Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"If You've Seen a One Trick Pony, You've Seen Me"

Last night at the end of the movie The Wrestler, I sat in the theater, stunned, with most of the other people who had come to watch the movie that afternoon. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to go out into the night. In some ways, I felt shattered by the experience and definitely changed. I saw myself in The Ram, the character Mickey Rourke so brilliantly portrayed. I wondered how many other people in the theater had doggedly stuck to a dream or a career or an idea that no longer fed them.

The movie is ostensibly about a professional wrestler who has fallen on hard times twenty years after making it big. He still wrestles and it has taken a toll on his body and his personal life. He spends most of his money on drugs and supplements so he can keep wrestling. He doesn't have money left over for rent so his landlord locks him out of his shabby trailer. He pays for the only female companionship he has, and he is estranged from his daughter. After an especially brutal match, he has a heart attack.

A couple of weeks after the attack, he goes to a fan event. In the basement of some church or school, old wrestlers sit at long tables facing one another. They sell VHS copies of fights, t-shirts, and signatures to the few people who attend. At on point, the Ram looks around the room at the other wrestlers and sees how old, crippled, and pathetic they are. How sad they are. It is after this event that he quits wrestling. He tries to create a new life for himself by attempting to reconcile with his daughter and starting a relationship with a woman.

When things don't work out the way he wants them to, he doesn't have the resources to change his behavior. What he knows is wrestling. What he knows he is good at—or was good at—is wrestling. He doesn't know how to get his daughter or a woman to love him. He knows what to do to get the crowds to cheer him.

As I watched this movie—especially the scene at the fan event—I thought about all the writers I know, about all the artists I know; I thought about myself. How sad and pathetic do we become as we try to keep doing what we love even though it doesn't sustain us. Are we still trying to make our voices heard? Or is it that we no longer believe we have the skills to do anything else? It’s none of my business why other people do it. The question is: Why do I do it? The Ram didn't know how to do anything else, so he kept doing work that was destroying him.

In the last part of the movie, The Ram comes out into the ring and takes the microphone. He looks at the crowd and says that everyone thought he was washed up. Everyone counted him out. But he was back because the people in the crowd were his real family and being in the ring fighting while they watched was his life.

In one of the advertisements for this movie, the promoters wrote, "He lives to be a hero one more time." I thought either they didn't understand the movie or I didn't. Or maybe it's like any piece of art: We each take away something different. What I saw was a man who didn't walk away from something when he should have. When he could have. I saw a man who could not change his behavior to save himself or the people he cared about. I saw myself. I saw so many people I know.

Do you remember the end of Thelma & Louise when the two women looked at each other as their car idled inches from the edge of the Grand Canyon? They nod to each other and clasp hands. Behind them was the whole damn system waiting to put them in chains, to dampen their wild selves. I was sobbing as I sat in the theater watching it—sobbing, and whispering, "Ten of swords, ten of swords." And then they accelerated and went into the great abyss while I choked on my sobs.

In the Motherpeace tarot, the ten of swords shows a group of women leaping off the cliff. They have decided, in essence, that is better to die on their feet (flying, no less) than to live on their knees. When Thelma and Louise took that drive into the great unknown, I understood in every cell of my body why they made that decision. I tried every day not to live on my knees, I tried every day to live my truth, but most days I didn't have enough courage or enough understanding of my own failings to make the leap. Or maybe it was that I didn’t understand that I had made the leap and now I had to be at peace with the consequences.

If I didn't want to live the typical “stifling” middle class life, then I was not going to have the perks of that middle class life.

In the movie, the doctor tells The Ram he can’t wrestle again or he could die. The woman he wants runs after him and begs him not to go into the ring; she tells him she's there now for him. He looks at her and shakes his head. He doesn't understand how to be with her. He understands how to be with them, the anonymous crowd. He turns away from her and walks toward the ring.

And in this last match as it gets more and more difficult for him to fight, the ref and the man the Ram is wrestling try to help him, try to make it easier on him. But he climbs the ropes and stands on that top rope because he knows that is what the crowd came to see. And then he leaps.

Just like when I watched Thelma & Louise, I understood why The Ram took the leap. This time it didn't feel heroic; it didn't feel like it was the only way. It felt like this was a man who was living an unsustainable life and he couldn't see his way out of it. But I understood why he did it. I understood why someone would want to believe they were good at something, even if that something was...nothing.

I understood why it sometimes felt easier to try to entertain a crowd than to build relationships with people in real life. So often it feels easier to stay on the same road we’ve been traveling: We know where we have been and we know where we’re going.

In the last twenty minutes of The Wrestler, I cried so hard I could barely see. I knew how the movie would have to end. I wanted it to be different. I wanted him to make different decisions. But he had no idea. I understood.

The Ram believed his only choices were to live in discomfort and despair or leap to his death. He couldn’t see another option. How many of us have come to that point in our lives when we know what we're doing isn't working but we have no idea how to really change it? We don’t know how to go from the Vision to the Real. Or maybe we just don’t know how to make another leap into the unknown. A different leap.

I value art. I believe what Mickey Rourke did with this character was art. Sublime. Superb. It made me think. More importantly, it made me feel. It made me shiver as I saw myself reflected in the mirror of this bloodied man.

Man. I am so done with being a one trick pony. And I am so uncomfortable. I have no idea. But, babies, I am ready to make the leap.

Read more here...

The Magnificent Old Mermaids Book Drop!

And now the time has come, the walrus said. But not to talk of many things, but to do something marvelous, something wonderful, something inspiring. As some of you know, I have started to leave copies of Church of the Old Mermaids here and there, as gifts to whomever happens to find these copies. I love the idea of COTOM being planted like little seeds all over the country—and the world! What will grow from it?

I've left one in Valencia and Santa Cruz, California. I also dropped one in Ashland and another one in Portland. My father has volunteered to drop them around Scottsdale and along his way from AZ to Michigan when he drives back home. Another friend has volunteered to drop a couple in Ottawa and Tucson. Now I'm asking if any of you would like to be emissaries for the Church of the Old Mermaids and "drop" a copy of the book in your area.

How would this work? One of two ways:

1. You can order the book. When you get it, write on the first page (where the title is) something like, "This book is not lost because you found it. Enjoy it and then pass it on. Let Kim know how it goes." Put the date and the city (and the place, if you like). Then take the book to someplace public and leave it surreptitiously. This can be a school, restaurant, grocery store, pool hall, bar, church, museum, nightclub, race track, the mall, movie theater, subway station, grocery store, etc. Wherever you like. Outdoors probably isn't a good idea unless it's someplace dry and warm. Remember you want a stranger to find it, not a member of your family or someone you know! And try to do it so no one sees you. Then you write to me (via email, Facebook or Twitter), and tell me what you did and what the experience was like for you. I want photographs if you can do that.

2. You can ask me to send you the book. I will write in it and send it to you. And then follow the instructions above. (And remember, Old Mermaids, this isn't about scoring a free copy of Church of the Old Mermaids; it's about spreading the word and the stories of the Old Mermaids and leaving treasures for your fellow human beings—and fellow Old Mermaids.)

Of course, you can embellish these instructions any way you like and use your own creativity when you perform The Magnificent Old Mermaids Book Drop. I'd like to have these drops happen all over the United States—and Canada and Mexico would be fun, too. I want to do this during the First Hundred Days. I'll send out as many as I can afford. (I have to buy the books, too.)

After I get all your reports of your adventures with the Book Drop I'll write them up and post them or publish them. I'm hoping that some of the people who find the book and read it will write to me, too, but we'll see what happens. I'm viewing it all as a way I can gift my stories—and whatever else happens is gravy.

If you're interested in participating in The Magnificent Old Mermaids Book Drop, you can order the book yourself, of course, and then let me know how it goes. If you want me to send you a copy of the book for the Book Drop, then email me with your address.

Make this fun! I want people to create Old Mermaid Sanctuaries all over the world!

Read more here...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rourke in The Wrestler

I'll try to write about this tomorrow, but I wanted to say I just saw an amazing performance. Mikey Rourke in The Wrestler was incredible. (All my adjectives are so inept and cliche.) It was hearbreaking. It was so true. The movie was good. I would quibble with a couple of things. (Like the scenes with Marasi Tomei dancing mostly naked seemed to go on too long.) But every other part of the movie seemed so real. I've known people like these people. And I understand how this man felt, how he couldn't seem to change his life because he had held on too long to something that wasn't working. For the last twenty minutes of the movie, I was sobbing. Both Mario and I were weeping. But enough for now. I also loved this Bruce Springsteen song (above). Man. How many of us in the "entertainment biz" can relate to the heart of this movie and this song.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Me & the City of Books: Two

Two: Sanctuary

After Mario and I went to the Tao of Tea for dinner, we decided to run over to Powell’s City of Books. On my writing retreat this winter, I decided that I was going to work to bring my dream to fruition: For most of my adult life, I have wanted to create a sort of sanctuary where artists, writers, activists, and others who needed refuge could come and stay for a time.

I had hoped my writing would fund the center, the sanctuary, the wild place. That hadn’t happened yet, but I could start to figure out what steps I needed to make the place a reality. I have always been good at the big picture. I have always been a visionary. But I have often gotten lost traveling from the Vision to the Real.

That was my excuse for going to Powell’s even though I had just been there the night before.

It was much busier this day than it had been Sunday night. When we walked through the front door, a young man at the information desk smiled at us. I could have asked him for help, but I didn’t feel like he could tell me anything tonight that I didn’t already know. So I smiled at him and kept walking.

