Note: This is an extremely long journal entry detailing my thoughts about the Gulf Oil Disaster, with lots of rambling about my conflicting emotions as a consumer, dredged up while I helped my mom and sister pack up their stuff to leave their home on Florida's Gulf Coast.
“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.” -- William Blake
"We are tied to the ocean. And, when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came." -- John F. Kennedy
”Let’s see pictures of the oil,” says Max, my 3 1/2 year-old nephew as he watches me compose an email. Instead, I show him silly pictures of his red, yellow and blue ice cream covered face before continuing my email duties.
“Are the fish swimming away? We are moving because of the oil.” His questions and comments have no end.
Despite his age, he knows more about the oil blowout than many people on the planet. He knows that the ocean as he knew it has changed. The news on the television displays lugubrious images of oils slicks and oil-covered pelicans, now a permanent part of his memory bank. He knows that birds, turtles and dolphins have died. When he brings up the subject, his speaks with a combination of nonchalance, innocence and sadness expressed as matter-of-fact statements. He is too young to have to worry about this, I think to myself. I am here on Anna Maria Island, my third trip home in three months, to help my mom, sister and her family get ready to leave the beautiful island they have called home for more than a decade.
Max tells me repeatedly that whales need to splash their tails and break up the oil. I explain to him that it’s dangerous for the whales to get near the oil, that they are fleeing the oil.
It’s a perfect summer day and we are both sad because we can no longer swim in the ocean. The turquoise sea is beckons my senses, but no one is in the water, despite the assurances of the Florida Governor that the water is safe. The oil slick has not made its way to Anna Maria Island yet, but it is obvious to everyone that something isn’t quite right. Against our better judgement, my sister and I went to the beach on June 19th, the last day we will likely ever swim in the Gulf of Mexico. We wanted one last day to enjoy the beach, but as soon as we stepped into the water, we knew that it probably wasn’t safe. We did not see a sheen, but the water felt different, slightly acidic. It was clear, but it wasn’t clear. We tried to convince ourselves that our fears were creations of our minds, but after a while, we decided to go home. No more swimming. It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t even put my head underwater, as I was too wigged out. The day before I saw oil slicks near the Florida Keys from the plane. If it reached the Keys, there is no way that some of the oil-dispersant mixture had not made its way to to the island, regardless of the Loop Current cultists who believe that the oil will never hit the West Florida beaches. The clear water in Pensacola tested positive for oil. No one is testing the water here. I am kicking myself for going in the water. I know better, but I couldn’t resist the idea of one more day floating in my natural environment. I am a Grand Trine in Water. This is my home.
On Father’s Day, the state of Florida waived fishing licenses in an effort to keep the beaches filled and future tourists placated. Although I had said I would not go in the water again, I agreed to go with my brother-in-law to Egmont Key for one last peek. You can see why here. There were only a few boats anchored along the shore, unheard of during a holiday weekend with free fishing. My only contact with the water was getting in and out of the boat.
(This is not the boat that transported me to this lovely island.)“What’s that?” I ask Max, snapping back to the moment.
“A compass. I’m bringing it down to the beach to find the oil.” We have a date for dinner and a walk on the beach at sunset. I am not sure how to respond, so I say nothing.
“Can I bring my bathing suit to the beach?” he pleaded.
“We can’t swim in the water,” I remind him for the umpteenth time. “I am so sorry, honey.”
The universe spoke to me this evening. Max and I were enjoying our walk along the beach when I discovered a sand dollar. “I want it!” demanded Max. “Find your own sand dollar,” I retorted, holding the precious shell above my head and away from his dangerous little fingers.
A few minutes later, Max came running up to me. “Aunt Kelly, I found a present for you.” He rushed up to me, pushed the shell into my hands, then took off, chasing after a seagull.
This is the shell.
Patience. If there ever was a sign, this is it. It’s not just patience with the 3 1/2 year old sugar-addicted, monkey act-alike in my care for three nights and four days. Lack of patience is my biggest weakness. I showed the shell to everyone that night and emailed my sister as soon as I go home. My brother-in-law read the email and said that it would be one of my most prized possessions. Of course, it is.
"My philosophy, like colour television, is all there in black and white." -- Monty Python
I am overwhelmed, overstimulated and overcome with emotion that I try to mask. Fourteen years ago, I packed up all of my mom’s possessions that could be squeezed, pushed and pounded into a jumbo UHaul moving van and moved her from New Hampshire to Florida. Let’s just say that it was not an easy task. Professional movers would have vetoed the job. In between cleaning and packing up her totally unorganized studio and barn space, I had to say goodbye to New England. I knew that I would not be returning there very often and it was bittersweet. I always envisioned retiring in Vermont, building my dream barn in the rolling hills in reasonable proximity to an unpretentious ski area. It seems so wasteful and indulgent now - the dream barn. I have only traveled to my childhood home of Vermont twice since my mom moved south, once for a wedding and once for a funeral.
Now I am helping my mom get ready for a move north, away from the oil and the benzene and the methane. It is not likely that I will return to Florida in this lifetime. I try not to imagine this picturesque community disappearing from the planet. I fall into a trance as I wrap and pack my mom’s possessions. Oil. It’s the reason why am here. It pervades my every action, thought, sense. There is no escaping it, and yet it seems that many are. The vast majority of people I have spoken with are convinced that the oil will hit the loop current and miss the beaches on this part of the Gulf. Almost no one has a plan. Many of my sister’s friends tell her that she is crazy to leave the island, despite the oil slick 50 miles away. Despite living in another country not directly affected by this oil disaster (for now), I know more about this catastrophe than the people directly affected by it. People deliberately bury their heads in the pure white sand, which they need to do to avoid the toxic gasses when the winds blow from the West.
