When people would ask me "what I do" I used to say I was a high school librarian, but, half joking, that it was my "ninth career". Then I would show them this chart, with the year and age at which I started each "career" and how many years I did each one.  There are other ways to divide it up, but this is the most condensed version using the lens of careers: THE LINKS IN THE CHART BELOW ARE TO THE FULL EMPTY POETRY SITE.







Rock drummer





Communal farmer





TV stagehand/carpenter





Zen Center student/priest/administrator/senior instructor/dharma holder





Child care worker/psychiatric nursing aide





Corporate manager (RPS/Avnet)





Technology consulting business owner





Elementary school teacher





High school librarian









Interspersed with being a college student: 



Undergraduate courses


Spring semester 1964

Undergraduate courses


Autumn  quarter 1973

Started Geography/Ecosystems major

Antioch Los Angeles

September 1975-June 1976

Wrote portfolio. Got BA in Buddhism and Psychotherapy

Cal State LA

Spring quarter 1978

Started Psychology major

UCLA Extension


8 Bus. Mgmt. courses. Got certificate

ICT College

April to October 1992

Computer Programming certificate

LAUSD District Intern

September 1998- June 2000

2 years night and weekend classes. Got elementary teaching credential


Summer 2001-Summer 2004

8 courses. Got LMT (School Librarian) credential


There is a pile of manuscripts I have time to work on now that I am retired:  pieces from the 2 writing classes I took at  UCLA Extension (links to some of them are in bold in the chart below), 32 years of Progoff Journals, the 250 page Antioch portfolio I wrote, my Independent Scholar journal, etc.  "I think there's a book in here somewhere".  Here are some comments on the Work in Progress, gathered in 1997.

 In the meantime, I wanted to make a sort of chronology with hyperlinks about some of the places this journey has taken me (including 7 links to pieces from the 1997 memoir class, and 3 links to pieces from the 2011 personal essay class, in bold).  The narrative is sketchy, but I hope to fill it in now that I have a little time on my hands. And to whip it into some kind of coherent narrative.  Some first thoughts on that are linked to in the chart below, at item 51 - Retirement.

I also plan to integrate some pictures at the appropriate sections. They are currently stored  here

The long term plan is to combine the full text of everything referenced above and below in one site. At the time of this writing it is just a Wordpress home page, with a Site Map that I am assembling offline.


1.       Before college



What ingredients shall we use to make this meal?

1. Because my dad was an avid jazz record collector, I listened to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie 78's in the cradle. Dad gave me some drumsticks to play along with the music on a wooden footstool when I was six years old.  By the time I was 17 and got my first real drum set I had logged hundreds of hours playing along on the couch cushions with almost all the drummers in the history of jazz up to 1962. For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote a piece called Dad and Drums.

2.  As a little boy I was known as a "walking dictionary".  I got almost all A's in high school, very high SAT scores, and was admitted to all 3 prestigious colleges I applied to.  Stanford offered me the best scholarship.

3.  Toward the end of  high school I read and was strongly affected by  The Way of Zen by Alan Watts and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. On reflection, by far the strongest influence was The Dharma Bums, which planted a seed that combined them both.

4.   I only realized much later that being born into a very secularized, culturally assimilated Jewish family was also an important ingredient.

2.       Student (Stanford)


I entered Stanford as a Freshman in September of 1962, and was placed in Honors English.  One of the summer readings they assigned incoming freshmen was The Aims of Education by Alfred North Whitehead.   I was totally entranced by the vision of becoming a torch bearer for the exalted Western intellectual tradition. (For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote a piece called The Summer Before College, which recounts my self-assigned summer reading project).  But when I got to the campus I soon discovered that the dorm I was assigned to (Burbank House of Stern Hall) had a vivid cast of characters hanging around the ongoing card game in the first floor common room, with names like the Bug, the Bear, and the Pro. Others hanging around included individuals who would later become founding members of the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company  I was a model student for the first two quarters, but came Spring, I succumbed to the freedom of being away from home for the first time, the lovely Northern California weather, and the emerging counter-culture mythos and set off hitch hiking across America, inspired by Kerouac. The fact that my best freshman friends were pledging a fraternity that did not accept Jews was a painful detail I didn't allow into consciousness at the time.

