Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Ok Peeps -- Get Me Published

    I finally cracked and sent an entry into Gather.com's Amazon Shorts Contest. It's called The Myth of Linear Time and will appear for two weeks. Go. Read. Vote for me. I don't care if your grandma's in the contest; vote for ME.

    Oh, and you get to learn my real name if you do. Cool, huh?

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    My Homework Ate my RockyGrass Post



    Well, it feels like homework. Homework that is done anywhere but home. Homework that is done in order to get the boyos into school so that they may begin their long and glorious career of doing homework.

    School admissions. Peh. I'm exhausted.
    So, I went to the Health Dept. two days ago to get birth certificates, and everyone drooled over the boyos (poor me *hand to forehead* can't go anywhere without people telling me how beautiful my children are). The secretary printed them out, no prob -- but the problem was, they spelled Owen's name 'Ownen.' So. I had to fill out two forms for them to submit to the hospital, and then contact the hospital to tell them that the forms had been submitted and could they please make the changes and then send them back to the Health Dept. where I could pick them up again. *breath*
    Fine.
    So then I went on to the Ped's office to pick up the immunization forms, and since it's right next to the hospital in question, I asked the receptionist where I needed to go to do the above thingy, and she made a phone call and then told me I'd have to contact the Arapahoe County Court to authorize the change. *breath* *sigh*
    So I crossed my fingers, hoping nobody down at the ole' sign-em-up-for-school-place-thingy would pay close enough attention to the birth certificates, at least until I could get it all straightened out.
    So. Next stop, an elementary school IN ANOTHER TOWN where I was told to bring the birth certificates, SS cards, proof of residency, deed to house, my birth certificate and the contract with the Devil that I signed in my own blood just to get them INTO school. The mouth-breather there asked if I had their registration forms.
    “No. I mailed them in weeks ago, like I was told to do.”
    "Oh. Lemmee check."
    Shuffle shuffle
    "Not here. Lemmee ask someone in back."
    shuffle shuffle, on feet this time
    "They don't have it back there. But I remember seeing it up here. Lemmee look."
    Shuffle shuffle.
    "Yeah. Right here."
    GAA!
    So, she then handed me two forms, one which needed to be signed by the boyos’ physician (WHERE did I just come from?!?!) and told me I needed to go to ANOTHER school in ANOTHER town and turn in THOSE forms along with the birth certificates, SS cards, proof of residency, deed to house, my birth certificate and the contract with the Devil that I was told I needed with me that day. *breath*

    Then, mouth-breather asked me if so-and-so mentioned that they don't like to put twins into the same class.
    "No. She didn't."
    "Well. They don't like to."
    "Oh. That's interesting." Stare.
    "Lemmee go check in the back if it's ok."
    "Ok."
    Shuffle shuffle
    "Yeah. It's ok. But they don't like to do it."
    "Oh. Ok."
    "Because they don't develop their own personalities."
    "Heh. Well, these two certainly have."
    Blink blink

    For all I know, 'they' in the back were a couple of Qwuipee dolls dressed in voodoo masks and tiny Reeboks, and their answers were determined by a Magic Eight Ball.

    *Breath. Breath.* The universe is expanding...the universe is expanding... *breath*

    It continued the next day. I took the new form that I drove 30 miles to pick up, to the Admissions office which is five minutes from my house (haven’t these people ever heard of EMAIL!?! Couldn’t they have emailed the info to the Admissions office!?) and was told to pick a number.

    I looked around. There was one other person, and three women behind desks to assist us masses. So I sat down, and watched the boyos play with the convenient play-table-thingy and waited. And waited. And watched the desk-people talk. And waited. And finally someone told me to fill out forms A, C and D which I could select from a wall of forms lettered A-ZZ. So I did, and I decided that form D didn’t actually pertain to me, and I was missing one bit of information anyway, so I skipped it.

    When I finished, I looked up and realized my boyos and I were ALONE. All the pretty desk-people had gone away. We’d been there for 45 minutes.

    So I had three choices.
    One; run home crying, determined to home-school the young-uns. Ugh.
    Two: Mouth-breathe until someone came back.
    Three: laugh at the absurdity of it all, and take notes for the book. I chose option three.

    See, my concept of heaven is that it is a giant bureaucracy (among the things) and that it takes AGES and a gazillion forms to actually get through the Pearly Gates. So, I was staring at prime resource material.