I am surrounded by stuff and it pulls me in every direction. There are moments of sentimentality as I look at old pictures and artistic creations from my childhood years. It’s easy to get distracted by a big box of photos. I like finding pictures of my mom when she was BK - Before Kelly. I like seeing that my parents had lives before I was born. They look so exasperated in the family photos of five. I never have figured out how they had the patience to drive south to Florida twice a year with a carload of kids screaming about each other’s transgressions over the invisible but clear demarcations separating our personal spaces into three sections. I am pretty sure alcohol was involved. Maybe they spiked our Shirley Temples.
Thinking about our (often) biannual trips to Florida makes me smile. My parents took us out of school during the worst of the Vermont winter, spending a month or two basking in the rays of the warm, Florida sunshine. I can still remember the pre-condo crazed Florida, the Florida that Tim Dorsey’s character Serge reminisces of in his novels. Everywhere I go, I try to absorb the details that remind me of old Florida - the small, pastel mint and pink houses with coquina cement sidewalks, the old motels on US 41, seagulls stealing sandwiches, fruity drinks at sunset, the cheesy gators and sharks adorned to restaurants and bars...I am a Florida girl at heart, despite my Yankee upbringing. I remember swearing to my best friend Matt that I never wanted to live in a beach town again as we strolled the beach at night, two teenagers bored out of our skulls by the cheesy Daytona crap. Now a beach town is my first and second home. I am going to miss this place.
I think about the reasons why I love this village, island, county and state. I think about all of the people who have retired here and how their lives will be affected by this. I cannot even begin to fathom it. How will they move? How will they pack up their lives? Who will help them? What will they take? Where will they go? These thoughts put me on edge. I look around become frustrated by the amount of stuff my mom has. Stuff I packed fourteen years has never been opened. By the time I am done helping her sort out the pack, donation, yard sale piles, there will be a lot less. I want to toss out more, but I am rebuked. “I might paint on that one day,” she says, justifying every scrap of paper, magazine cut-out, postcard, calender, and photo that might give her inspiration; every strange, flat object to be used as canvas; the excess supply of paint tips and brushes; the assorted tin containers; and the slate from a roof that has been hauled to at least a dozen new homes over the past 30 years. There is no organization to it. She does not know what she has, hence the reason I keep finding duplicates and triplicates of new and unused tools, scissors, paints, wire, extension cords and water fountains. She has an obsession with water fountains.
“Don’t throw that away,” she says without even looking at what I am putting into the trash bag. “I’m saving that.”
I cringe, pulling some monstrosity out of the garbage.
“Oh, that you can throw away.”
I did not ask her why she has it, it being one of a thousand items that I/she/we will decide whether to put into the pack, donate, yard sale, or trash pile. I just hope that I didn’t pack it up fourteen years ago, only for her to now call it trash. Thank goodness she has acquiesced on the toll painting books. Did I mention that my mom owned an arts and crafts supply store in the 1970's at the height of macramé, toll painting, sand art, shrink art, candle making yada yada yada and that she used chicken neck bones dyed in green food coloring as "beads" in her macrame planters that we had to sell at the flea markets on Sunday mornings during summer vacation and the fall? That sentence should be enough to demonstrate my blatant ignorance of the English grammar structure AND allow you, the reader, to understand the anti-art phase that started as soon as I left home and continued until I bought my first home, a condo in desperate need of a creative touch. I rediscovered art, but in a different form. I discovered that I had a knack for faux painting and Venetian plaster. My Venetian plaster work is better than anything I saw in Amalfi, Positano, and Rome. I think about my old life, my Volvo 240 DL and my overalls and plants and paints in my car. I knew the schedule of just about every local Home Depot employee for many years. I loved what I was doing. I wasn't a fan of the chemicals in the paint, but since I used latex, I wasn't too concerned about the "not for sale in California" labels on the paint. I am trying to eat a diet that undoes some of the damage I did.
I look down at my the floor. An old can filled with tubes of oil paint that my grandfather used 50 or 60 years ago. They are still fresh. The can has rusted into pieces. I wonder if the paints contain lead. I wonder what other chemicals they might contain. I wash my hands like an OCD victim on crack. I am washing lead into the sewer, which will eventually contaminate the drinking water supply. I look into the mirror. Yep, the nose. Possibly. I could be Jewish given the emotional turmoil that I am putting myself through, emotions that put me in a minority.
I am the only daughter that can do this job. It’s not an act of love so much as an act of family harmony. I have the spacial skills necessary to utilize every millimeter of space in virtually any container. Not only that, I label everything. I am like Monica from “Friends” on speed when it comes to these details (without the tagger - Sharpie’s are much better). I am an artist with my own ridiculous amount of “ephemera” and material intentions gone by the wayside, stuff that I cannot throw away because I might use it in an art project, so I can empathize. I am not much of a pack rat (save for a few containers of intentions, but not like the vast majority of people I justify to myself (if I do not include the part of the world that lives on $2 a day into the majority in the equation), so it is easy for me to dispose of other people’s stuff without taking their reaction personally. I am a firm believer in Feng Shui, having intuitively known the concept long before I ever heard the theory, a theory that I first heard about at the South of the Border hotel in November 2006, our layover when I moved my mom and her two cats and truck-horny, giant black dog, giant in all ways because he really, really enjoyed riding in vehicles to the point that we had to put a towel around him to avoid the curious and lascivious stares of truck drivers, but that's another story. We were watching some morning news show and the feng shui concept came up. My mom rushed out and bought 108 books on feng shui (many of which appear to have no creases in the spine), Zen Buddhism and Chinese brush painting (yes, she is reading this), but aside from candles, water fountains and lucky bamboo plants, her space is a feng shui disaster. I can say that because I am her daughter and I packed her stuff and every friend, acquaintance and contact of hers would attest to this, too. Not only did I pack her stuff, for the first time in her life, her art supplies are organized. Yes, even labeled. Naturally, she started shoving random crap into drawers and containers at which point I had to threaten to bitch slap her (I was only kidding), but since violence is not the answer, I just took the stuff out and repacked it in the appropriate bin, drawer, box or container. The only downside is that it will be easier for her to discover that a few treasures may have slipped through because she cannot find them in any of the appropriately labeled bins, at which point I will tell her it's in there somewhere, that she probably tossed it into the wrong container during a rampage fueled by her willful disregard to the time and frustration spent properly organizing 67 years (more if you include the old books and family heirlooms) of STUFF! Artists' stuff at that! Stuff from a 1970's arts and crafts store. I still haven't forgiven her for making me give every one of my girlfriends shrink art kits as birthday presents, something that might be subtly obvious in my tone. My sisters can empathize. Since I haven't seen any of those people in a very long time, I suppose it doesn't matter and I should let it go. It just killed me to pack those shrink art plastic sheets.
