“Brushstrokes and Backpacks” – a brief autobiography

Note: this very freeform (and rather intentionally self-indulgent) flow was written as an assignment for a class at The Evergreen State College. Wasn’t what the professor was expecting but whatever, this is how it came out. Who i am to defy the muse #ha!

Anyhow, read if you want, whatever. Added notes from brother Bob at the end. Not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive (or comprehendible for that matter).

a photo which has nothing to do with any of the following, was just handy and folks like photos EOD

Brushstrokes and Backpacks, a brief autobiography
By Dave Olson, 2002

Preamble (extended)

My life and myself are defined by the exceptional moments, the flashes of clarity that may last a second or a day. A pleasant day of contentment or perilous adventure, overcoming fear or doing nothing but sitting/thinking/breathing in a place of beauty. Could even be a place of turmoil or even somewhere where I’m not quite sure where I am but are enjoying the ride nonetheless. Moments when the conscious, subconscious, the universe, the tangible surroundings and even any humans entering the scene (or not) seem to be washed into a harmonious watercolor.

These events, sounds, nonevents, glances, coincidences
and snapshots of sorts that stick in the mind, sometimes recalling a story, or more often just a thought when you remember the best of someone or something that seems to make the wind stop for a second.

Was it a lesson? A badge earned? Just a happy memory with no long-term importance beyond an anecdotal tale saved to tell youngsters in later years? Did I see that in a movie? Was that really my life? How long ago was that now? Was that after the fall of the Soviet Union? Where was I then? What else was I doing and how did it happen? Where did the time go and how come I still feel as though I’ve hardly started?

Continue reading “Brushstrokes and Backpacks” – a brief autobiography

“Always Be Kind” / Musings by Dr. Trevor Erikson

My ole pal Dr. Trevor “Trauben” Erikson shared a few musings about healing and kindness on his channel the other day. I am significantly moved by his reflections about my erstwhile wisdom and stashing this  Thanks Trauben.  Thanks so very much. ‘

Was thanked by an aging grandmother yesterday. She looked me in the eyes, hugged me and said she was grateful to me.

I was reminded of a friend’s advice to me, that somehow stands vivid amongst the fog of my adventurist past, travelling the globe in search of the better present moment.

It was either during a hike on some wilderness trail, or while dancing to some groovy tunes in the desert, or sunning on a sandy sub-tropical beach, or during a transatlantic flight from Europe, or perhaps a coffee shop in Amerstadam, or in our tent in the grape fields along the Rhine in Germany, it was certainly much before I knew it being HH the Dali Lama’s declared religion. Now this was probably gleaned from a Grateful dead lyric, I would think, although I knew my friend’s mom was definitely a walking example of this, which would have predated any travelling rock band’s lyric from entering into his head.

Anyways, it was 1992-ish, and Dave Olson looked over at me, in the lovingly charming way that he does, and said, simply, and matter-of-factly, ‘Always be kind’.

Of course. How simple. How profound.

I was reminded of this powerful declaration when this grandmother lovingly embraced me and said thank you.

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My reply:

This mantra is the distillation of all i’ve learned from watching others and living full-on. Realized young that to survive and thrive one must.should build community. To build community requires kindness beyond your own needs.
 
In the past years since my life has changed so much (due to illness) i realize again that if i hadn’t been kind (including always taking high road, always helping the young-up-and-comers with advice over coffee despite the eyerolls from other “bigtimers” who encouraged me to charge consulting hours, the showing up to help, the checking the ego, and avoiding arguments even my my fuse has run out, i would be a very lonely fella. As it goes, i’ve found help, solace and assistance when needed often from people i only foggily recall meeting but (apparently) i was kind to and provide encouragement and support. This theme of kindness is a constant in my poetry (even when my heart and body is broken) and never fails.
 
Also worth noting the importance of kindness when we dropped off a car to an (very large, very aggressive, very angry man) in Dallas, Texas. Obviously two impossibly skinny long hair kids couldn’t defeat with violence if we tried (!) nor would arguing get any far. So we were kind and expressed empathy about his situation (as absurd and illegal as it was!) and ended up going from almost beaten to a pulp to out hard won deposit returned – by cash, not cheque – and a ride to the dodgy Greyhound station (a whole other mess…).
 