    I whipped out my notebook and started jotting down notes. Sure as washing your car brings the rain, one of the desk-people appeared and told me she could help me now. I carried two reams of forms (twins, remember?) up to the desk and sat down. My desk-lady vanished. Poof! Right before my eyes. So I snickered and scribbled and sketched her into a harried angel, and Poof! she came back and apologized.

    “I’m sorry…my supervisor…”
    I smiled and nodded, leaned over the desk and stage-whispered, “We could get so much more accomplished without supervisors, couldn’t we?”
    She smiled. She laughed.
    We understood each other perfectly.
    “Oh! They spelled your husband’s name wrong on the birth certificates.”
    “Oh, I know! I told him it would be easier just to change his name.”
    “Ha! Well, here you go; they’re in the system. And aren’t they cute? And smart?”
    “Thank you.”

    Jack was doing the pee-pee dance, so I asked my helpful, angelic desk-lady where I could find a restroom, and she pointed down a long hallway, that, dreamlike, was lined with various classrooms, some in session, others empty. Returning down the hallway, Jack decided to complain rather loudly about going back home.
    A white-haired woman (not kidding, Dear Manuscript Readers) popped out of one of the classrooms, and I apologized for the disturbance.
    “Oh, no, not at all. Are they…twins?”
    “Yes, yes they are.”
    "Well, bless your heart.”
    “Hee hee…thanks.”
    “You know, there’s a special place in heaven for mothers of twins.”
    *snort* “Oh, I’m already there, believe me.”

    Thus endith the quest for admissions.


    Orientation today. Somebody hold my hand?

    Oh! And I finished ANOTHER CHAPTER! Woot! Sorry Readers; it’s further in the book, so no updates.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    A Loose Affiliation



    The rest of the day, Saturday, was filled with wandering and wading and listening. Mid-days are like that at RockyGrass; mellow and meandering and sweet.

    By now the sun was low enough that the tent next to our blankets and wagons cast enough shadow that we could return to them, while the riverside picked up the remainder of the setting sunlight as it bounced off the red sandstone cliffs, and turned it to gold. I was warm and drowsy, so I leaned against one of the wagons and closed my eyes, letting the sounds around me take solid shape. As I drifted between waking and sleeping, I could hear kids laughing and playing outside the family tent, and conversations from ten feet away clearly, as clearly as the band playing on stage yards and yards away. Everything came into my ears at the same volume and pace, and I floated and watched the sounds and listened to the music. It was as restful as setting my feet onto the smooth rocks in the river and watching the cold water wash away their pain, as restful as the rich green smell of leaf and mud and water that wrapped around me like loving arms when I sat on the banks.

    We ate in shifts, feeding the kiddos, and waited for that night’s big performance – Steve Earle. O and Clowncar were particularly enthused. We decided to get closer to the stage; it’s all general admission, with tents in the back, chairs and blankets and what-have-you toward the stage. Clowncar found an abandoned spot along one of the ‘aisles’ – a broad strip of grass – and we all sat down. By now, it was getting dark, and the first stars were appearing when Steve took the stage.

    I was lying back on someone’s inner tube, absorbing the music. I have no idea who the inner tube belonged to, but it was ok. It’s that kind of a place.

    I was lying back, Jack asleep on my lap all warm and cuddly, and I was watching the stars. Pondering their distance, their age.

    I was thinking about how the starlight we see is already in the past, about how we can’t remember our pasts in their entirety, but only little scenes, little impressions, bright as stars against the dark matter of every minute we’ve passed through, and that the way we remember our childhood is by connecting those memories, to form a shape like a constellation against the sky.

    Then I thought about how absurd it is to believe that we matter at all in all this matter, that God should take any interest, that there should even be a God to take interest. It made perfect, clear sense to me then that we are on our own here. Looking at all that broad dark night, I was convinced.

    About that time, Steve Earle started talking about God and sin and right and wrong and eternal rewards and punishments, depending on our actions right here, right now.

    And then I thought he was probably as right about it all as I was.

    Back in our tent at the campsite that night, I listened as the wind picked up…and up…and up. And by morning, well…

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    The Book Ate My Post

    Sorry I'm distant, kids. The book has me in it's teeth again, which is a happy place to be, despite all the sharpy points.

    Actually, that's what's making it fun right now.

    Six new pages!!!!

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Tonight

    My sympathies and love go to Lisa during this difficult time.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Keeping Vigil



    Infinite River -- Marvin Hill


    From where I sit right now, I can look up out the basement window and see my boyos playing outside in their fort, not fifteen feet away. They are playing well together, and it is my favorite thing to watch.