I get a sense of accomplishment when I help (sometimes by force and deceit) people declutter their lives. I am great person to have around when cleaning out a closet or a house. My husband is probably laughing at this, thinking of a creative way to call me for alleged hypocrisy. It’s easier to clean up other people’s stuff then my own. My problem in Nicaragua is that I have no space, no closets, no shelves for the most part, so anything - a set of keys, a fruit bowl, a pepper grinder - is clutter I barely have a place to store books (which used to be kept in cardboard boxes in the guest rooms of our homes) because we have no storage space at the store. At home, my personal books are often stacked on bookshelves, as stacks can hold more books than rows. I am constantly schlepping things back and forth. Most of the items in our store kitchen were once in my kitchen and I still have to share them when I need a mixer or a certain pot or pan or Tupperware container. My futon, couch, food pantry, and dresser are now part of El Gato Negro. My personal dishes were used in the cafe for the first 2 years. I have recycled or donated just about everything I have, except for the stuff that might one day be used in an art project.
All this stuff. I think about what I have. I have so far more in terms of material goods than the average Nicaraguan. I have a business and a passion for books, which take up a lot of space. I am trying to justify my possessions. One of the things that appealed to me about moving to Nicaragua was the lack of possessions. It’s not been an easy journey living a more simple existence. There are things I like, and then there are material things I like a lot. I love, love, love aesthetics (which does not include toll painting). It’s the artist in me. I cannot help it. I like to eat on pretty plates and drink out of pretty glasses. I like pretty clothes. I absolutely adore well-fitting, comfortable sandals and other assorted styles of shoes, and usually the more expensive they are, the more I tend to like them. (I don’t even have to look at the price to know they will be expensive, if only because I like them.)
All said and done, I live in a very tiny two-bedroom rented casita. I own a 12 year-old 4Runner that looks twenty years-old on the exterior (and thankfully avoids the attention of propina happy policia). My primary collection of stuff is related to books, art supplies, sundresses and shoes. And my laptop and cameras. And a Armani jacket, a regift from my mom from one of her friends. I was helping my mom clean out her closets when she told me the history of the jacket. It belonged to one of her best friends who had gotten her use out of it. It was her first (and maybe only) Armani and she didn’t want to give it up. She made my mom promise she would not donate it to the Roser Thrift Shop. I have no need for a Versace jacket in Nicaragua, but it would be good in a winter wardrobe for visits to cool climates. I was entrusted to care for the jacket, mostly because it fits me and i could see that my mom didn't want to pack it up knowing she was never going to wear it and she was eyeing the donate pile. To save their friendship and to procure myself an Armani jacket, I stepped in. I have to say, it looks great! I ask the universe that it not go the way of my Prada dress, an item absconded with when I was car jacked in a taxi in Managua 5 1/2 years ago, which is not to be misconstrued with the other serious adventure involving a gun pointed at my head while visiting and living in this country, but I digress, as I am prone to do.
How important is this jacket? Is my life any better because of the jacket? Momentary happiness, maybe a bit of extra confidence when I wear it, but in the long run, the course of my life will not be altered because I know own a genuine Armani jacket. As I contemplate my material assets, I think about how much oil was used in the collection of raw materials, the labor, the transportation, the sales venues. I look around the rooms and think of my own possessions and the oil behind them. I think about what I need to survive and what that takes in terms of oil, then reflecting again on what I have and how it relates to oil.
I am rather fanatical about turning off lights, using energy-efficient bulbs, forgoing plastic or paper coffee cups, and consciously reducing my landfill waste. I think that when I visit my sister, her electric bill goes down because I am constantly shutting off TVs in empty rooms.
Not too long ago, I read that 19 percent of all meals consumed by Americans were consumed in a vehicle. Think of all the extra waste associated with that! How much oil is needed to produce the paper, plastic, and Styrofoam containers for these meals? What have we come to as a society if we cannot sit down for a few minutes to enjoy our food and sustenance? In more than 50 percent of American households, the television is on during meals, bombarding us with images designed to influence our oil-based consumer behavior.
I have spent my days going over these issues. Buddhism is looking pretty good at the moment.
There are a few moments when I become too judgmental. My mom is 67 and likes to save and collect things. I have no right to tell her how to live her life and I usually stay out of it (though I am afraid that one day my eyes will be permanently rolled to the top of my head). If she doesn’t want to deal with something, she shoves it in a drawer, hence the reason I am tossing out unopened Finger Hut magazines and subscription requests from a decade ago. I cannot get too mad at some things because it is her life and her decision as to how she will use her resources. It’s not just cleaning out someone’s stuff. I am grappling my role in this and the planet. Certainly I am guilty of some of the same excesses. I have the same avoidance issues. I have been known to have more than one junk drawer. I am uncomfortable thinking of the resources I have wasted, the sweat shop labor behind my “must haves.” It is difficult to confront this part of my ego while dealing with family issues and the worst man-made disaster on the history of mankind. I want to embrace life and send joy into my activities, but the truth is that at times I resent having to move her stuff. I resent BP, Halliburton and TransOcean and Obama and it manifests itself in my immediate surroundings. I complain to my mom. It's not that her stuff is bad. Okay, a few items I had to put in the pack pile because I would never hear the end of it if I threw a particular rock/piece of wrapping paper/broken Christmas ornament away. It is my own consumption that I must deal with. I cannot bitch about my mom when I am guilty of some if the same lapses and manic moments. I can let go of my frustrations dealing with my mom, but I cannot stop the emotional self-flagellation this blowout has cased within me. I live in a country where my neighbors have outhouses and dirt floors with pigs, goats, chickens and cows running through the house. The pretty boutiques I love on AM Island contain pretty, useless stuff with ridiculously inflated prices. It's like MSG-laced candy. I feel guilty for liking it but I am repulsed by the consumption. I spend hours packing in silent meditation. When I can meditate. When I can stop these thoughts from racing through my head.
