Screenplay Finished

This is it, my penultimate draft is complete!

I still have almost 3 weeks to get it finished before the deadline to submit to the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, too! All it really needs is one final once-over, and I think I can wait a few days so that I can look at it with fresh eyes.

I’m excited, to say the least. Five weeks ago I was asking if someone else could adapt my first published novel into a screenplay for me. Now I’ve got plans to enter a prestigious screenwriting contest with a screenplay that just over a month ago, I didn’t think I was capable of producing!

And you know what? Prize or no prize, I’m already a winner because I discovered that another writing skill from my last life is still there.  Back then I wrote screenplays based on one or two of my novels, though none were ever produced (the movie adaptations of my books were the work of other writers).  I think my tendency to write unnatural and stilted dialogue was a major factor.

If my novels are better, maybe my screenplays are too.  The Nicholl Fellowship competition guarantees my work will be read at least twice.  This is the same competition where “Finding Forrester” and “Akeelah and the Bee” were discovered so as the late great Freddie Mercury used to say, “talent will out, my dears.”

I still haven’t given up on my big comeback.  As long as I have a pulse, I will keep writing.

Holy Week

The week has been busy and demanding.  This stretch is particularly important for initiates into the church and at this rate I will be made a lay server by summer, almost for certain.

I still worry that I may not have what it takes.  I see a lot of the same ego, anger, and fear that I’ve had for so many lifetimes.  These shortcomings have been laid bare before me with the revelation of past lives but they’re still with me here and now, in the present.

The thing about ego is, it isn’t always plainly narcissistic.  True narcissists tend to have an antisocial streak.  For the rest of us, ego can manifest as thinly-veiled fragility and dainty vanity, wanting nice things to appear “respectable” before the world and going to pieces when called out for being less than what we know we ought to be.

It’s funny, the dominant traits of the protagonist in my last novel were described by one reader as “vanity and fragility” that were “all too real.”  That’s me.

I’m human.   All too human.

A Thought On “Bathroom Bills”

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In the 70s and 80s, the CIA distributed leaflets in South and Central America advising people on how to carry out acts of resistance to regimes the US wanted to overthrow. Studying these manuals, one step shows up often: calling in false alarms and bogus information about crimes.

Now, phoning in false information about crimes in progress is itself a crime, and I am not going to encourage my readers to commit a crime or engage in a psy-op against state and local governments because… well, then I’d be a criminal too.

I will however say this: if you make a statement saying that you saw someone who “looked like they didn’t belong” in a restroom or locker room, that’s a statement of subjective perception and cannot be categorically proved false.

Now suppose all of us- both those of us in the trans community and our allies- were to be… shall we say… extremely vigilant about our perceptions and make calls often enough that the states that pass bathroom bills had no choice but to ignore reports?

Hmm… wouldn’t that be something?

Back To The Wild Fox Koan

It has always bothered me how I thought in my last life that I had attained Gnosis and would be free from the bounds of this world at last.  It always bothered me that I did not achieve the liberation I had sought and it’s left my mind to wander.

And yet, what I come back to again and again is the Wild Fox Koan, and the natural syncretism between Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity that has kept me fascinated for two lifetimes now.  I am now increasingly of the opinion that the lives  I remembered as a fox- whether they were actual, literal lives I had lived or a tutelary vision- was something I remembered for a reason.  Something- perhaps my higher self- wanted to give me a clue as to why I’m still here and not in some higher plane of existence.

The Wild Fox Koan, for those who don’t know, is a story about an enlightened master who denies that he is subject to cause and effect as an enlightened master (the nearest equivalent in Buddhism of a Christian saying that one cannot fall from grace by one’s attitudes).  So doing, he condemns himself to be reborn five hundred times as a wild fox until another enlightened master comes along who liberates him with this one piece of advice: “Do not forget about cause and effect.”

It is a grave error to deny that cause and effect applies to the enlightened and I believe I committed this error.  I did not live five hundred lifetimes as a fox as far as I know, and I’m still skeptical that I lived even one or two.  That is unimportant.  What matters is that my experience of Gnosis had freed me from the grip of this world and that my actions and more importantly, my attitudes, would not cause me to fall from grace.

This is born out by what has been written about my earlier life from those who knew me best.  I still had a very unenlightened attitude toward women that thankfully I’ve got some fresh perspective on now after living three years as one.  I still had a very unenlightened fearfulness that sadly has carried over to this life and remains an obstacle that I’m still dealing with.  I still had resentment toward people in my life who I felt had wronged me.  And yet I thought that it wouldn’t matter because Logos had entered into me and made me a new creation.

I was wrong.  No matter how far along on the path you are, you can always fall off and the free will of your lower self does apply.  Actions and attitudes do matter, and they matter almost as much as our initial experience of Gnosis.  I fervently hoped that having learned this lesson, I can strive for the improvements that I need.