    I’m always looking for a place where I can lay down my loneliness. Let down my guard, just a little.
    And one of those places is RockyGrass.
    Why? Perhaps it’s because I’m there with some of my favorite folks in the world. Maybe because of the beauty of the St. Vrain River, and how it sings to me of peacefulness. Maybe it’s the music; its long tradition – the way it carries the pain and hope and despair and joy of ages. Maybe it’s the people; everyone is so friendly and kind, never a fight despite the vast quantities of beer consumed. Must be those sweet-smelling breezes…
    Pepper-smelling, breezes straight from Acapulco. Golden.
    Free love in the air.

    I’m always protective of my boyos when we’re in public, as most moms are. Maybe it comes from enduring such a horrific pregnancy. Maybe from enduring such a horrific neighborhood during their first year-and-half. I make the boyos hold my hands, I administer warnings about running away, about being too loud, about a million things.

    I shouldn’t admit it, but I worry more about Jack. I always have. He’s the smaller of the two, born underweight, a quiet baby turned into a daring whip of a toddler afraid of nothing; my tumbling Jumping Jack, running out of my reach, then turning to offer a defiant smile. My chatterbox, offended when a stranger doesn’t return his ‘hello.’

    Declan is the opposite; muscular, cautious, thoughtful, a born engineer, and in many ways his brother’s keeper.


    Which is why I was so shocked when he was the one who disappeared on Saturday.


    I was careless. I’d dropped my guard too much. Declan was sitting next to me on one of the large stones lining the river. He said he wanted to go up the bank to see Daddy, who was right above us. I let him go.
    But Daddy had gone twenty feet away, into the smoking tent. He came back, leaned over the bank and said, “Where’s Declan?”
    I stared stupidly at him. “With…you?”
    “No.”
    We split up, going in opposite directions, eyes scanning the crowd.
    I kept telling myself, ‘He’s all right. This is a safe crowd. There are kids running around everywhere. Nothing’s happened to him.’
    It just takes one crazy.
    ‘There are so many good people here. Good people with kids. No one’s going to take him.’
    But the river.
    ‘There are a million people in the river. No one will let him go in. He’s afraid of the water anyway.’
    Then where is he?
    ‘I’ll find him.’
    The river.
    ‘Stop.’
    And then all I could think about was my breath and the beer I’d drunk, and how it would all give me away when I spoke to an officer. Another stupid hippie mother who’s lost her child because she can’t control herself.
    PeeWee came up behind me, looking as worried as I felt.
    I gave in, and followed along the St. Vrain. But I couldn’t look at it.

    And then we saw him, holding a woman’s hand, heading towards us over the grass.

    The joy I felt, the relief. It showed on PeeWee’s face, so much so that the woman thought Declan was her son. PeeWee cried the tears I couldn’t allow myself.
    “This is my son,” I told the woman. “This is my son, Declan.”
    “He told me he was looking for his daddy. I thought we’d head this way…”
    “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
    For not being crazy.
    For being one of the good people.
    For not letting him go in the river.
    For doing what I should have done. Keeping vigil.

    To fear something you love is a terrible thing.
    It's losing the big battle. The most important one. The one we're all meant to fight.


    Ok.
    So much for the scary part. The rest was bliss. More later.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Arrival (The Cello)



    We follow Clowncar and PeeWee down the mountain toward Lyons, the road twisting through the Big Thompson Canyon, which O tells me flooded thirty years ago to the day, when the roaring water of the St. Vrain River killed over 200 people.
    It’s so beautiful, I can hardly believe him. Not today, when the water is low and swift and so far down from the road. We are passing scads of mountain bikers bent in half to resist the wind, their legs nothing but muscle and sinew. They pack and ride, and one is stupid and daring, passing cars who are trying not to kill him on this treacherous grade. O envies him.
    And motorcycles everywhere. I’ve never seen so many.
    “Perfect day for riding,” O says, and I nod. We’ve got the windows down. It’s a perfect day for anything. Everything.

    Clowncar pulls over to a small rest stop and we pour out. O notices a vine growing over a boulder.
    “Is that a grape vine?” he asks.
    Sure enough it is; to prove it, I find a small clutch of grapes drying on their stems. We are right next to the river; I can hear it just through the brush and boulders and tangled vines. I look toward the rushing river sound and spot an apple tree. Declan is standing next to me, so I take his hand and find a way between two boulders; we’re just small enough to pass between them. Down a dusty path we go, to find the tree. And we do, right at water’s edge, the apples hanging just out of reach. Declan still wants one, and so do I, desperately. They are small and delicate and green, with the barest pink blush. I know how they’ll taste when my teeth break the skin. Forbidden.
    A little climbing (I’ve never been a stranger to tree-climbing) and we have one each.
    Sweet and divine.
    “Eat it now,” I tell Declan. “Quickly.”
    I can’t reach any more apples and I don’t want Cain and Abel on my hands. Or perhaps Esau and Jacob would be more accurate.