Also, thanks for scrapping me off the ground as i’ve worked to patch my life back together Trauben.

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, vol. 4

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, various

While i love sending postcards, i also love the postcards themselves – each has its own artist story behind and all of that. Yet postcards spending their infinity in a shoebox without fulfilling their destiny is rather sad. As such, i compromise by snapping a quick shot of the front before dropping into the time/space portal wormhole to intended (and thrilled no doubt) recipient.

This batch was scribbled upon in April 2014 in Logan, Utah and my (now late) Mom’s house. 1st in a series for archival purposes, as well as ephemeral amusement.

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, various

Continue reading Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, vol. 4

Inky Stamps: variety sampler

I gather inky stamps (of many sorts but mostly olden postal-related ones, usually found on the dusty bottom shelves of forgotten stationery/office supply shops, forlorn and bereft) and have assorted collections scattered in various pouches located in storage lockers, desk drawers, forgotten suitcases and rucksacks for handy deployment as needed.

Pictured above are some of the aforementioned stamps, stamped (obviously) onto one page for my reference. Noting some are woodcut and other metal designed for letterpress print use. One is (again obviously) custom designed.

Carry on.

Notes: What i Seek in Community / Places to Live

When the wheels fell off life due to illness, deaths, heartbreaks etc (circa 2015), i scribbled notes in a notebook naturally with intentions about where to go, how to live. I visited many places seeking safety, creativity and community. While my notes didn’t reveal the plan per se, the exercise was valuable to discover what i wanted/needed/capabilities. Published as a “note to future self” to remind the importance of stating intentions from the heart (with assist from the head).

What I Seek in Community

  • Golf carts for quiet transport like Caye Caulker
  • Island but with easy access to mainland like Gabriola
  • Ganja like Jamaica
  • Strangeness of history like Pelilu
  • Minimal dogma in religion like Bali
  • Community centre and market like Pender Island
  • Village of shops but not a strip mall
  • Visitors come and go from guesthouses, tours, inns like Berkshires
  • Music, recording studios, concerts, festivals like Salt Spring(?)
  • Access to natural medical services & quality food
  • Post office

Places to Live

Req: Anonymous, Creative, Safe + Community

  • Torrey UT /Larry’s Land
  • House on Gabriola
  • Thai/Viet/Cambodia
  • UK Protectorate (Falklands, VI)
  • Japan (Okayama > south)
  • Nova Scotia (Cape Breton) or other Maritimes
  • Portugal / Spain / Greece
  • Victoria if no other option – too “perfect” for action Dave

Flashback: Notes about Orem (Utah) high school, on occasion of 30th reunion (2018)

A high school i attended for 1-1/2 year-ish in Utah held a 20 anniversary for my graduating class in summer 2018 – while i wasn’t technically a graduate (nor did i attend the event), i added my dispatch for the record. Shared here for the posterity etc.

Via Orem high School Class of 1988 FB page 7 July 2018

A few flashbacks… (PS i was Dave Elliott in those years)

I was a sorta “walk-on character” in the Orem High sitcom – arriving from Canada for the last couple months of 10th grade and then dropping out 2 weeks into 12th grade but dang,… made 11th grade count.

"in character" as a earnest archeologist, circa 1936, location unknown
“in character” as a earnest archeologist, circa 1936, location unknown

Ergo:

* Running Paul Moody’s “campaign” for Student body president including the “fascist takeover” at the assembly and screening of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in lounge for a campaign promotion – and the acknowledgement speech at assembly in which someone temporarily declined to announce the winner because of the number of “refused” ballots

* The (notorious) Martin Luther King day protest including long banners on newspaper roll ends covering the lockers with rather controversial slogans

* Making a “Stop Aids” balloon/flag/kite and running it up the flag pole with Cory DeMille and my brother Bob Olson (now the US military’s 2 finest examples)

* Thought i wasn’t enrolled in Unified Studies, my attendance was almost perfect

* KOHS, possibly the best invention in the history of highschool (until my FCC license was revoked)

* Ace-ing AP US History with a 98% on the test but failing because of the tardy/absence policy (drop a grade each time or something) – it *was* the first class in the morning

* Being amazed at seminary – meaning you could sign up and have basically a period off (before moving to Utah, i had attended early morning seminary (imagine the horror of riding to church house on cold Canadian mornings at 5AM!)