Mario and I promised to meet up in about twenty minutes. He went one way. I went another. I started to go down to the Rose Room to see if they had any copies of Ruby’s Imagine. If they did, I would sign them; if they didn’t, I would be depressed. I decided to skip it. Ignorance was bliss, this night.

Instead I walked upstairs, through the Purple Room and into the Red Room. I wandered around the mythology section. I glanced at the “imaginary beasts” shelf. Then I went around to look at the women’s mythology section. I didn’t see anything new. A card hung from one of the shelves. It was the same card I had seen there for years: It was a recommendation for the book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory by Cynthia Eller. I often wondered if the person who took care of this section actually despised women's mythology. Was that why the card stayed up there for so long? Or was I reading too much into it? If I remembered correctly, in the book the author was irritated that so many women believed matriarchies actually existed. They did exist, as far as we can tell, but Eller said that they didn’t. Or maybe she said they were the exception rather than the rule.

In any case, the faded card lauding the book was still there after all these years. Just the card. Not the book. Or maybe it was there and I just didn't see it.

As I stood there in the women’s mythology section, I thought of my friend Jeanne Hardy who used to live in Twisp, Washington. Jeanne and I would often write one another and wonder what we could do to wake people up to what was happening in the world. We talked about putting out a call to the women we knew. I pieced parts of our letters together into one coherent work and titled it "The Calling." We’Moon published it.

And then she died. Her immune system was overwhelmed from chemical sensitivities. She got lung cancer and died within a month. The day after Jeanne died, Mario and I drove to Portland and went to Powell's. I was bereft. She was the second of my close friends who had died unexpectedly in the space of two months. I wandered the store and tried not to cry. I wondered what meaning anything had. I called out to the cosmos (quietly), "I need a sign. I need to know that people don’t just disappear. Send me healing, send me to a book, anything!"

Mario and I went up to the women's mythology section. He could see how sad I was. He wanted to find something that would help me. He reached for a book beyond my height called The Myth of the Goddess. He opened it up and found a Mariners baseball ticket, like a kind of bookmark, between pages 108 and 109. The ticket was for a game on July 7, 1993, about ten years earlier. It was for aisle 109, Row 14 and seat 14. I looked at page 109 since it was the number of the aisle. It had a photo of the Minoan Snake goddess which I had been studying and which I had used on the cover of The Salmon Mysteries: a nonfiction piece of mine that I had sent Jeanne a couple months earlier. Her last email to me told me how much she had enjoyed The Salmon Mysteries.

I looked at Mario with my mouth open.

I had first met Jeanne in 1993, the year on the ticket. When I got home from Powell’s that night, I became curious about the date of the baseball game. So I looked it up to see what had happened that day.

Many things had happened but what caught my eye in the list was Leonard Peltier’s name. On July 7, 1993 one of his appeals had been denied. I got chills. Some years earlier I had found another little gift in a book in Powell’s. It was In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen’s book about Leonard Peltier. I had opened it up and found several pressed flower petals in it--even though it was a brand new book that appeared to have never been opened. It felt as though it was a gift from the cosmos. I bought it, of course. The flowers were pressed against page 214. (Remember the Mariners ticket had two fourteens on it.)

When I retell it now, the whole episode seems convoluted and strange. But when it was happening, I got goosebumps. I felt as though Jeanne was somewhere trying to tell me something. It still feels quite marvelous, in the true sense of that word.

Now, I walked away from the women’s mythology. I went through the Red Room to the Purple Room. I stopped at one of the end shelves near the anthropology section and picked up the book Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit. One of my unpublished novels, Her Frozen Wild, deals extensively with cave paintings, and it is still a special interest of mine.

I flipped through the book and stopped at a page where the author wrote about shamanism and creativity. Many of my friends are shamanic practitioners and I’ve studied folk healing and shamanism for years. I was excited to read something new on the subject. But from the page or two I read, it seemed as though the author was saying that shamans suffered from mental illness. This was an old and tired theory about shamanism. I was surprised that this was still something some researchers believed.

I sighed. I’d have to ask my friends later if any of them had read it.

Just because the majority believed something was true didn’t make it true. But that didn’t make it untrue either.

I put that book away and flipped through Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston went to Haiti and Jamaica and participated in Vodou rituals. It looked like a good book to read for more research on Vodou which figured in the novel I was working on, The Old Mermaid. It was good to see her work in Powell’s. So many (if not all) of her books had been out of print for decades.

I put the book back. It was time to go find what I had come into Powell’s to get: Something to help me bring my dream into reality.

Probably a book wasn’t going to do that, but I wanted one anyway. I went down to the Orange Room to the public computer which was on the counter of the information desk. I looked up books about haciendas. Although the haciendas were hierarchical with a big boss man in charge, I still liked the structure of haciendas--I liked their architecture, their sense of community. And I’m a sucker for Southwestern U.S. and Mexican design.

While I was looking up what I needed, I noticed the man at the information desk who sat in his chair a few feet from me. He was eating an orange. It was quiet in the Orange Room, so I could hear him slurping as he ate this orange. When he finished one section, he wiped his hands on his jeans. Then he ate another one. And wiped his hands again.

I wished I had earplugs. Another staff person started to walk by the desk and then she stopped and began talking to the man about a couple meeting on Facebook and getting married. Or something like that. I was trying not to listen. I was grateful for the break in slurping. Just then the young man dropped whatever was left of the orange into the garbage at his feet and then he pushed the can into the corner of the station, right by me.

People have to eat. I didn’t know why it was gross to me, but it was.

I went to the section in the Orange Room with books about haciendas. I found a big gorgeous book called Hacienda Style. It had so many ideas for my beautiful imaginary sanctuary. The book was too expensive, but I’d just gotten a small royalty check for Church of the Old Mermaids. I could buy this one book.

So I did.

When I wrote Church of the Old Mermaids, I made the Mariners ticket part of the story. In the novel, Myla Alvarez finds treasures and trash out in the desert and then she brings them into town, into Tucson, and sets up her table and puts what she finds on that table. With each item comes a story. The ticket was one of those items.

Sometimes it does seem like everything is connected, everything and everyone is related.

It’s a good feeling.

I paid for the book and went to look for Mario. Maybe we'd stop at Whole Foods and pick up some oranges on the way home.

Read more here...

Days Four & Five

Day Four

I have no idea what the prez did today. I no longer have television, and the headlines on the internet(s) were all about various disgusting murders. (What a strange adjective to use: as though some murders are not disgusting.)

It was cold outside. And cloudy. I would lay odds I was not stepping a foot outside this house today.

I got up and did the Kum Nye massage again. I first learned about Kum Nye yoga from one of my teachers, Vicki Noble. It is very slow and deliberate. You perform one movement and then you sit and “expand” the feeling. Often as I am “expanding” the feeling, my mind wanders and finds interesting subjects to daydream about. I am not very good at sitting still, yet sitting still is something that is very good for me. I benefit from routines. I benefit from a quiet, serene life. I thought everyone was like this and I discovered this is not so. Some people do better when they are very active and run here and run there.

I would like to be a world traveller. I used to be. I would like to flit from here to there. But my psyche and my bodacious body want some down time. Major down time. “Be still and be quiet!” they cry. Ahhhh, there now.

I ate a fabulous breakfast of one basted egg, a grated baked sweet potato (like hash browned potatoes only supposedly healthier), and steamed vegetables.

And then I became a cooking queen. I put my laptop on the kitchen table with an episode of Numb3rs playing. I tried to find an epi that wasn’t about killers or psychos. I like the mathematical part of the show. I don’t always understand it, but I like the intellectual exercise. And I like the characters. I want to learn to stop multi-tasking, but I decided to give myself a break today. I was going to do what made me comfortable and happy. And I wanted to listen to a story while I worked.

I had soaked aduki beans and black beans (separately), so I drained and rinsed them. Then I put the black beans in one large soup pot and the aduki beans in another. I added a piece of kombu to each and poured in enough water to cover the beans and then some and I put them on to boil.

While they cooked, I put water into another pot. I dropped in two cups of butternut squash. (Mario had cut one up for me last night.) Then I cubed (sort of) one carrot, one daikon radish, and one parsnip and added them to the brew. Then I chopped up an onion and dropped that into the soup. I talked to the ingredients as I put them in, as always. “Oh you beautiful carrot! You are the best carrot in the world. A daikon radish. Wow! You are very firm! And onion, you’re so amazing, you make me cry!” I added a piece of kombu to the mix, and then I merrily turned up the burner. I had three different dishes cooking.

Then I grabbed my computer and went into the living room and curled up on the couch under one of my dad’s quilts. I started reading Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color. It’s research for the novel I just wrote in Arizona, The Old Mermaid. I was particularly interested in the article on plaçage. This was where mixed-race women became mistresses of French or Spanish men in Louisiana in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They could not legally marry. These liaisons often called left-handed marriages. Some of the women involved in these relationships were known as Les Sirènes.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t know they were called Les Sirènes when I was writing The Old Mermaid. It was one of those many synchronicities that happens when I’m writing.

From most accounts, these relationships seemed to suit the needs of both partners given the restrictions of the society they lived in. I’m not saying these relationships were equal. I’m saying as far as I can tell from the research, the women were not coerced into these “marriage.“ Of course the big ol’ elephant in the room caveat is that mixed-race and black women didn’t have many choices about what they could do with their lives. And by definition, whatever a slave did at the behest of a master was coercion and not a result of free will. That said, most often the women in these left-handed marriages were freed (if they were not already free) and their offspring were freed. Most often the men took care of the women all of their lives, even after they married a white woman. (Sometimes the relationships continued after marriage; sometimes they didn’t.) This seems to especially be the case if the men were French. The children were often educated and set up in businesses.