    Back at the cars, O and Clowncar are talking, and I snap two of my favorite photos:


    I’ll let you guess who is who.

    Lyons is already hot, despite the altitude. We’re in for a long day, and I can’t wait to get to the river. PeeWee and I pull the kiddos and gear in two wagons while the guys are off finding parking places. We cross a bridge over the St. Vrain, and stop to look at it for a minute. There are several people floating along in black inner tubes, bumping over the little rapids. The water is dark under the trees, so cool and inviting. To me, rivers are where the rain congregates, waiting to be lifted into the next storm.

    We pull the wagons up to the spot we held last year among the tents at the back of the crowd. RockyGrass is populated by a kind tribe, but a tribe nonetheless. Territorial.

    The first group, Crooked Still, is already playing on stage, and a sound passes through my abdomen, setting off a flight of butterflies. It is deep and low and feels like an unborn moan.
    A cello.
    So unexpected, it takes my breath, makes me bite my lip. Rushad Eggleston plays it almost like a fiddle, but still lets the instrument do what it was born to; cry like a forlorn woman.

    We left both tents up back at the campsite, and the sun is too eager for our skin. PeeWee and I spread out one of the blankets, then leave the wagons and take the rest of the gear and the kiddos to the bank above the St. Vrain between two tents – the smoking tent and the granola-bar-sample tent (I LOVE hippies!). There is a cool, shady space there, above a sandy slope leading down to smooth, flat sitting stones along the water.

    The guys appear, with beer. Hear hear.

    And here we have a Commie Pinko Fag Dancehall, slightly inebriated with her first beer.
    Special appearance by Random Hairy Guy in the background. Actually, he was very nice to the boyos.

    Things went temporarily South after this. Scary bits coming up.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Interlude

    The pain had me curled in a ball last Thursday night, an ebb and flow in the abdomen, each wave higher, inevasible.

    I thought it was a bursting cyst, but I’m afraid the endometriosis might be back.

    And today, the sharpening of sounds; my own sons’ voices like rusty nails scraping against the insides of a glass bucket. Music like pounding hammers falling faster. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata might just as well be a construction site.
    The boyos were being three-going-on-four. Mommy, he hit me! Mommy I want I want I want.
    I couldn’t. Just…couldn’t.
    So I lay down on the couch, the migraine pushing me down, shoving light and noise in my face. I hate doing this, in front of them. I don’t want to scare them. I don’t want them to think it’s their fault.

    Migraines are hereditary. My mom used to get them. I remember being my sons’ age, playing in the family room, when she collapsed in the kitchen. I crept up to her, and in that I’m-three-and-the-center-of-the-universe sort of way, I thought I’d caused her fall, by being too loud. I touched her shoulder, then crept away to my rocking horse, hoping the soft sound would wake her. Afraid the soft sound would wake her.
    She stood up finally, and looked in at me, and I didn’t understand what her look meant, until now.

    My boyos, my sweet boyos. Declan came up to the couch, stroked my hair.
    “Do you have a headache, Mommy?”
    “Yes, I do.”
    “I’ll rub it away.”
    “Ok.”
    And Jack ran around and around the couch, and I made sure he saw me smile, that he knew he was helping too, in his own way with his antics.
    But the pain. I couldn’t help it.
    “What’s on your cheek, Mommy?”
    “That’s just water, sweetie.”
    They haven’t seen me cry. Not until now.

    I’m so afraid they’ll think it’s their fault.

    Ok. It’s later, and I’ve had four cups of coffee, three aspirin, two Advil and a long hot shower. And a partridge in a pear tree. I feel better.
    Really, it’s the shower that does it. I turn on the hot full-blast, until my sweat mingles with the water. I find that if I can raise my body temperature, I can short-circuit the migraine. But there are side effects.
    Stepping out of the shower, I immediately lose my breakfast. It’s a good sign.

    After that, I feel the headache let go, like a python loosening its grip on a rabbit. I’m left feeling completely drained, despite half a pot of coffee. I sit on the couch, my head back, pillow under my feet, and drift. I want to sleep so badly. I want sleep like Romeo wants Juliet. But there are the boyos, and I’m waiting for a phone call from a friend. We have plans today. Otherwise I would have ridden this thing out.

