14 The Earthship Debacle

After our wedding, we didn’t go on a honeymoon. Otis felt we should just get back to work. Now months later, Valentine’s Day is coming up. Otis and I want to take a vacation, a sort of belated honeymoon to celebrate. The ugliness of our huge fight two years ago during the Funkmeyer Valentine’s Show is forgotten. We decide to stay in an Earthship in New Mexico.

We arrive at the Greater World Earthship Colony in Taos, New Mexico, where as many as eighty Earthships are nestled together. Beautiful to behold, completely off the grid, and made from recycled materials, Earthships have long been a fascination of mine.

From afar, it is almost a jolt to the system. I’m so excited to have a desolate desert dotted with futuristic looking houses before my eyes. I feel energized and as if I’ve landed in the future. I feel an immediate kinship. I know that one day I will be living in a community of Earthships. My world is being sucked inevitably towards one day living this way. Michael Reynolds, the architect founder of the Earthship movement lives right here and I feel honored to be so close to a personal hero.

We move into the Phoenix, the grandest of all Earthships in the community. She, I cannot bear to call this house an “it,” is a breathing and living being, vital and alive with spirit. She brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. The Phoenix was hand built with love by Michael and his team many years before. It has 5,200 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space. Inside the house are the most beautiful and comfortable sofas, a kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment, WIFI to connect to the world at large, stereo speakers for music and every other comfort one needs for a modern life. There is even an indoor greenhouse teeming with banana trees, exotic plants and a fish pond. The plants and fish live off of the water that was once used in the kitchen.

Outside are more plants and a chicken coop. I’m proud to be part of a race that is so intelligent and loving. I feel fortunate that the future is now. I am actually alive in a time where this way of living is my present.

I see clearly that The Phoenix is built to give love and be loved. I see her vividly in my mind’s eye as the centerpiece of a New Reality community. She would love a performance and lecture stage in the center of her belly and a shared work space and restaurant in her limbs. She holds space for creative minds to come together, flourish and explode into new directions. She inspires far reaches into the outer space of our collective consciousness. She is the center of our golden age!

For now though, the Phoenix stands silent with only the two of us in it. There is something eerie about large houses without enough energy to fill up the space. Unbeknownst to us, Otis and I are talking really loudly as if there is an invisible audience. We shout at each other with more fire than is necessary. Feeling a need to escape, we take walks into the vast desert, teeming with insect life and breathtaking stillness. Other than the Earthships standing in the far distance, there is not a soul in sight.

After a week, we move out of the Phoenix into a smaller Earthship – the Global model with two bedrooms. This smaller Earthship is great for living a good life. After the initial cost of building the house, you can then live rent-free, off-the-grid and without utility bills. You can be self-sustainable for the rest of your life! This sounds like the heaven we were promised by the Gods!

Otis and I talk excitedly about building a New Reality conscious community. A huge Phoenix-like Earthship surrounded by ten or twenty smaller ships like the Global. It must be in a metropolitan area because we are city folks and living so far from civilization is not our idea of fun. We think it is good to create self-sustainable cities. We get into really energetic discussions. Suddenly, we begin to yell and shout at each other.

To find something to do, Otis and I decide to make a video that introduces the Earthship concept to others. I hold the camera as I follow Otis around he house as he explains its features. “The rainwater is collected from the roof and is reused four times. First, it goes through a filter system and comes out as water suitable for drinking or showering. The shower water water is collected from general use and is moved into the indoor garden, where it waters the plants. It then drains through the plants and goes into another filter system that flushes the toilet. After the toilet is flushed, the waste is filtered and the remaining water travels to the outdoor garden to water and nourish the plants there.”

I say, “Bravo!”

I hand Otis the camera and he videos me while I explain the next feature. “The panels on this wall are angled at 45 degrees and face South so that they receive maximum sunlight throughout the year. Taos, New Mexico ranges in temperatures from -10º to 105º. An Earthship regulates those extremes to a pleasant 68º to 73º throughout the year–all without standard heating or cooling systems.”

At this moment, I notice a string hanging in front of the camera. I was a filmmaker for twenty-five years and I take pride in my professionalism. A string dangling across the frame is an absolute no-go. I wave my hands and tell Otis to move over so that the string is not in my face.

Otis barks back. “Don’t tell me how to shoot!” I do the take with a stern face. The presence of the string really bothers me.

I lose my motivation. “Forget this shot…let’s move to the bedroom. I want to talk about the walls being constructed out of discarded tires, sand and glass bottles.” Otis is a bit bewildered by my sudden mood change but he follows me into the beautiful bedroom, where sunlight is streaming through the wall made out of multi-colored bottles.

I say, “Stand over there so you can get the whole room.”

Otis says, “Leave me alone! I told you to not tell me how to shoot!”

I might have quit my film career after my ayahuasca medicine journey, but this doesn’t make me any less of a filmmaker. Otis is a good filmmaker but with much less experience than me. “Why can’t I tell you how to shoot? You can learn from me!” I take the camera from Otis’s hands.

Otis starts to rant and rave at me. I’m aware that the camera is rolling and that this is an opportunity I’ve never had – I’ve never had a chance to document my “opponent” in such close range. The headphones amplify his insults. I notice Lucy, the Black Witch, waking up. With conscious effort, I keep Lucy at bay while focusing on the filmmaking at hand.

Since I am not fighting back, I am acutely aware of my feelings. I feel incredible sadness. Without the Black Witch to protect me, I feel like I’m standing naked in front of a firing squad. Sadness is a lot harder to deal with than anger.

I keep the camera going and Otis keeps ranting and insulting me. By now, Otis must think that I’m playing a game – boy, is he wrong. As a part of me, the inner child, is getting more and more sad, another part of me, the Black Witch, is getting more and more angry.

Suddenly, the Black Witch picks up a coffee cup. Before I can do anything, she throws its contents on Otis’s face, smashes the cup on his head and punches him in the eye. The attack happens without the filmmaker, without the personality of the Wounded Mother. It is a surreal moment. I am witnessing three of my personalities present at the same time: the Wounded Mother keeps the camera rolling while the Black Witch beats Otis up and the Inner child cries, “Don’t hurt him! Don’t hurt him!”

Otis, caught completely by surprise, lunges at me, grabs my neck and starts choking me. I kick him. Then he pushes me on the ground and bangs my head into the wooden floor. Only then do I lose grip of the camera, as it clatters and slides across the floor. The picture goes out but the sound is still recording.

Otis comes to his senses. He leaps off my body and yells, “Oh my god! I can’t believe you made me do this?!” I have a large lump on the back of my skull. He has a black eye and is unhinged by his own actions. “I have never been violent like this in my life; you are not good for me.”

“I made you do this?!” The Black Witch screams, the Wounded Mother scrambles to find ice and the Inner child just cries and cries.

We return to Los Angeles. I’m heartbroken. Otis has no idea of how much I want us to work and be in love. Just as everything seemed to be in place…we fall apart.

I pack his bags and send him on the Amtrak. His last text to me is from Flagstaff, Arizona. “4AM, standing on the platform, alone, icy cold.”


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