Makes me tired thinking about it. If I actually had a choice between being a field slave or being a mistress to a white man who would take care of me the rest of my life, I would chose being a mistress. I don’t think I would have to think about it twice. What a Sophia’s choice.

As far as I can tell, many of these relationships were loving. I depicted such a relationship in my book. Although it is definitely not a relationship of people who are equals socially or economically, they do love each other--as far as it goes. Can it ever be “true” love if one person has so much power over another person?

When it was time, I went and looked at my stews. After a couple of hours, I pulled the kombu out of the black beans. The water was now just a bit over the beans. When I lifted out a spoon of the beans and blew on them, the skin curled, and they tasted done. I grated a couple of teaspoons of gorgeous fresh yellow ginger. I tapped the grater over the black brew and the yellow dropped into the beans and liquid, reminding me for a moment of tiny suns against an indigo night. I cooked that a little longer, but it was essentially finished. Gingered black beans. Mmmm!

I added a couple of cups of cubed butternut squash to the aduki beans. In the last year of her life, my friend Linda couldn’t eat much. I would desperately try to find something she could stand. I read in one cookbook that aduki beans were good for people who were recovering from illness. So I made this aduki bean and butternut squash soup. Four ingredients: aduki beans, kombu seaweed, butternut squash, and water. (In the end you can add soy sauce or salt if you like.) For Linda, I pureed the soup. She didn’t have any back teeth by then, so she couldn’t chew much. She loved this soup. It was practically all she would eat for months. Every time I made it, I infused it with songs and my love and my hopes for her healing. I think it did keep her alive during those months. She rallied a bit and was able to eat other foods for a few months until she died.

But she would rave about “Kim’s soup.”

I still miss her so much.

I looked at the butternut squash/daikon radish/parsnip soup. I make this kind of soup when I feel like I need to get my mind and body right. Usually I would add some burdock root but I had forgotten to get any. I took the kombu out of the soup and cut it up into little pieces and then put it back. The soup was so beautiful! The butternut squash seemed golden yellow now and filled the pot with sunshine.

I love soup.

Mario usually doesn’t like this particular soup, so I decided to add some Navy beans from a can of Eden beans we gad leftover from our trip. They are organic and soaked in water and kombu (instead of salt), so they’re actually pretty good. I put a can of these beans into the soup. I tasted it. It was very sweet. I wasn’t surprised. Daikon radish and butternut squash are sweet. I didn’t mind the sweetness, but I wanted to see if I could get the seasoning right so that Mario could enjoy it, too. I ground a bunch of black pepper into it. Tasted it. Still a bit sweet. I ground some sea salt into it. Tasted it. Better. Some soy sauce at the table would help deepen the flavors and take the edge of the sweetness, too.

So that was that.

I felt very satisfied. I got myself a bowl of the aduki bean soup and took it into the living room. I got under my quilt again and began eating. The soup was so rich. I could taste the healing! I thought of Linda. She would have put more salt in it. But she craved salt and always salted all her food. I wondered how her daughter was doing.

After lunch, I sat down and did some writing. Outside it began to snow.

Later, Mario and I had dinner. He put brown rice into the butternut squash soup. I put in rice pasta, which made it like minestrone, only without the tomatoes. It was delicious.

I wrote more words. Eventually we went to bed. I read a little from A History of Last Night’s Dreams by Rodger Kamenentz.

And then I fell to sleep and dreamed.

Day Five

I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed. It was as if when I opened Kamenentz’s book, I gave myself permission to dream again. I have very vivid dreams and have since I was a little girl. Sometimes I can have half a dozen or more a night. They can be terrifying or mystical. In 2001, I decided (again, again) to figure out my life. I looked through my journals and typed up about one third of the dreams I had written down over the years. By the time I was finished I had 60,000 words or more. And then I read what I had typed. My dreams were so filled with violence: war, murder, apocalypse, rape, incest, and more murder. I knew this because I had dreamed them, but to read them all at once was quite disturbing.

I put them away and haven’t looked at them since. And over the last year or so, I haven’t dreamed as much as I used to. Kamenetz postulates that by interpreting our dreams we are missing the true value of them--we are dampening their power. What does that actually mean? I’m not sure yet. I heard him on the radio and when he talked about particular dreams, he seemed to be interpreting them. It may be a semantic thing.

I’ll let you know when I know.

In any case, I dreamed and dreamed. I was a wandering, traveling from one place to the next, in the dark, in the light, in the rain, in the snow. In one dream I had a foster child who began varnishing the bathroom, and so I had to call in help because of the fumes. The most startling dream happened when a tall dark man I knew leaned over me and breathed in my ear. He just breathed. It was very sensual. Not sexual, but sensual, if that makes any sense. I wasn’t frightened because I knew and liked him. But I couldn’t move for a time. I tried to speak but I couldn’t. He kept breathing. Eventually he moved away and disappeared.

Very odd.

It was one of those mornings where neither Mario or I wanted to get up. We’d awaken and curl up around each other and then fall to sleep again. And I would dream. Then we’d wake up and shift and fall to sleep again. A wonderful dreamy morning.

For breakfast, I peeled and then cut up two parsnips into quarters lengthwise. (So they looked like French fries.) I put a few drops of olive oil in my palms and then I rubbed each little fry between my palms. I put them in a glass roasting pan. I ground a little pepper over them and added a dash of sea salt. Then I put them in the oven at 375.

While they baked, I did my Kum Nye massage.

I must seem obsessed with the minutiae of my life lately. It’s true, I suppose. I am trying to fit back into my life. For eight years much of my focus was on what was happening countrywide and worldwide. Of course I still care about all of those things, but I need some parochial perspective.

Starting with my own life.

When the parsnips were ready, I basted a couple of eggs. Mario came down and set the table. He put vegetables on our plates and cut up an avocado and apple.

The parsnips were a hit. It must be nice for Mario to have me doing some of the cooking again. Too often, he’s the one making all the meals. That just gets tiresome.

I read a little of Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. after breakfast. At first I was excited by it. He said that he’d figured out that there is no “average” person and so telling everyone to be on the same diet or take the same supplements was ridiculous. This was something I had been saying for years, but I didn’t know if I was right or not. As I kept reading I learned about something called lectin which is in most foods but is very high in grains and legumes and many of the vegetables we eat regularly. This substance apparently causes an immune response (allergies and other inflammatory responses) in most people. It’s similar to the response some people have to gluten.

I read this and thought, “What the hell can I eat?”

Some of it rang true to me, however. I do soak beans and grains for 24 to 48 hours before I cook them. Before I started doing that, I had a lot of trouble with beans. But even now, I often feel lethargic and little sick to my stomach after eating beans. According to one article I read, this nausea could be caused by the toxins in legumes. I am trying to rid myself of asthma and other allergies. Maybe I’ll try to reduce some of the foods that I eat that are high in lectin.


Midday, I bundled up as much as I could and Mario and I went for a walk. The sun was out, but it was cold, windy, and icy. Snow covered the gorge cliffs, and if I could have seen much of it, I probably would have thought it was beautiful. Mario said I reminded him of Iron Man, except I was in black. I said, “Only if it was a Cold Iron Man.”

We walked down by the creek. We hadn’t been there since we returned. Rocks were still filling up the bed from the slide. It hardly looked like a river any more, just an accumulation of rocks with a bit of water running through it.

It was my first time out of the house since I went to acupuncture on Friday. Brrrr.

I looked at the empty lot across the street where the boys had been riding their trail bikes a few days ago. I could see a path. They had obviously been riding a lot while we were away. I stood on top of the hill and sang a little song that will hopefully scare away any more trouble in this place. I don't want to deal with this.

But I will.

Once I got inside my warm house, I decided to look at the news. Many businesses will deliver their quarterly reports tomorrow. They are expected to be the worse quarterly reports in a decade. Nothing I could do about that. I listened to President Obama’s weekly address. He said more people applied for unemployment last week than any time in the last twenty-six years. (I just noticed he looks a little like Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager, and he sounds a lot like him.)

Man. This week should be interesting. (And not because Prez Obama looks like Tim Russ and sounds like Tuvok.)

I looked at the White House website. It was nice going there and not seeing Bush. I went to the page of all the presidents and I scrolled through their pictures. I noticed two things: (1) Most of them are dead. So for all the Sturm und Drang that accompanies any life, even a president’s, everyone ends up in the same place. (2) They’re all men. At least half of those puppies should be women. Come on.

Do you think the world would be a better place if more women were in power?

I used to have an answer to that question, but not any more. At least not tonight.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Me & The City of Books: One

Me and the City of Books

Lily Crow

One: Coming Home

We stopped at the Hawthorne Fish House as soon as we got to Portland, after a month away from the Pacific Northwest. It was cold and dark out. I didn’t relish another month of winter. I needed a bit more sustenance than food could provide this night. I wanted to go to Powell’s City of Books.

I first encountered Powell’s about twenty-five years ago. Mario and I moved to the Oregon coast from Michigan in 1982. A friend of ours let us live in her grandfather’s house for nothing more than the cost of insurance, which was about $120 a year. The house was the definition of ramshackle. I remember walking into the house for the first time after taking a train and then a bus across country to get there: I was hit with this unmistakable odor of must and mold. I was three thousand miles from home, give or take, and I couldn’t go back.

We could hear ocean if we opened the back windows, and the beach was a five minute walk away. The price was right, but it probably wasn’t the best place for me. It had termites which swarmed out of our bedroom for weeks during certain times of the year. It had fleas that awakened--or hatched out--as soon as we turned on the heat. (No one had lived in the house for some years before we got there.) The musty smell never went away. It was a depressing little house, but we were grateful for it.