I am judging my behavior and not others, I repeat to myself. Any time I remind myself that my environmental impact is less than the average American or European, I become like them, justifying my behavior. I am equally to blame. It’s my karma, too.
I think too much.
I showed my special shell to Vanna, my niece, when she returned from summer camp. Armed with various colors of Sharpie markers, we walked along the beach looking for shells large enough for words of peace and love. We struck out until we came across the sand turtle.
We carefully removed the shell mosaic, wrote different words and messages inside the shells, and then replaced them on the sand turtle. When we finished, we strolled away, imagining the tide sending our love out to see and wondering who, if anyone, would one day read our offerings of “love” and “hope” and “life”, gifts from the sea.
As we passed by the Sandbar restaurant, we saw a couple getting married. I couldn’t resist taking a photo as an on-looker. I once wondered who did that sort of thing, but I have managed to snap quite a few wedding shots on this beach. They’re kind of fun. Later that evening, we passed another wedding party in front of the Holmes Beach Fire Department. I stopped the car, ran across the street and snagged another wedding photo. It was the same woman!
In my self-imposed angst, I wonder how other people will react to this disaster. It’s only going to get worse. The well casing is cracked, oil bubbles from cracks in the sea floor, and BP says no technology exists to stop this, but around me people are going about their lives as if this is just a minor inconvenience. I think about the reaction when the majority of people understand the personal physical effects from the airborne toxins. How will they feel when they watch an orange grove die overnight after the dispersant-laced rain feeds the trees? What happens when people wake up to the benzene and methane threat?
Selfishly, my primary concern is that my family vacates the state of Florida before it becomes a toxic dump. I think about the people who might want to leave, but do not have the resources to move. I think of the elderly and how many will die here by their own choice and who will die because they cannot afford to move. I think about the animals that will be abandoned, left to die with the gulls and the terns and the tortoises and the manatees. It’s too much to comprehend, so I put on my happy face and try to distract myself in public. The beach was filled with happy people today, though only a fraction entered the water despite the temperatures nearing triple digits. It was nice to get out, as left alone to my own devices, I would be spending my free time scouring the internet for more news about this disaster.
A few of my sister’s friends have plans to leave if the tarballs wash onshore. They will move north, or to California or Europe. The renters are okay. If they can afford rent on this island, then most of the US should be affordable to them for now. The people who are house poor or flipper-buyers with underwater mortgages are the ones with the fewest options. I think about the Post Office clerk with two properties. I feel for the guy. I feel for everyone and everything. I don’t know what to say. “Get out!” I want to shout at the masses, but how do you convince someone to get out now, when they still can? The majority on this island believe the oil will get sucked into the loop current and will avoid the white beaches where the turtles nest. They believe their lucky streak in avoiding a hurricane will never end. There is no waking them up until it’s too late.
I am trying to create happy beach memories with my niece and nephews. Since swimming is out, I have resorted to watching them wave sparklers into the night air. It's not quite the same, but it makes for good photos....
The moment I stepped out of the airport in Tampa, I began to sneeze. By the time I got to my sister’s house, I had a scratchy (but not sore) throat and my chest felt congested. For the next three days, I had a slight cough and then it disappeared. A week later, it returned, but only in my lungs.
On Saturday during our walk on the beach, Vanna and I noticed a foul smell in the air - like rotten eggs. (Methane smells like rotten eggs.) We mentioned the odor it to a local, who blamed it on sulfur. This was not sulfur. It was blowing in from the west, downwind from the blowout. We headed home and I immediately drank lemon juice and water in hopes of limiting the damage from benzene. I have not bothered to look into how to combat methane exposure. I do not have the time to combat the inevitable internet-induced hypochondria that would follow such research. It’s only now that I bothered to check the wind patterns for what I knew to be true - the days my lungs burned coincided with the onshore winds.
After everyone has gone to sleep (except my sister, who must be a vampire because she never seems to sleep!), I walk down to the beach at night. I walk to the nesting terns, saying prayers out loud to the unborn chicks. “Please go somewhere else,” I tell them, but I don’t have any directions to offer. They need to go far south, but even that’s questionable. I silently will them to travel to Nicaragua. I try not to cry, but most of my walks and mediations cause saline dribbles along my cheeks.
I remember the first time I saw the beach on the island. I remember the first night, too, as Laurie and I made the first of many late-night treks to our favorite pieces of beached driftwood where we would spend too much and never enough time catching up on each other’s lives, away from the prying ears of husbands, boyfriends, mothers and children.
It’s my last night and morning on the island. I have to leave at 3:30, so I don’t bother sleeping. I walked to the beach, enjoying the moonlight on the water. I walked for miles, up and down the familiar yet changing coastline. I returned to the nesting terns and tried to meditate for a while, despite the cacophony of cackles and squawks.
It's normally my practice to stop at the beach entrance and run down to the water up to my knees. I race back to the car in the squeaky powdered sugar sand, leaving evidence on my feet and legs that I was at the beach, evidence that usually lasts in some form until I return to San Juan del Sur. This time, I decide not to stop. I don't want the possible corexit-contaminated water on my skin. I leave the island holding back tears.