3.       Student (UCLA)


That first adventure was short-lived, and I was soon back at my parents house, preparing to go back to Stanford the following year.  To make some money I sold Great Books of the Western World door to door (which is what I was doing in November 1963 when President Kennedy was assasinated).  While at home I also took my first drum lessons, with Art Anton, Alan Goodman, and Philly Joe Jones.  Then I enrolled at UCLA for one semester and had a great time taking 5 interesting courses.

4.    Rock drummer


Fall quarter 1964 I was back at Stanford, where a multi-step major transition ensued.  This time I brought my drum set with me. Winter quarter I lived in an off-campus house with 18 year-old Tom Harrell (who became one of the great jazz trumpeters of our time).   I joined a rock band called the Vipers, which played campus parties. Our manager heard about an event in San Francisco and got us booked to play at what turned out to be the first dance concert Bill Graham ever held at the Fillmore Auditorium, 12/10/65. Very shortly after, I attended three of Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. I became involved with a crowd including Dick Alpert, Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and Jerry Garcia    This was the beginning of a very amazing ride. (For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote a piece called Warren and I On the Sidewalk in Front of the Blue House, a snapshot of us just starting the ride).  In 1967 as Mount Rushmore, we lived in the Haight Ashbury and played a lot at the Fillmore, Avalon, and other ballrooms and clubs around the Bay Area, mostly as the third billed or warmup band, as you can see from these posters.  We played shows with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin (Big Brother and the Holding Company), The Doors, Santana, Procol Harum, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Miller, Country Joe and the Fish, Canned Heat and many more.  Some researchers published a surprisingly accurate flowchart that shows our personnel and band name changes during those  years. Eric, the British announcer on the flat bed truck in Golden Gate Park,  referred to Mount Rushmore as the "House Band for the Summer of Love". For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote about one special gig, in a piece called A Night at the Fillmore.

5.  Communal farmer


Our band was based in Santa Cruz in 1970, called the Potter's Wheel, attending Steve Gaskin's Monday Night Class in San Francisco.  In early 1971 I left the band to join the Gaskin-led Caravan of 250 people on about 60 converted school buses, that had just completed a tour of the US.  Stephen said they would be leaving again in a week looking to buy a piece of land to settle on, and I jumped aboard.  We ended up in Tennessee purchasing a thousand acres and became the founding members of the largest commune in the country, known then and still known simply as The Farm.  I lived there for the first year of its existence.  While there I apprenticed to a master carpenter and learned some great manual skills. Forty years later the Farm Community seems to still be doing well. Here's the section about The Farm I wrote for my Antioch Portfolio in 1976.

6.      TV Stagehand


Coming home to Los Angeles after my adventures in the counterculture, the carpentry skills came in handy .  My parents helped me get a job as a stagehand and carpenter in the TV studios, through a friend in IATSE Local 33. (For the 2011 Personal Essay class I wrote a piece about coming home called Holding Gently). The longest call was for about a year in the NBC Carpenter Shop in Burbank, building scenery.  I also had long calls at the ABC and CBS shops, and many 1-2 day calls doing grip, prop, or lighting at TV studios, theatres, and concert halls around Los Angeles.

7.      Zen Center



A month after starting to work as a stagehand, I moved to the Zen Center of Los Angeles in September 1972 and lived in that residential practice community for 28 years.  (For a condensed version of the whole period see Farewell to the True Man of No Rank). Everything that follows in this chart took place while living at the Zen Center, up to item #31, when we moved in August of 2001. 

While there I studied with Maezumi Roshi for 23 years, met my wife, we raised our two daughters, I became a manager in a Fortune 500 company, was laid off, started a small consulting business and eventually became a school teacher.  At the Center I took vows as a lay Buddhist, then a priest.  I taught the beginning meditation classes for many years, and was on the Board of Directors for ten. When Maezumi Roshi died I became the Chief Administrator, part of a small team taking care of the Center during a major test of it's survival. (The morning Roshi died In Japan I was giving the private interviews in the Founders' Room at ZCLA in his absence). I became the first Dharma Holder named by Bill Nyogen Yeo, the first head teacher at ZCLA after Roshi's death.