It was about a five hour drive to Portland from our little town on the coast. We only made that drive about once a year. And we always went to Powell’s. When we first started going to the store, it was much smaller and labyrinthian. You could find almost anything you were looking for, often for less than a buck. Back then, it seemed as though everyone who worked for Powell’s had gone to snot school. No one ever wanted to help us.

Eventually Mario and I moved to the Columbia River Gorge, and we began going to Powell’s more regularly because it was only an hour away. The store began getting bigger. Sometimes during the expansion I couldn’t come for months at a time--maybe even a year once--because of the chemical smells from the remodeling. Soon, Powell’s expanded beyond the block and opened up other bookstores in town.

Whenever we went to Powell’s, I would fantasize about one day going into the store and finding my books there. And then it happened. One day, I walked by the literature and poetry section and up the steps to where the genre fiction was. My book was there. What a rush!

The years went by and another book came out and another and I always loved going to Powell’s and seeing them on the shelf.

Powell’s began to change in other ways, too. One day I was looking for a book in the nature section. A twenty-something Powell’s employee was in the same aisle on a ladder putting books away. I heard her say, “Do you need some help?”

I looked around. I had been coming to Powell’s for fifteen years and no one had ever asked me if I needed anything.

I said, “Are you talking to me?” (No, not a la DeNiro.)

“Yes,” she said.

“No one here has ever asked me if I needed help,” I said. “In fact, people have gone out of their way not to help.”

I know how to win friends and influence people.

“We’re trying to change that,” she said. She sounded very annoyed with me.

“No, I don’t need any help,” I said. She seemed very glad to get away from me.

Powell’s was changing, but the old guard remained. When Coyote Cowgirl came out, I called and asked if they would be interested in having me come in a do a reading. The booker practically sneered when he said, “We don’t do genre.” I laughed. He sounded so Machiavellian that it was funny. That same year, Charles de Lint came to town to do a reading and he told them he wanted me to read with him. So I did.

It was a strange evening. I was recovering from a nasty staph infection which made my back look like elephant skin, plus the itching had kept me awake for about six weeks. My nose was also swollen to about twice its normal size from nasal polyps. Think Quasi Moto and you’ve got the idea. We had dinner with Charles and a couple other people. It was at a restaurant Mario and I had raved about, but no one liked the food. (That was the last time we ever went. It went out of business soon after.)

My reading went well as far as I could tell. Charles read and he was great. Then we sat at a table together to sign books. A few things about that night stick out in my mind. And remember as I tell you these things that I was on drugs (strong antibiotics), had been sick for weeks, and looked like an elephant and Quasi Moto in a red silk blouse. I may have been slightly cranky or overly-sensitive. (I have never worn that silk blouse since.) People were lined up to get their books signed. Most people bought Charles’ books, of course. And I didn’t mind that. I was thrilled to be sitting next to him.

But then this person came up to Charles and said her name and who she was with. I recognized the name. She had given my book a snarky review. I don’t remember now what she actually wrote except it included the word “ugh.” I don’t like bad reviews--no writer does, I imagine. But I hate reviews where they just seem to take delight in being nasty. Every writer knows that they should never answer reviews, they should never discuss reviews, and they should just keep mum about reviews; otherwise the writer looks bad. That’s what we’ve always been told.

Not so much me that night. I said, “Oh you’re the one who gave me that nasty review.”

She smiled and tried to talk to Charles. She said something about it just being her opinion or some such stuff. I told her I thought she had gone over the line and that she didn’t have to be so snotty. Something like that. I can only imagine what Charles thought as he sat there signing her books and hearing me berate her.

She finally got away. Soon after a librarian I knew showed up. I had known she was a fan of Charles de Lint’s work, so I had contacted her to let her know he was coming to Powell’s; I said I would be happy to introduce her. She came up to the table with a friend of hers and I introduced Charles to them. They were both giggling, like star-struck teenagers. She didn’t even look at my book; she didn’t even seem to see me, except for me to introduce her to Charles. I began feeling angry and resentful toward her.

Ahhh, don’t you hate when pettiness creeps into your life?

But Powell’s was more than a place where I could come and see my own books. I came there to find books written by other people. For nearly twenty years, I was a book selector for my library district, so I would come to Powell’s to keep up with what was new. What was old. What was borrowed. What was blue.

My relationship with Powell’s has been complex over the years. But overall, what Powell’s books has contributed to my life has been more good than bad. Over the years when we’ve needed money, we’ve always been able to get a few bucks by selling our old books to them. When we’re flush, we then buy more books.

I have come to Powell’s when I was depressed and needed comforting. I have come to Powell’s when I had a few extra bucks. I came to Powell’s when I needed to do research. I came to Powell’s so that I could walk down the literature aisles and run my fingers along the spines of the books and dream that my stories would be there one day. I went to Powell’s when I was looking for answers.

Sometimes I stayed five minutes. Sometimes I stayed for hours. Often I had mini-epiphanies or revelations. Sometimes I laughed. Sometimes I cried. But all in all over the last twenty-five years or more, Powell’s has been a part of my life.

In Me and the City of Books, I want to document over the next year (more or less) my travels to and within the city of books.

And my first trip to Powell’s in 2009 happened after dinner on our way home from a month long writing retreat in Arizona. It was after 9:00 p.m. I’m not sure why I wanted to go. I think I was trying to stall the inevitable end to our retreat and our vacation. Now we would have to go back to “real” life.

For those of you who have never been to Powell’s Books, let me describe it to you a bit. It is in downtown Portland off Burnside Street and it takes up a city block. From Powell’s website, this is how they begin to describe the City of Books: “The City stocks more than a million new and used books. Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections.” They say 80,000 people a day browse their shelves in person or via the internet.

On this particular night, I came into the store from the Couch and Eleventh entrance. (That’s pronounced “cooch” not “kou ch” like the sofa thing.) Mario was shopping at Whole Foods. I walked down into the Orange Room. Hardly anyone was around. Ahhhh! It felt peaceful after our long road trip.

I went to the cooking section. I love looking in the cookbooks. I don’t eat or cook like anyone else I know and I can’t eat most of the dishes in the cookbooks, but I still like looking. Sometimes I stare at the books and imagine what it would be like to eat whatever I’d like. Especially the cookie and cupcake books. They’re so pretty. When I look at them, I think, “Mmmm. Happy people must be able to eat all the cookies and cupcakes they want.”

When I was a little girl, I remember thinking, “When I grow up, I’m going to have ice cream any time I want.”

I did grow up. (I think.) And now I never eat ice cream.

I haven’t been able to smell anything for the last fifteen years, except for a few days here and there in the last three years. When I got sinus surgery three years ago, my sense of smell did begin to come back, but it is gone more than it is back.

I stare at cookbooks and imagine what it will be like once I can smell! Life is much more sensual when one can smell. I stood looking at the cookbooks and wondered what the hell I was doing there. I needed to get home. I had to unpack. I had to do all those things I had to do.

Sometimes we talk about moving away from the Pacific Northwest. I always say, “But we’d have to leave Powell’s.”

Good grief. It’s just a bunch of books in a nondescript building on the shores of Tenth, Burnside, Couch, and Eleventh.

I picked up Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. I had wanted this book since it came out, but I kept waiting for a paperback version. Or a used copy. This book had no bookjacket, just some words on a pale yellow cover: ALICE WATERS THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. In-between FOOD and Notes was a line drawing of a basket of groceries. On the back of the book were Alice’s guidelines for eating, cooking, and living well: Eat locally & sustainably; East seasonally; Shop at farmers’ markets; Plant a garden; Conserve, compost & recycle; Cook simply; Cook together; Eat together; Rememember food is precious.

I liked that. Those were pretty much my guidelines, too.

I saw another cookbook I had been lusting after: David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs and other recipes. I had first seen it in Santa Cruz. It was too expensive though. I needed to wait until a used copy came back or it went into soft cover. I flipped through it. A lot of meat dishes that I would never make, yet I liked his stories of meals he had had. When my family gets together, we often talk about meals we’ve eaten. I like talking about food. I like reading about food. Sometimes I’ll start talking about food and Mario’s eyes will glaze over. I know that I am geeky about food.

I’m not a gourmet. My palate is too diminished because of the loss of my sense of smell. I love simple food. I love making simple food. I love eating with other people and enjoying the camaraderie that comes with sharing a meal together. I think a wonderful desert can be an apple or a peach sliced up and put on a pretty plate. On the cover of A Platter of Figs are two figs. Except for the fact that this man cooks for a living and is a gourmet chef, I suppose, it sounded like we both believed in simple foods.

What the heck. We were still on vacation. I could use some nourishment. I picked up the books and headed for the cashier.

A young man behind one of the cash registers motioned me over to him.

I handed him the two books. “We’ve been gone six weeks and I had to stop here first on our way home,” I said. I was feeling a bit giddy. “We missed Powell’s. How was everything during the big snow storm?”

He rolled his eyes. “You know people in Portland,” he said. “They see a little snow and everything closes down.”

“You didn’t lose electricity?”

“No,” he said, “just a little snow.” He looked at my books. “This one is great.” A Platter of Figs.

“You liked it?” I asked.

“Yes, oh and Alice Waters,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with Alice Waters.”

I smiled at him. I remembered the bad old days when employees at Powell’s didn’t speak to the customers.

“No, you can’t go wrong,” I said.

I gave him some money, thanked him, and then I went out into the night.

Felt just like I was home.

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Me & the First Hundreds Day: Three

Day Three

President Obama lifted the so-called gag rule today. On Bush’s first day in office, he reinstated the gag rule that Clinton had lifted after Reagan instated it. In essence the gag rule meant that no clinics getting any kind of international aid from the U.S. could even talk about abortion let alone perform any. It also prevented these agencies from distributing any birth control, including condoms.

