Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween & technological woes

Happy All Hallow's Eve to you. Wherever you are, I hope you rise above the commercial mockery this day has become, ignore all the candy, and just enjoy yourself. Found this fun quote:

Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.
But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?
“You don’t know, do you?” asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out of the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. “You don’t really know!”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

This is one of my favorite times of year. A magical night, the leaves changing, winds gusting up, deep blue autumn skies, the time about to rock backward, and the season well and truly turned. The Welsh call it a "spirit night," and obviously our culture agrees, although in typical Western fashion, the idea behind the holiday has been bastardized, cleansed, and commercialized beyond recognition.

The veil between the worlds is supposed to be thin, and tonight is your best bet for uncannily accurate tarot readings, crystal ball predictions, or other forms of scrying your future. Let the games begin, I say! Have a blast, and do wear a costume if so moved. Why not, after all--it's also the only time of the year adults are allowed to be more childlike, to play, to dress up, to show their pent up wildness. As a culture, we really do suppress that, don't we? And then look what happens: little boys playing with warships and soldiers, except that they're real ones, and not expecting them to really get hurt, or little girls cat-calling at each other and playing the cruelest tricks, except that they change lives in hurtful ways, because grown-up games can often be much more devastating than those we played when we were truly children. So let out your inner child/faery/demon/angel/ghost/etc. tonight, engage in laughter and gentle tricks, and express all your sillies.

And please send me and my mom your best healing Halloween thoughts, so that my laptop (my connection to the world, as well as the way in which I am attempting to make a living!) and her computer, both separated by several states and both choosing to get all persnickety at the same time, heal themselves. Sigh.... Maybe it's just the spirits playing tricks on our technological crutches!

Have a glorious Samhain (“summer’s end" in Celtic), and enjoy that spiced cider simmering on your stove...I know I am.

Friday, October 26, 2007

indian summer

The weather here right now is perfect for hiking the southern Utah back country, and let me tell you, I'm doing just that. Went on a great 6-hour jaunt yesterday to a mesa-top I'd never visited before--it requires ascending a rugged horse trail to achieve the unparalleled views and unsullied terrain up there. Clearly, very few people venture into that area, and after slogging up the wrong little canyon crack to get up there, I understand why. I'm quite grateful that such remote areas still exist in abundance around here! I found a tremendous amount of chipping beds, arrowhead pieces, and other really cool stuff. And almost no human footprints, although plenty of critter prints.

On a more disheartening note, a friend of mine told me that some modern-day pot hunters (illegal looters of protected archaeological sites is the more correct term) are using helicopters to get to the most remote back country sites, where they can quickly loot, remove, and fly away. Luckily, people on the right side of the law have a description of the helicopter, and are on the lookout for it. It's a genius idea, although of course also totally morally reprehensible.

I understood, on some level, however, the allure of seeking out and actually finding such ancient sites with their treasures still intact. I was gripped by similar fever as I wandered around the high mesa, eyes scanning for telltale signs of previous human occupation or at least traversing. I, however, am not going to loot. Arrowhead pieces, yes, I admit to taking some that I've found, and I'm sure it's also a justification. We each have our own system by which we live, do we not? However, I have too much respect for ancient spirits, ancient peoples, and the laws of this country to do more than that. Yet so many out there do not! It always amazes me at how selfish this society--Western civilization--is. There is no group, there is no community, there is only I, and how much I can profit. It's very saddening, on multiple levels.

Anyway. A beautiful photo of a southern Utah desert sunrise to inspire whatever. Writing. Protection of the land. Joy. A smile!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

writing from life

Okay, here is what I am focusing on while my homeland (SoCal) is burning down: writing from life, from the people who inhabit our daily or at least semi-daily lives. I just today finished (hooray! oh rarity, finishing a short story--especially since mine are usually looong) a story based on real-life events that happened recently here in Wayne County. I don't actually know any of the players, except one only superficially, and I totally made up most of the details, not actually knowing them besides the bare bones. Which is why we call it fiction! But there is still the dilemma inherent in such situations: how much to disguise, and how, and why indeed, to be truthful.

