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Writing in the Age of This…What is This?

To be a writer one needs a thick skin….well if words are to leave one’s house and go to other people’s houses and other people’s computers that is.

Last night after an innocuous comment I made on  social media –one where I remarked that perhaps it’s not a bad thing when outlying territories of Plumas County and not the county seat Quincy were given audience to political visits and interesting things was met with some sort of combination of social media rage from a local whom I suppose had too many glasses of cheap chardonnay.  In effect she said that I was ‘full of bitterness’ and that my writing for the local news paper demonstrated a dislike of where I live. This is where I live:

Isn’t it beautiful? This valley. These mountains. I am overwhelmingly always happy that I have found a second home here. But I think what artists never fail to realize–and good journalists for that matter–is that for everything you see of beauty there is another side–the dark side, if you will.  If I did not see the dark side it would be my failing. If I did not report on it, did not describe it, it would be dereliction of duty.

I’ve never understood the Disney happy ending pollyanna that seems indicatively American. Is this a state of mind that comes to those who do not read? Who have no knowledge of history? Of current events? Of a mountain lion devouring a raccoon outside one’s window (which happened to me a few months ago–always a weary jolt shot to wake up to).

To be a writer writing against the dominant culture is a whole other layer and level of thick skin. They just don’t believe you. It’s not in their culture to do so. We have to keep to it and not look up, not second guess. We have to go on and define our truths.

 

And we have to never read the comments.

 

 

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The Ten of Swords

I pulled the Tarot card. There it was. The ten of Swords.

Mind you lately everything with me is the Devil or the Tower or the Ten of Swords. As if this is my trifecta–my constant reminder that I have not finished my transitions I thought I was making two years ago but am in the midst of them. I changed jobs. I’d changed so much in my life. Gone back to exercise and dance. Gone back to acting and singing. Gone back to writing more of what I wanted to write. But when I started that journey I didn’t realize that other things would be wanting change too.

My kids became teenagers and that right there is a change that I should have seen coming and totally didn’t see coming but my 17 years of teaching that bumbling age group of know it alls and dreamers and twisted little bunnies meant at least I was some what prepared–I’ve seen some of this before. I have written my own adolescence. I know somewhat where we are going and of course I’m trying to head off the big bad things at the pass.

I didn’t see the ending of my marriage now though. I’ve certainly sabotaged it through neglect and indifference and well exhaustion (as has he), but I always thought we of the broken home childhoods would try to keep it together. Our youngest child’s graduation from high school is 4 years off. I kept looking at that date as a ship on the horizon. Like this would be okay to do, but not till then.

Then is now.

I’m not alone of course. The mountains are peppered with women single with children. The families of two parent households are often filled with steps and fill ins not original line ups. The part of the father in this play tonight will be played by X not Z. That sort of thing. But it wasn’t my thing. At least I didn’t think it was.

Ten of Swords.

Ten whispers behind my back, in front of my face:

I demand too much attention.

I am not satisfied.

I want too much.

My eye wanders.

I think I have a higher calling.

How much time are you allowed to spend being you versus how much time you spend being what they want you to be?

Just what do I expect the world to give me?

Other women don’t have this problem…

Just accept that you’re old now. Your time is done.

When will you get a real job?

They are all there those questions. Those marital daggers. Those ten swords. Stuck in the ground, blood dried on the blade.

But those are my dreams pierced onto the dirt ground by those swords. Those are my dreams blunted by the steel. The steal. The time that got away. Elusive. Slippery. Almost gone. Pierced. If you can pull the sword out of the rock the sword is yours. The sword is mine. All ten of them.

I am single now. A surreal sort of state with swords strewn about. I pulled them out of the ground, out of the stone. Magical strength  I didn’t think I had. I collect them. I hope to clean them up, return them to their sheaths. I cannot ride with them exposed anymore, with them heavy and dragging on the ground.

To carry a sword, one has to stand tall, at the ready. To carry ten? Well…that requires tenfold.

There is a vision before me.

The ten are really one. One giant sword of concern and misgivings. One giant sword of the impressions of other people. One giant sword of regret. One giant sword of all doubts and expectations. They can be pressed together to become one—they can fight one epic battle.

It’s left me standing on this patch of earth alone. Bodies–my own and others strewn.

There’s a light in the distance–possibly the dawn.