That’s done with for now. That’s one for women’s rights, for freedom of speech, for science.

I woke up feeling like I was coming down with something. I sat on the couch and did some Kum Nye yoga, which includes about an hour of massage. I also called the acupuncturist. I had wanted to go for a while without any healthcare providers touching my body, looking at my body, or making judgments about my health and my body. But thems the breaks.

I made myself some oatmeal with banana for breakfast. I knew it wouldn’t sustain me. Everyone is different, but for me, I need some protein in the morning. I was a vegetarian for about ten years, and I just kept getting sicker and sicker. Once I started eating some wild fish and the occasional organic and humanely raised dead bird, I started feeling better. Plus once I began eating more protein, I didn’t have those huge highs and lows that come from eating a steady diet of carbos. I still don’t eat any red meat or dairy.

Anyway, I knew the oatmeal wouldn’t hold me, but I couldn’t eat eggs every morning. I tried getting the house into some kind of order after breakfast. I was still hoping I would find my mother’s ring. When Mom died last year, we each took one of her rings. I kept the one I have in my Church of the Old Mermaids (cigar) box, which I take with me when I go on retreat. It’s my traveling altar/sacred place. When I was showing the box and its contents to my sister in Santa Cruz, I realized the ring was not there. I was in a panic. Mario was sure we would find it when we got home.

I didn’t find it when we got home. And I kept losing other things. I lost my keys for a couple of days when we got home. Lost one of the telephone rechargers. But my mom’s ring: How could I lose that? I was determined not to beat up on myself about it though. It was just a thing. My mother was part of me. I had her DNA. It was not a tragedy to lose her ring.

Still, I wished I hadn’t lost it.

As I prepared to go to the acupuncturist, I felt scared and vulnerable. I hate going to doctors, naturopaths, and most any healthcare person. I usually don’t mind going to the acupuncturist, but today I was nervous. I haven’t always been afraid of doctors. One day I woke up and I was afraid. It probably didn’t happen that way, but it feels like it. Just like I used to love flying, and then one day I was petrified to fly. Although in that case, I can trace the fear to a flight I took coming back from Europe. Nearly every year, I worked hard (while going to college full-time) and I saved up enough money to travel over the Xmas break. I almost always went to Europe with my then-boyfriend. (I backpacked all over Europe when I was eighteen with a girlfriend. Later I went to Greece, England, Ireland, and Cypress with the boyfriend.)

I loved traveling. I loved flying. The first time I flew was for my high school trip. We went to London. It was great! My last trip back from Europe wasn’t so great. The plane took a dive, I thought we were all going to die, and the stewardess thought we were all going to die. We didn’t die. But apparently the trauma of the “almost” fried my nervous system and I’ve been terrified of flying ever since. I used to fly every year. Since 1980, I’ve flown three times. I was terrified out of my mind each time. I was told if I flew I would get over the fear. I flew; I didn’t get over it. My oldest sister is afraid of flying, too. She does it, but she hates it. She is terrified each and every time. She is braver than I am.

How did I start talking about this? I was getting ready for the acupuncturist and being fearful. Man. If I could change anything in my life with a snap of the fingers, I would change that part of myself: I would ask that my perpetual fear and anxiety be disappeared so that I could be a normal human being--with a normal amount of fear.

It’s a strange thing to admit your fears. I did it often on Furious Spinner because I don’t think mental illness is anything to be ashamed of. A mental disorder is an illness just like diabetes. But being afraid or having anxiety is not something many people admit. And no one ever understands someone else’s fears. Mario doesn’t like speaking in public, for instance. Most people I know get nervous speaking in front of a group of people. Not me. I could talk to a crowd of a million people. A billion people. I have always been good with crowds. But don’t put me on a plane or send me to the doctor.

I took a shower before the appointment. I gave myself a pep talk. I had to start being easier on myself. Quit trying so hard. In fact, quit trying. Just have a good time. Relax. Or don’t relax.

I got out of the shower and went into my room (next to the living room) and sat on the floor, in my b-day suit, and brushed my hair in front of an oval mirror that sits on the floor and leans against the wall. I’m not really sure why I did this, but I did.

I sat there as naked as the day I came out of my mother’s womb and brushed my hair. The oval mirror framed me perfectly. A friend of mine had etched the words “Thou art goddess” in the mirror. I thought, “Yep, I’m a little naked goddess. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just all accept ourselves for who we are?“ As I sat there, on my left, I noticed the Old Mermaids box on the little altar/table next to the mirror. I sighed and felt a twinge of guilt about my mother’s ring. My mother’s ring.

I looked to my right. Right at my line of sight because I was on the floor was a bunch of necklaces hanging from the closet door knob. Amongst the necklaces was also a blue and gold pouch I’d picked up in Santa Fe a few years ago. I reached out and felt the pouch, on the off-chance the ring I put the ring in there. I didn’t feel a ring. I felt a marble the faeries had left for me. (Long story, another time. Yes, even longer than this one.) I took the pouch off the doorknob anyway and I opened it up and poured the contents into my hand: one marble and one mother’s ring.

When I had gone to one of my workshops, I must have put the ring into the pouch so that I could take it with me as a talisman. And I had forgotten.

I hate when I do stuff like that.

But I was very happy I had found the ring. Ecstatic even. I thought about the sequence of events that led me to sit on the floor in the first place: I was in the world naked, accepting myself, framed by the words “thou art goddess” and then I found what I was looking for. In this case, it was my mother’s ring.

Acceptance. I had to remember that.

Remembering who I am. That would be good, too.

I went to the acupuncturist. Then drove home. On the way home, I heard President Obama had ordered air strikes in Pakistan. I never understand how the United States gets away with bombing other countries. What if some country came and bombed parts of our country because they thought our citizens were going to harm them? We’d go to war with them, wouldn’t we? But apparently Pakistan is still our ally. It is part of the war mentality I don’t understand. The news said sixteen people were killed. Sixteen people. Were they civilians? Children? They were somebody’s children. I wondered what it be like for Obama as he went to sleep tonight. Would he think of those sixteen people?

Mario and I had a dinner of rice, beans, veggies, and baked yam. We played Scrabble.

And then I fell to sleep on the couch watching Numb3rs on my computer.

I dreamed it was raining and I saw Pegasus flying up into the clouds. No one else saw it but me and I wondered if that meant there was something wrong with me.

Read more here...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Me & the First Hundred Days: Two

Day Two

Got up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Although I’m not quite sure what that means.

I did get up after about seven hours of sleep. I dreamed, but the story faded as I quickly straightened the covers over the bed. I said good morning world and looked outside. The sunlight was green. Didn’t know what that meant either. End of the world as we knew it or just another dreary winter day in the Pacific Northwest?

The phone rang soon after I got up, but I didn’t answer it. That’s one of my rules that I often break: Don’t answer the phone until after I eat.

Did you ever think about that expression: answering the phone. Did the phone ask us a question that needed answering?

Yesterday I didn’t get in any nourishing food, so I was determined this day would be different. I turned on the television. We still had service, so I got to watch President Obama signing an executive order that would close Gitmo in a year and end the use of torture.

Yes, yes, yes! I never thought our country would ever unlawfully imprison people and torture them. It was naïve, I know. Any country and any people can drift into fascism if they don’t stand up to the power structure. I stood up. Millions of us stood up; this time it didn’t do any good. We couldn’t stop the war and we couldn’t stop them from torturing people in our name.

Please let that all be over now.

How does it happen that we begin to believe it is all right to deliberately hurt other people?

Today I heard trail bikes across the road from us in an empty lot near the day care. I put on my coat and went into the icy wind to tell them to stop. I couldn’t get the attention of the boys who were riding the bikes. It was too cold; I had to go back into the house.

Listening to that kind of noise--the whine of trail bikes or weed wackers or the roar of motorcycles feels like torture to me. I’m not being glib about it. I’m serious. Those kinds of noises physically hurt me. Same with barking dogs. There’s an inconsistency in the sound that never turns into white noise and it remains painful.

I called a real estate office in town to try and find the man who owned the empty lot. Or find the man I thought owned the lot. He wasn’t in, so I called the police. I found out it wasn’t illegal to ride the bikes in town unless they were trespassing. I hoped they were trespassing. We would have to move if they kept it up.

Last time I lived in a place where I was subjected to that kind of noise day in and day out, I went a little bonkers. I had to quit my job as branch librarian because of illness (caused by the materials that were used when they remodeled my branch). Every day I sat in our little apartment and listened to a man and his son ride trail bikes around the small lot near us. And I listened to the truck come and go inches from my door. Listened to them rev the motor.

One day I went over to ask the truck driver to be a little quieter and a girl called me a bitch. And then I saw red. I thought that was something people made up. But I saw red. Or I saw the world change. Or I changed. I went crazy. I wanted to hurt the girl. So I went after her. She ran from me. Got into her car. I raised my hand to hit her. I brought my hand down, to strike her. My skin touched her skin, and I suddenly came back into my body--came back to my senses.

I apologized. I told her it had been wrong of me to come after her, especially when she got into her car. I told her that. I told her I had no right, no matter what she said to me. When her brother came back--in his big noisy truck--he was furious. I could see he wanted to hurt me. I strode right up to him and told him I was sorry. I volunteered to go to the police. That freaked them out: Why did this loony bin want to get the police involved?

Soon after we found a house in another county to rent, and we moved.

Of course, that was fifteen years ago. I was older now. Wiser. I wasn’t going to let some kids on trail bikes drive me out of my home.

Or maybe I would, but today I wasn’t going to worry about it.