 7a. Therapy with Pat Sutton6/73-5/79 About Pat

8.       Student (UCLA Geography



In Autumn of 1973, living at the Zen Center, I took a break from my stagehand work to go to UCLA, starting the major in what was then called Geography/Ecosystems, now called Geography/Environmental Studies. I was inspired by the newly arising environmental movement, and appalled by the waste of materials in the studios, where I spent many of my days destroying scenery that had been used only once and throwing it into huge dumpsters. I wanted to find a way to make a living that would be more in alignment with my Zen practice.    I subscribed to the Environmental Law Journal and looked at putting my foot onto the long path toward becoming an environmental lawyer. For the 2011 Personal Essay class I wrote a piece entitled Called by the Dream of the Earth, which puts this period into the context of an ongoing theme I am developing more fully in "retirement".

 9. Hand drummer


 I took my first class from an African master drummer when Kwazi Badu from Ghana was teaching in the basement of UCLA Ethnomusicology. Over the years I studied with several other teachers,  some of them at  Motherland Music (which moved from Culver City to Inglewood in 2011).  This is a list of instructors I had lessons from.

10. shakuhachi player


Taizan Maezumi Roshi, the teacher at ZCLA, gave me a beautiful Japanese bamboo flute, (shakuhachi).  I found a teacher who lived nearby, Baido Wakita Sensei, and took individual lessons on a bi-weekly basis for about five years at his home. Wakita Sensei had also studied for years with Nyogen Senzaki, the first zen teacher to take up permanent residence in America.

11. Psychiatric Nursing Aide  (Ingleside)


Still a stagehand, still looking for a career more attuned to my Zen practice.  I was in a therapy group and decided I wanted to look into being a psychotherapist.  The group members suggested I get some experience working in the field before investing in the necessary coursework and licensing.  A friend at ZCLA worked at what was then called Ingleside Community Mental Health Center (now the Ingleside Campus of Silver Lake Medical Center), and told me there was an entry-level aide position open on the adolescent ward.  I worked there for six months until another Zen Center friend told me about a facility that she worked at which she thought offered better experience.

12.  Child Care Worker (Hathaway)


I worked as a Houseparent at Hathaway Home for Children for about 14 months.  While there, the Social Worker in our cottage told me about a place where I could get a fully accredited bachelor’s degree by documenting my life experience since leaving Stanford as the equivalent of enough units to complete the degree.

13.   Student (Antioch)


Antioch University Los Angeles at that time had a self-directed degree option that was perfect for my situation. I spent the school year of 1975 -1976 writing a 250 page Portfolio that documented the 14 years of schooling, life experience, individual work with teachers and mentors, and independent study since starting Stanford in 1962.  

I wrote a narrative that made sense of my life to that time.  (The link is to a clean copy I'm working on of a Microsoft Word version a friend is typing from the original I did on my typewriter in 1975-6). In retrospect I see it was on the model of Campbell's Hero's Journey.  The normal world was traditional academics, the plunge was into the counter-culture, and the boon I brought back for the return was the seeds for an integration of eastern and western ways. I received a BA in Buddhism and Psychotherapy.

14.  TV Stagehand


I had spent all my money on tuition and living while writing the portfolio, and I had lost my job at Hathaway.  I went back to work as a stagehand. 

 15. Meeting Mary


 After about six months working 72 hours a week in the NBC carpenter shop, I met Mary and entered a serious relationship for the first time.  For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote about this meeting in a piece called 

First Love.

Being on-call as a stagehand made it very difficult to build the relationship, and I decided to try to start the schooling necessary to be a therapist.

16.   Student (Psychology, Cal State LA)


First I did a quarter of psychology at CSULA.  Even though I got all A's, it became evident I couldn’t go through the whole course of becoming a therapist because it would take so long and I wouldn’t be able to pull my own weight financially in the relationship.

17.   Career choice



To help decide what to do next I worked through the exercises in What Color is Your Parachute? which led me to the big book by Peter Drucker called  Management . Reading both books I decided I wanted to be a "business manager".  I looked in the want ads in the LA Times for management trainee positions, and didn't like what I saw.  I decided to go back to work as a temporary typist to make money while I was looking for work as a management trainee.