June 30 - 71 days of the blowout from hell and I am greeted with not a word about this dreary subject in the corporate media publications at the news counters in the Tampa and Miami airports. Harvard Business Review. Newsweak. Fortune. Forbes. The Economist. Time. Nada. Harper’s. The Atlantic. Nada. The New York Times had an article about BP’s chief bureaucrat, Tony Hayward. The Miami Herald had a front page story about Floridians purchasing their own boom to stop the oil from coming onto their beaches. Nothing else.
That’s how it feels, too. Not enough people care. Only when it’s instantaneous doomsday a la 9-11 do Americans start to care. The slow poisoning of the Gulf has enraged many, but you wouldn’t know it from these publications. Doom and gloom is bad for the economy, unless, of course, it relates to war in which it is then good for the economy according to the D.C.-MIC urban legend. It’s odd to listen to people tell me of their plans to grow a business or start a business or purchase ocean front property (okay, not too many of those folks, but there are some), and people vacationing as if nothing has changed.
My lungs are burning. I cannot wait to return to Nicaragua.
There are two missionary groups loaded with young people carting their iPods, laptops and expensive backpacks boarding the plane, one group adorned in Day-Glow orange T-shirts with “Bringing a Living Jesus to a suffering world” in English splashed across the back, and the other group wearing royal blue T-shirts with neon green and blue writing. I do not bother to check out the second message because all of the missionary T-shirts are variants of the same theme. You can stand almost anywhere the international terminals in Miami and Houston and easily spot the missionary group because they all wear brightly colored T-shirts proclaiming their love for Jesus and intention to bring Jesus to the suffering. It’s not fair to be too cynical, though, as I have met several missionaries who have changed people’s lives for the better, but it requires more than a T-shirt and a bake sale to make a real difference. I think of Jeremy and Halle, both of whom give far more than they ever receive. They are two missionaries who have changed lives in immeasurable ways.
On the return flight, a woman agreed to change places with me so I could photograph the Keys and Cuba in hopes of shedding more light on the oil slicks I saw twelve days ago. I knew in advance there would probably be residual cloud cover from Alex. The skies cleared up once were south of the Cayman Islands. No photos on this leg of the trip.
Flying over Managua, I saw a huge plume of black smoke emanating from the Managuan dump. I smiled at the thought of clean air in Nicaragua, Theoretically, the dump fumes are far less toxic than the fumes I inhaled along the Gulf coast. I’ll take the toxic garbage plume over the fires burned over the Gulf, I thought to myself. I started to think of ways to reach out to the local community, more determined than ever to go to Masaya and see about producing inexpensive string bas to replace the ever-present pink-colored bolsitas that litter the country.
I have entered a news void. It’s been a week since I returned from Florida and five days since I have read a newspaper or checked out the internet. I can feel the presence of the Gulf more profoundly without the latest news getting in the way.
At the moment, I am at a tranquil commune in the jungles of Costa Rica. I am attending a music and meditation workshop and I cannot help but believe that the timing of this is for a reason. Originally, it was scheduled for the end of July, but I feel that we need these high vibrations now rather than later. I do not know what is about to happen in the Gulf of Mexico, but my sense is that we need to come together as a society. I have seen and felt this need for community in past meditations.
My intention for three nights of the mediation and music ceremony was to become more god-like - sending and receiving energy from the highest vibration. The first night left me with a feeling of deep peace and acceptance, a visualization that we are all part of The One. Our collective energy is god. On the second night, my intention was the same, along with how to best use this energy to help others attain this level of enlightenment and collective consciousness, particularly with all the radical changes happening in the world right now.
The vision started with the oil blowout. I saw the earth from space, watching the oil spread through the loop current and making its way to Europe. I saw reddish brown seas. I watched this scene move forward and reverse over and over from beginning to end back to beginning, with the oil being sucked back into the hole in the reverse scenario. It was an elastic motion, as if the oil was attached to a rubber band. String theory popped into my head, and though I do not know the formulas behind it, I was able to comprehend the theory in all of its complexity. I cannot begin to describe what I saw and felt, just that it all made sense. Reality is merely a hologram. I have believed this for a long time, but this time I could visualize it.
There was no voice narrating my experience, yet I was “told” that this was karma and pre-ordained for a reason. It can only be stopped when we reach a certain level of mass consciousness and that this event was necessary for us to achieve it. Man may have been directly responsible for the blowout, but something larger controls this. It is merely a game with a pre-determined outcome and we are bit actors.
The next image was a topographical map of the US, with black outlines around the states. I saw red lines (fissures) crisscrossing the Southeast, particularly over Florida. The Gulf waters were black and the Atlantic coastline around Florida was a dark brown. The red lines began to shake violently until the black-brown mass covered the most of Florida. Florida was not only covered in oil - it was underwater, as was Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. I watched as this scenario repeated itself over and over until I noticed the sources of this movement was from the site of the oil blowout, as if the sea floor near the blowout had collapsed causing earthquakes and a massive tsunami. I watched as tall buildings collapsed into sink holes until they were covered by black water, disappearing forever. As I looked north of this seismic activity, the lines erupted into fire. I saw flames and black sky. I was the most hellish image I have ever seen in my life. I began to cry - not from fear, but from deep sadness. For just a moment, I could feel the collective sadness of the earth as all of these life forms disappeared. It was as if I was momentarily trapped in Gaia’s soul. I could feel her sadness and her betrayal, but not so much that I would be trapped in this darkness forever. I never sensed that I had any reason to fear this, but that it was important that I understand why this is happening. These are not original thoughts, as my mind has been contaminated through all of the research I have done since the blowout started, and I have also always had a sense that I would witness a paradigm shift in this period of time. I understand the very real possibility of a sea floor collapse and one man has written about the pockets of gas and underground fires burning below the surface of the earth, particularly from Oklahoma-Texas and spreading across the southeast and toward Pennsylvania. The rational part of me thinks that these visions were merely part of fears incurred from spending too much time on the internet researching these doom and gloom theories, but my instincts tell me that there is a high level of truth in what I experienced in the ceremony.
