesis: Mercury retro is also when things take a lot longer— stuff gets lost, traffic is snarled, keys disappear or get locked inside cars, but sometimes you find something you lost last time Mercury was retrograde. If you travel your baggage may go somewhere you don’t. Emails get sent to the wrong person. You get the picture. The small but powerful god of communication with wings on his hat and his heels (see the silver dime if you’re not familiar with his image), is not so comfortable with slowing down and turning around. Neither am I. We learn.

circle in the sky

This has nothing to do with Mercury retro. . . Henry shot this pic of a bizarre double circle cloud over Diamond Head.

the cover of Bare Breasts and Cannonballs

Steve Rosenthal's dynamite cover for BBCB.

I am canceling a contractual agreement I made with Xlibris to publish, Bare Breasts and Cannonballs, my book about women pirates, as an e-book. Sorry about that. I am so eager to have this book out there for everyone to read. I love these bad girls and want them to set sail. . . but in a ship worthy of them and of the care I’ve given their book. Here’s the terrific cover for the book Steve Rosenthal designed. Love it.

I also heard from my great longtime friend, Kate Ellis, a writer, teacher, and adventurer who continues to live in New York City. I wrote about her courageous and inventive response to being mugged and raped in the vestibule of her condo in last blog. . .
I want to recommend her stunning memoir, Crossing Borders.

kate's book

Kate's memoir. . .

“It’s in places where I don’t belong that the blessings of my life have found me,” Kate writes.
Crossing borders that separate the United States from her birthplace in Toronto, North America from Africa, marriage from singleness, privilege from poverty, and blackness from whiteness, her dramatic autobiography describes a journey of discovery that explores class, race, and feminism and, finally, reconciles the author to her own history.

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Sex, Death, Religion and CELEBRATION!


My friend, Kate, was mugged and raped in the vestibule of her New York City condo— then shot in the heart. The doorman was off that day. She’s an heiress from a wealthy family, lives in a good building. She managed to drag herself downstairs to the super’s apartment. He caught her as she collapsed while his wife called the ambulance. Kate survived the attack, being of hearty stock and stout heart (both physically and emotionally).

4th of July at Turtle Bay: Claus Prufer, Kaui Lucas, Henry, me, Steve Rosenthal, Roger Jellinek, and Eden Lee Murray. (relevance of pic will be revealed later... )

Here’s the interesting part: after recovering, her response to the attack was an intense desire to do something about the desperation of black youth in New York. She joined an organization in Harlem dedicated to providing services and education for kids likely to become raping muggers. . . her job, appropriate to her background and education, to raise funds, but from a specific group, well-heeled African Americans. She knew she wanted to break down some of the barriers between herself and the group, also to create greater intimacy within the members of the group she was working with. Her first idea was to have everyone line up in order of

My feet on a watermelon.

darkness of skin: from lightest— she’s so white one of her childhood nicknames was “neon”— to the blackest. Surprisingly enough, everyone was cool with that, and it worked. There was some joking around; she told the story of being called “neon,” and all lined up.

Her next idea was to have everyone line up in order of how much money they had. This seemed like a good idea to her because her job wasn’t to solicit contributions from these folks, but to create a group of wealthy African American fund-raisers. . . people who could and would shake the money trees and who knew which trees to shake. But no one wanted to line up based on their wealth. Surprise, surprise. First they had to discuss what she meant— was it salary, present income, or total worth? A lively discussion followed, total worth finally being agreed on. Then it got sticky, but finally a line was formed. All of these people were there for the same reason Kate was. . . they were committed to doing something for at-risk black youth, and if it meant spilling the beans about how much money they had, the great taboo. . . greater even then talk of sex, death, politics or religion, they would do it.

Kate said to me that when she found herself in the middle of the line this time, she was shocked. . . “there were black people with much more money than me!” Being a well-educated liberal, she was shocked by her own shock.

Remember the Personal Money Inventory on an earlier blog?. . . if you didn’t see it, or didn’t fill it out. . . go back and look at it, “It’s Time to Talk About Money.”
Please answer questions number 1 and number 6 before you continue. (here’s a funny thing— I just realized I hadn’t paid a credit card bill, so I stopped and rushed around finding it, wrote a check, and got it out to the box to be picked up today. . . hate to pay late fees on credit cards.)

Kaui.. . if she were here there blog would have been finished hours ago.

It’s a week later now— I got distracted— and too late to continue this. . . anyway it’s the Fourth of July and I want to celebrate the Swiss scientists who have isolated the Higgs Particle! This is better than $$$$$! This is the potential for unlimited free energy to be available to anyone anywhere in the world whenever they need or want it! This is also called the God Particle!— the tiny tiny little thing that makes everything else, also called the Secret Force of the Universe, and it’s not so secret anymore.
May this force be with you and with all of us on this beautiful day, not a day like all days, but a day like the day Guttenberg started moving letters around, or when dear dead Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (who was on Dancing With the Stars last year, and couldn’t dance at all, but was sure happy & cute), started fooling around in that garage in 1976. . . today is a Whole New World Day— an eventual INDEPENDENCE from destructive energy sources and from those who control them day! Whoopee! Let the bands play and the fireworks fill the sky with glorious light.

