Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gravel Trucks and Hibiscus Lemonade

Cars and trucks, mostly trucks -- the heavy, gravel-hauling, hopper trucks -- speed past on the highway in front of the café. The café sits comfortably back from the press of traffic. It invites but does not demand notice. In this remote section of New Mexico, it is an oasis of sorts. Christmas lights line a wreath woven of juniper boughs while brightly colored wind socks in the shapes of fish dance and spin in the stiff breeze. “Your writing might sustain you,” Feather  says, as a musing after-thought. We are enjoying the breeze of July in the high country. He is a friend I see only a few times a year, times too short and spare for mincing small talk. I didn’t know what he meant by “sustain.” Did he mean I could make money? Sustain my happiness? Hold on to my soul? Or some other meaning of the word? Whatever he meant, I liked the sound of that simple phrase, spoken as it was, out loud, something I would never do, even to myself. Nobody other than he had uttered my dream back to me, simple as it was, before. I wanted so much to believe him, to believe it was possible to build a raft of writing that I might ride though this hungry, slavish life. I wanted so much to believe him that I took it in, rolled my mind around that possibility like I would a Key Lime gum drop between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. What a thought! Could it happen? Did I really have a shot at doing the only thing that meant something to me? If I learned to live by the law of lean times, the rules of constant change, undying love, hard work, mindful attention to each word as it played out into the song waiting inside to find daylight, I might just. Of course, I would have to sidestep the fears, and bad habit of running away. Those self-doubts are assassins of the creative soul. So for today, this one day, this moment on the side of a remote highway between the mesas of New Mexico, I let the hibiscus lemonade be the tonic that it is, ask for the last piece of cherry pie before the café closes, and watch clouds open to a blue sky. The gravel trucks roar by, carrying the life blood and flesh of the mountains. Their cargoes, freshly wrenched from darkness, raw, leave a hole like that of an extracted tooth, a gaping pit in a forest of deep green secrets. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Tobacco. Sage. Ravens.

Sun. Moon. Rain.

Days pass without the distractions of cell phones, internet access, television. The days are elemental: work, food, sleep.

It's hard to lift my body from the camping pad I sleep on. I feel heavy and old. I stand on solid ground once I am up. I know the weight of my body, feel its bulk and its inertia, its draw to return to the earth from which it came.

Tremors keep me from threading a nut onto a small bolt that will fasten a light fixture to the stucco wall outside the front door.

I focus all my attention and slow down my movements, vainly trying to get the nut to bite. Just when I think I have it, I drop it. Again.

I am exhausted, standing on the lowest rung of a step ladder with my one good left foot and my aircasted right foot. It feels like I am standing on the top of a 30 foot ladder over nothing but air. How things change... Muscles in my left leg scream from the strain. I can't complete even the most basic of tasks. I will go at it again, and again, and again until I get it. Then I will go to the next task and its maddeningly slow progress.

You won't be surprised to hear what a blow to my ego this is.

I am impaired, weak, crippled.

I step down and look in the gravel for the 8/32 nut. I need my reading glasses to find it.

On one hand, I have no business being in a construction site. I am a danger to myself and others. On the other hand, I am getting stronger from the over-reach of climbing stairs, reaching down to pick things up off the ground, straining the broken tendon. I can feel it. Life is coming back into my legs, my heart, my breath.

It's a fight with myself. My odds are good. Progress is still too f*&#ing slow.

The real work is still to come, and this time of slow motion will have to propel me into the hard work doing work well with patience that is new to me. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Something Out of Nothing

My day planner goes blank after May 19th. Every day before then has meetings, deadlines, tasks, and obligations competing with each other, overlapping, and spilling over the borders of date, time, and neat little boxes.

Then the pages are blank. The entire month of June has not one line of something I am supposed to do. Page after page is just empty spread sheets of dates, times, and blank paper for notes that never got taken. As a marker of how I have scheduled my time, this says I am nothing, no one, a slacker extraordinaire.

On one hand, I have lost six weeks, and counting, of my life. I have completed nothing of any social worth. I am also getting soft and weak. It's been a disaster of a summer.

On the other hand, I have been sinking down into silence, solitude, stillness. I have, in other words, been hanging out in a lot of nothing.

Now, nothing has its charms. It's a great place to rest for one thing. It's also a place to remember what and who one is when all the trappings of busyness are lifted away.

I notice a rising hunger for both distraction (movies, food, sex, beer, shopping, errands, fantasies, drugs, drama, and on and on) and sustained focus. The distraction wants out of the quiet; the focus wants to go deeper into it.

I am waiting to see what will emerge as I sink down deeper into this place of blank pages.

Low Light

It's coming back. Slowly.

I almost felt good today. The chronic ache of the torn tendon had died down; my brain seemed to be taking an interest in visitors, going out,  making contact with that buzzing, chaotic world outside my modest bedroom, kitchen, and living room. All of that has seemed beyond me, and, honestly I was, and am, uncertain that I will ever again function at the speeds necessary to my work life.

That's  a scary thought, one I run away from, deny.

Although I don't yet feel up to the task, I had a passing desire to teach in the fall. That was a shocker.

Two months ago, at the end of the spring semester, I was toast, beyond toast, a cinder. There was no way I could have dragged my sorry butt to the front of a class and done anything more than blubber. I was, and still am, in bad shape.

The injury,surgery, meds, and loss of fitness have all compounded my sorry state.

I was out of it, or so I thought, until I woke up this morning with no pain, a  clear head, and some hunger for something hard to do.

I don't know if it will last, but maybe I am not done yet.

Pass the coffee and eggs. There may be some miles still to cover before the light goes out.