Pam Houston, a writer who taught three workshops that I've attended and someone whose writing I've liked, has said that fiction is more truthful than nonfiction. Her own fiction draws heavily from her personal life, and I think she's pissed off some people in her tiny town where she lives part of the year by some of her portrayals. But what she was meaning to say is, We tend to be more truthful in our fiction, more unabashedly honest, because of that very label, fiction. It ain't true, folks! Nothing to see here, it's all make-believe, these characters are just that--made up. So with that accepted cloak of anonymity, we can skewer all the sacred cows (and humans) we want, while getting away scot free.

Anyway, it's a subject I find interesting. It's one I usually play with, writing from life, or at least from the lives of those I know, whether closely or from a more reserved distance. Not always! But enough. I mean, come on. Life presents the most interesting, outrageous, "no way!" moments and story lines and people we could ever want. Truth is stranger than fiction, etc. It's true, no? What do you all think?

And by the way--if I'm ever going to skewer you as a sacred cow, perhaps you'll know--and perhaps you won't...heh heh heh....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

autumn winds

Winds of change, or something like that, no? I love this time of year. It's a bittersweet love, to be sure. Things are changing, summer is winding down, people leave, there is a slight sense of melancholy in the air. Or maybe it's just me! I must say that autumn in Wayne County is spectacular. The air is certainly crisp but not dreadful (although over the weekend there was a snowstorm that seemed to be a blasting harbinger of winter). The colors on the aspens on the mountains are glorious russets and glowing yellows that are almost iridescent in the direct sunlight, framed so sharply against the stark white of the tree trunks. Elk are bugling on the mountainsides (or so I'm told; haven't heard them myself), the sky is that unbelievably deep Utah blue, cobalt or even navy in the evening light. There are still visitors here, but everything is slowing down a bit as creatures human and otherwise start to prepare for that inevitable winter thing, hibernation.

If only we people did hibernate! I'd love it, right about now. I think that's my thing in the winters: hibernation like a bear. Along with skiing! Right now I'm hunkered down in one of my favorite bookstores, Robber's Roost, and I'm wishing I could just stay here for the next several weeks, writing quietly and with purpose. Tomorrow, however, I head into the field, so there will be another weeklong dearth of writing, here and elsewhere. I do bring my journal into the field, so that remains constant in my life no matter what.

This amazing, often infuriating, endlessly eye-opening thing we call life is so interesting, is it not? What we set up for ourselves surprises us so, at times. I still get surprised, although I have really created every moment that led up to this one. I have created this very moment in my life, whether I consciously planned it or not. Rather humbling to remember that when I start complaining about things.

I must say that I am still so happy to be here right now, in what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, surrounded by the land that nurtures and sustains me so. When I walk by the river later, and take out my journal and write in it to the melody of the water tripping and rippling past, I know already that I will feel so secure, so safe and familiar and held, in a way, by the red and cream rocks and the big blue sky and the birds of prey that circle and swoop far above. It hugs my soul close while simultaneously letting it soar free, and isn't that all we want? A paradox there, but what we want: to be held and to be free at once. And to live in a place we adore.

What is your place that you adore? How and why does it hold you? And how, if you will, do you hold it while also letting it be free?

Time for me to head out to visit my horse (with a bag of apples! He and his pasture-mates will be thrilled) and then the river. Till next week, then.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

words o' wisdom

Sorry about the time lag. Went into the field a few weeks ago, spent 8 days wandering the high (and chilly) mountains with students and llamas, and then exited the field to rest, hike, and not get online really until today. I return to the field on Wednesday, so expect another time gap....

I have nothing of terribly interesting note to note today. Just the words of several friends and myself: Feelings pass. Actions are remembered. Be cautious when the two merge!

With that, I leave you to ponder your own feelings and what, if anything, you will do with them on this Sunday. Happy day!