    And there’s the call.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Friday Night in the Mountains

    We had the dearest storm last evening. The thunder tumbled over itself to beat the lightning in a race to the ground, then a steady, soaking rain made the tomatoes glad they lived through the dry, hot weekend.*

    But enough about the weather. I’ve got a whole blessed weekend to uncover and blog, layer after layer.

    I love beginnings. This one starts with a sunset.
    The sunset did its best to last, but we had no hope of reaching the campsite in time to set up the tent with any help from the light. So instead of being useful, it settled for simply being beautiful. And that was just fine with me.
    It let me remember what pulled me out here so many years ago.

    We found Mr. Clowncar and family exactly twelve seconds before they gave up hope of seeing us that night. By now, all was pitch. When I opened the car door, I was momentarily disoriented by a rich, delicate smell – similar to lavender in its sweetness.


    There is silence and then there is quiet, profound and ancient, married to darkness. Both filled the mountains that night.
    And above us – stars. All of them, not just the ones the city lets pass through its orange dome. The Milky Way wound through the sky like Salome’s last veil.

    Clowncar and Lil Peewee guided us from the car to the camp. The tent went up without incident. The boyos went down with a good deal of incident, each protest a blow to the brow of the quiet. They finally settled in, snuggling up on either side of their dad. Clowncar and I sat outside, passing a flask of bourbon back and forth; the insomniac and the night owl naming the stars, counting the falling ones and the complicated satellites, discussing chapters and writing and the contests that have let us down.

    I lay in the tent and listened to the ravens bickering over the early morning rose light, and the high trill of hummingbirds too busy to arbitrate, eagerly going about their constant business of sustenance. And then I heard another bird with a joyous voice like a lost soul found. I cannot name it.
    But I was greeted by this:

    The view took me by surprise. Only the night can hide a mountain.

    And then I identified the purfume that briefly stole me away the night before.
    Wild sage. Everywhere.

    Lil Peewee started breakfast, the kiddos clustered around the camp stove and we shooed them away again and again. She kindly loaned me a pot to cook eggs, as I managed to forget my own. We talked about birds and work and the little beings left in our care, and I was happy just to be there with her, a woman whom I admire and love. There aren’t as many as there should be.

    After breakfast, the guys took the kiddos hiking while we cleaned up and prepared for a day of sun and music and river splashing.

    And I’ll leave you with that, for now.


    *That reminds me of something I saw in a dream last night; an hourglass, but instead of sand, it was filled with water.
    What would we do without dreams?


    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Books Unlimited


    A Book Bound in the Skin of Trees -- Marvin Hill

    Just back from RockyGrass and I've got a lot to say, and no time to say it. Whilst I get my words in order, here's a meme from Des Moines Girl.

    And, while we're talking about books, I'd like to announce a generous offer from O. He's decided to step in and judge the "I Remember it Well" contest (did I make it a contest?...oh, yeah I guess I did) and offer as first prize a

    $100 dollar gift certificate to Books Unlimited

    There's only one catch; you must come in person to claim it.


    Now, on to the meme.


    1. One book that changed your life:
    I don’t know if The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings changed my life so much as set its course. Little Expressionless Animals from David Foster Wallace’s short-story collection, Girl with Curious Hair, blew the top of my head off. It made me realize I could write anything I wanted.

    2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
    Just one? Ha! LOTR, The Awakening, 99% of Ray Bradbury’s work.

    3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
    A blank one, a pen and a big bottle of ink.

    4. One book that made you laugh:
    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I laughed so hard I cried.

    5. One book that made you cry:
    There have been many…The Stand; I can’t believe he killed off Nick…Wizard and Glass; Mr. King knows how to make me weep I guess…Of Mice and Men; tragedy from the get-go.

    6. One book that you wish had been written:
    Um, mine, by me?

    7. One book that you wish had never been written:
    The DaVinci Code – never read it, never will, and I want it wiped off the face of the earth NOW!


    8. The book you are currently reading:
    A Self-Made Man, by Poppy Z. Brite. Autographed to me and everything! And, The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C.S. Lewis. Published posthumously, one of the stories makes a hilarious (and perfectly reasonable) justification for prostitution in space. Love it!

    9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
    There’s a storeful; Let’s see…James Joyce’s Ulysses, Moby Dick, The Phantom of the Opera…it goes on…