18.   Electronics

Distribution Product Manager (RPS)


 One of my temporary office assignments was typing orders into a device connected to the Texas Instruments factory in Dallas.  The company was RPS (Radio Products Sales), a small single-location distributor of electronic components.  After a week or so they offered me a job, to be the Product Manager for Texas Instruments semiconductors,  My first response was to ask, "What's a product manager and what's a semiconductor?"  Once I understood, it sounded like the perfect opportunity.   I was immediately immersed in a crash course in the concepts of integrated circuits, microprocessors, and all aspects of business management. I worked there for 2-1/2 years, until the company re-located to Orange County. 

19.  Student (UCLA Extension, Business)


While I was establishing myself at RPS, I decided that to really grow as a manager it would help to take some courses.  I went to UCLA Extension in the evenings and took the eight course program for the Professional Designation in Business Management.

20.  Corporate Manager (Avnet)


When RPS moved I interviewed at Avnet (then at about 1 billion, since grown to $27.9 billion annual sales in FY 2015). Over the next ten years I held ten positions at the company, many of which I created.    I created the first automated corporate inventory system there, using SuperCalc on the Xerox personal computers we sold (before the IBM PC existed).  I was doing online searches for marketing research, using Lockheed's Dialog software, before the invention of the World Wide Web.  A small group of us (intrepeneurs) split off a computer business within the electronic components distribution company, using data from a system I developed by siphoning off data from the corporate mainframes onto the DEC minicomputers we sold. The division we started is now called Avnet Technology Solutions, which has now grown to $10.6 billion sales in FY 2015.

 21. Family deaths, layoff, and ordination  9/91-11/91  A turning-point period, which I have written about as a time of "descent", in a piece called Into the Heart of Unknowing for the 1997 Memoir class.

22.   Interfaith dialog facilitator


The whole time I worked at Avnet we were living at the Zen Center.  After the Rodney King verdict and civil unrest, the Interreligious Council of Southern California (IRC) sponsored a series of community healing circles in various parts of town.  As a member of the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California I became a facilitator in that process.  A very enriching experience, integrating spiritual and psychological work with social engagement.

23.  Student (Institute of Computer Technology)


As part of the massive corporate downsizing of the late '80's and early '90's, I was laid off from Avnet after ten years.  I looked for work bridging the gap between data processing and senior management groups in corporations, the way I had been doing at Avnet.  It became evident I needed to beef up my technology skills, so I went to ICT (then called the Institute of Computer Technology) and got the certificate in computer programming.

 23A. Landmark Education 1/93-5/93  

24.   Technology

consulting business owner


I became fascinated with the business and social possibilities for collaborative work via computer networks, using a program called Lotus Notes.   I started a consulting company called Essential Systems Group, which specialized in designing Lotus Notes solutions. I was also the founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the Lotus Notes User Group

25.   Chief Administrator ZCLA


When the founder of Zen Center of Los Angeles, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, died in 1995, I became the Chief Administrator, and held that position for two years. For the 1997 Memoir class I wrote about Roshi's death in a piece called Farewell to the True Man of No Rank, 

26.  Student of Tibetan Bon Buddhism


After Roshi died, Mary went to a retreat offered by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.  We have both gone to his January weekend retreats in Los Angeles since 2002, soon after we moved from ZCLA.  We last attended in 2012. Since my health made further participation impractical, I have been viewing Rinpoche's Webinars and YouTube teachings on my iPad.

27.   Elementary school teacher


With the explosive rise of the World Wide Web, Lotus Notes struggled, as did my business.  It was time to start again, at age 54.  I heard that elementary teachers were being hired with an Emergency Credential, because of the new law capping class size at 20.  This would be the shortest path to a new career. I entered the LAUSD District Intern Program.

28.   Zen Peacemaker Order


     Toward the end of my time in the District Intern program I took vows in the Zen Peacemaker Order, to further the ongoing integration of spiritual practice and social involvement.  This was vividly actualized in my 3rd grade class on 9/11/01 and the days following.  I had implemented the talking circle (based on the Council Practice we did at the Zen Center) as part of our daily classroom routine, so we had a format for deeply sharing with each other as the events unfolded.  It was so powerful that on September 12 the third graders went home and counseled their parents on how to stay calm and centered in the midst of the chaos. 

