From Warren Allen

Lisa Robin Marks was my dear friend. I miss her more than I can say.

Lisa was capable of deep friendship and enduring friendship (twins Shawn & Shannon since early childhood, and Rifka and Elyse for roughly 40 years). She tended to her friends’ needs as if they were close family, and was eager to offer assistance — thoughtful advice especially — and brainstorming to help solve difficult personal problems. She was one of the best conversationalists I’ve ever met. She was always keen to listen, but never too shy to speak — which made truly balanced exchanges easy to come by and deeply satisfying. She could also be a trusted and most thoughtful confidante.

She was highly perceptive and intelligent. This made it possible for her to quickly sort sense from nonsense — especially in the realms of politics and public policy. It also allowed her to accurately ‘size people up’, and to then effectively form relationships, or not. This intelligence also supported her completion of a masters degree program in mathematics at UC Berkeley in the 1990s. It also made it possible for her enjoy decoding the mysteries of music theory… and to manage the complex business of Jill’s caregiver program.

Beyond her natural mental agility, Lisa developed an illuminated personal wisdom over the course of her life, which guided her approach in general, but especially her interaction with other people, and with her friends especially. This ‘deep-self’ awareness also allowed her to take the Big Step back that revealed her own thinking and her own emotional states to not be her self per se, but rather aspects of her self, and thus subject to her will, and self-repairable. She would treat her own mental and emotional difficulties in much the same way that she might advise a friend experiencing similar trouble. Lisa was so mirror-clear herself that it could be challenging to spend time with her, because any lapse in one’s own expression would become uncomfortably obvious. On the other hand, it was of great help to her friends (this one at least) in their own efforts to right their own ship of self.

Lisa was an incredibly responsible adult. We know this from her political work (support for Harley Rouda’s successful 2018 campaign) and permaculture activism (I believe that Jodi said that she was Chairperson of Earthroots’ board of directors in 2012). The greatest and most obvious indication of this, though, was her lifelong care for her beloved big sis Jill. The trials of managing Jill’s caregiver program was a near-continuous burden for the latter part of Lisa’s adult life, and it was often difficult for her to take a break from it. Lisa loved Jill unconditionally, which made her the best caregiver (among some great ones) ever for Jill. Lisa’s own caregiving sessions for Jill were very much labors of love, and were full of passionate singing (‘Mimi’ and others of Jill’s favorite songs), wild laughter, intense and unique dramatic play, and much warm physical affection. (Some of these sessions are among my fondest memories of both Lisa and Jill.)

Lisa loved adventure in general — hiking, camping, kelp-tending, road trips to visit friends and family in Nevada and No Cal, attending concerts at local venues and the Segerstrom Center (everything from Mavis Staples to Rachmaninoff), and regular morning swims in the ocean. She was also compelled to explore the mysteries of her own unique consciousness.

Lisa was a creative musician. Her first love, from early childhood, was piano. Though she often regretted not having more time for it, she was able to make considerable progress in recent years with the help of her friend and piano teacher Richie F. Music was at the heart of my friendship with Lisa, and we had at least a hundred piano and electric guitar jam sessions together over her final five years. These jams were inspiring creative outlets for both of us. She would improvise compelling chord progressions on the spot, and I’d explore melodic lines to fit them, or we’d play favorite songs together, like \’Red Tail Hawk’ or ‘The Air that I Breathe’. We took this project public a couple of times, providing music for two local Dance Journey events. We often fantasized about playing on the street corner in Laguna, and went so far as to shop for a portable keyboard for her. She often played her little melodica keyboard when she was on the road or camping, and in our jams. Lisa could also play guitar, and was learning to play harmonica, much to Jill’s delight, who was keen to play along, sort of, on one that I bought for her.

She was in for fun, when she could manage a break from her work, and she excelled at both experiencing it and creating it — especially with music and dance improvisation. Her joyful and dynamic dancing was a wonder to behold, and a deep pleasure to engage with (though not necessarily easy to keep up with!).

Lisa was vivaciously beautiful. She was full of life, to overflowing. Her earned wisdom and natural enthusiasm for life radiated through her athletic body, her movements, her speech, and her expression — and induced respect, admiration, and affection in all privileged to know her, however well. It was a joy just to see her smiling face, and to hear her musical voice, and to hold her hands.

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