What I saw next was a wall of humans fleeing this disaster, running as fast as they could. Their eyes had that deer in the headlights look. They were running and not sure where to go, unable to comprehend what was happening to them and more importantly, why. I felt both sympathy and contempt for them, as they could not understand that they had created this problem.
I saw gridlocked highways and people moving north on foot. I got the sense that they had no resources, that the economy had collapsed before the start of this massive migration. I have not seen the Armageddon films produced by Hollywood as of late, but I felt as if I was watching a scene from a movie. Suddenly, there was nothing but darkness and I returned to the image of the map. Florida was gone.
The images of people fleeing returned. It was like a plague of locusts swarming across the flat lands of the south, destroying everything in their path. I saw scavenging and looting even before the disappearance of the state of Florida. I saw an image of a fiftyish woman in a hot pink evening gown and dripping in jewels walking down an abandoned street with the same lost look upon her face. It was more than not understanding how this came to pass. She was looking at herself having finally achieved the ornamentation of the uber rich, yet there was no one around to impress. She realized that trinkets do not bring one happiness. I felt sad as I watched her wander down the once pretty street now littered with broken glass and trash. She knew she was going to die. She was spending her final days coming to an understanding that greed caused all of this, but she did not understand that we are all one and this made me sad.
I watched as people in random suburbs looted the stores of televisions and electronics, only to throw them on the ground when they realized that they were of no use. I saw more men and women decked out in fancy clothes, running through big houses, one last hurrah before they died from the toxic air. I saw a montage of greed and destruction at all levels. There was no connection to the earth. There was so much anger in the air, but millions oblivious to their role.
This is beyond BP and Halliburton. It’s not an accident that this happened in the Gulf of Mexico and that Americans and eventually Europeans will feel the impact more than the rest of the world population. This catastrophe is the culmination of a population that has turned a blind eye to war, greed, and reckless consumerism. It is a population that believed that victory in WW2 somehow made them better than everyone else on the planet and more deserving of the planets’ riches. It was okay to bomb countries, prop up dictators, train mercenaries and despots at the School of Americas, exploit slave labor to produce useless material items to keep up with the Joneses while sending our trash into the oceans and poor countries. Land of the free, home of the brave and if you don’t like us, we’ll kill you. Despite all their rhetoric, even the peaceful and environmentally conscious people amongst the population refuse to act in the best interest of the planet and humanity. The Europeans complain about the use of oil by the US, but they, too, are big producers and consumers of petroleum byproducts.
Despite their increased material consumption, these people grow more depressed, killing their sorrow with Prozac and alcohol. They refused to see their role in this, blaming big oil and greed, oblivious to their own consumption and waste. Oil is for cars, they believe, ignoring that oil is used to produce and deliver almost every consumer item available to the masses. I didn’t need the ceremony to show me these things, and yet it was my experience to see all of this and its relationship to planetary karma. Every once in a while, the image of the elastic oil blowout replayed itself. It’s karma, said my internal voice.
Each image of the elasticity of the oil spill moved faster and faster and the hyper-speed of the technology/unfolding events described by others became clearer. I could see a series of ones, 11-11-11 I think, but I already have a bias from reading Robert Hitt’s work, so I cannot be sure what was projection versus what the universe was sharing with me at that moment. Clif High from Half Past Human and George Ure from Urban Survival came to me as well, but I believe that Robert holds the key to my understanding of this paradigm shift. The word “Revelations” was repeated over and over. I have not paid much attention to this idea, as Christians have been predicting the end of the world for 2,000 years. My sister mentioned something about a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Obama) and blood red seas, but I have yet to research this topic. I found it strange that the word appeared in my journey. Revelations from the Bible or revelations from the planet - who knows?
When the top kill failed, I researched the Akashic records. The general consensus is that it is planetary karma. I could have easily projected this idea into the ceremony, as the oil spill is almost always in my thoughts. During my meditations, I can get to the library where these records are stored, but every time I have tried to open my book, I see a blank page and I wake up from the journey. I have always been able to see glimpses of the future (world events), but a year ago, I could no longer see past October 2009. I don’t know what to make of this, but I don’t let it bother me too much. During the second night of the ceremony, I felt like the universe was trying to show me the records. This event is following a script written a long time ago and it is out of my control.
I saw the collapse of BP, which resulted in an instantaneous collapse of the global economy and the collapse of the nation-state system. For most of my adult life, I have felt that I would live to see an end to identities created by imaginary lines in the sand. “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world...” is more than a pretty ballad by John Lennon. I got a sense that the economic collapse would happen in November (though I have no idea how the Fed, PPT and BP can prop up the economy another four months). I do not know if the seafloor collapse/tsunami/oil hurricane is before or after the economic collapse. I am so biased between my obsession with the doom and gloom and my intense love of Anna Maria Island and the once turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico that this might easily be a mental mind fuck created by my ego.
The vision continued, I saw BP admitting that it was bankrupt and the stock market plunging into the 1,000s almost overnight. Chaos reigned supreme as people realized that their pensions and savings were gone. The Fed started printing money Zimbabwe style, but the credit markets dried up overnight as banks failed faster than a line of dominos. The US government tried to step in, but they were unable to control the population. People seethed with violent rage, looting, killing, raping and pillaging.
Once the hellacious images disappeared, I felt the spirit of cooperation, forgiveness and compassion. I felt that those who survive this calamity will bring forth the energy to heal the planet. The idea of ascension came to my mind, but I don’t know what that means and how it relates to 11-11-11. I know that we have to vibrate at a higher frequency. The universe was attempting to explain that despite the horrors, what will evolve will be a good thing. We can shed our past and our karma in a way that would not be possible under the present paradigm. We must act collectively. We must find forgiveness and love. This idea repeated itself throughout the rest of my experience that evening. I felt that the death and destruction would leave us shell-shocked momentarily, but the collapse of government, the economy and organized religion would bring us together. We will abandon the idea of a religious god. We will need to come together to solve this, forcing us to forget about our prejudices. Our pasts will be forgotten, as we will all have suffered the same horrors. Our skill sets are what matters and our ability to connect with one another. Our titles, the size of our house and the clothes we wear will no longer be of importance. We will find love amongst the horror. We need compassion, forgiveness, and love. We need to be a community of people. It can happen. It will happen.