The first order of business is my fearfulness.  In my last life, I feared Adolf Hitler, Joe McCarthy, and later Richard Nixon with the same intensity that I fear Donald Trump and his ilk today.  I fear them so much that I have seriously considered fleeing the country.  And before anyone says I wouldn’t, let me remind you I did flee the country after Bush invaded Iraq on false pretenses.

There is, however, a new force in my life that begs me to reconsider such action.  That force is the Gnostic church I have been attending for the last several months.  I feel that this church actually gives me an opportunity to be in a position to help many people in the times of crisis that are almost certainly on the way.

It’s more than that though.  It gives me a chance to find focus and equilibrium.  It gives me a chance to make a difference in people’s lives without the sort of leadership vacuum that would allow any moral weakness and ego I still have to become harmful.  But most importantly, it gives me a reason to face uncertain times and likely dangers without being so preoccupied with saving my own skin for once.

I’m genuinely concerned that I’ll be killed in the political violence that I believe will soon tear through this country with a ferocity not seen since 1860, but I’ve spent so many lifetimes running from dangers like these.  I remember so many lives when I either fled the fight, or I jumped willingly into the fight only to die for a worldly cause that no longer matters.  My last life was the former and the life before was the latter.  What I don’t remember is a single life when I dedicated myself to a life of non-aggression and spiritual reflection.

I know that abstaining from my centuries-long pattern of fight or flight does not and cannot guarantee my safety, but that’s not important.  I do not believe that one should seek martyrdom (people who seek martyrdom are narcissists of the worst order), but I’m also coming to understand that a martyr is not the worst thing you could be if that’s the fate you meet.

This is the attitude I will stake my understanding of cause and effect on: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”  I will enter the clergy in a Gnostic order and I will take this attitude as far as my will and strength allow me to.

Here I am, Lord,  lowly wild fox that I am!

A Lifetime of Running

More of my checkered past during my 19th century life emerged a couple days ago.  I had suspected I killed a man in a fight in the 1850s and now I’m pretty sure that’s the case.  I don’t remember the place or circumstances.  All I remember is that I punched him too hard and he was simply gone.  He fell and didn’t get up.  A woman shouted “you killed him! You killed him!”

I feel worse about this than anyone I killed during my subsequent life in WWI.  Why?  Was it because I was desensitized to it?  Did the war warp my moral compass?

Or was it the fact that at least during the war I paid with my life whereas in this earlier life I escaped justice?  I stayed one step ahead of the hangman and very likely died in my 60s.  Under self-regression I saw myself getting drunk at a crew party after an opera and falling into a river, but I’ve also seen flashes of the fall of the Paris Commune of 1870 so I’m not sure.

I don’t think I was ever caught and executed though;  I can’t find any known executions that match the facts of that life, anyhow.

 

The Art of Distress

One of my readers contacted me recently.  Apparently she has memories of a past life in WWI as well.

I was very struck by how she described the distressed way her art looked when her memories first broke.  My photography was much the same way while I was living in London, and although I didn’t have conscious memories back then I feel that they were just below the surface, so this post is all about archiving examples of the sort of art shots that I felt compelled to take while I was in the UK.

It was around this time that I discovered that black and white photography is excellent for highlighting the tortured details of distressed objects.  It became cathartic to seek out textures that stood out.  My compositions in many of these photos are stark, still, and silent.  They’re conspicuously empty of people and show inanimate objects deep in the grips of entropy.  My fiance can’t even look at them because he finds them disturbing knowing what he knows about my memories!

I have many such shots, but I’ll only post a few that look eerily like pictures from a war zone.

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Brighton, 2004

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Richmond, early 2005.

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Urbex at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre (now demolished), May 2005.

Things To Come

Two nights in a row, I have had dreams about a life lived half in Oregon and half in California that my foray into the film industry- whether as a screenwriter or as a historical consultant- could eventually lead to.

My plan, if this becomes lucrative, is to telecommute.  I’d have a tiny house on an acre of land near Portland, and a condo in the L.A. area.  I’d get a conversion van or something similar so I can drive down there and carry all the necessary stuff without too much driver fatigue.

In a dream night before last, I owned a condo in SoCal.  It wasn’t the nicest place; we were living out of boxes piled in the spare room and I was fretting about the soft story, which is vulnerable during an earthquake, but it was mine.  Paid for.  No more panicking about getting the next payment together.

Then in a dream I had during a nap today, I saw the tiny house in Oregon I would live in.  It wasn’t big; in fact it was more than likely an old fifth-wheel or a converted bus by how narrow and compact it was.  But it was 100% mine, paid for, and so was the land it was sitting on.  I was through renting, and if I wanted a nice house in the future I had a place to build it.

