living in the modern world: non rites-of-passage
By the time i arrived at college (Oregon State University in Corvallis for one term and then transferring south 30 miles to UofO) i had experienced a rather bumpy "paradise lost" phase as innocence had given way to that awkward feeling of being "in between" childhood and, without some rite-of-passage to activate the supreme paradigm shift, adult-being response able for oneself-ness.
I had chosen to go to Corvallis in hi skool because it was supposed to be one of the big agricultural skools. i had come to identify strongly with such "living off the land" by, starting in the summer after eighth grade, going to a ranch in eastern Oregon for four summers and living with the Rod McKays, an eight-kid catholic fam'blee who became a tremendously nourishing substitute for the one in which my parents divorced after nineteen years when i was ten.
Rod had 400 cattle on the range, 20 Holstein milk cows, a group of horses, 50 sheep, and about 9 alfalfa fields on the west end of the valley where the town of Harper lies along highway 20, 100 miles due west of Boise, Idaho. i worked with them being a part of everything that happened: among other things this included getting up 7 daze a week to milk the cows before breakfast as well as before supper (they called lunch dinner), change the irrigation twice a day in the fields, as well as "haying" the alfalfa two to three times in one summer into loose stacks (instead of bailing it), in preparation for the range cattle coming into the valley during the wintertime. Rod was "tractor man" with a big hydraulic lift that wood fork up the rows of raked alfalfa and build the stacks. i got to drive, work on, and sometime fix an old three-wheel John Deere with a hand clutch; i thought that was the livin' end! They had been taking in kids, primarily from the city, for quite a number of years and i felt i was very much a member of the fam'blee.
There was a great deal i learned from such a different fam'blee dynamic and all of them will always occupy a very special place in this heart. i saw them as literally being children of the earth and of God (independent of their catholicism), in ways i had never experienced or considered before. i know that what they imparted was a feeling that i belonged in and to the world at a time when i was very distraught by a sense of alienation from and discontinuity of life and living. Estranged from the human culture i found myself living amongst but at odds with on a deep, implicit level, and sense of discontinuity from my own fam'blee's disintegration, as well as separation from my suburban "roots" which, of course, themselves were quite rootless but which had been all i'd previously known and had sustained me until childhood's innocency gave way to the sort modern "gawking puberty" where there is no longer any coming-of-age rite-of-passage to usher one into self response able consciousness.
Throughout hi skool years this sense of rootlessness had increased but by 1976, things had mellowed out a bit. i'd already done freshman year as a civil engineer and then english major. The following summer i was playing piano in a very stoned state at Mama's Home Fried Truck Stop, a co-op restaurant. At the end of a ragtime piece, i noticed a man standing by the piano with longish red hair and elfin ears who remarked, "wow man, I really dig the percussion." He introduced himself as Ginger. i appreciated the complement and he invited me over to his table where he was dining with a group of people. i hung out with them all night which included my first taste of dried-out peyote buttons, going out to a bar and playing some ragtime (our contingent dubbed it "maniac piano") while Ginger played on an available conga, sharing a bath with a very nice girl, and leaving my virginity in the before. She told me in the bath that "Ginger" was none other than Ginger Baker. i hung out with him off-and-on for the next week or two before he vanished.
Not having a clue what i wanted to do as far as becoming a corporate citizen thru the college maze was concerned, i skipped a year playing dish-washing ski-bum in Colorado. During that winter i got in a van and did a week's run with others back to the east coast, with each person getting out to spend time in various locales. i stayed with Ok at Yale where he was still taking classes but was feeling as ambivalent about getting a degree in whatever as i was. One evening i had another visit with peyote and was very struck by the presence of Mescalito as teacher just as Carlos Casteneda had articulated. The sense of liberation and "existence potential" was staggering.
Back in Eugene for sophmore year, english was still inspiring but there was more than ever a crushing sense that the prime directive must having making more money than minimum wage as part of its imperative. Based upon the adventures with manifesting the rat haus ancestors, architecture seemed to promise "filling the bill" on all fronts. i had a great spring term diving into some of the ocean of considerations one must cogitate when pondering a structure-to-be in some specific location. However during all this i kept feeling a nagging concern to whit, "i bet i can become a very capable architect and probably really get off on it, but i know i'll always regret it if i don't give music a real `run for the money'...."