* Swim team – i wasn’t cut out for football, basketball etc so signed up for swim team which basically meant roadtrips to other schools, hanging out in a Speedo waiting to lose to “whichever school we were competing against” – our girl’s team won all the time though

* Having no idea was the heck a Sadie Hawkins dance was until getting invited by a card written in Alpha-bits cereal – was completely baffled (later Napoleon Dynamite made this clear)

school dance (in shorts natch) with Kim who drove a lavender Karman Ghia
school dance (in shorts natch) with Kim who drove a lavender Karman Ghia

* Umm… after growing up in a very multi-cultural part of Vancouver (little Punjab), arriving to a ummm… sorta non-diverse school

* Feeling like a total outsider but quickly making friends by virtue of driving a limo to school – which was later replaced by an even more fun VW bus (Spicoli had nothing on me)

* Wearing shorts every single day of the school year – usually with wool socks and duck boots and flannel shirts – i didn’t exactly invent “grunge style” but do deserve an honourable mention

* Frequently teased for using Canadian spellings / we like to put in extra an “u” and switch around “re” instead of “er” and saying “zed” instead of “zee” #sigh

* Requiring a note to read Catcher in The Rye in 11th grade AP English > also realizing the teacher had absolutely no idea why the book was “banned” in some alien circles

* Amazed that so many girls looked like straight out of a magazine or movie #outofmyleague – i was more accustomed to punk rock girls

practising to be in a John Hughes movie with JPJ
practising to be in a John Hughes movie with JPJ

* Never attending a single football game (now if there was a hockey team…)

* Coming “back” for 12th grade homecoming dance and bringing non-Orem high pals and taking photo with the reggae band (Irie Heights)

crashing homecoming dance and posing with Irie Heights band - game: who's in band, who's attending dance?
crashing homecoming dance and posing with Irie Heights band – game: who’s in band, who’s attending dance?

By the way, when i bailed on Grade 12 (12th Grade), i went to Utah Technical College (later Utah Valley Community College, Utah Valley College, Utah Valley University, Harvard of the West…) and “earned” an Alpine School District Adult High School diploma after rigorous schedule of ceramics, mountaineering, photography and “independent study” – also creative writing (which turned out handy). I did attend class of 88 grad as a spectator.

Later? after a run of a few more higher-ed institutions (University of Utah, University of Guam) i graduated from Evergreen State College, just took me a few decades. Since, travelled 40+ countries, 100 weird jobs (most recently VP at Hootsuite (social media company), gave TEDx talk (not near as popular as Jani Radebaugh‘s) and now live on various remote small islands making poetry, podcasts and paintings (also deal with a weird complex illness #boring).

I have been able to meet up with a few excellent folks from those years (Cory DeMilleMark SwensonJayson LeeKyle BlackhamJennifer Powers-JohnsonJeniffer Johnson GoodmanJennifer Hawkins PixtonNichole Ortega… in the last few years – albeit some only virtually).

Thanks for letting me share – i won’t be at the reunion (i am far away elsewhere) but carry fond memories.

Would very much like to know what you are up to?

I also love to write letters/postcards so message your address (or fill out form on my website) and one day you’ll receive postal mail from this “walk on character”.

Fondly, dvo, elsewhere

yeah, i is a graduate-d
yeah, i is a graduate-d

Annotations

Jennifer Hawkins Pixton You were ahead of your time! Love that your VW bus is now a sauna.

"Earthship" new incarnation as sauna at Mangy Moose lodge up Big Cottonwood Canyon (near SLC, UT)
“Earthship” new incarnation as sauna at Mangy Moose lodge up Big Cottonwood Canyon (near SLC, UT)
Evidence of Sauna inside Earthship VW bus
Evidence of Sauna inside Earthship VW bus

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Michelle Scofield You and your brother were exactly what the school needed!! Thanks for spicing things up.