In this dream, I was looking for my cat and finally found him, curled up happily on our bed.  I laid down on the bed and snuggled close, petting him.  I woke up with my cat more or less where he was in the dream.  If these dreams are things to come, then they might come sooner rather than later because he’s getting very old (18 years) and he’s starting to slow down quite a lot.  I don’t expect him to live much more than another year sadly.

And what’s more, I have a very tenuous reason to think it might be true.  Besides the screenplay, which I don’t see paying off any time too soon, I’m also currently getting my name in to potentially become a historical consultant on an indie film set in medieval Germany (still waiting to get in contact with the inevitable friend-of-a-friend connection).  I have to say that although there is every chance they’ve already found someone else or that the film won’t get made, I’m excited because this is the best lead I’ve had since that video editing job in Vegas a few years ago.  By trying to get into film through two different routes, I’m more likely to find a way in.  I don’t expect to be able to live a glamorous life but I hope to at least get out of debt and become self-sufficient.

Present Life Update

My first screenplay is looking more and more professional by the day.  Brushing up on making myself and my writing look professional is still quite a task since my writing, like me, is eccentric and rumpled but very sincere and well-considered at its core.

Hollywood is a bit like the army in that making yourself presentable for your superiors is one part skill, two parts spit and polish.  I imagine that in my WWI life I was probably about as rumpled as I am now and had a hard time of things, but I’ve made up my mind to not let the past suck me into fatalism and determinism.  We have a tremendous amount of freedom, you know; more than most people imagine.  I just have to get my mind around the idea that I can at least affect refinement even if it isn’t my natural state.

I had a dream that I was buying a condo in SoCal.  I hope it bodes well for my future as a screenwriter.

I still haven’t heard anything from Portland State.  I have a good feeling about my application but doubts remain.  Staying busy with other projects is one of the few reasons I’m not eaten alive by anxiety and depression right now.

My thoughts of past lives have been minimal lately, though they’re always in the background.  Its just a fact of life for me now, even when I’m not having painful memories it seems about as natural to say I had past lives as it is to say I had a childhood.  But like childhood, it isn’t always foremost in my thoughts.  Keeping my depression and anxiety at bay is only one factor.

Other than that, not much is happening in my weird little world.  I spent most of the day today just cuddling my cat, sleeping in and taking a break from a rather grueling session of writing almost nonstop for a couple weeks.  Then there’s church tomorrow (a special mass in remembrance of the Cathar martyrs of Montsegur) and a lot of church functions I’m going to want to make it to in the coming weeks since Holy Week is considered initiatory.  With any luck I’ll be ordained a lay server before too terribly long.

Philip K. Dick Is Dead

The thing that no one ever tells you about making a famous past life claim is that when you mention it in public, it’s bound to overshadow any other past life claims you might have.

I began this blog as a journal of my recollection and recovery from a life on the Western Front in 1915 that came to a very violent end.  At the time I didn’t even realize I had memories of a life after that (in fact I had assumed that I simply “slept” for the better part of 69 years before coming back in mid-1984).

Dealing with one past life became an excercise in making sense of it in the context of several other lives that came to light.  Phil just happened to be one of them.  But the more I learned about Phil, the more I became convinced that if I dug deeper into his life I’d find the key to everything.  And just like everything else past life related, I duly recorded it here in as much detail as I could think to record, hoping to turn this into an extension of my past life’s exegesis.

I no longer think the key is there.  All I can gather is that if I was him, my experiences in 1974 either never really happened (since I have no memory of them) or I was too ambitious in my interpretation of what they meant.  I also learned just how deeply flawed I was as a person in that life, and still am in this life.  I grant you, there’s still a lot of good there.  I just wasn’t the prophet people made me out to be.

Dealing with all this has been frustrating and exhausting.  Nobody I knew would ever believe me, so I’m having to come to terms with the fact that any apology I could make now for not being the husband and father I wanted to be would be too little too late and I’d inevitably get treated like a psycho for even bringing it up.

I also proved that I’m a better writer than I was.  My attempt to knock out something like I wrote back in ’63 or ’64, a trippy sci-fi novel about 60k words long, took longer to complete (9 months from the first page of the first draft to publication) but it was also much more refined than what I was churning out back then.  It also had a much more British flavor (flavour?) that made it feel more like Neville Shute.  My friend who is open-minded about my experience but remains skeptical about reincarnation says I’m selling myself short to compare my work to Phil’s and I’m inclined to agree.

Furthermore, for what it’s worth, I feel closer to my WWI life than I do to Phil.  I can talk about Phil more easily in the third person than I can with Jack.  I remember more of Jack’s life and I remembered it sooner.  I feel more at home in England than I do on the West Coast of the US (though I do like it here on the West Coast).  I feel closer in every respect to Jack and I feel the loss of that life much more in the long run even if I did feel some sense of loss for my life as Phil.  And I still cry for Jack’s mother.  I was born having cried all I’m ever going to cry for Phil’s mother (not to seem cold; I simply made peace with that in my last life).