I tried to take a news break during the meditative journey, but my experiences on the second night of ceremony were so intense that I had to check the news. It was still bad. As I left the internet cafe six dollars poorer (that is the fee per hour), I wished I hadn’t succumbed to the need to know.
The final night of the ceremony, I experienced pure bliss. The Gulf was still in my awareness, but I lost the fear. I cannot control it. I accept it for what it is, knowing that a positive outcome requires love.
It was hard to leave the little bubble that had encompassed me for ten days. I felt so at peace with nature and humanity. I enjoyed the food, which was mostly vegan and gluten-free with the exception of eggs for breakfast and the occasional goat cheese on focaccia pizza (made with yucca flour). We dined outdoors under a thatched rancho, while mango-munching monkeys in the trees overhead serenaded us with their howls. It’s about a half mile hike over a steep hill between the cottage and the downtown area, which is also home to a raw cacao bar. I love this place, but I have to return to the real world.
I spoke with my sister. Her friends have seen tarballs in the water and on the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Some posted photos and info on Facebook, but the media hasn't touched it. I am so glad that I could see the island again before the oil washed ashore.
In the “real” world, BP claims that it is capping the well, the same well that two weeks ago they said could not be capped. I used Startpage, Bing and Google to search for news about some new technology discovered to end this nightmare. The only thing I could find was a BP report from July 10th that they were capping this baby in a few days. I watched the CNN feed of the alleged capping and thought to myself, “This is staged. This isn’t even real.” I am surprised by the number of people who believe that NASA faked the moon landing, but believe the BP cap is authentic and the oil has stopped gushing 4 million gallons a day into the ocean. I posted my thoughts about it and I receive a fair number of hits from search engines on the term “BP fake cap”. I looked at the search results and noticed that no one outside of Matt Simmons is claiming that this is a staged event, but he doesn’t mention the authenticity of the cap. He claims that the cap we see on the video was from the first leak that occurred back in February. There's an interesting thread about it at God-Like Productions.
Why is it that given all the people who believe that this was a planned event given Halliburton’s purchase of Boots & Coots oil cleanup and recovery for $240 million and expected to make a profit by the end of the year and Goldman’s shorts on TransOcean and Schlumberger’s departure off the rig hours before the explosion and the number of people taking te Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify to Congress about their role in tis disaster, no one else looked at this and instantly thought, “Staged event.”
Even without my thoughts and experiences over the past couple of months, it seems obvious that this “cap” is just a bunch of lies. My own belief is that BP had to test the well casing regardless of the alleged capping. Any negative news would send their stock, pension funds and the global economy spiraling down, and the US government and BP are both keenly aware of this. I think the US government went along with the fake capping because it would send the markets up, which will help Democrats in the November elections. It also serves as a distraction from Obama’s decision to bomb Iran on behalf of Israel in the coming months. If “they” can pull off 9-11, then faking the oil cap is child’s play.
Well, "it" worked, it being the propaganda spewed by BP, which saw its stock rise 20 percent over two days as it lied about cap. People actually believe that this crisis is over. I have to let go of my anger at their naivete and stupidity. They cannot say they were not warned, only that they didn't pay attention.
People will never learn. On July 20, the three month anniversary of the blowout, the Florida Legislature rejected a ban on oil drilling. On the same day, the ex-CEO of Shell Oil was questioned about the future of the oil well in a Washington Post Q&A:
Even if it were mechanically sound and viable for BP or someone else to pump from this particular well again at some point, it would never happen because the politics and PR of it, right?
John Hofmeister: It’s my understanding BP has promised not to profit from this well. In my opinion, however, failure to develop this huge natural resource would be a loss t o the nation. Why not commit the well proceeds to restoration of the Gulf of Mexico as a down payment on correcting the devastation in the wetlands and other infrastructure along the Gulf coast?
BP might not further develop the Macondo well, but the disaster has not stopped BP’s thirst for oil or its plans for deep water drilling off the coast of Libya.
Move right along, folks. Nothing to see behind the curtain. Look at the "happy" child playing in oil soaked sand.
And these fishermen? They don't seem to care that the Federal government violated protocols by failing to actually test the water before reopening fishing waters. Yes, the government relied on the "sight" test. Since they didn't see any oil in the water, it must be safe. The fishermen have adopted the same strategy.
At an outdoor fish gutting table in Boothville, Louisiana, four local fishermen stand gutting their catch.
“We caught them about two miles off the coast of Venice," said Kim Borque, one of the men who made the trip.
As environmentalists and government agencies debate which areas of the Gulf should be opened up to fishing, the health hazards of eating oil contaminated fish is not a concern for Mr Borque and his friends.
"I'm not worried about eating them because we didn't see one drop of oil while we were there or on the way back,” Mr Boque explained.
“If it turns out they are contaminated with oil, well we'll just use a little less in the pan when we fry them up for dinner," he added.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Just don't buy it from these guys. Or these guys:
Commercial fishing east of Mississippi River could reopen this week reads a headline from today’s Times-Picayune.
The article reports, “For the FDA to consider allowing the state to reopen fishing grounds, an area must be completely free of oil for at least three days and be deemed unlikely to have more oil effects for another three days.”
Yet this is too restrictive for some decision makers who argue that the presence of oil sheen on the water is not a problem. Harlon Pearce, the chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board said, “We’re going to have tar balls and sheen for a while, and we know that tar balls are aged oil. We know that they’re not volatile.”
“Louisiana officials have also taken issue with the FDA’s determination of whether oil is still present in an area, saying that light sheens and small amounts of oil should not be considered in the same league as the major oil patches,” according to the report.