I made my version of a frittata for a late breakfast. I cut up some crimini mushrooms into little bits along with some red onions and put them in a glass pie plate. I added a dash of olive oil, mixed it all up, and put them in the oven for a few minutes. While that was baking, I cut up a handful of chard. Then I beat two eggs with a whisk. I pulled the ‘shrooms and onions out of the oven. I dropped in the chard, and then I poured the eggs over it all. (It’s a very flat frittata when I use the pie plate. If I wanted it deeper, I would use something smaller.)

I put all that in the oven after I made certain the chard wasn’t sticking up out of the egg stuff. Then I ripped up a few pieces of lettuce. I grated carrot over the lettuce. In a jar, I put a bit of fish oil. (You could use olive oil if you’re veggie; I wanted the omega oils, and flax oil doesn’t agree with me.) Then I squeezed in some lime. I added a couple cloves of garlic I pressed. I shook it all up together and then poured it over my salad. A few minutes later, I took the frittata out of the oven. Easy as pie! It was delicious. Everything organic, of course.

And of course I talked to the food while I was preparing my meal. Many years ago, I dreamed I was at this Romanian woman's house or restaurant. This is what I wrote in my dream journal, “As she is cooking she is telling me little bits of Romanian wisdom. She seems a bit superstitious, yet I hesitated to call it that. We step outside and she murmurs and motions and tells me we should always talk to the spirits in everything.”

I heed her advice; I talk to everything.

Later in the day, I got some writing work done. Yeah! The house was still wrecked, but I sometimes seem to draw clutter to me like Pigpen drew dirt. And this is strange because I don’t save things. I don’t collect many things. It’s when I’m writing: I have books everywhere. That’s the bulk of the clutter. I just need to put the books on the shelves. My bookshelves are very orderly. I have the books in order by subject and in the subject area they are alphabetical by the author’s last name.

Hey, I’m a librarian, writer, and researcher. My books have got to be in some kind of order or I would spend half my time looking for books.

Before my Healers Circle, I boiled rice spaghetti pasta and baked a fillet of wild Alaskan salmon. I heated up some of the vegetables Mario had steamed yesterday. I threw these things together in a big beautiful yellow bowl, added a few drops of olive oil, and then tossed them all together. We had another quick, easy, and nourishing meal.

At least this day I was feeding myself well.

Then I went out into the cold and dark and drove to the library. I had started this healers circle last summer. (No possessive apostrophe on purpose. It's not our circle; it is a circle of healers.) I was feeling more and more that we need to look out for each other in our own communities. So I tried to gather together people in our community who were doing different kinds of healing work. For our first circle, we had a nurse, a couple Reiki practitioners, a shamanic practitioner, Qi gong teacher, an ecopsychologist, and a few other people. It was great!

I started out each circle with drumming. It amazed me then and it still amazes me how many people do not take to drumming naturally. They often seem self-conscious. I feel percussion is something innate in us--I mean, listen to our hearts. And I believe healing is not an intellectual activity. I think healing happens and what we’re thinking doesn’t have a lot to do with it. It’s about groovin’ and movin’ and getting out of the way so that our bodies can do what comes naturally.

I could be wrong. But that’s what I feel.

We usually have someone demonstrate what they do or some new technique they’ve learned, and then we all do some Reiki or energetic healing on one another. (At this point you might be wondering if it works or are we just a bunch of crazy people. Is it real? I ask myself these questions all the time, and I ask people to document what happens to them after we have these circles. The people who have chronic pain have reported relief of their pain for up to three days. When I first started doing this kind of work, I thought those kinds of results meant it didn’t work. But then the people who were relieved of their pain for those three days said it was a little miracle for them to have any relief at all. (And better for their livers than the pain meds, which also didn’t make the pain go away forever.)

So I don’t know the answer. Sometimes I gotta let the mystery be.

This night, the hostess of the circle didn’t have us drum. I missed that part of it, but I let go. I have to learn not to try and control everything. Maybe she was right--maybe we didn’t need the drumming.

I had a good time seeing everyone, but I was bushed and close to tears most of the time. I felt so tenderhearted.

I am so unsure of so many things.

And it’s good to admit that.

The woman taught us a self-healing technique. It was very relaxing. Unfortunately, I ate some of the gluten-free dairy-free cookies someone had made. They were scrumptious, but they did have sugar in them. And something else that didn’t agree with me. My ears started ringing more than usual. I wanted to kick myself. I have been so good at not eating anything when I go out--for twenty-five years!--but it can feel isolating. And tonight, I felt as though she had made the cookies in part for me. So I ate them. They were good. But I should have had one instead of four.

Ah well.

My second day of the one hundred was better than the first. I ate mostly good food.

What were my other goals?

I can’t remember.

What a fruitcake.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trouble With Comments (Updated)

I think I mistakenly rejected a comment when I meant to publish it, so if you recently commented and it didn't turn up, just comment again! But I will repeat what I've said before: I don't generally publish "anonymous" comments unless they're signed and I know the person or if the comments are pithy and not obnoxious. I generally don't publish rants although I may if I know the person or if it is not anonymous. I don't think the internet is a good place for a productive sustainable argument. Those are best left for times when people are together. I think it's too easy to be obnoxious and/or cruel online. It's easier to be inhuman. In person, we can better see each other as fellow human beans. (OK, and as beings.)

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Another Excerpt

I put up another excerpt from The Old Mermaid.

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Me & the First Hundred Days: One

(I think I'm going to start using a pencil name for some of my work. I may change my mind about that. Right now Lily Crow is writing Me and the First Hundred Days and a few other things. She pretty much shares my life. I should give her husband a different name, but I didn't since I'm not really trying to hide the fact that Lily Crow is a pen name, pseudonym, alias, nom de plume, why bother? Anyway, I'm going to see if I can transform myself (in a loving and accepting way) over the next hundred days. It may all crash and burn. It may not. See what you think.)

Me & the First Hundred Days

by Lily Crow

I believe it was President Roosevelt who started the brouhaha over the first hundred days of a new administration. He and Congress tried to get the country out of the depression with the New Deal. Congress enacted every program Roosevelt asked for during the first hundred days. Since then, apparently, every president has hated the fact that they are often measured by their first hundred days. I say it’s a good opportunity to set some goals. For the prez and for me.

I would like to get out of my depression. I would like to leap out of my funk. I would like to begin (again) my brave new life. Our country has been in the grip of an administration who defiled our constitution, put the economy in the dumpster, ignored science to the peril of our world, and vacated our civil liberties. I am hopeful that is all behind us.

So I'd like to put all my personal demons behind me, too.

A few months ago, within the space of a few days, two different people said I talked “as if it’s all over.” I realized they were right. After years of illness, after facing the fact of two failed careers, in the midst of grieving over the sudden death of my mother, I had started to think of my life as being over. I was tired of doctors. I was tired of my body and mind always going on the fritz. I was weary of burying friend after friend. I couldn’t seem to find the joy in my life.

I don’t know why I just wrote that paragraph in the past tense. I am tired now; I am still weary; and I am looking for the joy! I don’t want to keep seeking answers elsewhere. I don’t trust my own intuition or my own knowledge, but I need discover what sense I have. I need to get my groove back (with nods to Stella). I am too young to quit and too old not to have some wisdom!

So I’m going to take advantage of the first hundred days of this new administration and try my own new administration.

Day One

On the first full day of the new administration, I wanted to get up early and get some work done. We had just returned from a monthlong writing retreat in Arizona. The house was a mess. I hadn’t been eating right during the retreat, and I wanted to make some healing nourishing food today. I also wanted to start the rewrite on my novel and do some library work.

I got up late. It was cold in the house. It was cold outside. Wind shook the house. I just wanted to crawl under a blanket and go back to sleep. Or go back to Arizona.

I moved slowly. I did the laundry. I did a little library work. Felt like I was walking through sludge. Felt like the bell jar of depression and immobility was dropping down over me again. I wondered if there was something about this house. Had I created a kind of morphic field of fear, anxiety and depression? The woman who owns this house developed problems with her brain while she lived here and her husband died at a relatively young age from cancer. But it took us years to find this house to rent. We live in an area where rich people can buy houses, but ordinary people can’t find affordable housing. Sometimes I think I made all the wrong choices when I was young. I should have gone into some kind of career that would have given me some kind of stability.

Some kind of money.

Of course, twenty-nine years ago, it never occurred to me that I would actually fail to make a living as a writer. I was certain I was good enough and smart enough: I would be one of the lucky ones. Mario, too.

That didn't happen.

But that's another story.

This day, I kept wondering if I was going to fail once again. A goal of transformation in a hundred days? Hah! I had set many goals over the years, but lately I couldn’t seem to reach any of them any more. Last year at this time, after my mother died, I promised myself that I would live a life of joy and purpose. I immediately wrote two novels—which was a good start—but then I wasn’t able to sell them. I became estranged from my agent after years of a great relationship. I began eating too much. And I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of a debilitating melancholy despite help from my naturopath, acupuncturist, therapist, and others.

So what made me think this artificial construct of a hundred days would accomplish anything?

I lay on the couch most of the day and watched any coverage I could find of President Obama. I had said for years that the government cannot do everything for its citizens. It's "we the people" not "I, the government." We each have got to be part of our communities. We have to be involved. We have to volunteer.

Most of what I do every day is unpaid work. Sometimes this is because I volunteer my time and talent; sometimes this is just the way it is. I don’t intend to stop doing that, but I am glad now that our president is encouraging the rest of the country to get involved. But this day, I didn’t feel like being involved in anything.