That’s why I kept this blog up and why I intend to keep updating here until I can at least say my goodbyes to Jack, and possibly to England.  But I’ve already put Phil to rest.  I already said my goodbyes to that life last summer.

That’s why I’m troubled about what to do about all these posts on my blog about Phil that seem to be getting so many views that it’s really overshadowing my whole intention behind starting this blog in the first place.  “I want to know” and “The Mysterious Jeanette Marlin” seem especially popular.  On the one hand I’m not monetized on this blog (and never will be), so I have nothing to gain by keeping them up.  On the other hand, I feel like if I delete them it will seem as if I haven’t got the courage to stand by my claims.  I do.  I consider it pretty likely I was him.  I just don’t want them to overshadow what this blog was about in the first place.

The war really hurt, it tore a deep psychic gash in my being that has lasted for more than a century across several lifetimes.  Phil was only one part of that story.  Now I want to finish that story by going back to the beginning of that disturbance and making peace with what happened in France all those years ago.  And I invite the reader to join me moving forward with that rather than dwelling on posts about a life that I no longer feel needs any attention.

A Belated Revelation About My Seafaring Life

I just realized that I never updated here about what I discovered about that building I saw in a dream not too long ago.  You can see a description of the dream here and a rendering of the building here.  I believe I mentioned it on a private site I post on and never got around to sharing it on this blog.

I sent the rendering to my father (a former USAF NCO who knows much more about 19th Century military history than I do and has been very open-minded about my experience).  He took one look at it and said it was very likely a military barracks from the first half of the 19th century, probably a converted stable shared with animals (they may have been on the far side of the dividing wall).  The scant information I can glean seems to support this.  I was completely wrong about the date because I can’t find any record of 17th or 18th century barracks that are even remotely similar.

One detail I forgot to mention was that I saw women there, which was why I was more likely to believe it was a jail.  I discovered, however, that in the early to mid 19th centuries, soldiers and sailors in certain semi-skilled professions would sometimes bring their families with them on campaign.

Given the likely date, I don’t think it was related to my Revolutionary War life since these barracks didn’t become commonplace until the 1810s, in the Napoleonic wars, and continued through the first half of the century.

Considering I have no memory of serving in the War of 1812 in that life and I believe I may have been old enough to serve in the army by the 1830s in my subsequent life, I now believe that in my seafaring life I had a stint as a soldier, and it probably ended with me being drummed out by the way those men looked when they came to get me.

In other words, there’s a good chance I went to sea because I couldn’t make it as a common soldier.  And there we have a common thread between my WWI life and the life immediately before: I tried to make it as a soldier and I did poorly in that profession, usually running afoul of the strict discipline expected of soldiers even when I tried to follow orders.  WWI was a little different; I didn’t thrive under military discipline in a cushy sector before the war (my service records prove that) but because they were so desperate and I already had the training I was good enough to serve in the Regular Army on the Western Front after I reenlisted.  Technically, if you count flunking mandatory ROTC classes in the 40s in my last life because I had a powerful aversion to taking orders, that’s three lives where I was pressured to become a soldier and couldn’t perform.

And it was only my relatively poor physical condition and use of psych meds in this life that kept me from joining the military in this life.  I had USMC recruiters actually calling me in the evenings when I turned 18.  I had bosses who fired me with advice to go into the military so they’d “make a man of me.”  Right before the time I had my first recollection of past lives I was so fed up with dead-end jobs that I had seriously considered cleaning up, conditioning my body, putting my gender transition on indefinite hold, and joining the military, though it was one of several options I was toying with (luckily I went with my first choice of finishing my BA instead).

It’s also interesting to note that in this life, I get along relatively well with the soldiers I know.  I have had many friends in the military, active, reserve, and retired (in this life as well as my last two lives, that’s documented).  I’ve actually been mistaken for a veteran more than once even though I never present myself as such.  I have alarmingly good aim with a rifle.  I understand military strategy relatively well.  But I also do very poorly in environments with many strict rules, and I do poorly over sustained periods of danger and uncertainty and for an ordinary soldier, those things are absolute certainties.  You don’t want a neurotic person like me on the battlefield because there would come a point when I wouldn’t be able to cope with it.

How would I do if I could somehow be brought up in a warrior culture and groomed for life as an elite warrior with many soldiers under my command?  Most likely, I’d be terribly inconsistent.  At least, that was Count William’s track record.

Luckily, I’m too old now and they’re unlikely to allow transwomen in the US military any time soon let alone start drafting us when we’re already in our 30s.  I managed to not have to experience the mortification and frustration of actually trying to be a soldier in this life and I’m better for that.