—half the crowd at Turtle Bay, moments later, downpour!

(forgot this. . . a good answer for number 1 & 6 on Personal Money Inventory is “unlimited,” which also syncs up nicely with the Higgs particle thing, doesn’t it? So I didn’t wander off after all.)
Here are questions number 1 & 6 for those of you who didn’t feel like going to my earlier blog to look at them:

1.What is the right amount of money to have?            $____________income $__________savings  $__________investment $__________ other.

6. How much  money are you willing to have?            $____________income $__________savings  $__________investment $__________ other.

Michael, the nice man who shot the group picture for me. . . .


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Pure of Spirit, Dirty of Mind

The mirror where I put on my make-up jumps off the kitchen shelf. No one touched it. The shelf is exactly the right height for me and the light from the kitchen dormer window is good. My makeup is in a basket on the shelf below. The mirror doesn’t break, but it’s a bad sign.

My favorite palm tree, seen through current kitchen door in Hau'ula—

When I put on my white gauze dress there’s a thread hanging from the side. I pull on it. My skirt falls off. I know what’s happening. My energetic body has shifted into a new gear; sometimes it’s like someone put a quarter in my nickel slot. Light bulbs will leap out of sockets. Objects can explode. I’m operating at a new frequency and until I have integrated it the world around me is going to be unstable. It’s 1978— I’ve been working as a psychic in London for almost five years. I’ve learned about this thing, whatever it is. . . the energy suddenly amping up, and I know what to do. It’s not a big deal. I know I’m not crazy. I’m just upgrading.

I leave my garret-office-studio on the top floor of an 18th century building just behind the Hyde Park Hilton in Shepherd’s Market, leaving a note on the door to tell the seven people scheduled today that I’m not available so please call to rebook. Do I dare move my car? I know it’s a bad idea to drive. Once when this was happening I climbed into The Buffalo Princess, a darling 1955 Morris Minor (original blue-grey paint, red leather seats, split wind-screen), a bolt fell out—no brakes. There’s a spot on the other side of the street I can squeeze into, and if I don’t move I’ll get a ticket. A fast u-turn and I carefully slide into the slot. So far so good.  She’s called the Buffalo Princess because I carry a heavy piece of old brown carpet in the trunk, which goes under the hood to keep her engine comfortable at night when it’s really cold. Buffalo rug, hence the name.

I’m wearing simple clothes. No threads to pull. Flats. No heels to trip over or catch in grates. There’s a pub around the corner where I’ll pick up a couple of bottles of lukewarm Guinness. A movie theater around another corner where I’ll sit all day watching movies and sipping Guinness until this jagged edge around me is smooth again. A cute story from the past.

Palm tree as seen from library door with its companion, the graceful bottle brush.

A couple of days ago a woman called me about a family member who’s losing it. Kundalini rising, menopausal, paranoid schiz. . . whichever, or all of these. She’s left her husband and kids, her life as a high-control homemaking mom, and gone to Maui to train as a medium. Now evil voices are in her head, telling her bad things. She’s in trouble. She’s caught in the astral-crap garbage place and she can’t get out. Here’s the problem, or here’s how I understand it, how I make sense of something that has no basis in observable, evidential fact.

When you open the big psychic door everything can get in. That’s part of the deal. If you’re a doctor you don’t treat only the beautiful and the curable; you take on the hopeless and the horrible. . . sometimes you do good, sometimes you’re helpless in the face of the dark place. But like docs, if you’ve had good training, or are a patiently self-educated sensitive, you learn to navigate through the places most of us prefer to ignore or deny. The astral (one of the descriptive terms used) is where the trash goes. Of course it’s illusory. But what isn’t?

Close-up of palm tree's eloquent trunk.

I spoke two weeks ago with a fascinating woman, Joyce Hawkes, a biophysicist and cell-biologist, who was hit on the head by a leaded glass window and after more than an hour of unconsciousness, woke up to discover that she could heal people by working on the cellular level. We also talked about the place she visited while she was unconscious, a place I’ve learned to call the Heaven of the West. I was describing it to my friend, Lama Wangchuk, and he laughed, “oh, the place of no negativity, that’s the heaven of the west.” Joyce and I shared some memories of its glories. . . I don’t remember commiserating about coming back here, but we may have. I know when I’ve been there, and it hasn’t happened often, it’s hard to be back here. We are all under more stress than we’re designed to endure. Sometimes I think it’s a serious design flaw. . . other times I think the stress is the fuel that drives our individual and group evolution. We must evolve because we can’t stand not to.

That’s what I’m talking about. When things start crashing around me I know I’ve got to take the next step on some fictional ladder. I also know the crazy housewife medium is forcing, however painfully, some necessary growth that she may have avoided for years. I know there is a shitty hell place that is completely real and not real at all. And I’ve been in the Heaven of the West.

(A final note: Lama Wangchuk says the Heaven of the West isn’t the best place to go because you can’t get enlightened there. . . he says you have to go to the central heaven for that. “Huh. . .” I, not so gracefully, reply. I suppose my aspirations are more modest. No negativity. Yum.)

Joyce Hawkes’ website:

Her book is Cell-Level Healing: the Bridge from Soul to Cell

Top of palm as seen from upstairs lanai.

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