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My 4 Days in a Fire Look Out

Back in September I spent four days in a Mountain Look Out. I wrote about it here:

Black Mountain Look Out. I would do that trip again in a heart beat!

 

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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.

 

 

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Just. One. Book. The Night Before a Train

I worked for 10 hours today in the library and I can no longer feel my legs.

It feels like it will be worth it.  Kids were coming in to get their schedules today at Indian Valley Academy. I’ve never seen so many heads pop into the library before. Come in! Come in! This is for you guys.

WHOA!  Even the faces of the haggard 4-H kids who just sold their livestock at auction after a 45 day fair week —kids who looked damn exhausted. As soon as I clean the pens, I swear I’m coming to help. And I don’t feel alone. I have you all and Indian Valley Academy who have been stellar through all of this.

My dealings with the Plumas Unified School District had me going southern Gothic. Let me explain. Some of my all time favorite writers are indeed the southerners. I gravitate toward them when I’m feeling isolated and feel guilty about expecting the worst in people (because thank’s a lot Flannery O’Connor). But in order to not be completely frustrated and pissed off at the gaul of the school district to somehow try and take both ownership and credit for the library I had to go to Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. Ever read Reflections in a Golden Eye? The Tennessee preface/introduction? He nails it. He tells us you know what? We artists? We people who feel things? We live on this one plane of existence.  And these officious drones who try and run our lives? They live on this other one.

They have no real jurisdiction over us. We don’t have to answer to them. The only thing I’ll never understand is why so many people who clearly hate children work in the field of education. I just don’t fundamentally get that.

You all sent books to the library project in care of me. And I aim to get books into the hands of children. Whatever that looks like.  Today I set aside 5 books –books that we had in duplicate to give to one particular girl who comes from a family of non-readers. She reads anything she can get her hands on. I gave her my own copy of Michelle Serros’ Chicana Falsa once. Because that girl so needed it.

So it wasn’t a bad day. Tomorrow my son and I take off for a week to see my grandmother and friends and family in Los Angeles via Amtrak. I’ll be interviewing a couple people for my book down there as well. And get this. My short story collection has found a home! Yay! It will be in print finally. So good things. ALL GOOD THINGS.

To the writers who have been sending your books. Thank you in particular for being gutsy and putting yourself and your work out there. It takes a certain tenacity that I greatly admire that I don’t always have. To the agents and the publishers sending books–thank you for the array of work that I wouldn’t have thought of but am glad is here. Great job!

We will make this happen. It may not be the complete original vision but it will be amazing. I’ve already had a glimpse. This is going to be one helluva literate town. THANK YOU.

And here. Enjoy some cookies. I made them tonight when I was supposed to be packing.IMG_8638