Saturday, January 19, 2008

on labels and enduring adoration of place

Of late, I've been worrying at one of those intriguing little mind conundrums that sometimes latch on to the monkey side of our thoughts (monkey-mind). My question: Am I really the "red rock writer" I claim to be if I am not currently living among the red rocks? Am I a poseur, a trickster taking on a role I can no longer rightfully claim as my own? What sort of writer am I, if I currently live among the hugely snowy, avalanche-prone peaks of southwestern Colorado instead? Am I a "snowy peaks writer" in actuality?

Who and what the hell am I, anyway?

(Yes, this is the monkey-mind at work. So much fun, it has! [I was channeling Yoda just now, in that phrasing.])

I've been missing my red rock land in recent days and weeks. When I glance at my as-yet-unframed poster of Capitol Reef National Park, cliffs glowing russet and amber and cream and rich burgundy, sharp cerise and softer chestnut and a ruddy terra cotta as well as a seemingly endless host of other color gradations and hints, I do sometimes receive the prick of tears as I gaze at that much-beloved view, as I touch upon the memory-scent of sage and dry sand and fresh clean air that is only barely, one hopes, being fogged over by the pollutants we simply must release into our own beautiful air. I feel stirred by that damned landscape, that windy and remote lover of mine, the place that teases and torments and cradles and laughs with my exuberance. And I sigh, and I try to remember to live where I am now, to embrace this moment of my being.

Anyway. An oddly nostalgic morning for me; unexpected. Perhaps triggered in part by a conversation last night with an acquaintance who also hailed from that area, who also now lives among the snowy peaks here, far removed from that desert land we claimed as our own, perhaps only rarely realizing that it held us much more than we contained it.

It is indeed so possible to fall in love with place. Another acquaintance once asked me, years back, if I thought that was possible to stay in a place for the place itself, to love it so much that it became the major reason for calling one's home, home. She sounded hesitant, as if worried that such an admission was weak or nonsensical or foolish. (She is in the science field, so such questioning is to be expected from those trained to believe whole-heartedly in the mind and the physical senses!) I did not hesitate at all in the my answer that, YES, of course it is possible to exist in a place for that place.

Maybe the question is, why would we live where we do not desire to be? Sure, there are many practical reasons to do so--I'm doing that myself right now, in a sense, much as Durango has grown on me and I love it for what it is, what it offers, what it can help me create. I enjoy it here tremendously, it provides me much that I could not get back in the red rock country. Yet overwhelming love of place? Sheer desire to stay here for the land itself? That has not gripped me yet, and I somewhat doubt there is room in my already full heart to love another place so deeply as I love southern Utah.

So to answer my own question--am I a poseur of sorts--I'd like to think not. I'd like to think that the label of red rock writer is the one closest to my heart and soul. Maybe we carry the land within us, no matter where we are?

Enough philosophizing. My Saturday lies before me, rich with potential for new discoveries and moments of being in this present, right now, and existing with simplicity and groundedness. As long as I am aware of my monkey-mind, that is!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

snowy morn

Big storm here. Lots of snow. Snowed for over 24 hours straight. These photos are from outside my front door this morning, before my landlord shoveled & cleared my walkway. (Thanks!) The poor tree has broken branches. Chinese Elms do not do well in Durango. Good thing I have a 4WD truck so I could get out of my parking spot this morning--the snowplows had tossed deep chunks of snow on my side of the street, of course! Tonight I parked across the street, facing downhill--just in case. (Just watch the snowplows bury me in again tomorrow morning. That would be a laugh!)
At any rate. Good writing day. I tried very hard not to think about skiing...which was challenging when a friend & I met in town to do laundry and then walked around to look at all the tele gear on sale in the stores. Mm....! But I did manage to crank out a piece due on Friday--well, 3/4s of it anyway--which felt quite satisfying.
The writing comes slowly at times. But it does eventually come. Insistent. Steady. Dependable, even if I am not. Is it a curse or a blessing? I think of it as a wild journey from one flying soul to another. The words link us together, even the prosaic ones, such as installation instructions or the ingredient lists on our food.
Words. I know I'd pretty much die without them! I am one of many in a long chain of preservers, protectors, even defenders of the word. Today almost anyone can make themselves heard (even if it's only to one other person) because of that perplexing, wonderful technology known as the Internet. But what if it all goes kaflooey tomorrow? So much will be lost. Which is why I say we can NEVER do away with good old paper & ink. Amazon's Kindle (yes, Amazon, that deep-pocketed bastion of literature on the cheap, where I do admit with a clear conscience to shopping sometimes) seems like a pretty cool invention. But it will not, cannot, ever completely replace the heft and intoxicating smell of a new (or old) book in a human hand.
Enough philosophizing. Time to finish reading Outfoxed by Rita Mae Brown--then to the dreamland again, cradled by that immense, beckoning winterfall just outside my doorstep....