Mario came home for lunch. After he ate, we decided to take a walk. I don’t like walking in cold weather because the cold triggers my asthma. (Maybe I shouldn’t call it “my” asthma. Perhaps I’ll start calling it “the” asthma. I don’t want to claim it as my own!) But I thought, “Man, I can’t hide out in this house for another month.” So I pulled snow pants and a shirt over my pajamas and put on my long winter coat. I put on a hat and wrapped a scarf around my head and face. Mario went outside to talk to the man working to repair our roof. (While we were away, one of the many storms pulled part of our roof away.)

I noticed Mario’s keys on the steps. He had left them with me because the woman who watered our plants while we were gone still had my keys. Before Mario pulled the keys out of his pocket, I said, “Everyone in town has keys to our house except me.“ That was a slight exaggeration. I had given keys to two young people we knew whose parents had died. Anyway, I joked about other people having keys to our house. So Mario dropped his keys on the stairs.

I noticed the keys and yet I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. As soon as the door shut, I realized what I had done. I patted my pocket. At least I had an inhaler in my pocket. I swore. I realized a stranger was working on our roof and I probably should watch what I was saying. But I swore again.

Mario and I walked to the library and called the woman who had my keys. Her husband came to the library a few minutes later with the keys. He drove me home. The roofer was still there. He looked a little nervous as I walked up the steps. I wondered if I had frightened him.

Once I got inside, I lay on the couch again. This time I watched Top Chef. We ordinarily don’t have television service, but I had turned it back on for the inauguration. I had called earlier in the day to cancel it, but it was still on. So I watched it.

I started to feel as though my first day was a complete failure. President Obama had signed an executive order about ethics in his administration. I don’t like executive orders. They seem too much like something kings and queens do. I believe in the co-equal branches of government. Since Reagan, the president has become more and more powerful. This has happened back and forth during the history of our country. Some people seem to long for a king, a czar, one ruler, while the rest of us say, “Hey! Grow up. Be your own leader. We fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy in this country.”

I don’t like executive orders, but I’m glad that they’re taking some steps to bring ethics back into government.

I emailed Mario about going into Portland for dinner. We had decided we would start tightening our belts once we got home from the retreat. Not sure how that will go. For one thing, I don’t have a belt. For another thing, we are not exactly spendthrifts. We don’t make much money, so we need to watch most of our pennies all the time. And, it was time to get back into the rhythm of our ordinary life: It was not time to run into Portland for more fun, frolicking, and food.

Or maybe it was.

The idea of going to town spurred me into action. I got up off the couch. I folded laundry. I did the dishes. I took all the stuff that was cluttering the kitchen table and put it away. (At least I think I put it away. Maybe I just put it into the back room where I could deal with it later.)

When Mario got home, I went out into the cold and the dark, and we drove to Portland.

As we headed for town, Mario asked me if the roofer was still around. I told him that he must have left at some point. In passing, Mario mentioned that the roofer had some peculiar religious views. Something about a kind of code in the bible which says that the United States is the salvation of the world.

“This person knows where I live?”

“It’s a small town,” Mario said. “Everyone knows where we live.”

“Does he have mental problems?” I asked.

I was starting to get nervous. When I was in high school, a girl I knew was murdered by someone she knew who apparently suddenly went crazy or who was off his meds. Or something terrible. I found out about it the night it happened while I was watching the 11:00 news at a house where I was babysitting. I heard Bill Bonds mispronounce the name of my classmate, heard him describe the knife and how many times it had been used. Heard that she had driven home after she was attacked and died in the arms of her sister. Or mother.

I remember I couldn’t scream because I didn’t want to wake the kids. I was sixteen years old. The room spun. I ran around the downstairs, mumbling, “No, no, no.” I finally called my father and he came and sat with me until the parents came home.

It was horrible.

Crazy people make me uneasy.

To put it mildly.

“No, he doesn’t have mental problems,” Mario said. “As far as I can tell. He’s looked at evidence and he's come to what he believes is a logical conclusion.”

“So he isn’t crazy?” I said. It was the dawn of a new day. Or at least the first hundred days. I needed to stop living in so much fear. “Maybe it’s like how I talk to fairies and trees. I suppose some people would think that was crazy.”

We ate at the Tao of Tea. A new waitress. She didn’t seem thrilled with her work or us. This was strange because usually the people at Tao of Tea are so wonderful. I ate dal and rice; Mario had chana chaval. $12. Afterward we went to Powell’s. We wandered around the store for awhile and then we ran out to the parking lot.

“Isn’t this so much fun?” I asked.

“It is indeed,” Mario said. We were laughing as we got into the car. I felt happy.

Mario couldn’t see very well to pull out of the parking spot, so I offered to get out and see how he was doing. I said it was clear and then I saw two pedestrians, so I said, “It’s clear except for the people coming.”

I should have said, “Stop!”

He kept going. I was standing in the open door so as the car went back, the door started to knock me over. I yelled for Mario to stop. When we were in Arizona, I had read a news story about a woman who had accidentally killed herself at a drive-up ATM when she leaned over to pick up something she had dropped on the ground. Her car lurched forward and crushed her.

As Mario kept going and I kept yelling, I flashed on this poor woman.

Mario did stop. The two women went by. I got back into the car.

And Mario and I had a terrible fight. Terrible for us. It’s all relative. Mostly I was yelling. Mostly I was scared shitless. Mostly Mario wasn’t saying a word.

I walked around Whole Foods by myself to blow off steam. I had to stop being afraid of what might happen or what could happen or what almost happened. Years ago, a therapist had said I reacted to the world and everyday events the way she had seen children who had been in wars react to the world. This was before they began diagnosing civilians with post-traumatic stress. Years later, another therapist said I had post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’m thinking I don’t have PTSD, but I do have an anxiety-provoking way of perceiving the world when I am under stress.

It ain’t easy being green.

Or being me.

Talk about crazy.

So far this first day was going just grand.

I stopped at the library annex on the way home and did some work. Then we stopped at another Whole Foods and got treats. Probably just a way to stuff all these anxieties back down and away. Hidden from all.

On the way home, we learned that Obama had retaken the oath of office.

“Oh good,” I said to Mario. “A do-over. I could use it.”

I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. I lay on the couch watching Top Chef and looking at a book on Haciendas.

Finally I went to bed.

This first day I was a vegetable. Perhaps on the second day I will be a fruit.

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Great pics of the inauguration here (via Joanna).

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

I watched the inauguration festivities all day. I got such a kick out of it. I cried. I laughed. It became a part of me. (Yes, corny humor; I am from the Midwest.) I am looking forward to what happens next. I know that President Obama will get right to work. I hope Congress does, too. And I want them to start investigating the Bush administration.

It is the job of the Congress to investigate such things, so I hope they do it. They haven't thus far, even though the Dems are in the majority. I'm afraid they aren't investigating because many of them have complicity in the crimes. They allowed Bush and Co. to give the go-ahead to torture. They voted for the Patriot Act. I'm hoping the new Attorney General investigates the former administration, too. This isn't about revenge. This is about Justice. We fell into a fascist state under the Bushies. People were tortured and detained illegally. American citizens were illegally wiretapped. The list goes on.

Even though I've been writing about the abuses of the Bush administration for years, even I was surprised at the extent of the abuses in the Justice Department. The Inspector General recently came out with a report on these abuses. John Conyers said that the report "confirms the committee’s work showing that the Bush Justice Department abandoned its mission to promote fairness and equal justice under the law. Indeed, the Civil Rights Division that is charged with preventing employment discrimination instead appears to have been guilty of it. Partisan politics infected the honors program and other hiring decisions, personnel transfers, and even which cases went to which attorneys, and Division leadership failed to stop it."

The Civil Rights division appears to have been hit the worst by the corruption. If you want to read the IG report go here for the PDF. Right now it's the first report of 2009.

Interesting today that Justice Roberts flubbed his lines, eh? Mario said, "Boy are the other eight gonna rib him." Just the idea of that made me giggle.

By the way, I've heard people complaining about the expense of the inauguration. They didn't spend any more money than they did on Bush's inauguration (no matter what Faux News says). One of my sisters was mumbling about all the money they spent, and I said, "But that money went to pay people to do jobs. Isn't that a really good thing during a recession?"

I shall watch more stuff on da tv. Such fun. Wish I was there. Except I don't like crowds and I don't like the cold. It is cold here, by the way. I am longing for the AZ sun already. This is why we like to be gone all of January. Brrrrr.

Joy to the world! Joy to the world!

May You Dance in Beauty!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Travels With La Familia

I spent a few days in Scottsdale with my father, two of my sisters, and my bro-in-law. The weather was beautiful. We walked a great deal. We were all tired. Not sure why. The first night I couldn't sleep, so I got up quietly and went out to the car and drove away to look for a late night coffee spot. (Even though I've only had one cup of coffee in my entire life. I was sixteen years old and I'd had too much to drink, so my girlfriends got me to drink some coffee. The coffee didn't do anything except make me awake and drunk.)

The funny thing is that my sister was sleeping on the couch when I tiptoed out of the house. Apparently she heard the door open and in her half-sleep state, she wondered if someone was breaking into the house. Then she heard my car and wondered if someone was stealing the car. She finally got up and looked out the window. She saw someone in the car and figured if someone was stealing the car they probably wouldn't be just sitting there. (I was listening to the radio.) She then turned on the porch light. From the car, I saw the light come on and then go off and come on again. I wondered if someone was sending me some kind of signal. Did they want me to come back? Was someone in trouble? Was there some strange energy surge happening to cause the lights to go on and off?