29.   Student (School librarian credential program)


After a couple of years teaching elementary I heard about something that sounded like a much better fit for me, high school librarian.  I started the Library Media Teacher credential program at Cal State University Long Beach.

 30. Therapy during transition     1/01-1/02
 While in the LMT program, there was a disruptive incident in my day job teaching elementary. There was a misunderstanding that led to months of intense, very stressful, career threatening drama.
I wrote about it at the time and have posted some of it here after I did some editing to make it safe for sharing online. Suffice it to say that during the ensuing year I changed jobs from elementary teacher to high school librarian, we moved out of the Zen Center, Rebecca started college, and the 9/11 attacks took place.  I really appreciated the support of weekly counseling during this time of major life transition.

31.   Moved from Zen Center to our condo in Palms


We moved from the Zen Center in August 2001, after living together in the community for 24 years (28 for me).  We moved to our "tiny but spacious" condo on the West Side of LA, in Palms, a couple of blocks from Culver City.  Rebecca started college.  A lot of change, a new world.  And one month later the larger world changed too.


32.  Dance practice




I read about Gabrielle Roth and her system of dance and movement as spiritual practice in Andrew Harvey’s book "The Direct Path".  I went looking for a local group and found Michael Skelton and Jo Cobbett, who were offering something called Fumbling Toward Ecstasy right nearby in Culver City.  This massively, joyfully, opened up my Zen Practice.  I often went next door to La Dijonnaise after dance to get a cup of coffee and write with the energy that opened up. The notes got jumbled into an ongoing piece. I have since untangled them and tried to put them in chronological order.  This is those raw, unprocessed notes.

33.   Reader for

books on tape


A friend who had been recording books on tape, referred me to his company and I was able to record two books on tape: One Bird, One Stone, by Sean Murphy and Destructive Emotions, by Daniel Goleman, in which I got to read the words of the Dalai Lama and several neuroscientists.

34.  High School librarian


After finishing the first 3 credential courses at CSULB while teaching third grade at West Vernon Elementary, I was hired as the Library Media Teacher at Downtown Magnets High School.  My whole 9 year career as a school librarian took place there, from ages 58 to 67. The best 9 years of my life.

35. Dad’s stroke



36. Union activist


I became active in the United Teachers of Los Angeles, as Chapter Chair (Shop Steward) at DMHS, a member of the Library Professionals Committee, and a member of the House of Representatives, the policy making body for the union.

37. Tikkun/NSP


I founded a Los Angeles chapter of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, as part of my ongoing exploration of how to integrate spiritual practice and social activism.

38. First Mosaic

Aug. 07

Major contact with Mythic Dimension. Make this thread explicit. Tie to Ginsberg and Cassady at Kesey's

I'd been trying to connect with the so-called "men's movement" ever since reading the 1990 Robert Bly interview in New Age magazine and then seeing Bly on the PBS special Bill Moyers did with him in 1991.  I saw a flyer that said Michael Meade was going to be speaking at my daughter's college and I remembered that he was a driving force in that movement.  After a couple of years of scheduling conflicts I finally attended the weeklong retreat in Mendocino in 2007, led by Michael Meade, Luis Rodriguez, Orland Bishop, and Jack Kornfield under the auspices of the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.  Very powerful, transformative experience. Story about meeting Jack on the way in. A small group of us met for a daily poetry workshop with Luis. This is what I wrote in the workshop.

39. First signs of illness

Jan. 08

A little bit of slurred speech at the dinner table in January 2008 made us think I might have had a very mild stroke. All the tests showed no evidence of a stroke.

40. Second Mosaic

Aug. 08

About 8 months after the symptoms started I went to my second Mendocino Men's Retreat, again led by Michael Meade, Luis Rodriguez, Orland Bishop, and Jack Kornfield. I didn't have a diagnosis yet, and the mysterious speech problem was still a minor annoyance, very much in the background.I didn’t speak as much in the main meeting room because I felt a little self-conscious, but it wasn’t a big deal.