Saturday, January 05, 2008

snow, snow everywhere

The snow is falling straight down in big, fast flakes. Barren trees outside my window stand tall, naked, and seemingly not cold at all, while I shiver just looking at the view. My shiver, however, is one part chill, one part delighted memory, and one part thrilled anticipation. Snow is my friend, especially after I finally learned how to ski last winter. When I consider my current goal of learning to tele this winter, the shiver becomes a downright orgasmic zip of mini-shivers all over my body—dozens of little geese walking over my grave, that wash of physical feeling over the body, reminding me of my human skin and limited time to play as much as I can, while I still can. I have no desire to cheat death by being a reckless fool on the slopes—just enough of one to send a tightening around my chest and a clarity into my vision. Ah, thank god for mountains in the West! And for delicious snow.

The backyard of my back apartment is a little winter sanctuary. If I angle my head just right and don't cast my eyes upward to see the suburban street I call home, it's almost as if I'm in the wilderness, watching this winterfall all around me. The flakes are becoming even bigger, they fall even faster, more determined to dump its gorgeous contents all over us, to show us how it is sweeping the land, dominating in its time to be king.

This particular snowfall is wet, heavy, and very steady. It is piling up outside my door, knocking out the power now and again, and, most vexingly, interrupting my satellite service (oh, the indignity. I would like to have watched the presidential debates.). This storm will go on for a while, encouraged as it is from lands even farther to the west, where a “monster storm” (MSN's words) is wreaking havoc all over the place, which basically boils down to one thing: it will snow a lot more out my way. A lot more. And being a wet, heavy snow, that also means more avalanche danger, which is pretty freaky as far as I'm concerned. Not interested in ever meeting one of those. No thanks.

However, from a strictly environmental viewpoint, this weather is also a good thing. Weathercasters were predicting La Nina, a dry spell. Snort. Not hardly! This sort of weather is good, good, good in the long run. Curse it now, but we will be loving it in the truly dry heights of summer.

As someone who wants to learn to tele-ski (oh yes yes yes!), this weather is exciting and urges me out the door. However. As a writer with very specific goals, this weather also urges me to sit my rear down and WRITE. I have been allowing myself to be distracted, of late, by Facebook. Good grief, is that thing addictive. Check it out yourself if you don't believe me!

Sigh. So, dear reader (yes, singular; I think I'm down to one), that is exactly what I'm going to do tomorrow, instead of exploring the continuing delights of skiing. As I also hold a day job, skiing during the week is not an option at the moment. Which is why I am moving toward supporting myself completely from my freelancing! So I can make my own schedule. Luckily, I have the know-how behind me to make this happen. When we are pushed into situations that are truly uncomfortable, we will finally really embrace change...

Back to winterfall. It will cradle my dreams tonight, listen to them with a soft and deep silence, punctuated only by the gentle whush of new snowflakes adding onto the deep piles everywhere, coating everything, the tree branches, rooftops, my truck. (Hmm. I need to make sure I'm not parked under a tree!)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Greetings, 2008

Mm, 2008. I sense excellent opportunities and adventures and happenings for everyone this year! Goals, anyone? (Not necessarily "resolutions," which is a such a scary, committed, and nearly impossible concept for so included!)

Some of my 2008 goals:

1) Finish the screenplay with Dan!
2) Write and sell my tell-all catharsis novel (heh heh)
3) Support myself entirely by my writing
4) Learn how to tele-ski! Whee!
5) Buy my own place...even if it's tiny...
6) Deepen my yoga practice
7) Enrich my spiritual practice
8) Make at least twice as much money as I did last year (can't be too hard, considering last year's income....)
9) Be more healthy overall, especially with diet, self-care, and exercise
10) Continue to remain open to all the lessons...even the ones I don't think I want

Happy New Year, everyone. May you be blessed, invigorated, soothed, and enjoy your life.