I eventually drove away. I couldn't find anything open except McDonald's. So I sat in Basha's parking lot and look at my email. When I went back to the townhouse, everyone was asleep. We laughed about this later. I thought it was funny that my sister's response to thievery was to turn on the porch light. (We all wondered if this was to make it easier for the thieves to see what they were stealing?)

My sister and I also went on a crime spree. At one grocery store whose name I won't mention, they have a sign that says the shopping carts will lock up if you take them over these yellow lines and away from the store. One night my sister and I decided to check this out. Mario and my dad hurried away.

"We're just like Thelma and Louise," I said to my sister as I ran with the shopping cart toward the yellow line. I stopped the cart and looked at her. "Oh wait," I said. "They died in the end."

We took the cart over many yellow lines. The cart did not stop. It didn't even hesitate. Nothing happened. The next night we returned and tried more carts in different places. We concluded the shopping-cart-locking-up-thing was all a lie.

We had much fun proving it was a lie. My sister took a photograph of me. Since I'm dressed in my baggy Sally Ann clothes (as I nearly always am), I look like some old bag lady running away with a cart. Someday when she sends the photo to me, I'll post it here.

Yes, I live the wild life.

Now I'm in Santa Cruz with my youngest sister. We're staying in a sweet little hotel a few blocks away from her apartment. She's got the flu, so I don't know if we'll see her any more before we leave, poor sweetheart. Wish I could make her all better. Her husband and two dogs are taking care of her. She'll be well soon.

We're off for now.

May You Heal in Beauty!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Twiddling, Facing, & Leaving

Yes, I've joined Twitter. It's a strange place where you tell everyone what you're doing in 140 words or less. (You can see what I'm doing on the right-hand side of this blog.) We'll see how long it lasts. Kind of fun right now. I've also joined Facebook. I'm not sure what that will mean. I'll keep you posted. On the fun side, I'm leaving copies of Church of the Old Mermaids along our trail. I left one in Valencia today. Tomorrow I'll find someplace to leave a copy in Santa Cruz. I'll even tell you, once I decide, in case you live here so you can go find it. I want to leave them all over the country and see what happens. Fun, eh?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun Stuff

Hello all. I'm on the road. Right now I'm sitting in Basha's with my dad and sister Kathleen (and Mario) and three of us are on laptops checking email, etc. (I suppose I should point out that we are not literally "on" our computers. What a visual that one was. We are using the computers.) Tomorrow we leave AZ for California. I'll write more later, but I wanted to show off a little. Charles de Lint wrote some very nice things about me and my books in his January newsletter. If you want to read the pretty words about me, just keyword search my name and you'll get to it. (Or scroll down.) Why am I telling you how to do this? You'll figure it out. It's my control freak nature, I suppose.

May You Show Off in Beauty!

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fertile Old Moon

It's full moon today. I'm looking forward to watching the moon rise up above the Rincons. We just got back from a long walk in the desert. Our shadows slow danced with all the other shadows. We saw the signs of wildlife everywhere. Coyote prints. Bobcat. Rabbit. Birds. And I'm pretty sure a mountain lion print. I loved it all. I danced on the trail. Mario and I both completed the first draft of our novels today. He finished his this morning. I finished mine about 3:30 this afternoon. Over the course of thirty hours I wrote 21,000 words. I am very happy.

I am happiest when I am writing. I feel absolutely like myself. I'm usually without fear. I am in terrible and wonderful places, but I know it will all work out one way or the other. This book was amazing. I say that about every book because every book is an amazing experience. When I finished it, I cried. It was hard to leave behind the world I'd been in.

Now we're going to get my manuscript copied so I can read it to Mario. And we'll eat dinner and have a treat, and watch a movie on the computer while we play a game.

I am so grateful.

May You Spin in Beauty!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

11,100 Words

That's how many words I wrote today on my novel. Many things happened in the book. Everything but locusts. I is tired. Sleep now. Maybe talk on the morrow.

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I've been a stenographer to the imaginal worlds today. In-between those in-between times, I took a walk in the wash with Mario. I tried to keep in the here and now instead of slip-sliding away.

As we walked, we came to a new fence across the wash. This one had three strands and a post in the middle of it. The fencers are determined to keep people out. I was afraid this would happen. Someone who doesn't live here but who lives in the neighborhood kept moving the fence. She was used to walking and riding in the wash, so she figured it was her right to move the fence. As far as I know, she never talked to the people who put up the fence. She just moved the fence.

This is my way of thinking: If someone puts up a fence because they're frightened or because they don't want people on their property, they're going to get more afraid or more pissed off if someone secretly keeps removing the fence. (And by secretly, I mean the person isn't telling the owner of the property that she's moving the fence.) By moving the fence, this person has escalated a border dispute. What could have been resolved peaceably could now turn into possible charges of vandalism and trespassing. Or a more obstinate stance on the fence than might have occurred if everyone had talked to each other.

I happen to believe that if a road, path, or wash has been used as a thoroughfare for many years then an easement has been established: but I don't know if that's a legal fact, and I wouldn't go on anyone's property unless I knew the people had given me permission or that there was a legal easement. I've lived in the West long enough to know anything else would be unsafe.

When we first started coming here many years ago, we were told that we had access to the wash and anyone in the neighborhood could walk it. Now that seems to have changed. It's too bad all these people couldn't talk to each other. The woman who put up the fence should have talked to her neighbors about what was going on and everyone who was affected should have talked to her when the fence went up.

We hope by next year this is resolved. I like liminal borders that are easy to cross. I love thresholds and places where you step into other worlds or more fully into this world. The wash has always been that kind of place here, where the wild and the human walk together. I hate to see that fence. It feels so much like someone is trying to stop...the flow of things.

I'll be interested to see what happens.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Two Fairies At a Duster

It is warming up here. I can walk around without a jacket for part of the day. And we'll be leaving soon. *sigh* Still, I soak up the desert. Today I stood in the wash as two ravens (or crows) flew around me and down low over me, seemingly interested in something about me. When I went away, they went away. Interestingly enough, I had just written a scene where three ravens flew over my hera, Sara O'Brion. (Her surname has its roots in the name Bran which is "raven.") I loved listening to their wings in the dry desert air. It was just me and them, baby.

Mario saw a bobcat while we were here, did I say? Very cool. I still have not seen the bobcat this time. This has been the season of rabbits. Jackrabbits and cottontails. Everywhere. Even in my dreams.

Last night I dreamed one of the Obama girls needed my help, so I helped her.

Too many other dreams about death and dying.

Today we saw a small prickly pear cactus growing out of a saguaro limb, about ten feet off the ground. Funniest thing.

Wrote 6,500 words today. I still feel as though I'm in the hacienda where I left Sara. She is very pregnant. And it is summer in the Sonoran desert.

Tonight we went to the library book sale and bought way too many books—but they are great books. Books on folklore, mythology, Mexico.

Walking in the desert while I've been here, I have become more certain than ever that I know what I want. I have wanted the same thing for thirty years. But every time I articulate it, all I hear is, "but I can't because..." Because I don't have any money. Because I'm afraid. Because I'm sick. Because I can't be around any remodeling. Because there is no place left where the water and air are clean. Blah, blah, blah. All these buts and becauses over the years.

I don't like to want things I can't get. This causes suffering. Maybe wanting anything period causes suffering. And yet if you never want anything, how do you make plans for the future?

This is what I want and what I've always wanted: I want land and I want a place where people can come to seek sanctuary, to write, to do art, to learn about sustainability, to envision and create the world anew. Listen to this: One of my favorite books of all time is Doris Lessing's The Good Terrorist. You know what I remember about it, what I loved about it? This woman was part of a group of "radicals." They took over buildings which weren't being used in London and they lived in them. Squatted. And while the rest of the radicals thought of this as a political move, as a protest, the hera of the story (who is a wee bit amoral, I seem to recall) turns this squat into a livable house. She creates a home. I love the process she goes through to make it a home.

That is what I want. A piece of land to care for. A sustainable lovely place where people can come. What I want is an Old Mermaid Sanctuary. In nearly every novel, my people are constantly creating family and home.

Home, home, home. Mi casa, su casa.

I know I've said this before. And now I say it again. Perhaps I'll put a plan forth so that I can accomplish this somehow. I always thought I'd be able to do it by making money from my writing. Since this hasn't panned out, how else can I make it into a reality?

Tonight after the book sale, we went to see the movie Appaloosa directed by Ed Harris. Harris was in it, along with Viggo Mortensen. It's a duster and it takes place in New Mexico. I figured I'd be watching a movie with a good story (from a Robert B. Parker novel) with good acting and beautiful scenery. I don't know if the print was bad but the scenery wasn't anything to write home about. (Blog about maybe, but not write home about.) I mean it was New Mexico with those amazing blue skies and we could hardly tell the sky was even blue. (Maybe it wasn't actually filmed in NM.) Ed Harris is a beautiful man. He just gets better looking as the years go on. Less hair more beauty. And he's nearly always in interesting movies and I always believe he is the character he portrays. (And Viggo ain't bad to look at either. Yes, Mario thinks Ed is pretty, too.) So although I did enjoy watching Ed Harris, the movie wasn't particularly good. The story was very predictable. That isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes you watch a movie or read a book and you want certain things to happen. Not so much here.

But the best part of the evening—besides being there with Mario—was that when we were at the ticket window, two teenage boys came dancing up to the line with wands, wings, and the general clothing of fairies. One of the boys was very blond. The other was very dark. They were beautiful, funny, and clever. No one talked to them. Except me. I told them they were beautiful and we talked about sweet nothings. I hope they had a lovely time and that no one bothered them. Bothered them in a bad way, that is.

You just never know when fairies are going to show up in your life. So watch out for them.

May You Prance and Dance in Beauty!

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All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.