41. Diagnosis


After multiple tests ruled out stroke, and everything else, in May 2009 the doctor finally said it looked like Progressive Bulbar Palsy, a Motor Neuron Disease, very closely related to, and most often a precursor, of ALS.  What had been a minor annoyance had produced a sudden wrenching reality shift.  I Googled Progressive Bulbar Palsy.  First was the Wikipedia article and it was horrifying. I knew Wikipedia can be inaccurate, so I looked at the Merck site, next down in the search results. It told me PBP is incurable. “Death…usually occurs 1 to 3 years after the disorder begins”. This is what set me off…the initial shock. 

Note near the end of a school year, with 2 more years to go.

42. Dad died


Do I have a journal entry for that sweet last meeting?

43. Acupuncture


Jennifer recommended her chiropractor, who then recommended Irina

44. Tibetan prayer service


LOMB (8/14/09), Sera Je service 9/15/09),


45. Second diagnosis



46. Biofeedback


Dennis recommends Hershel Toomin, hear  Gabor Mate on the way.

47. Qigong


Irina recommended Qigong. We found Henry.


July 2010

Myoko's dream (7/20/10) and recommends Emily, Emily 8/3/10)

49. DynaVox

Nov. 2010

Just in time to write it into my accommodations plan for the final year

50. iPad

May 2011

Just in time to learn SpeakIt and use for about a month before retiring

51. Retirement

June 2011

Retirement offers an opportunity to reflect on, among other things, how do I make, or find, a coherent narrative in all this? Obviously a non-trivial pursuit, probably involving some depth of inquiry. I offer 3 of the many attempts to discern meaningful pattern in this extremely rich but sometimes absurdly postmodernistic collage of a life. First is called Redefine the object of my quest. The second is another take on the shift from being embedded in the zen institution to being released from it, a collection of brief writings I call On the Path, Off the Trail. The third is a mapping of Bill Plotkin's Ecocentric Wheel of Life (from his book Nature and the Human Soul) onto the crucial stages and  transitions of my life.

52. Writing class with Samantha Dunn

Oct. 2011

After retirement, Samantha Dunn's Personal Essay class was the first group of new people I engaged with in my new status as a speechless person. I used my iPad text-to-speech app and my tiny Bluetooth speaker to participate in discussions. This is where I wrote DMHS Loves Mr. Levin, Holding Gently, and Called by the Dream of the Earth..

53. Drumming and dance


After the writing class I wanted to find more ongoing communities of practice that I could engage with. The two obvious candidates were my old dance group (see #32 above) and the hand drum classes and communities at Motherland Music (see #9 above).  I also tried visiting DMHS. What I found at all three was my ability to participate was severely impaired. I started to think about online community.

54. Writing class with Nomi Prinz

Jan. 2012

What I wrote. Links


55. Pool exercise


Started at the Y,.2/29/12  then found B, MBC before hip surgery  4/9-7/27/2012,

56. Hip replacement


Very difficult September. Started sitting again 10/8/12. Stopped 1/4/13.

57 water exercise


Ucla private sessions weekly starting 5 months after hip surgery.

58. Parker Palmer workshop

Mar-May 2013



59. Prostate surgery


Went home same day. Very smooth, quick recovery

60. Zazen


Didn’t sit for almost 7 months, Longest period since 1969. Started again about a month after prostate surgery.

61. Active Hope workshop


 One thing that came out of it is my blog, currently called Active Hope Support Group.

62. 30-day writing challenge

Nov. 2013


 63. Fourth fall Feb. 2014 Started using walker. Stopped driving. Major loss of independence.
 64. Fifth fall  May 2014  Home care agency, Mary on couch
 65 Left hip replacement surgery  Dec. 22, 2014 
 66. 2nd left hip surgery Jan. 22, 2015 About 3 weeks into the recuperation, just as I was regaining some strength, MRSA infection created the need for second surgery exactly one month after the first. The infection and the long course of IV antibiotics wiped me out, set me way back.
 67. First fall after left hip 3/30/15 3.am, walking to stretch.  Lost a lot of confidence.
 Urosepsis from UTI May 2016 3 -day hospitalization. Going in I was able to eat solid food, although there had been increasing difficulty the previous weeks. Coming out I was on a clear liquid diet. I graduated to full liquid. Now making a slow transition to puréed.