Some people never learn. I have had to learn to let go. It's not my fault that people refuse to integrate their gray matter with reality.
The best thing that could have happened would have been for BP to admit right off the bat that it screwed up and unleashed an unstoppable volcano. The fines alone would bankrupt the company, which would therefore inhibit the company’s ability to pay any claims for damages. They could have asked for a break in the fines to offset the cleanup and recovery costs. Instead of dumping Corexit into the gusher, they should have been capturing the oil. It would have been the best way to minimize the damage to the Gulf until a better solution could be found. However, BP and the US government cannot risk this.
Corexit. Funny how this word rolls off people's tongues, even amongst the least informed about the crisis. This chemical concoction is the reason that skimmers have had to turn around. They cannot suck up enough oil because BP has tried to "dissolve" it with the use of chemicals more toxic than raw crude. These toxins eat through fiberglass. I don't know what they would do to the hull of a boat, but I know that the saltwater will destroy the hulls of the tankers. Nowhere in BPs projections have I seen replacements for tankers that are destroyed by the salt-oil combination. But then nowhere have I seen BP's plan to contain and clean up this disaster. It's pretty obvious they are flying by the seat of their pants and doing a piss poor job of managing it. I am sure when BP finally removes Tony Hayward, he will be generously rewarded for hs managerial sills. Or generously rewarded to keep all the executives at BP, Halliburton, TransOcean, Schlumberger, and the Obama administration out of jail. Smoke a joint, go to jail for a decade. Dump 400 million gallons of crude into the ocean and who knows how many millions of gallons of dispersants and get a golden parachute. Ain't America grand?
If the US government wanted to stop the Corexit application, it could instantly and with severe criminal penalties for those involved in dumping poisons into the sea. Instead, the EPA is covering up the damage to the Gulf (and humanity) caused by the dispersants. Meanwhile, BP and NOAA have demanded scientists sign non-disclosure statements for any work they might do for the clean-up. We citizens have no right to know what is going on. So much for transparency. “They” who control you choose not to do anything, which should pretty much blast you in the face with who is really running the show - BP and the banks with the implicit permission of the US government. No one has any reason to tell you the truth. They are backed into a corner and will do anything to protect their fiefdoms. You have to refuse to live in their fiefdom. You must reject their laws. Political rules and regulations are not laws of nature. This is what must happen, and yet the majority are sitting around, waiting for the government to take action.
Despite the Doomand Gloom, there are so many synchronicities. I cannot begin to list them all, but it has been an amazing experience connecting with those who understand what I am saying, even without words. The best words are from Les Visible, my favorite writer on the internet. His latest post cannot be a coincidence. Please read his entire post here.:
We need to get our ya ya’s out in some cases and discard those features of our personalities and mindsets that we’ve used for protection and defense in this passing matrix. We need to confront what we are, take inventory and be rigorous in what we no longer need and can do without. This can be uncomfortable and frightening but we can’t rely on our internalized Star Wars defense systems anymore, because that also forbids entry to the invisible helping hands. We never were protecting ourselves with any of these constructs in the first place. We were being protected by those amounts of the higher qualities we possessed; our integrity, our honesty, our compassion, our selfless service in the seemingly unseen ways we performed it. Here you may extrapolate again and… don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
We need to become more impersonal about the people and things that outrage us. They are only unconscious players in a drama that is coming to a close. Their reward is written into the schematic of what they allowed themselves to become out of the predispositions of their karma. What I am saying here is more important than it might appear so it bears a penetrating scrutiny by the one’s reading this.
In a very short time we are all going to pass another demarcation line and enter into a reality shift. This is imminent. Other shifts are coming in The Fall and they are going to be even more transformative. All of the shifts are important. Those with less arresting features are not less important to you than those that are world shaking in appearance. We are talking about a progression here and every part is integral to the whole.
Everyone should have no greater concern than letting go and doing their laundry. In many cases the universe is going to do your laundry while you are in it. Let it happen and open up to the mainline positive download that is being readied for your ascension. I say ascension in terms of consciousness. Embrace the awakening of your higher self as it seeks to integrate and change you. Do not presume to know what those changes are or what they mean. If you had known you would have already done it yourself. Okay then… are you ready? Well, ready or not, here it comes.
I am quoting too much here, but this guy was reading my soul when he write these words - or at least what I feel inside.
I have a gazillion bookmarks and saved web pages, all relating to the Gulf Disaster. I had hoped to include more of these links and stories in my writing, but they'll have to wait for a more appropriate post and time.
It's been more than a month since I returned to my family's home to help the, start a new life away from the oil. It all seems so surreal to me, particularly with BPs lies about capping the blowout. BP even lied about the images from their Command center - images that were Photoshopped to make it look like they were actually doing something. We certainly know they aren't doing anything at the call centers - "operators" are not even taking notes. I checked the news headlines today and it's all about Tony Hayward's imminent departure from BP and his golden parachute. What a surprise.
BP has no incentive to capture the oil. Each barrel collected costs them a fine. Each day four million gallons of crude leaks, seeps and gushes from the broken well, leaving huge plumes underwater. The dumping of Corexit has not stopped. The methane has not stopped. The oil continues to release benzene into the air and water. Oil clean-up workers are sick and dying, but this is also class warfare and the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe with Tiny Dicks (okay, they don't admit to the last part, but it seems pretty obvious) are all about killing off the bottom feeders - the rednecks, the bubbas and the prisoners. If oil washed up on the shores of the Hamptoms or made Southern California uninhabitable, this would be big, important news.
The oil appears to have broken the Loop Current. You would think that the European and Canadian governments would be quite concerned about this, as the Loop Current feeds the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream keeps Europe and Canada from reaching extreme Arctic temperatures. But that's 18 months away, so don't worry about it. After all, "Mission accomplished!", right? BP would never lie about anything as serious as capping a well, would they? The beaches are fine, the seafood is safe, and airborne toxins and sea floor collapses are just silly conspiracy theories. You may return to your slumber now.