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Marianne Paul Jensen You were definitely ahead of your time. And you definitely increased the character of the non-diverse school.
Thanks for sharing these awesome memories!

Dave Olson Marianne Paul Jensen So kind of you to say… I was apprehensive posting this thinking that everyone would wonder “hmm don’t remember that guy, do you?”

Marianne Paul Jensen Dave Olson I totally remember you. I was hesitant commenting because I’m sure you don’t remember me.
But you really had an impact in the time you were at OHS.

Dave Olson Marianne Paul Jensen Making me feel like ¥1 million here. And for sure I remember you.

Dave Olson Funny how in those impressionable days of high school, we get defined, &/or define ourselves… I guess I was a little naïve about the different cliques and hierarchies of high school in the US… I had gone to four different schools in 10th grade and just desperately wanted to find a tribe to hang out with so tried to be friendly to everyone. Of course most people had known each other for years through junior high or the same church groups or whatever but I came in with none of those preconceive notions.

I’m sure I overcompensated for my nervousness with too much chatter and goofballery –

As it goes, no matter how “popular” one was in high school, we all had to go out in the world and find someway to make a living and make ourselves happy. It turns out there’s a little benefit to “peaking early” And being “cool” in high school doesn’t predict a future of life success/happiness.

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Rick Herlevi I was telling my kids the other day about the one and only time in my life that I hiked the Y. I skipped class and went with Kraig Kiggins, I think Cory was there and the two Canadian brothers that drove a limo and hiked they Y. Why would I ever want to do it again after that pinnacle experience.

infamous "Starlite" renegade limousine service with noted customer
infamous “Starlite” renegade limousine service with noted customer

Kelli Robison HerleviKelli and 24 others helped build Orem High School Class of 1988 by sharing it, inviting people or writing posts when the group was new. This convo definitely did take place very recently. It was probably our FHE lesson. I thought Rick was making up the story so he didn’t have to commit to a “Y” hike. But it looks like there’s truth to his story. I won’t make him hike the “Y” again. I can’t compete.

Dave Olson Next time, we will just drive the limo up to the Y with a catered picnic – It’s all true, even the parts that aren’t 🙂

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Cory DeMille Many great memories in this bus! Remember our Good the Bad and the Ugly video Party and camping in the bus in full cowboy regalia on OHS campus? Now that would be considered a terrorist incident!

"Earthship" VW bus in similar set-up as high school era - changes include a rebuilt interior, additional dings and a dog in the back
“Earthship” VW bus in similar set-up as high school era – changes include a rebuilt interior, additional dings and a dog in the back

Dave Olson Cory DeMille Oh great memory! Just the sound of popping popcorn on the bus’s stove would’ve created phone calls to the police about suspected gunshots

Dave Olson Also remember driving around and shooting Roman candle bottle rockets out the back of the bus, and later water balloons (filled from the bus’s sink) and big gulp cups through the “accidental” sunroof – would soak BYU students and act all nonchalant like “it wasn’t us”… Sometimes when chased, the only reasonable strategy was to drive really slow rather than trying to out run them. Those activities did produce some actual police incidents however

Cory DeMille We were dicks at times!

Dave Olson Cory DeMille Our revolution was not Instagramed (As such, no evidence thankfully)

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, vol. 3

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, various

While i love sending postcards, i also love the postcards themselves – each has its own artist story behind and all of that. Yet postcards spending their infinity in a shoebox without fulfilling their destiny is rather sad. As such, i compromise by snapping a quick shot of the front before dropping into the time/space portal wormhole to intended (and thrilled no doubt) recipient.

This batch was scribbled upon in April 2014 in Logan, Utah and my (now late) Mom’s house. 3rd in a series for archival purposes, as well as ephemeral amusement.

Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, various

Continue reading Post’d: postcard fronts, April 2014, vol. 3

Assuming aluminum is smelted… / Towns and Trains

Mostly so i can answer Drs when they ask if significant exposure to heavy metals. Not more than others except for Geneva steel labourers. Never worked in an aluminum smelter assuming aluminum is smelted and changing pronunciation in my head, proudly on the fly.

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from Towns and Trains, Sudden poems 2016-2018

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